Thursday, December 10, 2015

"Proof" that white people are racist

It is a stunt, not a scientific experiment. Those who set the prank up did so with lots of non-racial differences between the men - differences which subtly say something to others.

Notice the black man has a backpack on, which the video makers tried to hide while leaving straps visible so they can deny they tried to hide it. The black man has work boots that look steel capped, a workman's bright contrasting shirt. The white man is dressed in soft shoes, casual homelike clothes. Also notice the  differences in body type, posture and body language which say a lot.

And most significantly, positioning:  The white man is positioned more in the open so people can see walk all around him easily. The black is more to the side, his back against a structure so people will walk past. The whole thing is a set up

2016 may be right around the corner, but this social experiment shows racism is evidently still alive and well in Australia.

Brooke Roberts, an Adelaide-based entertainer who runs the brand PrankNation, secretly filmed two men standing blindfolded in public with a sign reading: “I trust you. Do you trust me?” They were placed in the same location during busy periods, and left in the hands of the busy passersby flocking around them.

The only difference? One man was white and the other was black.

“Today I went out to see the comparison between my light-skinned friend and my dark-skinned friend,” said Roberts in the video. “The sign didn’t say ‘hug me’, the sign didn’t say ‘take action’. Let’s see what reactions we can get.”

The results were not good. Over the course of three and a half hours, the light-skinned man is shown being approached by a total of twelve people over three hours. He gets 10 hugs, one handshake, and just one negative reaction for standing in the middle of the walkway.

But when his dark-skinned friend stands in the exact same position, blindfolded with the exact same sign?


Nothing more than a few points and stares over the course of six hours - double the time of the first. And not a single hug.

Roberts said he was inspired to create the video after reading about a racist incident last month, in which a Melbourne Apple store removed a group of African teenagers.

“I saw a video posted about the dark-skinned school kids that got kicked out of the Apple store in Melbourne,” Roberts told

“I felt like this was very unprofessional and I wanted to test Adelaide and see how their racism compared.”

He admitted he had positive expectations for the outcome of this experiment, and described the public’s response as “unexpected”.

“I am hoping that not only the city of Adelaide can see how they did in the experiment, but also other places around the world.

“I want people to become aware of how they act and decrease the amount of racism.”


Good news on jobs -- if the statistics are right

To give a small bit of the reality behind the numbers:  Within a one mile circle around where I live there are about half a dozen big new apartment blocks going up.  Australia has switched from mining to building

Libby Babet could be a poster child for the country’s bumpy economic transformation at the end of a long mining boom.

Most weekdays at sunrise, the 33-year old personal trainer can be found leading classes on Sydney’s Bondi Beach. Ms. Babet now employs 20 instructors from none five years ago, and her Bottoms Up! Fitness increasingly vies for space on the sand with yoga classes and boxing boot camps.

Few disagree that Australia’s labor market has been looking healthier of late. How healthy is a matter of pointed debate among economists.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics, which will release new labor data on Thursday, said last month that the jobless rate dropped to 5.9% in October, from 6.2% in September. It also said job creation in arts and recreation services—encompassing museum guards to personal trainers like Ms. Babet—has outpaced layoffs in the much more important mining sector amid a global commodities decline in recent months.

But many economists no longer trust the official labor data. These people say the bureau’s labor market survey has been producing bizarre numbers for months, making it harder to predict everything from consumer spending at Christmas to a possible housing-market crash.

Such credibility concerns aren’t unique to Australia. Doubts frequently overshadow China’s statistics. Canada faced criticism last year for publishing flawed jobs numbers, and U.S. agencies have also recalled labor data before.

However, Australia’s efforts to wean itself from a reliance on mining makes its economy more vulnerable than it has been for many years, making the jobs report especially important.

Skepticism flared last month when the statistics bureau said Australia—despite growth slowing sharply in the third quarter—added 58,600 new jobs in October. It was the largest single monthly increase since 2012 and suggested that, on a population-adjusted basis, Australia created nearly four times as much employment as the U.S. has on average each month this year, even as Australia’s economy has been slowing.

“The jobs data don’t make sense, they’re simply too good to be true,” said Damien Boey, a Sydney-based economist at Credit Suisse.

Economists polled by The Wall Street Journal expect the bureau’s Thursday snapshot of November’s jobs market to show unemployment edged up to 6%.

