Judicial tyranny overturned: Abortion laws will be decided in State Capitols

Thanks largely to Trump nominees, SCOTUS  has returned to its proper role as a judicial body.  It is a great weakness of the American constitution that the court can be  suborned by Leftist  judges who replace law by their own opinions.  And Leftist judges are shameless in their arrogance.  In Roe v Wade they "discovered" in the constitution a "right" to abortion despite the word abortion being nowhere mentioned in that document.  It was a plain abuse of authority.  It invented law rather than enforcing it, something it was nowhere authorized to do

It is fortunate that the USA is basically a conservative country. Only that prevents Leftist hatred of their own country from causing the USA to degenerate into a Soviet-style tyranny. Americans are just not angry enough for Leftist anger to move a majority of them

Americans for Limited Government President Rick Manning today issued the following statement responding to the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization decision that returns the question of abortion law to the states:

“In 1973, Roe v Wade was wrongly decided by the Court, as the right to an abortion wholly contrived by activist judges. The Dobbs decisions rightfully returns this question to the states. Interestingly, with Democrats holding a 60-vote majority in the Senate and a substantial majority in the House in 2010, they never attempted to codify Roe into federal law, leaving the Court with no other choice but to return the issue to the states. If the left wants to blame anyone for today’s, they should look to Speaker Nancy Pelosi squarely in the eye, ‘Why didn’t you try to put it into federal law?’ The only thing for the Court to consider were state laws, and what the limit to those are. In this case, with a solid 6-3 ruling, the Court ruled that’s states is where the issue will remain for the next generation. Suddenly state legislature and gubernatorial races just became a lot more interesting as abortion laws will be decided in State Capitols.”

Excerpt from the new judgment: 

“The Constitution does not prohibit the citizens of each State from regulating or prohibiting abortion. Roe and Casey arrogated that authority. The Court overrules those decisions and returns that authority to the people and their elected representatives.”


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Divisive Greenies put reconciliation in peril

Albo spoke well to the matter but the flag is a side-issue.  The hopelessly impractical Greenie climate policies are the big issue.  And the Greens now have substantial representation in both houses of parliament so those policies matter.  

The  temptation for the Left is to ally with the Greens as both of them wish destruction on us.  So we can only hope that Albo gets enough support for saner policies from the conservatives to resist that temptation

Anthony Albanese says the push for reconciliation risks being undermined by the refusal of Greens leader Adam Bandt to stand in front of the Australian flag.

The Prime Minister said every parliamentarian should be proud to stand in front of the national flag, urging Mr Bandt to “reconsider his position and work to promote unity and work to promote reconciliation”.

“Reconciliation is about bringing people together on the journey that we need to undertake.

“It is undermined if people look for division rather than look for unity,” Mr Albanese said.

The criticism of the Greens escalated further on Wednesday after the party’s First Nations spokeswoman, Lidia Thorpe, said she was only in the parliament to “infiltrate” the “colonial project”.

Incoming Northern Territory Country Liberal Party senator Jacinta Price said Governor-General David Hurley should investigate whether there were grounds to dismiss Senator Thorpe from parliament. “I think she has nothing but contempt for the Australian people and she doesn’t respect the position she is in,” Ms Price said.

“I personally feel that the ­Governor-General should take a closer look at what her real ­intentions are and consider whether this is possible grounds for dismissal.

“She doesn’t see herself as an Australian, she doesn’t see herself as being represented by the Australian flag. Therefore she is not the right person to be in a position to represent the Australian people nor does it indicate she has Aus­tralia’s best interests at heart.”

Indigenous leader Warren Mundine said he was “flabbergasted” by Senator Thorpe’s comments.

“She is carrying on like she is in a five-year-old’s spy game,” Mr Mundine said.

“I just shake my head at these people. We have got so many problems with Indigenous communities … They have got to have jobs and businesses operating, and education.

“So is she there to blow the place up? It is just bizarre.”

On Tuesday night, Senator Thorpe said both the flag and the parliament “does not represent me or my people”.

“It represents the colonisation of these lands. And it has no permission to be here. There’s been no consent,” Senator Thorpe told Network Ten’s The Project.

“I’m there to infiltrate.

“I signed up to become a senator in the colonial project and that wasn’t an easy decision for me personally, and it wasn’t an easy decision for my family either to support me in this. However, we need voices like this to question the illegitimate occupation of the colonial system in this country.”

RSL Australia president Greg Melick said Mr Bandt’s action on the flag was disrespectful to ­Australian service personnel and veterans. “The RSL condemns the ­actions of Mr Bandt in the strongest possible terms,” he said.

“Australians have served under our national flag, irrespective of their race, religion or political views, and it and all our present and past service personnel deserve the highest respect.

“Mr Bandt’s move was dis­respectful to all these people and the RSL rejects it as unfitting of a member of our national ­parliament.”

Labor Left senator Tim Ayres said Mr Bandt’s flag policy was “some of the most empty gesture politics”.

“University, Trotskyite-sort of politics,” Senator Ayres told the ABC.

“There ought to be a bit of growing up around the place and a bit of self-reflection is absolutely in order for Mr Bandt and his ­colleagues.


Qld picks fossil fuel over energy storage

Is there no such thing as an intelligent journalist left?  OF COURSE nobody much is investing in energy storage.  Either it is useful only for a few hours (batteries) or its costs are astronomical (pumped hydro).  Coal, gas and nuclear are the only reliable power sources.  All the rest is fantasy

The Queensland government has prioritised coal and gas-fired generation over energy storage 

Twice as many taxpayer dollars will be spent on Queensland coal and gas-fired plants this year as they will on installing new renewable energy storage in the state.

Queensland already has the nation's highest wholesale electricity prices, which experts say is mostly due to its reliance on fossil fuel and lack of energy storage.

Household electricity bills will rise by 10 per cent, while power bills for businesses will soar 20 per cent from July.

Treasurer Cameron Dick will partly offset that by wiping $14.58 off household monthly bills for the next 12 months.

However, businesses won't get any support and will likely pass on their extra costs to consumers.

Over the long term, the state government will need to transition to renewable energy sooner if it wants to spare consumers further price pain.

Vast renewable generation projects are under construction, but the state needs about 6.5 gigawatts of energy storage as well.

Mr Dick promised $35 million in funding for a feasibility study on a 5-7GW pumped hydropower storage project in Tuesday's budget.

Another $13 million will be spent on finalising a study for a proposed 1GW pumped hydro project near Gympie.

However, the three public electricity generators will also spend $480 million with the majority of that propping up ageing coal and gas generation, rather than storage.

Stanwell Corporation, CS Energy and CleanCo will spend about $232.7 million on maintenance, upgrades and spare parts for coal and gas plants in 2022/23.

Stanwell will pour $21 million into the Meandu coal mine and CS Energy will invest $1.2 million on the Kogan Creek coal mine.

CleanCo - originally set up to be a renewable energy firm - will spend $13.6 million on the Kogan North Gas Field, which it jointly owns with Arrow Energy.

The big investment in fossil fuel generation comes with the government expecting to bank dividends from the generators in 2022/23, and for those to rise in 2023/24.

"This trend reflects earnings growth of these businesses, with the current wholesale market environment supporting returns in the next couple of years, and a return to more stable levels over the forward estimates," the budget said.

Meanwhile, the three generators will invest less than half the amount they spend on fossil fuel generation than they will on increasing renewable energy storage capacity.

About $122.5 million will be spent on two batteries at Chinchilla and on the Darling Downs, which will eventually be able to store about 500MW, in 2022/23.

Queensland will need about 14 times more storage than that to transition to renewable energy and phase out coal generation.

The three generators are also investing about $85.1 million in the Wambo and Karara wind farms, which will eventually generate 353MW of electricity.

In total, the state government will invest $281.8 million on renewable energy and $232.7 million on fossil fuel generation in 2022/23.



Brisbane to charge Airbnb hosts higher council rates to tackle housing availability

A brilliant idea: Solve the shortage of rental acomodation by penalizing those who provide it!  Short-term lets are  an important source of accomodation but they are bad somehow.  Property owners concerned may withdraw from the market entirely if they are penalized for it.  Attempts to make people do what they do not want to do will always be met with evasion in some form

Brisbane homeowners who list their properties as short-term accommodation on sites like Airbnb will be slugged with a 50% rates hike amid a chronic shortage of rental properties.

Handing down the city’s $4bn budget on Wednesday, the LNP lord mayor, Adrian Schrinner, said a new “transitory accommodation” category will help tackle housing availability and affordability in Australia’s fastest growing capital city.

Schrinner said the 50% rate increase would mean a property on Brisbane’s minimum rating category would pay $600 extra a year, providing an incentive to landlords to rent their property to longer term tenants.

Brisbane’s rental vacancy rate was 0.7% in May, according to SQM Research.

Related: Short-term rentals, long-term anguish for Australian towns struggling to find homes for locals

“There’s a serious housing affordability issue and we need to be looking at new ways to increase housing supply,” Schrinner said.

“It’s about getting more accommodation for renters to be available in that long-term rental market. Every single property that switches from short-term to long-term rental is a win for the community.”

