Tuesday, June 27, 2023

International fans converge on Sydney Harbour Bridge ahead of FIFA Women's World Cup

Why block traffic on a traffic artery for a sport with only a small following? If closing the bridge to promote women's soccer is right, why not close it to celebrate men's soccer? I am not holding my breath. It is just more discrimination in favour of women. Some people are more equal than others, it seems.

Many people use Sunday as an occasion to visit friends and relatives. To bad on this occasion if any of those they wanted to visit lived on the other side of the harbour

An estimated 4,000 people from around the world danced, sung and walked their way across the landmark ahead of the ninth iteration of the competition.

Unity Celebration marked the 25-day countdown to the international soccer competition kicking off in Australia and New Zealand in July.

Chants from home countries and the sounds of drums shook the bridge during the event, which began with a smoking ceremony, followed by live cultural performances and speeches.

A special double-sided World Cup jersey was also unveiled, commemorating the co-host countries.

'The fans are amazing'

Head of the 2023 competition, Rhiannan Martin told ABC News she was expecting a massive turnout. "We have great opportunities here for everyone to watch, I think the level of football will improve through the tournament."

Tehlia and Steve, two fans from Jamaica, were excited to see their home country play in next month's competition. "It's amazing to be in Australia while they're in the World Cup, and we can be here to support them," they told ABC News.

Anna, from Columbia, danced across the bridge with a group of friends. "We really can't wait until the girls get here. This is amazing, we are so excited," she said.

The 2023 competition will run from Thursday, July 20, to Sunday, August 20.

During the 32 days, 64 matches will be played in 10 stadiums across Australia and New Zealand.

There are 32 countries vying for the trophy — the largest number of competitors in the women's competition so far.

The first two games will take place in Auckland's Eden Park and Sydney's Stadium Australia, with the host countries versing Norway and Ireland respectively.

The Matildas, representing Australia, are in Group B alongside Ireland, Nigeria and Canada.

Ms Martin acknowledged the investment put in by Australia and New Zealand in preparation for the games, and said it will prove a tough competition.

"The groups are very strong. I know Australia have got a strong group," she said. "We're looking forward to fantastic football in 25 days."


Australia Removes Moderna Vaccine for Children Under 5

Health authorities in Australia have quietly removed Moderna’s paediatric COVID-19 vaccine for children five years and under, with both options offered by the company now no longer available in the country.

This comes after the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) announced it would no longer recommend COVID-19 vaccines for individuals who are under five unless they have one of seven specific high-risk medical conditions that could place them in heightened-risk categories for severe COVID-19.

The seven conditions include severe primary or secondary immunodeficiency, including those undergoing treatment for cancer or those on immunosuppressive treatments; bone marrow or stem cell transplant or chimeric antigen T-cell (CAR-T) therapy; complex congenital cardiac disease, structural airway anomalies or chronic lung disease, type 1 diabetes mellitus, chronic neurological or neuromuscular conditions or a disability with significant or complex health needs.

“ATAGI does not currently recommend vaccination for children aged 6 months to <5 years who are not in the above risk categories for severe COVID-19. These children have a very low likelihood of severe illness from COVID-19,” the advisory body said.

The Epoch Times has reached out to Moderna for comment on the decision.

Moderna Vaccine Only Gave Modest Protection: ATAGI
In justifying its change of advice, the health authority said that there was a very low risk of severe COVID-19 in healthy children aged six months to less than five years.

“This age group is one of the least likely age groups to require hospitalisation due to COVID-19. Among the small number who are hospitalised or who die due to COVID-19, underlying medical conditions or immunocompromise are frequently present,” ATAGI said.

They also noted that the age cohort had a relatively low rate of paediatric inflammatory multisystem syndrome (PIMS-TS) following COVID-19 compared to other older children, and this further declined with the Omicron variant compared to ancestral SARS CoV-2 strains.

Further, the health advisory group noted that a clinical trial of 5,500 children aged six months up to five years demonstrated that the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine provided only modest protection against infection, while safety data reported patterns of vaccine-related adverse events.

“Up to one in four children in this age group had a fever following vaccination with Moderna vaccine, with higher rates seen in those with a history of previous COVID-19,” they said.

“As fever in this age group can sometimes result in medical review and/or investigations and occasionally trigger a febrile convulsion, the side effect profile for this vaccination needs to be considered in the risk-benefit discussion.”

Additionally, the health authorities also changed their advice on COVID-19 booster shots for those 18 and under, with the body now recommending that children and adolescents aged under 18 years who do not have any risk factors for severe COVID-19, should not receive a booster shot.

Omission of Children’s COVID-19 Vaccine Deaths In Australia Raises Concerns

The changing advice follows concerns in March that Australia’s drug regulator was too slow to update the country’s Database of Adverse Event Notifications (DAEN) despite several deaths being attributed to the vaccine, including two children, aged 7 and 9.

The information came to light following a Freedom of Information request by an Australian doctor that found the delayed response from the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA).

Senator Gerard Rennick said he would push for independent oversight of the TGA.

