Friday, October 30, 2015

Australia is the meat-eating capital of the world:  Cop that, WHO!

According to the WHO we must be dying like flies.  Australians in fact have one of the world's highest life expectancies.  So if diet has any effect on life-expectancy, the WHO is exactly wrong. They say that red meat will rot your bum and don't go anywhere near bacon.  I quote:

"Red meat
After thoroughly reviewing the accumulated scientific literature, a Working Group of 22 experts from 10 countries convened by the IARC Monographs Programme classified the consumption of red meat as probably carcinogenic to humans (Group 2A), based on limited evidence that the consumption of red meat causes cancer in humans and strong mechanistic evidence supporting a carcinogenic effect.

This association was observed mainly for colorectal cancer, but associations were also seen for pancreatic cancer and prostate cancer.

Processed meat
Processed meat was classified as carcinogenic to humans (Group 1), based on sufficient evidence in humans that the consumption of processed meat causes colorectal cancer"

Iconoclastic though it may be, I don't think that there is ANYTHING in a normal diet that affects life-expectancy for good or ill.  And I have spent YEARS reading flaky academic studies claiming otherwise.  They are all inconclusive and reflect food snobbery most of all

As residents of the world's meat-eating capital, Australians would be wise to pay more attention than most to the World Health Organisation's findings linking processed meat consumption to cancer.

Australians have finally surpassed the US to claim the title of world's most voracious meat eaters – a distinction we last held more than 30 years ago, in 1982.

Australians devoured 90.21 kilograms of meat per person in 2014, 170 grams more per person than the Americans, according to the latest figures from the Organisation of Economic Development and Co-operation and UN Food and Agriculture Organisation.

Our return to the top ranking is mostly due to a decade-long decline in American meat consumption.  By contrast, Australia's meat consumption has been creeping upwards over the past two decades, mostly driven by an increased appetite for chicken and pork.

While red meat has traditionally taken pride of place at the centre of the Aussie dinner table, we're now eating half as much lamb as in the 1980s and two-thirds the amount of beef, but nearly 2.5 times as much chicken and twice as much pork. (Our shifting preferences can be traced to a number of economic, cultural and environmental factors.)

Different patterns of meat consumption around the world tell a story of rich and poor. Meat consumption tends to rise as income rises, until it reaches a saturation point – where average incomes keep rising but people decide they just can't eat any more meat.

Cultural preferences produce some notable exceptions to the "mo money mo meat" pattern, such as India, where religious preferences mean up to 30-40 per cent of the population are vegetarians; and Malaysia and China, where meat consumption is far higher than would be expected from each country's income.

Worldwide, chicken is now the world's favourite meat by a slim margin, having surpassed pork in 2007 – a trend mostly driven by meat preferences among the wealthy OECD nations. Chicken has been the preferred meat among OECD countries since 2000. Worldwide consumption of chicken was 13.2kg per person in 2014; pork was 12.6kg.

China and Vietnam – two of the world's fastest-rising meat-eating nations – ate the most pork of any nation in 2014, with the Chinese surpassing the Europeans to claim the No. 1 ranking only recently, in 2013.

Pork is by far the most widely-consumed meat among the EU28 countries, with Europeans eating about 31kg of pork per person in 2014, compared with 22kg of chicken.

Pork is also the preferred meat among the major emerging BRICS economies of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, where 16kg of pork is eaten for every 10kg of chicken.

Not to be out-eaten in the pork stakes (or steaks), Australia ranked eighth out of 43 countries for pork consumption in 2014, at 20kg of pork per person.


Let’s stop blurring the truth about family violence

The lady below gets it but still skates over the specifics.  For instance, An Aboriginal woman is 45 times more likely to experience domestic violence than a white woman. So Aborigines make up a big part of the figures reported.  On any rational calculus it is Aboriginal communities that should be prime targets of the domestic violence warriors but they are in fact rarely mentioned.  Racism?

And family violence in Aboriginal communities is NOT a hopeless case.  Extra policing is not in principle hard to arrange and would make a big difference to the often lawless situation in such communities.  Just arresting drunks would make a huge difference -- as much violence is drunken

FAMILY violence is all the rage. More than ever before it is on the minds and tongues of politicians of all stripes; as it should have been long ago.

It’s been labelled a national shame. It’s been called an epidemic. Men kill their partners or ex-partners at the rate of about one a week.

The Advertiser revealed yesterday that a government unit is dealing with 36 women and children each week who are at immediate risk of injury or death. In South Australia alone.

