Nearly all of Australia's coral reefs are at risk of being wiped out in less than two decades

There is NO evidence given for this. It's just a Warmist claim, possibly based on models but that is guesswork, not evidence

The idea that warming is bad for corals is completely unscientific anyway. Barrier reef corals are most diverse in the Torres strait, which is the WARMEST part of the reef. Like most living things, corals LIKE warmth

SHOCKING evidence has been released claiming that nearly all of Australia's coral reefs are at risk of being wiped out in less than two decades.

The report by the World Resources Institute claims that by 2030, 90 per cent of Australia's reefs will suffer from the overwhelming effects of climate change like warmer seas and acidification.

It also outlines the threat to the rest of the world's coral reefs, with research suggesting that many could be obliterated by 2050 due to pollution, climate change and over-fishing.

The report encourages Australia not to waste any time in fighting the prediction, particularly because of the impact reef degredation will have on tourism and the economy.

Dr Clive Wilkinson, the United Nations sponsored Global Coral Reef Monitoring Network coordinator, urged Australia "to be part of the global solution to climate change, as our reefs will suffer like others around the world and this will threaten the $5 to $6 billion per year that the Great Barrier Reef means to the Australian economy."

"Australians have no right to be complacent as the vast majority of our reefs will be seriously threatened by rising sea temperatures and increasing acidification in less than 20 years," he said.

Today, 40 per cent of Australia's reefs are under pressure from rising sea temperatures and other threats linked to climate change.

However, 75 per cent of the reefs are in marine protected areas, which is a contributing factor to the improvement in fish numbers and reef resilience.


On Lizard island, the reef is as good as scientists have ever seen it

I have reproduced below just a few factual bits from an article heavy with global warming prophecy. There is a feeble attempt to say that the thriving corals around the Lizard Island research station are not typical but no evidence is adduced to show that. It's just assertion.

Clearly, from the actual reports below, the various "bleaching" events have not significantly harmed the reef. The prophesied doom has not eventuated. The reef has been in existence for millions of years, surviving all sorts of weather events, so it has acquired the ability to bounce back from occasional harm

There’s a friendly atmosphere as researchers mingle at the station, often alongside large taps that run salt water into the fish tanks. The marine biologists talk about their research projects and plan when they’re next hitting the ocean. One of the best places to sink below the surface is North Point – about a 20-minute boat ride from the centre in rough wave conditions – where PhD candidate Matt Nicholson and Durham University Assistant Professor Dr Will Feeney are filming fish behaviour.

Between dives, the pair say the reef is as good as they have ever seen it. Five years ago, this area was severely impacted by mass coral bleaching and cyclone events. Now, it teems with wildlife: parrot fish with their distinct beak-like mouths nibble at bits of coral, schools of blue-green and yellow damsel fish dart around, while Feeney spots a group of six harlequin filefish fighting. They stand out among the other fish because of their aqua and orange spot colouring and long, snout-like faces. Not long ago, it would be rare for Feeney to have spotted any.

Another sign that the reef is recovering is the branching coral that appears every few metres or so. Its budding branches give scientists hope this patch of the reef is slowly recovering from the past six years which have been filled with four mass coral bleaching events since 2016 and tropical cyclones. The 2021 and 2022 summer was the first time the reef had bleached during a La Nina year.

The Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS) listed the outlook for the reef’s health as “very poor” in this year’s annual report, with the agency’s chief executive, Paul Hardisty, saying the increased frequency of mass coral bleaching events was “uncharted territory” for the reef following the fourth mass bleaching in seven years.

WWF Australia head of oceans Richard Leck said the recovery of the reef was patchy. In areas that had bounced back, including Lizard Island and the northern parts of the reef, recovery had predominately been of fast-growing coral which limits biodiversity. Some corals can take up to 100 years to grow and so as climate-induced events become more frequent, the diversity of the reef diminishes.

“This type of coral-dominated recovery is one that is highly susceptible to threats like coral bleaching and storm damage from cyclones. It is susceptible to Crown of Thorn starfish too.

However, he says the recovery in some parts of the reef should give people hope that the reef is resilient and that efforts to protect it are working. He adds that the government should also consider investing its next round of funding into limiting the environmental damage from pollution and sediment run-off from agriculture.


Potential Temporal Association Found Between Guillain-Barré Syndrome and COVID-19 Vaccination in Pediatrics

How do you like that heading? It's a typical academic heading that seems designed to make your brain freeze, is it not? But there is a serious issue involved and I think I can explain it simply.

The underlying issue is a serious one: What should we make of rare side-effects after any medical treatment? Conventionally they are a big deal. Whole medications -- such as Vioxx -- have been withdrawn when only a few serious side effects out of millions of doses have been reported. Millions had a good result from taking the medication but they were ignored. The tiny number who reported bad side-effects ruled the day. A helpful medication was withdrawn because it MIGHT kill you.

Is that rational? I don't think so. All medical and surgical procedures involve some risk. And we tolerate rather large risks sometimes. Paracetamol (Tylenol) kills thousands every year by destroying their livers yet it is regarded as a "safe" drug. Aspirin is actually safer

Much as I hate using a favorite Leftist phrase, I think we just have to tolerate rare events "for the good of the many". And I am strongly reinforced in that view by the fact that we can never be sure what the cause of the rare event was. The rare event may have immediately followed the medical intervention but that is no proof that the medication CAUSED the rare event. Side-effects can be important but rare side effects should be ignored in my view.

So we now come to Covid and the horrible Guillain-Barré Syndrome. Do 11 cases out of millions matter? If your kid got a horrible illness after receiving a Covid vaccine, would that matter? Every parent concerned would say it does

Fortunately or not, this is an even less clear-cut finding than usual. The incidence of GBS among kids who got the vaccine was not different from the normal incidence. What WAS of concern, however is that the onset of GBS among vaccine recipients FOLLOWED CLOSELY on receiving the vaccine -- creating the impressoion that it was the vaccine which caused the problem. And, as the philosopher David Hume contended a couple of centuries ago, conjunction in time is the WHOLE of causation. Hume however spoke of CONSTANT conjunction and the conjunction here was anything but constant.

So the jury is still out. There are some elements in the medical comnmunity who would see the findings below as troubling but I do not

My own account of causation is here

From the pre-COVID period to 6 weeks after vaccination, the reporting rate of GBS was significantly different, regardless of whether Brighton criteria was applied to the analysis. The authors noted that passive surveillance limitations warrant further analysis.

Findings from the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System database showed that although the prevalence of Guillain-Barré (GBS) syndrome following COVID-19 vaccination was not different in pediatrics compared with the general population, there was an increased prevalence within the first 6 weeks following vaccination, suggesting a potential temporal associaiton.1 The investigators noted that these findings warrant caution, as they were based off passive surveillance.

The study, presented at the 2022 American Association of Neuromuscular and Electrodiagnostic Medicine (AANEM) annual meeting, September 21-24, in Nashville, Tennessee, compared the rate of pediatric GBS following COVID-19 vaccination to the rate after influenza, human papillomavirus (HPV), and meningococcal vaccinations. Investigators used a pre-COVID period (October 2018-August 2019), prevaccine period (January 2020-November 2020), and vaccine period (December 2020-October 2021), as well as a risk period of probably cause-effect relationship, defined as 6 weeks post vaccination.

Led by Nizar Souayah, MD, Department of Neurology, Newark Beth Israel Medical Center, the findings showed that the rates for GBS after COVID-19 vaccination were within the incidence rate of GBS typically reported in children. In total, there were 31, 3, 1, and 1 cases of GBS reported after COVID-19, influenza, HPV, and meningococcal vaccinations, respectively. Between vaccinations, the reporting rate of GBS after COVID-19 vaccination was significantly higher than the others, at 12.45 per 10 million (P <.005), followed by influenza (1.63), meningococcal (1.19), and HPV vaccinations (1.07).

High Proportion of Zilucoplan Responders Identified in Secondary Analysis of RAISE Trial
After 12 weeks of treatment with zilucoplan 0.3 mg/kg, almost three-fourths of patients demonstrated at least a 3-point reduction in Myasthenia Gravis Activities of Daily Living scores.

Using self-controlled and case centered analysis, the reported rate of GBS after COVID-19 vaccination between the risk and control periods was significantly different (90.32% vs 9.7%, respectively; P <.0001). The findings remained similar when all patients, regardless of Brighton criteria, were included.

COVID-19 has been shown to be associated with several of neurological complications, including GBS, which has been more prominently throughout the pandemic. Recent work by Kayla E. Hanson, MPH, et al further suggested an increased risk of GBS following COVID-19 vaccination with Ad.26.COV2.S (Janssen). The analysis comprised of 15,120,073 doses of COVID-19 vaccines from December 2020 to November 2021, including 483,053 Ad.26.COV2.S doses; 8,806,595 BNY162b2 doses; and 5,830,425 mRNA-1273 doses.

