Monday, February 07, 2022

Nick Coatsworth shares US Covid data comparing states with mask mandates

The face of Australia's Covid vaccine rollout has shared US data which shows states that introduced mask mandates only had slightly more cases than those which did not.

Australia's former deputy chief medical officer Dr Nick Coatsworth used the controversial statistics to rail against calls to make N95 masks mandatory.

He also branded demands to install stringent air ventilation systems in all buildings a 'colossal cost and minimal benefit'.

The graph shared by Dr Coatsworth shows little difference in Covid case numbers in the US from November 1 to January 31, despite face mask mandates.

The data does not show that masks are ineffective against transmitting the virus, as those living in states without mandates may still be wearing face coverings at comparable levels.

It could also be possible that infection rates in states with mandates may have been far higher if the restrictions were not introduced.

But Dr Coatsworth suggests enforcing face mask mask requirements has a muted effect in society.

'When plausibility meets reality. The null hypothesis lands a knockout punch on the precautionary principle,' he tweeted alongside the graph.


Massive changes coming to the school curriculum in Australia - here's everything your kids will learning about

School curriculums across the country could soon be overhauled with major changes to history, English and maths lessons.

State education ministers will meet on Friday to discuss proposed changes to a revised curriculum that would be adopted nationwide.

The 'balanced literacy' method of teaching children to read will be replaced by an emphasis on phonics, while changes to maths lessons aim to improve the current standards expected of students.

The history curriculum is set to undergo a massive overhaul with more focus on Western and Christian heritage, while reference to debates over the Anzac legend being 'contested' has been removed, Nine newspapers reported.

A briefing to ministers says students will have 'the opportunity to deepen their understanding of the importance of our Western and Christian heritage in the development of Australia as a prosperous and peaceful democracy, as well as learn more about our First Nations Australian histories and cultures'.

Under the new secondary school history curriculum, students would study Indigenous history and ancient society in year 7, medieval Europe in year 8, World War I in year 9, and World War II and 'modern campaigns for rights and freedoms' in year 10.

Sources say the revised the increased emphasis on Western heritage would not water down Indigenous content in the history curriculum.

References to Christianity have been restored to the Civics and Citizenship curriculum following widespread backlash over the term' 'multi-faith'.

The briefing also proposes massive changes to the maths curriculum, where a previous decision to push back the introduction of times tables until year 3 to 4 will be reversed.

High school students would start learning Pythagoras 12 months earlier in year 8, where they were also be be introduced to inequalities.

It's understood the changes to maths will be a major subject of debate between ministers

The proposed English curriculum will remove references to 'balanced literacy', a popular method used in many states in teaching children how to read.

NSW is one of the few states which has already adopted a focus on phonics approached in its literacy curriculum for years kindergarten to year 2.

Education leaders have urged state and territory leaders to reach a consensus on as many areas as possible.

The Australian, Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority is keen to have an approved draft to begin preparing schools for the changes

'Ministers should progress forward on what can be resolved, and agree to further negotiation on those without agreement. That way most educators can get more clarity on where curriculum will go moving forward,' Centre for Independent Studies research fellow Glenn Fahey told the publication.

'Where divisions remain - whether political or technical - those areas could be parked temporarily.'


Australian Survivor goes woke: The word that is now BANNED from Channel Ten reality series as gender-neutral terms are mandated to promote 'inclusivity'

The Channel Ten reality show has kicked off this year's Blood v Water season with the introduction of 'de-gendered' language, as producers attempt to promote 'inclusivity' on-screen.

According to The Daily Telegraph, the word 'guys' has officially been banned from the cast's lexicon, meaning that host Jonathan LaPaglia has had to change his iconic catch-phrase: 'Come on in, guys.'

The 'gendered' phrase, which is considered by some as sexist, has been used by LaPaglia to welcome contestants into challenges since the show's inception in 2016.

'With the ever growing conversation around inclusivity, it was a natural progression to adapt our language to reflect this,' LaPaglia told The Daily Telegraph on Sunday. 'The US has also adopted a similar change,' he added.

