Climate change to blame for early cherry blossom season in Japan

Like most of the rest of the world, Japan has been slowly warming for the last century or so.  So that could have some effect on cherry blossoming.  Pretending that global warming is the only infulence or even the major influence is however slipshod.  

The obvious influence is urbanization.  Urban centres are warmer and that is even more so as society becomes ever more energy  intensive.  The more people use air-conditioners in summer and heaters in winter the greater will be the heat output into the urban environment.  Much warmer cities rather than the trivial increase in global warming would be the major influence on cherry blossoming

About 63 million people in a normal year flock to Japan to see its most famous flower in full bloom.

Cherry blossoms, or sakura, hit their peak bloom in April, when they paint the country’s parks and gardens with shades of pink and white and fuel a multimillion spring tourism boom.

But this year, in the ancient capital city of Kyoto, the cherry blossoms hit peak bloom too early, on March 26 – the earliest since the Japan Meteorological Agency began collecting data on the flowers 70 years ago.

Others say the bloom is even earlier than what’s been noted in diaries and poetry from Kyoto that date back hundreds of years, AP reported.

According to the 2021 data in Kyoto, the cherry blossoms reached peak bloom 10 days ahead of the 30-year average, and it was a similar story in other cities across Japan.

Scientists fear climate change is to blame.

“We can say it’s most likely because of the impact of the global warming,” Shunji Anbe from the Japan Meteorological Agency told AP, adding the trees were sensitive to temperature changes.

The average March temperature in Kyoto, a key destination for cherry blossoms, rose to 10.6C in 2020, up from 8.6C in 1953.  This March, the average temperature was even higher, at 12.4C.

Of the 58 benchmark trees across Japan that are tracked by the agency, 40 reached their peak bloom before the start of April, with 14 blooming in record time, according to AP.

It normally takes about two weeks for the first bud to appear and all the blossoms to fall from the tree.

Benjamin Cook, a research scientist at Columbia University, told The Washington Post the cherry blossom peak bloom date had been relatively stable for about 1000 years, from the years 812 to 1800, before a sharp shift to earlier in spring.

“Since the 1800s, warming has led to a steady trend toward earlier flowering that continues to the present day,” he said.

“Some of this warming is due to climate change, but some is also likely from an enhanced heat island effect due to increased urbanisation of the environment over the last couple of centuries.”

Queensland Public Trustee denies making profit from clients, despite report criticising high fees and charges

They might not make a profit in any accounting sense but they are a bloated bureaucracy with well-feathered nests for their bureaucrats

They are run for the benefit of their employees, not for those they are supposed to serve. They have been left basically unsupervised for far too long

People on disability support and aged care pensions with assets will continue to be charged up to 40 per cent of their low incomes for financial administration services by the Public Trustee of Queensland, despite a report criticising the practice.

Queensland Attorney-General Shannon Fentiman tabled the Public Advocate's report into the Public Trustee in state parliament earlier this month.

It documented high fees for asset-rich pensioners, fees for no service and charging multiple sets of fees on managing the same funds, like superannuation.

In response, the state government announced that a board would oversee the Public Trustee.

However, the government has not yet set a timeframe for when this would occur and what authority it would have.

The Public Advocate's report also exposed routine profiteering from cash assets that were funnelled exclusively into the Public Trustee's own investment products – something called the "interest differential".

"The practice of directing all client funds into Public Trustee investments also means that the Public Trustee earns income and fees additional to the general Asset Management Fees it charges clients for providing administration services," the report stated.

"This practice raises questions about whether the Public Trustee is fulfilling its fiduciary duties to avoid conflicts with its clients' interests and not to make unauthorised profits from clients."

The report found that in 2019-20 alone, the Public Trustee kept $12.9 million in interest earnings from the cash assets of clients.

"The conflicts inherent in this funding arrangement appear to be incompatible with the duties and obligations of a trustee and fiduciary to not profit from its clients and to avoid conflicts," it said.

Public Advocate Mary Burgess made 32 recommendations and in a statement responding to the report, Ms Fentiman said the majority of the recommendations were primarily the responsibility of the Public Trustee to implement.

One of the recommendations included changing the legislation to clarify when and how the Public Trustee could invest client funds.

Another was to ensure the Trustee does not profit from administration clients unless expressly permitted by law.

Ms Fentiman did not say whether the government would review its legislation to determine whether profit was permissible under the Public Trustee Act, and she denied the report's finding that the Public Trustee profits from financial administration services.

"A moratorium on fees and charges would impact on the Public Trustee's ability to provide important services to vulnerable Queenslanders," Ms Fentiman said.

She also said many of the reforms had already been implemented or were underway.

The Public Trustee said a review on fees and charges was already underway but would not be completed for another six to eight months.

The Public Trustee denied it made a profit.

Sue Nunn, who has a person close to her who has been under financial administration, said she was sickened by the way they had been treated.

Ms Nunn said her complaints and concerns about the Public Trustee had fallen on deaf ears.

The Guardianship and Administration Act prevents the ABC from disclosing anything that could identify a person under a financial administration order — something that critics said prevented them from speaking out.

The person Ms Nunn is advocating for is paying close to 40 per cent of a disability pension in Public Trustee fees for financial and asset management.

"They're taking 40 per cent of his income – how can you say that's not profiting from somebody with a disability?" Ms Nunn said.

She said she was disappointed by the response of the state government to the Public Advocate's report. "At what point do we matter?" Ms Nunn said. "How many people have to be gouged of their finances?

"How many people have to lose everything they have, before we become important, and before it's enough to say 'stop, things need to change'."

Ms Nunn said she had lost count of the number of complaints she had made to assorted government bodies and ministers, and in her view, Ms Fentiman had downplayed the extent of the issues in her response to the parliament.

Steven Collins is another person with multiple family members who either are, or have previously been, under financial administration.

Mr Collins said he had observed questionable financial decisions being made for a family member, including trying to sell their house for more than it had been valued.

He claimed the family member was moved into rental accommodation that was costing more per week than the mortgage repayments had been. The person was moved back into their house when it had not sold.

The same family member was being given just $100 a week to live on at one stage, once the Trustee had extracted its fees and charges.

"The way it looks to me from things that have happened is it's just about getting money at any cost and from any angle — it's not about the client," Mr Collins said.

Mr Collins said when he started advocating on his family members' behalf, and asking questions of the Public Trustee, they stopped responding. "The letter I got back from them was actually quite appalling — it was a generalised, bureaucratic letter, and it really didn't get into the heart of any of the questions I asked," Mr Collins said.

"From there, they really stopped talking to me and wouldn't communicate with me from then on out."

Shadow attorney-general Tim Nicholls is now calling for an independent audit of the Public Trustee, and for the legislation that governs it to be either rewritten or amended substantially.

"It's really the case that the report has been done, the government has looked at it, and then handed it to the Public Trustee and said, 'You solve your own problems'," he said.

"There's no clarity about the [fee] review and what the changes are likely to be. "The Public Trustee continues to milk those clients for every cent under a flawed system that sees the most disadvantaged people paying more and getting less."


Veteran Adelaide radio host Jeremy Cordeaux sacked over Brittany Higgins tirade

Must not question St. Brittany

Veteran radio broadcaster Jeremy Cordeaux, who called Brittany Higgins a “silly girl who got drunk” and questioned her story, has been sacked.

The award-winning host was branded a “dinosaur” online over the appalling comments on air on FIVEaa over the weekend about the alleged rape at Parliament House in 2019.

“I just ask myself why the prime minister doesn’t call it out for what it is. A silly little girl who got drunk,” Cordeaux said at 6.26am during his weekend breakfast show.

“If this girl has been raped, why hasn’t the guy who raped her been arrested? Apparently everyone knows his name.”

“Security, you know, should never have let these two into the minister’s office at two o’clock in the morning. Never,” Cordeaux said.

“The defence minister. Can you imagine security taking someone who was obviously drunk, so drunk I think that the young lady, during the week on television, said she couldn’t get her shoes on.

“My advice to the prime minister – as he was sort of monstered by A Current Affair – my advice would be to stop worrying about offending somebody.”


‘It feels very political’: Principals sorry schools rushed to sign plan to tackle consent

One of the state’s longest-serving independent school heads says a cross-sector “statement of intent” to improve consent education was driven by political expediency rather than a desire for change, and she wishes her sector had not signed it.