In total, 11 cases of GBS were reported in those vaccinated with Ad.26.COV2.S, resulting in an unadjusted incidence rate of 32.4 (95% CI, 14.8-61.5) per 100,000 person-years in the 1 to 21 days following vaccination that was significantly higher than the background rate. Overall, the adjusted risk ratio (RR) in the 1 to 21 vs 22 to 42 days following Ad.26.COV2.S vaccination was 6.03 (95% CI, 0.79-147.79). The unadjusted incidence rate of GBS after mRNA vaccines was 1.3 (95% CI, 0.7-2.4), and when compared with Ad.26.COV2.S vaccines, the adjusted RR was 20.56 (95% CI, 6.94-64.66).2



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Giorgia Meloni has been called "Far-right" and connected to prewar Italian dictator Benito Mussolini. And her slogan above (Together for Italy") is rather like a Fascist slogan. Fascist parties did indeed promote a "one big happy family" future for their countries.

But if Meloni is Fascist, what are we to make of Hillary? Her slogan, with its stress on "stronger" is even more Fascist. It sounds very much like Mussolini.

The solution to the puzzle is that historic Fascism was Leftist. It was only Soviet disinformation that branded it as Rightist. And that disinformation is still the norm. So by historical standards, Hillary is indeed the heir of Mussolini.

Meloni's policies are, by contrast, clearly conservative: She focuses on defending national borders, national interests and the “traditional family.” She has always been staunchly anti-drugs and anti-abortion, although she insists she would not ban abortion. And Trump, another clear conservative, also appealed to national interests

So appeals to national interests can come from both the Left and Right and Meloni's appeal is clearly NOT to Fascist-type national self-interest. She is a conservative patriot. We can leave the Fascism to Hillary and her supporters

Far-right election winner Giorgia Meloni has vowed to govern for all Italians as she is set to be announced as the country's first female Prime Minister - and its most right-wing leader since Mussolini.

Meloni, head of the nationalist Brothers of Italy party, said voters have given a clear mandate to the right to form the next government and called for unity to help confront the country's many problems.

She added: 'If we are called upon to govern this nation, we will do so for all Italians, with the aim of uniting the people, of exalting what unites them rather than what divides them. We will not betray your trust.'

As polls in the run up to Sunday's vote indicated her as the likely winner, Meloni has moderated her far-right message in an apparent attempt to reassure the European Union and other international partners.

She said 'this is the time to be responsible', before describing the situation for Italy and the EU as 'particularly complex'.

It comes after an exit poll for state broadcaster RAI said Meloni's Brothers of Italy, in alliance Matteo Salvini's League and Silvio Berlusconi's Forza Italia party, had won between 41 per cent and 45 per cent of the vote.

Despite Salvini's and Berlusconi's parties lagging behind, between them the Conservative bloc appear to have won enough seats to secure a majority in both houses of parliament.

The result must still be confirmed but risks fresh trouble for the European Union, just weeks after the far-right outperformed in elections in Sweden.

Meloni will face huge challenges, with Italy currently suffering rampant inflation while an energy crisis looms this winter, linked to the conflict in Ukraine.

Despite her euroscepticism, Meloni strongly supports the EU's sanctions against Russia over Ukraine, although her allies are another matter.

Berlusconi, the billionaire former premier who has long been friends with Vladimir Putin, faced an outcry this week after suggesting the Russian president was 'pushed' into war by his entourage.

According to the poll, the closest contender, the centre-left alliance of former Democratic Party Premier Enrico Letta, garnered as much as 29.5 per cent.



Former Australian prime minister Julia Gillard reflects on her blistering 'misogyny speech' 10 years on

Amusing. Omitted below is that the views she criticized were widely held among Australian men. So her popularity among male voters dropped to only 10%, fatal for the next election. So her own party then booted her out of the PM job

The former Australian Prime Minister - the first and only woman to hold the role - famously delivered a blistering speech on sexism in Australian politics during a session in parliament in October 2012.

The comments sparked a debate that reverberated around the world.

A decade later, the 60-year-old says that she did not realise at the time how significant her words would be.

'Giving the speech, I didn't have any sense of the impact it would have' Gillard tells this week's issue of Stellar Magazine.

'If you'd asked me 30 seconds after I sat down, "How is the press gallery going to report this? How is it going to reverberate?" I would have said, "I don't see that this is going to reverberate in the world." So I didn't have that sense about it.'

Within minutes, Gillard realised the true impact of her rousing words. 'Even by the time I'd walked back to my office from the chamber – which is only a two- or three-minute walk – there were starting to be calls and a reaction beyond Canberra' she tells the publication. 'So I got an early inkling from that, that it was going to have some sort of emotional resonance beyond the confines of Parliament House.'

Gillard believes her speech resonated with women around the world who shared her experiences.

'I think its power has been that there are millions of women – and I feel like I've met millions of them – who have lived through sexist experiences, misogynistic experiences' she said.

Julia served as prime minister from 2010 to 2013. In 2012, she was praised for her strong stance on sexism in government during a heated debate on the parliamentary speaker's text scandal.

Gillard spent 15 minutes attacking leader of the opposition Tony Abbott before the Australian House of Representatives during a debate over a motion to sack the Speaker of the House, Peter Slipper after a series of text messages he sent to his male assistant referring to women in a derogatory way were made public.

She accused Abbott of sexism, addressing the former Liberal prime minister throughout her speech.

Among her comments she said: 'I will not be lectured about sexism and misogyny by this man. I will nota nd the government will not be lectured about sexism and misogyny by this man. Not now, not ever.

'If he wants to know what misogyny looks like in modern Australia, he doesn't need a motion in the House of Representatives. He needs a mirror.'

Gillard was widely praised for her speech, with New Yorker Magazine even suggesting at the time that then-American President Barack Obama could learn a thing or two from Gillard in politics following the heated debate.


Did the Reserve Bank's money printing cause inflation? The bank says it's complicated

This is a sophisticated article so it is good to see it in the public prints. It omits mention of two important facts.

1). The banks initially got the new money. So what did they do with it? No mystery. They almost gave it away as low interest housing loans -- which rocketed up real estate prices, including rents. So that was a HUGE blow to the cost of living.

2.) Due to the lockdowns, there was a HUGE loss of available goods and services. There were far fewer goods and services for ANY money to buy. There was a big new mismatch between demand and supply. So what was available came at an increased price. So that too greatly increased the cost of living.

So between those two things, The increased money supply WAS largely responsible for inflation. It was not the only factor. Bad weather and Mr Putin also played a part in their own way

Do you remember how the Reserve Bank printed a huge amount of money in the pandemic? Have you been wondering if it's responsible for the inflation we're seeing?

The RBA says it's a complicated question to answer, and it's trying to encourage people to think more deeply about money itself. Here's what that means.

The bond-buying program

In late 2020, the RBA began buying hundreds of billions of dollars worth of government bonds.

It was an emergency stimulus measure. The program ran from November 2020 to February 2022, and saw the RBA buy $281 billion of federal, state and territory government bonds.

Last week, the RBA published a review of the program which found it broadly helped to support economic activity during the crisis.

However, there were a few passages near the bottom of the review that were very interesting.

They had to do with money printing.

RBA official says outlook for global economy is worrying
RBA deputy governor Michelle Bullock warns of risks in the global economy, but says the RBA's ability to create money helped Australia's economy through the pandemic

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See, the RBA's bond buying was an exercise of "money printing" because the bank was creating money to buy the bonds.

To be more precise, it was waiting for Treasury to sell the government bonds to authorised investors (ie institutional banks), then it would buy the bonds from those banks.

And when it bought the bonds, it would pay for them by simply electronically crediting the accounts that those banks had at the RBA.

For example, let's say the RBA bought $100 million worth of bonds from a particular bank.

It would say to that bank, 'Here you go, we've gone to the computer and added an extra $100 million to your exchange settlement account. Thanks for the bonds."

The RBA's act of money printing clearly increased the supply of money in Australia. But the RBA says it didn't have a significant impact on the overall supply of money. What does that mean?

Well, think of what qualifies as money.

Money comes in many different forms. It comes in the form of currency (notes and coins), and savings deposits, and term deposits, and a bunch of others.

Consider what happens when you withdraw currency from an ATM: the value of your currency holdings increases, and the value of your deposit holdings decreases, but the stock of "broad money" in the economy doesn't change.

So, when we talk about an increase in the supply of money, we need to be clear about what type of money is increasing, and how that's impacting the overall supply.

And we also need to know if the extra supply of money is actually being spent, or if it's being stashed in savings accounts or under peoples' beds where it won't be adding to inflation.