Indeed, Survivor USA host Jeff Probst also officially stopped using the line, 'Come on in, guys', during last year's season.

Jeff had previously used the phrase for a whopping 40 seasons.


Archbishop sued for anti-discrimination pleads for MPs to pass ‘strong’ religious freedom bill

An Archbishop hauled before an anti-discrimination body for sharing church teaching on gay marriage is pleading with MPs not to water-down proposed federal religious freedom legislation.

Hobart Catholic Archbishop Julian Porteous said overreach by state anti-discrimination laws was undermining freedom of religious expression and free speech.

Further changes to protect gay students and staff within religious schools were “unnecessary”, he said.

“In our institutions we have a lot of people – students in our schools or doctors and nurses in our hospitals, staff in our nursing homes – who aren’t Catholic and who may have personal views different to what the Catholic Church believes.

“We respect their right to hold personal views. We don’t require them to change. But we do require of them at a professional level to recognise that they are working within a Catholic institution which has certain beliefs.”

Speaking out on the eve of the parliamentary debate amid division on the issue within Coalition ranks, he accused opponents of the Religious Discrimination Bill of spreading misinformation.

He said Catholic schools had no intention of following Brisbane’s Citipointe Christian College in requiring contracts – since abandoned – allowing the expulsion of openly gay or transgender children.

“The feeling that this legislation would somehow mean that the church could persecute someone who doesn’t hold the same views is not the case at all,” he said.

Instead, the legislation was “very much needed” to address an erosion of religious rights and tolerance in Australia, driven by state anti-discrimination laws.

In 2015, Archbishop Porteous was subject to an anti-discrimination process over the distribution of an anti-gay marriage brochure.

While the case was ultimately dropped, Archbishop Porteous said it and similar actions had a “chilling effect” on open debate.

“Because that case was never resolved, I’m not sure if tomorrow someone will cite me again,” he said.

“That’s why it’s so important that we have some legislation that recognises the right of a person to express their deeply held religious beliefs, in a way that’s respectful and where there’s no intention to incite violence.”

He also “very much hoped” the federal legislation would protect Catholic aged homes and hospitals which refused to be a part of state voluntary euthanasia schemes.

Opponents of the federal bill complain it will override Tasmania’s “gold standard” anti-discrimination legislation, which goes further than most, making it an offence to “offend” or “insult” someone on the basis of certain attributes.

Archbishop Porteous said this interference with state law was “a necessary thing”.

“In a democracy, one of the things that is very highly prized is the right of people to express what they believe, through often robust debate,” he said. “That’s how we are able to resolve issues and decide on a path to take.”


Strange scholarship at the University of Melbourne

Insanity is everywhere these days. The aggressive Left have cowed people into adopting their ideas

The University of Melbourne advertises itself as Australia’s best university—the first and only member of the Australian Ivy League. This isn’t an unreasonable claim. The Times Higher Education World University Rankings for 2019 put the University of Melbourne 32nd in the world, 17 spots ahead of Australian National University, its nearest Australian rival. Numerous other figures seem to demonstrate the school’s excellence at preparing students for prosperous employment and at developing their critical thinking skills.

Naturally, I was pleased and even proud to have been accepted into the University of Melbourne’s 2017 Master of Journalism program. I believed, without really thinking about it, that I was in for a challenging year and a half at a school far more rigorous than the one from which I received my baccalaureate. (The University of Oklahoma consistently lands somewhere in the 400s on the Times Higher Education index.)

Of course, I was aware of the complaints directed at Australian universities—that the integrity of their curricula had gradually been compromised to appease social justice activists. Ubiquitous Canadian psychologist Jordan Peterson expresses these concerns somewhat apocalyptically:

You may not realize it, but you are currently funding some dangerous people. They are indoctrinating young minds throughout the West with their resentment-ridden ideology… They produce the mobs that violently shut down campus speakers, the language police who enshrine into law use of fabricated gender pronouns and the deans whose livelihoods depend on madly rooting out discrimination where little or none exists… And now we rack up education-related debt, not so that our children learn to think critically, write clearly or speak properly, but so they can model their mentors’ destructive agenda.
It’s natural that these denunciations should sound wildly hyperbolic—a bit like Joseph McCarthy’s claim that there were 81 Communists lurking in the State Department. Who but a political cultist would be willing to believe something like that without seeing it for himself?