Several other principals privately agree with her, with one saying “it feels very political”.

The statement, which has been signed by the public, Catholic and independent sectors, commits all schools to taking “concrete actions” to strengthen their students’ ability to form healthy relationships and prevent harmful situations.

However, it does not include parents’ groups as signatories as originally proposed by the Association of Independent Schools NSW, which came up with the concept three weeks ago. Parents’ groups told the Herald they would have signed it.

NSW Education Minister Sarah Mitchell said the statement was intended to be signed by the three school sector heads individually, with further collaboration with other key groups to follow.

“While this is a whole-of-society challenge, the statement signed by the three education heads acknowledges the key role schools and teachers, in partnership with parents and parent organisations, will play in supporting change,” she said.

But Jenny Allum, who has led SCEGGS Darlinghurst since 1996, said while she supported the ideals articulated in the statement – which included hearing the voices of students and basing decisions on evidence – parents should have been signatories even if their involvement delayed the process.

“I am very sorry that we rushed to sign the statement of intent after it had been made clear that some parent groups would also like to sign the statement,” she said. “The signing of the statement in such a rushed fashion has more to do with political expediency than any desire to actually affect change.

“There is no quick fix here, no short-term critical incident to manage and wait for it to go away.

“A better course of action would have been to have a continued dialogue about consent and sexual coercion, as well as sexual assault and abuse, violence against women, gendered stereotypes, sexualisation of girls and women, and so on.”

Ms Allum said parents were the primary educators of their children, and so needed to be involved in conversations about respect, consent and violence towards women.

“Why was it important to sign something by yesterday afternoon, except that either the minister wanted it that way, or the [school] systems could look like they were doing something?” she said. “From what I can tell it’s relatively cosmetic. What practical solution does it offer?

“If you can’t name a practical solution, you’ve got to think it was political.”

Another principal, who did not want to be named, said the problem of sexual assault ran much deeper than students’ understanding of consent. “I don’t think [the statement] is the answer,” she said. “I don’t know how a statement of intent even begins to address it.”

Another said the document was “full of motherhood statements” but signing it did no harm and sent a positive message.

Julie Townsend, from St Catherine’s School, said it was appropriate for schools to work together. “Parents’ organisations can similarly unite with a common intent,” she said. “Both the school sectors and parent organisations can work side by side.”

Other principals, who also did not want to be named, said they would have preferred to wait for guidance from the Australian Human Rights Commission, which consulted with the sector at a roundtable on Friday.

They believe that a firm set of guidelines or recommendations from the commission, which has also helped the university sector and defence force, would be the most likely avenue to create lasting and meaningful change.

The AISNSW board voted to sign the statement after discussing it on Thursday night, AIS chief executive Geoff Newcombe said. “The board noted that this should be seen as a first step in dealing with what is a whole-of-society issue,” he said.

“The association also is currently in discussions with the NSW Parents Council so that we can recognise the critical role that parents will play in trying to resolve this problem.”


Muslim haters tracked down

A Queensland dog trainer and a Melbourne gemstone trader have been arrested as “senior players” of a sophisticated Australian terror network paying for foreign fighters to travel to Syria to join Jabhat al-Nusra.

Joint counterterrorism teams from Queensland and Victoria yesterday pounced on the men in co-ordinated raids, charging them over their alleged involvement in a sophisticated terrorist network being run out of southeast Queensland.

Gabriel Crazzi, 34, from Chambers Flat in Logan, and Ahmed Talib, 31, from Melbourne, are alleged to have been key players in the religiously-motivated extremist organisation.

The network is understood to have been responsible for funding Queensland man Ahmed Succarieh’s 2013 trip to Syria where he became Australia’s first suicide bomber.

The former schoolboy from south of Brisbane is believed to have blown himself up when he drove a truck loaded with explosives into a military checkpoint in Syria in September, 2013.

The explosion killed 35 people.

It will be alleged Crazzi and Talib developed networks in Australia, Turkey and Syria that helped Australians get into Syria to fight for Jabhat al-Nusra in 2012 and 2013.

Crazzi has been charged with seven foreign incursion related offences, while Talib is facing one charge.

Talib appeared before Melbourne Magistrates Court yesterday and is facing extradition to Queensland.

Crazzi is due to appear before the Brisbane Magistrates Court today.

AFP Commander Stephen Dametto said the arrests were a culmination of the AFP, Queensland Police Service and ASIO working together to keep the community safe.

“Today is an example of our commitment to discourage Australians from fighting overseas and holding people to account for their involvement in supporting terrorism and terrorist organisations,” he said.




Calls for Australia’s ‘racist’ laws which can send young criminals to prison aged just 10 to be scrapped – as activists call for offenders to have no responsibility until 14

Because of the stealth skills they have inherited from their hunter-gatherer ancestors, young aborigines are brilliant thieves.  And they start from a young age.  The age of criminal responsibiity has been kept low in part because there is so much criminality among even very young aborigines.  Changing that age is not going to change the criminality.  

The one thing that might help is to ensure that they attend school.  They truant often and that gives them time in the community to commit offences

The kneejerk reaction that they should be "rehabilitated" instead of being sent to jail just does not work usually.  But if their time in jail were used to further their education, that might help.  They would usually respond rather well to trade training, which would give them something constructive to do

Keenan Mundine was 14 when he first went to jail for breaking into a car and stealing a laptop. 'I was placed in a dorm with 30 other boys and there were nine- and 10-year-old boys in there that had been there for months,' the 34-year-old said.  'Some of them couldn't even read or write. None of them got visits from their parents.'

The Wakka Wakka and Birpai man grew up on The Block in Sydney's Redfern, an experience he describes as 'f***ing horrible'.

'There were no doors, windows smashed, rats and cockroaches everywhere, abandoned buildings, people shooting up in my backyard while I'm playing on my trampoline, people overdosing, people getting stabbed,' Mr Mundine said.

'It was all normal to me.'

Mr Mundine's parents died by the time he was seven and he was separated from his siblings.

His arrest at 14 marked the beginning of years-long involvement with the youth justice system.

'I was homeless, I had no job, I had no parents, I had no one responsible for me and they just opened the gate after me serving my time and took me back out to the wolves,' Mr Mundine said.

'All I knew was what community taught me to do and that was take things that didn't belong to me because I needed them.'

Mr Mundine turned his life around and founded Aboriginal community-led charity Deadly Connections with his wife Carly.

He has been advocating for years to raise the age of criminal responsibility from 10 to at least 14, in line with most international jurisdictions.

Across Australia, children as young as 10 can be arrested by police, remanded in custody, convicted by the courts and jailed.

It is estimated almost 600 children aged between 10 and 13 were in custody last financial year. More than 60 per cent were Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander.

Cheryl Axleby, co-chair of the Aboriginal-led justice coalition Change the Record, said discriminatory laws and policing is to blame for the over-representation of Indigenous youth in the criminal justice system

'Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children are more likely to be stopped by police, arrested and charged instead of cautioned, and locked up on remand instead of being released on bail,' she said.

The earlier a child is driven into the criminal justice system, the more likely they are to stay in it, she added. 'When we lock up children as young as 10, it's not just a prison sentence, it's a life sentence.'

Rodney Dillon, a Palawa elder from Tasmania and Indigenous rights advisor for Amnesty International, agrees. 'Living in that system doesn't address the issues that the kids have got. All it does is make the kids worse,' he said.

Mr Dillion said children under 14 who end up in custody are more likely to skip school, have an undiagnosed disability, suffer from underlying trauma and come from a poor family.

'We know that poverty, poor housing and the criminal justice system all live together. Why don't we address all three issues?' Mr Dillon said. 'All we do, because it's simple, is lock kids up.'

Mick Creati, paediatrician and senior fellow at the Royal Australasian College of Physicians, said children under 14 are yet to develop the ability to control impulses or foresee the consequences of their actions.

'We are criminalising children as young as 10 for behaviours that are explained by their immature brain development, disability, mental illness and/or trauma,' Dr Creati said.

Children under 14 brought before court are presumed to be 'doli incapax', meaning they don't have the capacity to commit crime because they lack a guilty mind. But young people can spend months in remand during the legal argument.

In January, more than 30 United Nations member states, including Canada, France and Germany, called on Australia to raise the age.

