Monday, September 12, 2016
Are any of us safe from being attacked by Muslim madmen?
You can be just walking along the street minding your own business and be targeted. Crazy that the police said he was "shouting words". Why so coy about reporting "Allahu Akhbar"?
A SYDNEY man charged with committing a terrorist act and attempted murder after allegedly stabbing an unknown man on the street and then trying to knife a police officer was motivated by terror group ISIS.
The Joint Counter Terrorism Team - made up of investigators from the NSW and Australian Federal Police - charged Ihsas Khan, 22, this morning after the attack on Wayne Greenhalgh, 59.
"This is the new face of terrorism, this is the new face of what we deal with," Deputy Police Commissioner Cath Burn said at a press conference this morning.
She said police will be alleging Khan was inspired by ISIS, just one week after the terror group called on lone wolves to attack Australians.
"We know that this person has strong extremist beliefs inspired by ISIS. What made him actually act yesterday, we don’t know," she said.
Ms Burns said that Khan "may well have" committed the act to lure police to attack them.
She said it was planned and Khan was shouting words at the scene that led bystanders to believe he was committing a terrorism attack.
"We will be alleging this was an act that was inspired ISIS," she said.
"It was a deliberate act yesterday it resulted in a person receiving extremely serious injuries.
"As we understand of what happened yesterday, there was some degree of planning and preparation to something just before the incident happened.
"We know that this person has strong extremist beliefs inspired by ISIS ... But what made him act yesterday we don’t know.
"It was deliberate, it was violent, his behaviour could have turned worse as well."
She said Khan was not on the terrorism watch list but he was known to police for his "odd" behaviour.
"The 22 year old is somebody who is known to police. He has previously been before the court on a property related charge," she said.
"He has had a couple of interactions with local police where you might say his behaviour was odd or unusual.
"He was not connected with any known terrorism group or any known persons of interest.
"There may have been some behaviours in the past that might have been concerning behaviours.. This is the reality of what we have to face.
"There are going to be people who may have concerning behaviour but you can’t watch everybody all the time.
"There was concerning information about his behaviour but not somebody who we would say is front and centre in our work at the moment."
She said that although the Khan did not know the man he attacked, he did "form a view of him" for some reason.
"From what we know these two people aren’t known to each other," she said.
"But for whatever reason, the 22 year old has formed some view about the victim.
"This has resulted in this particular person being the subject of the attack.
"I think although not known to each other, he did form some view about this person."
She praised members of the community who saw what happened and acted quickly.
Ms Burns said that police had seized a large knife and other items after carrying out search warrants.
"A large knife was found at the location yesterday. Our investigators have conducted a number of search warrants. They have taken material to be further examined," she said.
The victim of the attack was critical last night, when he underwent surgery for his stab wounds, however his condition has improved slightly this morning, she said.
"From what I understand the victim is a local man. The important thing at the moment is thinking about him," she said.
She said there was no further threat to the community.
Australia pays heavy cost for its policies of protecting sharks
Another week, another three shark attacks on recreational ocean lovers.
One was fatal: West Australian kitesurfer David Jewell, 50, died after being bitten in New Caledonia, 1500km across the Coral Sea from the Gold Coast, on Tuesday.
Another attack — the previous day, at Injidup, near Yallingup, Western Australia — will be remembered for the sheer luck of the surfer involved. Fraser Penman, 22, was thrown off his surfboard by a shark that attacked from beneath. The force of the impact, which almost broke his surfboard in two, suggests the shark had a lethal intention.
Surfer Mick Corbett, who was sitting only metres away, said Penman landed on the back of the shark, which he estimated to be 5m long. The attack continued. "The guy is going up and down, he’s screaming, his brother is screaming," Corbett recalled. "I thought he was actually getting properly eaten … I kept thinking, this is f..ked."
Australia spends millions of dollars researching the movements and behaviour of sharks but no researcher has yet shown even the slightest curiosity in why some shark attacks go on for minutes and others end with the beast moving on, which is what happened in this instance. There is no doubt, though, that Penman owes a lot to his surfboard taking the initial hit. Had the shark attacked one of his limbs instead, Penman would now be permanently maimed, physically and psychologically, or dead — another statistic in a toll to which we become increasingly accustomed.
Yesterday, Penman’s attack had still not been recorded at the Australian Shark Attack File’s website, even under its seemingly benign "uninjured" column. Such indifference to maintaining the file, which is funded by taxpayers and should be the most reliable guide to the present safety or otherwise of our nation’s beaches, reflects the wider nonchalance of the shark research community towards the safety of people.