“A third independent medical party should examine the evidence as the TGA has a conflict of interest because they approved the vaccines and would therefore be held responsible for the deaths of these children due to poor regulatory oversight,” Rennick told The Epoch Times.

The senator also said he was concerned that the TGA was soft-pedalling the risks with the COVID-19 vaccines, especially around myocarditis and cardiac arrests.

“They are definitely downplaying the risks. They do not have enough information to rule it out given the known link between the vaccines and myocarditis and myocarditis and cardiac arrests,” Rennick said.

The TGA states that they “rigorously assess any COVID-19 vaccine for safety, quality and effectiveness before it can be supplied in Australia.”

As of June 19, the DAEN states that since the beginning of the vaccination rollout in Australia, there have been 138,645 adverse events reported to the federal government. Of those, 135,126 are believed to be directly related to the vaccines, while 991 are reportedly vaccine-related deaths.

Further, in the age cohort of six months to 17, there have been 5,817 adverse events recorded, with 5,689 attributed solely to COVID-19 vaccines. Nine children and adolescents have also reportedly died as a result of an adverse vaccine reaction.


Cyber bullying, sexual content against teachers on the rise, eSafety commissioner warns

Teachers are experiencing escalating abuse from students and the eSafety commissioner warns the problem will get worse as generative AI technology becomes more widely used.

The commission has received reports of students taking photos of their teachers and rating their physical appearance, starting organised campaigns to have staff removed, making damaging allegations and creating sexualised abuse content.

“Some Australians are at greater risk of online abuse than others and sadly eSafety is aware teachers and principals are among them,” commissioner Julie Inman Grant said.

“We have received a number of reports of this form of abuse from across the community and we expect many more as generative AI technology becomes more widely dispersed.”

She said along with race, gender, sexuality and religion, perpetrators of abuse sometimes target specific professions, especially where their work is performed in the public eye, including teachers and principals whose work is sometimes known to “several thousand”.

While the commission has a good success rate in removing harmful content, Grant said social media platforms need to take responsibility for the “weaponisation of their platforms”.

“Teachers are incredibly vulnerable ... people don’t realise that feeling of being in a classroom with 20 or 25 or 30 young people.”

The commission is developing a social media self-defence program similar to other specific resources available for journalists and sportspeople.

Research from 2019 found 70 per cent of teachers reported being bullied or harassed by a student in the previous 12 months. Verbal abuse was the most common form, while 10 per cent said they had been hit or punched by a student.

Nearly 60 per cent reported they’d been bullied or harassed by parents. Women were more likely to be subject to abuse, while men were more likely to have students organise against them.

“Teachers are incredibly vulnerable. People don’t realise that feeling of being in a classroom with 20 or 25 or 30 young people,” said the study’s author, Dr Rochelle Fogelgarn – a lecturer in teacher education at La Trobe University and former teacher.

“[Teachers] are putting themselves out there for the services of the community. It’s not for the money.”

She said it was unrealistic to expect schools or teachers to crack down on abuse, especially as so much of it was anonymised online.

Psychologist and Headspace App mental health expert Carly Dober said bullying could have long-term impacts on teachers and lead to them dropping out of the industry.

“The lack of control that can really shake the person’s confidence, self-esteem and motivation to continue on in the role and to continue serving and giving as much as you do as a teacher,” she said.

“I’ve been hit, pinched, scratched, pushed, and sometimes come home with bruises on me.”

Liz Michelle, casual relief primary school teacher
“It can also leave people a bit paranoid, wondering who has seen this, and what do they think?”

Headspace App’s Workforce Attitudes Toward Mental Health Report found 34 per cent of people working in the education sector said they have felt extreme stress every day over the past 12 months, while 42 per cent reported an increase in violence or threats.

NSW Teachers Federation senior vice president Amber Flohm said the union was aware of the issue.

“Cyberbullying against teachers is not uncommon and reflects both the complexity and challenges of teachers’ work and ever-evolving technologies in classrooms and schools,” she said.

The parents who are driving teachers out of the classroom
“Platforms such as TikTok, Snapchat and Instagram are frequently used to ridicule teachers which of course has a significant impact on teacher’s wellbeing.”

NSW Education Minister Prue Car said a mobile phone ban in state public high schools, which will be implemented from term 4 of this year, would help reduce opportunities for student abuse.

“Teachers have been through enough in the past few years without having to endure abuse, whether actual or online. There is no place for this sort of behaviour in our classrooms,” she said.

The department will review the former government’s suspension policy to ensure teachers have the “right tools” to manage student behaviour.

A draft will be released for consultation in the coming months.

Federal Education Minister Jason Clare said he met the eSafety commissioner last week, who will brief state and territory education departments on the issue.

“There aren’t many jobs more important than being a teacher, and they deserve to be safe at work,” Clare said.

The minister will meet with state and territory counterparts next month to discuss teacher safety and AI frameworks in schools.

Liz Michelle is a casual relief primary school teacher and runs a parenting blog called Teaching Brave.