What the current appeals and awareness campaigns and earnest speeches from people in suits are doing is trying to breach that code of silence. They’re trying to shine a light on relationships that are abysmally wrong, to shame the perpetrators and give the survivors the courage to escape.

But the light isn’t quite getting in to all the corners. While all women — and children, and men — are at risk of violence, some are more at risk than others.

This is the truth still submerged in shadows. If you’re poor, or can’t speak English, or you’re an Aboriginal in remote Australia, or even if you’re gay, you’re more at risk.

Disadvantage in life can lead to vulnerability to violence. The topic treads treacherous waters.

It is true, and rightly emphasised, that anyone can be a victim. The sturdy bluestone walls of a stately Burnside home won’t protect you because the danger is already inside.

But there’s a well-intentioned deception going on when people don’t talk about risk factors. The Australian Institute of Criminology, Parliament, and the Australian Institute of Family Studies are among those who have documented those risk factors.

The biggest risk factor is being female, but the others include: being culturally or linguistically diverse [Muslim], being Aboriginal, being poor, being uneducated, being gay, lesbian or transgender, being disabled.

This blurring of the truth by not talking about those groups is well intentioned because it would cause harm to start pointing fingers at specific communities, and it would risk ignoring the still-appalling levels of violence within the somewhat-lower risk groups.

But ignoring the risk factors won’t help get us to that elusive solution. If we’re really going to get into the dark corners, we have to be fierce and fearless.

There are people in Australia who come from countries where there are no laws against domestic violence — mostly African nations. There are many who come to Australia from countries where women have fewer rights. That list includes much of the Arab world and Asia.

But we don’t import most of the at-risk groups; they’re already here.

They’re often not at the swanky fundraising balls, or the Press Club, listening to politicians talk about family violence. They’re not watching Question Time, or listening to leaders say that “real men” wouldn’t hit women.

They’re living the reality that we’re now hearing so much about, but their voices are almost always missing from this vital conversation. Because we don’t want to single them out.

This is the first time we’ve had so much political will to change the nation, and we can’t afford to squib it through squeamishness.


Malcolm Turnbull repels anti-mines push with coal hard facts

Prime Minister Turnbull has repudiated calls for a moratorium on new coal mines, in a fundamental break with environmental activists. The Prime Minister drew ­industry acclaim but sparked fury from green groups

The International Energy Agency also countered predictions of an end to the coal trade, declaring yesterday that other ­energy sources had little chance of beating the cost of coal-fired power stations in the rising economies of Asia. With global ­demand for coal rising 2.1 per cent a year for the next five years, the Turnbull government sees the ­nation’s $40 billion in annual coal exports as vital to the economy, despite a price slump that has hit the federal budget.

The coal trade has seen a ­doubling of capacity at Port ­Waratah in Newcastle, NSW, in the time that coal services worker Shaun Sears has made his living from the exports. “The port’s ­capacity has gone from 70 million tonnes to 145 million in the 12 years I’ve been here,” the 52-year-old said yesterday.

The Prime Minister yesterday issued a swift response to an open letter from 61 prominent Australians, including Nobel laureate Peter Doherty, rugby union ­player David Pocock, former ­Reserve Bank governor Bernie Fraser and ABC radio host Adam Spencer, in which they called for a global climate change agreement to stop new coal mines.

Mr Turnbull embraced the prospect of cheaper renewable ­energy from solar and wind power but debunked the idea of a rapid shift away from fossil fuels and warned against driving the world’s poor into “energy poverty” by clamping down on coal.

“If Australia were to stop all of its coal exports it would … not reduce global emissions one iota,” Mr Turnbull said when asked about the call. “In fact, arguably it would increase them because our coal, by and large, is cleaner than the coal in many other countries. So with great respect to the motivations and the big hearts and the idealism of the people that advocate that, that is actually not a sensible policy, either from an economic point of view, a jobs point of view or, frankly, from a global warming or global emissions point of view.”

Government ministers and backbenchers saw the remarks as a signal of Mr Turnbull’s approach to climate change policy after the bitter Coalition divisions of the past, with a pragmatic new message that rejects the extreme positions taken by some green groups or those who reject the need to cut greenhouse gas emissions.

Trade Minister Andrew Robb stepped up the government’s message, declaring that Australia had a “moral obligation” to sell its coal to developing nations. Mr Robb, who is in India for the latest round of talks on a free-trade deal, said it would be wrong to deny electricity to millions of people. “No matter which way you look at it, over the next 50 to 70 years there is no alternative to coal as part of the mix,” he said.

