Jews are still not safe, even in NYC

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Why would anyone bother being a landlord these days?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


The banality of Leftism

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Educational apartheid in Australian schools?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


School censorship by conservatives

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Should minorities be angry at the Queen?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

They come to this with no conflict. I cannot.


Scurrilous journalism award

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nine also declined to comment.

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

The academic article is here

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The third medical student did not show up.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

image from

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Scandalous misuse of hospital beds

One would think that giving the "blockers" absolute priority to welfare housing would be an obvious step forward. But bureaucracy could thwart even that. Why does each client have to have a bureaucratic "plan"? Getting them into accomodations should be a first step, not a last step. Planning is all very well but when it leads to months of waste of precious resources it is idiocy. But idiocy is to be expected of Left and centrist governments

NDIS Minister Bill Shorten has launched an ambitious bid to free disabled people waiting an average of five months in hospital despite being medically ready for discharge, taking up more than a thousand sick beds unnecessarily and costing taxpayers up to $1bn each year.

Mr Shorten has challenged his agency to respond to disabled people within four days once alerted that they were ready to be discharged from hospital.

He also revealed plans to hire more NDIS staff to be stationed in hospitals and giving them the authority to make faster “on the spot” decisions to fast-track discharges.

Currently, NDIS participants are waiting 160 days on average for the National Disability ­Insurance Agency to get them out of hospitals, even though they have been deemed fit to leave.

Mr Shorten pointed to possible reasons behind the delays including bureaucracy or lack of appropriate accommodation.

The Australian has obtained exclusive details of the proposed Hospital Discharge Operational Plan, which shows that, of the 2328 NDIS participants in hospital, 1384 were medically ready for discharge.

Mr Shorten said the current wait times were “unacceptable” and costing the hospital system up to $3m a day. “If there’s 1500 people on average every night in Australia in a hospital when they could be in medium term or long-term accommodation elsewhere, if each person is costing north of $2000 a night for care that means every night in Australia $3m ticks over,” he said.

Of those NDIS participants ready for discharge, 451 were in NSW, 276 in Victoria, 258 in Queensland and 177 in WA. Most, or 735, had an NDIS interim plan while the other 649 were yet to receive one.

The Hospital Discharge plan is aimed at pressuring the NDIS into improving outcomes for disabled Australians, with Mr Shorten and his state counterparts setting a number of targets to fast-track the transfer of NDIS participants out of hospitals.

The targets include contacting a participant within four days of the agency being made aware they are medically fit to be discharged and getting their NDIS plan in place within 30 days, down from the current average of 80 days.

Mr Shorten said the targets and accompanying reporting framework would help reveal what was causing the long discharge delays.

“We’re going to set some goals,” he said. “Whether they’re realistic or not remains to be seen. These goals, to use a metaphor, are like a dye you might put in an MRI scan. I’m not saying we’ll achieve this overnight, or even in a year, but let’s find out where the obstacles are.

“Is it clunky bureaucracy? Is it a lack of long-term accommodation? Is it a lack of paid care and support teams within the community? Is it poor communication between hospitals and other departments? It could be all of the above, but let’s find out.”

Mr Shorten said the reporting framework, which would measure outcomes against the new targets, was about “keeping the system honest”.

“This data is not about blaming the states or feds, let’s just deal with the truth,” he said.

“The truth will show us what we’re not doing right.”

The operational plan would increase the number of Health Liaison Officers – which are NDIS staff offered to hospitals to assist their discharge teams – by more than 20 per cent by the end of September.

This will increase the number of HLOs from 33 to 40, with the aim of growing the pool of such staff over time.

NDIS hospital teams will also receive additional training and the authority to make decisions about home and living plan variations for participants on the spot.

Mr Shorten said the plan and its bold targets were intended to push the agency.

“I’ve challenged the agency to explain why we can’t achieve these standards,” he said.

“There may be good reasons but I want to understand why. It’s not good enough to shrug our shoulders and say ‘too hard’.”

Work is also being done between the Commonwealth and the states to ensure that, where a participant is not eligible for specialist disability accommodation, timely access to social housing can be sourced.

Mr Shorten said that while he believed there were vacancies in disability accommodation in some areas, he was worried that in places such as Tasmania and regional Australia the stock of places was “insufficient”.

Mr Shorten said the plan was aimed at improving good will not only between Australians with disabilities and the agency, but between the Commonwealth and states as well.

However, he maintained states and territories needed to do more in supporting disabled Australians. “I still think states aren’t paying enough towards NDIS,” he said.


Stark evidence of how landlord and tenant legislation has "helped" tenants

In a single-minded attempt to "protect" tenants, the government has made it hard for landlords. So guess what? Landlords are people too so they have got out of the game and sold off the properties they once rented out. Hence the shortage. A government that wanted to help tenants would make it easier on landlords, not harder. I once had six houses that I rented out. I now have none. The battle got too hard

It's an heroic thing when a landlord puts a property worth half a million dollars into the hands of tenants with only a trifling security deposit to protect their interests but it's heroism that is rarely recognized. And no Leftist government will recognize it. Hate and grievance are their themes

Working Queenslanders in the state’s regional communities are being forced into homelessness despite earning a steady income, disturbing both advocates and industry leaders.

