Wednesday, November 08, 2017

Are opponents of Melbourne Cup fun-hating whingers or worried animal activists with a point?

Protesters ran on to the straight, hung a banner from a crane and were arrested for parking a car on the train track

A STAR horse is “not well” after a sickening fall on Melbourne Cup day, which has again raised concerns about whether racing is cruel.

Hong Kong jockey Joao Moreira looks to have escaped serious injury after crashing heavily in race 4 but Regal Monarch, who he was riding, has been rushed to a vet clinic.

While the nation stops to watch the Cup today at tracks, pubs and offices, there will be a much smaller group turning their backs.

It’s a group has been expressing its animal welfare concerns for years now but a look at social media chatter indicates an anecdotal increase in the volume of criticism this time around.

Twitter tracking service Keyhole found of Twitter mentions of the Melbourne Cup today, 13.6 per cent were negative in nature, 58 per cent neutral and 28.4 per cent positive.

Anti-racing activists claim the much-loved tradition of horse racing is cruel, unethical and dangerous.

Is this just another case of oversensitive types trying to ruin the fun for everyone ... or do they have a point?

It all depends who you ask, and even then, the answer is far from a simple one.

Critics of horse racing say the animals are overworked, poorly cared for and bred only to make their owners millions of dollars, while advocates of the industry say the opposite is true.

In 2014, the normal festivities of the Melbourne Cup were overshadowed when favourite Admire Rakti collapsed and died just after the race. Then Araldo was euthanised after becoming spooked by a flag-waving spectator and fracturing a leg.

Those two deaths briefly raised questions about the welfare of the animals in the billion-dollar racing industry.

With another 15,000 thoroughbred foals bred each year, and 31,000 race horses are in training across Australia at any given time, the scale of the industry is huge.

Are the regulations adequate? Do all the rules outweigh the inherent cruelty of breeding an animal for entertainment? Do the horses even enjoy themselves?

Owners spend an average of $35,000 annually on training alone for a racehorse. Then there’s stabling and other care fees.

For this huge cost, surely they’re among the best cared-for creatures in the country?

They are, the racing industry says — but for the benefit of making money, opponents insist. And what’s good for gambling isn’t always good for the animal.

Tom Heenan teaches sport studies at Monash University and wrote in a piece for New Daily that a racehorse’s diet is dangerous.

“They’re fed high-grain diets and placed under undue stress, causing stomach ulcers,” Heenan said. “Overseas studies have shown around 80 per cent of horses suffer from such ulcers. Many also suffer from internal bleeding caused by overexertion.”

Animals Australia claims horses are individually stabled while in training. That, coupled with their high-performance training and diet, means they lack social and environmental stimulation.

“Horses can develop stereotypical behaviours, such as crib-biting ... and self-mutilation may occur,” the group claimed. “These behaviours are a strong indicator of welfare problems for horses.”

Racing Australia boss Peter McGauran strongly denies the industry isn’t taking care of horses. “The claim that racing authorities are inactive on welfare issues is not supported by the facts,” McGauran said.

“We are acutely aware of our responsibilities to meet community animal welfare expectations and purposely enforce the rules of racing to this end.”

Racing is among the most regulated and accountable industries and sports in the country, he said.

Peter Moody was the trainer of famed mare Black Caviar and told the website New Daily that anyone who knows their horse can tell if it’s enjoying what it does.

“I’ve had some of the crankiest buggers in the world bite, strike and kick you, but (they) love getting out there on the track and racing,” Moody said.

“It comes down to the horsemanship of the people working with the individual animal who can sense whether they want and can love racing.”

The concern held by racing opponents is a horse’s skeletal frame isn’t matured when they begin training. It’s a claim rejected by the industry, which says horses only begin work when it’s safe to do so.


Year 2s shown pictures of genitals, Year 3s studying the clitoris and Year 4s taught about being gay: Parents outraged at 'X-rated' sex education lessons

Parents are outraged after learning students in grade 2 are shown pictures of genitals, grade 3 the clitoris, and grade 4 being taught about gay couples in school.

Sex education in Victoria's primary schools came under fire from Opposition education spokesman Tim Smith this week, who said he was approached by parents and family groups about the appropriateness of the classes.

Speaking to Daily Mail Australia on Monday, Mr Smith said some of the concepts and images shown to children, as young as seven, 'belong in an X-rated movie'.

'Sex education is vital but there are certain aspects of the program that are age inappropriate, totally over-the-top graphic and just unnecessary,' he said.

'Some of this stuff belongs in an X-rated movie, and for seven and eight-year-olds to be exposed to this material is totally inappropriate. Just let kids be kids.

'You have to let parents decide when to have those conversations with children, when they're ready and in the manner they feel appropriate.' 

Mr Smith said the 'hyper-sexual' material was the difference between sex education and 'sexuality education'.

One father said his daughter who was in grade 2 at a Victorian primary school grew uncomfortable around her male classmates after she was shown drawings of genitalia in class.

'She didn't want to go swimming because the boys had their tops off. We never had a problem before and then all of a sudden she did,' he told the Herald Sun.

The sex education program divided different associations.

The conservative Australian Family Association called for a review of the program, with President Terri Kelleher branding the images used 'very explicit, very graphic', and 'not appropriate'.

