Friday, December 16, 2016

Heatwaves in Australia: This natural killer just got deadlier (?)

There is actually nothing new below -- just the tired old assertion that heatwaves are linked to global warming, the usual exaggerations and a big dash of prophecy.  Bjorn Lomborg sets out well why extreme weather events can NOT be linked to temperature changes; The  one degree temperature rise over a period of 100 years is trivial; That "15 of the 16 hottest years on record all took place in the past 15 years" omits to say that the years almost all differed only by hundredths of a degree, thus indicating a temperature plateau, not warming

IF YOU think it’s hot now, brace yourselves because heatwaves are not only going to increase in frequency but also intensity, threatening to claim more lives each year.

That is the dire warning from scientists who warn Australia remains grossly underprepared for what is becoming our deadliest extreme weather event.

With reports showing the country was getting hotter each year, many Australians underestimated the dangers heatwaves posed.

Lead scientist at research company Risk Frontiers Dr Thomas Loridan said this comes despite more than a century of data and research showing otherwise.

Speaking to, Dr Loridan said heatwaves remained our biggest killer when it came to extreme weather events (such as cyclones or bushfires).

“It’s not only the biggest killer, but actually kills more people than all the other events put together,” he said.

“The 2009 heatwave that hit Victoria and South Australia killed 432 people, or two and a half times the number of people killed in the Black Saturday bushfires that followed.”

Heatwaves are indeed a killer if statistics are anything to go by. From 1844 to 2010, extreme heat events killed at least 5332 people in Australia.

Dr Liz Hanna of the Climate and Health Alliance said adopting a warning system such as this could save many lives as heatwaves became hotter, lasted longer and occurred more often due to climate change.

And there’s no doubt things are getting a lot hotter.

In October, the Bureau of Meteorology and CSIRO released its biennial State of the Climate Report which highlighted the impact climate change is having on our continent.

The report found between 1910 and 1941 there were 28 days when the national average temperature was in the top extremes recorded. This is compared to the 28 days recorded in 2013 alone.

Alarmingly the report also found 15 of the 16 hottest years on record all took place in the past 15 years.

Since 1910, the country’s climate including mean surface and surrounding sea surface temperature, has warmed by 1 degree centigrade.

Researchers also found the duration, frequency and intensity of extreme heat events have increased across most of Australia.

This comes on top of a 2014 report by the Climate Council which found climate change is causing more intense and frequent heatwaves in Australia.

According to Heatwaves: Hotter, Longer, More Often, such events are becoming hotter, lasting longer and are occurring more frequently. The number of hot days Australia experiences are also increasing.

“Since 1950 the annual number of record hot days across Australia has more than doubled,” the report found.


Cartoonist Bill Leak compares HRC to Islamist terrorists

Bill Leak has compared the Australian Human Rights Commission to “Islamist terrorists” as he calls for the repeal of contentious race-hate laws, hitting out at the agency for “persecuting” him over a provocative cartoon.

In his submission to the parliamentary inquiry on freedom of speech, The Australian’s editorial cartoonist says the commission’s complaint-handling process was not only “punishing” but acted as a warning “to anyone else still naive enough to believe they lived in a free society”.

All three complaints lodged under section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act against Leak’s cartoon — depicting an Aboriginal police officer handing over a “wayward” boy to his father, who has forgotten his son’s name — have been dropped by the AHRC after two months of investigations.

“While less murderous than the tactics deployed by Islamist terrorists, the actions taken by the AHRC were no less authoritarian and they sprang from the same ­impulse: to use whatever means they have at their disposal to ­silence those with whom they disagree,” Leak says.

“Section 18C … was just the ­ticket. It provided them with the blunt and brutal weapon they were looking for.”

Using his case as an example of why the law should be repealed, Leak said his cartoon was not an attempt to “malign indigenous people on the basis of their race” but to “shine the spotlight on the truth of family dysfunction in indigenous communities”.