For many economists, there is a feeling of deja-vu. Last year, a shift in the way the bureau collected labor data sparked improbably large swings in the results. That prompted the bureau to make major revisions, while an external review subsequently recommended junking the computer system used to crunch the numbers.

“We are confident that the numbers are now robust,” said David Kalisch, Canberra-based head of the statistics bureau.

To be sure, Australia is creating jobs outside mining. The Australian dollar’s steep fall against its U.S. counterpart is offering help to Australian schools competing with U.S. colleges for students and tourist operators offering vacations on the Great Barrier Reef, among other industries. Construction is also booming, driven in part by investment from states such as New South Wales, which is investing in new highways and hospitals.

Ms. Babet is among those hiring, as she expands her business from beach classes to gyms. “I’m hoping to open a girls-only studio next year,” she said.

However, some economists say the data is suspect. Mr. Boey cites the pace of job creation in professional, scientific and technical services—ranging from architects to IT workers—as an example. He said the bureau’s data showed the sector’s output shrank by an annualized 2.8% in the year through September. Yet, he said the bureau indicated that employment there soared by an improbable 11%.

Tim Toohey, Goldman Sachs ’ Melbourne-based chief economist, said it is also hard to believe that more artists found work in Australia than miners lost their jobs in recent months. Even more baffling to some economists are data suggesting the mining industry, facing huge pressure to cut costs, created thousands of jobs between May and August.

In response, the ABS said economists should look beyond seasonally adjusted data and focus on trend figures instead, which smooth out statistical distortions. “We’re getting the data as reliable as we can,” said Mr. Kalisch. “Nonetheless, there is going to be some volatility.”

Kieran Davies, chief economist at Barclays in Sydney, said he thought too many economists are getting stuck in the weeds of the data. He found the broader category of household services—including nurses, fitness trainers and teachers—to be driving Australia’s employment growth. These typically lower-wage jobs are skewing official data because they add little to output, he said.

Others have found their own way of tracking labor trends. Adam Boyton, chief economist at Deutsche Bank in Sydney, created an employment tracking tool, calibrating data sets from job ads to business confidence. He found Australia’s economy added between 20,000 and 23,000 jobs on average over the past quarter—broadly mirroring the government’s 26,000 trend estimate.

“Did the economy really create nearly 60,000 jobs in October? Probably not. But the trend is about right and it’s a pretty positive trend,” he said.


Australia very naughty about nukes

Which I am pleased to hear.  Go nukes!

Civil society groups have condemned the Australian federal government’s recent completion of contested uranium supply deals with both the United Arab Emirates and India.

The deal is in direct conflict with a finding in September by a government-controlled Parliamentary review that “Australian uranium not be sold to India” until unresolved safety, security, legal and nuclear weapons issues were addressed.

The Joint Standing Committee on Treaties (JSCOT) recommended that no uranium sales take place at this time or under the current terms of the Australia-India Nuclear Co-operation Agreement.

It further argued that uranium must not be sold to India until key checks and balances including evidence of improved safety, monitoring and regulatory standards, the establishment of an independent Indian nuclear regulator and full separation of the military and civil dimensions of India’s nuclear sector were put in place.

Despite this clear call for caution only two months later in late November the federal government issued a response that “the Government does not accept the Committee’s recommendation that exports of uranium to India should be deferred” and further announced that all formalities had been completed so that ‘uranium exports can begin immediately’.

The development, which was only briefly covered in the mainstream Australian media, drew anger from environment, faith, public health and peace groups who described the fast-tracking of uranium sales as a derelict and dangerous move that puts nuclear interests ahead of the national interest.

In the shadow of the Australian uranium-fuelled Fukushima nuclear disaster the countries under-performing but politically favoured uranium sector is under increased scrutiny and pressure with production rates, employment and share value all declining.

With both the industry and federal government now seeking to fast track new sales Australia increasingly risks being globally regarded as an irresponsible supplier of one of the riskiest substances on the planet, providing the source material for nuclear power, weapons and waste without proper scrutiny and against the recommendations of its own review processes.

Critics of the new sales deal have highlighted that India is actively expanding its nuclear arsenal and weapons capabilities through missile tests, increased uranium enrichment capacity and work around multiple weapons launch platforms, including advancing improved submarine launch capabilities.

The newly approved uranium sales treaty places no practical, political or perception barrier to any of these activities. Instead it effectively gives a green light to India's nuclear weapons ambitions.