Almost everywhere one looks — the CSIRO, universities and the various departments of primary industries or fishing — one sees a higher priority given to sharks than surfers, divers or swimmers. This misanthropism springs from the common perception that humans are a blight on our planet and that a few casualties from interactions with nature are an acceptable price in the quest to save the Earth from rapacious humans. Such a deliberate lack of humanity is usually associated only with religious delusions or witchcraft. But, then, you "believe" in "saving" the environment or you don’t.
The longer this goes on, the more absurd our behaviour. In this respect, Reunion Island provides a worrying sign of where Australia is heading. Reunion introduced a marine park on the west side of the island in 2007 and implemented a ban on shark fishing. Since 2011, the effect of these policies has become apparent.
The island has had 19 attacks in six years, seven of them fatal, from a population of 850,000. Most surfers on the island have known not just one but several friends who have been killed or badly injured. Most parents in the tight surfing community have attended the funeral of several friends’ children, if not their own.
And it was on Reunion where this week’s third attack occurred. This one encapsulates how neurotic the debate about sharks has become. A bodyboarder named Laurent Chardard arrived at Boucan Canot beach last Saturday to see, apart from large and good-quality surf, red flags on the sand.
Boucan has a 700m net around it, built last year. It is one of two netted beaches, the only places where it is considered safe to surf on an island that until recently was on every surfer’s bucket list of dream destinations. However, that morning inspectors had noticed a 2m hole in the net and erected the flags — not warning of a shark, just the potential of one.
Fifteen surfers paddled out anyway. Chardard was one of them. He was attacked by a bull shark and lost his right arm and leg. "Just let me die — I don’t want to live like this," he told the brave fellow surfers who came to his rescue. (Since waking up in hospital, Chardard has developed a wonderfully admirable optimism and is "ready to live again" with prosthetic limbs, one of his friends told me.) Like the luckier Penman, Chardard is only 22 years old.
The day after the attack, the owner of the Petit Boucan, one of five restaurants on the beach, went on radio to complain he’d had almost no customers since the attack and that Chardard should be charged with a criminal offence. He also floated the idea of suing Chardard for damages. In Australia it’s common to blame the victim of a shark attack but threatening to sue one takes this antagonism to a new level.
The restaurateur has since apologised — a smart move considering his clientele consists mostly of surfers, who angrily proposed a prolonged boycott. However, the restaurateur’s grievance is understandable. He has a business to run and bills to pay. His restaurant is at one of the few places on the island where it was presumably safe to swim or surf. Now that beach has been stigmatised.
Arriving at this negative outcome has not been cheap for Reunion. The net at Boucan cost about $1.5 million to build (but was still damaged by one of the first large swells to hit it), and about half that a year to maintain. The island’s tourism industry has been cut dramatically. And, of course, Chardard and his family and friends have paid a heavy price.
All this for … a fish. Why can’t we treat sharks like other fish, or cattle, or rats? Why are they exempt from our usual attitude towards animals? Why do we go to such pains to ensure these fish thrive at the cost of young lives?
The usual response to these questions is that sharks are an "apex predator" and that tampering with them has a "cascading" effect that would lead to the "collapse" of the marine environment.
But a landmark report published by the West Australian Department of Fisheries this year, the result of one of the most comprehensive studies into shark movement, disputes this. The report, bearing the catchy title of Evaluation of Passive Acoustic Telemetry Approaches for Monitoring Shark Hazards Off the Coast of Western Australia, says the movement of great whites is "highly variable" and "not consistent". So a beach visited by a great white one day might not see another for a week, or a year, or a decade. Whether the shark returns or not, the environment adapts, just as Charles Darwin explained it would more than 150 years ago.
Besides, the marine environment is less predictable than researchers lead us to believe. One would expect, for example, that the protection of great whites in South Australia would keep the population of fur seals (also protected) under control, but it hasn’t. Instead, fur seals are reaching plague proportions and are devastating the state’s fishing industry.
These outcomes are not quite as tragically counter-productive as those on Reunion but we are getting close. As part of its highly publicised $16m plan to protect surfers on the state’s north coast, the NSW government included the construction of a net, similar to the one at Boucan, at North Wall, Ballina. Local surfers told the government the plan was ludicrous and the net would be in pieces on the beach after the first big swell. The government persevered anyway, abandoning the idea after three attempts.
Five days after that plan was dropped, the government released to The Daily Telegraph details of an exciting new plan to keep sharks away from people: dropping Shark Shields, which emit electric pulses that make sharks uncomfortable, on them from drones. If this sounds like another ridiculously complex, time-consuming, expensive and ineffective idea, it’s because it is.