It comes as Schrinner said residential rates would increase by 4.93% – the city’s highest rates increase in more than a decade – as Brisbane grapples with the aftermath of February’s floods.

From 1 July, property owners who list their homes on Airbnb, Booking.com and Stayz will be asked to self-identify and be charged higher rates. The charges will only apply to entire properties, not single rooms or granny flats, and only to those rented out on short-term leases for more than 60 days a year.

Schrinner said council would use online resources to identify properties listed as short-term accommodation, and also allow people to report their neighbours.

He said there had been almost 300 complaints from the community about short-term rentals in the past three years across Darra, Wavell Heights, Rochedale and Paddington.

“Think about how you would feel as a resident if your nextdoor neighbour kept on changing every second night, [and] every weekend [there were] parties happening in the house,” he said.

“This is what’s being reported to us. And so that’s just one of many ways that we can identify this problem.”

Schrinner said the city needs more housing supply and criticised the Greens for opposing new developments.



Youth crime Qld: Why minimum age of detention could be raised from 10 to 14

The main driver for this change is to exculpate young Aborigines, who are commonly expert sneak thieves from an early age.  The change would give them licence to offend repeatedly.  But Leftists just see their age and want them exonerated on that ground alone  -- with the usual Leftist blindness to consequences

Attorney-General Shannon Fentiman says she will look at the minimum age of detention in Queensland following Tasmania’s move to increase it from 10 to 14.

Ms Fentiman described the recently announced decision by the Tasmanian Liberal government as an “interesting reform” as she spoke before the Queensland Media Club on Tuesday.

Under 14s will no longer be admitted to detention under the flagged changes in Tasmania, which are set to come into effect from 2024 – but they will still be held criminally responsible.

“Here in Queensland, very few young people – particularly aged ten to 12 – actually are in detention,” Ms Fentiman said. “But I think it is an interesting reform to look at. “Very happy to look at Tasmania’s approach, which is looking at detention, not (criminal) responsibility.”

Ms Fentiman acknowledged every jurisdiction across the country was meanwhile pushing for the minimum age of criminal responsibility to be raised from ten to 12.

She suggested each jurisdiction would want to make the move together to ensure consistency – with work underway in each state and territory to determine how it could be done.

“We haven’t had a Meeting of Attorneys-General yet with the new (federal) Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus, but I know he is very interested in this,” she said.

“And perhaps we will get some leadership from the federal government on this issue as well which would help.”

Meanwhile, it can be revealed the government is now considering the Bob Atkinson-led review into its youth justice reforms – but it is yet to publicly release the report to the community.

Opposition Leader David Crisafulli said if the government valued transparency and wanted to take meaningful action on youth crime, it would release the report “immediately”.

“Is the government keeping this report secret because the Premier doesn’t want the negative publicity when it’s released,” he asked.

In response to questions put to Youth Justice Minister Leanne Linard, a spokeswoman would only say the report would be released “soon” – with recommendations being considered by the government.

She also wouldn’t say if electronic monitoring devices as a condition of bail for accused youth offenders would be made a permanent measure beyond the trial period.

As of January, only three electronic monitoring devices had been fitted on 16 and 17-year-olds as a condition of bail following the introduction of the government’s laws.



Rent crisis: 87,000 properties ‘empty’, water’s on, no-one’s home

Only a minority of these homes will be actually unused but some will be  -- particularly homes owned by people living overseas.  Some owners are so wary of the unrecoverable damage that tenants can and do sometimes inflict that they regard protecting their investment as a higher priority than renting it out for income.  

And given the extremely pro-tenant laws, who could be blamed for not wanting to tangle with tenants?  Landlord protection laws would put most of the properties into the rental market but there is no prospect of such laws emerging.  Government meddling in the market is once again producing perverse behaviour.  Legislation designed to help tenants in fact hurts them.  At the very least, it pushes up their costs

I in fact have a rental property that I do not rent out  even though it is little used.  I prefer to keep it available for occasional use by family rather than bother with tenants and all the "protections" that come with them.  I am not even allowed to bar pets these days.  Awful of me but if you smell what some pets do to carpet you will understand.  I have been a landlord.  I know.

If tenants want more choice of housing, they should be telling governments to back off -- which is exactly the opposite of what is proposed below.  The proposals below would undoubtedly take even more housing out of the rental market.  You can only push people so far.  And guess what?  Landlords are people too!

Despite the worst rental crisis on record, about 87,000 ‘empty’ homes are not being put to work prompting calls for penalties against owners who don’t rent them out.

Shock analysis of the latest housing data released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics shows around 87,000 Qld residential properties that aren’t the main home of their owners were not being rented out, a figure which stretches out to 577,000 nationally.

An ABS spokeswoman said “the data includes properties used for other purposes, such as holiday homes, second residences, dwellings occupied rent-free by family members etc”.

Veteran property expert Michael Matusik said new tax measures were necessary to incentivise or penalise owners to release the homes for rent given how tight the market was.

“Around 29 per cent of investment properties are not rented out. They are sitting there vacant.,” he said.

Exclusive data from Qld’s biggest water provider, Urban Utilities, revealed 19,500 homes across lower SEQ had their water connection on, but noone seemed to be home for months.

Spokeswoman Michelle Cull said the firm provided water and sewage for around 590,000 residential properties in Brisbane, Ipswich, Somerset, Scenic Rim and Lockyer Valley – with new data finding about 3.3 per cent had low or no water consumption over a three-month period.

“According to our water usage data, around 19,500 properties in our service region had a water usage of between zero and two kilolitres during the last quarter of 2021 (October to December),” Ms Cull said.

“Properties may have no or low water usage for a range of reasons including the use of water tanks instead of town water supply, residents could be away from home, or the property could be vacant or uninhabitable.”

Unitywater executive manager customer and community Katherine Gee said their numbers showed 2,104 houses that used 1,000 litres or less water over a 90 day period – of which 96 were in Noosa, 1,020 on the Sunshine Coast and 988 in Moreton Bay.

“It is important to note that it cannot be categorically stated that these properties are ‘vacant’. We operate in a desirable region and some of these properties may be holiday homes or homes that are occupied for only parts of the year,” she said.

Mackay Regional Council confirmed it too had zero/low consumption segments “however, this is not a definite indication that the property is vacant” given “the property owner may be away for an extended period, it could be a holiday home or estate or the owner may have another water source (rainwater/bore)”.

The figures for ‘empty’ apartments are harder to get given “there are a significant number of residential units/complexes that feed off a single meter and it will depend if each unit/complex are separate parcels of land (lot and plan),” a Mackay spokeswoman said.

The rental crisis spurred Brisbane Mayor Adrian Schrinner to open the floodgates over under-utilised rental properties, announcing “significantly higher rates” for landlords who “turned homes into mini hotels”.

“If owners have these properties in the market for a short term, that is their choice, but what they’ll be facing now is a 50 per cent increase in their rates. We’re excluding (those that rent out) individual rooms. This is about people who rent out the whole house.”

The city saw house rent surge 22 per cent in the past year to $610 a week, with units up 11.2 per cent to $430 a week, latest SQM Research data found. It put Brisbane’s vacancy rate at 0.7 per cent – its tightest level in history – with listings almost halving in one year (-46 per cent) to 2,200.

There are now calls for the Qld Government to step up, with Strata Community Association Qld president Kristi Kinast repeating calls for legislation to allow bodies corporate to ban short-term letting.

“This is currently impossible for 99 per cent of Queensland’s strata communities,” she said. “SCA Qld believes this is a good policy that will help alleviate rental shortages and discourage short-term letting in strata schemes that were not intended for that purpose.”

The Federal Government’s whip has been a vacancy fee penalty – enforced against international buyers who leave their real estate investments empty.

Australian Taxation Office figures show it collected $2.3m in penalties in 2021, $3.7m in 2019/20 and $1.8m in its first year of collection (2018/19).

Prosper Australia director of advocacy Karl Fitzgerald said foreign investors were not solely to blame for empty or under-utilised homes, with “speculative vacancies” by Australian investors curbing supply and pushing prices higher.

He said governments needed to reduce incentives for short-term profiteering from housing.

“Higher land taxes, more effective vacancy taxes and even curbing interest-only loans could all help. Switching away from stamp duties and towards land taxes – the ultimate vacancy tax – is a vital step forward.”

The best form of vacancy tax locally, Mr Fitzgerald said, would be to replace stamp duty with a land tax set at a significant rate of about 1.5 per cent of site values.

He said the ATO should also consider denying depreciation as a tax write-off if a property owner did not put it up for rent at a competitive rate. “Further investigation is needed of an incremental land tax for sites that refuse to be put to work.”



Boys falling far behind girls in HSC and at university

The feminization of education reaps its inevitable rewards. It starts in primary school with the idea that boys are inherently disgusting, obnoxious, violent, and disrespectful, and asking them to sit the heck down during class and pay attention to the teacher.  It is a system where boys are punished for behaving like boys and have few if any male teacher role models

Boys are falling far behind girls in school-leaving exams and at university to the extent that a University Admissions Centre (UAC) analysis of results found that being male was “greater than any of the other recognised disadvantages we looked at”.