Australia's Council of Attorneys-General agreed to consider raising the age to 14, and has been examining alternatives to imprisonment.

What Australians really think about climate change

Sampling, sampling, sampling.  The revelation that only one in seven Australians take climate change seriously is very encouraging but ALL the figures below have to be taken with a large grain of salt.  

The "sample" was derived from an online panel study and the biases of online studies are well-known, to say nothing of the inaccuracies in panel studies. Online samples tend to skew Left.  So even the 7% is probably an overstimate

The journal article is "Australian voters’ attitudes to climate action and their social-political determinants" in

Just one in seven Australians considered climate change their decisive issue when voting in the 2019 federal election.

But some 80 per cent say action to reduce Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions is important, including almost 70 per cent of Coalition voters.

They are two key findings from new ANU research published today in the journal PLOS ONE, based on online and telephone surveys with more than 2000 Australian voters after the 2019 poll.

In the paper, researchers Dr Rebecca Colvin and Professor Frank Jotzo looked at some of the reasons why, in the “climate election,” the party that was offering the more “status quo” emissions policy was returned to government.

They found 52 per cent of survey respondents said climate change was a factor in how they voted in 2019, but it was the single biggest issue for just 13 per cent of voters – or slightly more than one in seven people.

Asked whether this finding could be a source of hope or despair for supporters of climate action, Dr Colvin said both interpretations were possible.

“One way to look at it is that there isn’t a massive unbridgeable divide across the political spectrum on climate change,” she told News Corp. “There are lots of people who say they want to see action on climate change but they’re not determining their votes on it – but that broad based of social support is there.”

High-profile Qld eisteddfod’s sudden shut down

This is very sad.  The Brisbane Eisteddfod has been fading for some time.  But for many years it was an opportunity for country people to send their children to the "big smoke" where they could get their talents a wider audience

I well remember the excitement at my country school many years ago when it was announced that some kid was off to the eisteddfod.  The teacher and mother concerned were always as proud as punch and the kids were full of anticipation

There is still a Gold Coast eisteddfod:

The Queensland arts world has been left shocked by the announcement that one of the state’s premier Eisteddfods was folding due to a lack of support.

The long-running Brisbane Eisteddfod has announced it will fold after 129 years of performances.

The Eisteddfod, which every year provides young performers the chance to showcase their talents in music, dance and drama, has confirmed the closure due to a “loss of relevance”.

In a statement on the Brisbane Eisteddfod site, the executive management committee said it “had taken the hard decision to formally close down Brisbane Eisteddfod Inc. as a functioning performing arts competition platform.”

“The decision was not made lightly and is not based on financial or resource availability. A discouraged internal level of commitment and energy and a lack of external understanding and appreciation of dedication, along with a demonstrated lack of interest by the eisteddfod and arts community in maintaining Brisbane Eisteddfod as viable, has further exacerbated its demise as a valuable opportunity,” the statement said.

“Numerous calls for support over social media and the press in recent years has also denied us results.

“Recent rebranding presented Brisbane Eisteddfod with a fresh new look however the anticipated new volunteer interest did not follow.

“From a membership of in excess of 100 some 40 years ago to just 10 over recent years, it’s this in the first instance that has contributed to our position.

“We have always ensured that the competitions were first and foremost in our minds as that’s the staple of our Constitution.

“For Dance, Speech & Drama, Vocal, Instrumental and to a far lesser extent, Choral and Choral Speaking, it is indeed a sad final entry!”

Queensland’s shadow minister for the arts Dr Christian Rowan said the demise of the eisteddford was a huge loss for the Brisbane community.

“This is incredibly sad news, given that the Eisteddfod has been an invaluable opportunity over many years for young performers to demonstrate their talents in music, dance and drama.

“All levels of Government should urgently consider any forms of assistance and support,” Dr Rowan said.

Greens senator retracts rape claim against Home Affairs Minister, apologises

This would normally be a matter of no general interest except for one thing: It is an example of the lie about rape that regularly sprouts from Leftist women:  The lie that women do not lie about rape. "Believe the woman", they say. 

Women in fact lie prolifically.  There are many cases -- particularly in Britain -- where rape allegations have been found in court to be false.  Britain has even jailed some of false accusers in the more egregious cases

It is just amazing how readily Leftists resort to psychopathic lies -- lies that are easily found out to be lies.  If they wish something to be true, they act as if it were true.  Their reality-contact is very poor. It is a major mental defect in them

Greens senator Larissa Waters has issued an “unreserved” apology to Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton after calling him a “rape apologist” last month.

The Courier-Mail revealed on Saturday Mr Dutton had sent a legal letter to the Queensland senator demanding the apology and removal of online posts containing the insult.

Senator Waters’ comments were made on social media site Twitter in February, in reaction to a news article in which Mr Dutton referred to not knowing the “he said, she said” in the Brittany Higgins rape allegations that have rocked Parliament.

“WOMEN DO NOT LIE ABOUT BEING RAPED (Peter Dutton) YOU INHUMANE, SEXIST RAPE APOLOGIST,” she posted, with similar comments made in a press release.

Tonight she posted an apology to both Twitter and her own website.

“On 25 February 2021 I published a media release on my website, posted on my Twitter account, and made in the course of a press conference false and defamatory statements that Peter Dutton is a rape apologist, that he has sought to conceal and dismiss reports of rape, and that he has no sympathy for victims of rape,” she said.

“I accept that there was no basis for those allegations and that they were false. I unreservedly apologise to Minister Dutton for the hurt, distress and damage to his reputation I have caused him.”

Senator Waters’ original tweet was no longer online last night.

‘Life-threatening’: Fears as downpour continues, causing floods, landslides

These stories of destructive weather always bemuse me.  When I look out my front door I never see anything like the weather report. And so it is at the moment.  As I write this at lunchtime on Tuesday (23rd), we have had some prolonged showers earlier on but it is not raining at the moment.  It has certainly rained fairly continuously in the last few days but very little of that has been heavy falls

There have always been flood-prone areas in Brisbane but I can remember worse flooding only a few years back.  I certainly encountered no holdups on the road this morning or yesterday

Parts of southeast Queensland have recorded almost half a year’s worth of rain in two days as the relentless deluge continues, with fears that even more rain could cause flash flooding and potentially deadline landslips.

From Birdsville in the west to the southeast coast, hundreds of roads were cut, including the Cunningham Highway, and properties isolated, while homes in the Gold Coast hinterland were evacuated as torrential rain sent landslides and waterfalls tumbling down hillsides.

Rainfall records that have stood for more than a century in some places have been smashed.

In the 24 hours to 9am, North Tamborine recorded 242mm, with more than 550mm recorded in the past two days. Nearby Mount Tamborine, Upper Springbrook and Hotham Creek all recorded over 200mm in the past 24 hours, with two-day tallies of well over 400mm.

North Stradbroke Island also recorded more than 200mm yesterday.

Further west, Stanthorpe recorded its wettest March day in more than a century, while Applethorpe set a new March daily rainfall record with 86mm.

Flooding is predicted for Beaudesert on Tuesday afternoon, but it is expected to fall well short of the levels seen in the wake of Cyclone Debbie four years ago.

Springbrook has borne the brunt of Queensland’s heavy weather over the past week with 397mm of recorded rainfall. North Tamborine closely followed with 382mm recorded rainfall, Worongary Creek 369mm, Bonogin 364mm, Mount Tamborine 349mm, Clearview 361mm, Possum Creek 342mm, Oxenford Weir 331mm, Tallebudgera Creek Road 318mm and Molendinar being hit with 314mm.

James Thompson from the Bureau of Meteorology said Brisbane could have anywhere between 35-60mm of rainfall today.

Bipartisan motion calls out China’s treatment of Uighurs

I guess it is very wicked of me but I feel no regret about China's treatment of the Uighurs. Have we forgotten the Ürümqi riots of a few years ago in which Uighurs attacked Han Chinese? The Uighurs were making a nuisance of themselves in a typical Muslim way before the Chinese government (composed of Han Chinese) aroused itself to do something about them.

China wants a permanent solution to Uighur aggression and they rightly see that any solution will have to be a cultural one. So they are trying to knock their primitive Muslim religion out of the Uighurs. If the Uighurs abandoned their religion in favour of Confucian ideals, their oppression would end.