It won't add to inflation if it's not being used to buy anything. Which brings us back to the RBA's bond buying.

The Quantity Theory of Money

In the RBA's review of its bond purchase program (BPP), it's defended itself against accusations that its "money printing" is largely responsible for the inflation we're experiencing now.

It says some people have been drawing on a theory popularised by Milton Friedman that links inflation to the rate of growth of the money supply.

According to that theory, if you assume money circulates in the economy at a constant rate (ie a constant "velocity"), then a large increase in the money supply, owing to the bond-purchase program, would lead to a sharp increase in inflation.

But the RBA says the world's not that simple. Why? Because the "velocity" of money isn't stable, for one. It's been falling for decades in Australia, and it crashed in the pandemic when people couldn't leave their homes and there were fewer opportunities for money to circulate in the economy. That's why the RBA began buying bonds in the first place, to push more money into the system.

Now, you get the velocity of money by dividing nominal GDP by broad money.

Broad money, as the name implies, is the broadest measure of money that includes every type of money in the economy (I've produced a table below that shows the different types of money).

Eagle-eyed readers may notice that, according to the graph above, the velocity of money has actually picked up a little recently.

That suggests broad money has started circulating through the economy at a faster pace, after lockdowns ended.

Wouldn't it follow from that, with so much extra money in the economy and with people starting to spend that money more quickly, inflation would obviously be picking up?

Well, again, the RBA says it's not that simple. It says its bond purchase program only significantly increased a particular kind of money, and we need to understand how that type of money can be spent.

"While inflation has increased following the bond-purchase program, it is not clear that this can be explained by the Quantity Theory," the RBA review says.

"Different components of the money supply can move independently over time. "While the bond purchase program led to a sharp increase in exchange settlement (ES) balances and thus 'base' money, the increase in the broader money supply, which is relevant for nominal expenditure in the economy, was not as large," it says.

So, what exactly is "base" money?

The RBA makes a distinction between different kinds of money depending on how accessible the money is.

If you're able to get your hands on the money quickly to spend it, it's considered "liquid."

For example, the cash in your pocket is extremely liquid, but the money in your term deposit isn't as liquid because it can take time for you to gain access to it.

That's why central banks categorise money into different "monetary aggregates" to reveal what type of money is in an economy, and who has access to it.

That's the category of money that experienced a sharp increase in supply from the RBA's bond-buying program.

When the RBA bought the government bonds from banks in the secondary market, it credited the banks' ES accounts which are held at the RBA, and those balances, which are a form of money, fall into the category called "money base."

As you can see from the table above, the value of the entire supply of "money base" money was $550 billion in July.

In February 2020, it was worth $116.2 billion. So, the supply of that specific category of money has increased by $433.8 billion since the pandemic began. Meanwhile, the supply of broad money - which captures all money in the economy - has increased by $624.3 billion.

That means the increase in base money accounted for 70 per cent of the increase in the economy's entire money supply during the pandemic.

And crucially, that "base" money wasn't put into the deposit accounts of individuals who could freely spend it. It was initially put into the ES balances that large financial institutions held with the Reserve Bank.

It was up to those institutions how they spent it. They could try to lend it to other people, or they could try to invest it in other assets, or they could use it to buy their own bonds, or whatever.

And it's not like they can collectively rush out and spend it all at once, keeping other things equal, because they still have to satisfy their liquidity requirements with the regulator.

In other words, the financial system is complicated. According to the RBA, it's wrong to simply assume that its money printing was a big driver of this inflation.


Jews are still not safe, even in NYC

And the authorities ignore most of the attacks. Why? Because of racism. But it's not racism against Jews. It's racism in favor of blacks. The attacks are almost solely the work of blacks. Blacks tend to hate Jews.

Why? For the age-old reason: Jewish success as a minority. Blacks can see that Jews expose the fact that their lack of success cannot be blamed on their minority status. And political correctness requires the minimization of bad behavior by blacks

New York politicians are at least talking about waging a more serious response to the frequent acts of violence and harassment targeting the city’s Orthodox Jews. Last week, Democratic Rep. Ritchie Torres, N.Y.-15, called for a federal probe of New York’s failure to prosecute suspects in anti-Jewish hate crimes, which have become so routine a feature of life in Orthodox communities that only the most egregious incidents ever become known beyond community media or the Twitter feeds of local politicians. On Monday, Mayor Eric Adams promised that assaults on Jews “won’t be tolerated.”

Attacks on Jews in New York are often treated as a parochial problem, not as a phenomenon with implications for broader civic and social health. Even if that changes, and even if decision-makers and the general public begin treating these incidents as an active civic crisis, the problem elides any easy political fix because it reflects a deeper corrosion. America’s most populous city prides itself on being a special place of safety and tolerance for the diverse peoples of the world, but the pace of attacks on visible Jews, along with the general indifference toward this shameful reality, reveal this to be a self-serving myth. New York is increasingly chaotic, violent, and small-minded, and its official and even semipopular fetish for equity and multiculturalism seems to have translated into even worse treatment of certain minority groups.

Over the past month alone, we found 13 reported incidents of violence or harassment against Jews in New York that appear to have been antisemitic in nature. It is a staggering number, proof that in New York City there is a sense of impunity for attacking people who look a certain way, along with a widespread desire to take advantage of the opportunity. The conditions are favorable for would-be tormentors of Jews in New York, even despite the statements of Torres and Adams. On Wednesday, three men who pleaded guilty to bludgeoning two Orthodox Jews on a Shabbat afternoon in May of 2021 for refusing to say “free Palestine” during an ongoing escalation between Israel and Hamas learned they wouldn’t have to go to jail.

Indeed, the past month’s blotter is a record of social breakdown that has been allowed to become utterly normal:

August 21: Two Hasidic men, ages 66 and 72, were sprayed with a fire extinguisher around 6 a.m. in separate incidents in the Brooklyn neighborhood of Williamsburg. The second and older victim was punched in the nose. Both attacks were caught on camera, and did not appear to have any robbery motive.

August 22: Three teenagers stole a kippah from a 13-year-old boy in southern Staten Island in an almost poignantly brutish act of ethnoreligious bullying.

August 30: A crowd of teenagers surrounded a Hasidic man in Williamsburg; one of them punched him in the face as bystanders failed to intervene. Naturally, the entire confrontation was captured on a cellphone camera by someone who also did nothing to stop the attack.

September 1: A strangely calm-sounding man with a megaphone greeted the students of Queens College with antisemitic conspiracy theories, the most mild of which had to do with Israel using Holocaust reparations to destroy Germany. The man had apparently showed up on campus on multiple days that week, and had yelled similarly horrific things about Muslims, Christians, and Black people.

September 4: A 40-year-old Hasidic woman and her 20-year-old son came under fire from a BB gun wielded by someone traveling in a car near Wythe Avenue and South 10th Street in Williamsburg. The drive-by attacker said nothing during the incident, meaning the motive will remain a mystery as far the NYPD and prosecutors are concerned—assuming the shooter is ever charged or even caught.

September 7: A young man chased a member of the Crown Heights Chabad community down Eastern Parkway, yelling antisemitic invective and threatening to kill him.

September 8: A moped driver who slammed into a car driven by a Jewish man began attacking the motorist, who had left his vehicle to offer help. While this was not an antisemitic attack per se, it was nevertheless a possible example of how visible Jews are in greater danger than others during relatively innocuous incidents like this one.

September 12: Another likely BB gun-type attack on a Hasidic woman in Williamsburg—this time the pellet lodged in the woman’s sheitel, protecting her from injury.

September 13: A man in his mid-30s sucker-punched a 58-year-old Jew on the boardwalk in Far Rockaway.

September 15: In what has become a pattern across the city, almost the criminal version of a meme, a man on a bicycle slapped the hat off of an Orthodox Jewish passerby in Borough Park.

September 17: In a similar incident in the same neighborhood, a woman punched a shtreimel and kippah off of a man’s head in Borough Park.

September 19: Four 10th-graders were heading home from a Monday night event at their yeshiva in Flatbush when a man pulled over, rolled down the window of his car, whipped out a gun, and told them to “run home.” This explicit threat to shoot Orthodox children for having the nerve to show their faces in public after dark—or maybe at all—went practically unreported in most city media.


Why would anyone bother being a landlord these days?

Like most businesses, being a landlord can have both big rewards and big losses. One unscrupulous tenant can send a small landlord broke.

A crucial factor is government. Only a government could implement policies that harm both landlords and tenants. Yet they often do just that.

Part of the reason why is seen in an old saying among economists: "All the worlld loves a farmer and hates a lndlord". It's pretty true. Governments subsidise farmers and harass landlords. Yet both food and housing are essentials

“We are now asking Queenslanders out there – business, organisations, church groups – if you have any properties or land that can help us, we will work with you.”