Organisers of an anti-Islam rally planned to celebrate 10th anniversary of Cronulla riots vow to go ahead

Far right-wing political activists have rejected demands to cancel an anti-islam rally organised to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the Cronulla riots.

Vowing to go ahead on December 12, The Party for Freedom is continuing to call on supporters as the police and local council plan further legal steps in hopes of preventing the event at Don Lucas Reserve in Cronulla, in Sydney's south.

But 'regardless of the opposition from the political establishment' the group is now selling memorabilia whilst the Party for Freedom leader Nicholas Folkes posts videos coaxing Australians to attend.

The event has been knocked back three times by police despite the agreement to drop a symbolic mock funeral which would have represented the 'death of multiculturalism,' reported the Sydney Morning Herald.

The funeral which was planned with all the trimmings included an MDF coffin, pallbearers and a hearse.

Recognising a merchandising opportunity the group is also selling a range of objects from t-shirts reading Sydney is fun Cronulla is a riot and mementos with slogans such as 'uncouth savages' and 'ungrateful undesirables.'

Shire Mayor Carmelo Pesce told Daily Mail Australia he would not tolerate racism and violence which he believed would be the outcome of the rally going ahead.  'That's not what the Shire is all about... It's just and excuse to come here and use the Shire as a backdrop to push their political views across.

Mr Folkes, on behalf of the right wing group, was served a notice to attend court on Friday by officers on Thursday night.

The summons was filed under the Summary Offences Act 1988 (NSW) with respect to conduct in public and other places, according to a post on Mr Folkes website.

Mr Folkes appeared briefly in court and a further date of December 10 was set for him to reappear.

Sutherland Shire Council also served Folkes with papers on Thursday asking his group to refrain from the rally and is planning to go to the Human Rights Commission on Monday

Cr Pesce said Folkes responded to the council on Friday afternoon.

'In a nice way [Folkes said] get lost, we're coming down.'

Mr Folkes also hit out against the council in a post on his website saying it was the 'council's sorry attempt at trying to portray Islam as a race or ethnicity is flawed'.

'Sutherland Shire Council demands that Party for Freedom agrees not to hold a public assembly at Don Lucas Reserve, Cronulla,' he wrote.

'The Council also demands that any online and social media material regarding the Cronulla memorial be removed within 48 hours.

'In summary, the Council has basically said the years of intimidation and harassment perpetrated by Muslim gangs did not happen. 

'Over the past five weeks, Party for Freedom have engaged with NSW Police and Sutherland Council and amended our plans to seek agreement and closure but still both parties refuse to accommodate our democratic right to hold a free assembly'.

Cr Pesce said he had no issue with freedom of speech.  'What I'm concerned about is is it really freedom of speech or is it hate speech?  'I believe, in my personal opinion, it is hate speech.'

The group claimed they would fight both injunctions in order to hold the memorial.

Cr Pesce said if the injunctions failed he was confident police would contain the situation.

The 'memorial rally' at Cronulla Beach in southern Sydney is ten years after a spate of violence erupted between Muslim and non-Muslim Australians.

The riots were the result of boiling community tensions, which were ramped up when a group of surf lifesavers were attacked by a group of young Middle Eastern men on December 4.

On the morning of December 11, about 5000 people gathered on Cronulla Beach to protest against the violent attacks.

Cr Pesce said businesses in the Shire had 'suffered quite dramatically' after the riots, which gave the area a bad reputation.


Full marks for mental health reform

Helen Andrews

The first thing to know about the government's new mental health reform package is that it doesn't involve any additional spending.
That's cause for celebration in any reform, but especially in the case of mental health, where funding has not been insufficient but insufficiently well-directed.

The second thing worth noting is its 'stepped care model,' which offers different levels of treatment for patients with different levels of need.

This is a huge advance over previous mental health reforms, which too often saw entitlements designed to help the truly needy swamped by the middle-class worried well.

Mild and moderate conditions like depression and anxiety disorder have been the main drivers of a near tripling in mental health spending over 20 years and the doubling of the number Australians receiving an MBS-subsidised mental health service annually over six years. These conditions are serious issues and deserving of attention and treatment. But government spending should prioritise those patients whose need is the greatest.

The latest reform package increases the number of services (including therapy sessions and nursing visits) available each year to patients whose mental illness is classified as severe. This will improve the quality of treatment in a more well-targeted way than the 'Better Access' overhaul of 2006.

Praise for the new reform has been bipartisan-even the editorial board of The Age says the government has 'got it right' this time. The applause is well deserved.


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