Muslims have done plenty of attacking us -- remember 9/11/2001? So it is plenty time for them to get some of their own back

Australian Uighurs are urging all federal MPs to support a bipartisan motion in Parliament which criticises China for “serious and systematic breaches of human rights” in Xinjiang.

The government has allowed debate on the motion put forward by veteran Liberal MP Kevin Andrews and Labor MP Chris Hayes, which will mark the strongest ever condemnation by the Australian Parliament of the Chinese government’s treatment of Uighurs.

The motion, introduced on Monday, urges the United Nations to investigate Beijing for its re-education camps and calls on the Australian government to ensure the country is not profiteering off forced labour in Xinjiang.

The Chinese government has repeatedly denied accusations of human rights abuses, including genocide, in the far western province.

Independent senator Rex Patrick last week accused the Australian government of failing to call out China’s mistreatment of Uighurs after it blocked his attempt to push through a Senate motion that would have recognised the Chinese government’s actions against the Muslim minority as “genocide”.

While not going that far, the resolution debated on Monday acknowledges parliaments and governments of other countries - including Britain, Netherlands, the United States and Canada - have recently said China’s actions in Xinjiang amount to genocide under international law.

The Australian Uighur Association’s Bahtiyar Bora said all members of Parliament should support the new motion and demand the Australian government “take much stronger action on what many believe is genocide taking place in plain sight”.

“At least one million innocent civilians have been locked up for no reason in a network of several hundred prisons,” he said. “This is beyond the usual left=right divide - this is about basic human dignity and the future of the entire Uighur population.”

Ramila Chanisheff from Australian Uighur Tangritagh Women’s Association said democratic nations such as Australia had a duty to call out China for its actions.

“The Chinese government has also separated thousands of children from their parents and placed them in special orphanages, in order to indoctrinate them,” she said.

Private members’ motions do not normally go to a vote, but it was given an hour of allocated time for debate from 10.15am. The Coalition and Labor were given 12 speakers each to debate the motion.

Mr Andrews said there was “overwhelming evidence of the cruel, inhumane and brutal practices of the Chinese Communist regime”.

“The most egregious, systematic abuse of human rights in the world is occurring in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of western China,” Mr Andrews said during his speech. “It has been occurring for several years. It involves the imprisonment, torture and enslavement of millions of ethnic Uyghurs, who comprise some 90 % of the population in the southern region of Xinjiang.”

Earlier this year the BBC reported first-hand accounts of systematic rape, sexual abuse and torture in Uighur detention camps.

Philip Citowicki, who was a policy adviser to former foreign affairs minister Julie Bishop, said the motion was a reminder that many federal MPs were deeply concerned about the situation in Xinjiang.

What are Magnitsky sanctions and why does Russia oppose them?
″This bipartisan motion was long in the making and acts as a release valve for many MPs who have wanted to speak up but have been rightly carefully managed by governments and its desire to limit commentary outside of the control senior officials,” he said.

“Airing their grievances on the floor of the house offers an opportunity for many MPs to push the conversation on a recognition of genocide and similarly speak out as other parliaments around the world have....Without a doubt, the government would be very mindful of just how this would play out diplomatically and seek to carefully manage escalating tensions.”

Infidelity is natural for females too

I put up an essay last month under the heading, "We must abandon expectations of sexual fidelity". The point of the article was that instead of condemning a partner for infidelity we should concentrate on handling the matter constructively

Nadia Bokody below also has a way of coping with the instinct to infidelity.  She highlights infidelity by agreement.

I did myself do the sort of thing she recommends.  I told my partner that what she did when out of my sight was her business.  And she did have a number of sexual relationships while we were an item.

The big risk with that, of course is that the partner might find someone else that she likes better.  And that did happen. After 14 years my partner met a gem of a man who was miles better for her than I was. So she shacked up with him.  All was not lost however as we have continued with the warm relationship between us but with much less time together

About a month ago, I met a woman I matched with on Tinder for drinks at a bar in the city.

A few cocktails down, she leaned across the table and whispered, “So, how shall we do this? Do you want to go back to your place or mine?”

It was the first time I’d had sex with someone who wasn’t my boyfriend, and it represented freedom from everything I grew up believing a relationship should look like.

My boyfriend and I discussed our thoughts on monogamy early on. Perhaps because I write about sex for a job, or maybe because I have a hard time filtering myself, I told him in the second week of dating I wasn’t interested in sleeping with one person for the rest of my life.

It wasn’t until three years into our relationship though, we decided to explore what that might look like.

As someone who’s never been exclusively attracted to men, but only recently come to terms with my bisexuality, we agreed I’d see other women from time to time.

And my boyfriend could do the same, under the proviso the arrangement would be purely sexual.

If this is all sounding familiar, it’s probably because I wrote about my first foray into ethical non-monogamy a few months ago.

Having spoken frankly about my sex life online for the better part of a decade, it didn’t occur to me I was doing anything particularly revolutionary by chronicling the experience.

But the response I received from women within moments of the column going live, was nothing short of jaw-dropping.

I want to go back and reiterate something here: it was women, not men, who wrote to me in overwhelming numbers – and it wasn’t to criticise my non-traditional relationship stance. It was to ask for advice on how to do it themselves.

This didn’t entirely surprise me. Research confirms most of what we’ve been led to believe about female sexuality – namely the idea women want sexual monogamy, while men want sexual variety – is wildly inaccurate. Like, it actually couldn’t be more wrong.

Take, for example, a paper published in peer-reviewed British medical journal BMJ, which found women are more than twice as likely as men to lose interest in sex after cohabiting with their partner for a year or longer.

Or a 2012 study of people in relationships of up to nine years, which determined women’s sexual desire – not men’s – “was significantly and negatively predicted by relationship duration”.

These findings are backed up by a seven-year longitudinal study of over 2100 Finnish women, which found a direct correlation between women’s level of interest in sex, and their relationship status – with those in long-term, live-in relationships reporting the least interest in sex.

Bizarrely, instead of recognising this biological fact, we’ve continued to push the narrative women simply don’t like sex very much.

In reality, women not only like sex, but crave it just as much as – if not more than – men. Studies show we outperform the guys in terms of the amount of porn we watch, are the largest consumers of sex toys, and that men consistently underestimate how much sex we want.

However, Google “low libido in women” and you’re sure to find hundreds of thousands of articles pathologising what is really just a need for greater sexual variety.

If we’re to take the low female libido argument seriously, we’re to assume roughly half the population suffers from a condition responsible for grinding our sex drives to a halt, which mysteriously only takes effect after our boyfriends move in.

Most of my coupled-up female friends are convinced their libidos are broken, when they’re actually sexually bored.

I know this because these same women masturbate, watch porn, and do double-takes at attractive men on the street.

Their sex drives are alive and kicking, they’re just not being stimulated by the monotony of predictable, partnered sex.

Nadia says women don’t lose their libido, they just get bored by predictable sex. Picture: Instagram/@nadiabokody.
Nadia says women don’t lose their libido, they just get bored by predictable sex. Picture: Instagram/@nadiabokody.Source:Instagram

The consequence of failing to recognise what drives female desire has been an epidemic of sex-starved relationships.

Research suggests up to 20 per cent of married couples are currently “sexless” – which means they have had sex less than 10 times in the last year.

This positively miserable scenario, we have determined as a society, is a far greater marker of relationship success than both partners agreeing to bonk someone else every so often.

And yet, despite the taboos still surrounding ethical non-monogamy (that is, dating or having sex with people outside of the relationship with the consent of your partner), thirst for information on it is sky high among women.

Because of its stigma, many of the female readers who wrote to me after I talked about my “monogamish” lifestyle expressed embarrassment around their sexual restlessness.

“What’s wrong with me?”, one woman asked. “I’m so scared to admit this to anyone,” confessed another.

Each message reflected back the shame and misinformation I’d been taught about my own sexuality growing up; mainly that I wasn’t allowed to express it in ways which weren’t performative for a male partner.

Though we regard sexual exclusivity as something women naturally covet, the truth is, monogamy is neither instinctive, nor something we’ve always done.

The institution of marriage didn’t even take off until the advent of agriculture, after farming practices tied humans to land, allowing us to accumulate wealth.

Thus, it was invented as an economic arrangement to ensure the maintenance of family property.

