Thursday, November 04, 2021

What motivated Cleo's kidnapper?

Bad or mad? Rather madder than the guy says below, I think. The only picture we have of him (Terry Kelly?) so far shows a brown face so he would seem to be an Aborigine. But he is also described as a loner. Which is very odd indeed. I would have thought that an Aboriginal loner was an impossibility. Aborigines are hugely social. So if he really is an Aborigine he is very mentally disturbed indeed. The area is mostly welfare housing and Aborigines do live in the neighbourhood

UPDATE of 5/11: I was of course right. Kelly was an aborigine and was very weird. He was a doll collector, of all things. Pic of him below

A top criminal psychologist claims the man who allegedly abducted Cleo Smith is likely to be 'very bad, not very mad' - as Perth's Lord Mayor calls for the city to 'turn blue' to celebrate her homecoming.

The missing four-year-old was found at 12.45am on Wednesday alone in a bedroom in a locked and rundown house in the Carnarvon suburb of Brockman in Western Australia, after being missing for 18 days.

A 36-year-old man has been arrested over the alleged kidnapping from her family's tent at the Blowholes campsite on October 18, with psychology expert Tim Watson-Munro telling A Current Affair he believes whoever took her was likely meticulous and calculating.

'I think it's someone who's very bad, not very mad,' he claimed.

'A person capable of planning this crime, executing this crime, keeping this thing under wraps for nearly three weeks now and not really caring about the consequences.'

Cleo, 4, was described as safe and well but was immediately taken to hospital for further tests and to be reunited with relieved and overjoyed parents, Ellie and Jake.

In Mr Watson-Munro's opinion the abduction was highly-planned over a significant period of time.

'He probably waited for the right opportunity to strike. They live in the same country town, he's probably thought about it for awhile,' he claimed.

'Clearly to have done what he did, in such a brazen way, to escape the crime scene the way he did and keep a lid on it, to me suggests a lot of planning.'


Chairman Dan (Stalin and Mao were chairmen)

As much of Australia moves out of Covid-19 lockdowns and international border closures ease with respect to some states and territories, it is hoped that – among other things – language usage will return to pre-pandemic normality.

On Wednesday, Christopher Blanden QC, president of the Victorian Bar, received national attention for his critique of Daniel Andrews’ Labor government’s Public Health and Wellbeing (Pandemic Management) Bill which was introduced into the Victorian Legislative Assembly the previous day. Blanden said that the Stasi police in former East Germany “would have been more than happy with the range of powers if they were given it”.

Interviewed by Virginia Trioli on ABC Radio Melbourne on Thursday, Blanden was asked if he considered the Stasi reference a “bit of hyperbole”. To which he responded, with complete frankness: “Well, of course it’s a bit of hyperbole but it has got everyone’s attention.”

Quite so. Blanden’s point was that the proposed new laws would give the Victorian Premier unprecedented powers over all Victorians. Sure there was hyperbole in the description – but he did get his message across. In any event, Blanden was correct in that the Stasi were not known for rejecting new powers of whatever kind.

When I lived in Victoria up until the mid-1980s, there was usually a group of vibrant civil liberty lawyers who supported individual liberty and railed against the power of government. Up until the election of the Labor government led by John Cain Jnr in April 1982, Victoria had been governed by the Liberal Party for most of the period after the end of World War II.

The evidence suggests that much of the Victorian legal community has gone relatively quiet on these matters following the end of Jeff Kennett’s Coalition government in September 1999. Since then, except for three years, Labor has been in office. And it has become increasingly authoritarian since Andrews became premier in 2014.

Tim Smith, the newly appointed opposition legal affairs spokesman under the new Opposition Leader Matthew Guy, has many political enemies outside the Liberal Party and a few within. But Smith can get a message through.

Speaking to Peter Stefanovic on Sky News on Tuesday, Smith described the proposed legislation as “rule by decree in perpetuity for Daniel Andrews”. He added: “The Premier is trying to get the parliament to give him decree powers – powers that are foreign to this country for an elected leader to be able to rule by decree and do whatever he likes and lock people down in 2022 on a whim, on a whim of his signature.”

Smith is correct. As is widely known, Melbourne has been the world’s most shutdown city with the harshest lockdown provisions in Australia. Yet, on Andrews’ watch, Victoria has experienced the greatest number of Covid-19 related deaths and currently has the highest number of Covid-19 infections.