That was Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk last week, quoted in this newspaper, delivering a laugh-out-loud moment to those familiar with the issue.

Words are cheap, action counts, and when it comes to action Queensland is doing the exact opposite of working with people who own property or land to help them provide rental accommodation. The state has just changed its laws so as to effectively levy tax on land owned in other states.

The move has shocked and angered the property and investment sector, and is predicted to cause more landlords to sell out of the Queensland private rental market, and make the current rental shortage worse.

However, Queensland isn’t the only state in the grip of a rental shortage and it isn’t the only jurisdiction that has driven private investors out of the housing market.

Propertyology research data says more than two million individual investors fund 27 per cent of our current housing stock, and more than 70 per cent of them have a taxable income under $100,000. Ninety per cent of these investors own one or two investment properties, and only 0.9 per cent own more than six.

Yet in recent years various levels of government, local councils, banks and insurers have acted on the assumption that these small-time investors can tolerate being slugged with ever higher levels of interest, rates, fees and taxes, and being asked to meet ever higher levels of compliance and obligation. There also has been the assumption that these investors will always continue to carry the cost, the risk and the hassle of the provision of accommodation for others while being on the receiving end of community hostility due to being portrayed as taking houses off first-time home buyers and otherwise being greedy, immoral and terrible to tenants.

In February last year, the Australian Landlords Association produced a paper, Safe as Houses, on the topic that forecast the rental shortage across our nation. Our national vacancy rate is less than 1 per cent, the lowest level on record, and rent, nationally, has risen almost 14 per cent in the past year.

“Being a landlord is becoming increasingly less attractive,” the ALA said back then. “With less landlords, there are fewer rental properties, increasing competition between tenants, resulting in increased rent and in some case homelessness.”

Whether dwellings are for rent or sale, there simply are not enough of them to meet our needs.

The Grattan Institute points out that heading into the Covid-19 pandemic, Australia had just over 400 dwellings per 1000 people, which was among the least housing stock per adult in the developed world. We also had experienced the second greatest decline in housing stock relative to the adult population across the 20 years leading into the pandemic.

During the pandemic, many people felt the need for more space. The Reserve Bank estimates this created demand for an extra 140,000 homes, offsetting the temporary fall in population growth.

In a recent address called The Great Australian Nightmare, researchers from the Grattan Institute put forward several solutions to the rental crisis. One idea is that industry super funds such as Cbus and AustralianSuper should buy swathes of houses and rent them out at market rates, to step in and fill the gaps left by the individual investors who have abandoned the market.

According to the Grattan Institute, ordinary investors often make “terrible landlords” anyway. As they have mostly small holdings, they apparently prefer shorter leases and relaxed tenancy laws and often are reluctant to make simple repairs.

However, if an industry super fund were the landlord, the theory is they would have “a brand to protect”. They also could use “economies of scale across thousands of properties to offer a higher-quality service directly – think professional tradies on call 24 hours a day – rather than sit behind traditional property managers”.

The only problem with all this is the current regime of land taxes, which “simply make it uneconomic for large investors to own residential property rented at market rates”. These land taxes need to be reduced dramatically so the super funds can viably invest. However, taxes on ordinary landlords should be increased by abolishing negative gearing.

I approached Cbus and AustralianSuper for comment. Are they interested in dipping into their cash reserves to buy thousands of houses to rent? Neither fund would expressly rule it out, although both funds emphasised that their role was to create a return for their members.

I do not agree with the theory that institutional landlords are generally better than individual ones. Australia has a high cost base and buying a house is difficult. There are no longer enough rental properties to go around because there are no longer enough people willing to be landlords. It has been made all too hard for too long.

Yet the governments that punish landlords will not step up themselves and provide enough rental accommodation to meet our needs. As a society, we do need private individuals to take the risk, make the effort, buy a house and rent it out. Before too long, and after enough pain has been felt, governments will have to make being a landlord attractive again.


The banality of Leftism

"Semper", the magazine put out by students at the Univresity of Queensland, has been going for a long time. I even had a couple of things in it back in the '60s. Its main virtue is that it can occasionally be funny. In good student fashion it also tries to be new and daring but mainly ends up being simply offensive when it tries that.

It has just had a success of sorts in that direction. A writer there has been offensive enough to be noticed by the real press. He found a way of being offensive about the Queen. He put up a broadly Marxist critique of her position.

But how banal can you get? A Marxist view of monarchy could hardly be more hackneyed and timeworn. There is zero new, original or interesting in it. There have always been far-Leftists sneering and snarling at monarchy and the British monarchy in particular. In its own terms it was a failure for Semper to publish something so boring

It was also however an exhibition of incomprehension. The writer clearly has no understanding of why millions of people shed tears at the death of the Queen. How sad to have such a large gap in one's understanding of the world. Psychopathic insensitivity, perhaps? He has plenty of precursors on the Left in that case

The late Queen Elizabeth was labelled as the “banality of evil” in an opinion piece published in a leading Queensland university’s controversial student magazine a day after her death.

University of Queensland’s student magazine Semper Floreat published the piece titled “Goodbye to the Queen of Nothing, Really” on September 9.

The article was written by student Duncan Hart who described himself as a writer for left wing newspaper Red Flag, which was established by the Socialist Alternative.

In the article, Mr Hart labelled Queen Elizabeth as the “banality of evil” whose “personality and agency were absolutely irrelevant to history”.

Mr Hart said he stood by the article and said he planned to stand alongside First Nations Australians in protest against the monarchy on Thursday morning.

“In reality, there was nothing extraordinary about the ex-Queen at all. Her entire life was an example of the banality of evil, of a person whose personality and agency were absolutely irrelevant to history,” Mr Hart’s article read.

“While the ex-Queen presided over innumerable symbolic events and as the head of state for multiple nations, her entire role and social position was and will continue to be predicated on the total inactivity of the monarch.

“The monarchy as an institution is nothing more than a monument to social parasitism, of the concepts that immense wealth and privilege belongs to a few God-given rights while the majority of us scrape by with whatever we can.”


A 7,000-year-old structure near Prague is older than Stonehenge, Egyptian pyramids

This is more evidence for "Old Europe", the claim that civilization first emerged in Europe, not in Egypt or Mesopotamia. What we read below is clear evidence of a civilized community. Many people had to get together and co-operate to build the large structures described below. And they made and used pottery, which had marks on it which may have been a form of writing.

This record is reminiscent of the Vinca culture and is in the same general area. Vinca artifacts stretch North and East from modern Srbia -- and included parts of modern-day Bulgaria and Romania. And many of the Vinca artifacts also trace back about 7000 years -- confirmed by radiocarbon dating.

I have previously written at some length about the Vinca culture. The Vinca artifacts were more sophisticated than those described below. The Vinca people were farmers but did engage in copper smelting so were NOT "Neolithic". So the culture recorded below was most likely a precursor of Vinca.

The advantage that Egypt and Mesopotamia had was their desert climate, which helped preserve their artifacts. Europe is much wetter so artifacts there would quickly be destroyed by mould, insects etc. So it is only recently that we have come to know of "Old Europe".

All things considered, though, it would seem increasingly clear that civilization was invented in Europe, profoundlly "incorrect" though it may be these days to say so. It may make me a "white supremacist" in the Leftist demonology

Archaeologists digging near Prague have discovered the remains of a Stone Age structure that's older than Stonehenge and even the Egyptian pyramids: an enigmatic complex known as a roundel. Nearly 7,000 years ago during the late Neolithic, or New Stone Age, a local farming community may have gathered in this circular building, although its true purpose is unknown.

The excavated roundel is large — about 180 feet (55 meters) in diameter, or about as long as the Leaning Tower of Pisa is tall, Radio Prague International reported(opens in new tab). And while "it is too early to say anything about the people building this roundel," it's clear that they were part of the Stroked Pottery culture(opens in new tab), which flourished between 4900 B.C. and 4400 B.C., Jaroslav ?ídký, a spokesperson for the Institute of Archaeology of the Czech Academy of Sciences (IAP) and an expert on the Czech Republic's roundels, told Live Science in an email.

Miroslav Kraus, director of the roundel excavation in the district of Vino? on behalf of the IAP, said that revealing the structure could give them a clue about the use of the building. Researchers first learned about the Vino? roundel's existence in the 1980s, when construction workers were laying gas and water pipelines, according to Radio Prague International(opens in new tab), but the current dig has revealed the structure's entirety for the first time. So far, his team has recovered pottery fragments, animal bones and stone tools in the ditch fill, according to ?ídký.

Carbon-dating organic remains from this roundel excavation could help the team pinpoint the date of the structure's construction and possibly link it with a Neolithic settlement discovered nearby.