Veteran support services have described the dire wave of those squeezed on to the streets as the “new cohort” of Queensland’s homeless.

The alarming reality for those who are employed but displaced was revealed as emergency tents are flown into communities across the breadth of the state, detailing the urgent nature of the state’s housing crisis.

It comes as Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk last week refused to convene a housing summit amid mounting pleas from stakeholders and advocates for the government to work with industry to develop new ideas to address the state’s housing needs.

Anglicare Central Queensland chief executive Carol Godwin said residents in Rockhampton were burdened with the same tightening of the market which has squeezed the community into insecure housing.

She said there are now low income working families presenting for support who she described as the “new cohort” of homeless regional Queenslanders, which “we have never had in the past”.

“What really has surprised us is we’ve seen significant pressures for those that are even working to secure housing,” she told The Courier-Mail.

“If you’re a young person, even if you’re sharing, forget about any private rental being affordable — it simply is not.

“Even if it was affordable, no one would house you anyway — there’s just nothing there for you.”

The vacancy rate in Rockhampton was crunched to 0.3 per cent, according to SQM Research — a desperate shortfall of available housing experienced in nearly all Queensland communities.

In Toowoomba, where the rate has fallen to 0.4 per cent, the minuscule available stock has led to a near 50 per cent rise in homelessness in three years, Lifeline Darling Downs chief executive Grant Simpson said, citing Queensland Council of Social Service data.

“That’s a phenomenal increase (in homeless people),” he said.

“If you go out further west in Queensland in remote and very remote areas, it exponentially increases out there even more.

“It’s just a very significant issue that seems to be increasing and there doesn’t seem to be a short-term solution to alleviate it.”

Finding a rental in the state’s regional market has been getting tougher, according to locals, even if they have the finances to back them up.

For 25-year-old Amity Ellis, securing a rental in Mackay after moving from her hometown in Tasmania has been “very difficult”.

“I work 38 hours a week on casual wages, and I still can’t seem to find anything,” she said.

“I will apply for a property and have it be unsuccessful the next day.”

Being from interstate also means she has limited options to rely on when house applications fall through each week.

“It’s been very difficult. I’m from Tasmania so I only know a handful of people that can offer me support,” she said.

In the meantime, she’s been fortunate enough to stay with her partner and his family, but the 25-year-old receptionist is keen to get a place of her own.

“My housing is very complicated … I can stay with my partner and his family but they just had a new born baby so it’s a little over crowded,” she said.

Amid the crisis, caravan parks have evolved into makeshift crisis centres across the state with the peak body declaring members are being swamped with the highest ever levels of inquiries.

And Caravan Parks Association of Queensland chief executive Michelle Weston said it was “unusual cohorts” of people seeking immediate refuge.

“Parks that I’ve spoken to have indicated they’ve got families who are living in a tent in their park for a period of up to three months,” she said.

“These are families with young children and two parents who are both working — these are not people who would normally be in a situation where they are without a standard rental property.

“I haven’t seen it at a point like this in the past,” Ms Weston said, who has been operating in the industry for at least a decade.

The alarming reality of the crisis has led to Queensland St Vinnies chief executive Kevin Mercer — along with Ms Godwin, Mr Simpson and about a dozen other stakeholders and advocates — demanding Ms Palaszczuk convene an urgent housing summit.

“The whole system needs to be around the table,” Mr Mercer said.

“It needs to be an action-oriented outcome and there needs to be some real results and real action that comes out of it with a serious investment to get the traction we need in the long term.”

Mr Mercer told The Courier-Mail his charity foundation has resorted to handing out tents in the Atherton Tablelands near Cairns as well as Toowoomba, Roma, Warwick and Noosa on the Sunshine Coast.

He conceded this was an “inadequate response”, but it was also revealing of the scale of the crisis.

“It’s better than sleeping on the street and uncovered but it’s not the right response,” he said, adding that St Vinnies volunteers felt the “anguish” of being forced to provide the emergency option.

“It’s working people who have been displaced out of their homes because they can’t afford the rent increase or the landlord sold the property,” Mr Mercer said.

“They’re working in that community; living in that community; kids go to school in that community, but there’s no living options.”

In outlining the urgency of the need for the state government to convene a summit, Mr Simpson said it was crucial the private sector were included to allow various specialists to contribute to the solution.


Do YOU have this dining set at home? Expert reveals the dangerous reason why you should stop eating off them immediately

Ingesting lead is undoubtedly bad for you but where is the evidence that lead leaches through a hard glaze into food? If it does, how many molecules are involved? Very few, I would think.

An American expert and child health advocate has revealed shocking news about the vintage Royal Doulton Bunnykins dining sets.

Tamara Rubin, from Oregon, is best known for testing pottery, crystal, and toys for lead after two of her children were poisoned with the toxin in 2005.

The mum-of-four has discouraged people from using the popular vintage Bunnykins dining sets with food, as she has found them to contain high levels of lead and arsenic.

She recently tested a Bunnykins baby bowl with a raft on it and found 93,600 ppm of lead and 3,460 ppm of arsenic.

