Wednesday, April 05, 2023

Conservatives fail dismally worldwide and in Australia

Below is the opening salvo of a long and carefully argued article by Greg Sheridan that reaches some dismal conclusions about the future of conservatism.I am not so pessimistic for two reasons:

1). It is impossible to overestimate the Leftist talent for making a mess of things. And we are right in the middle of a huge mess: The cost of living crisis. It is a crisis in most of the Western world and Leftist governments in Australia and the USA are in the middle of it.

So far both those governments have fairly successfully avoided blame for it but as the years roll on with continual price rises, conservatives are going to be saying: "You have had 3 (or 4) years to fix this and you have failed. We need a new broom. So the conservatives will be back in almost regardless of what they say or do.

And Leftist unbridled spending IS the major cause of inflation so conservative fiscal restraint will ameliorate the cost crisis and gain credibility again.

2). Donald Trump may well get back in. And he has vowed to rip Leftist idiocies to shreds. And with a GOP Congress on his coat-tails he may do just that and re-establish conservative ideas as something to be reckoned with.

Whatever the result of the critical Aston by-election, conservative politics is in the midst of crippling, perhaps mortal, crisis within Australia, and around the Western and democratic world.

In Australia, conservatives hold office neither nationally nor in any mainland state or territory. Worse, they seem intellectually and politically exhausted, and don’t look as if they’re on the brink of posing a serious electoral challenge in any jurisdiction. Peter Dutton is a substantial politician but he is miles behind Anthony Albanese. Most Coalition state leaders are anonymous and ineffective.

But they’re in good company internationally. For some version of the same crisis is evident in most democratic nations from North America to Europe. There are a few exceptions but the tide is mostly out for conservatives. Of course, politics mostly runs in cycles. And conservative wisdom will be needed again, eventually.

But today conservative ideas don’t set the agenda. The conservative crisis is part of a larger crisis throughout Western civilisation. In time, the centre-left parties that rule will face their own crisis because without exception they are leading the nations they govern to live way beyond their means. They are also indulging ideological dynamics that are intensely destructive in the long term.

The last great conservative era was the 1980s. Ronald Reagan, Margaret Thatcher and even Malcolm Fraser all led self-confident conservative governments. The world’s most authoritative moral figure was Pope John Paul II, a theological and social conservative and communism’s worst nightmare.

Compare today. Joe Biden and the Democrats rule in Washington, Albanese and Labor in Australia, Rishi Sunak’s Conservatives are more than 20 per cent behind Labour in Britain, and the Catholic Church is led by a Pope, Francis, who, politically if not theologically, is of the global left. Conservative ideas motivate no reform movement, they are no longer the fizz and sparkle of intellectual life.


Innocent cop fired by politically correct NT police

He had to be fired to please Aborigines

Zachary Rolfe has been dismissed by the Northern Territory Police Force despite being acquitted of murder over the shooting death of an Aboriginal teenager.

Mr Rolfe shot Warlpiri-Luritja man Kumanjayi Walker dead during a botched arrest in November 2019 at the remote community of Yuendumu, 300 kilometres north-west of Alice Springs.

A statement issued by NT Police on April 4 confirmed Mr Rolfe was sacked 'due to serious breaches of discipline'.

'A 31-year-old male police officer has been dismissed from the Northern Territory Police Force effective 4th April 2023,' the statement read.

'The officer was dismissed under section 78 of the Police Administration Act 1978 due to serious breaches of discipline during their policing career.'

Mr Rolfe, a former constable, was charged with Mr Walker's murder three days after his death on November 9, 2019, but was acquitted in March 2022.

Four NT police officers arrived at Yuendumu to arrest Mr Walker but the 19-year-old resisted, stabbing Mr Rolfe in the shoulder with a pair of surgical scissors.

In response Mr Rolfe's partner Adam Eberl punched Mr Walker in the head, then Mr Rolfe struck the boy in the face, before firing his Glock pistol into Mr Walker's back.

Mr Rolfe shot Mr Walker two more times in the torso. A post-mortem examination would later determine either the second or third shot killed him.

The jury that acquitted Mr Rolfe heard that he acted in good faith, in the reasonable performance of his duties and in the defence of himself and his policing partner in firing his gun after being stabbed.

The ABC reported that Mr Rolfe's dismissal may be linked to his 2,500-word open letter, which was published online in February.

In it Mr Rolfe claimed he would have 'got a medal' for his actions if the incident had occurred in another state.

The letter was critical of police leadership and the continuing coronial inquest into Mr Walker's death.

Meanwhile, Mr Rolfe's father, Robert Rolfe, called out Police Commissioner Jamie Chalker, saying the territory's top cop 'must go'.

Mr Rolfe claimed a 'petty vendetta' led to his son's dismissal. 'We can’t allow Chalker to keep on getting rid of good police officers,' Mr Rolfe told Sky News Australia.

Mr Rolfe sr also claimed 'the government have now lost confidence in Chalker'.


University cheats on notice after launch of ChatGPT detection software

Australia’s universities will gain access to new technology designed to crack down on cheats using ChatGPT but some top institutions are shunning the software as teachers look to redesign tests to combat the rise of artificial intelligence.