The people who made Stroked Pottery ware are known for building other roundels in the Bohemian region of the Czech Republic, ?ídký said. Their sedentary farming villages — located at the intersection of contemporary Poland, eastern Germany and the northern Czech Republic — consisted of several longhouses, which were large, rectangular structures that held 20 to 30 people each. But the "knowledge of building of roundels crossed the borders of several archaeological cultures," ?ídký noted. "Different communities built roundels across central Europe."

Roundels were not well-known ancient features until a few decades ago, when aerial and drone photography became a key part of the archaeological tool kit. But now, archaeologists know that "roundels are the oldest evidence of architecture in the whole of Europe," ?ídký told Radio Prague International earlier this year.

Viewed from above, roundels consist of one or more wide, circular ditches with several gaps that functioned as entrances. The inner part of each roundel was likely lined with wooden poles, perhaps with mud plastering the gaps, according to Radio Prague International. Hundreds of these circular earthworks have been found throughout central Europe, but they all date to a span of just two or three centuries. While their popularity in the late Neolithic is clear, their function is still in question.

In 1991, the earliest known roundel was found in Germany, also corresponding to the Stroked Pottery culture. Called the Goseck Circle, it is 246 feet (75 m) in diameter and had a double wooden palisade and three entrances. Because two of the entrances correspond with sunrise and sunset during the winter and summer solstices, one interpretation of the Goseck Circle is that it functioned as an observatory or calendar of sorts, according to a 2012 study in the journal Archaeological Papers of the American Anthropological Association(opens in new tab).

?ídký preferred a more general interpretation of the Vino? structure, noting that "roundels probably combined several functions, the most important being socio-ritual," he told Live Science. It is likely that roundels were built for gatherings of a large number of people, perhaps to commemorate events important to them as a community, such as rites of passage, astronomical phenomena or economic exchange.

Given that the people who built roundels had only stone tools to work with, these roundels' sizes are quite impressive — most commonly, about 200 feet (60 m) in diameter, or half the length of a football field. But little is known about the people themselves, as very few burials have been found that could provide more information about their lives seven millennia ago.

After three centuries of popularity, roundels suddenly disappeared from the archaeological record around 4600 B.C. Archaeologists do not yet know why the roundels were abandoned. But considering over one-quarter of all roundels found to date are located in the Czech Republic, future research similar to the excavation at Vino? may eventually help solve the mystery of the roundels.

Educational apartheid in Australian schools?

Retired school principal Chris Bonnor thinks so. See below. His basic beef is that children from affluent homes do better at school. He ventures no explanation of why that is so. He simply says that it is deplorable. But is it changeable? He seems to think that it obviously is but he makes no argument to that effect. He is enclosed in a warm cloak of his own righteousnes that frees him from any obligation to justify his views.

He does not at all consider the very well attested fact that higher IQ kids do better at school and that IQ is mainly hereditary. Findings to that effect have emerged repeatedly for over a century. So there never will be an equality of educational outcomes.

Chris could probably live with that but what really burns him up is that the kids who do well also come from more affluent homes. And -- horrors! -- they even go to private schools!

Again Chris fails to ask why that is so. It's a pretty obvious deduction that smart people will in general be smart at making money too. So the smart parents of smart kids will be able to give the kids concerned comfortable homes and a good educational experience. That dastardly IQ is behind the high SES background of the more successful students too!

But no evidence or reasoning will have any impsct on our Chris. He is a rigid bigot who believes what he wants to believe and damn the evidence. That educational inequality must always be with us is incomprehensible to him. He is good at hate, though. Calling natural inequality "apartheid" is scurrilous. He is at best a buffoon

If we sat down 40-plus years ago to write a prescription for a social/academic apartheid system of schools operating on an unlevel playing field, we couldn’t have done it better. It is a structural oddity which has placed Australia as an outrider on the OECD stage.

In the process, it effectively discounted one of the key findings of the Gonski Review, something that seems to lie at the heart of our problems. This problem isn’t hard to find. Anyone can go to the My School website and easily discover that the NAPLAN results coming out of the schools tends to match the socioeconomic status (SES) of the students going in each day.

But there’s more. Gonski reported – and other research confirms – that the collective impact on student achievement comes even more from the SES of each student’s peers, than from their own family. In the world of schools, negative peer effects are associated with students from disadvantaged social backgrounds; positive effects with students from advantaged backgrounds.

Parents and teachers know about this peer effect and that knowledge drives our enrolment shift from low to higher SES schools. School principals certainly know, and competition between schools too often degenerates into an unseemly competition to get preferred students.

The combination of such peer impacts on student outcomes in an already segregated system of schools calls out for a review of how our school system is structured and what we should be doing to create a more inclusive system and socially diverse schools.


School censorship by conservatives

The NYT is waxing righteous below about moves by conservative parents and legislators to keep politics out of the classroom. Like most Leftist writing, the article seems very reasonable at first glance. Then you realize the fullness of what is going on.

What is happening is that teachers are abusing their paid positions to preach one brand of politics: Leftist politics. They inject Leftist perspectives into all sorts of subjects.

They are not supposed to do that. They are paid through taxes by the whole community, both Left and Right and they should represent the whole of the community that pays them. They should not take sides. So when they deviate from that, parents and others have a clear right to object. And they do. And it is those objections that the NYT is pouring contempt upon. The censorship is an attempt to restrict leftist preaching -- not in favour of conservatism but in favour of impartiality. Teachers are NOT paid to preach partisan politics

And when the boot is on the other foot -- as when someone in the educational system voices a conservative perspective, Leftists howl for censorship and "cancelling" of him/her. Censorship is bad if conservatives do it but good if Leftists do it, it seems. The Left have NO interest in impartiality. They are bigots who cannot withstand challenge to their beliefs. They can happily exist only in a political monoculture. They NEED their addled beliefs

Fights about free speech can feel rhetorical until they are not. Here’s what censorship looks like in practice: A student newspaper and journalism program in Nebraska shuttered for writing about pride month. The state of Oklahoma seeking to revoke the teaching certificate of an English teacher who shared a QR code that directed students to the Brooklyn Public Library’s online collection of banned books. A newly elected district attorney in Tennessee musing openly about jailing teachers and librarians.

In Florida today it may even be illegal for teachers to even talk about who they love or marry thanks to the state’s “Don’t Say Gay” law. Of course, it goes far beyond sex: The sunshine state’s Republican commissioner of education rejected 28 different math textbooks this year for including verboten content.

Acts of censorship are often tacit admissions of weakness masquerading as strength. This weakness is on full display with the imposition of so-called educational gag orders, laws which restrict the discussions of race, gender, sexuality and American history in K-12 and higher education. A political project convinced of the superiority of its ideas doesn’t need the power of the state to shield people from competing ideas. Censorship is the desperate rear-guard action of a movement that has already lost the fight for hearts and minds.

This year alone, 137 gag order bills like these have been introduced in 36 state legislatures. That’s a sharp increase from 2021 when 54 bills were introduced in 22 states, according to a report released last month by PEN America, a free speech organization. Only seven of those bills became law in 2022, but they are some of the strictest to date, and the sheer number of bills introduced reflects a growing enthusiasm on the right for censorship as a political weapon and instrument of social control.

These new measures are far more punitive than past efforts, with heavy fines or loss of state funding for institutions that dare to offer courses covering the forbidden content. Teachers can be fired and even face criminal charges. Lawsuits have already started to trickle through the courts asking for broad interpretations of the new statutes. For the first time, the PEN report noted, some bills have also targeted private schools and universities in addition to public schools.

It wasn’t all that long ago that Republican lawmakers around the country were introducing laws designed to protect free speech on college campuses. Now, they’re using the coercive power of the state to restrict what people can talk about, learn about or discuss in public, and exposing them to lawsuits for doing so. That’s a clear threat to the ideals of a pluralistic political culture, in which challenging ideas are welcomed and discussed.



Below is the opening blast of an article by Phyllis Chesler, a very feisty Jewish lady in her 80s who is a lesbian these days and describes herself as a radical feminist. Many of her causes are however ones that conservatives could agree with. She is these days critical of what she calls the "transgender cult" and that has seen her cast into outer darkness by some

The leadership of New York’s West End Synagogue is too committed to the ever-changing progressive party line to suffer a radical feminist like me

As we know, a virulent, often vicious and increasingly intolerant “cancel culture” has permeated our campuses and much of the media—but it has also infested some of our synagogues. I now have firsthand experience of what this means.

Being disinvited is not a new experience for me. I’ve been disinvited from engagements before because my radically feminist views were not politically correct; because I dared to expose feminist hypocrisy among the sisterhood; and because I defended the truth, and thus defended Jews, Judaism, Israel, and post-Enlightenment values. I’ve also been disinvited because my academic studies about and activism against honor killing, face-veiling, female genital mutilation, Islamist terrorism, and an Islamist version of cancel culture (think Salman Rushdie) was seen as “Islamophobic.”