The centre looked at Australian Tertiary Admission Rank (ATAR) and first-year university grade point average data and found the gender education gap persisted across socio-economic quartiles at both senior school and university levels.

Educators said there could be many factors at play, including different maturity levels, the compulsory inclusion of English in the HSC, which tended to favour girls, the declining popularity of difficult maths and sciences, and the increase in the school-leaving age.

Jennifer Buckingham, a reading expert who has studied the gender education gap in a previous role at the Centre for Independent Studies, said all jobs, including trades, now needed workers with strong literacy and numeracy skills. “The options for boys who don’t do well at school are becoming fewer and fewer,” she said.

“The expectations of what they can achieve change, they set their sights lower, and there are economic consequences of that too.”

The UAC analysis of ATAR data over many years, but particularly from 2020, found there was gender parity at the top end of the ATAR scale, above 98, and at the bottom end, below 39, but boys were far outnumbered by girls in the middle range.

The analysis said boys were under-represented due to a “combination of boys not performing as well as girls placed at similar points in the gender ability spectrum, and, more importantly, boys choosing study patterns that do not make them eligible for an ATAR or an HSC”.

The centre’s analysis found an ATAR-aged boy was 16.3 per cent less likely to obtain an HSC qualification than a girl in the same group, and 15 per cent less likely to complete at least one subject in 2020 than girls. “The effect of being male was greater than any of the other recognised disadvantages we looked at,” the analysis found.

The gap persists into university, the UAC analysis found, with boys enrolling at lower rates, less likely to pass all their subjects, and more likely to fail everything. The issue was across socio-economic quartiles.

NSW Department of Education data also show boys are also more likely to skip school. Attendance among high school girls is more than 82 per cent, compared with less than 73 per cent for boys. Boys also represent 70 per cent of school suspensions.

Robin Nagy, the director of Academic Profiles, which examines data for the independent sector, said the gap could be partly due to NSW requiring English to count towards a fifth of a student’s HSC mark. “On average, girls would appear to benefit more from this requirement than boys, due to the archetype of girls performing better in English,” he said.

Female enrolments outnumber male ones in the harder English subjects, which scale to higher ATAR marks, and boys were over-represented in easier subjects.

Craig Petersen, the head of the Secondary Principals Council, which represents public school principals, said there had also been significant efforts over several decades to ensure girls were catered to in HSC examinations.

“In response to the research that shows girls respond better to narrative questions, we started seeing scientific or mathematical problems voiced as a story,” he said.

This so-called “feminisation” of the HSC physics and chemistry syllabuses, in particular, was wound back in the most recent revision of the syllabuses, released in 2018, which had greater focus on mathematical applications and less on sociology-based content.

Petersen said boys also matured more slowly than girls; the prefrontal cortex, which helps people understand the consequences of their actions, does not finish developing for boys until 25. “That may be the area that says, ‘I want to have a good job, therefore I need to study hard’.”

The decision to raise the school-leaving age to 17 about a decade ago also meant boys who would once have left after year 10 for a trade were now staying on, Petersen said. “[Some] fall into this malaise, they don’t really want to be there, aren’t motivated,” he said.

Melissa Abu-Gazaleh is the managing director of the Top Blokes Foundation, which advocates addressing the health and wellbeing of young men to increase their engagement in school.

She said many young men were still tied to the stereotype that they should not express vulnerability or seek help, and expressed their frustration in outbursts, which led to disciplinary action.

“This then becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy where the male student then has lower aspirations to be better or achieve more,” she said. Giving male students a different message about seeking help and positive role models would help, she said.

Concerned that boys needed more help, Dapto High principal Andrew FitzSimons appointed a boys’ mentor, Andrew Horsley, who works with the Top Blokes Foundation and local service providers to ensure boys get the support they need.

“For me, it’s all about developing connections,” Horsley said. “With boys, sometimes you need to spend a bit of time and effort and energy to develop those connections, and then they’ll feel safer, if they’re struggling with something.”



Why girls’ schools succeed at producing women who lead

There is probably some truth in the claims below by the partisan Loren Bridge but she ignores the elephant in the room:  Girls schools are almost all private, even if they are Catholic schools only.  

And private schools are almost all selective in some way.  Most require fees for attendance and that selects for parents who can afford such fees -- almost all being from better-off families.  And richer people tend to be brighter, which their daughters inherit.  So the pupils at such schools will mostly be of above-average IQ.  And high IQ helps with almost everything in life

And at least some of the claims above are simply untrue.  She says that boys and girls have equal basic ability at maths.  But all the psychometric research shows otherwise.  And how many Fields medals were won by women?  Just one, an Iranian lady

And I haven't even mentioned testosterone

The whole article below is suffused by Leftist bias, so should be taken with a large grain of salt

Much has been said about this exciting “teal wave” of forthright, trailblazing, smart women. Five out of the eight female independents who will take their place on the crossbench of this parliament – Dr Monique Ryan, Dr Sophie Scamps, Dai Le, Allegra Spender and Zali Steggall – are graduates of girls’ schools.

This would be no surprise to anyone familiar with the benefits of single-sex education for girls, but for those who aren’t, it’s important to put this figure into perspective — girls’ schools make up just 2 per cent of schools in Australia.

Clearly, there is something inherent to the girls’ school environment that better prepares women for high-level leadership.

So what is it about a girls’ school education that ignites in young women the determination, inspiration and motivation to lead? What gives them the courage and grit to be change-makers in a world that continues to squeeze women onto the edges of the centre stage positions that men carve for themselves?

In girls’ schools, students are intentionally equipped with the knowledge and skills required to overcome social and cultural gender biases, and in doing so, actively break the stereotypical norms that define women in society. This is achieved through an education that rewires the implicit biases that so often limit women.

Women are expected to walk a tightrope between exhibiting the characteristics society expects of women and being seen to have the “strength” to lead. They are in a double bind. The obsession with former prime minister Julia Gillard’s empty fruit bowl in her kitchen illustrated this perfectly.

To resist this concentrated pressure, girls must be encouraged to take a leap of faith. They must leap from the tightrope and defy gendered pressure. To do this, they need the confidence to lead and be disruptors.

A study by the University of Queensland found that confidence levels for girls in single-sex schools matches that of boys, while girls in the general population consistently demonstrate lower confidence levels than boys.

In other words, the study found that a girls’ school provides the environment for girls to develop and maintain innate confidence and healthy self-belief. And it is confidence, or a lack of confidence, that is frequently attributed to the under-representation of women in senior leadership roles.

Let’s be clear — girls aren’t innately less confident or assertive than boys, they aren’t less capable in maths and sciences and they certainly don’t have more body image or mental health issues than boys as infants. It is our patriarchal society that stereotypes women diminishing their self-belief and self-efficacy, quashing their voice and ultimately, their power.

A girls’ school turns the tables on gender stereotypes, and this can be life-changing for a girl.

Girls’ schools provide significant leadership opportunities — 100 per cent of the leadership positions (not just 50 per cent) are held by girls. The power of mentoring and role modelling provided by past students, and the predominantly female leadership of girls’ schools, provides girls with leadership development opportunities beyond those available in co-ed schools. With no requirement to cater to boys, girls’ schools balance the inequality in broader society through purposeful, targeted education.

Data from a US study shows that girls’ school graduates are more likely than co-ed school counterparts to be involved in political activities, demonstrate social and political agency, and be supportive of societal improvements. They are more likely to be change-makers.

Research shows unequivocally that girls thrive in an all-girls environment; they do better academically, socially, and emotionally. Regardless of socio-economic factors, data — not just from a single study but from a plethora of unique studies from all over the world — indicates that girls simply do better in girls’ schools.

Girls in co-ed schools tend to be more self-conscious and less confident; they are less likely to speak up in class, ask questions or take on a leadership role. They are also more likely to have a negative body image and considerably more likely to experience sexual harassment or bullying. In contrast, girls in girls-only environments participate more freely in discussions, are more competitive and take more healthy risks with their learning — skills that are advantageous for life success.

Girls’ schools are at the forefront of gender equality, deliberately challenging gendered norms and purposefully building girls’ confidence, conviction and self-belief, making sure that girls have the skills and knowledge to speak out and to break down barriers.

These are skills our new female MPs will certainly need as they step into the male-dominated Parliament House, famed for its sexism and misogyny. May their voices add power to changing that culture and progressing the ongoing fight for a more equal society.



Culture of violence in remote communities drives attacks on Aboriginal women

The article below is very instructive.  It shows how gross the problem with Aborigines is and how insoluble it is. Governments have tried all sort of approaches to improve the Aborigine lifestyle but nothing works.  The article below shows why.  You would have to transform an entire culture.  And how do you do that?

And I haven't even mentioned the different range of cognitive skills among Aborigines

A high-profile crown prosecutor says a major factor in the domestic violence epidemic afflicting Northern Territory Indigenous women is an “enculturation of violence” on remote communities.

