Tuesday, August 29, 2023

UN corrects 40-year error claiming Tasmanian Aboriginal extinction

This "correction" can only be made because Australian law says that just one drop of Aboriginal blood makes you an Aborigine. The last full-bloods died out over a century ago. None of the alleged Tasmanian Aborigines these days even have dark skin. Mansell (below) is a blue-eyed blond

A United Nations (UN) agency has rectified a longstanding historical inaccuracy that had claimed Tasmanian Aboriginal people to be extinct for more than four decades.

The erroneous statement was discovered in a document related to the nomination process for the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area declaration in 1982.

The document, which carried the inaccurate claim that “Tasmanians are now an extinct race of humans,” has finally been removed.

The flawed reference came to light during the technical evaluation of the temperate wilderness area by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), a part of the process to secure its place on the World Heritage List.

The IUCN report also suggested the thylacine’s survival, a creature believed to have vanished in 1936.

The reference to the extinction of Tasmanian Aboriginal people and the potential existence of the thylacine were tied to the uniqueness of the wilderness area.

In May, it was reported by The Australian that the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) had initially declined to remove the inaccurate reference.

However, UNESCO later clarified that it had not been approached regarding the matter and promptly removed the document from its World Heritage website upon being informed of the issue.

A spokesperson from UNESCO confirmed that the document had been removed for revision by IUCN, the advisory body responsible for producing the document in 1982.

UNESCO emphasised its commitment to recognising and respecting Indigenous populations in the context of protecting world heritage sites.

The organisation acknowledged that it had agreed with IUCN to amend the 1982 report in order to incorporate scientific data collected since then, which validates the ongoing existence of Tasmanian Aboriginal people.

The inaccuracy in the document has been seen as a reflection of the historical mistreatment of Aboriginal people.

Rodney Dillon, a Palawa elder and the chair of Tasmania’s Aboriginal Heritage Council, expressed his people’s sadness and hurt due to this misrepresentation.

Dillon criticised the need for more sensitivity displayed by organisations like the UN and questioned how such institutions can effectively represent Indigenous communities.

“Our people feel the sadness, the hurt. It’s pretty typical of people in these positions … they’ve been doing it for hundreds of years,” he told Guardian Australia.

Michael Mansell, chair of the Aboriginal Land Council of Tasmania, stressed the need for the original inscription to be revised to acknowledge the insult and correct the historical record.

In May, he asserted in The Australian’s report that “World Heritage listing needs to be overhauled to acknowledge that the 1.5 million-hectare area is substantially World-Heritage listed because of its Aboriginal cultural values.”

ALCT manager Rebecca Digney told ABC the 1982 document was “dehumanising” and an example of “racist rhetoric” that exists today, though news of UNESCO’s amendment was welcomed.

“Denying somebody’s existence is probably the cruellest thing you can do to a class of people, particularly a class of people who are the survivors of genocide,” she said.

Ms Digney added Indigenous Tasmanians have been fighting the myth of extinction since the death of Truganini in 1876.

Truganini was an Aboriginal Tasmanian woman documented as one of the last native speakers of the Tasmanian languages and solely of Aboriginal Tasmanian descent.

“The quickest way to undermine Aboriginal people, particularly in Tasmania, is to tell them that they don’t exist,” she said.

“It silences their voices on a political and social level. It denies them their claims on any sort of legal or economic level.”

Tanya Plibersek, the federal environmental minister, expressed her shock at the initial claim of Tasmanian Aboriginal extinction and welcomed UNESCO’s corrective action.

“Generations of Australians were taught the wrong thing at school. They were taught a history that isn’t true,” she told the ABC.

The corrected version of the UNESCO statement, known as the Retrospective Statement of Outstanding Universal Value for the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area, is expected to be adopted in September.


First COVID Deaths Were Fully Jabbed, Australian State Records Reveal

In light of a court case launched by a group of doctors challenging the Queensland government's COVID-19 vaccination mandates, records have revealed that the first deaths in the Australian state were individuals who were fully vaccinated.

A list of the state’s first 183 COVID-19 deaths from the pandemic's start on March 13, 2020, until Jan. 27, 2022, produced by Queensland’s chief health officer in an affidavit, indicates it was known to authorities as early as Jan. 2022 that the vaccines may not be preventing deaths.

The list shows that the first locally acquired COVID-19 death was one in their 80s and another in their 30s, with both having received two doses of the vaccine in December 2021 and January 2022, respectively.

While Queensland recorded seven deaths early in the pandemic, these cases were acquired outside of the state and before vaccine rollouts began.

Queensland's border opened in December 2021 after 80 percent of the state population vaccination was reached. By Dec. 31, 2021, nearly 90 percent of the population over 16 were fully vaccinated.

The case, which was launched against the state, calls for the September 2021 directive requiring employees in public health and aged-care facilities to be vaccinated against COVID-19 to be revoked.

A specialist from the case, psychiatrist Peter Parry, said that in the three decades of his career, he had never been subject to disciplinary action until now.

“I graduated from medical school 40 years ago and in all that time have never had a single complaint about me presented to a medical board or AHPRA,” he said.

The reason he chose to decline the COVID-19 vaccines was because these are “not normal vaccines.”

“We hope, by bringing evidentiary material and expert witness testimonies before the Supreme Court, that the Justices will look at the evidence and rule in our favour. If successful, large numbers of experienced nurses, allied health, and doctors will be able to return to assist an overstretched Queensland public health system,” he added.

In addition to enforced work mandates, Premier Annastacia Palazczuk barred the unvaccinated from accessing services and freedoms such as hospitals, disability services, aged care, libraries, and hospitality venues.

This was enforced by proof of vaccination requirements at venues, which the Queensland government said was to keep Queenslanders safe.

Messaging Shifts to Reducing Severe Illness

Initially, in 2021, the Queensland Government closed the state's borders and encouraged people to get vaccinated against COVID-19. They aimed to reopen the borders once 80 percent of the population was vaccinated, with the goal of stopping the virus's spread and safeguarding vulnerable citizens.

However, when the borders reopened after reaching the target, COVID-19 cases surged instead of decreasing. When it became clear that the vaccines didn't entirely prevent infection or transmission, the focus of the messaging shifted to highlight the vaccines' effectiveness in reducing severe illness and death.

It is still a condition today for most Queensland health staff to be vaccinated against COVID-19 to ensure the ongoing safety of employees, patients, visitors and the wider community.

“The overwhelming benefits of COVID-19 vaccination continue to outweigh the potential risks, and this is substantiated by enormous amounts of safety data based on billions of doses worldwide,” a spokesperson for the TGA told The Epoch Times in an email.

Pfizer Dismisses Concerns Over Vaccine Mandates

The news of the deaths follows a parliamentary inquiry into the COVID-19 mandates heard from the Australian heads of Pfizer Australia that the vaccine mandates coerced Australians into getting vaccinated for COVID-19, saying they had a choice.

Appearing before an Australian senate inquiry into the COVID-19 vaccine mandates, Pfizer Country Medical Director Dr. Krishan Thiru and Dr. Brian Hewitt, the head of Regulatory Sciences for Pfizer, dismissed concerns of senators that Australians had been coerced into getting the COVID-19 vaccine.

"I believe firmly that nobody was forced to have a vaccine," Dr. Thiru said.

"Mandates for vaccine requirements are determined by governments and health authorities. I believe everybody was offered an opportunity to get a vaccine or not get a vaccine. I don't believe that anybody was forced to take a vaccine."

Meanwhile, Dr. Hewitt, when asked if he believed Australians in states that were subject to large-scale mandates—like Western Australia or Victoria—were not forced into getting the shot even when they found they were unable to earn a living without receiving a vaccination, replied he did not believe mandates compelled individuals into vaccinating.

"The mandates for vaccine requirements are determined by governments and health authorities. I don't believe that the mandates actually forced individuals to get vaccinations," he said.


Old-school teaching styles make struggling students successful

Seated in rows, the young students at St Vincent’s Primary School are watching their teacher, all eyes on the prize of learning something new. “A verb is a doing and action word,” the teacher says, and the entire class chimes in repetition before each child turns to repeat the words to a classmate. Every student writes a verb on a small whiteboard to show the teacher, who calls on them at random to describe a verb.

“It does sound old school,” says Monique Egan, acting principal of the Canberra Catholic school. “But there’s no doubt it helps children focus. There’s less opportunity for kids to hide and not engage. There are no long teacher explanations – students have to listen, and they’re responding, thinking, doing, making, showing and writing. I’ve never seen the school do this well.”

St Vincent’s school has embraced a teaching method known as direct or explicit instruction, derided for decades as “drill and kill”. It involves teaching children to read by phonics, sounding out words instead of memorising or guessing words from pictures. Homework is minimal but students are encouraged to read books at home and recite their times tables, the foundation of mathematics.

The method is gaining momentum as it dawns on schooling systems that quality teaching may be the solution to Australia’s ever-declining educational outcomes. Progressive ideology, the inquiry-based learning that sets tasks for students to discover facts and skills using their own initiative, has failed a generation of the most vulnerable children who stand to gain the most from a sound education.

St Vincent’s Primary School is part of the nation’s biggest experiment in using explicit instruction to lift student results.

It is one of 56 schools in the Catholic Education Archdiocese of Canberra and Goulburn, whose director Ross Fox has transformed teaching styles through a program called Catalyst.