“It should never have even been possible for someone like me to be subjected to such illiberal persecution in Australia and if we, as Australians, are to continue to take pride in proclaiming ourselves to be citizens of a free country, I believe we will have to take steps to ensure it never happens to anyone else, ever again,” he says.

Commission president Gillian Triggs has said she must inquire into and attempt to conciliate all written complaints under 18C and the majority of matters are ­resolved within four months.

But Leak said the commission’s investigative procedures were “opaque” and ­“unsatisfactory”.

The Institute of Public Affairs welcomed the discontinuing of the third complaint against Leak but called it a “hollow win for free speech”. “A complaint doesn’t have to be successful for people to feel threatened,” director of policy Simon Breheny said.


Angry Lesbian wants a slice of her former partner's assets -- fails

The Family Court is defending claims it treats same-sex couples differently after a decision in which a lesbian was denied a share of her former partner’s ­assets, despite them having lived together in a bona-fide, legally recognised same-sex relationship for 27 years.

The Full Court of the Family Court has upheld a decision that the woman is not entitled to any of her partner's property, which includes a house, investments, and superannuation, mainly ­because the couple had kept their finances separate.

The couple did not have joint bank accounts or mutual wills, and they did not name each other as beneficiaries on their superannuation policies.

The woman, who cannot be named but is known in court records as Ms Chancellor, ­argued this was because “attitudes to same-sex relationships were less liberal” when the women started living together and “this explained why the parties had kept their financial ­affairs separate, as otherwise ­attention would have been drawn to the true nature of their cohabitation”.

In the Family Court decision, judge Leanne Turner, sitting in Brisbane, said: “It’s easy to assume when parties have been together, whether married or de facto, it automatically flows that a property settlement will occur, but that is not always the case.”

The decision is likely to energise the same-sex marriage ­debate, since opponents have long argued that the Marriage Act need not change while civil unions provide the same legal protections as marriage.

The case, known as Chancellor & McCoy, came before the court in January, with the appeal heard last month. The court heard Ms Chancellor, 59, and Ms McCoy, 55, commenced a same-sex relationship in 1982. Both are teachers; both had superannuation and accumulated property.

However, when the relationship ended in 2011, Ms McCoy’s ­assets were valued at $1.7 million, while Ms Chancellor’s were worth $720,000. The difference can mainly be explained by the fact Ms McCoy decided years ago to salary-sacrifice into super. Ms Chancellor did not. Each had a property, bought in their own name, using their own savings.

Judge Turner said the women were “mature, educated and ­intelligent”. They had “similar employment conditions and ­opportunities”. She acknowledged expenses and bills were split, and that some items for the houses were purchased jointly.

She found a “lack of joint ­fin­ancial decision-making”, while “each party remained respons­ible for their own debts”. The court ruled it was “unfair for Ms McCoy, who has taken steps to maximise her future wealth, to have to share that wealth with Ms Chancellor, who did not ­invest as wisely”.

The court relied on the High Court’s decision in Stanford v Stanford, which found splitting assets is not automatic.

In her appeal, Ms Chancellor argued her relationship had been held to a “higher or different standard” than other de facto couples. The appeals court dismissed the appeal, ruling that ­“although in a committed relationship”, the women had made a “somewhat unusual” ­decision to keep their financial ­affairs ­“almost ­entirely separate”.


Bank and major universities launch Australian-first employment program for PhD students

Westpac and the Group of Eight (Go8) have partnered to offer the first program in Australia for Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) students with a focus on Science, Technology, Engineering, or Mathematics (STEM) to undertake employment with the Westpac Group during their studies.

The STEM PhD program was established in recognition of the importance of the STEM fields to the future of Australia and offers students paid, part-time employment with the Westpac Group while they undertake their PhD research at a Go8 university.

This joint collaboration between Westpac and the Go8 is the first of its kind in Australia and aims to deliver both greater research outcomes as well as to professionally develop researchers who can make an enhanced contribution to the economy.