Here’s the story. In early May, a retired City University of New York (CUNY) professor, Susan Prager (a woman whom I do not know and have never met) invited me to deliver a lecture about antisemitism and feminism to the West End Synagogue (WES), a Reconstructionist congregation near Lincoln Square, possibly via Zoom, perhaps in person.

And now I’ve been disinvited. Why? Apparently, my alleged views on transgender and LGBTQIA people are key—even though this wasn’t the topic of my lecture—but such views rendered me unacceptable as a speaker on any other subject. I was also accused of possibly being a racist as well.

Are we living in the 1950s, and is this yet another version of McCarthyism? Have we plunged into Huxley’s Brave New World?

What would someone’s views about the transgender issue have to do with antisemitism and the survival of a demonized Israel? Moreover, are differences in opinion more important than freedom of thought and speech? Intellectual and political diversity? I guess they are in some circles.

Of course, the Talmud preserves both majority and minority opinions. For centuries, in fact, totally opposite views have lived side by side, a glorious example of tolerance and civility among those who take ideas seriously.

The good news: A number of WES congregants have written letters to the synagogue’s president, Harvey Weiner, and to the board of directors demanding that I be allowed to speak. I’ve been told that a handful of couples have already exited the synagogue; others have promised not to donate money to the annual appeal on Yom Kippur.


Should minorities be angry at the Queen?

ABC journalist Stan Grant is. He is part Aboriginal and apparently grew up among them. Some excerpts from his comments follow below after this note.

Since the Queen was a-political it is pretty dumb to blame her for ANYTHING Blame the governments of her time maybe but she had no part in their decisions or actions.

But the big problem with the sorrow he expresses below is that Grant assigns NO responsibility for what blacks underwent to Aborigines themselves. He attributes all the woe felt by Aboringines to British colonialism.

But look at another colonized group. The people of Hong Kong were until quite recently a literal Crown Colony. So how do they feel about the Queen and the British legacy? The mourning there for the Queen was epochal. It was at least as great as the demonstrations of feeling in Britain itelf. They loved the Queen.

Clrearly it was not colonialism that was bad for the colonized. It has to have been something else that caused grief to Aborigines.

And what that was is no mystery. The people of Hong Kong are Chinese and, as such, the inheritors of thousands of years of civilization. So they were well equipped to thrive under Britain's civilizing influence. So they appreciated the opportunities that Britain brought and vigorously grasped those opportunities to their own great benefit

Aborinigines, by contrast, come from the most primitive type of culture -- a hunter/gatherer culture. They had none of the mentality, customs, attitudes and skills that the Chinese do. Aborigines have traits and abilities that equip them well for their ancestral lifestyle but those same traits tend to be a hindrance rather than a help in adjusting to modern civilization.

No doubt both Aborigines and Hong Kongers were at times badly treated by their respective governments but the Aborigies did not adapt. They simply lacked the ability to do so. And from that the rest of their experience flowed. They simply could not help themselves and others were slow to come forward to help them. And now that many attempts have been made to help them there are still many who seem unhelpable. Given their origins that will continue

I called my mother this week and she told me the story of her childhood brush with royalty over again. I have thought about mum and dad and all of my family, of my people — First Nations people — who die young and live impoverished and imprisoned lives in this country.

We aren't supposed to talk about these things this week. We aren't supposed to talk about colonisation, empire, violence about Aboriginal sovereignty, not even about the republic.

We've skirted around the edges of the truth of the legacy that the Queen leaves in Australia, a reign that lasted almost a third of our colonial history.

I'm sure I am not alone amongst Indigenous people wrestling with swirling emotions. Among them has been anger. The choking asphyxiating anger at the suffering and injustice my people endure.

This anger is not good for me. It is not good for my mental health. It is not good for my physical health. I have been short of breath and dizzy.

But that is nothing compared to what too many other Indigenous people go through day after day. Those languishing in cells. Those who take their own lives. Those who are caught in endless cycles of despair.

This past week, I have been reminded what it is to come from the other side of history. History itself that is written as a hymn to whiteness.

History written by the victors and often written in blood. It is fashioned as a tale of progress, as a civilising mission.

As historian Caroline Elkins writes in Legacies of Violence, her history of the British Empire, for hundreds of millions of people "the empire's velvet glove contained an all too familiar iron fist".

From India to Africa to Ireland, the Pacific, the Caribbean and of course here, Australia, people from the other side of history have felt that fist.

It is not a zero-sum game. There are things in the British tradition that have enriched my life. But history is not weighted on the scales, it is felt in our bones. It is worn on our skin. It is scarred in memory.

How do we live with the weight of this history? How do we not fall prey to soul-destroying vengeance and resentment, yet never relent in our righteous demand for justice?

At times like these I struggle with that dilemma. Because Australia has never reached a just settlement with First Nations people.

But again, we don't talk about that this week.

I have felt a sadness at feeling adrift, estranged from friends and colleagues. Sadness at knowing that at times like these there is a chasm between us.

I have watched as others have worn black and reported on this historic event, participated in this ritual mourning. And knowing I cannot.

They come to this with no conflict. I cannot.


Scurrilous journalism award

At least it cost the lying media a bundle. Dr Laming has an account here telling how grievously the media lie hurt him. He shares there what it's like be the centre of a media stitch-up. Australia's defamation laws have their problems, but in Laming's case they ensured that some justice has been done him.

Had the journalists concerned just checked with Laming before rushing into print the story would never have been published -- as it was an easily refuted story.

But the opportunity of sliming a prominent conservativre was just too juicy to miss. Leftists hate those dreadful conservatives who keep puncturing their balloons so horror stories about conservatives seem obviously correct to them

The contentious entry criteria for the Walkley Awards could be overhauled as part of the independent review into a reporting prize given to a since-discredited story about former federal MP Andrew Laming.

Last Wednesday, Dr Laming won a defamation case against Nine in relation to one key element of its award-winning report, after the network accepted that it was untrue.

On Friday evening, the foundation directors announced a review into the Walkley Award won earlier this year by Nine journalists Peter Fegan and Rebeka Powell for their March 2021 reports about Dr Laming, one of which falsely claimed the then politician had committed the criminal act of “upskirting” – taking a sexually intrusive photograph of someone without their permission.

In one of three reports about Dr Laming’s alleged misconduct in March last year, Nine quoted a witness who said he’d seen the MP take an inappropriate “upskirting” photo of a female staff member while she was stacking a bar fridge at her Brisbane workplace.

The woman was wearing shorts, not a skirt, at the time. The photo was deleted before anyone from Nine could view it. Dr Laming was questioned by police about the alleged incident, but was never charged.

Dr Laming has always strenuously denied any wrongdoing in relation to the matter.

Fegan and Powell won the 2021 Walkley Award in the television/video news reporting category for their report on Dr Laming’s alleged misconduct; the pair also won a Clarion (at the Queensland media awards) for their investigation into the MP.

In its statement on Friday, the Walkley Foundation said it would commission an independent review of the “particular award” given to Fegan and Powell, but it is widely expected that the review will also scrutinise the wider issue of whether journalism that is the subject of ongoing legal proceedings should have caveats attached as part of its conditions of entry.

Currently, entries for major journalism awards in Australia, such as the Walkleys, require a disclosure if the reporting is the subject of ongoing legal action.

But there are no rules governing the overturning of awards if subsequent legal action finds the story to be untrue, as was the case with the Laming “upskirting” claim.

Dr Laming has claimed that Walkley organisers had known for “nearly a year” of his complaint that a story submitted for the awards had made “baseless” upskirting claims against him.

Dr Laming told The Australian on Sunday that he wants to play a key role in the review. “Through my lawyers I have notified the Walkley Foundation that I wish to submit materials to it for their consideration,” he said.

Dr Laming is unhappy that the Walkleys – which he describes as “Australian journalism’s highest honour” – lent weight to the Nine story by publicising comments that lauded the story when it won the prize.

“The comments made by the judges at that time lauding the network and journalists for their work in the face of ‘legal pushback’ is hard to reconcile with the complete abandonment of Nine’s defences and its subsequent unconditional public retraction and apology to me,” he said.

“Despite being on notice at the time of a legal dispute and the waves of retractions, apologies by others over republications of Nine’s story, the Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance (which oversees both the Walkleys and the Clarion Awards) persisted with both a state and a federal award – and as of right now, even despite announcing a review, they continue to refuse to rescind what is now an award for effectively a story that been withdrawn, deleted and has been accepted by all as a work of fiction.”