Bill Shorten also rejected a moratorium yesterday.

The IEA, the world’s top energy authority, has issued robust forecasts for the use of coal. Its executive director, Fatih Birol, told a conference in Singapore yesterday that coal would not “disappear quickly” because it had a significant cost advantage over gas.

Dr Birol cautioned, however, that unless policies changed there would be “serious environmental impacts” from the widespread use of coal-fired power across Southeast Asia.

The IEA estimates that coal demand will rise 2.1 per cent a year to 2019, down from the 3.3 per cent rate in recent years but still growing. Chinese coal consumption will not peak during the five-year outlook.

The signatories to the moratorium turned on the Prime Minister yesterday, saying he should act on a warning from Kiribati President Anote Tong to halt new mines. “In essence, Malcolm Turnbull misses the whole point,” said La Trobe University emeritus professor Robert Manne. “The call is for an international moratorium on new coal mines and that reflects our understanding that the planet is not to be destroyed. Eighty per cent of known reserves of fossil fuels have to be left in the ground. The issue is as simple as that.”

The Australia Institute’s executive director, Ben Oquist, said Mr Tong had not called for an export ban but had made a “considered call” for a global moratorium on new mines.

Company director and former Business Council of Australia president Tony Shepherd said critics of coal needed to accept that wind and solar were not capable of providing reliable base-load power. Mr Turnbull had made “sensible, balanced comments” that Australians should welcome, he said.

Australian Mines and Metals Association chief Steve Knott said Mr Turnbull had highlighted that if Australia did not export coal then other countries would.


With our way of life under threat, focus on what unites us

Gerard Henderson regrets that most intellectuals and many Muslims and blacks in Australia feel no loyalty to Australia

In reviewing John Howard’s The Menzies Era in The Times Literary Supplement last May, Clive James made a tough-minded assessment about refugees, immigration and all that.

James wrote: “Until recently, in Australia, every ethnic group that came in was assimilated if it wanted to: the Muslim extremists are the first consignment of immigrants to hate Western ­civilisation almost as much as the resident intellectuals do.” Tough minded, for sure. But fair. Except that the intelligentsia in Australia is not into murder and/or destruction.

On the other hand, some Islamists openly proclaim their intention to overthrow Australian democracy and establish a caliphate whereby everyone will live in accordance with the dictates of an Islamist theocracy.

Certainly this is the view of only a very small minority of the Muslim community. Yet it is both real and threatening. This was made clear in the important report by Sean Rubinsztein-Dunlop and Dylan Welch on the ABC’s 7.30 last Monday.

The program interviewed a 19-year-old supporter of the so-called Islamic State, or Daesh, who knew Farhad Jabar, the 15-year-old who murdered Curtis Cheng outside the Parramatta police station.

The 19-year-old, who came to Australia as a refugee from Afghanistan 10 years ago, did not attempt to disguise his hatred for Australia and non-Islamist Australians. While demanding anonymity on the ABC, the young man understands he is known to NSW Police, the Australian Federal Police and the Australian Security and Intelligence Service.

He described himself as “a normal dude”. But there was nothing normal about his religio-political ideology. Asked why he found it hard to say that Cheng’s murder was a tragedy for the victim and his family, the reply was brutal: “Why should I please the kafir — the ­disbelievers?”

So, to this Islamist, the battle is unambiguous.

There are Islamists like him and there are the kafirs. And he is waging war against disbelievers: “There is no other law except Allah’s law; people that smoke drugs, there’s no cigarettes, there’s no alcohol, there’s no brothels, there’s no clubbing — all shut down.” That’s life under the caliphate.

Earlier he had declared that “everyone wants to die for Allah” and those who died for Allah get to live “the best life in the hereafter”. It was no surprise, then, that he declined to answer whether he was prepared to get killed for Allah. This, after all, is the Islamists’ distorted interpretation of 15-year-old murderer Jabar’s death — who was shot by NSW police acting in self-defence.

The uncomfortable truth is that there are a number of Jabars in contemporary Australia who are prepared to kill kafirs, to die for what they believe is Allah’s cause. This deauthorises the position of academic Waleed Aly, who ­described such terrorist acts as the Boston Marathon bombing as a “perpetual irritant”, and journalist David Marr, who said last year that “the amount of fear being thrown into the community at the moment is disgraceful”.

The Islamists involved in acts of terrorism in Australia — or conspiracy to commit terrorism in Australia — during the past decade include Australian-born, immigrants and refugees alike. This problem is likely to be with us for a long time despite the best efforts of police and intelligence services along with the mainstream ­Muslim community.