In a rare and candid interview, Victorian Senior Crown Prosecutor Nanette Rogers, one of the nation’s most experienced criminal barristers, said resolving the Territory’s family violence crisis required “profound change’’ to address such violence, which was “predominantly male-on-female”.

“It’s really trying to change that enculturation of violence; that culture of entitlement to assault or using violence on any person.’’

Ms Rogers also said some “remote communities tend to be very punitive towards a victim or someone who has helped a victim or sought help from the police’’.

On such communities, victims of domestic abuse had sometimes “been punished by their family members as well as the perpetrator’s family members” for reporting such crimes.

Ms Rogers is the former Central Australian prosecutor who stunned the nation in 2006 when she spoke out about horrific cases of physical and sexual abuse of Aboriginal children and women. She also spoke about how a male-dominated Indigenous culture and kinship connections had helped to create a conspiracy of silence.

READ MORE:‘Epidemic of violence’ plagues women: judge
Her revelations led to the 2007 report Little Children Are Sacred, which was followed by the Howard government’s contentious NT Intervention.

Ms Rogers, who left the NT almost nine years ago, said she was shocked by how little things had changed for Indigenous women from remote Territory communities in recent decades.

“What is disappointing for me is that nothing’s changed,’’ she said. “That is the takeaway point for me. I find it shocking that nothing has changed.

“… My understanding is that the violence towards Aboriginal women and children by Aboriginal men continues unabated.’’

Remote communities, Ms Rogers said, could be “extremely unsafe” for Indigenous women.

She was responding to comments by NT Supreme Court judge Judith Kelly, who said last week that Aboriginal women in remote communities remain trapped in an epidemic of violence caused by disadvantage and intergenerational abuse, and a culture that privileges the rights of perpetrators over those of victims.

Justice Kelly wept as she described cases in which women who had tried to flee violence were effectively kidnapped and endured beatings and rape on outstations.

“I just want people to know what’s happening to Aboriginal women,’’ she said, as she argued they were bearing the “absolutely dreadful” brunt of society’s failure to address high levels of welfare dependency, substance abuse and other problems on far-flung Indigenous communities.

Ms Rogers agreed that better education and more jobs for men and women on remote communities were needed to help build individuals’ self-esteem. She added: “On top of that you’ve got this enculturation of violence that is predominantly male-on-female.’’

Ms Rogers has conducted successful prosecutions against Victorian murderer Adrian Basham, who killed his estranged wife in 2018, and sexual sadist Jaymes Todd, who raped and murdered aspiring comedian Eurydice Dix-on in Melbourne in the same year.

Ms Rogers said that since she left the Territory, she had noticed a change in “the judicial language” used there, with some judges and magistrates more likely to call out “toxic” relationships between perpetrators and victims, especially if a perpetrator had abused his partner for years before severely injuring her. “Judicial officers are much more prepared to say it doesn’t matter whether you are an Aboriginal person or not; this is unacceptable,’’ she said.

“It must be really soul-destroying as a judge from the bench to see time and time again these horrific acts of violence that never stop.’’ She said that for such judicial officers “there must be a point at which you go ‘This is outrageous, no matter how liberal my attitude is towards Indigenous people and the Indigenous cause’.’’

According to a 2017 NT government report, Indigenous women in the Territory are 40 times more likely than non-Indigenous women to be hospitalised following family violence assaults. The same report quotes an NPY Women’s Council estimate that Aboriginal women from the NT, South Australia and Western Australia border region are about 60 times more likely to be murdered than non-Aboriginal women.

In a three-part series, The Australian recently revealed how a young Aboriginal woman, Ruby, was raped and bashed by her father in Yuendumu in Central Australia, and then forced to leave the desert town after he was jailed.

Last year, another NT Supreme Court judge, Justice Jenny Blokland, called on the NT government to address a potential, emerging pattern of sexual assault victims “being incidentally punished in their home communities through a form of banishment’’.

She made this remark while sentencing 32-year-old Simeon Riley, who pleaded guilty to raping an adolescent girl he had kidnapped and kept as a sex slave for several weeks in 2005. During that time, the girl, then aged 13 or 14, was kept in one room, sexually assaulted and forced to urinate and defecate through a hole in the floorboards.

The judge added that the victim of this “chilling” crime, who came forward to police in 2018, had been further punished as she felt she could not return home. The judge urged leaders from the girl’s otherwise “well-functioning” community to “seriously” reflect on that.

Justice Kelly also described a culture within some remote Indigenous communities that protected perpetrators of violence rather than their victims, and Ms Rogers said this was a longstanding problem. She said courts had traditionally assumed that when a victim of violence left the NT “that it’s a choice’’. But she said often, “their lives have been made so unlivable’’ and so “horrible and difficult” they have no choice “but to leave”.

In the wake of Justice Kelly’s remarks, Indigenous academic Marcia Langton called for a permanent group of experts to advise the federal government on how to improve safety for Indigenous women and children. Professor Langton argued that “lives are being lost while people in the women’s safety sector dither about irrelevant issues’’.

Ms Rogers said that like abuse victims in the wider community, some Indigenous women were torn between love and hate for an abuser. They could also have mixed feelings about their own relatives, whom they loved but who might have banished them for reporting abuse.

“It’s a double burden for those who have to leave,’’ she said, as they dealt with their violence-related trauma and being exiled from close relatives – sometimes including a mother or grandmother. “It’s an enduring situation – the woman has to leave, never the man … in that way, it’s not unlike any other culture.’’

Ms Rogers said domestic violence on remote NT communities was often intergenerational, with a father being sentenced for acts of violence and his son coming before the same judge for similar crimes 15 years later.

She said the unacceptably high levels of abuse endured by Indigenous women on such communities was not adequately acknowledged by the wider community.

Most people who live in Sydney or Melbourne “have never been to the Northern Territory. Most people have never been to a remote community. Most people have never met an Aboriginal person.’’



Ketchup at risk from climate change

More nickel-plated nonsense.  A computer model prediction only.  In real life tomatoes grow perfectly well in warm climates.  The major source of tomatoes in my State is Bundaberg, which has a nearly tropical climate -- already warmer than projected temperatures in Europe and North America

Tomato ketchup, a stalwart of British dinner tables, may soon be a much rarer commodity as climate change threatens to halve the fruit’s global harvest this century, according to a new study.

Ketchup is made from so-called processing tomatoes, which are predominantly cultivated in California, Italy and China, all of which are at risk from global warming.

Soaring temperatures mean the plants, like most crops worldwide, are being increasingly put under stress. A team of researchers led by Aarhus University in Denmark has now created a mathematical model to see how different climate change scenarios would affect production.

“There are two types of cultivated tomato: one type for fresh consumption (for example, salad tomatoes), usually grown under controlled environments; and one type used for industrial transformation known as processing tomatoes (for example, canned tomatoes), which are usually grown under field conditions,” the researchers write in their paper, published in Nature Food.

“Processing tomatoes are important because they are used for tomato paste, tomato sauce, ketchup and other tomato-derived products.”

Dr Davide Cammarano, the lead author of the study from Aarhus University, told The Telegraph: “The threat of climate change is significant, especially because the type of tomato we dealt with in this study (processing tomatoes that are field grown and mechanically harvested) requires irrigation.

“It is likely that more water will be needed to keep a profitable production in the future. This has important implications because water is something that is going to be less available for agriculture in some of the areas considered in this study.”

Tomato harvest could be halved

Around 180 million tonnes of tomatoes are grown every year, with two thirds produced by just three countries: the United States, China and Italy.

Last year, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) outlined five future global warming scenarios covering different levels of fossil fuel use and emissions.

Overall, the research found that by 2050, there would be around a six per cent decline in tomato production, with little difference between the five potential futures. But between 2050 and 2100, there is a stark difference depending on the climate model used and in the worst-case scenario, the tomato harvest could be halved.

“The production of the three main tomato-producing countries (Italy, China, the USA, which together account for 65 per cent of global production) is halved by 2100 under the worst case scenario,” Dr Cammarano said.

The worst-case scenario would involve a temperature increase in the tomato-producing regions of about 2.6C between 2040 and 2069, and 5C for 2070–2099, when compared to the baseline period of between 1980 and 2009.

Under these stipulations, the computer model projected that the global harvest of processing tomatoes in the 11 biggest growers would drop from the current 14 million tonnes a year level to less than seven million tonnes.

Warmer temperatures reduce yield

Warmer temperatures speed up how quickly plants grow, resulting in a shorter time for fruit development and therefore reducing yield.

“All crops have an optimal temperature during which development is optimal,” the scientists write.

“However, above this threshold temperature there is an acceleration in the senescence processes that has a negative impact on yield.

“The future viability of processing tomato production is different for each region,” they add.

“China will be one of the regions that is projected to be able to maintain a viable production of processing tomatoes… [but] California and Italy will be negatively impacted by the projected environmental changes.”

Dr Cammarano added: “The study shows that even lower levels of warming are enough to alter the major suitability zones for tomato production.

“Adaptation to climate changes can increase production, and this study emphasises the need to consider future climate shifts in designing resilient tomato production and value chains.”