No longer do children sit around tables where they must bend their necks to see the teacher, and are easily distracted by a cheeky classmate pulling a face or snapping a pencil. Now they sit in rows, with plenty of space for teachers to walk and check on progress. Any children struggling with their schoolwork are placed upfront, and taken out for small-group remedial instruction if they fall behind.

Based on the scientific concept of cognitive load, lessons are delivered with clear instructions from the teacher and constant questioning of students to test their understanding. Concepts are repeated and practised, then reviewed regularly, to help children remember. Teaching materials are shown on smartboards, stripped of any distracting animations that stop kids concentrating.

Catholic Education has spent $3000 to $4000 training each teacher in the explicit instruction methods, including phonics, that universities failed to teach them in a four-year degree.

Lessons are far from dull because teachers don’t drone on at the front of the classroom but keep kids constantly involved.

“There’s so much repetition, but the skill of the teachers is to make that repetition enjoyable in an engaging lesson,” Fox says. “There’s a benefit to sitting in rows and facing the teacher because attention during that precious instructional time is so important. If you want a child to learn new knowledge, the most effective way is to tell them clearly and precisely what you want them to learn.”

The improvements are eye-opening. An Equity Economics analysis shows that in reading, 42 per cent of year 3 students in Catholic schools in Canberra and Goulburn were behind kids in similar schools across Australia in 2019. Last year, just three years after Catalyst transformed classrooms, only 4 per cent of year 3s were underperforming.

Inspired by this success, Catholic schools in Tasmania and Melbourne also are adopting the Catalyst model, the brainchild of Knowledge Society chief executive Elena Douglas, a self-described evangelist of explicit instruction.

“There are 9500 schools in Australia and 6500 are primary schools – every single one of them has to be changed,” she tells Inquirer. “We are getting close to influence over 1000. Once every state has 50 or so schools doing it there will be a systemic effect, and it is looking likely that Catholic systems will be the vector (for change). The first step is to teach the teachers.”

Shocking results from this year’s national literacy and numeracy tests reveal how children are falling off the escalator of education. One in 10 students is defined as requiring additional support to catch up with classmates. One in four students is described as developing their skills – a polite way of saying they have failed to meet the minimum standards set in NAPLAN.

All up, one in three students is below the benchmark set by the nation’s education ministers. Half the nation’s students fall into the strong category, meaning they meet the standards, but only one in six students exceeds them. Boys are likelier than girls to need support. First Nations students underperform at three times the rate of their classmates and a quarter of children require remedial support if their own parents had dropped out of high school.

What has gone wrong? Taxpayers have poured $662bn into schools since Labor prime minister Julia Gillard faced down education unions by mandating the national testing of every student in years 3, 5, 7 and 9. Apart from a slight lift in literacy standards in years 3 and 5 following the uptake of phonics-based reading instruction in more schools in recent years, the results remain dire. Australian students are now more likely to fail than to excel in the basics of reading, writing, mathematics, spelling, grammar and punctuation.

Children from disadvantaged backgrounds – First Nations students, kids in regional and remote areas, those with unemployed or poorly educated parent – have fallen behind the furthest. If NAPLAN results are extrapolated across all four million school students, 1.3 million children are failing to meet minimum standards for the basic subjects of English and maths.

Federal Education Minister Jason Clare has declared the results “make it blisteringly clear that we need serious reform in education”. As he prepares to broker a long-term funding deal with the states and territories next year, Clare has insisted the federal government will no longer write blank cheques. In December, education ministers will consider a review of key targets and specific reforms to be tied to spending on schools, after a review headed by Australian Education Research Organisation chairwoman Lisa O’Brien, a former chief executive of The Smith Family educational charity.

Catch-up tutoring for struggling students – individually or in small groups – is emerging as Clare’s favoured solution to help school strugglers. The minister has seen small group tutoring succeed at Chullora Public School in his western Sydney electorate of Blaxland.

“If you fall behind in third grade, it’s very hard to catch up by the time you’re in year 9,” he said this week, citing an AERO study that tracked the performance of 185,000 students across seven years of NAPLAN testing and found only one in five managed to catch up in high school. “If you take them out of the class – one teacher, a couple of kids – they can learn as much in 18 weeks as you would normally expect to learn in 12 months.” Clare provided federal funding to central Australian schools this year to pay for phonics-based reading instruction and catch-up tutoring for some of the nation’s most disadvantaged children.

Catching up is essential, but so is turning off the pipeline of failure by stopping kids from falling behind in the first place. Educational success begins at home. Children who don’t attend preschool or whose parents spend more on beer than on food – let alone books – are starting from behind. Kids are less likely to learn if their families are blighted by domestic violence, disability, homelessness, addiction or mental illness. Children can’t choose their parents and have no control over the choices of adults. Society and schools mustn’t blame the victims of disadvantage and dysfunction.