The first indication I received that something had gone awry at Australia’s best university was in a criminology class titled “Violence, Trauma, and Reconciliation.” According to the University of Melbourne handbook, this class “considers the forms of trauma people experience as a response to… forms of violence and explores how this trauma propels calls for apologies, truth commissions, retribution, and torture.”

The instructor, Dr. Juliet Rogers, devoted a lecture to female genital mutilation—a natural enough topic for a class on trauma. In Rogers’s view, however, the true source of trauma was not the practice of FGM itself, but the “violence” of anti-FGM laws. After all, Western societies pressure women into body modification in the form of ear piercings—so who are we to pass judgment on those who practice clitorectomies and infibulations on children? And isn’t it true that legislators’ supposed concern with FGM is actually motivated by “Islamophobia”?

In the article “The First Case Addressing Female Genital Mutilation in Australia: Where is the Harm?” Rogers takes issue with Australian “prejudice” against the practice of clitoral “nicking”:

For each claim that a woman’s sexual health is impacted, there is a study which suggests it is not, and others which suggest it is enhanced. For each claim of trauma, there is another which claims empowerment. However, it is the violent images which are played and replayed, on airport shelves, in documentaries and in fiction that form opinion. These, “through repetition” have come in Obermeyer’s terms again “to gain authority as truth.” Similarly, in the FLC’s [Family Law Court’s] Report the image of violence is only presented and then repeated, with the name “female genital mutilation” always attached. There is no discussion of the benefits of the practices, the increases in sexual enjoyment that women report, the cultural empowerment that women experience, the desires of many to undergo the practices or the rage that many women have at being called ‘mutilated’ when so many clearly feel that they are not.

While working with the US Peace Corps in rural Gambia, I encountered the practice of female genital mutilation firsthand. The empowering effect of having one’s clitoris razored off was not readily apparent.

It was clear from the tone of Rogers’s lecture that she regarded these ideas as quite subversive and challenging. However, most of the room nodded along quite comfortably. If we didn’t actually find these ideas challenging, we could at least derive some satisfaction from the thought of how challenged a less enlightened third party might be.

Another peculiar class was Terror, Law, and War, ostensibly a survey of legal and military responses to terrorism. In practice, the class focused almost exclusively on American, European, and Israeli misbehavior, and on the perceived ridiculousness of Australian anti-terrorism measures. Islamist terrorism was left unconsidered except as a hallucination of xenophobic Westerners. As if to drive the point home, one presentation on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict referred to Palestinian suicide bombings as “terrorism,” in scare quotes.

We spent a period discussing a televised interview with Wassim Doureihi, spokesman for the Islamist group Hizb ut-Tahrir. During the interview, Lateline host Emma Alberici took a combative stance, demanding that Doureihi either clearly denounce the Islamic State’s tactics or admit that he condoned them. Doureihi refused to cooperate, instead pushing the conversation toward Australian mistreatment of Muslims.

The subsequent class discussion became something like a rally: we unanimously acclaimed Doureihi’s dignity and courage and took turns mocking Alberici’s hypocrisy and ill-concealed racism. The teaching assistant declared with apparent pride that she was friends with Doureihi and that he had confided in her that the interview was a trying experience, but necessary. Some of the students who rose to voice their support for Doureihi were so agitated that their voices shook. Somehow, throughout this bacchanal of self-righteousness, the fact that Hizb ut-Tahrir is an explicitly anti-democratic organization that supports the killing of apostates and whose leaders describe Jews as “the most evil creatures of Allah” escaped mention. Evidently, one can’t take sides between liberalism and totalitarianism without knowing the pigmentations of those involved.

To hear Australia’s most privileged youth praise a theocrat like Doureihi was unsettling, but classes equally often took a turn for the comical. On one occasion, Rogers interrupted a Violence, Trauma and Reconciliation lecture to tell us about Lego’s “criminal” figure (right). The figure is about what you might expect: a child-friendly depiction of a burglar, sporting a sinister grin, a stocking cap and a black-and-white-striped prison uniform. What this piece of Lego has to do with either violence, trauma or reconciliation may not be immediately obvious: the criminal, you see, is depicted with visible chest hair. This chest hair is a coded indication that the criminal is nonwhite, thereby implying that people of color are criminals and terrorists. Oddly enough, another of my instructors also brought up this Lego figure and its racist chest hair during her own class. I suppose it had been doing the rounds among the faculty.

Students were always instructed to question their assumptions rather than acquiescing mindlessly to the status quo. At the University of Melbourne, however, the assumption that racial identification is of paramount significance, that Western societies are uniquely malignant and oppressive, that Islamist theocrats are victims and not perpetrators, et cetera, is the status quo. What does it signify when the authorities tell you to dissent?

In some classes, the frantic obsession with demographics was spearheaded by the students, against the apparent wishes of their instructors. In one nonfiction writing class, discussion of Gay Talese’s influential 1966 profile of Frank Sinatra centered not on Talese’s quippy yet unhurried scene-setting, or on his vivid portraiture of a subject he’d never actually interviewed, but on Talese’s misogyny. (One student said that Talese’s description of two Sinatra groupies as “attractive but fading blondes” was “chilling.”) David Foster Wallace’s essay “Tense Present” was subjected to a similarly myopic “discussion” of Wallace’s whiteness and his failure to acknowledge English as an “imperial language.” Any technical lessons we might have taken from Talese or Wallace were lost altogether—instead, we enumerated the things they might have learned from us.

During these Two Minutes Hate sessions, the instructor often stood back, grimacing uncomfortably and sometimes trying to steer the discussion back toward the piece of writing at hand. He was a gentle man with a clear love for long-form journalism, and I suspect he sometimes wondered why his class discussions had grown so frenzied.

What if I’d heard about this from someone else? I asked myself from time to time. What if I hadn’t seen it with my own eyes? I knew the answer—I wouldn’t have believed a word of it. I would have assumed the narrator of these outlandish events to be a right-wing doomsayer ready to contort the truth however necessary to vilify his opponents. Can I reasonably expect more charity from you, the reader of this article? Hard to say.

Perhaps the most unexpected part of life at the University of Melbourne was how easy the actual work was. In Terror, Law and War, the essays I submitted consisted of structureless, deliberately turgid summaries of class readings, enlivened with the odd anti-Western cliché and handed in without proofreading or revision. This seemed to be the level of seriousness appropriate to the class. My diploma is proof that this material, produced almost without conscious effort, was up to the standards of Australia’s top university.

During one and a half years attending journalism classes, I was exposed to surprisingly little information on the actual craft of journalism. Recipients of the University of Melbourne’s Master of Journalism degree will know about the inverted pyramid model and other basic concepts. Deeper questions, however, are left mostly unexamined. When should an interviewer rely on a list of questions and when should he improvise? How does one efficiently cut a news story down to 125 words? How does news writing differ from other prose in grammar and punctuation? It is possible to obtain a 150-point journalism degree from the University of Melbourne without learning the answers to these questions. Of course, who has time for such trivialities when there’s a revolution on? University of Melbourne students may matriculate unprepared to produce clear and accurate news articles, but they will understand their political objectives.

I graduated in December 2018, amidst rallies against “fascism on campus.” (Given that, in 18 months on campus, I encountered no fascists, these rallies seem to have been very effective.) Behaving compliantly throughout these peculiar antics was a mistake. The most I can do after the fact is relay my observations without inventing a heroic role for myself.

Was pursuing a degree at Australia’s top university a waste of time? Not necessarily. The name of an institution whose superiority is supported by so many statistics surely helps beautify my résumé. And I was granted the chance to dip into a strange emerging culture, one whose existence I probably would not have accepted if I hadn’t seen it for myself. It seems the doomsayers are sometimes correct.




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