Most universities nationwide will on Wednesday have the option of using popular anti-plagiarism software service Turnitin to detect whether a student has used a chatbot to help write an essay or complete an assessment.

But some of the country’s biggest institutions including the University of Sydney, Monash University and Deakin University have said they will not use the software – at least initially – and are instead ramping up other detection methods to catch students using ChatGPT to write papers.

Academic integrity expert at the University of NSW, Cath Ellis, said there is a “real fear” the detection tool could lead universities to falsely accusing students of using ChatGPT to do their work.

“We could also end up with a massive tidal wave of referrals coming through from academics that we can’t handle, many that could be false accusations,” she said.

“Turnitin are releasing this tool, but the perception among the higher education sector is that the type of testing that has been done hasn’t been effectively communicated.”

James Thorley, regional vice president of Turnitin, claims the company’s new tool can identify if a student has used an AI chatbot in their work with 98 per cent confidence. He said about 780 high schools in Australia used Turnitin and will have access to the new tool.

“Banning ChatGPT isn’t feasible long-term,” said Thorley. “This detector isn’t just about maintaining academic integrity but is also about understanding how AI writing tools are changing the future of assessment,” he said.

However, Benjamin Miller, an English lecturer at Sydney University, said he is opting to redesign assessments for his first year students to deal with chatbots.

“I immediately started thinking about the ethics of using ChatGPT in academic writing, and I was surprised how well it could write and how widespread its use is,” he said.

“I now give students a sample of writing that ChatGPT has created, and they will be tested on how well it analyses and demonstrates critical thinking. They are also tested on how they exceed the capabilities of a chatbot.”

“ChatGPT isn’t great at analysis and evaluation, and often doesn’t connect ideas across paragraphs, so you can often pick up if it’s been used that way.”

A spokesperson for Sydney University said the institution would not be using Turnitin’s new AI detection feature immediately.

“We aim to avoid making major changes to our systems mid-semester, and without adequate testing or visibility, or time to prepare staff,” they said.

‘We could also end up with a massive tidal wave of referrals coming through from academics that we can’t handle, many that could be false accusations.’

Cath Ellis, Academic integrity expert at the University of NSW
The university said it would be reviewing the feature’s capability to see if it would help markers when assessing if a student’s work was original.

The university is also ramping up face-to-face supervision during oral exams and more pen-and-paper assessments.

Monash University has also decided against using Turnitin’s tool “given the technology is in its infancy”.

Deakin University said claims Turnitin’s tool has a 98 per cent accuracy rate in the detection of AI-generated text have not been verified by the institution, and flagged concerns it had been trained using out-of-date AI text generator models.

“Until the university can test its efficacy, Deakin has chosen not to apply the tool in the marking of student assessments,” said Associate Professor Trish McCluskey, Director, Digital Learning.

“This is to protect student data and is in line with the approach adopted by a growing list of global education providers, and we expect many Australian universities will follow our lead.”

However, UNSW said the feature would be available for academics to consider cautiously, but that staff would not be relying on it in any way.


TikTok is to be banned from government devices over security fears. How big is the threat and could it soon be banned for everyone?

The claim is that TikTok is politically biased. But so are all social media. So why pick on TokTok? Because it is Chinese, I suspect. Good old-fashioned racism, in short

For months, governments across the world have rattled their cyber sabres, threatening to cut TikTok off at the knees.

The reach and influence of the popular app, harnessed by everyone from porn stars to politicians, is undeniable, with more than 1 billion monthly users when measured in 2021.

But yesterday, the Albanese government finally swung its own sword, announcing that public servants would soon be banned from having the popular app on their work-issued devices, over fears it could be a secret Chinese tool.

The move made Australia the last nation in the Five Eyes intelligence network — which includes the United States, Canada, United Kingdom and New Zealand — to forbid officials from using the app, over concerns that it could be used by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) for political interference.

But while TikTok will soon be wiped from the public service's phones, it raises three key questions for everyday Australian who use TikTok on the train or in front of the TV:

How dangerous is TikTok, really? It depends on who you ask.

There's no doubt that TikTok has become a powerful platform which is being used to directly reach new and younger audiences, who have long been untethered to traditional broadcasting because of age, interest or, more likely, both.

The ban has, predictably, infuriated TikTok which is owned by ByteDance, a multi-billion dollar Chinese internet giant, that fiercely denies it poses any risk to national security.

TikTok's Australian boss, Lee Hunter, said there was no evidence the app was a security risk to Australians.

"We're extremely disappointed with this decision. In our view, this is driven by politics and not by fact," Mr Hunter said.

But Fergus Ryan, a China analyst at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, said that's not true.

"We've known for years now that TikTok user data is accessible in China, and because of the suite of national security laws that are in place in China, it means that there's effectively no barrier between user data and the Chinese party state," he said.

Mr Ryan said that type of data was incredibly valuable to a foreign government.

He said the greater risk facing Australians was political interference because of the "enormous leverage" that China's government has over ByteDance, due to Beijing's national security laws.

"It would be trivially easy for ByteDance, having been compelled to by the CCP, to either promote or demote certain political messages, and the effect that has is to distort the political discussions that Australians are having on that app," he said.




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