Interestingly, we’ve had a far easier time accepting male promiscuity throughout most of history.

The Old Testament of the Bible contains numerous references to men having more than one wife, and according to 1 Kings 11:3, Solomon had 700 of them (with 300 concubines to boot. Clearly a very busy guy!)

But instead of letting women in on the same sexual freedoms as men, at some point we decided it was a better idea to stop men from having them (which, if the infidelity rate among married men is anything to go by, wasn’t a great move. But more on that in another column).

What we need, is more of a flexible approach to relationships; one that recognises the fact the female libido is far more potent than we’ve been treating it.

Rather than attempting to box it in and risk diluting it, we could benefit from treating women’s sexual desire in much the same way we’ve treated men’s throughout most of history – as something that can’t be quenched by a single person, but via multiple concubines. Or, you know, Tinder matches.

A penalty of being good-looking

The story below is from Kate Jones (above), a former Queensland politician.  She is one of a number of women I have encountered or read about who say that their good looks are a curse in some ways, evoking inappropriate reactions from some men.  

A lot depends on perception, however. What is harassment?  I know well a self-confident and attractive lady who tells me that she deliberately wore short skirts while in her teens and early 20s.  She enjoyed the whistles and other reactions that it evoked.  She regarded them as compliments

Amid all the current furore about sexual harassment of women,the big question is whether the harassment is rare or common.  Amid all the propaganda about the matter, it is hard to tell. I am inclined to think that it is common where the woman is good-looking -- which is deplorable but probably unalterable

To say that "education" can alter the way men interact with women is a bit of a laugh.  Stalin thought that education could make a new Soviet man.  It didn't

It may help to understand the teenage Kate Jones story if you know that she had well-developed breasts from an early age. That was bound to attract frequent male attention, not all of it sophisticated. She hersef diagnosed that problem by having her breasts reduced when she was 20 -- a most regrettable recourse

From when I was 15 years of age, I could not walk out my front door without men calling out at me, ogling me and even following me. It was a daily occurrence.

Just walking down the Queen Street Mall I was approached to work in strip clubs and pornography with promises of big money.

I was still at school.

I was groped by colleagues, taxi drivers, driving instructors, customers and strangers.

Once I had completed school and was a little older it just got worse and more brazen.

Having the operation gave me the opportunity to be seen and heard as a person for the first time. It was truly liberating.

That’s why when I started my first ministerial office job at 21, with my new-found confidence, I was gutted when an older and more senior advisor who worked for another Minister, started sexually harassing me.

I felt betrayed that this was happening even in government. That even in this professional environment which should be the benchmark that I couldn’t count on this behaviour being in my past.

I realised it would instead be very much a part of my future that I would have to continue to cope with like so many other women.

Aboriginal distrust of the police

Aborigines have a lot of contact with the police because they commit a lot of crimes. Those encounters often end up badly so there are calls for the police to "do something" about that.

They seem to overlook that they have in their own hands an excellent way to improve their relationships with the police: Stop committing crimes. Their high rate of criminality -- particularly among young Aborigines -- is bound to create dislike of them among the police and that will show, one way or another

"They don't like me, and I don't like them".

In one simple sentence, a young man laid bare his experience of the often fraught relationship between Indigenous children and police.

His words weren't said in a casual conversation on the street but in a courtroom — and that scathing statement is forming part of a high-profile coronial investigation.

Three years ago, when that young man was 17, he watched his two friends drown in front of him while they were all trying to escape from the police.

A group of youths ran into Perth's Swan River trying to outrun two police officers pursuing them after a nearby break and enter.

This week, that young man was forced to relive those traumatic moments for the coronial inquest into their deaths in Perth. His anger was palpable, his distrust of authorities clear.

The man, who for legal reasons was referred to only as "P", watched footage showing the police officers entering a powerful, wide stretch of the Swan River in a rescue attempt.

His response to the video of tactical response officers in the water was blunt: "He [the officer] could've gone in sooner."

The young man's words made it clear that he was unconvinced any police officer might try to save the life of someone from his community.

The coroner will eventually make recommendations about how to heal this relationship between the community and the police and ways to avoid such tragic deaths, but for the families involved it will never be enough.

If you can't understand that young man's anger and distrust, let me try to explain.

It's not just him, but his immediate circle and the broader Indigenous community who are angry that their people are still dying this way, despite decades-long calls for change.

In the past month alone, there have been several painful reminders for Indigenous Australians that reinforce their beliefs they can't always trust the state to keep them safe.

This month, there were three deaths in custody within weeks of each other, 30 years on from the royal commission that handed down 339 recommendations to stop this from happening.

Just months ago, tens of thousands of Australians took to the streets in Black Lives Matter protests, calling on the nation's leaders to change the record on Indigenous deaths in custody.

The most recent deaths were compounded by the bruising findings of a separate coronial inquest handed down this month into the 2018 death of Anaiwan-Dunghutti man Nathan Reynolds in a Sydney jail.

The coroner concluded that he died from an asthma attack but that the prison's health response was "confused, uncoordinated and unreasonably delayed."

Put simply, the state "deprived him of any chance at survival", the coroner said.

These recent deaths show us what lessons have been lost with the passing of time.

For years, the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody made national headlines, led news bulletins, exposed a nation's cultural and legal shortcomings.

The hope was that the findings in 1991 could heal the fractured relationship between the Indigenous community and the authorities they had learnt not to trust.

But recent weeks have shown that many of those lessons of honesty, transparency and accountability have faded, along with the hope of meaningful change.

Report after report investigates Indigenous over-incarceration, the causes and solutions repeated time after time — yet the situation does not improve and the community's trust erodes.

Since that royal commission, there's been an explosion in the number of Indigenous Australians locked up.

Back then they made up 14 per cent of prisoners, now it's almost 30 per cent.

Despite some moves to make prisons and police cells safer, there have been hundreds of Indigenous deaths in custody since that report was handed down three decades ago next month.

Two of the most recent deaths that happened in recent weeks were only made public under intense questioning in a parliamentary estimates session.

The New South Wales Corrective Services Commissioner Peter Severin defended the move to keep them private, but for the Indigenous community, the secrecy was salt in an old wound.

It was a reminder that after all these years the relationship hasn't changed.

Again, for the community, it was a reason not to trust; a reason to be angry.

'Soul-crushing' search for justice for families
Waiting for months or years to hear about the last moments of your loved ones has become a well-worn path for Indigenous families relying on the coronial process to deliver the truth.

The result can be "soul-crushing", according to Taleah Reynolds, who has lived through this harsh reality during the coronial inquest into her sibling's death.

Her 36-year-old brother Nathan died in his prison cell, just one week before he was expected to be released.

The coroner's report this month found "numerous system deficiencies and individual errors of judgment" contributed to the death and provided her family with little comfort.

"This can't just be treated as an accident — it must be recognised as a huge institutional failing and people must be held responsible," Ms Reynolds said outside court at the time.

March for justice: World’s media reacts to Australia’s big moment

Grace Tame, As a troubled teenager she was abused by a male teacher

The protests are very understandable.  Attacks on women enrage me too and cause me to regard the men concerned as worthless excreta who should ideally be burned at the stake.

But what on earth can the government be expected to do about it?  It is a justice issue but I cannot see that it is a political issue.  Words are just about the only tool governments have to change attitudes but we all know how ineffective words can be.

By all means prosecute the guilty but what can be done in that connection that has not already being done? Changing the criteria for prosecuting rape would endanger the innocent. There have been all too many cases of women making false rape accusations. Heavily penalizing such women is probably the only thing one could do to make sure rape accusations are more believable

These protests undoubtedly make the women concerned feel good but it is highly unlikely that they do more than that

Time Magazine, Al Jazeera, The Washington Post and the BBC reacted to Australia’s “furious reckoning” and the brave women behind it.

Australian women and the allies who marched with them during a “furious reckoning” about sexism and rape culture on Monday have made headlines around the world.

Tens of thousands joined March For Justice rallies in cities around the country and outside Parliament House in Canberra demanding cultural change.

Former Liberal staffer Brittany Higgins, who claimed she was raped inside a parliamentary office and sexual assault survivor and Australian of the Year Grace Tame delivered powerful speeches in Canberra and Hobart respectively.