As ever, price control reduces the supply

The high price of inputs such as coal is making electricity generation more expensive  -- meaning that  generators need to charge more to recover their increased costs.  But making electricity more expensive is deeply unpopular so Australa's brilliant bureaucrats capped the amount generators can charge for their product  -- price control.

So to protect their income the generators have been reducing their output to a bare minimum.  Doing that also breaks the price caps so it is a stoush between the bureaucrats and the generators  -- with the public at risk -- being faced with blackouts

Power generators are exploiting the chaotic energy market by withdrawing power supply from the electricity grid and waiting until strict rules to prevent blackouts kick in, forcing the energy market operator to direct them to fire their plants back up and triggering profitable compensation payments.

There’s no law stopping power companies from withdrawing their electricity generation from the market, and in the past two days they have reduced the volume available by 2 gigawatts in Victoria, 3 gigawatts in NSW and 1.5 gigawatts in Queensland.

The withdrawals were prompted by the Australian Energy Market Operator’s (AEMO) decision to put a cap on spiralling prices that electricity generators are charging for wholesale power, which crimped the profit margin of some generators, which are battling coal prices that are soaring because of sanctions on Russian exports.

But the electricity market is tightly regulated and AEMO has powers, designed to prevent blackouts, which enable it to force generators to fire up units and start supplying electricity to the grid. Whenever AEMO does this, companies are awarded compensation.

AEMO was unusually forthright in a public statement yesterday when it said that directly after price caps were imposed on power companies “available offers were reduced”.

These withdrawals represent more than 10 per cent of the east coast energy grid’s total generation capacity of 55 gigawatts and come on top of an energy crunch created by a series of breakdowns and maintenance outages that have forced about one-quarter of the east coast’s coal-fired power stations out of action.

Melbourne University energy expert Dylan McConnell said while power companies may have reduced their output for legitimate reasons, the scale of withdrawal across the industry raised concerns over its social licence.

“It’s not in good faith and fairly unconscionable conduct. Yes there is some sort of justification for it, but it’s the wrong thing to do,” McConnell said.

Federal Energy Minister Chris Bowen was asked on Tuesday if power companies were gaming the system and said the compliance regulator was monitoring the situation “very, very closely”.

“The Australian Energy Regulator reminded [power companies] of their obligations of the law this morning,” Bowen said.

The market regulator has reassured ministers that it believes there is still sufficient power available to the grid – but it’s likely that power companies will continue to be directed to switch their units back on, triggering more compensation payments.

“I have been in contact with [AEMO] and they are confident the situation can be and will be avoided in NSW and Victoria in particular in coming days,” Bowen said on Tuesday. “Nobody should turn off any power usage that they need for their comfort or their safety ... nobody is asking for that to happen.”

A spokesperson for the Australian Energy Council, which represents major power generators including AGL, EnergyAustralia and Origin, said its members faced a “complex issue” but were seeking solutions to the power crunch.

“The price cap unintentionally means that some plants can’t recover their fuel costs. Participants are legitimately seeking ways to resolve the problem,” the spokesperson said.

NSW Treasurer and Energy Minister Matt Kean said he was in close contact with AEMO and had “every confidence” there was enough power available to avoid blackouts, and he identified compensation payments as a cause of shortfall warnings that had sparked concern.

“The reason that generators are waiting for the market operator to direct them, rather than taking a loss in the market is because they are eligible for some compensation from the Australian Energy Regulator,” Kean said.



Another disgruntled black lady

What she says below may be true of black men for all I know but it is a far too cynical a judgment as it applies to white men I know.  As an elderly Australian male, I am often in receipt of kindness from others, both male and female.  The kindness is obviously real, as they have nothing to gain from it.

I think of myself as a kind person and women occasionally confirm that but I guess kindness to women is always suspect.  But suspicions can be wrong.  Genuine kindness can be real

All men benefit from most men harming women, including those self-proclaimed nice guys women love to fawn over. They are involved and intentionally benefitting from your pain as well!

I am going to say this once: no man on planet earth is a nice guy. There are millions of these types, yet the world looks the way it does! And you ladies accept this “good man” shit as truth?

Wouldn’t the world look much differently if men were actually nice, instead of giving us lip service solely to reap any sexual benefits that may manifest from treating women the way we should be treated in the first place?

I have said this before and I will say it again: men, and human beings in general, do not do anything out of the kindness of their hearts.

Think about it: why are nice guys only willing to protect you when you are with them; meaning, when you are fucking them and catering to their needs? How come they are not so protective of women they aren’t attracted to? Why are these “nice guys” given permission to provide half-assed protection for one woman while this same man can exist as a perpetrator to many others?

When it comes to half-assed protection, I am referring to the fact that all he has to do is stand beside you. Other men will know you are taken and they will leave you alone for the most part. Hardly any effort is involved at all! But if you are out by yourself you still are subjected to the same treatment and harassment that single women face regularly. This is why the wife cults tell women they should never be out in public without a man present.

Analyzing The Irony Of Asking Women “Who Hurt You?”
“It is time we accept trauma as a valid reason to avoid anything that may compromise us emotionally, physically, and…

According to the opposite sex, two wrongs make a right: as women we need a man to protect us from men. I don’t know about you, but their “logic” is so entertaining to me. This is the extent by which men care about your safety; when you are with one of them.

So what is the connection between relationships and the dangerous world of gangs and cartels? Why on earth did I use “pussy cartel,” a completely made-up term, in the title? I’m glad you asked! Men beg women to be with them by infiltrating our heads with cat lady stories and dying alone narratives. This is how single ladies are being targeted by these self-proclaimed good men for protection money. Only our protection money isn’t actual dollars; these good guys are compensated in the form of sex.

Why do you think random guys are obsessed with knowing your relationship status? It is really because they are genuinely interested in you?

These so-called nice guys see very clearly the struggles and anxiety you experience from their own kind. And instead of actually enacting any real change for women to be safe on a permanent basis, regardless if they are single or not, they tease us with protection in exchange for pussy as compensation.

It’s kind of like the police being corrupt (in certain places). While everyone believes them to be unsung heroes who are working tirelessly to eradicate drugs and drug-related crimes, they are cashing out on the underhanded deals they make with the cartels.

This, ladies, is the reality of men.

Nice guys finish last my ass! Nice guys put themselves first, just like the men they claim are their opposites that you need to be protected from.



‘I rent because I choose to have my money working harder in other places’

Wow! How poorly advised can you get? See below. The only way of making enough money to have an independent income is usually via real estate. I too come from a humble background but real estate allowed me to retire at age 39

When personal trainer Brando Hasick catches up with friends, he is often the one who brings up the subject of money.

“I can’t help it. I like surrounding myself with people who are doing interesting things with their money,” he says.

“When we’re out for dinner, I find it fascinating to hear their approach to making it work for them. It’s how I learn,” he says.

The 29-year-old Sydneysider’s ultimate dream is to establish a passive income stream – maybe shares that pay good dividends – that will set him up financially for life. He hopes it would enable him to retire early. “It would be nice to think that working is a choice,” he says.

Brando has a savings account, a transaction account and another as a means for stashing some cash away to pay any additional tax requirements. He admits to being a diligent saver.

He rents an apartment that he shares with partner Aisha and their baby Rupert. It provides him with greater liquidity to make a move – if he sees a good investment opportunity.

‘We always had what we needed, but there wasn’t much left over.’

“I rent because I choose to have my money working harder in other places”, he says

Brando has always been determined to be financially independent, even paying mentors to teach him the tricks of business. One charged $6000 to impart their knowledge, but he didn’t flinch. “I saw it as an investment in my future,” he says.

However, learning financial lessons has come at a cost: He lost more than $75,000 in a failed business attempt. “That experience definitely made me systemise things better, which has probably been a silver lining for me,” he says.

‘Being careful with money was drilled into me’

Brando grew up in a working-class family in Sydney’s western suburbs, which spurred him on to work hard and seek out financial independence. “We always had what we needed, but there wasn’t much left over,” he says.

By his teens, he was working in a fast-food restaurant and managed to save up to 50 per cent of his pay while trying to figure out what to do with it long term. This meant that when he was offered the chance to live in the UK for six months as part of his tertiary education, he was able to jump at the opportunity, using $30,000 in savings to cover living expenses.

When he returned to Australia, he moved into an apartment with a friend. He worked as a personal trainer, launching a side hustle in his backyard a year later.

Brando has been an investor in cryptocurrency for a few years, and also bought shares. Ultimately, he would like to help his parents financially. “They’ve always been there for me, and I’d like to be able to be there for them,” he says.


Aboriginal mother claims she was followed around a Kmart store by 'racially profiling' staff and her bags searched as she shopped with her family

This woman's treatment certainly seems extraordinary and oppressive.  She  undoubtedy deserves an apology at least. But what happened should be understood nonetheless.  

In their ancestral hunting lifestyle, Aborigines have developed enormous skills pertient to that lifestyle.  And those skills make them extraordinarily skilled sneak thieves.  Combine that with  their disrespect for white society and you get a lot of property crime from them.  And in a working class suburb like Merryylands, retailers would be well aware of that.  

So Aborigines in general are a problem there and that makes individual Aborigines suspicious.  The lady bore the brunt of the perceptions that her fellow Aborigines have created. Sad for her but probably inescapable

An indigenous musician claims she was racially profiled and accused of stealing while shopping with her children at Kmart. 

Australian rapper Barkaa, real name Chloe Quaylee, was shopping at her local Kmart store in the western Sydney suburb of Merrylands on Wednesday night.

She claimed she and her family were watched and followed by three staff and  stopped from leaving the store until they checked her bags.

'I walked into Kmart with my family and was spotted by one of the women who worked there, who continued staring at us,' Barkaa wrote in an Instagram post.

'She then grabs two young men (one that was in uniform and one that wasn't) and all three followed me through the toy section with my young kids, snickering things under their breathe and laughing.'

Barkaa confronted the woman asking whether 'she was ok', the woman replied: 'yes, just looking at this' - which she then told the woman: 'I know you are following me, can you please stop, it's rude.' 

The mother-of-three called her children to follow her and leave the store when two young men allegedly followed them through the aisles. 

'As we were leaving the two young men followed us so I decided to start video recording as it was distressing and humiliating for me,' Barkaa wrote. 

'Once we got to the check out and checked all of our items through and proceeded to walk out, we were then stopped by a young woman who said "I have to check your bag".' 

Barkaa claimed three Kmart workers pulled out all the items she bought out of her bags and insisted they 'had to because it was their job' - while other customers left with their bags unchecked.

'I said to them, 'I have no need to steal, I'm in here with my kids, I have more than enough to pay for these items,' Barkaa told the Kmart staff. 

The artist felt 'humiliated and ashamed' but believed she had to speak out against racism and discrimination and had the platform to do so - sharing the experience with her 59,700 followers. 

'I have the platform to do so and I wish this wasn't my job, but so many of us are still being discriminated against and racially profiled, followed around in stores and targeted just for being who we are,' she wrote. 

'Tonight I felt humiliated and ashamed, I had people looking at me and my young kids like we had done something wrong. 

'I felt like crying when I got out of the shop but instead I had to walk off and explain to my kids what just happened and comfort my eldest daughter. 'I'm sick and tired of being sick and tired.'

The budget retailer, which is a subsidiary of Wesfarmers, said it was aware of Barkaa's experience and was investigating the matter further.  'We are aware of Barkaa’s experience in our store and we are investigating internally and taking it extremely seriously,' Kmart told Daily Mail Australia.

'We have been in contact with Barkaa and are speaking with her to understand more about her experience. 'We want all our customers to have a great experience every time they are in one of our stores and we understand we have not delivered on this experience this time around.'

In two Instagram story posts on Friday night, one of which was deleted, Barkaa labelled users leaving negative comments as 'whinging racists'. 'It's 2022, I don't need racists for permission to be a Blak [sic] woman in this country with a voice,' she wrote.  'What happened was unacceptable... I'm not backing down and I have every right to be upset... it was traumatic for myself and my babies.' 

'Fancy being called a thief on stolen land,' she wrote and then quickly deleted. 



The cheap, green, low-tech solution for the world’s megacities

Like most "easy" solutions, particularly Green ones, this idea has hairs on it. Making China of 1991 the model is in fact rather hilarious. To state the obvious:  Commuting via bicycle (as distinct from recreational riding) is only for the young and fit -- a minority in any population.  Electrically assisted bikes could expand the feasible age-range up a bit but even they  will impose a time penalty:  Most commutes will be time-limited.  They will be slow and will be limited to ones short enough to take only an acceptable time in traffic.  And I have't even mentioned the weather yet.

Yes.  It is true that traffic jams are a problem almost everywhere but modern governments can and do provide enough infrastructure to keep jams to peak hours -- as they have done in my city of Brisbane, where roadworks never cease, with a particular emphasis on tunnels. And the Brisbane conurbation is home to around 2 million people.  Yes.  I know about Boston's "big dig" but Brisbane's tunnelers have had nothing like the problems there.  Most tunnels have in fact have been completed on time.  And you can fly along in them at significant speed.  And a new tunnel was <a href="https://www.abc.net.au/news/2022-05-30/brisbane-cross-river-rail-tunnel-walk-public-tour/101108526">provisionally opened</a> just a few days ago

And a major solution to traffic jams is already in  place in most Western cities -- decentralization.  There are large shopping and  business centres well outside the CBD.  A modern city is in fact a collection of mini-cities, with little need for most people to travel into the central area.  And that is a continuing trend.

And there is a big solution that lies within the power of the individual:  Move to a smaller city. I have family who live in Invercargill in New Zealand, where the rush hour lasts 10 minutes.  Yet with few exceptions they have there all the facilities they would get in a big city.  And my home state of Queensland has a long string of pleasant regional cities from Cairns to Gladstone.  I myself once contemplated moving to Mackay.  Some of the cities concerned are in fact significant tourist destinations so are pretty pleasant.  The big limitation of small cities is of course the lack of some specialized jobs but in the new era of working from home that looks set to become less of a problem

In a stunning photograph from Shanghai in 1991, clusters of cycling commuters stream across a bridge. The only motorised vehicles to be seen are two buses. That was China in the 1990s: a “Bicycle Kingdom” where 670 million people owned pushbikes. Chinese rulers were then still following the lead of Deng Xiaoping, who defined prosperity as a “Flying Pigeon bicycle in every household”.

Today China is the kingdom of eight-lane highways. Most lower- and middle-income megacities around the world have ditched the bike. But they now need to reclaim it. Modern “megacities” (defined as places with at least 10 million inhabitants) are the biggest human settlements in history, and growing every day.

The world had ten megacities in 1990, 33 in 2018 and will have 43 by 2030, says the United Nations. Over a third of their population growth will be in India, China and Nigeria. More cars will mean more traffic jams and more damage to people, the planet and city life. Happily, it’s perfectly feasible for these places to become bicycle kingdoms again.

For now, poorer megacities tend to be designed for rich people who can afford cars — which in India means one household in 12. Often mayors can find money for highways, but not for bike lanes or even pavements. In lower-income countries, bikes tend to be stigmatised as poor people’s vehicles, whereas in rich cities they get stigmatised as hipster toys. Many people in poorer megacities dream of living in Los Angeles and owning an SUV. For now, though, they can spend hours a day stuck in motionless status symbols that sometimes cost a third of their income, especially with soaring petrol prices.

In lower-income countries, bikes tend to be stigmatised as poor people’s vehicles. In rich cities they get stigmatised as hipster toys

The more cars, the less mobility. In Istanbul, the world’s most congested city according to satnav provider TomTom, the average person lost 142 hours a year in traffic, while Moscow, Bogotá, Mumbai and Delhi all topped 100 hours. The Mombasa-Nairobi highway in Kenya once hosted a three-day traffic jam.

Then there are the carbon emissions, the 1.3 million people killed each year in traffic accidents and the estimated 4.2 million who die prematurely from outdoor air pollution, most of them in poor countries. For comparison, the combined global annual death toll from homicides and armed conflicts is about half a million. Add on the terrifying numbers of people in car-bound cities who will die early because they hardly get any exercise: an estimated 77 million Indians are diabetics, and most don’t know it. Cars are serial killers.

Poorer megacities seeking to push out cars can seldom afford metro trains. London’s Crossrail, first mooted in 1974 and approved in 1990, a mere bolt-on to the existing Tube, has finally opened at a cost of £19bn. Paris is splashing out even more on its expanded metro. It would be cheaper to give every commuter a free electric bicycle.

Many poor cities, inspired by the bike boom in high-status western capitals, have recently drawn up cycling plans. But they are too scared of drivers to implement them, says Gil Peñalosa, an urbanist who helped bring bikes to Bogotá. Still, Nairobi, Jakarta, Addis Ababa and Beijing are among those cities that are now expanding cycle paths. The electric bicycle is a game-changer, much more significant than the overhyped, expensive and insufficiently green e-car: global sales of e-bikes are projected to reach 40 million next year, compared to 9 million for electric vehicles. Globally, most trips are less than 10 kilometres, which e-bikes can cover within half an hour, says the Institute for Transportation & Development Policy.

Many megacities are early enough in their development to avoid the wrong turn towards cars that European cities made after the war. Mayors should be building charging infrastructure for e-bikes, not more arterial roads.

In some cities, the heat discourages cycling, though the problem can be overstated: steamy Dhaka has long been the world’s rickshaw capital, most Indian households still own bikes, and Shanghai’s sweltering summers didn’t deter cyclists in 1991. Possible heatproof solutions could be to organise carpools, extra buses, or earlier working times in summer.

In crime-ridden cities such as Johannesburg, some people don’t dare cycle for fear of cycle-jackings. But many elsewhere yearn to get on their bikes. Just under half of Chinese people say they would like to use bikes for their daily commute, while another 37 per cent want to go by moped or electric scooter, according to a survey by McKinsey. The next step — as in high-income cities — is to replace delivery trucks with cargo bikes.

How often does a knot of problems have one cheap, green, healthy, low-tech solution? Smart cities will actually implement it.



Explaining the Left/Right divide

In 2004 I wrote an article for a sociology journal under the above heading.  It looked at the Left/Right divide over the last 1,000 years, with a particularly extensive focus on the Tudor period. 

On looking back on the article, I was pleased to find that what it said was still applicable today. A lot has happened since 2004, however, so I have updated the article to include recent examples. You can find it here.


A damaging obsession?

Since ancient times, women have long sought to improve their appearance by colouring their faces and hair in various ways -- and that is a major industry to this day.   Modern times differ in the availability of surgery -- with face-lifts and boob-jobs being well-known.

The article below is aimed at curbing the surgical adventures. But it is not clear why that should be so.  Where the procedures do harm, one can be critical with some justification but otherwise if it gives satisfaction, why not?

The small point in the critique below is that people sometimes feel pressured into undergoing the procdures and are not really happy with it.  But that is a personality matter.  Susceptibility to social pressure is real but so can the the ability to withstand it be.  And if that resistance is lacking, who else is able and entitled to supply it?.

I personally inherited a "Roman" or "aquiline" nose, which is both unusual and sometimes regarded as ugly.  I have never felt the slightest urge to alter it but I understand that affected women sometimes do

Australians' body image problems are getting worse. Amidst an 'epidemic of body image anxiety', could one simple act change everything?

The term 'body modification' covers everything from hair-dye and braces, to lip fillers, nose jobs and butt augmentation.

What's considered normal or extreme comes down to who you hang around with: depending on your social circle, you might consider make-up unusual, or regular botox injections the norm.

But across the spectrum of procedures, there are two powerful common points. More of us are opting for body modification than ever. And more of us are judging the choices others are making. UK philosopher Heather Widdows says we are increasingly comparing ourselves to others online, with a "moral judgement that goes both ways".

It's directed towards those who do and those who don't modify their bodies, she says. And it's becoming a destructive force. "We have an epidemic of body image anxiety," Professor Widdows says. "We have to move away from that."

In Australia, more than 43 per cent of people are highly concerned about their body image, according to Monash University's Body Image Research Group.

In a study of over 3,000 mostly female Australians, aged 18 and over, the Butterfly Foundation found that over 70 per cent said appearance was "very important" and wished they could change the way they look.

Roughly one-fifth of the respondents had attempted to change themselves to look like images they saw on social media. Nearly half felt pressure to look a certain way.

Behind statistics like these is the influence of beauty ideals on body image "” and it's time to talk about that, Professor Widdows says. "We need to start taking it seriously."

Joseph Taylor, 36, says he grew up hating his "stereotypical [ethnic] big nose". He's since had three nose jobs, the first when he was 17.

Schoolyard teasing played a part in his decision. "Kids can be horrible," he says. "Someone probably said something like, 'Oh, you big nose'. "It must have, at some point, really got to me."

"When we're young, we're constantly trying to be the best that we can be on the exterior because we feel that's all that matters "¦ and we're so impressionable," Mr Taylor says.

But it's not only in our youth that we are susceptible to this influence. For young people and adults alike, beauty has become "our primary obsession", Professor Widdows argues.

She's not out to criticise beauty rituals. After all, as she notes, "we are embodied beings; we live in our bodies. It's how we see other people, how we relate to them".

The cosmetic enhancement industry in Australia is booming. We meet the people chasing their aesthetic ideal and those jumping off the cosmetic enhancement conveyor belt.

And plenty of beauty practices are enjoyable. Mr Taylor, for example, says today he is happy and confident with his appearance, and he feels in control of the influence of beauty in his life.  "I've definitely grown to like the way I am," he says.

It's when beauty ideals tip into an obsession that problems can arise. For example, when not weighing what you'd like ruins your day. When getting one selfie right takes hours of preparation and editing before posting. Or when not being happy with the way you look might even stop you leaving the house.

These, Professor Widdows says, are things she's observed in researching her latest book, Perfect Me: Beauty as an Ethical Ideal. She believes they signal a "very profound shift" in values.

"We've gone from beauty being one thing we care about to it being almost defining of who we are," she says. "How we present success used to be the car or the house. Now it's how we look."

Professor Widdows suggests several reasons for this shift.

* We live in a more "visual culture" today, where "the image always speaks louder than words", she says.

* Courtesy of social media, we are able to constantly examine our appearance in relation to that of others.

* Also, where once beauty treatments were "very topical and superficial", now "we literally can change the shape of our bodies", she says. "You go from the cut of the dress to the cut of the breast."

Philosopher and physician Yves Saint James Aquino argues that with an increase in accessibility, there's now a "normalisation" of body modification, which has also fuelled its rise. "Now because it's so common, it's part of people's lives, they feel less stigmatised "¦ and therefore they feel freer to do it," he says.

Dr Aquino says another factor has led to the rise of body modification: prolonged exposure to our own faces on video calls throughout the pandemic.

Yves Saint James Aquino says body modification has become normalised and destigmatised. ABC RN: Siobhan Marin
"People are encountering their faces more than ever," he says. "That's when they start noticing things that they haven't really noticed before."

This, Dr Aquino says, has led to an uptick in cosmetic surgery around the world.

In the last five years or so, there's been a sharp increase in the use of injectables (such as in wrinkle-reducing or lip-filling procedures) in Australia. And the Brazilian Butt Lift (BBL) operation is the fastest growing cosmetic surgery in the world today.

At 2018, Australians were spending more per capita on cosmetic surgery than people in the US, with anti-wrinkle (Botox) injections the most popular operation at the time. And while it is mostly women choosing cosmetic surgery, the number of male clients is growing.

Former Vogue Australia editor-in-chief Kirstie Clements had the majority of her cosmetic procedures in her 40s, including lip fillers, Botox and collagen injections.

A decade later, she'd had enough. "I didn't like that sort of overworked look that it gives you, the kind of chubby cheeks and squinty eyes," she says. "When I got to my 50s, I thought, 'Oh, who are you kidding now?'  "So I gave it up."

Ms Clements, now 60, believes ageism is a driving force in the increase of cosmetic enhancement. "The pressure is for us to try and keep up and to stay young and to be fresh," she says.

And cosmetic procedures are even more readily available today.  "There are now literally lunchtime procedures where you can go back to work and nobody cares that there's a few marks in your face," Ms Clements says.

"They're not taboo. It's as fashionable as getting a piece of clothing, which is quite sobering. It's your skin that's being punctured."

Ms Clements calls out the "constant hammering" of edited or altered images that prompt us to question if we should benchmark ourselves against them. "It's the brave woman who says, 'No, I don't care what any of you do. I'm happy in my own skin'," she says.

But resisting pressure isn't just about bravery or defiance; it's about deflecting messages that arrive with increasing frequency. Where once we might have encountered beauty images 12 times a year in a monthly magazine, today "you're seeing things 12 times in 10 minutes" on social media, Ms Clements says. "It's getting more and more pervasive ". So it's the strong person who can stand back and say 'no'."

Professor Widdows is concerned about a future in which we might "begin to see exceptionally modified bodies as normal".

To downgrade the status of beauty in our lives, she is calling for a culture shift.

What do people of colour, who've often been racially vilified for their appearance, have to say about others cherry-picking their features?

She wants us to ditch the negative comments about other people's bodies and appearance. "Often, cosmetic surgery recipients report that their insecurity began with a nasty comment," she says.

Professor Widdows believes more of us need to understand the harm that negative comments and body shaming can cause, arguing that it should be considered as seriously as any other form of discrimination.

"I say, if you don't do [body modifying], don't feel smug because you don't feel the pressure," she says. Similarly, if you do engage in body modification, don't question those who don't.

"Rather let's think about, culturally, do we want to live in a society where people feel pressured to engage more and more? That's the bit I want to push back against, the social pressure," she says.

Professor Widdows' plea? Stop talking about other people's bodies "” full stop. "Let's not look at what people do or don't do. Let's not say, 'this practice is okay, that perhaps is not'," she says. "Let's just take the pressure completely off."



Real campaigning in South Dakota

This reminds me of the time I used to do survey research.  Most such surveys are carried out by employess of various kinds.  For my surveys I went and knocked on doors myself.  So I knew my results were real.  Odd that my results were often different from results reported by others!

If I were to live in the USA I think it would be in S. Dakota.  And it doesn't hurt that Kristi Noem is such a dish

SIOUX FALLS, S.D.—Many politicians turn to social media platforms or television ads to get their message out. But South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem and U.S. Rep. Dusty Johnson (R-S.D.) decided they wanted to “take the pulse of the people” themselves, opting to travel door-to-door through a subdivision in Sioux Falls to meet their constituents on June 4 and listen to their concerns.

Noem and Johnson, both Republicans, also wanted to thwart negative ads that have recently begun airing throughout the state.

“The air war is not what wins elections in South Dakota—it’s the ground game,” Johnson told The Epoch Times during his door-to-door tour of the neighborhood. “It is going out and talking to voters and answering questions—this is how victory gets done.”

The top issue for the people of South Dakota is inflation, Noem told The Epoch Times as she walked with Johnson through the neighborhood. She said people are worried about the price of fuel and food—kitchen table issues.

“We are hearing a lot of concern about inflation,” she said. “People feel it every single day.”

Noem and Johnson agree that inflation is “higher than it should be” and blame the current administration, as “trillions of dollars have been spent unnecessarily.”

Sioux Falls resident Sondra McFadden said she “couldn’t believe her eyes” when she answered the front door of her home and saw the governor and a congressman. “She’s really here,” she said of the visit. “I just love her [Noem] because she stands up for what she believes, and she looks out for all of South Dakota.”

McFadden said the governor is doing a “fantastic job” in protecting the conservative values that South Dakotans have maintained for many years. She said she’s “worried about the state of the nation” but is thankful to live in the state, and she’s “thankful for her governor.”

McFadden gives the governor credit for “keeping the state open” during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“She kept the state open, which helped the economy during the pandemic,” she said. “I look at other states who locked down and they are so much worse off for it—we are thriving because of the decisions the governor has made for our state.”

Noem said there’s a reason why people are “grateful to live in South Dakota.”

“Our state has the number one economy,” she said. “Everybody works—our incomes are rising faster than in any other state—so we’ve got a great story to tell. It’s a story of helping people make the best decisions for themselves and South Dakota is thriving because of that.”

Johnson agreed.

“The thing I love about South Dakotans is their optimism, and they’ll listen and ask you the tough questions,” he said of his constituents. “But they know how lucky they are to be living in South Dakota. Because of Kristi’s administration, people realize that their freedoms were not reduced here. … We did it right here.”

Neither the governor nor the congressman are fans of the policies of the Biden administration and the president’s latest move to punish states such as South Dakota with reduced funding for approving legislation that outlaws transgender males from competing in girls’ sports.

“It’s a horrific thing to take food off the plates of our children in order to push your agenda,” Noem said. “It’s a dangerous threat—a terrible threat. If he moves forward with this policy, then I will sue them in federal court. And we will win.”



Why the sexual revolution has been a disaster for women today - but a gift for men

I think the lady below has a point but I also think she may be overgeneralizing. Female instincts still run strong and will be a strong influence on relationships.  Some men do indeed find it easy to find new girlfriends.  I did myself for much of my life.  But not all men are in that boat.  The incels are testimony to that.

The things  that influence female pairing decisions are as old as the hills.  Women still like a strong and decisive man who is also kind to them.  And looks are a huge factor too.  The successfully promiscuous men described below will very largely be a small good-looking minority.  I did not have that advantage but my rare combination of uncrushable self-confidence and high IQ was nearly as good.

So I think society is not as sick as she thinks.  Women still have a lot of choices and exercise them energetically

When Emma Watson, the film star and women’s rights campaigner, was criticised for showing her breasts on the cover of Vanity Fair, she hit back by asserting ‘feminism is about giving women choice.

It’s about freedom’. For liberal feminists like her that might be true.

But for many other women — perhaps a sizeable majority — that freedom has spectacularly backfired. It has turned out to be a lie and a con.

Rather than women being emancipated sexually, in the digital age we have become a society in thrall to the worst of male sexuality.

For younger women in particular, today’s sexual culture is destructive, divorcing love and commitment from sex and favouring one-night stands, casual ‘hook-ups’ and ‘friends with benefits’ arrangements.

Worse still, it pressures them into promiscuity, bombards them with violent pornography and tells them to enjoy being humiliated and assaulted in bed. 

Dating apps such as Tinder turn people into products in a sexual marketplace that encourages users to browse the available merchandise and select their preferred options from the comfort of their homes, with very little effort and no intimacy whatsoever.

One male user described the voracious appetite that the apps encourage: ‘You’re always prowling. 

'In a bar you might have two or three girls to choose from but online you can swipe a couple of hundred a day and set up two or three Tinder dates a week and, chances are, sleeping with all of them. 'You could rack up 100 girls you’ve slept with in a year.’

Another user compares Tinder to an online food delivery service —‘but you’re ordering a person’. He saw no harm in scrolling through would-be sexual partners in the same way as we scroll through any other kinds of consumables.

In reality, once you permit the idea that people can be products, everything is corroded.

I used to believe the liberal narrative that this free-and-easy attitude to sex was unalloyed progress. 

As a younger woman, I conformed to liberal feminist ideas that saw nothing wrong in porn, bondage, sadomasochism and hook-up culture. Women were just expressing the same casual and adventurous approach to sex as men did.

I let go of these beliefs after working at a rape crisis centre, where I witnessed the reality of male violence up close.

It made me realise that the sexual revolution has not freed all of us, but it has freed some of us, selectively and at a price.

Believe me, I’m not anti-liberal and I don’t reject the desire for freedom. 

I recognise that with the right tools, freedom from the constraints imposed on women by our societies and our bodies now becomes increasingly possible.

Don’t want to have children in your 20s or 30s? Freeze your eggs. Called away on a work trip post-partum? FedEx your breast milk to your newborn. Want to continue working full-time without interruption? Employ a nanny or a surrogate who can bear your child.

But I am critical of any ideology that fails to balance freedom against other values. 

Liberal feminists see having sex ‘like a man’ as an obvious route by which women can free themselves from old-fashioned expectations of chastity and obedience.

If you believe there is nothing wrong in instrumentalising other people in pursuit of your own sexual gratification, then this makes sense.

And if you believe that men and women are both physically and psychologically much the same, save for a few hang-ups absorbed from a sex-negative culture, then why wouldn’t you want women to have access to the kind of sexual fun that men have always had.

I don’t doubt that there are some women who genuinely enjoy casual sex and who decide, having weighed the risks and benefits, that it is in their best interests to pursue it.   

What I question is the claim that a culture of casual sex is of benefit to women as a group.

What is being ignored is the basic fact that men and women are not the same. 

Physically, almost all women are weaker than almost all men. Men can out-run women as well as out-punch them.

Psychologically too, men and women are wired differently. On average, men want casual sex more often than women do, and women want committed monogamy more often than men do.

In other words, there are a lot more super-horny men out there than super-horny women, and a lot more super-not-horny women than super-not-horny men. 

Yet casual, hook-up culture which treats men and women as the same in their sexual appetites is now the norm among today’s adolescents and young adults.

Sexual behaviour outside of traditional committed romantic relationships has become increasingly typical and socially acceptable. 

Although it is possible for young women to opt out, research suggests that only a minority do so.

On our university campuses the gospel of sexual hedonism is openly preached. 

The prevailing culture is a terrible deal for women. It demands that they suppress their natural instincts in order to match male sexuality and thus meet the male demand for no-strings sex.

And yet this prevailing hook-up culture is endorsed by feminists as a form of liberation.

Meanwhile, we scoff at the past, believing we have inevitably progressed from those Neanderthal days of the 1950s when a home economics book offered tips to housewives on ‘how to look after your husband’.

The housewife was advised that, when her husband got home from work, she should have dinner on the table, her apron off and a ribbon in her hair, and that she should always make sure to let her husband ‘talk first’.

This was ridiculed on social media when it was put online in 2016. How reactionary, how stupid and backward! 

But then take a look at a small sample of Cosmopolitan magazine guides published within the last decade: ‘30 ways to please a man’, ‘20 ways to turn on your man’, or ‘42 things to do with a naked man’.

In what sense are these guides not encouraging precisely the same degree of focus on male desires, except in this case it is sexual pleasure rather than domestic comfort? 

Women are still expected to please men and to make it look effortless.

We have smoothly transitioned from one form of feminine subservience to another, but we pretend that this one is liberation.

Liberal ideology flatters women by telling us our desires are good and that we can find meaning in satisfying them, whatever the cost. I propose an alternative sexual culture that recognises other human beings as real people, invested with real value and dignity.

For a start, women need to avoid courting danger. 

Most feminists dislike this suggestion, believing that women should not be expected to be the ones who modify their behaviour. 

Every now and again, a police force will launch a campaign on rape prevention, with posters advising women to stick together on nights out, to keep their friends safe and so on.

Invariably these efforts invite a feminist backlash. 

They see this as victim blaming, when it’s the rapists the police should be concentrating on. Which is true. 

But here’s the point: rapists don’t care what feminists have to say.

They are men who are aroused by violence and unable to control their impulses when presented with a suitable victim and a suitable set of circumstances — a victim who is drunk, high, or otherwise vulnerable, the absence of witnesses and no fear of legal or social repercussions.

Young women aged between 13 and 25 are prime targets, which is why if you wanted to design the perfect environment for the would-be rapist, you couldn’t do much better than a party or nightclub filled with young women who are wearing high heels (limiting mobility) and drinking or taking drugs (limiting awareness).

So my advice to young women has to be this: avoid putting yourself in a situation where you are alone with a man you don’t know or a man who gives you a bad feeling in your gut.

He is almost certainly stronger and faster than you, which means the only thing standing between you and rape is that man’s self-control. 

I have no doubt that, in this free-and-easy, sleeping-around sexual climate, vulnerable young women need to be cautious for their own protection. 

My advice to them is this: only have sex with a man if you think he would make a good father to your children.

Not because you necessarily intend to have children with him, but because this is a good rule of thumb in deciding whether he’s worthy of your trust.