She has been a relief teacher for nine months after leaving the early childhood care sector and said she was shocked at the level of abuse from young children she received.

“I’ve been hit, pinched, scratched, pushed, and sometimes come home with bruises on me,” she said.

“I get quite a bit of verbal abuse, so that comes in the vein of screaming, swearing, insults. Verbal abuse can be quite significant. Any expletive you can think of, it all comes out and gets screamed in my face.”

Some incidents she reported to the school, she said, but found most outcomes unsatisfactory. As a casual, she said she’s particularly vulnerable to abuse and has chosen not to work at certain schools.

Michelle said while she hasn’t experienced cyber abuse, she was aware of colleagues who had seen nasty posts written about them, had been cyber stalked and had students invade teachers’ personal privacy.


Uni of Melbourne VC slams balaclava-wearing transgender activists over campus vandalism

University of Melbourne vice-chancellor Duncan Maskell has slammed “disgraceful” campus vandalism by balaclava-wearing pro-transgender activists – who were apparently targeting outspoken feminist philosopher Holly Lawford-Smith – and has referred the matter to police.

In a hard-hitting statement sent to the university’s staff on Friday afternoon, Mr Maskell warned: “The type of criminal behaviour seen last night has the potential to incite further physical and psychological harassment, endangering people’s well-being and safety, and it needs to stop right now.’’

The Australian understands that around midnight on Thursday, two activists smashed windows and sprayed graffiti with words to the effect “Trans – we are not safe’’ across the university’s Sidney Myer Asia Centre Building in Swanston Street in inner Melbourne.

Mr Maskell said: “Two individuals were caught on CCTV purposefully damaging university property and putting up graffiti pertaining to transgender issues. This activity follows the distribution of material on our campuses and social media platforms recently that seeks to vilify individual members of our community. This type of behaviour is completely unacceptable and stands in direct opposition to the values we hold as a university.

“Let me be unequivocally clear – such intentional acts of damage, violence or vilification against others will not be tolerated. Resorting to violence and causing damage on our campuses is disgraceful.’’

The vandalism occurred as the university prepares to post security guards outside feminist philosophy lectures by gender critical feminist and University of Melbourne associate professor, Holly Lawford-Smith, which start next week. Security guards were requested by Ms Lawford-Smith – who believes that biological sex is more important than gender identity – after she and her students were subjected to what she calls an “authoritarian” and “gross” boycott by self-described transphobia activists.

These activists urged students to boycott Ms Lawford-Smith’s lectures, and they put up posters around campus declaring, “Only a fascist takes feminism”, “Are you on the side of fascists?’’ and “Our demands: Transphobes and Nazis off campus”.

The attempted boycott, by an anonymous group called Fight Transphobia UniMelb, followed Ms Lawford-Smith’s attendance at the recent Melbourne Let Women Speak rally that was gate-crashed by neo-Nazis. After that rally, she was twice investigated by Melbourne University, and cleared both times.

“I hate it,’’ the academic said of the campaign targeting her students. “It’s really inappropriate. It should never have gone beyond me … It’s really unfair on them. They shouldn’t have to be fearful about ideas at any university. It’s just so authoritarian and gross.’’ She said “this is the first time they (activists) have targeted other students’’ and revealed that in 2021, activists targeted tutors teaching her courses.

The philosopher, who was overseas when the vandalism occurred, earlier lodged a formal complaint with WorkSafe Victoria, alleging that Melbourne University has failed to uphold academic freedom and provide her with a safe work environment.

She said her intensive feminism course, which runs for three weeks, mostly deals with disagreements within second-wave feminism over issues such as prostitution, beauty and “sex abolitionism versus gender abolitionism’’. “There is one lecture called trans/gender and that’s on whether gender identity should replace sex for all purposes,’’ she said. She said she looks at the question of gender identity “from both sides” in the course, adding: “In general you don’t ever teach from your perspective.’’

One of Ms Lawford-Smith’s students, who did not want to be named, said posters labelling those who take the feminist philosophy class as “fascists” were “certainly defamatory; a sort of targeted reputational attrition, or smear campaign’’. This student was both relieved and dumbfounded at “the sheer absurdity of this escapade having come to a point of a class teaching feminism requiring security’’.

Another feminism student said: “(It) strikes me as rather ironic that the group which advocates for respectfully addressing others according to the ways they identify … is so aggressive in labelling others (who presumably don’t identify as fascists).” When this student spoke to The Australian earlier this month, he said: “There are posters everywhere slandering Holly Lawford-Smith and her students … I think it’s great that the university is upholding its free speech value and not caving in to activist pressure. But I don’t think it’s done enough to defuse the hostility she’s faced.’’


Also see my other blogs. Main ones below:

http://dissectleft.blogspot.com (DISSECTING LEFTISM -- daily)

http://antigreen.blogspot.com (GREENIE WATCH)

http://pcwatch.blogspot.com (POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH)

http://edwatch.blogspot.com (EDUCATION WATCH)

http://snorphty.blogspot.com/ (TONGUE-TIED)

http://jonjayray.com/blogall.html More blogs


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