It was a significant moment in Australian history that did not go unnoticed by the world’s media. Time Magazine, the BBC, The New York Times, The Washington Post, the Irish Times and Al Jazeera each dedicated significant coverage to the events.

Time Magazine’s headline read:‘We’ve Had Enough.’ Furious Australian Women Force a Reckoning on Sexism After a Rape Allegation in the Government.

The publication’s story touched on how deeply ingrained the culture of sexism and sexual harassment has become.

“Furious women across Australia are now opening up with their own experiences of sexism, sexual harassment and sexual abuse,” it read. “And it’s begun conversations about inherent discrimination and mistreatment of women — both within the halls of Australian government, and across the wider society.”

Al Jazeera made note of the historic rape allegation against Attorney-General Christian Porter and the allegations of inappropriate behaviour against Craig Kelly’s political advisor, Frank Zumbo.

“Allegations have been laid by six women against a senior parliamentary aide Frank Zumbo, drawing attention to what many critics say is a toxic culture of masculinity within the nation’s federal parliament,” Al Jazeera wrote.

“Prime Minister Scott Morrison continues to refuse to hold an independent inquiry into the allegations against Porter, and on Monday also refused to meet protesters on the parliament’s lawn in Canberra.”

The New York Times made mention of the longstanding issues Australia has failed to address.

“Wearing black and holding signs reading; enough is enough’, thousands took to the streets across Australia on Monday to protest violence and discrimination against women, as a reckoning in the country’s halls of power sparked by multiple accusations of rape continued to grow,” the Times wrote.

“The marches in at least 40 cities represented an outpouring of anger from women about a problem that has gone unaddressed for too long, said the organisers, who estimated that 110,000 people attended the demonstrations nationwide.

“With the next national election potentially coming as early as August, experts say it is something that the conservative government, which has come under stinging criticism for the way it has handled the accusations, ignores at its own peril.

The Washington Post celebrated those who took to the streets with messages denouncing the ongoing poor treatment of women.

“(Protesters) carried placards decrying misogyny, victim-blaming, abuse and rape,” the newspaper wrote.

“In Melbourne, a banner listed 900 women who have lost their lives at the hands of men since 2008. The rallies follow a wave of allegations of sexual assault, abuse and misconduct in some of the highest offices of Australian politics.

“They come amid a growing global movement demanding officials do more to protect women and to hold perpetrators of harassment and assaults accountable.

“The reckoning over assault allegations has reached the highest ranks of government. On Monday, the country’s top law official filed a defamation suit against the state broadcaster over an article that reported a letter had been sent to the prime minister containing a historic rape allegation.”

The BBC wrote that Monday’s rallies “could be the biggest uprising of women that Australia’s seen. And the Irish Times wrote that “public anger over the government’s handling of the alleged incidents mirrors the sentiment on display at protests in London over the weekend following the killing of 33-year-old Sarah Everard, who disappeared while walking home at night-time”.

“Mr Morrison said Australia had made big strides toward gender equality over the years, though he acknowledged the job was ‘far from done’ and he shared the concerns of the protesters.

However, he raised some hackles by expressing pride in the right to peaceful protest when he said ‘Not far from here, such marches, even now, are being met with bullets, but not in this country.’”

When hydrogen is a fossil fuel product: The absurd Hydrogen Energy Supply Chain (HESC) project

This project is nonsense on stilts.  Hydrogen can be very useful stuff but producing hydrogen from coal is a highly intensive industrial process that uses a lot of energy.  Any claim that it bypasses fossil-fuel use is a chimera.  How it works:

"Hydrogen production from coal is achieved through gasification. Coal gasification works by first reacting coal with oxygen and steam under high pressures and temperatures to form synthesis gas. Synthesis gas is a mixture consisting primarily of carbon monoxide (CO) and hydrogen (H2). The synthesis gas is cleaned of impurities, and the carbon monoxide in the gas mixture is reacted with steam to produce additional hydrogen and carbon dioxide. Hydrogen is removed by a separation system. The highly concentrated CO2 can be separated and captured using CCS technology"

And on top of that the hydrogen has to be greatly compressed and stored in a heavy pressure vessel for transport -- which again uses a lot of energy

A Japanese consortium hopes the production of hydrogen using coal from the Latrobe Valley in a world-first trial will prove it is possible to export the emerging fuel source.

The consortium has produced the first hydrogen at a plant at the Loy Yang mine, south-east of Traralgon, and plans to transport it to Japan from the Port of Hastings in a specially designed ship later this year.

The $500 million Hydrogen Energy Supply Chain (HESC) project involves creating hydrogen gas at the plant and refining it for transport.

Hydrogen is touted as a clean energy source with a range of uses including in fuel cells and powering vehicles.

The project is in its pilot phase, and because producing hydrogen using coal creates greenhouse gases, it will not commercialise it unless it is able to capture and store the emissions.

Announced in April 2018, then-prime minister Malcolm Turnbull attended the launch of the project, which received $50 million each from the Victorian and federal governments.

Professor Alan Finkel, the Commonwealth's special adviser on low-emissions technology, said hydrogen was part of a "world-changing transition".

"Hydrogen is part of the future transition that around the world economies are going to go through towards zero emissions," he said. "The world's going to need a lot of hydrogen, and so the more ways we can get that hydrogen the better."

Biden, like Trump, embraces the 'Buy American' folly

What Jeff Jacoby says below was for a long time conventional wisdom on both sides of American politics.  And it is still largely true. Buying local tends to prop up inefficient producers who really need to find something better to spend their time and efforts on.
Jacoby is however wrong to see Trump as the simplistic "buy American" advocate we have seen in the past.  Trump does after all have an economics degree from a prestigious economics school (Wharton) so would obviously be well aware of the problems with a buy American agenda.  

So while his rhetoric was at times sweeping, what Trump actually did was finely calibrated.  He protected American industries only when the social impact of foreign trade was grievous.  The headline example of that is that coal and steel towns got help from Trump when they were suddenly hard-hit by foreign trade. Trump endeavoured to revive coal mining in particular. He recognized, in other words, that there were some cases where  buying overseas rather from American producers could be socially disruptive and should therefore be deplored.

Tariffs have long been seen as a legitimate instrument of government and it was simply conservative of Trump to use them to give a breathing space to disrupted communities

But the very distinctive thing about Trump's tariffs was that he actually used them to FREE UP trade. He put tariffs on other countries in order to pressure them into removing their tariffs on American goods. And he did have considerable success at that. So at the end of the day trade was freed up overall, not reduced. He actually used tariffs to promote free trade

Whether Biden will use trade restrictions in a similar intelligent way remains to be seen but it seems unlikely

IN HIS first weeks as president, Joe Biden has been busily undoing much of his predecessor's legacy. On issues ranging from climate to abortion to immigration, Biden has signed executive orders and proposed new regulations aimed at reversing Donald Trump's policies. But when it comes to one of Trump's most damaging economic obsessions — his "Buy American" agenda — Biden is following in Trump's footsteps.

Trump was the most protectionist president of modern times. Hostility to free trade was a key theme of his 2016 campaign and of his inaugural address. "We must protect our borders from the ravages of other countries making our products, stealing our companies, and destroying our jobs," he declared. "Protection will lead to great prosperity and strength.... We will follow two simple rules: buy American, and hire American."

He was wrong. His protectionist policies failed. Yet now comes Biden, and vows to go even further.

On Jan. 25, the president issued a series of directives toughening Trump's policy of requiring the federal government to buy US-made products. Biden's orders, as summarized by the White House, impose higher hurdles for imported components used in US manufacturing and direct government agencies to "crack down on unnecessary waivers" — i.e., to allow fewer federal agencies to procure foreign-made goods in cases when they determine that a preference for American products would not be in the public interest.

But "buy American" mandates, though popular with the general public, are never in the public interest.

The idea that the federal government should be compelled to buy its products and supplies from US producers and suppliers — or, to put it differently, that the government should be barred from spending taxpayer dollars on goods made abroad — dates back to the Great Depression. On his last full day as president in 1933, Herbert Hoover signed the protectionist Buy American Act, which for the first time required government agencies to give preference to domestic goods for all contracts above a $10,000 threshold. Supporters of the law argued that it would strengthen American industry, fuel job-creation, and boost the fortunes of American workers.