Net Zero is a revolutionary idea, but not all revolutions are a good idea

There is a saying that revolutionary ideas are first heretical, then they become interesting and controversial, until suddenly they are old hat. Or as Rowan Dean put it, ‘Today’s denounced conspiracy is tomorrow’s undisputed truth.’

So let’s get interesting and controversial about Net Zero.

Net Zero is not necessary, it’s not happening, and it’s not possible until nuclear power is in the mix. In the meantime, why don’t we burn our beautiful black and brown coal that generates the cheapest power in the world?

The push for Net Zero is driven by two propositions. The first is that the increase in global temperatures has to be kept below 1.5 or at most 2 degrees Celsius, and the second is that this warming is being driven by human activities that produce emissions of (mostly) CO2.

From there, everything follows down the chain of Net Zero policies to reduce the production of airborne plant food and a few other things, like animal farts.

What if we test the foundational assumptions? Among critical rationalists inspired by Karl Popper and Bill Bartley, this is called ‘the check on the problem’. Essentially, this check is undertaken to confirm the problem is real and alternative responses (including doing nothing) are on the table for cost-benefit analysis and due diligence.

We want to avoid the process that Roger James observed when the postwar British Labor government was building a New Jerusalem by central planning.

James coined the term ‘solutioneering’ for the process of jumping straight from a perceived problem, usually described as a crisis, to a solution before investigating the problem (if indeed there is one at all), and exploring a range of possible solutions.

Jumping to a solution before clearly formulating what the problem is (or indeed if there is one at all) or how success or failure are to be judged. Achievement of the solution then becomes the goal; and, when opposition develops, the problem becomes how to get the solution accepted, while the question of how best to solve the original problem, if there was one, never gets discussed at all. I call this mistake solutioneering

Anticipated benefits are over-estimated, the costs are under-estimated, everything is urgent, time is of the essence, it will cost more later on if it is delayed.

If all else fails, someone might decide to describe the costs as investments in a ‘glorious future’.

This process is now standard procedure for left-wing and conservative administrations, as though Key Performance Indicators are the number of new programs and the pages of legislation and regulations added to the books.

Running a check on the global warming problem and Net Zero solution reveals some concerning realities.

The first question we have to ask is, has the planet been warming?

If the answer is ‘no’, then go on with business as usual.

If ‘yes’, we require the follow up questions of how much has it warmed and is this a problem?

Some will say the planet has warmed by 1.3 degrees over the last 120 years and this has been a good thing. It may have stopped warming already and another degree or two more in the next century will most likely do more good than harm.

So again, if this is the case, the sensible thing for humanity would be to go on with business as usual, including genuine research in the field of climate science.

Others say that this warming period represents an existential threat and, because it’s our fault, the onus is on Australia to do everything we can to reduce our 1 per cent share of the world’s emissions. Never mind what China, India, and the developing nations are doing.

The next question is a no-brainer, knowing that our efforts will make no measurable difference to the climate of the world. (Alan Finkel told us as much when he was the Chief Scientist.)

Why would we spend a single dollar of public money, let alone a trillion, to press on boldly with decarbonisation?

Admittedly, we have produced a lot of remarkable achievements even at this early stage of the long march.

We have doubled, maybe tripled the cost of power with a lot more to come as we rewire the nation.

Billions of dollars of investment have gone offshore (think balance of payments, jobs, tax revenue, local skills development).

Would anyone dare to add up the cost of the new public entities in Canberra and elsewhere to mastermind and supervise and report on our Net Zero strategies? Would anyone count the new state and federal agencies, the special units in universities, or the grants handed out for new initiatives like carbon capture and pumped hydro? Not to mention hydrogen and green aviation fuel…

Look at the work big consultancies have picked up to advise firms across the nation to implement the data collection and reporting systems to satisfy the demands from every regulatory agency to consider ‘climate risks’ and ESG protocols.

All of the above add to the cost of doing business. They undermine the productivity of the private sector which is the goose that lays the golden tax eggs to pay the bills for government spending.

And there is more. We have seen the corruption of scientific research. The trashing of education from kindergarten to Year 12 and beyond. Then we have the travesty of reporting standards by stenographers and commentators in the mainstream media, especially in the public broadcaster. All this comes as the public starts to lose faith in the CSIRO and Bureau of Meteorology.

Is there any need to go on? All we can do is look forward to the time when everyone says ‘we were always climate and energy realists’.


Also see my other blogs. Main ones below:

http://dissectleft.blogspot.com (DISSECTING LEFTISM -- daily)

http://antigreen.blogspot.com (GREENIE WATCH)

http://pcwatch.blogspot.com (POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH)

http://edwatch.blogspot.com (EDUCATION WATCH)

http://snorphty.blogspot.com/ (TONGUE-TIED)

http://jonjayray.com/blogall.html More blogs


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