Westpac Group General Manager for Enterprise HR Strategy & Services, Shenaz Khan, said the partnership forms part of Westpac Group’s investment in innovation and commitment to diversity. “There are huge gains to be made by connecting some of Australia’s best academic minds with Australian businesses,” said Shenaz. “This is a unique opportunity to develop researchers from our top universities as well as to deliver innovative solutions to the challenges we face in the commercial sector.

“A key requirement for the success of this program is a flexible working environment, where students can work on a part time basis and balance their commitments between Westpac and their university. At Westpac, we encourage employees to take advantage of flexible working and development opportunities so we’re well positioned to be the first to offer such a program. I’m confident our collaboration with the Go8 will lead to increasing engagement between academia and industry to benefit all Australians,” added Shenaz.

Chief Executive of the Go8, Vicki Thomson, said the employment program had been an exciting proposition from Westpac and the Go8 was sure it would now become an exemplar for PhD training collaboration.

“We have seen the economic value of such collaborative programs overseas, and the Go8 looks forward to ensuring this first of its kind in Australia delivers two things – encourages other companies to follow the Westpac lead, and illustrates the commitment to excellence of both Westpac and the Go8,” she said.

The successful students will undertake two 24-month rotations within selected business units at Westpac Group from February 2017. Students will be matched with a mentor who will guide them through their experience, providing mentorship, introductions and advice on how to balance their commitments.

Students will also participate in a professional development program which will be tailored to their skills and the development areas they nominate.

Karina Mak, a first year PhD student at the University of Sydney, Faculty of Science, has been selected to commence the STEM PhD program with Westpac in February 2017. “I’m excited to start at Westpac in the New Year. This is a fantastic and unique opportunity for PhD students to graduate with practical, on-the-job experience.

It’s encouraging to see that a company like Westpac is supporting STEM disciplines and emerging research that align with their commercial interests,” said Karina.

Press release

'We're a Christian society: Furious Peter Dutton unleashes on school that banned Christmas carols to hold a secular celebration

Peter Dutton has called on Australians to 'rise up' and defend Christmas after a school rejected traditional carols for more secular songs.

Appearing on talkback radio, the furious Immigration Minister said his 'blood was boiling' after learning there was 'not one Christmas carol' at the celebration at Kedron State High School in Queensland.

'It is political correctness gone mad and I think people have just had enough of it,' he told 2GB radio host Ray Hadley.

A member of Mr Dutton's Dickson electorate Jim told the radio show the public secondary school ceremony did not have 'one Christmas carol'.

The lyrics to We Wish You A Merry Christmas were replaced with 'we wish you a happy holiday', The Age reported.

'Many of the people, regardless of their religious belief, would be there happy to sing Christmas carols, happy to enjoy the fact that we celebrate Christmas as a Christian society,' Mr Dutton told 2GB.  'It's beyond my comprehension but it has gone too far.'

The pro-Christmas politician likened the current climate of political correctness to when Prime Minister Paul Keating was in charge in the mid-1990s.

Mr Keating was known for his role in social issues - promoting Indigenous affairs, multiculturalism and inclusiveness.

'People had a gutful of it and I think we're back to the same stage now, and I think we need to rise up against it. People need to speak against it as they are,' Mr Dutton said.

'Because the vast majority of Australian people want to hear Christmas carols. They want their kids to be brought up in a normal environment and they don't want to be lectured to by do-gooders who frankly don't practise what they preach in any case.'

Radio host Ray Hadley was also outraged over the rejected Christmas carols, pointing the finger of blame at 'left-wing teachers' and the principal of Kedron State High School. 'It's insulting, it's demeaning and it's a farce,' he said.

The radio announcer had a similar discussion with Treasurer Scott Morrison just days prior to speaking with Mr Dutton.  Mr Morrison also slammed political correctness around Christmas and chimed: 'Have a great Christmas and enjoy the birth of our Lord.'


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

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