A political leader with a modicum of self-awareness might have reflected that the current easing of restrictions in Victoria was an opportunity for quietude and reflection. That’s not Andrews’ style. On October 22, he tweeted: “I’m trying not to sound like some kind of soppy dad here, but I am proud, bloody proud of this state. We have gone though such a hard time together, this pandemic has been exhausting in every sense of the word.”

It seems that the Premier believes he is the father of Victoria. He’s not. Only authoritarian leaders make such claims. Moreover, as Gideon Haigh wrote in The Weekend Australian last Saturday: “What’s Andrews got to be grateful for?” Haigh added: “We did as we were told, to avoid draconian fines for noncompliance.”

And that’s the point. Andrews came to the premiership via Labor’s Socialist Left faction. Yet those Victorians who have suffered most during the lockdowns were the poor and the disadvantaged – especially those with young children living in small apartments.

Victorians on Andrews’ salary can readily pay what to others are draconian fines – as the Premier did on two occasions for minor infringements of Victoria’s mask-wearing laws. But two $200 fines to a politician can be a massive penalty to a single mother with three children.

However, as Victoria moves out of lockdowns, Andrews wants higher fines. The proposed new legislation could lead to a Victorian citizen being fined up to $90,870 or facing up to a maximum of two years in jail for breaking health orders.

This follows the various lockdowns in which some members of the Victorian Police appear to have used excessive force with respect to a woman at home with her children and a man quietly talking to police – and more besides – under the guise of enforcing health regulations.

What’s surprising about this is that so many journalists – especially those at the ABC and The Age – have accepted Labor’s clampdown on even peaceful protests in a way that would not have been tolerated when Kennett was premier.

On Tuesday, Smith faced a hostile interview from Trioli – who appears to be a proud member of the “I stand with Dan” club. Towards the end of the interview, Trioli went into denial mode, declaring: “I don’t make arguments on this program, I ask questions.”

In fact, Trioli put it to Smith that by opposing Labor’s legislation, the Coalition could bring about a “loss of public faith” in the health system. She went on to suggest that the opposition should be supporting the bill since it “has exactly what it was you guys have been calling for, for so long”. There is no evidence that Smith has ever called for $90,000 fines for noncompliance with health orders.

When, and if, the heat of the pandemic debate scales down, it will be time to restore balance in language. Australia during the pandemic has not experienced a period of Mussolini-like fascism or Stalin-like communism and it is not run by one or more dictators. In totalitarian societies there is no right to free speech. Also, dictators don’t subject themselves to re-election.

Daniel Andrews is simply an authoritarian who presides over an increasingly authoritarian government which wants to attain yet more draconian powers.

He’s not like East Germany’s Erich Honecker. But Andrews is the most self-obsessed authoritarian leader that Victoria has ever had.


Anti-vax senator from Queensland

A little-known government senator from Queensland has quickly become a big figure on Facebook after his embrace of anti-vaccine rhetoric.

Queensland LNP Senator Gerard Rennick has seen an explosion in popularity on Facebook as he shared first person accounts of people claiming to have been injured by vaccines, critical news articles and memes that are all negative about vaccines.

This has extended to his politics. Early on Monday morning, Rennick posted a letter sent to the prime minister on Facebook saying he will not vote with the government until a number of policies are enacted, including stopping all vaccines for children, overturning workplace vaccine mandates and ending COVID-19 domestic travel restrictions.

Although Rennick may not be explicitly calling for a vaccine ban, his rhetoric goes against expert advice and echoes that of anti-vaccine campaigners. And as he found an audience with this posting, he’s leaned into it more.

In October — when he posted about using Senate estimates to ask government departments about vaccine mandates and shared reports of Pfizer’s leaked contacts — Rennick doubled his Facebook following to more than 35,000 and his interaction increased to a sky high 13%, despite not increasing his posting significantly.

As analyst Ariel Bogle noted, Rennick’s content dominates the most popular content on Facebook from all Australian users about vaccines in the past week.

So, has Rennick tapped into a vessel of unheard voters with vaccine concerns who will vote below the line for him at the next election? It’s impossible to know for sure, but the important thing about social media engagement is that it’s international. So it’s likely some (if not a lot) of this newfound audience is outside Queensland.