Parents Victoria executive officer Gail McHardy disagreed. She said the program was 'normal and healthy' and students were otherwise exposed to much more explicit materials outside of the classroom.

'There is no shame in any of this teaching material. To ­suggest otherwise is wicked and potentially detrimental to students' health and well-being,' she told the Herald Sun.

Education Minister James Merlino also defended the program, which was introduced in 2011 under the Liberal government.

Mr Merlino questioned Mr Smith for his opposition, saying it appeared he was more interested in overhauling the sex education program than he was in the school system itself. 


Malcolm Turnbull attacks Greens over refugees

Malcolm Turnbull has savaged refugee activists, including Greens senator Nick McKim, for encouraging asylum seekers to stay in a detention centre on Manus Island despite a court order demanding its closure.

The Prime Minister also defended his decision to reject an offer from the Ardern government to settle the refugees, saying people smugglers view New Zealand as “effectively part of Australia” while saying the Kiwis would be flooded with illegal boat arrivals if it wasn’t for the Coalition’s tough border protection policies.

Mr Turnbull said the 600 men who were refusing to leave the regional processing centre on Manus Island had access to “high quality” alternative facilities and they should move.

“The reality is, and this is the very sad reality of the case, is that there are some activists in Australia, including the Greens senator Nick McKim, who are basically encouraging these people not to move,” Mr Turnbull told ABC radio.

“It was a decision by the PNG Supreme Court that the detention centre should close and many people were calling for it to close.

“I think that the responsible course of action is to encourage them to comply with the lawful requests and requirements of the PNG authorities.”

Mr Turnbull said allowing the refugees to go to New Zealand would be marketed by people smugglers and the Left as a “backdoor entry” to Australia.

“Everything that the Greens and people on the left of the Labor Party say about this is used as marketing by the people smugglers,” Mr Turnbull said.

“They are the worst criminals and they are saying to these people: ‘don’t budge, get lots of pictures on the Australian news’.

“They will say it is getting a big run in the Australian media and before too long the Australian government will weaken and allow you to come to Australia and that will then be the marketing opportunity for the people smugglers.”

He took a thinly veiled swipe at New Zealand, reminding the smaller nation it only accepted 1000 refugees last year compared to Australia’s 20,000.

“As we know from our own intelligence, New Zealand is seeing as effectively part of Australia by the people smugglers,” Mr Turnbull said.

“We have intercepted and turned back boats which were heading to New Zealand, the only reason NZ does not have thousands people arriving in an unauthorised way on their shores is because of our border protection policies. “New Zealand is a prime beneficiary from our strong border protection policies.”

Senator McKim denied he had encouraged men to stay at the Manus Island detention centre.

But he acknowledges he “supported” their decision to stay at the centre which the PNG courts ruled should close.

“Despite years of torture at his government’s hands, these men still have free agency,” Senator McKim said. “They have made their own decisions, and I and many others have simply supported them in the choices they have made.

“I will keep doing so, because it is their lives which are at risk. It would not be right for me, Mr Turnbull or anyone else to make their decisions for them.”


PNG Court Rejects Bid To Restore Water And Power To Detention Centre

The refugees have been given refuge in New Guinea and are no longer under detention. But that is not what they want. They want a higher standard of living and think they can coerce the Australian government into providing it

Papua New Guinea's Supreme Court has rejected a bid by 600 starving refugees and asylum seekers living in Australia's mothballed detention centre on Manus Island to have water and electricity restored to the facility.

The men -- refugees and asylum seekers -- have been barricaded inside the centre for a week and say they are safer inside the shut-down centre than in new, but unsecured, accomodation closer to the Manus capital of Lorengau.

Lawyers for the refugees are expected to appeal the decision as early as Wednesday.

Public and international condemnation has mounted since the centre was closed last week, months after it was declared unconstitutional by PNG's Supreme Court.

Lacking medication, sickness and medical emergencies have spread inside the centre.

"We are heading for many deaths in the coming days and weeks unless urgent action is taken by Australia, Medical advocacy group Doctors 4 Refugees wrote in a letter to Australian MPs on Monday night.

"Action to alleviate these men's situation needs to be taken today to prevent deaths. As a start, they need food and water today."

Some of the men have made appeals to world leaders, with more than 280 refugees reportedly signing a letter pleading to U.S. President Donald Trump, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacind Ardern and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for their help.

PNG Immigration Minister Petrus Thomas has urged the men to leave, and has said it isn't just a case of reconnecting the water or electricity.

"The Government takes its obligations towards the treatment and care of all persons transferred to PNG very seriously," he told the Port Moresby based Post Courier.

"It is not incumbent on PNG to deliver services and this remains the responsibility of the service providers but at the new locations where the residents have to move to."

Amnesty international has warned that over the past 10 days refugees reported three medical emergencies.

"In one case, a refugee who has epilepsy, had a fit and was unconscious for several hours," Amnesty said.

"Refugees called to guards to provide medical assistance but there was no response. In another incident, a refugee self-harmed and, while physically stable, he remained in a fragile mental state, supported only by his friends."

The men inside have dug wells for water and sleep under the stars to keep at bay the muggy and oppressive Manus heat.

The water they draw from the well -- using a small plastic bucket and thin rope -- is dirty.

One man who accepted the offer to relocate to a new facility returned to Lombrum on Thursday, having walked three hours back on foot, saying he "could not stay in that place".


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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