The same argument is still being made by advocates of "buy American" policies. Biden's new executive orders, said the White House, "will ensure that the federal government is investing taxpayer dollars in American businesses—both small and large. These investments will help create well-paid, union jobs, and build our economy back better so that everybody has a fair shot at the middle class."

That may sound patriotic and reasonable. But the effect of Hoover's law, and myriad subsequent domestic-preference statutes and regulations, has been to drive up the cost of goods and services bought with public funds and to prevent jobs from being created. According to one scholarly estimate, scrapping "buy American" restrictions would add $22 billion to the US economy and generate an estimated 363,000 new jobs. Another analysis, by Gary Hufbauer and Euijin Jung of the Peterson Institute for International Economics, calculates that "the annual taxpayer cost for each US job arguably 'saved' by made-in-America [requirements] probably exceeds $250,000."

"Buy American" laws and regulations have driven up the cost of goods and services bought with public funds and prevented jobs from being created.

There is a superficial appeal to the notion that US procurement dollars should be reserved whenever possible for US producers. But like a lot of superficially appealing notions, it doesn't hold up to scrutiny. No one would ever insist that officials in Cambridge or Worcester be compelled to buy equipment and materials only from vendors and producers located within their municipal borders. After all, there are so many more options — often less expensive options, higher-quality options, or more reliable options — to be found in other towns. It would be equally absurd to insist that Massachusetts agencies be barred from contracting with firms in Ohio or California. Economic well-being doesn't come from locking up trade behind local or state boundaries, but from expanding it beyond those boundaries. What is true of neighborhoods, cities, and states is equally true of countries.

Protectionist mandates deprive American taxpayers of the benefits that come from access to worldwide supply chains and the broadest possible competition. By sheltering domestic producers from competitors abroad, "buy American" rules reduce the pressure on those producers to innovate, improve quality, and become more efficient. Rare is the American business that is capable of achieving sustained excellence, or of remaining at the cutting edge of its industry, if it never has to face challengers.

Those entrusted with taxpayer dollars should be required not to "buy American," but to buy wisely — to get the highest quality at the most reasonable cost. When American-made products meet that standard, by all means buy them. When imports are available at higher quality and lower cost, that is where taxpayer dollars should go. Surely Biden would agree that Herbert Hoover's policies have done enough harm. This is no time to double down on them.

Is Trump a populist?

Leftist intellectuals are firmly convinced that Trump is a populist.  And that accusation does make some sense.  But a lot depends on what you think populism is.  The general idea is that a populist adopts popular stances that in the end don't work or are destructive.  That strikes me as a useful summary of Leftism.

So the term is usually narrowed down to refer to politicians  who claim to represent "the people" in opposition to a ruling elite.  Trump's attack on "the swamp" is clearly of that ilk.  So which is it?  Is populism inherently Leftist or is it just one approach to politics?

A useful approach to defining populism has been made by Joe Forgas a distinguished  Australian psychologist who escaped Communist Hungary as a child.  Given that origin, his sympathey for the Left is rather limited, unusually for a social science academic.

He equates populism with tribalism and notes that Trump appealed to Americans as a tribe: "Make America great".  Forgas also sees the Left as hugely tribal, obsessed with all sorts of tribal identities:  Homosexuals, feminists, blacks etc. The Left, too, create tribes with their propaganda.

So Forgas does create a coherent story about populism.

But I think he misses the wood for the trees. He overlooks what British conservative philosopher Roger Scruton devoted his life to pointing out: That patriotism and conservatism are two branches of the same tree. So it was not some sort of narrow tribalism that lay behind Trump's appeal but his conservatism generally.

Trump certainly was patriotic and wanted the best for his country but he also had a whole range of conservative ideas -- he was critical of abortion, he disliked feminism, he sidelined global warming, he was pro-Christian etc. And he most clearly saw the status quo as having some virtue and thought it should be changed only gradually.

Where most thinkers saw the transfer of American industrial jobs to China as desirable on cost grounds, Trump looked to the effect that was having on American industrial workers and tried to halt it.  He taught us that money was not everything.  Stability had value too

And another change that Trump vehemently opposed was the mass illegal immigration into America by people with very different traditions to Americans.  He liked America as it was and wanted population change to be carefully controlled and limited

So "make America great" was only a general rubric for a whole range of conservative policies.  He was a thoroughgoing conservative, the first such that Americans had seen in public life for a long time.  And that is why he is widely loved by conservatives and widely loathed by non-conservatives.  The Left could put up with wishy-washy conservative like George Bush but a real conservative shook them to the core.  They had never before been confronted by a real conservative and that generated huge rage

So Trump was a populist in only an incidental sense. The breadth of his appeal was the voice he gave to conservatism across the board. The Left thought that their own limited view of the world was the only one. Trump showed them otherwise.

‘Lady tradies’ ‘depressing’ tales of sexism and harassment

It was designed to get more women into traditionally male-dominated industries, but the push for more female tradies has had unintended consequences, as Leftist policies usually do

Tradesmen can be a rough lot so expecting them to treat women sensitively is pissing into the wind

The Careers Department Co-Founder Samantha Devlin says there is still a reluctance for female students to take on careers in male-dominated fields such as Technology and Construction.
Women are being encouraged to enter male-dominated trades, only to face sexism on a depressingly regular basis, warns an employment lawyer for a major compensation firm.

While industry campaigns have spent years enticing “lady tradies” to pick up the tools in a male-dominated trade, sexual harassment and discrimination are too often the ugly reality of workplaces who pay lip service to boosting diversity while failing to “meaningfully confront” the power imbalance faced by women on the job, warns Maurice Blackburn principal Giri Sivaraman.

Mr Sivaraman, who heads the firm’s employment law division in Brisbane, said the reality undermined glossy industry campaigns to promote gender diversity in male-dominated workplaces, and was exposing bosses to the risk of costly legal action for discrimination.

“Sexual harassment and discrimination continue to occur on a depressingly regular basis because of structures of power that allow it to occur,” he said.

“It’s not enough to just pay lip service to the rights of women in the workplace.

“You have to address the structural issues that lead to gender inequity.

“It’s vital that women feel they can speak up about discrimination and harassment without fear of victimisation.”

Australian Manufacturing Workers’ Union executive director Ann-Marie Allan has called on the Queensland Government to quickly push ahead with a compulsory code of conduct for workplaces with financial penalties – currently being drafted by the state.

She said she hoped it would help end the “shocking” behaviour toward apprentices generally, saying the argument it was the same “initiation” experienced by the apprentices’ now-bosses no longer flew as an excuse for the “atrocious” bullying and intimidation the vulnerable workers faced.

“Just because it went on when you were an apprentice doesn’t mean it should flow on to the 21st century,” she said.

The comments come as discrimination accusations are levelled against two major employers – Iveco Trucks, the Australian arm of the multinational industrial vehicle manufacturer, and the training arm of peak employer body Ai Group – by a young female apprentice mechanic from Queensland.

The woman, who has asked not to be identified, has penned an angry letter to the companies’ senior executives detailing claims she was sacked after reporting inappropriate behaviour by her superiors.

Sarah (not her real name) has spoken about her experience to the newspaper, telling how she was forced to complete stereotypically female jobs such as cleaning and filing paperwork over other male apprentices, had her biceps squeezed by a manager to check how strong she was, questioned whether she was pregnant, asked if she was in a relationship and hugged tightly by a manager after becoming upset about criticism she was too reserved.

Documents show Sarah was signed up to a four-year heavy commercial vehicle mechanical technology apprenticeship last year by Ai Group Apprentice and Trainee Centre at host workplace Iveco Trucks Australia.

‘Lady tradies’ have encountered resistance from some workmates.
‘Lady tradies’ have encountered resistance from some workmates.
She said she thought it was bizarre when an Iveco employee put her on the spot during her initial job interview by saying: “I shouldn’t be asking this, but what is your relationship status and age?”

Sarah said she was the only woman working in Iveco’s workshop, and was picked out over the other male apprentices for tasks such as filing and cleaning.

“I was told to clean like you’re cleaning your mother’s loungeroom,” she said.

She said she had overtightened the threading on a handbrake cable one day when a male manager squeezed her bicep, saying, with a straight face, he just wanted to see how strong she was.

Sarah claims he repeated the action on another occasion, suggesting she go to the gym. “I was a bit confused about what was going on,” she said.

