Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Controversial 'alt-right' firebrand Lauren Southern set for Australia

Alt Right people are simply those who talk about what sort of people you want in your life.  Would you like a Jihadi next door, for instance?  Leftists think all men are equal.  Which do you think is saner?

Controversial Canadian blogger Lauren Southern is heading to Australia, with dates booked in Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, Adelaide, Perth and Auckland.

The Canadian anti-Islamic immigration firebrand, who boasts more than a million social media followers, will be accompanied on speaking engagements in Australia by fellow countryman Stephan Molyneux, a podcaster who was described by the Washington Post as "one of the alt-right's biggest YouTube stars".

Described by some as a peddler of online hate, Ms Southern was denied re-entry to the United Kingdom in March after she distributed flyers near London in February which said, "Allah is a gay god".

UK border authorities determined her political activites were "a serious threat to the fundamental interests of society and are likely to incite tensions between local communities in the United Kingdom".

The pair said they would be bringing "essential information" to help Australians make better decisions about the nation's direction.

"It really seems that you guys [Australians] are at a cross-roads," Ms Southern said in a promotional video for the tour.
"Do you want to retain your culture, do you want to retain your borders, family, identity.

"Or will the boats keep coming, will the no-go zones keep growing and will you become another victim of multiculturalism."
Ms Southern has been a prominent in drawing attention to the plight of South African farmers and will be screening a documentary about post-Apartheid era farm violence.


No new subs until the 2030s?

Until then we have to rely on the useless Collins boats.  They are good when they are good but they are always breaking  down.  There's never any more than one at sea (out of 6 boats) at any one time  They appear to be unfixable

There's a $100 billion estimated price tag to build and maintain Australia's new fleet of submarines over the next 60 years.

French shipbuilder Naval Group has the $50 billion contract to design the 12 submarines which will be built in Adelaide.

Defence department officials told a Senate estimates hearing on Tuesday the maintenance costs are expected to be $50 billion over the next 60 years.

The first steel for the Australian submarines is expected to be cut by 2022, with the first vessels due to enter service in the early 2030s.


Bill Shorten defends shutdown of refugee debate at Victorian Labor conference

Keeping the lid on his pro-refugees members is essential for him but will be difficult.  Seeming weak on illegal immigration would cause him to lose the next election

Labor left MPs have expressed disappointment that the Victorian conference shut down a debate on imposing a 90-day time limit on offshore detention.

The procedural move to close the state conference early by the industrial left has been interpreted as protection of Bill Shorten’s position by the Construction, Forestry, Maritime, Mining and Energy Union, and indicates that any major change to the party’s platform on refugees at the national conference is unlikely.

The national conference will be rescheduled after the surprise announcement that five byelections are to be held on 28 July, with September and January now under consideration.

On Sunday the industrial left teamed up with the Labor right to close the Victorian state conference, shutting down urgency motions on live exports, gender inequality in superannuation, closure of offshore detention centres, the right to strike, the rate of Newstart and recognition of Palestine.

The same grouping also combined to vote against senators being preselected by an equal vote of rank and file members and affiliated union delegates to state conference.

In a statement on Facebook the Labor MP Andrew Giles, the shadow assistant minister for schools, said it was “beyond disappointing that some delegates chose to shut down debate on important issues”.

“In Labor we pride ourselves on our culture of debate – of working through tough questions respectfully and openly, not hiding from these or from scrutiny of our positions,” he said.

“We can’t take this for granted. This goes to the heart of our challenge, which isn’t just to to set out an alternative policy vision but to reject cynicism towards politics by building a movement in which all of us can have a say in shaping our future.”

A Labor MP told Guardian Australia that “clearly the industrial left and CFMEU in particular are very focused on supporting Bill Shorten, even at the expense of progressive causes”.

The MP said it was clear the industrial left was now a reliable source of numbers for the Victorian right when it came to opposing organisational changes to democratise the party in Victoria.

Since the CFMEU provided crucial votes to Shorten at the 2015 conference, Labor’s policy has been to support boat turnbacks and offshore detention of refugees, with the proposal for a 90-day time limit now the most progressive option under serious consideration.

At a doorstop on Monday in the marginal Tasmanian seat of Braddon, where Labor is fighting for the re-election of Justine Keay, Shorten said the party had a “very good conference over the weekend”.

“When it comes to offshore processing, I’ve made it clear that we will make sure the people smugglers don’t get back into business,” he said. “But I’ve also made it clear that I think this government hasn’t done enough to help resettle the people in these facilities and indefinite detention shouldn’t be used as an excuse to avoid regional resettlement.”

On Sunday the Victorian special minister of state, Gavin Jennings, compared the last-minute vote to defer the motions to Labor’s administrative committee to “student politics”.

“The disappointing thing is there was a strange alliance of people who actually decided rather than to deal with important issues ... they’d rather go home,” he told reporters.

Even Labor right powerbroker Adem Somyurek backed Jennings, labelling the intervention “courageous” and expressing his personal opposition to indefinite detention of asylum seekers.


Victorian crackdown aims to draw children back to local schools

Your kid will go to school where WE want, not where you want.  Typical Leftist authoritarianism

The Victorian education department is cracking down on schools that accept high numbers of enrolments from non-local students by refusing to provide portable classrooms.

The department told state schools this month that it would not deliver portable classrooms in 2019 to schools where more than 50% of students live outside the local catchment area.

The new rule will apply to about 15% of state schools, based on 2018 enrolment figures.

The aim is to funnel students back into under-capacity schools in preparation for an estimated 10% increase in the number of school-age children by 2021. The state needs to build an estimated 50 new schools to keep up with demand.

A department spokeswoman said the decision allowed the department to focus resources on schools facing enrolment pressures from local population growth.

“It’s important for all schools to take a common sense approach to managing enrolments from outside their local community so we don’t have schools lose vital play space,” she said.

But some parents have suggested it will take away choice.

Parents in Victoria are able to choose which public school to send their children to, provided the school prioritises local enrolments. It is a system that has seen some more popular schools overflow into portable classrooms to cope with out-of-area demand while other schools are under capacity, the Australian Education Union’s Victorian president, Meredith Peace, said.

According to a 2017 ombudsman’s report, more than half of all primary and secondary students at Victorian public schools in 2016 attended a school other than their local school.

Peace said it was a concerning trend that could increase inequality in the public school system.

“We risk ending up with a very stratified system, which is frankly not in anyone’s interests,” she told Guardian Australia.

“We don’t want to continue to see that [inequity] added to by this movement of what I think is a false notion of choice, because the reality is not everyone has a choice. The government has a responsibility to ensure that our state education system, regardless of where you live, provides your child with a properly resourced school that can offer high-quality education.”

Pearce said that the reputation of public schools was “fickle” and encouraged parents to visit their local schools during term to make their own assessment.

“Schools can get reputations for being good, bad, or otherwise often unfairly or with no basis,” she said. “It’s often based on hearsay from other people who may have their particular issues with that school.”


No room for differing views

“What happened to me has a massive chilling effect on debate,” says physics professor Peter Ridd, who was sacked by James Cook University last week after saying other scientists, including former colleagues, have exaggerated the dangers to the Great Barrier Reef.

“Any scientist who might agree with me on the reef will just keep their mouth shut, it’s just too risky.”

The well-published professor in coastal oceanography, reef systems and peer review, and a former head of JCU’s school of physics, allegedly has “engaged in serious misconduct, including denigrating the university and its employees, and not acting in the best interests of the university”, according to vice-chancellor Sandra Harding in the letter terminating his employment.

The sacking stems from comments the 29-year JCU veteran made on Sky News that “science is coming out not properly checked, tested or replicated” and those who claim problems with the reef are too “emotionally attached to their subject” — views already aired in his chapter in the book Climate Change: The Facts 2017, produced by the Institute of Public Affairs. Ridd’s academic freedom supposedly has fallen foul of the institution’s code of conduct. A disturbing pattern is emerging on Australia campuses. The JCU experience is typical of the breakdown of free intellectual inquiry at our universities; of debate replaced by dogma.

“I’m a lefty myself, but a monoculture is always a risk, whether you’re part of it or against it,” says Bill von Hippel, acting head of psychology at the University of Queensland. “I’m very worried that the left-leaning ideology of most members of our field might skew the nature of the questions we ask and the way we interpret our findings.”

Ridd has taken his fight to the Federal Circuit Court on the grounds that termination of his employment is a breach of his contractual right to academic freedom. “We need universities to actually encourage different viewpoints so that we get argument,” he says.

Inquirer has spoken to more than a dozen Australian academics across disciplines, universities, and the political spectrum who are concerned about the suffocating monoculture that is gripping our universities, jeopardising research and teaching.

These academics are members of Heterodox Academy, a network of 1865 professors from the US, Britain, Canada, New Zealand, and Australia. They come from the political left and right but are united in promoting viewpoint diversity: a range of perspectives challenging each other in the pursuit of reason, truth and progress.

Heterodox is premised on the work of co-founder and chairman Jonathan Haidt, a professor of psychology at New York University. Haidt’s moral foundations theory contends that progressives have a more narrow moral palette than conservatives. Progressives prioritise care and fairness; the moral palette of conservatives includes these concerns, in addition to group loyalty, submission to legitimate authority and disgust. Haidt has found that these moral intuitions drive progressives and conservatives to different world views.

This poses a danger for research. Academics, like everyone else, are not immune from confirmation bias (interpreting information to confirm pre-existing beliefs) and motivated reasoning (developing logic to support pre-existing beliefs). To combat these biases, individuals with different opinions need to be put together to “disconfirm the claims of others”, Haidt says.

It is necessary for conservative academics to challenge progressive academics, and vice versa. This is the essence of the Socratic method, of claim and counterclaim in pursuit of the truth, and it is what drives intellectual inquiry.

Universities, particularly in the humanities and social sciences, are dominated by progressives. A US study found less than 10 per cent of academics identify as conservative, while another study found 39 per cent of US campuses have no Republicans. The situation in Australia appears to be similar. Universities seek gender and racial diversity but they are missing the diversity that is crucial for their effective functioning: viewpoint diversity.

“When everyone shares the same politics and prejudices, the disconfirmation process breaks down,” Haidt says.

Academics interviewed by Inquirer tell of a variety of ways that the progressive monoculture limits free intellectual inquiry in Australia. Important projects do not receive funding. Challenging papers are not published. Important issues are not investigated. Studies are designed to reach predetermined outcomes. Erroneous research is misguiding society. Academics self-censor. Administrators censor heretics. Students are exposed to fewer ideas and are marked down or failed for expressing a different perspective.

“Essentially, I was reprimanded for discussing issues that could make students feel uneasy or uncomfortable,” an Australian academic tells Inquirer on condition of anonymity, fearing retaliation from the university and shunning by colleagues.

This same academic was condemned by university administrators for using challenging stories from Haidt’s moral foundations theory in his teaching. The stories, which include necrophilia, incest and cannibalism, are designed to teach students how instinctive emotional responses come before logical reasoning.

“Students are adults, not children, and within a university it should be possible to expose students to material that, even if it was distasteful and confronting, is of educational value,” the academic says.

Administrators demanded the stories be removed from a new online course on ethics, despite no complaints from on-campus students in the past. The academic reluctantly agreed to the censorship and thought this was the end of affair. However, word about the stories spread. Several months later the academic was reprimanded again at his annual performance review for teaching “culturally insensitive” stories. He believes he was punished with an increased workload. Cultural sensitivity is the progressive political belief of not offending those of non-Western backgrounds.

“Going down the path of ‘cultural appropriateness’ recommended by my supervisor is condemning universities to a future of pre-Enlightenment obscurantism. For example, most of my students come from countries where homosexuality is both illegal and subject to social censure. Does this mean that I should no longer discuss homosexuality in my teaching? In conversing with Saudi students I have discovered that some of them believe that women should not hold political office. Should I therefore avoid referring to female politicians in my lectures?”

Ideological monocultures create intolerance and hostility. When you never hear opposing perspectives and spend time only with people who reinforce your ideas, it breeds overconfidence. You come to think that the people expressing opposing perspectives are intellectually deficient or driven by sinister goals.

“If you are exposed to just one set of ideas, you’re not going to understand the other person’s perspective,” Matthew Blackwell, an economics and anthropology student at the University of Queensland, warns from his experience. “And even if they do begin to try to tell you their perspective, because you’re so used to an entirely different way of thinking you’re not going to be receptive at all.”

As a result, students and academics who challenge the zeitgeist are stigmatised by their colleagues and university administrations.

One academic tells of a marker recommending a fail grade to a student thesis critical of postmodernist interpretations of terrorism. “Having read parts of his thesis I am certain that it did not deserve a fail,” the academic says. “The only reason that I can think of for the examiner seeking to fail his thesis is ideologically based animus against his argument.”

An Australian psychology academic was investigated by his university for setting an assignment that surveyed students on gender differences with regards to jealously. “The underlying theory is evolutionary — jealousy is linked to biological sex and males and females respond differently,” the lecturer tells Inquirer.

A student accused the academic of “transphobia” in a pejorative Facebook post and com­plained to the university. The administrators spent months investigating, the lecturer was required to attend hours of meetings, and the dean of the school monitored lectures, ostensibly to make the student feel “safe”.

Social psychology literature has established that men respond more strongly to sexual infidelity, and women more strongly to emotional infidelity. The survey — which included “male”, “female” and “prefer not to say” options — was designed for students to test this theory and write up the results. The academic was never given a written complaint or formally cleared of wrongdoing and almost left his job because of the inquisition.

“I find myself having to be extremely careful, having a real anxiety about going into lectures and classes, and am very fearful of saying something that students find offensive,” the academic says. “That affects my teaching, it makes me feel uncomfortable, it makes it difficult to think and present freely and clearly.”

There have been many cases of censorship across Australian campuses. Last year, Monash University and the University of Sydney capitulated to demands for course content censorship — including a quiz and a map — by nationalistic Chinese international students. The University of Western Australia cancelled a contract to host “sceptical environmentalist” Bjorn Lomborg’s Australian Consensus Centre, and no Australian university was willing to host it.

The monoculture has institutional backing through university policies and censorship.

The IPA’s Free Speech on Campus Audit 2017, which analysed more than 165 policies and actions at Australia’s 42 universities, found that four in five universities had policies or had taken action that was hostile to free speech.

University policies prevent “insulting” and “unwelcome” comments, “offensive” language and, in some cases, “sarcasm” and “hurt feelings”. Some policies tell students and academics they are “expected” to value “social justice”, a progressive political notion. These misguided policies make it difficult to explore controversial ideas without fear of reprisal.

Florian Ploeckl, a senior lecturer in economics at the University of Adelaide, says many acad­emics bite their tongue on con­troversial topics. “If working on these topics is essentially futile, why should we make ourselves into targets for Twitter mobs and social media crusades?”

Ploeckl warns that academics instead are ceding the space to “activists with their fundamentalist convictions” who do not approach topics scientifically. “Funding is easier and more plentiful if you pick the right topic, publishing is easier if you don’t rock the boat and life in the department is easier if you see the world in the same way your colleagues do,” he says.

David Baker, a lecturer in history at Macquarie University, says while most academics are open to diverse viewpoints, “there is a small group of academics, whose behaviour can only be described as sinister, who are in the business of brainwashing their students and who will try to harm the careers of colleagues they deem heretical to their ideology … Grades can be devastated, careers can be cut short and there is very little one can do about it.”

The lack of viewpoint diversity ultimately has an effect on the quality of public discourse. “Universities and academics are uncritically accepting some theories, teaching them to students, and they are finding their way into society, influencing businesses and political debate,” says Hardy Hulley, a finance senior lecturer at University of Technology Sydney who identifies as “pretty liberal”.

The late Stephen Hawking once warned: “The greatest enemy of knowledge is not ignorance, it’s the illusion of knowledge.” Our ability to expose errors and discover truths is hampered by lack of free and open discussion.

There are reasons to be optimistic. The existence of Heterodox Academy indicates a willingness by some to challenge the orthodoxy. “I joined Heterodox because I wanted to pull myself away from my echo chamber and consider more diverse viewpoints,” says Lydia Hayward, a psychology researcher at the University of NSW.

In the US, some institutions are staking their reputation on being open to debate.

The University of Chicago has declared that “it is not the proper role of the university to attempt to shield individuals from ideas and opinions they find unwelcome, disagreeable or even deeply offensive.” Thirty-five US universities have adopted this statement.

Federal Education and Training Minister Simon Birmingham, in response to the concerns raised by Heterodox Academy members, has stressed the importance of views being challenged.

“Any university that limits constructive debate doesn’t just do themselves a huge disservice, they let down the Australian public and taxpayers who chip in most of their university revenue,” he tells Inquirer. “Univer­sity leaders who aren’t fostering debate on campus need to remember that the autonomy they are granted comes with the responsibility to understand the social lic­ence taxpayers give them to operate.”


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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