Dr Laming said that he initially made allegations to the MEAA in October last year.

“We first notified the MEAA of baseless allegations in the Nine TV news story in October 2021, so they have been made aware of our complaint for nearly a year,” he said. “The MEAA would know that Nine publicly abandoned its unmeritorious truth and honest opinion defences last month, and in my view, from that moment the awards … became completely untenable.”

Dr Laming says he has so far received no response to a letter he addressed to Walkley Foundation chief executive Shona Martyn last week. He asserted in the letter that the Walkleys needed to do more than simply leave it in the hands of award recipients to return them.

“There is already sufficient evidence at hand to rescind the award, and leaving it in the hands of recipients to return awards is weak,” he wrote. “By continuing to promote these awards, the Walkley Committee further harms my reputation through imputation that the stories were true. Nine now admits they were not, and these court documents are public.”

He concluded his letter to the Walkleys: “I reserve my rights in this regard.”

Dr Laming’s former LNP colleague James McGrath has also written to the Walkley Foundation, calling for Nine’s award to be withdrawn.

“The broadcaster has admitted the allegations against Dr Laming were untrue,” Senator McGrath wrote.

“Why haven’t you withdrawn the Walkley Award from Ch9? In light of the above admission from Ch9 I ask you to withdraw the associated Walkley Award.

“If you are not prepared to withdraw I would ask you justify your reasoning.”

Despite repeated requests from The Australian for further clarification around the parameters of the independent review, the Walkley Foundation declined to comment.

Nine also declined to comment.

The terms of Dr Laming’s settlement with Nine, which included an apology, were confidential but the network is understood to be liable for more than $1m in damages and legal costs.

In its apology, which was read to the court, Nine said: “9News unreservedly withdraws those allegations about Dr Laming and apologises to him and his family for the hurt and harm caused by the report.”


Global mooning? ‘Wobbly’ moon probable cause of mass mangrove deaths

It's refreshing to hear of an environmental problem that is NOT caused by global warming

Aside from that, however, it was previously established that a sea-level fall in the Northern Australia/Indonesia area was responsible for mangrove die-offs. What we read below is a good explanation of the sea-level fluctuations concerned.

Dare I mention that a sea level fall is also a good explanation for some of the famous but transient bleaching events on the Great Barrier Reef, which is broadly in the same area? What if global warming had NOTHING to do with coral die-back in Northern Australian waters? Coral is sensitive to sea-level fall so it is a likely possibility. Coral does not like being dessicated. See also here

What a horror all this is for the climate crooks at James Cook university in Townsville. Peter Ridd will be laughing

A wobble in the moon’s orbit around Earth affects mangrove cover across Australia and likely contributed to mass tree deaths in the Gulf of Carpentaria, new research suggests.

A study published in the journal Science Advances has found that an 18.61-year cycle known as the lunar nodal cycle shapes the condition of tidal wetlands.

The moon’s orbit around Earth does not occur in a flat plane. “Since the 1720s, people have known that it moves up and down by a few degrees,” said the study’s lead author, Prof Neil Saintilan of Macquarie University. He likened the motion to “when you’re spinning a coin – as it loses momentum, it kind of wobbles”.

Changes in gravitational pull as a result of this lunar wobble are known to affect the Earth’s tides. Previous research conducted by Nasa scientists has predicted that in the mid-2030s, the lunar wobble will amplify rising sea levels caused by climate change, resulting in high-tide floods along coastlines.

Depending on the phase of the lunar nodal cycle, there can be “as much as 40cm of difference in the tide range” in places such as the Gulf of Carpentaria, Saintilan said.

Mangroves “grow between the average high-tide level and the highest high-tide levels”, he said. At lower tidal ranges, mangroves are inundated less frequently. “When they’re stressed, because they lose water through their leaves, they just drop their leaves.”

The scientists used historical satellite imaging to quantify the extent of mangrove cover across Australia every year between 1987 and 2020. The oscillation in canopy cover was “immediately obvious when you graph the data”, Saintilan said.

Along the Arnhem coast in the Northern Territory and the Carnarvon coast in Western Australia, the researchers found that peaks in closed canopy cover – where thickened mangrove canopy covered more than 80% of ground area – coincided with the peak tidal phases of the moon’s wobble.

They believe the lunar wobble likely contributed to mass mangrove dieback in the Gulf of Carpentaria in 2015-16, an event in which an estimated 40m trees died. At the time, a “low tidal range” phase of the lunar wobble coincided with a severe El Niño.

“They had a combination of a 40cm drop in the mean sea level associated with the El Niño and, on top of that, a 40cm drop in tide range [due to the lunar wobble],” Saintilan said. “There were mangroves in creeks [previously] being inundated every day that might have been inundated just a handful of times in the whole of the dry season.”

A quirk of the lunar wobble is that it has the opposite tidal effects along coastlines which have one high tide daily compared to those that have two high tides daily.

In a region with only one daily high tide, a phase of the lunar cycle may result in a lower tidal range and less frequent water inundations. The same phase will have the inverse effect along coastlines with two daily high tides, resulting in more mangrove inundation.

The Gulf of Carpentaria is one of few Australian coastlines that has one high tide daily. Mangroves in adjacent regions that survived the 2015-16 El Niño were in a “high tidal range” phase of the lunar cycle. The El Niño was previously thought to be the cause of the mass dieback, but “the nodal cycle also seems like a necessary condition for mangrove mortality”, Saintilan said.

“So far, global warming has been good for mangroves. With higher sea levels they’ve been expanding into areas that they could not survive before,” he said. “But under high rates of sea level rise [greater than 7mm a year] … we know that they can’t survive for too long.”

Dr Brad Tucker, an astrophysicist at the Australian National University, who was not associated with the study, likened the lunar wobble to the vertical bobbing of an object in water. “It does this bobbing up and down every 18.6 years,” he said. “If the moon is further up or down in relation to Earth, that’s going to change the gravitational pull.”


New study reports that diet cola could increase your risk of heart disease

Nonsense. This study had NO CONTROL GROUP. The authors did not have data on people who drink sugar-sweetened drinks. So there is no way of knowing that the disease noted was due to the sweetener

The reason why big drinkers of diet Coke had more heart disease could be because of the caffeine in the drink, and probably was. Caffeine is a stimulant that can overwork hearts. And the fact that different sweeteners were involved makes it unlikely that the sweeteners were at fault. The various sweeteners are quite different chemically

The academic article is here

Supermarket shelves are lined with ‘diet’ and ‘lite’ options of our favourite beverages – but are we really making the right choice by opting for the seemingly “healthier” option?

A new study claims that diet cola drinks may actually be just as bad – if not worse – for you than a good old fashioned “normal” cola.

Scientists at the French National Institute for Health say consumers should not assume that drinks with artificial sweeteners are a safe swap for sugar.

In a trial published in the British Medical Journal, which spanned 12 years and involved 103,000 people, researchers found that total artificial sweetener intake was associated with increased risk of fatal conditions such as heart disease and stroke.

According to the study, less than a can a day could be enough to cause serious health damage.

“The findings from this large scale prospective cohort study suggest a potential direct association between higher artificial sweetener consumption (especially aspartame, acesulfame potassium and sucralose) and increased cardiovascular disease risk,” wrote Dr Mathilde Touvier, lead author on the study.

“Artificial sweeteners are present in thousands of food and beverage brands worldwide.

“However, they remain a controversial topic and are currently being re-evaluated by the European Food Safety Authority, the World Health Organisation and other health agencies,” she wrote.

The study reported that 77.6mg of sweetener per day was the average for a “high consumer” and 7.5mg per day was low.

This would mean that as little as half a can of diet cola could have negative effects on health.

The data collected from 130,000 French citizens found that a third of people consume sugar-free alternatives – which contain aspartame, sucralose and acesulfame potassium – regularly.

“The harmful effects of added sugars have been established for several chronic diseases, leading food industries to use artificial sweeteners as alternatives in a wide range of foods and beverages,” Dr Touvier said.

“These food additives, consumed daily by millions of people, should not be considered a healthy and safe alternative to sugar.”


The snobby dark side of Australia's universities: How a State school student was 'humiliated' so badly at a university Open Day he almost gave up his dream of becoming a doctor

An interesting story. I think I need to put my sociologist's hat on to explain it. The Muslim guy obviously lacked social skills and awareness.

The early days at university are a time of uncertainty and some anxiety for most students. And they reassure themselves by hanging out with other freshers that they know -- usually from their old school. It is not snobbery. It is an adjustment to a new environment and experience.

So if you have no-one there that you know you are at a largely inescapable disadvantage -- as Mr Khan was. His prior environment did not prepare him for university. It was a new milieu for him.