Weeks into the apprenticeship, she claims a manager told her he wanted to take her out and get her drunk so she would more openly communicate.

She said she was also told she stood back with her arms crossed too much when she asked for feedback, then told to “man up” after becoming upset and told to sit in the training room.

Sarah said a manager then stood in the doorway of the training room and hugged her tightly.

“At the time I was definitely not OK with being hugged, and found the behaviour inappropriate for a workplace,” she said.

She said she reported her claims of inappropriate conduct to Ai Group, but was forced to attend meetings, including with a manager subject to the accusations, before the concerns were dismissed.

Sarah said she felt traumatised during the meeting and mentioned she had anxiety, which was then used to discredit her concerns.

She claims she was terminated by Ai Group days later, while she was still on probation, on the grounds she had anxiety, was distracted from the job and could present a workplace safety risk.

An Ai Group spokesman refused to respond to a detailed list of questions from the newspaper, saying: “We don’t comment on personal staffing matters.” Iveco also refused to comment.

Minister for Women Shannon Fentiman said in the past year there had been a 13 per cent rise in female automotive apprentices, and a 22 per cent rise in female engineering apprentices.

She said while it was great to see, it was important women, particularly young women, were encouraged and supported to bring about a cultural shift to safer and more inclusive workplaces.

Mr Sivaraman said basic measures including not forcing a woman to confront an alleged perpetrator, providing psychological support for the woman, having matters investigated externally, making sure the complainant had someone they could speak comfortably with and making it clear there was to be no victimisation of a person speaking up.

He said sacking someone because they have raised a mental health condition could become a discrimination or unfair dismissal issue.

Italy and France threaten more vaccine bans following Australia blockade

This is a classic dog-in-the-manger act.  The Europeans are  not using this stuff themselves but want to bar it to others.  So much for the high principles they are always proclaiming.

Fortunately the Morrison government acted with excellent foresight and has set up a manufacturing base at the CSL facility in Melbourne which will very soon start delivering millions of home-grown doses to us.  No wonder the Australian authorities are relaxed about these unprincipled bans

Italy has vowed to reject more vaccine exports and France has threatened to join the blockade, as European officials scramble to justify the decision to ban a shipment of 250,000 doses to Australia.

Trade Minister Dan Tehan discussed the standoff with his Brussels counterpart Valdis Dombrovskis on Friday night but the European Commission has no plans to step back from its dispute with the British-Swedish pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca.

The decision was the first time special powers have been used to stop coronavirus vaccines manufactured in Europe from being sent abroad. The shipment was banned because the drug giant has not provided the bloc with as many vials as expected.

But supply is just one problem with Europe’s sluggish rollout; logistics stumbles and hesitancy caused by confused political messaging are also contributing.

Figures from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control show the European Union’s 27 member countries have been given 8.68 million doses of the AstraZeneca jab but administered just 3.15 million, or 36 per cent.

France has used just 24 per cent of its available stock and Italy only 21 per cent – some of the lowest rates in the EU.

German Health Minister Jens Spahn criticised the Australia ban on Friday, as did British Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

“With a measure like that, in the short term there’s a win, but we have to be careful that it doesn’t cause us problems in the medium term by disrupting the supply chains for vaccines and everything that’s needed in terms of precursors,” Spahn said.

A spokesman for Johnson said the British Prime Minister believed the global recovery from the pandemic relied on international collaboration, not conflict. “We are all dependent on global supply chains and putting in place restrictions endangers global efforts to fight the virus,” he said.

The Morrison government has claimed the export ban will not affect its vaccine rollout but is still working behind the scenes to have the 250,000 doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine delivered.

Health Minister Greg Hunt told reporters that the government had asked the European Commission to review the decision but officials in Brussels on Friday could not confirm whether the request had been received or if would be considered.

Italy has so far received 1.5 million doses of the AstraZeenca jab but handed out just 322,000 doses.

French Health Minister Olivier Véran said his government could follow Italy’s approach: “I understand [the Italian position]. We could do the same thing,” Véran told BFM TV.

France has been given 1.1 million AstraZeneca doses but administered only 275,000.

I know how Melissa Caddick died

To a student of Sherlock Holmes it is elementary.  She was a smart woman so would have had a Plan B arranged for when her pyramid scheme came unstuck.

And a good plan B would have involved a secret accomplice who could hide her until the heat was off. And a substantial sum of cash would have been salted away somewhere to ease all needed transactions.

But that cash tempted the accompolice and he murdered her to get unfettered access to it.  And because the whole thing was done in secret, there is unlikely ever to be any evidence of what happened

Police divers were preparing to search for the remains of Melissa Caddick off the coast of Sydney's eastern suburbs before dangerous conditions on Wednesday afternoon postponed the operation.

Investigations returned to the area near Ms Caddick's Dover Heights home a day after NSW Police confirmed remains found at Mollymook Beach on the NSW South Coast last Friday did not belong to Ms Caddick.

Police on Wednesday advised those remains belonged to a 37-year-old man from Ingleburn who was reported missing last month. He was last seen at Kiama on February 1.

The discovery was one of five in recent weeks to be reported to police, with only the first on February 21 – an Asics running shoe with a decomposed foot inside – confirmed to be that of the 49-year-old businesswoman.

That discovery came 400km south of her Sydney home at Bournda Beach.

A search in waters off South Head in Sydney is planned to take place on Thursday if conditions ease.

Police struggling to put together Caddick's last movements
One of the top police officers involved in the case says if Ms Caddick had died in Sydney and entered the water there, it was unlikely her body had travelled that far south.

Ms Caddick vanished the day after corporate watchdog ASIC executed a search warrant at her luxury home on November 11.

If her body had travelled that far, Superintendent Joe McNulty, Commander of the NSW Marine Command, told The Daily Telegraph the condition of her foot meant it appeared the remains hadn't been in the water for three months, adding further confusion to whether she had died by suicide or foul play was involved.

Assistant Commissioner Michael Willing said it was a "distinct possibility" Ms Caddick was on the run before her death.

First Sikh school in Australia hopes to create future leaders

I think highly of Sikhs.  They successfully withstood the Muslims for 1,000 years.  I personally know Sikhs well and see no danger in them. I actually have had young Sikhs living with me in my house so I put my money where my mouth is

There are no Sikh Jihadis. Like most Indians, Sikhs would rather talk than fight -- and give me Guru Nanak in preference to Mohammed any day. "Sikh" means "student" and Sikh Gurdwaras (temples) are open to all, regardless of religion, background, caste or race. 

Sikh customs are all fine and can  reasonably be accommodated among us -- because they do not bring hostility towards us with them.

The NSW government has approved construction of the southern hemisphere’s first Sikh school in north-west Sydney, which community leaders hope will nurture future Indian-Australian judges, politicians and sports stars.

Sikh Grammar School in Rouse Hill will welcome students of all backgrounds and denominations, but expects to attract mostly children with an Indian heritage, said Kanwar Jeet, one of the volunteers behind the project.

It will teach students from kindergarten to year 12, and will have boarding facilities, sporting fields, a pre-school and a Sikh temple. It will cost an estimated $200 million, funded by members of the Sikh community.

“It’s going to be a school for everyone,” Mr Jeet said. “But it’s in the vicinity of where a lot of migrants from an Indian background live. It will help give their kids that kind of culture that will inspire them to be the best.”

The school’s website said there were few younger people from the Indian subcontinent in national or state sporting teams, Parliament, media or the legal system. “This school will invest time, attention and money to create leaders of tomorrow,” it said.

The website also said there were more than 100,000 people from south Asia living in Blacktown and its surrounds, and about 50 per cent of them were aged between 25 and 40. Many of those would have school-aged children.

Strong support was demonstrated by the generosity of donations, the website said, which came from not only Australia, but also from the Americas, Asia and Europe.

Mr Jeet said Sikhism had three main principles; hard work, spirituality and service. “Because it’s a school for every religion and every faith, anyone can practice their own religion,” he said. “Sikh values are human values – no discrimination, nor oppressing.”

Minister for Planning and Public Spaces, Rob Stokes, said the school would be built near Tallawong metro station, on the north-west line.

“We have many different types of religion schools across NSW, including those of Christian, Jewish and Muslim faith,” he said. “This will be the first school dedicated to Sikhism teachings and the local Sikh community has been instrumental in making it happen.”