Increasingly, the internet is organised around individuals and communities who act in concert. Hyper-engaged anti-vaccine communities on spaces like Telegram or Facebook groups will mobilise when they see a public figure supporting their cause, flooding them with positive engagement. But just as easily as the attention comes, it goes. These groups are united around a cause — eroding support for vaccines — and are not loyal beyond that. Additionally, they tend to be limited to providing online engagement.

But Rennick is only halfway through his Senate term, with years until he next faces the voters. For the time being, he can continue to post his views with little consequence.


Call for research into jellyfish sting treatments, as experts admit 'real gap' in knowledge

A large variety of jellyfish lurks in Australian oceans, including the potentially deadly Irukandji and box species that inhabit tropical waters in the north of the country.

There are calls for more research into available treatments
Those who have been stung by one of these jellyfish have described the pain as excruciating.

But is there anything you can do to quell the pain and stop the venom from spreading?

There are many theories about how to treat jellyfish stings, but medical experts say the advice is unproven and ever-changing — so they are calling for more investigation into treatments and antidotes.

WA's St John Ambulance medical director Paul Bailey spent seven years studying jellyfish and said experts still only had a basic understanding of the marine creature.

"There's a real gap in the medical evidence, so absolutely I would advocate for more and better trials looking at available treatments," Dr Bailey said.

"We're really stuck as to know what to recommend in many cases.

"We're just going to have to go with expert opinion unless someone can put a high-quality, beach-side trial together."

Beware of home remedies

In jellyfish tentacles, there are millions of stinging cells called nematocysts that inject venom under the skin.

Some first-aid treatments, like vinegar, are thought to stop the nematocysts firing and stop the sting from getting worse, but other home remedies do not work and could make things worse.

Dr Bailey said there were a lot of myths about jellyfish.

"Every fluid available at the beach-side has been tried in jellyfish envenoming including urine, Coca-Cola, Fanta, seawater … but none of them have been shown to have any effect on jellyfish stings," he said.

"[But] I don't want to be the guy that laughs too hard at Fanta or any other fluid because the reality is there's not much evidence about many of the treatments."

Vinegar a saviour, but not urine

After removing any tentacles from your body, most experts agree using vinegar as first aid is helpful, or at least not harmful.

World-renowned jellyfish expert Lisa-ann Gershwin said putting vinegar on a sting could save someone's life.

"In the tropics, vinegar is the thing that will give you the best chance of actually surviving a potentially lethal sting," Dr Gershwin said.

"The vinegar actually locks the stinging cells so they can't discharge."

As for the age-old rumour about peeing on a jellyfish sting, Tasmania-based Dr Gershwin said it came down to "are you feeling lucky?"

"Our urine changes its pH with the time of day, hydration, food, age, seasonality," she said.

"If it's in an acidic state, it will work 25 per cent as well as vinegar at killing the stinging cells.

"But if it's in an alkaline state it will cause an immediate and massive discharge of all the stinging cells."

While the home remedy suggestion of using hot water was potentially useful for treating stings from less dangerous jellyfish in southern waters, Dr Gershwin warned it was dangerous to use in places where Irukandji and box jellyfish lived.

"That could kill someone," she said.

"When you apply freshwater to a jellyfish sting, the freshwater causes the stinging cells to discharge — so you get immediate, massive discharge of all of the stinging cells that haven't fired yet."

She said beach-goers often were not sure what type of jellyfish had stung them, so the best advice was to never use freshwater, hot or cold, to treat any jellyfish stings in the north.

Prevention the best way to survive
Broome Emergency Department GP Casey Parker backed calls for more research.

"Unfortunately, in the past 10 years or so most of the research has found that the things that we thought worked, probably don't," Dr Parker said.

"With climate change and the warming up of northern Australia, we could see more of these jellyfish heading further south to northern New South Wales and Geraldton and places like that. So it may become more relevant in the future."

In the meantime, Dr Parker said avoiding the stingers was the best advice. "Staying out of the water once the wet season is upon us … [and] wear a stinger suit if you can," he said.

Dr Parker said bad stings were becoming less common because of early-warning systems and public awareness.

"Back when I first started in Broome we'd sometimes see 150 or so in a single year," he said. "[Now] we seem to see them in waves, so if we see one, we sometimes see five or six or more in a day, and sometimes we go weeks without seeing any."




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