I was in a similar sitution. I actually taught myself for the Senior exam so I knew nobody at university when I first went there. As it happens, that did not bother me. I was used to running my own race. But I did do what Mr Khan should have done: Join campus special interest groups. I met people that I became friendly with that way. I even joined a university army unit, which I enjoyed greatly. Approaching people you don't know out of the blue and with nobody or nothing to introduce you is just not British and will get you nowhere

A medical student has claimed his neighbourhood and the humble state high school background led to him being led to him being 'snobbed' at one of Australia's most prestigious universities.

The experience was so humiliating that Fahad Khan said it almost caused him to give up his dream of becoming a doctor.

In a TikTok video, which has almost 50K likes, third-year medical student Fahad Khan recalled his experience of attending Sydney University's Open Day as a year 12 student in 2016 from western Sydney.

Under the caption 'Getting snobbed @USyd Open Day as a person from Western Sydney' Fahad said the first thing he did was go to the medicine information session.

'I saw that there were two medical students, I think, and about 10 Year 12 students with them,' Fahad says. 'When I went close to them I heard them speaking about things like 'does Mr X still teach maths and does Mrs X still do that?' 'And they were all having a laugh and I went 'look they are all mates, that's like pretty nice'.'

The caption on the TikTok video changes to: 'This is why I believe there's parts of USyd with a toxic selective/private school culture' as Fahad describes trying to join in the conversation.

'I tried to say hello and they ignored me,' he says. 'And then I say it again... I say 'Hi my name's Fahad'. 'And they all turned around and they looked at me and then they looked away and one of the medical students was like 'oh, hi'.

'And then they all started talking about their high school again and I said 'what the hell? They just like kind of ignored me',' Fahad says.

'But I said 'You know what? The session is starting in five minutes, maybe this is just a group of mates and fair enough if they want to talk to their mates before they start talking to everyone, that's fine'.'

However, things did not improve when the session started. 'The first question they asked was 'Which high school did everyone go to?',' Fahad says. 'Most of them were James Ruse students, there was some Sydney Boys [High] and Sydney Girls. 'I was the only student from a non-selective non-private school.'

Fahad describes what happened next as 'unbelievable'. He said all those from the selective and private schools were taken to one side of the room to talk to the medical students while he was left alone on the other side.

'I asked them 'Am I coming? Am I also included in this?'

'And the medical student turned around to me and he was like 'Oh, there's like this third medical student going to come, you hang out with that person' and I was like 'What the hell?'.'

The third medical student did not show up.

Fahad decided he was 'going to force' himself into the experience. 'So, I went there and I sat with them, and I forced myself to sit with them and do what they were doing,' Fahad says.

'And I kid you not throughout the entire 100 per cent of the session they were talking about inside jokes from their high school.

'Whenever I asked a question like, 'How was first year? How was second year?' they were like, 'Oh yeah, it's alright'. 'Then they looked away and started talking about their high school again and I was like, 'What the hell is wrong with these people?'.'

Fahad said the experience was shattering. 'I remember leaving that session completely humiliated,' he says.

'Then on the train home I remember thinking about how my peers at school would laugh at me when I said I wanted to be a doctor and they would just say to me 'you know some dreams are out of reach'. 'That day almost made me believe I couldn't be a doctor.'

The comments underneath the video made it clear that Fahad's experience wasn't unique.

'I went through usyd med as one of the only non selective/public schooled/low SES students and it was so isolating being around so much privilege,' one wrote.

'Usyd was so toxic, I transferred there my 2nd uni year and the vast majority of people looked down on me for the area I came from,' another said.

'Definitely a superiority complex held by many students at usyd,' another wrote.

Fahad's story touched at least one person who said they were associated with the university.

'From someone that works at USYD: Really sorry you had to go through this man. Was heartbreaking to watch,' they wrote.


The troubled history of the Kohinoor diamond – a jewel controversially owned by the British monarchy

image from

Britain should offer to return it to any of the four claimants on it if they all agree among themselves about who should have it. Getting the governments of Pakistan, Iran, India and Afghanistan to agree could be amusing. It won't happen of course so the stone will remain blamelessly where it is

Following Queen Elizabeth II’s death last week, critics have renewed calls for the British government to return artifacts looted by the British Empire, among them the Kohinoor diamond – one of the world’s most famous, controversial gems.

Housed today in the Tower of London as part of the Crown Jewels collection, the diamond is subject to claims of ownership from multiple countries. It is rumored that it will be worn by Camilla, now Queen Consort, at the coronation of King Charles III.

Originally about 186 carats uncut, the Kohinoor, or “Mountain of Light,” was likely mined in South India in the 13th century. Some Hindus believe it to be the Syamantaka gem from the Bhagavad Purana tales of the god Krishna.

According to Smithsonian Magazine, the stone first appears in the written record in 1628, when it formed the glistening head of the so-called “Peacock Throne” of the Mughal Shah Jahan. Despite its impressive size, the Kohinoor played second fiddle to the Timur Ruby, as Mughal culture preferred colored stones.

After a century in Mughal hands, the diamond was subsequently captured by the Persian and then Afghan empires. It was finally returned to India in 1813 by the Sikh Maharaja Ranjit Singh. In the book “Koh-i-Noor: The History of the World’s Most Infamous Diamond,” historians Anita Anand and William Dalrymple note Ranjit Singh’s acquisition as a major turning point in the gem’s history.

“It was not just that Ranjit Singh liked diamonds and respected the stone’s vast monetary value; the gem seems to have held a far greater symbolism for him,” they write. For him, it represented the conquest of the Sikh Empire against the Afghan Durrani dynasty.

The diamond’s almost mythical potency appealed to Britain’s East India Company, which began its plunder of the Asian subcontinent in the early 19th century. Even so, the diamond remained in India until 1849, when Ranjit Singh’s son Maharaja Duleep Singh signed the Treaty of Lahore. Only a child at the time, Duleep was forced to acknowledge the British annexation of Punjab – and turn over the diamond.

Lord Dalhousie, the Scottish governor-general of India, oversaw the stone’s export to England, where it was unveiled at the 1851 Great Exhibition. Viewers were originally scandalized by the Kohinoor’s dull appearance; to avoid more public outcry, Queen Victoria’s husband Prince Albert had it recut and polished.

Around this time, rumors also started spreading that the famous gem was cursed. Whispers circulating that any man who wore the diamond would experience great misfortune, or that it spiritually saturated with the bloodshed of historical conquests.

Perhaps in part because of the rumors, the Kohinoor never became a star of the royal collection. Worn occasionally as a brooch by Queen Victoria, it was eventually set in the crown of Queen Alexandra and then in that of Queen Mary. In 1937, it was refashioned as the central diamond on the crown of Queen Elizabeth, The Queen Mother.

The Kohinoor crown last appeared in public in 2002, when it was placed on top of The Queen Mother’s casket at her lying-in and funeral.

Meanwhile, the Indian government has been demanding the diamond’s return almost the entire time the stone has been in British hands. The country entered a formal complaint upon gaining independence in 1947; it was followed up upon Elizabeth II’s coronation in 1953. The governments of Pakistan, Iran, and Afghanistan have lodged similar claims.

The British government has historically rejected the idea of returning the Kohinoor. In 2013, then-Prime Minister David Cameron said “They’re not getting it back.” Three years later, the Indian Culture Ministry insisted that it would make “all possible efforts” to see the diamond back in India.

Now, as the death of Queen Elizabeth brings renewed criticism of the dark history of the British imperial project in Asia and beyond, social media users are rallying to put the Kohinoor issue in the spotlight.

“If the King is not going to wear Kohinoor, give it back,” wrote one Twitter user.

Speaking to NBC, Danielle Kinsey, a professor of history at Carleton University, says it is only a matter of time before the diamond is returned.

“At some point the monarchy will understand that keeping the diamond is more of a public relations liability for them than an asset,” she said.

“I think the same is true for many, many looted artifacts in Britain today and the institutions that house them.”

Indeed, the Kohinoor is far from the only foreign treasure lingering on British soil. Not only does the Crown Jewels include several other controversial gems – including the Timur Ruby, the same stone that formed part of the Peacock Throne with the Kohinoor in the 17th century– but the country’s museums are overflowing with looted goods.

While the British Museum remains locked in a famous feud with Greece over the Elgin marbles, other institutions are becoming more willing to return what was never theirs. In August, the Horniman Museum and Gardens vowed to return 72 Benin bronzes to the Nigerian government.

Despite the small progress being made, British-Indian author Sauruv Dutt, told TIME that he doubts the Kohinoor or its peers will be back in their origin countries anytime soon.

Describing how the monarchy is “married to this romantic version of empire, even though it is long dead, and has lost its power,” Dutt said the diamond would be impossible for them to surrender. “[The Royals] would essentially be eviscerating themselves.”