Meanwhile, the nation’s coastline is dotted with fishing ports in which hi-tech boats capable of profitably reducing the number of lethal sharks in our waters lay idle, or are used to catch fish that pose no threat to us.
It’s going to be a long summer.
Finnish Education Fantasies
As a call to action, "Let's imitate Finland" is unlikely to stir many hearts. Yet, for some critics of Australian schooling, it's a rallying cry. To them, Finland is an educational nirvana with high paid teachers delivering excellent outcomes despite short school hours, an aversion to homework, the absence of external assessments and no annoying school league tables.
If Australia would only ditch NAPLAN (our external assessment program), erase the My School website (which contains information about school performance), shorten the school day and forget about homework (and pay teachers more, of course), we could become an educational powerhouse -- just like Finland.
Ironically, the reason that critics choose Finland as a model is because it performs well on external standardised tests. Specifically, Finland scored highly on tests conducted by the OECD's international Program for International Student Assessment, widely known as PISA.
As Jennifer Buckingham notes, Finland is an unlikely model for Australia. Its entire population is not much larger than Sydney's. It has little cultural or racial diversity, few disadvantaged schools and a widely shared social consensus about what children should learn and how they should be taught. In other words, Finland is very different from Australia. In addition, its PISA status is slipping. In 2012 (the latest scores available), Finland did not make it into the top 10.
Today's top PISA performers are all Asian -- Shanghai, Singapore, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Korea, Macau, and Japan. Like Finland, these places are culturally homogenous, but this is where the similarity ends. In most other ways, their educational cultures are the opposite of Finland's. They have long school days, lots of homework, rigorous national assessments, public accountability and plenty of competition among schools.
Predictably, educators are now urging us to emulate Asia. This is no more sensible than imitating Finland. We can learn from other places, but we cannot just impose their ways on our much more diverse population. Our students deserve an educational system designed specifically for Australian students, schools, and culture.
Golliwogs at the Royal Adelaide Show
Golliwogs are basically an American issue only. We had no slavery, no Jim Crow and no black minstrels in Australia. Until recently, we didn't even have any Africans. So they should not be an issue in Australia
THE Royal Show is a delightful festival of anachronisms. There’s wood chopping, sheep shearing, displays of needlecraft, crochet and patchwork quilts.
There’s thread spinning and bread baking and jam making, and the hard-working women of the CWA serve up the best scones in town at a price that even seems unchanged since the 1970s. It’s all brilliant fun.
But there’s one old-fashioned relic I was utterly shocked to discover proudly on display at the Show this week, instead of being consigned to the rubbish bin of history where it belongs: the golliwog.
With their frizzy hair, googly eyes and clownish lips, golliwogs are a grotesque, racist caricature of black people. Modelled on the African-American minstrels of the 19th and early 20th centuries, they are a caricature of a caricature. They are "blackface" embodied in a children’s toy.
They have no place in Australia’s modern, multicultural society.
And there they were at the Royal Show, four of them, proudly displayed in a glass cabinet among the handmade crochet and lace. All three prize-winning entries wore red jackets, bow ties and stripey pants, just like blackface minstrels. How quaint. How appallingly racist. How offensive and upsetting this display must be for indigenous visitors, for our many African-Australian residents.
I wondered if perhaps the golliwogs were the creation of some guerrilla arts activism group, a sort of ironic statement on racism in the 21st century. But no, there’s an official category in the Royal Show’s "Open arts and crafts" prize section, listed under "teddy bears and friends: Class 264 - golly (Traditional children’s soft toy)".
See, we don’t call them "golliwogs" anymore, we call them "golly" dolls, and say they’re "traditional", which apparently makes them OK.
The Royal Show isn’t the only offender here. Last week I saw golliwogs for sale in a Norwood newsagency, this time labelled as "rag dolls". Handy for all those needing to buy racist memorabilia with their X-Lotto tickets and craft supplies.
Defenders of "golly" dolls say they are innocent relics of a bygone era and shouldn’t be seen as racist, which is a bit like saying the swastika should no longer be seen as offensive because it’s more than 70 years old. It’s an utterly ignorant stance. We know golliwogs are racist.
The last thing I want the gloriously old-fashioned Royal Show to do is get with the times, but it should at least ditch the golliwogs.
Posted by John J. Ray (M.A.; Ph.D.). For a daily critique of Leftist activities, see DISSECTING LEFTISM. To keep up with attacks on free speech see Tongue Tied. Also, don't forget your daily roundup of pro-environment but anti-Greenie news and commentary at GREENIE WATCH . Email me here