In view of this reality, it makes sense for the rest of the Australian community to focus on what unites us rather than what divides. Yet this is not the fashion in Australia where, as James and others have noted, many of the best educa­ted happen to be the most alienated.

This is evident, for example, in the indigenous community. Talented [Aboriginal] actress Miranda Tapsell was interviewed by Karl Stefanovic on the Nine Network’s The ­Verdict on October 15. Despite her evident success, Tapsell said no when asked if she identified herself as Australian. Asked the reason for this, she replied: “When I go to Australia Day, I don’t feel like an Australian that day because people are telling me I can’t be part of that.” It is not clear who made such an assertion.

Asked whether she would sing the national anthem, Tapsell ­responded: “I’d mumble it in the corner of my mouth, maybe.”

Deborah Cheetham, associate dean of music at the University of Melbourne, has gone even further. In an article in The Conversation this week, the famous indigenous soprano revealed that she had declined an invitation to sing Advance Australia Fair at the Australian Football League grand final in Melbourne this month.

Shortly after her piece in The Conversation was published, Cheetham received a soft interview on ABC Radio 702’s program Mornings, hosted by Linda Mottram.

Mottram described the article as “wonderful” as the author spelled out her opposition to the words of the national anthem.

In short, Cheetham will not sing the words “For we are young and free” primarily because she believes it is condescending to indigenous Australians to describe the nation as “young”. Her point is that Aborigines, in what became known as Australia, go back more than 50,000 years.

True, of course. But it is also true that the Commonwealth of Australia was created in January 1901, which makes the country relatively young.

Moreover, many indigenous Australians have ­European, Asian or Islander ­ancestors in addition to their indigenous ancestors.

Tapsell, for example, told The Verdict that her father had an ­English and Irish background.

Mick Dodson in 2009 raised the familiar question as to whether Australia Day should be called “Invasion Day”. That was a reasonable point, provided that all Aborigines who have some ­non-indigenous ancestors acknow­ledge that they are part “invaded” and part “invaders”.

The threat to democratic ­society is real and immediate. It makes sense to embrace the reality of a young and free nation and to reject alienation, whether it is sparked by discontented intellectuals or murder-endorsing ­extremists.


How technology can help with  Australia's (and the world's) educational problems

But no substituite for a demanding curriculum -- JR

A recent UN Education Agency commissioned report [PDF/2.3MB] estimated that at least 250 million of the world's primary school age children are unable to read, write or do basic mathematics at all. The same number of children are also struggling to improve to a functional level, and this is not a problem linked solely to developing countries.

In Australia, as in many other developed countries, we are facing the very real possibility that, in the near future, the generation approaching retirement will be more literate and numerate than the youngest adults.

Solving Australia's challenges or the problem of global illiteracy and innumeracy is a huge task but it's essential if we are to improve the health, wellbeing and life chances of the world's children.

I would argue that there has never been a better time to be in education. The technology we have available to us now means that the difficulties of the past shouldn't constrain our future or, more importantly, our children's future.

I believe that this is achievable and that the answer lies in making learning both accessible and efficient. The opportunities that technology opens up in this regard are just astounding and, in terms of learning, it can be of tremendous assistance.

Mastering skills such as number recognition, automatic recall of times tables or being able to smoothly blend groups of letters to form words takes time. It is therefore vital that children are motivated and engaged sufficiently to persevere.

Technology is a tool to help learning not a replacement. A number of people are of the opinion that technology shouldn't be used in education. I fundamentally disagree. Technology can be used to improve learning. It is ubiquitous to children's lives these days and to take it away seems false. You would not go into a hospital and say "I don't want modern treatment, please give me what worked in the 1940s or '50s"!

Technology isn't just an aide to the child it can give so much to the teacher, parent, education system. Technology can help reveal to us how children learn which, in turn, enables us to teach in better ways. We are able to identify the areas of the curriculum that children struggle to grasp.

For example if you go back five years and ask most maths teachers what basic skills children find difficult and they would have flagged division as one of the hardest.

In fact the data from millions of records, in scores of countries, suggests otherwise. Subtraction is the element that children find the most challenging. Once they have mastered that area then others fall more easily into place.

Technology cannot and does not replace the great teacher but it can bring in others into the equation who can be also hugely supportive and motivational to the child.

In my experience technology that opens the door to the child's support group to take an active role in education will have the biggest impact on learning and help us radically improve life outcomes for millions of children.


No comments: