Australia declares 'mass bleaching' at Great Barrier Reef

The usual lies, presumably.  Probably because of La Nina, Australia is having a rather cool year so global warming is an unlikely explanation for bleaching.  

And is there really any bleaching?  Viewed from a distance, corals underwater  look grey regardless of their close-up colour.  So what these galoots saw from their planes and helicopters may tell us nothing

 The last big bleaching event was caused by reduced sea levels so if there is actually any bleaching, sea levels, not warming are likely to blame

Australia's spectacular Great Barrier Reef is suffering "mass bleaching" as corals lose their colour under the stress of warmer seas, authorities said Friday, in a blow widely blamed on climate change.

The world's largest coral reef system, stretching for more than 2,300 kilometres (1,400 miles) along the northeast coast of Australia, is showing the harmful effects of the heat, said the Reef Authority.

The Great Barrier Reef, home to some 1,500 species of fish and 4,000 types of mollusc, was suffering despite the cooling effect of the La Nina weather phenomenon, which is currently influencing Australia's climate, the authority said.

Though bleached corals are under stress, they can still recover if conditions become more moderate, the Reef Authority said.

The mass bleaching report emerged four days after the United Nations began a monitoring mission to assess whether the World Heritage site is being protected from climate change.

UNESCO's mission is to assess whether the Australian government is doing enough to address threats to the Great Barrier Reef -- including climate change -- before the World Heritage Committee considers listing it as "in danger" in June.

He pressed the government to show the damaged areas to the UN mission now inspecting the reef rather than the picturesque areas that have been untouched.

"Here, corals are being cooked by temperatures up to four degrees above average, which is particularly alarming during a La Nina year when ocean temperatures are cooler."

When the UN previously threatened to downgrade the reef's World Heritage listing in 2015, Australia created a "Reef 2050" plan and poured billions of dollars into protection. 

"Unfortunately, as more severe bleaching is reported across our beloved Great Barrier Reef, we can see these devastating events are becoming more common under the continuing high rate of greenhouse gas emissions," she said.

- 'No safe limit' -

An average increase of 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels would see more than 99 percent of the world's coral reefs unable to recover from increasingly frequent marine heatwaves, they reported in the journal PLOS Climate.

"The stark reality is that there is no safe limit of global warming for coral reefs," lead author Adele Dixon, a researcher at the University of Leeds' School of Biology, told AFP.

The 2015 Paris Agreement enjoins nearly 200 nations to keep global heating "well below" 2C.

BlackRock Chief Says Ukraine War Marks End to Globalization

This is a quick about-turn for Davos man Larry Fink, formerly a great suporter of globalization.  It seems that he is quick to embrace whatever is fashionable.  He is right this time, though.  Both the economic war on Russia and global supply chain breakdowns have hit hard at globalization thinking.  It has been thoroughly overtaken by reality.

It reminds me of a saying attributed to the aristocatic former British PM Harold Macmillan, who was known for his pragmatism, wit and unflappability. A journalist once asked him what could throw his government off-course in the next two weeks.  He replied: "Events, dear boy, events"

Larry Fink, chief executive of BlackRock, the world’s biggest asset manager, said that the war in Ukraine will put an end to globalization as governments and businesses cut ties with Russia, while warning that a large-scale reorienting of supply chains will be inflationary.

“The Russian invasion of Ukraine has put an end to the globalization we have experienced over the last three decades,” Fink wrote in a March 24 letter to shareholders, in which he noted that the Russian offensive in Ukraine had catalyzed nations to sever financial and business ties with Moscow.

“United in their steadfast commitment to support the Ukrainian people, they launched an ‘economic war’ against Russia,” Fink wrote.

Russia has been hit with crippling sanctions over what it calls a “special military operation” in Ukraine. The measures have targeted Russian banks and wealthy oligarchs, there’s been a closure of airspace to Russian planes, and the export of key technologies has been banned.

The sanctions also include a freeze on around $300 billion of Russia’s central bank hard currency reserves, an unprecedented move that Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov denounced on March 23 as “theft.”

Fink noted in his letter that capital markets, financial institutions, and companies have gone beyond government-imposed sanctions, moving quickly to terminate longstanding business and investment relationships.

He predicted that Russia’s decoupling from the global economy will prompt governments and companies to re-evaluate their manufacturing and assembly footprints more generally and reconsider their dependency on other nations.

“This may lead companies to onshore or nearshore more of their operations, resulting in a faster pull back from some countries,” Fink wrote.

There will be challenges for firms as they seek to rejig supply chains, he said.

“This decoupling will inevitably create challenges for companies, including higher costs and margin pressures.”

“While companies’ and consumers’ balance sheets are strong today, giving them more of a cushion to weather these difficulties, a large-scale reorientation of supply chains will inherently be inflationary,” he added.

Fink said central banks find themselves in a challenging moment, weighing how fast to raise rates in a bid to curb surging inflation, which has been exacerbated by the conflict in Ukraine and the associated energy price shocks.

“Central banks must choose whether to live with higher inflation or slow economic activity and employment to lower inflation quickly,” he said.

The Federal Reserve last week hiked rates for the first time since 2018 and Fed chair Jerome Powell said on Monday that the U.S. central bank must move “expeditiously” to raise rates and possibly “more aggressively” to keep an upward price spiral from becoming entrenched.

Annual inflation in Russia accelerated to 14.5 percent as of March 18, the fastest pace since 2015, the economy ministry said on Wednesday, as the battered rouble sent prices soaring amid biting Western sanctions.


Some oddities

There is a conservative site here that is a bit hysterical.

They start by dredging up an old story about Bill Gates.  According to the story Gates said that vaccines reduce the population.  He did say that but it was mainly the population of poor Africans he was aiming at.   He said if they were healthier they might stop having so many children.  He wanted MORE Caucasian babies.

The other lulu is a story about aluminium in vaccines.  It is actually right in one way.  Aluminium compounds WERE once routinely added to vaccines to make them more effective.  There is no real evidence of harm from it but, in recent years, the practice has come under question.  So NO aluminium is used in Covid vaccines

Drug Users Are Losing Their Fingers and Toes After Shooting ‘Tranq Dope’

Another ghastly example of the harm done by making recreational drugs illegal.  The illegality is the problem.  If the preferred drugs were legally available from pharmacies at pharmaceuitical levels of purity, none of this would happen.  

People often have unsatisfying lives.  It is perfectly reasonable in such cases to seek a pharmaceutial "high".  I have never used any recreational drugs but I have never had any need of them to lead a good life.  Not everyone is so lucky

Bill’s hands are so disfigured that he can no longer fit gloves over them. 

About two months ago, his right ring finger was amputated. In a matter of weeks, he could lose the middle finger on his left hand, which was swollen with a large, maroon-colored sore covering the knuckle when VICE News met him on a recent morning in Philadelphia’s Kensington neighborhood. 

The lesions are markers of a drug Bill said he never intended to consume. Xylazine, an animal tranquilizer known on the street as “tranq” or “tranq dope,” has infiltrated Philly’s illicit opioid supply. The 59-year-old, who did not share his last name with VICE News, shivered as he hunted for mittens at an outreach event for drug users in Kensington. 

“Boy, this is angry,” said a nurse who volunteers with the harm reduction group Savage Sisters, while examining a wound on one of Bill’s fingers at a pop-up wound care clinic at Kensington’s McPherson Park, known locally as Needle Park because of its open-air drug use. 

A nurse helps treat a man's wounds in Philly. 

Bill said he hates the sedative effect of xylazine—which is most commonly mixed with fentanyl—because it knocks him out for hours at a time; he also believes it’s causing sores to break out all over his body. 

“I never shoot up in my hands, but I get abscesses in my knuckles, in the tops of my fingers,” Bill said. “[They’re] caused by whatever they’re putting in the drugs.”

VICE News spent a week in Philadelphia, where the drug was detected in less than 2 percent of fatal opioid overdoses between 2010 and 2015—but jumped up to 31 percent in 2019. 

Repeated tranq use is believed to be causing wounds on users’ bodies, and like Bill’s, they’re not limited to injection sites but are showing on people’s hands and legs, in some cases resulting in amputations. The problem is so bad that Philadelphia, ground zero for tranq in the U.S., is looking to hire a wound care specialist and a field nurse to deal specifically with tranq-related lesions. Drug users and harm reduction advocates said tranq is also creating a whole new kind of physical dependence—with people passing out for hours at a time and waking up craving more. 

“Philly’s going under from tranq.”

While there are some strides being made to help people within the city, the issue has largely flown under the radar, even as tranq spreads to other parts of the U.S., including Maryland, Connecticut, Massachusetts, and North Carolina.

“It’s killing us,” said Sam Brennan, 28, a tranq user who is living in a shelter in Kensington. She said conditions in the neighborhood, where residents contend with extreme poverty and drugs are sold openly (samples are sometimes given out for free), have deteriorated with the proliferation of tranq. 

“It’s something I’ve never seen before anywhere else. People all over the place, sticking needles anywhere they possibly can, passed out. Philly’s going under from tranq.” 

Tranq first showed up in medical examiners’ reports in Philadelphia in 2006, according to Jen Shinefeld, a field epidemiologist with the city who focuses on substance use. But in the past two years, its reach has exploded. Of the 200 samples of dope (primarily fentanyl) the city has tested since September 2020, all of them have come back with tranq in them, Shinefeld said. A study published recently in Drug and Alcohol Dependence found that in 10 jurisdictions, xylazine’s prevalence skyrocketed from 0.36 percent of overdose deaths in 2015 to 6.7 percent in 2020.

The dosing in the street supply varies wildly, Shinefeld said, with some batches containing barely any opioids and heavily skewed toward tranq.

Walgett Community College has been notoriously violent for years. Why hasn't that changed?

This is a rather pathetic piece of elephantine invisibility.  Both Walgett and its school have a large Aboriginal population.  And, largely because of the sense of grievance instilled into them by Leftists, Aborigines in isolated communities tend to be angry people who act out their anger.  With other Aboriginal communities only an enhanced  police presence has served to calm things down.  Walgett needs that too. A police presence in schools is common in America.  It is needed in the Walgett school as well

Walgett Community College, the only high school in the northern NSW town of 2,145, has seen 20 principals come and go over the past 15 years

But there is high turnover among the student population too, with young kids witnessing and being subjected to acts that have left them traumatised and unwilling to return.

Felicity Forbes, now 15, said she had never experienced a panic attack in her life before she started high school, but that changed within her first week at the college.

"There was a lockdown, everyone was stationed up against the wall," the 15-year-old said. "The main kid in the situation was very violent. "It was terrifying as an 11-year-old to be seeing those kinds of things.

"During a lockdown there's constant beeping. "Students are told to pull blinds down, lock doors and have no interaction with anyone outside."

Felicity developed severe anxiety during her four years at the school and now, along with her sister, is learning at home via distance education.

Now in Year 11, Felicity says hearing an alarm tone or the sound of something smashing can trigger a panic attack — and that she is struggling to catch up with the curriculum.

"It definitely impacted my education," she said. "When there was a lockdown, that would usually be it for the day."

Slammed onto concrete

Another Walgett student, 16-year-old Anicia Brown, left town after being bashed at school. "Anicia's about 1,500 kilometres away with my parents in Emerald, central Queensland," her mother Kylie McKenzie said. "She was assaulted at school twice.

"To have to basically get her out of town so that she could live a normal teenager's life without the worry of being bashed is really hard. "It was hard on her and it was hard on us, but we've had to do it for her mental health."

Ms McKenzie says she has seen a video of her daughter being attacked by students after school. "They threw her down on the concrete, they had hold of her head and were kicking into her," she said.  "It was really horrible and she was terrified.

"Her mental health has been absolutely shot, knowing that if she comes home, she's being told, 'We're going to get you'."

A fight 'nobody wants'

Parents say an independent investigation must be undertaken to stop the cycle of disadvantage, and say they do not understand why the college's issues have gone unaddressed for so long.

Sick of waiting, Felicity's mum Rebecca Trindall is campaigning for students to be able to attend school in Lightning Ridge.

She wants legislation to change to allow out-of-area enrolments and a direct bus route for the 150-kilometre round trip.

"It seems that nobody wants to be part of this fight," Ms Trindall said. "I think it might turn into a race issue, but let's be clear — it's not about being black or white. "It's a community issue, it's an education issue.

"These kids deserve better — Walgett needs a high school, but they need to clean it out. "They need to get it right, because we're losing precious time."

NSW Department of Education data shows 149 students were enrolled at the high school in 2021. Only two attended the school for 90 per cent or more of the year.

Ms Trindall said a lack of funding was not to blame and said she wanted the efficacy of the programs at the school to be investigated. "The money's there, the programs are there," she said.  "Where are the outcomes? Where's the change?

"I look forward to a full investigation, because it's actually disgusting to have all the resources and no outcomes."

No comment from Minister

State MP Roy Butler is backing the calls for an independent review. He says his correspondence with NSW Education Minister Sarah Mitchell has been "fluffy".

"She says, 'Yes, we're working on fixing it, we're addressing the problems'," Mr Butler said. "But on the ground, for those teachers, students and parents — they're not seeing those changes."

Mr Butler said an investigation would be best led by someone who understood the system and had lived experience.

"Education would contract the suitable person, terms of reference would be established in consultation with the Department of Education and community," he said.

"The person I would suggest is a retired principal who would be arm's length from department."

Mr Butler said it would take an "independent set of eyes to get to the bottom of it".

"Ask the staff — 'Where is it going wrong? Where are the blockages?'," he said.

"Why are we stuck here and why have we been stuck here for so long?"

Ms Mitchell and the Department of Education declined interview requests.

In a statement, an education department spokesperson said the department was committed to providing staff and students with a high-quality local school.

"In partnership with the local community, we are committed to resolving some unique challenges the school is facing," the spokesperson said.

From 'problematic' bogans to the COVID divide: Australia's messy relationship with social class

The article below talks of class in terms of income.  But there is more to it than that.  Even occupational prestige does not capture it.  Yet there clearly is a stratum in Australian society where people have an elite identity.  People in that stratum are economically prosperous but economic affluence is by itself not enough for such an  identity.  People can become suddenly rich without acquiring an elite identity.  

So what is the key variable leading to an elite identity?  It is IQ.  Elite people are smart and it is the characteristics of high IQ people that become markers of high social class.  Toby Young explains it

So the article below rather misses the point.  It shows an awareness of cultural differences but explains those differences in terms of income.  But any approach to levelling income will not abolish social class.  Smart people will always do better.  Even in the heavily equalitarian Soviet Union, there was a "nomenklatura"  who lived privileged lives

Australia, we are often told, is the land where everyone can get a "fair go." It's one of many egalitarian terms that are used in this country, from inside our parliament to throughout our pop culture. But is Australia as equal as many of us like to think?

Steve Threadgold, an Associate Professor of Sociology at the University of Newcastle, has a clear opinion: No way.

"People start at different places [in life]," Professor Threadgold tells ABC RN's Saturday Extra, "but we don't really like to talk about class very much, for some reason."

He's co-edited a new book with fellow researcher Associate Professor Jessica Gerrard titled Class in Australia, which dissects the topic and looks at how social class can be a barrier.

And first up, he wants Australians to improve how they discuss the realities of class.

Bogans, hipsters and class

The term 'bogan' immediately conjures up the image of a very specific Australian — likely involving a singlet, cigarettes and a mullet.

So too with 'hipster' — tight black jeans, a soy latte and smashed avocado on toast are probably involved.

But Professor Threadgold has researched the usage of these terms and says they're problematic substitutes for talking about class.

"These are ways that class is represented and spoken about in the public sphere, without really talking about class … 'Bogan' has tended to stand in for vulgar working class tastes and 'hipster' for ironic middle class consumer cultures," he says.

"What's interesting is that the hipster is often [portrayed] as a quite ironic, almost playful figure, while the bogan tends to elicit much more denigration.

"The bogan is seen as doing things wrong."

He says the bogan has "become a representation of cultural aspects of class, particularly around taste. And then, by using this figure, you don't need to say 'working class people are this' you can invoke 'the bogan.'"

In this way, he says working class people can be maligned in the media and everyday conversations, and the realities of their lives are often obscured.

So just how big are Australia's class divides? Very big, according to Professor Threadgold and other research.

A widening gap between rich and poor

The book lays out a stark picture of inequality and disadvantage in Australia.

"According to measures of inequality, the rich/poor gap is widening, returning to the heights of the 1920s. Education is getting more expensive, while social welfare is increasingly difficult to access," the co-editors write.

"The reality for anyone who is not from a privileged, well-connected background is exclusion from the housing market and the prospect of insecure work."

Although there are many "distinctive experiences of disadvantage and inequality — gender, race, Indigeneity, sexuality, ability, age", talking about class can "make inequality a public issue anchored in economic structures and social/cultural institutions."

And research suggests that Australia is much more unequal than many people may realise.

According to one analysis from the Australian Council of Social Services (ACOSS) and the University of New South Wales, before the pandemic, the incomes of those in the top 20 per cent were six times higher than those in the lowest 20 per cent.

When it came to average wealth, the numbers were even more stark, with the top 20 per cent ($3,255,000) having 90 times that of the lowest 20 per cent ($36,000).

Cassandra Goldie, the CEO of ACOSS, says: "In a wealthy country like Australia, the dominant perception is everybody's doing well … but there are large numbers of people who are living on very low and modest incomes."

"Unless we get some major changes to policy directions here, we will see an increasingly divided society, both in terms of income adequacy, and in terms of wealth behind you," she adds.

Class and the pandemic

Dr Goldie says that COVID-19 affected well-off and less-well-off Australians in dramatically different ways.

"We've had two very different experiences of this pandemic," she says.

Dr Goldie points out that many people from lower socio-economic areas "were required to go out and continue to do frontline, low-paid casual work," instead of being able to work from home.

With a focus on international politics and business, Geraldine Doogue talks to expert commentators about the things that matter to Australians.

In addition, these Australians "[sometimes] live in overcrowded housing, often with many people living in one home, and are much less able to self isolate."

"So therefore [such groups] were much more heavily exposed to the consequences of the virus."

One report by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare found that in the first year of the pandemic, people living in the lowest socio-economic areas had COVID-19 mortality rates 2.6 times higher than for people living in the highest socio-economic areas.

And a separate analysis by ACOSS and the University of New South Wales found poverty and inequality actually reduced early in the pandemic due to crisis support payments, but then spiked later in the pandemic as these supports were rolled back.

"The kinds of policies introduced [in 2020] helped to close gaps … but then this unravelled," Dr Goldie says.

Class in politics

Professor Threadgold says despite class being an important issue, it rarely features in our political debates.

"When you do hear political leaders talk about class, they tend to reverse it," he says.

"So if an argument is made for something like taxing billionaires, or having some kind of shared wealth, then all of a sudden, it's a class war against the rich. And that's really the only time you hear [about class in politics]."

Professor Steve Threadgold says many representations of Jacqui Lambie "tend to be parodies."(ABC News: Henry Zwartz)
Professor Threadgold cites one elected individual as having a distinct voice in the political realm: Tasmanian independent senator Jacqui Lambie.

"She's a very rare instance of someone from a relatively disadvantaged background with a voice in the Australian public sphere … She is a person that seems to speak often about the views of the disadvantaged, and she's experienced that herself."

But Professor Threadgold says "beyond when she gets to speak for herself, much of the writing and talking and representations of her tend to be parodies."

Political change

Dr Goldie says, while there are many issues around inequality to be dealt with, there is one significant area that needs to be addressed.

How adventure helped Erling Kagge harness the power of silence
"[One] important focus, we believe, is over our revenue base," she says, questioning the federal government's "eye-watering tax cuts."

"There's the 'stage 3 [tax cuts],' which are $16 billion per annum, that will mostly be going to people on higher incomes, mostly men, who already have enough and don't need any more relief," she says.

"[Meanwhile] there's a refusal to look at tax reforms that actually will tackle these serious inequalities and secure a more adequate revenue base for the kind of critical services like health and education — which are some of the key drivers to ensuring a more equal and balanced and fair society."

"I think the community does generally understand that we have real choices here [around policies]. The wealth that we have accumulated is being increasingly concentrated in the hands of fewer people — that's not good for anybody."

So why consider class?

Professor Threadgold says a better understanding of class means inequality and disadvantage in Australia could be better addressed.

"If someone doesn't do well at school, or loses their job, or is in poverty, often they're blamed as an individual: they're lazy, they don't work hard enough or they made all the wrong choices," he says.

"But what we find is [when considering] class, those kinds of things, those kinds of inequalities, are much more systematic."

He says: "If we can think about these things on a more systematic basis, the public will be better informed about what's going on."

Sharing power with people of colour

The good old Leftist racism again below.  Why cannot we judge people's competence without referring to their race?  If the agitators below were to come up with just one excample of a minority person who missed out on a prominent job when a less competent mainstream person got it, then they might have made a case.  But they did not.  

And judging competence needs to be multidimensional.  A person who is otherwise competent but who has a thick accent or an intrusive religion could quite rightly be judged as not ideal for a position involving a lot of contact with the public

And note that many people with a minority background in Australia were not born here.  And it can take a lifetime to build up the social skills and competencies to succeed in the political sphere.  You have to be perceived as "one of the boys" (or girls) to be politically successful -- and that can take very fine tuning indeed.  Many try but few succeed

And note that, ever since the conservatives put the very Aboriginal Neville Bonner into the Australian parliament, there have been many others elected who have some Aboriginal background.  There have been 52 Indigenous members of the ten Australian legislatures.  The Minister for Indigenous Australians in the current Federal government -=- Ken Wyatt -- identifies as Aboriginal

So the claim that minorities are systematically kept out of power in Australia is blatant rubbish on several levels.  It's just another Leftist whine and just another example of the Leftist obsession with race

The Diversity Council of Australia says racism is "when an individual or organisation discriminates, excludes, or disadvantages someone because of their race, colour, descent, nationality, ethnicity, religion, and/or immigrant status".

Other social scientists and academics also argue that racism requires both racial prejudice and institutional power. But it's a contentious definition because there are several levels of racism, such as internalised or interpersonal racism.

What one can't deny, though, is the fact that those who are in power, such as in governmental institutions and workplaces, are overwhelmingly white.

For example, the Australian Human Rights Commission, in a 2018 report, found that about 95 per cent of senior leaders in Australia came from an Anglo-Celtic or European background. Only 0.4 per cent are Indigenous Australians and under 5 per cent had a non-European and non-Indigenous Australian background.

"The people who make decisions about who can come into the elite are the people who are the current members. And they are very reluctant to recognise quality in people from backgrounds they don't understand," Mr Jakubowicz said.

What 'be a little less white' means

Anti-racism educator Robin DiAngelo says white people need to stop being defensive, and start talking about racism.

Peter Mousaferiadis, the founder and CEO of Cultural Infusion, said that as a result, the created system gives people who are connected to that cultural hegemony a privilege — or "white privilege" — while other people outside the group miss out.

The belief that white people have superior knowledge, opinions and capabilities is an obstacle for people of colour to gain similar power in society. Adding to that is an additional barrier for those whose native language isn't English.

That's why the focus should be shifted to having a wide representation of backgrounds, to help debunk that thinking.

"If we focus on representation, then we're going to create organisations and systems that mirror the environment," Mr Mousaferiadis said.

"Representation will iron out power for one particular group. The power will become more evenly [shared]."

But if we fail to do this, and if organisations don't mirror the reality of diversity, it can create tension.

Let's talk about racism, not cultural diversity

Racism is so "systemic" that it's "embedded" in workplaces, according to the Racism at Work report published by the Diversity Council Australia (DCA) on Monday.

Dr Virginia Mapedzahama, a co-author of the report, said those words focus on the "positive or celebratory things" and obscure a painful truth. "If we just concentrate on things like harmony, there's the side that we're not actually focusing [on]. There's another conversation that was silenced and we are not having," she said. 

Like "harmony", words like "diversity" and the bureaucratic acronym "Culturally and Linguistically Diverse" (CALD) often miss the point.

Would we be better off without 'CALD'?

Our varied backgrounds and experiences are all classified as culturally and linguistically diverse by the government. But the term's limitations may outweigh its utility.

"CALD is a problematic term. It derives meaning from the supposition that within a given population there is a subset who can be aggregated into a separate category," Mr Mousaferiadis told the ABC.

He said the continuation of accepting the CALD concept perpetuates the problems that organisations are attempting to overcome because it "normalises and entrenches the binary" between CALD and the dominant cultural group.

Further, it's an unhelpfully blunt term for a wide array of experiences — it can include Australians whose ancestors arrived more than 150 years ago from China and speak fluent English, as well as the Afghan refugee family who arrived in Australia a month ago.

The term "has had its day", Mr Mousaferiadis said, adding the focus should not be on identity itself, but what communities actually need.

Dr Virginia Mapedzahama said while concepts of diversity and social cohesion are important, "if we use those conversations as entry points to discussing racism, we're not going to get to eradicating racism at work". 

That's why many social scientists and anti-racism advocates keep reminding us to listen to the voices of people with lived experiences of racism.

But there are also barriers there — as Mr Jakubowicz points out, the linguistic aspect is often forgotten in discussions about racism, and we may unconsciously or consciously discriminate against people who have different accents.

When we don't hear accents in mainstream media, such as radio or television, it reinforces biases, Mr Jakubowicz said. "They're quite comfortable with people who look different, but very uncomfortable with those who sound different," he said.

Most Men Lead Lives of Quiet Desperation

Do they?  There is an article here by Julian Bašić that says so. He is of course quoting.  The twiddly bits on his name suggest a Balkan origin, perhaps Serbia.  There is a lot in Serbia and such places to explain depression. From at least the 19th century onward, they have lived through an incredible series of ghastly wars.  I am a naturally buoyant person in mood but if I were a Serb I might not be

And depression is the key to the article.  He quotes no real evidence for the sad conclusion that the title of his article embodies.  He just thinks his conclusion is obvious and quotes a few other like-minded authors.

I have been taking an interest in the happiness research for many years and its conclusions are very different from those of Mr Bašić

For a start it would appear that happiness is a trait rather than a state.  We are born happy or unhappy and not much changes it.  Some influences do have some effect, however  so it is possible that his Balkan origins do partly account for Mr Bašić's mournful artkicle.

The best comprehensive research article on happiness is probably this one. Note from their chart 11 that around 80% of people were  fairly or very satisfied with life, which is just about as opposite as you could get from Mr Bašić's assumptions.  In the circumstances I will not reproduce here any of his sad article.

‘Incels’ are a rising threat in the US, Secret Service report finds

This rings true to me. With 4 marriages in my CV and another proposal recently, I obviously have little difficulty forming intimate relationships with women but I can see that being effectively blocked from doing so would provoke anger  -- and anger is dangerous

And feminism is clearly part of the problem.  It has generated high expectations in women and men unable to meet such expections will be stranded.  I feel very sorry for them. I know what they are missing.  But they should not take their anger out on random women.  If they do so at all, targeting feminists would be deplorable but understandable

A new US Secret Service report details a rising threat from men who identify as “involuntary celibates” or “incels”, due to their inability to form intimate relationships with women.

The report released on Tuesday and prepared by the National Threat Assessment Center (NTAC) highlights behavioral threat assessment themes identified in years of research examining targeted violence.

Themes include concerning and threatening communications, concerning online content, chronic and acute stressors, elicited concern in others, interpersonal difficulties, history of being bullied, financial instability, failed life aspirations and lack of consequences.

As a case study, the Secret Service examined a 2018 shooting at a yoga class in Tallahassee, Florida, in which a man killed two women and wounded six.

“The attacker was motivated to carry out violence by his inability to develop or maintain relationships with women, along with his perception of women’s societal power over men,” the report said.

The gunman, 40-year-old Scott Paul Beierle, exhibited numerous warning signs including a history of inappropriate and criminal behavior toward women and girls.

Steve Driscoll, a lead research specialist at NTAC, said: “During his teen years, the attacker was accused of stalking his classmates and he wrote stories that centered around violent themes.

“One of those stories was 81 pages long and involved the protagonist murdering several girls before committing suicide. The female characters in the story that were killed represented the attacker’s actual classmates from his high school, but he slightly changed the names in his writing.”

Beierle was arrested three times for groping women and was called “Ted Bundy” by his roommates, in reference to a notorious serial killer who targeted women.

On the day of the shooting, Beierle left a note in his hotel room that said: “If I can’t find one decent female to live with, I will find many indecent females to die with. If they are intent on denying me life, I will have no choice, but to deny them life … Their arrogance, indifference and treachery will finally be exposed and punished.”

According to the report, although Beierle did not adopt any specific ideological labels such as “anti-feminist” or “incel”, his behavior and beliefs aligned with many who do.

Another incident examined in the report is the 2014 killings in Santa Barbara, California, in which 22-year-old Elliot Rodger killed six people and injured 14. Before the attacks, Rodger lamented his inability to find a girlfriend and documented his contempt for women and interracial couples.

The report also cites the 2020 murder of the son of a US district court judge, Esther Salas, who was killed by 72-year-old Roy Den Hollander, a self-described “anti-feminist lawyer” who believed “manhood is in serious jeopardy in America”.

According to the report, NTAC research has shown no specific profile of an individual who plans or executes an act of targeted violence. Attackers vary in age, race, sex, education level, employment history and other characteristics. However, a unifying factor among most attackers is a set of concerning behaviors displayed before acts of violence.

Although the Secret Service is best known for its protection of US presidents, it has also extensively examined and implemented behavioral threat assessment programs designed to “identify and intervene with those who pose a risk of engaging in targeted violence”.

The agency noted that misogynistic violence is not restricted to high-profile incidents of mass violence.

Rather, “misogyny frequently appears in more prevalent acts of violence, including stalking and domestic abuse”. As a result, the report said, responses to threats need to be collaborative between law enforcement, courts, mental health providers and domestic violence and hate crime advocacy groups.

“The risk of future tragedies can be reduced if the appropriate systems are in place to identify the warning signs,” the report said.

Dr Lina Alathari, director of NTAC, said: “Traditionally law enforcement and other public safety officials focus on crimes … and so, if there’s no ‘direct threat’ or a criminal statute violated, they often feel that they can’t do anything.

“But what we know from the research and what we know from communities doing this successfully is that if you have a trained professional in threat assessment, in identifying warning signs and knowing what the proper resources are available … that’s when you have success stories.”

Classical Music People are Compelling Denunciations of Russia

I am a Russophile but, like most people inside and outside Russia, I think the war in Ukraine is horrible  and wrong.  So I was astonished and grieved to read below that two of my favorite Russian performers have been cancelled over it:  Anna Netrebko and Dmitri Hvorostovsky.  See them in a famous performance below

Compelled speech is becoming routine in academia. On campuses, faculty candidates for hiring and tenure increasingly must attest to their dedication to diversity to be considered for a job or a promotion. At least one university requires professors to post a “land acknowledgement”—a statement declaring that the space being used was originally the habitation of indigenous people—on their syllabus page.

Now the classical music establishment is adopting that same norm. Russian musicians are being asked to condemn President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine to retain jobs and performing engagements in the West. Staying above the fray is not an option, and denouncing the war will not ward off cancellation. Russian musicians must criticize Putin by name or be blacklisted.

Classical music’s recent self-abasement for its “whiteness” laid the groundwork for this presumptive group guilt. Since the George Floyd race riots in May and June 2020, directors of orchestras, opera companies, and conservatories have lambasted their own field for its historical demographics, said to be inextricably linked to racism. Music critics have sneered at Beethoven and other composers for having allegedly leveraged their whiteness to achieve undeserved acclaim. Mea culpas and promises of fealty to Black Lives Matter have become de rigeuer in mission statements and fundraising pitches. Now these coerced confessions are demanded of a subset of musicians whose Russianness makes them as suspect as whiteness does the entire Caucasian population. Even Russian music itself faces a political litmus test.

The most recent casualty of the compelled-speech norm is 20-year-old pianist Alexander Malofeev. He is the latest in a long line of Russian keyboard masters, including Sviatoslav Richter, Emil Gilels, Lazar Berman, Vladimir Ashkenazy, Evgeny Kissin, Sergei Rachmaninoff, Anton Rubinstein, and many more. The cherubic-faced Malofeev has no known ties to Putin and has not defended Putin or the Ukrainian invasion. Nevertheless, the Vancouver Recital Society cancelled his contract for an August 2022 recital. Artistic director Leila Getz explained in a written statement that she could not “in good conscience present a concert by any Russian artist at this moment in time unless they are prepared to speak out publicly against this war.”

In a subsequent interview, Getz claimed to have been looking out for Malofeev’s well-being. “The first things that came to my mind were, why would I want to bring a 20-year-old Russian pianist to Vancouver and have him faced with protests and people misbehaving inside the concert hall and hooting and screaming and hollering?” she said. Such professions of paternalism have become standard among cancellers. Malofeev could have decided for himself whether he wanted to risk protest.

“Speaking out publicly against this war,” as Getz put it, does not, in fact, prevent cancellation. Malofeev explicitly criticized the Ukrainian invasion after the Vancouver termination: “Every Russian will feel guilty for decades because of the terrible and bloody decision that none of us could influence and predict,” he wrote on Facebook. Yet he was cancelled again. He had been scheduled to play Sergei Prokofiev’s fiery Piano Concerto No. 3 with the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal (OSM) on March 9, 10, and 13. The day before his first performance, OSM pulled the plug. “Considering the serious impact on the civilian population of Ukraine caused by the Russian invasion, the OSM must announce the withdrawal of pianist Alexander Malofeev,” the orchestra said. It wanted the public to know, however, that it was not biased against Russians: “We continue . . . to believe in the importance of maintaining relationships with artists of all nationalities who embrace messages of peace and hope.” Why Malofeev fell outside of that category was left unexplained.

Michael Tilson Thomas would have been conducting Malofeev for the Prokofiev performances. In his telling, “political situations” cancelled Malofeev, not his own agency: “I was very pleased to be working in Montreal for the first time with the extraordinary young pianist Alexander Malofeev,” he wrote. “It is regrettable that political situations have made it impossible.” Some OSM musicians had refused to play with Malofeev, CBC News reports. If Tilson Thomas and the orchestra management believe in “peace and hope,” they should have stood up to such closed-mindedness.

The Annapolis Symphony in Maryland also purported to be acting out of altruism in cancelling violinist Vadim Repin. “We don’t want to put [Repin] in an uncomfortable, even impossible position,” the press release explained. So “out of respect to Repin’s apolitical stance and concerns for the safety of himself and his family,” he would not be allowed to play the Shostakovich concerto with the orchestra.

The Dublin International Piano Competition seemed to be responding to unnamed forces outside its control when it revoked its acceptance of nine Russian pianists for its 2022 competition: “We are unable to include competitors from Russia,” it wrote, without disclosing what disabled it from including them. If any of those nine pianists has expressed support for the Ukraine invasion, the record does not reflect it. One of them, Arsenii Mun, stated the obvious on Facebook: “People should know, being from Russia does NOT mean that we are taking part in [invasion] decisions!”

These defenestrations pale, however, in comparison with the epic downfalls of superstar soprano Anna Netrebko and conductor Valery Gergiev, who have become international pariahs.

Since 1996, Gergiev has directed St. Petersburg’s Mariinsky Theatre, home of a government-subsidized theater, ballet, and opera company. He brought the storied organization, associated with Diaghilev, Nijinsky, Chaliapin, Petipa, Balanchine, and Nureyev, to new levels of excellence, while maintaining a frenzied international conducting career. The Davos elite, including the heads of British Petroleum, Nestlé, and PricewaterhouseCoopers, sought the charismatic maestro’s friendship and showered his far-flung musical enterprises with funds. Forty heads of state, including Jacques Chirac, Tony Blair, and Gerhard Schroeder, attended a 2003 gala at the Mariinsky hosted by Putin and conducted by Gergiev. The Wall Street Journal observed at the time that Gergiev was achieving humanistic ends unmatched by any other classical music impresario.

Gergiev’s partnerships with Western orchestras have introduced Russian masterpieces into belated circulation. In 2002, New Yorkers had their first opportunity to hear Prokofiev’s War and Peace at the Metropolitan Opera, thanks to Gergiev’s advocacy. His performance of that monumental work, with its magnificent, bittersweet waltzes and sinuous melodies, was unforgettable, not least because of another Metropolitan Opera debut—that of Gergiev’s protégé Netrebko, alongside the late, great Dmitri Hvorostovsky.

The classical music press has grumbled intermittently in recent years about Gergiev’s association with Putin. The Mariinsky is a quasi-governmental body, funded by Moscow, so that association is in part ministerial. But it is also personal. In 2012, Gergiev recorded a video during the Russian presidential campaign implicitly lauding Putin’s leadership. Putin in turn has lauded Gergiev: “I will serve my term and disappear,” Putin has written, “but Gergiev will last forever.” (The Russian president was wrong on both counts.) Putin’s stance on LGBTQ education has particularly exercised music journalists and gay advocates. Queer Nation disrupted a concert Gergiev was conducting in Carnegie Hall in 2013 because Putin had signed a law that banned schools from distributing to minors “propaganda on nontraditional sexual relationships” (not so different from grassroots efforts in the U.S. to preserve a zone of childhood innocence regarding sexuality). “Gergiev, your silence is killing Russian gays!” protesters shouted. In response, Gergiev has insisted that he has never discriminated against anyone; no one has disputed that claim.

In 2016, Gergiev conducted the Mariinsky Orchestra from a Roman theater in Palmyra, Syria. Syrian forces, with Russian air support, had retaken the historic site, which ISIS had used to execute prisoners. Gergiev characterized the concert, featuring the music of Bach, Prokofiev, and the twentieth-century Russian composer Rodion Shchedrin, as a protest against barbarism; Putin’s Western critics denounced it as a propaganda ploy. A Mariinsky concert of Shostakovich and Tchaikovsky in South Ossetia in 2008, following a bombing attack on the breakaway region by the Georgian government, was likewise dismissed.

Charlie Rose admiringly interviewed Gergiev numerous times over several decades. Rose invariably pressed the conductor to weigh in on Russia’s politics and political leaders, whether Yeltsin or Putin. Naively or not, Gergiev did not demur. His answers implicitly addressed tradeoffs that Americans have never had to make—between security, economic and political stability, liberty, national identity, and culture. To dictate how Russians should resolve those tradeoffs is arrogance.

Gergiev has not spoken publicly about the Ukrainian invasion. Because he has denounced neither it nor Putin, he has lost virtually every conducting engagement and leadership position he has held outside of Russia. The Munich Philharmonic, the Edinburgh International Festival, the Bayerische Staatsoper, the Teatro alla Scala, the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra, Carnegie Hall, the Vienna Philharmonic, the Philharmonie de Paris, the Lucerne Festival, and the Verbier Festival have all severed their ties with him. Failing some future engagement with a Chinese orchestra, say, his conducting career outside of Russia is over.

Anna Netrebko has denounced the invasion, but she has been cancelled anyway. “I am opposed to this senseless war of aggression, and I am calling on Russia to end this war right now, to save all of us. We need peace right now,” she posted on Instagram. “I am Russian and I love my country, but I have many friends in Ukraine and the pain and suffering right now breaks my heart. I want this war to end and for people to be able to live in peace.”

Unambiguous, but insufficient. Metropolitan Opera general manager Peter Gelb said: “In the case of somebody who is so closely associated with Putin, denouncing the war is not enough.” Gelb, too, was apparently responding to forces outside of his control in cancelling Netrebko’s engagements: “With Putin killing innocent victims in Ukraine there was no [other] way forward.”

Gelb had not been so fastidious before. On the eve of the Ukrainian invasion, he was in Moscow for the premiere of a joint Met–Bolshoi Theater production of Wagner’s Lohengrin, one of three such co-productions initially announced in 2017. Putin had approved the collaborative project.

Netrebko is not “closely associated” with Putin, however. Her protestations that she is “not a political person” or “an expert in politics” are an understatement. An allegedly incriminating photograph from 2014 shows her holding one end of a flag used by Russian-backed separatists in Ukraine. She had just donated $18,500 to an opera house in Donetsk that had been partially destroyed by fighting. She had wanted to “help and support” her fellow artists, she explained, because she believed in “the power of art in times of conflict and crisis.” At the donation ceremony in St. Petersburg, the theater director had handed her the large banner right before the picture was taken and before, she claimed, she understood what it was. In 2012, Die Presse reported that Netrebko was among a list of 499 arts and sports celebrities endorsing Putin’s reelection. Until recently, these actions had no effect on the opera company managers who made Netrebko the most sought-after soprano in the world.

Serge Dorny, director of the Bayerische Staatsoper, said that cancelling Netrebko and Gergiev was necessary out of “respect for each other and dialogue with each other.” Ironically, it may have been Netrebko’s protest against compelled speech that sealed her fate. After calling for an end to “this senseless war of aggression,” she wrote that “forcing artists, or any public figure, to voice their political opinions in public and to denounce their homeland is not right.” This outburst was too much for New York Times classical music editor Zachary Woolfe. “Ms. Netrebko’s caustic irritation at the notion that any statement might be expected from her” negated her war opposition “by making it all about her,” Woolfe claimed. But Netrebko had not made it all about her. She had offered principled opposition to the pressure being put on Russian artists to utter a specific set of words about Putin.

NAPLAN: Pandemic lockdowns have widened the wealth gap in Australian schools

Less intelligent students need more help to achieve so reducing that help has serious consequences.  Highly intelligent students by contrast do well in any system.  And intelligence is both hereditary and a major precursor to wealth.  So private schools on average have smarter kids with richer parents

A learning gap between rich and poor students is widening as literacy and numeracy tests reveal schools in disadvantaged suburbs have fallen behind during the ­pandemic lockdowns.

Educators have warned of higher dropout rates and social scarring without intervention to help students from poorer families catch up on their lost learning.

Fresh NAPLAN data, to be published on Wednesday, reveals patches of poor performance in suburbs blighted by high unemployment, poverty or large numbers of students whose parents don’t speak English.

Australian Education Union president Correna Haythorpe warned that many students from disadvantaged backgrounds were being “left behind’’.

“These deep-rooted education inequities have widened in recent years because of the Covid-19 pandemic, and the Morrison government has done nothing to address them,’’ she said.

Across Australia, the average NAPLAN score for year 9 reading fell by 4.5 points to 577, while writing scores rose by 1.8 points to 551, between 2019 and 2021. Numeracy performance dropped by an average of 4.6 points to 588.

At Chifley College’s Mt Druitt campus in western Sydney, where three out of four students live in the poorest 25 per cent of households and half speak a foreign language, the year 9 writing results fell by 18 points, while writing scores dropped 35 points.

Bucking the trend is Sydney Adventist School in Auburn, in Sydney’s multicultural western suburbs, where old-school teaching methods have driven success.

Despite 80 per cent of children being from non-English speaking families, the school lifted the reading and writing scores for year 3 students in 2021. The school’s deputy principal, Jenny Hahnel, said the school expected high academic standards from students, whose migrant parents value education and respect teachers.

The school uses “explicit teaching’’, providing clear instruction until each student has mastered the content of a lesson.

Reading is based on phonics, and children learn their times ­tables, as well as hands-on learning such as measuring objects in the playground for maths. “Explicit teaching focuses on a lot of repetition,’’ Ms Hahnel said.

“Every day we start the lesson revisiting content we’ve already taught. We’re consistently checking for understanding during the lesson, and we focus on student engagement.

“You’ll never see a child sitting at a desk and not knowing what to do. Not one child went backwards during Covid.’’

The Smith Family, a charity that is helping 58,000 disadvantaged children attend school through its Learning for Life sponsorship program, warned that more children had fallen behind as a result of lockdowns.

Anton Leschen, the charity’s Victorian general manager, said he knew of a single parent home schooling seven children, using one smartphone with a cracked screen and limited data.

“Living in disadvantage is a matter of chaos and survival,’’ he said. “Access to digital resources is always a major issue.’’

Mr Leschen called for targeted learning support for children who had fallen behind at school. “Some of them are very bright and hardworking,’’ he said. “Others have arrived at school with low initial literacy and cognitive and social skills. They’re not write-offs, but targeted support and help to catch up is all the more necessary.’’

At Kurnai College in Morwell, in Victoria’s Latrobe Valley, reading scores dropped by 38 points, writing by 43 points and numeracy by 17 points. On the Mornington Peninsula in Victoria, half the students attending Western Port Secondary College live in the poorest 25 per cent of households.

Year 9 students’ NAPLAN results dropped 15 points for reading, 56 points for writing and 15 points for numeracy.

Punchbowl Boys’ High School in NSW enrols 72 per cent of its students from the poorest households – virtually all from a non-English speaking background. Its results in year 9 fell by 19 points for reading and 23 points for numeracy, but rose six points for writing.

At Durack, one of Brisbane’s poorest suburbs, Glenala State High School’s year 9 students performed 10 points lower in 2021 than the crop of year 9s in 2019, before the start of the pandemic.

Writing scores fell 15 points and numeracy scores 19 points.

Australian Secondary Principals’ Association president Andrew Pierpoint said many poorer families could not afford computers or tablets for home schooling and online lessons.

“They might have a phone shared between siblings,’’ he said.

“The students have to read a document and type on a phone.’’

Mr Pierpoint said the pandemic had made the gap between poor and wealthy students “wider than we’ve ever seen before’’.

He called for more funding for the most disadvantaged schools. “Some schools need more money because life keeps running over the top of them, and it’s not the kids’ fault,’’ he said. “We need to address this as a nation.’’

Australian Primary Principals’ Association president Malcolm Elliott said many students had struggled when their parents could not help with home schooling, provide technology or pay for tutoring.

“Some of the maths that children get sent home with can look very complex for parents,’’ he said.

NSW Teachers’ Federation senior vice-president Amber Flohm said 3000 students had dropped out of school in 2020 and “never returned’.

“Students with disability or who are learning English are heavily reliant on face-to-face interaction,’’ she said. “English as an additional language is not something that lends itself to remote learning and teaching.’’

A strange deletion

My site  has gone down -- apparently because my subscription has run out

The odd thing is that I did not receive the normal warning that my subscription was due.  Why?  I have no real idea but suspect that the "incorrectness" of many of my files may be involved. 

I no longer have details of how to contact them.  I relied on warning emails for that.  The upload address was but that no longer seems to lead anywhere.  They had something to do with Linux.  Help on tracing them would be appreciated.

All my files are duplicated on a mirror site: which is still running fine


Landlord sells two rental homes in the middle of tenancy crisis because of government changes

In my years as a landlord I never had much property damage from tenants, though I had to paint out graffiti a bit.  The main negative was having to replace carpet after a tenant's pet had shat on it. You can't get the smell out and no new tenant will take a stinking property.  I got so I bought carpet by the roll.  

But dealing with difficult and dishonest  tenants eventually got too much for me so I sold out and put my money into blue-chip shares on the stockmarket, which worked well with no hassles

Uncertainty about tenancy laws and the ‘lucky dip’ search for tenants who treat a property with respect has led to landlord Steve Allthorpe selling two rental homes in the middle of a rental crisis.

From replacing carpets to repairing walls, the damage caused by one of the tenants has left the plumber thousands out of dollars out of pocket, he said.

Besides having to restore a property, the tenants were also $1400 behind in their rent when they departed, leaving the $2200 bond to only partially cover expenses, he said.

“They were behind in their rent and on top of that you miss out on rent while you’re repairing the property so it starts to mount up,” Mr Allthorpe said.

“There was $2000 just spent on new carpet and there needed to be extensive cleaning and they were only there 18 months.”

There’s also the additional burden of paying about $3,000 a year in land tax, he said.

Unless investors purchase either the Toomey St, Chermside West property and or another house in Geebung, with both being offered for private sale, it will be two fewer houses for rent in Brisbane.

Mr Allthorpe’s decision to sell does not surprise Real Estate Institute of Queensland CEO Antonia Mercorella who says rental tenancy laws overhaul are pushing investors away instead of attracting them in the middle of a housing crisis.

“You need laws that protect tenants, but we have been saying for a long time you need fair, balanced legislation or you drive investors away and couple that with the announcement of land tax reforms,” she said.

“This is a government that continually punishes property owners who do the heavy lifting when it comes housing Queenslanders.”

REIQ CEO Antonia Mercorella says the government needs to be mindful of rental tenancy law changes driving landlords away. Picture:

Vacancy rates were at 1 per cent across Greater Brisbane and also across the state during the December quarter, according to the REIQ.

A healthy rental vacancy rate is between 2.6-3.5 per cent.

Furthermore, new government rental laws that provide further protection for tenants and unchecked pet ownership were tipping points in deciding to sell the house, Mr Allthorpe said.

“The new laws basically do not allow owners to stop a tenant from having pets, and I love pets and I have a dog, but some of the damage I had to repair was caused by pets,” he said.

“It’s not worth the stress and the hassle, you’re better off finding another way to invest


How living near Sydney’s green spaces makes you healthier and happier

This is an old claim but the evidence for it is slight.  The actual research studies done routinely fail to use adequate socio-economic controls.  "Green" suburbs are desirable so cost more.  But the rich people who move there are healthier anyway.  That rich people are healthier is probably the best replicated finding in epidemiology

How green is your valley? If you live somewhere in Sydney that has access to parks, trees, fresh air, good food and walkable streets, it’s odds on that you’ll be healthier, fitter and will live to a grand old age.

If, however, you’re trapped somewhere with little greenery, lots of pollution and have to hop in a car and fight traffic jams to get anywhere you want to go, then, sorry, but precisely the opposite is likely to be true.

“There is now so much evidence and research done on how access to the natural environment is good for both our physical and mental health,” says Dr Nicky Morrison, professor of planning at the Western Sydney University and one of the leading academic authorities on the subject.

“There’s also a lot of research on how we change the built environment to deliver resilient, healthy and sustainable communities. But there are many barriers to this all along the way, with local government having limited capacity and competing priorities, and state government wanting to deliver housing – often at the expense of public open space.”

Yet, there’s a growing realisation throughout most cities in the world that quality green open space isn’t merely an aesthetic adornment to the urban environment, it’s an absolute necessity.

The accessibility within cities to green spaces has been found to have numerous benefits, says Morrison, including increasing overall well-being and quality of life, fitness, cognitive ability, productivity, imaginative powers, creativity and spiritual vitality, and decreasing obesity, stress, the effects of ageing, sickness and mental health issues.

There’s evidence, too, that regular engagement with green spaces is linked with longevity, and the healing power of nature has hugely positive impacts on physical strength, socialisation and mental ill-health.

Meanwhile, the experience of living with the COVID-19 pandemic and local lockdowns has only strengthened the attraction of having open green areas in neighbourhoods, or the lure of further afield.

A new report on NSW, Making Healthy Places, by researchers from the University of NSW City Futures Research Centre and the southwest Sydney local health unit, led by Dr Nicky Morrison, shows that the built environment can positively impact the health and wellbeing of individuals and communities.

Where you live, it found, shapes how easy it is to buy healthy food, use active transport, and make social connections. Survey participants said the most important aspects of healthy place-making were in enabling active lifestyles, with walkability to shops, schools and work most important. They also said that increasing access to natural environments and opportunities for social interaction were vital for their mental health.

The main issue it identified was how to go about creating more open green places that help deliver positive health and wellbeing outcomes for all.

“We are all much more aware now of the importance of green spaces in our cities,” says professor Susan Thompson, professor of planning and associate director of City Futures. “I’ve been working in this space for a long, long time now, and we’ve been advocating for a more comprehensive and holistic policy towards green spaces that will keep people healthy and well through the course of their lives.

Let’s Talk About Why Female Divorcees Don’t Remarry

They don't?  I have married two of them so I must have missed the message.  The answer that the author gives is basically that men are bastards.  But I have met men who think that women are bastards.  What is the truth of the matter?

It seems clear to me that men do often mistreat women.  I sometimes wonder why women put up with so much from their partners.  Women have on occasions put up with rather more from me than I had any right to expect

But I think that the reason why men behave badly is also clear.  Men were once indoctrinated to be chivalrous to women.  The respect inherent to that was a  very adaptive guide to a marriage.  But the feminists threw that away.  They stripped an important  layer of protection from women.  So now the natural incomprehension between the sexes rules with nothing to moderate it

Ossiana Tepfenhart

Marriage rates are going down across the board. While men often talk about how they don’t date, or how they feel like women are too stuck up, the truth is, women are starting to lose interest in marriage.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m happily married and marriage was always a priority for me. However, it’d be foolish to ignore or discredit the statistics. More women than men choose to stay single after a divorce. Ever wonder why this is?
First off, let’s address the big reason why male divorcees may want to marry.

Whether it is due to a long string of cheaters or a relationship that was so abusive that they can’t trust again, most women who say no to remarriage do so because they’re fed up with how they were treated by the men they trusted.

Honestly, who can blame them? Our society creates a serious lose-lose situation for women who don’t marry and have kids and live happily ever after. It doesn’t make sense to play that game!

Most people blame the victim when it comes to abuse, rape, and sex assault. When I told people I was abused, most men (and a shocking amount of women) I met gave a smug shrug and said, “Well, you picked the wrong guy.”

Men don’t necessarily have this. They very rarely ever have to worry about being raped or killed by their partner. Most people would also never blame them for trusting a woman. That double standard is a major issue that contributes to the “once bitten, twice shy” vibe women have.

Eventually, women who deal with bad dates and being blamed for their dating choices tend to say they’ve had enough. It shreds their trust in men, and rightfully so. Everyone has a breaking point.

When they haven’t had enough good experiences and all they find are men who blame them for not being into them, they will eventually swear off dating. There’s no return on investment for them, so why bother?

Most divorces are initiated by women, often as a final decision after trying to get their husbands to do their share of housework or after giving up on being prioritized. I’m not making this up, either.

This is a known phenomenon. It’s called Walkaway Wife Syndrome, and it happens when a woman gives up on ever being treated well by a spouse.

Believe it or not, most women who walk away from their relationships end up feeling pretty badly duped by their exes. They also tend to feel like they don’t have as much chorework to do when they’re single — primarily because they statistically don’t.

Relationships are hard. Picking up after your partner is hard. Taking care of a kid and a husband who doesn’t do his share is hard. After being married once and being burnt out from overwork, many women don’t want to bother with it again.
Others may have just changed priorities.

A lot of women I know who divorced decided that they no longer want to build a relationship with a man simply because they have better things to do with their lives. This is often the case with single moms who prioritize their kids.

Divorce does some weird shit to people. More specifically, it often teaches people what they don’t want in a relationship. Divorced women are going to be pickier than they were the first time around, and are not going to put up with shit they just left.

As a result, the dating pool is smaller. And that means some women just won’t find someone they click with. It’s no one’s fault, really, but it still happens.

The Gonski ‘failure’: why did it happen and who is to blame for the ‘defrauding’ of public schools?

Gonski was just a well-connected businessman.  He knew little about education.  His ideas were accordingly just conventional dreams.  "Spend more money" was the core of his profoundly unoriginal contribution

And he seems to have had no clear idea of how and why educational inequalities come about.  That they are unfair and wicked seems to have been the depth of his thinking.  No wonder his recommendations went nowhere 

The commenter below is similarly uninteresting

When the Gonski review was released a decade ago, it was hailed as the answer to Australia’s educational woes – a roadmap to creating an equitable school funding system, and boosting the performance of Australian students on the global stage.

But rather than celebrating its success, its 10-year anniversary last month sparked critique of the failure of successive governments to implement the report’s recommendations.

Despite record levels of funding flowing to Australia’s schools, education results have suffered a 20-year decline on international benchmarks. 

Meanwhile, a new analysis paints a bleak picture of a widening gap between advantaged and disadvantaged schools, with commonwealth and state funding for private schools increasing at nearly five times the rate of public school funding over the decade to 2019-20.

Education experts now warn that the vision enshrined in the review will only be realised if the commonwealth and states unite to end the “defrauding” of public schools and fully fund them to their needs-based benchmark.

Ahead of next year’s expiry of the current state-federal funding deal, the National School Reform Agreement, experts say there must be a coordinated effort to ensure Gonski’s vision is realised.

What did Gonski recommend?

In 2010, businessman David Gonski was engaged by the Rudd government to lead a review into Australia’s school funding, with the aim of reducing the impact of social disadvantage on educational outcomes, and ending inequities in the distribution of public money. The report was released in February 2012, during Julia Gillard’s prime ministership.

The reforms recommended that governments reduce payments to overfunded schools that didn’t need them and redirect funds on a needs-based model. Its key recommendation was the Schooling Resource Standard (SRS) – a base rate of funding per student with additional loading for disadvantage factors such as Indigenous heritage. The SRS would determine the required funding needed for each school. But a decade on, most public schools are yet to reach their full funding according to their SRS and more funding has gone to the less needy schools, with non-government schools well above their benchmark.

Gonski said the system would “ensure that differences in educational outcomes are not the result of differences in wealth, income, power or possessions” when he delivered his findings to government in 2011.

Why did it fail?

Trevor Cobbold, an economist and national convenor for public school advocacy group Save Our Schools, says the failure to achieve the review’s goals was a result of failures by the Gillard government and those that followed to implement the report’s recommendations.

“Gonski didn’t fail. It is governments that failed Gonski, and thereby failed disadvantaged students,” he says.

“You have to construct a system that recognises both the commonwealth and state roles, and Gonski did this by designing a nationally integrated model on a needs-basis.”

Tom Greenwell, a Canberra-based teacher and co-author of Waiting for Gonski – How Australia Failed its Schools, says a “huge problem” is that the “real work of additional funding has always been delayed beyond the forward estimates, to the next funding agreement”.

Eco-grief a burden for some

These credulous people deserve little sympathy.  Instead of wailing about a theoretical future they would a do lot more good agitating for measures that might make a real environmental difference -- such as agitating for more preventive measures against forest fires -- such as regular off-season back- burning

And I am always delighted to hear that the fears and grief of such people deter them from having children. It helps to improve the gene pool as far as I can see

The planet has heated by 1.1 degrees and Australia’s land mass has warmed by an average of 1.4 degrees since 1910, according to the CSIRO.

The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report on climate change last year issued a “code red for humanity”. The group’s most recent report on March 1 said climate change will cost Australia’s economy hundreds of billions of dollars in coming decades.

Various terms have been coined to describe the psychological distress which accompanies climate change. There’s climate anxiety and eco-anxiety, as well as solastalgia (from the Latin “solacium” for comfort and the Greek root “-algia” for pain, coined by philosopher Glenn Albrecht in 2003 to describe a “homesickness you have when you are still at home”).

Although its use dates back to the 1940s, perhaps the most apt term for the modern state of affairs is “eco-grief”.

“That’s the grief that people are feeling as we watch our planet die around us,” explains Dr Kate Wylie, chair of the Royal Australian College of GPs’ climate and environmental medicine group.

Wylie says GPs are seeing an increase in people of all ages presenting with psychological distress they attribute to concern for the climate.

“One of the interesting things about it is not really an anxiety disorder: it’s an extremely rational response. It makes sense to be sad,” Wylie says.

In its position statement on climate change, the Australian Psychological Society says it believes the phenomenon “involves serious and irreversible harm to the environment and to human health and psychological wellbeing”.

Concern for the climate becomes climate anxiety when it interrupts a person’s life.

The climate crisis has led some young people to reconsider what their futures should look like, including whether they should bring children into the world, Professor Cavenett says.

A 2019 survey of about 1600 young people aged 14 to 23 found 82 per cent believed climate change would “diminish their quality of life” and 80 per cent reported being “somewhat or very anxious” about climate change.

Macheon Smeaton, a 24-year-old university student from Sydney’s inner west, says he “struggles to imagine” what the world will look like when he is 50.

“I have two nieces and I’m already thinking about their future and how difficult parts of their future will be because of what’s already set in motion,” he says.

Asked what form the mental stress he experiences from climate change takes, Smeaton says it is more sadness for himself but anxiety for his nieces.

“I guess getting involved in activism, whether or not we are actually making a huge difference, does help,” he says.

How much longer can the law justify the killing of Aboriginal people?

Teela Reid

The article below attributed to Teela Reid is both delightfully articulate and deeply offensive. It turns on the matter of Northern Territory police officer Zachary Rolfe and his attacker.  If a hardened criminal is coming at you with a sharp object you are supposed to just cop it because the attacker is black? That seems to be the claim by Ms Reid.  It was the Aborigine who initiated the series of events leading to his own death, no-one else.  The law did not "justify" the death on frivolous or unreasonable grounds.

It is in fact Ms Reid who is most open to the claim of unreasonableness.  She repeatedly skates over important details in the matters she refers to.  In referring to the Coniston masssacre, for instance, she ignores the fact the the precipitating event there was also the work of Aborigines.  They killed a white man who was friendly with them and who camped with them.  And even then the matter was not glided over by the authorities.  It was the subject of official reports, three court hearings and a Board of Enquiry.  The outcome of the various hearings has been claimed to be unfair but if the acquittal of Const. Rolfe was unfair, whence unfairness?

It is true that white setters in the early days did mount punitive expeditions in response to attacks on isolated whites by blacks but that was indeed defensive.  Aborigines had formidable skills derived from their hunting lifestyle.  They had genius-level skills at sneaking up on alert prey animals and killing them. Evidence that such skills were being turned against whites was justifiably terrifying to local whites. To comfortable present-day urbanites, what the whites did is easily seen as unfair and unjust but they were not in the shoes of the whites concerned. In law, as in much else, context is not everything but it is close to it.

I could go on to dissect further the foolish screed below but I think I have said enough to show it for the inspissated  bias that it is

The killing of Kumanjayi Walker, a 19-year-old Aboriginal man in Yuendumu, reminds us that the law does not always equal justice when it comes to Aboriginal experiences within the criminal process. In the wake of Northern Territory police officer Zachary Rolfe’s acquittal, the Walpiri people have stood strong and dignified in their calls for ceasefire, police accountability and control of their homelands.

This case begs the question: how much longer can the law justify the killing of Aboriginal people?

Without cavilling with the not guilty verdict or the conduct of the trial, there are legitimate concerns about the training and recruitment of the Northern Territory Police Force. How is it that NT police officers are trained and drilled that an “edged weapon equals a gun”, as Rolfe’s lawyer argued, and in this instance that the three bullets Rolfe shot into Kumanjayi’s body were a lawful response to his threat of having a pair of medical scissors?

It wasn’t just the shooting of Kumanjayi that sent shockwaves across the desert; it was also the fact he died alone in the most undignified way inside a police station while the rest of his family and community sat outside wailing and waiting for answers, wondering if he was dead or alive the same day the Walpiri buried his uncle.

Surely, there are more appropriate and humane ways to respond and disarm a person. And the Northern Territory police have proven an alternative approach is possible when the person posing the threat is a white man. In June 2019, the same year Kumanjayi’s life was cut short inside a family member’s home, Benjamin Hoffman, a white man who terrorised the streets of Darwin in a one-hour killing spree that resulted in the death of four people, was spared his life. Why is the response different when it comes to Aboriginal men like Kumanjayi?

The disparity is jarring and the rage and fear felt by First Nations people across the continent is valid. Police preparedness to shoot Aboriginal men was reinforced during the Kumanjayi murder trial – as the jury deliberated Rolfe’s fate, the Northern Territory police fired six shots into another 19-year-old Aboriginal man in Palmerston.

Not long after the trial and further shooting, Samara Fernandez-Brown, the cousin of Kumanjayi, stood on the steps of the Northern Territory Supreme Court and described how his death has affected other young Blak men. “We are all in so much pain, particularly our young men. They have struggled, they have been scared, yet they have been respectful of this process.”

Our Blak men deserve better.

And it is not as though Australia doesn’t know what to do. The issues were ventilated in the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody more than 30 years ago that made 339 recommendations. These were reinforced in the royal commission into Don Dale, and they continue to be revealed in the many coronial inquiries and highlighted in mass protests for Black Lives Matter – yet the suffering of Aboriginal people at the hands of state-sanctioned violence continues. This is an indictment on our nation and a status quo none of us should accept.

Since Rolfe killed Kumanjayi, the Walpiri made clear their community had remained in Sorry Business for the past two years. On Friday, in a powerful statement, Walpiri elder Ned Jampijinpa Hargraves broke his silence after attending the five-week trial: “We want ceasefire. No more guns in our communities. It must never happen again. The police must put down their weapons. We have been saying this since the beginning. We cannot walk around in fear in our own homes.”

To appreciate the significance of this demand, we must understand the terror and disempowerment that stems from the 1928 Coniston Massacre in which up to 60 Walpiri, Anmatyrre and Kayteye men, women and children were slaughtered by settlers. This is Australia’s most recently documented massacre.

None of the perpetrators have been held accountable for the murders and an inquiry set up to investigate the killings ruled the settlers “acted in self-defence”. A justification that has become all too familiar when it comes to Blak victims and white perpetrators.

It is the relentless injustice where the law protects white innocence, yet Blak people are often considered guilty until proven innocent and have all aspects of our lives policed. It is the fact that we can see in plain sight white police officers shoot our Blak men and walk free, meanwhile, our children as young as 10 sit inside police cells for doing a lot less.

It is the abuse of police power monitoring Aboriginal communities that is exacerbated by the lack of accountability for the wrongs perpetrated against First Nations communities that reveals a racist system that privileges white supremacy at the expense of Blak lives – too many Blak deaths, not enough justice.

The criminal process, coronial inquests and royal commissions cannot bring back the Blak lives already lost.

But we can prevent many more unnecessary deaths if we ameliorate the tension between the police and Aboriginal communities.

We need enforceable police accountability mechanisms for abuses of power and systemic changes to confront and dismantle the systemic racism that is rife among the police forces across Australia.

If there is any jurisdiction in Australia that exposes the urgent need for a powerful First Nations Voice enshrined in the constitution to guarantee the voices of the Walpiri are honoured, and proper independent oversight of the implementation of countless recommendations that have been ignored by governments, it is the Northern Territory.

And, perhaps, we all need to show Blak men a little more love to ensure their lives do, in fact, matter.

Women who preach

As the epistles of the apostle Paul reveal, women have always had a role in Christian congregations -- and they still do.  What they MAY NOT do is take a leadership role in the congregation.  Specifically they must remain silent during worship sessions.  So for believers in the Bible, congregations led by women are simply not Christian.  They deliberately defy a clear command from the Christian Holy book. 

It is perfectly reasonable in this day and age for spiritually oriented organizations and meetings to be led by women but any pretence that they are Christian is a fraud.
That does mean that those congregations which allow women to preach -- mainly in the Anglican and Uniting denominations -- are practicing a fraud.  They could trip up genuine faith-seekers into a false belief about the true Christian life.  

Such churches would label themselves post-Christian if they were  honest.  That they do not is revealing.  They are drifting anchorless in a sea of secularism.  In Christ's words they are of "the World", not his called-out followers

The women described below obviously get personal satisfaction out of their preaching but it is at the expense of practicing an imposture.  They are deceivers, not Christians.  And Christians know who the Great Deceiver is

"Preaching is such a gift", says Reverend Radhika Sukumar-White, a minister and team leader at Leichhardt Uniting Church in Sydney.

"Throughout history, great changes happen through great oratory. Preaching has the ability to change hearts and change lives, call people to action and call people to account."

Sukumar-White was 20 when she had a call to ministry.

It was, she says, a "God speaking to me in Morgan Freeman's voice … kind of experience."

Sukumar-White had always wanted to work with people and was studying physiotherapy at university at the time.

Her life would take another path, however.

With her calling came the realisation that "I was going to be able to walk with people and help people using the gifts and skills that I have in the Church, which I so loved," she says.

Sukumar-White, whose parents migrated to Australia from Sri Lanka in the 1970s, grew up in the Uniting Church.

"My parents' parents were converted by American missionaries in Sri Lanka in the early twentieth century," she says.

"When they migrated to Australia, the Church was the first thing they sought in making Australia their home."

Once called, Sukumar-White began the "rigorous process" to become a Minister of the Word, including three years' study at United Theological College in Parramatta, plus numerous interviews and field placements.

She was ordained in 2016, and in 2019, joined Leichhardt Uniting Church, an affirming church that welcomes LGBTQI+ people in its congregation.

"It's a young community of faith — two-thirds would be under the age of 35," says Sukumar-White.

"The community is incredibly switched on when it comes to justice, not just queer inclusion, but climate action, First Nations issues, asylum seeker policy."

'Gender is just not a factor for us'

The role of women in the Church — controversial in other denominations and dioceses — has been resolved in the Uniting Church in Australia.

"It's not even a question," says Sukumar-White.

"We ordain men and women equally — there's no difference in ordination, there's no difference in who gets to be in the pulpit or not. Gender is just not a factor for us."

Sukumar-White believes women have a lot to offer as preachers of the gospel.

"There's something powerful about women in the pulpit," she says. "I think we bring a different energy."

Giving women a platform to preach

The saying "You can't be what you can't see" has particular resonance for Tracy McEwan, who recently completed a PhD examining the participation of Catholic Gen X women in the church in Australia.

In Catholicism, church law forbids laypeople – including all women — from delivering the homily during Mass.

In the dozens of interviews McEwan conducted with Catholic women during her research, she heard a "recurrent story about feeling isolated and marginalised".

The lack of visible female leaders in faith communities "has a huge impact" on the young women in their congregations, she says. 

"Having another woman in your line of sight makes a difference."