The expert also revealed that 90 ppm and up is extremely unsafe for children and dangerous to consume.

'Vintage Bunnykins are not safe for food use and especially not safe for children to use,' said Tamara in a recent post on her website.

A Royal Doulton spokesperson told FEMAIL that a product's safety and quality was very important to them.

'We are committed to putting our customers first and listening to their concerns about consumer issues,' they said.

'We are conscious that manufacturing safety standards have changed over time and recommend that our vintage designs are not used for tableware as originally intended, but enjoyed and loved as a collector's item.

'Royal Doulton is committed to full compliance with all laws and regulations in relevant countries, however, we are aware some of our customers may still be worried about the Bunnykins pieces they own.'

'We would recommend they send a photo of the product back stamp and pattern to our customer service team, this information can be used to help determine the age of the product and reassure our customers about the safety of our Bunnykins products for food use.'

Generations of Australians have enjoyed the family-favourite dining sets, with many passing down the adorable plates, bowls, and cups to their children and grandchildren as gifts.

She added, 'For context: anything made today (2020) with over 90 ppm lead in the paint, glaze or coating is considered illegal in the United States if it is an item that is intended for use by children.'

The child health advocate also revealed that she found multiple other Bunnykins dishes to contain lead and arsenic as well.

'Bunnykins baby bowl with the artist contains 80,000 ppm lead on the food surface,' she said with her test report of the dish.

The high levels of lead and arsenic can cause several health and developmental issues, including severe pain, learning disabilities, chronic fatigue, memory loss, and more.

The Australian Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment, and Water has warned residents that lead in ceramics pose extreme health risks.

'Lead is a toxic substance that can affect people of any age,' they revealed in a 2021 report.

'Lead has long been used in ceramic ware, both in glazes and in decorations'

The government also divulged that the substance is 'especially harmful' to children, pregnant women, and unborn babies as it accumulates in your body and can hence pose a health hazard over time.

'This is because the lead can get into food and drink prepared, stored or served in the crockery,' the report said.


‘Doomsday Glacier ’hanging on ‘by its fingernails’ in Antarctica, scientists say

Warmists have been prophecying ice-sheet collapse for years but nothing significant ever happens.

And if the Thwaites glacier did detach it is unlikely to be due to global warming. It is located in West Antarctica, where there is a lot of subsurface vulcanism. The collapse is said to be coming from below not from the top down. And that suggests vulcanism

A glacier three times the size of Tasmania is hanging on “by its fingernails”, scientists have warned.

Thwaites Glacier — otherwise known as the “Doomsday glacier,” due to the fact it could raise the sea level by several metres — is allegedly hanging on “by its fingernails”.

Scientists discovered that the glacier’s underwater base has been eroding due to the increase in the Earth’s temperature, according to a study published in Nature Geoscience.

“Thwaites is really holding on today by its fingernails,” said Robert Larter, a marine geophysicist who co-authored the study.

“And we should expect to see big changes over small timescales in the future — even from one year to the next — once the glacier retreats beyond a shallow ridge in its bed.”

West Antarctica’s Thwaites Glacier is roughly three times the size of Tasmania and could potentially raise the sea level should it fall into the ocean, which scientists predicted could happen within the next three years.

NASA said the Amundsen Sea region, which is “only a fraction of the whole West Antarctic Ice Sheet,” would “raise global sea level by about 5m”.

Researchers have monitored the glacier’s recession since “as recently as the mid-20th century,” according to lead author Alastair Graham, and have recorded a disintegration rate of nearly double since the last decade.

Earlier this year, an international group of scientists attempted to study the glacier in an effort to help stop the erosion, however, the group was thwarted by a chunk of ice from the doomed glacier.

Graham stated that it “was truly a once-in-a-lifetime mission” and he hopes that the team will be able to return to the glacier soon — since scientists believed the erosion was working at a slower pace before the study was published.

“Just a small kick to the Thwaites could lead to a big response,” said Graham


UK: Class background remains a barrier to accessing opportunities in later life, even among those who are successful, new research has found

This is about averages only. Smarter people may be able to rise in life despite a poor start. But there is no doubt that money is only a limited help in conferring social prestige in Britain. Members of the hereditary aristocracy can sometimes be rather poor but will still be prestigious in Britain. And people from a poor background who have somehow made a lot of money will often be dismissed as "nouveau riche". You can win the biggest lottery in the land and still be "common"

So is there any way to acquire social prestige and the advantages that brings in Britain? There are two but neither can be put on like a coat. Essentially you have to BE the sort of person that an upper class person normally is.

The best-known of those avenues to high acceptance in Britain is that old old method: Education. But not just any education. You have to have had most or all of your schooling from a prestigious private school. Eton and Harrow are the leading names there but there are rather a lot of private schools in Britain and there are quite a few who will give you the education you need to fit seamlessly into upper-class life.

Such schools will ensure (for example) that you have "a good seat" (can ride a horse well) and can shoot (with a shotgun). Even the children of the "nouveau riche" could gain acceptance if they went to a "good" school.

There is also a smaller cohort who just fit in naturally despite a humble background. As Toby Young has pointed out, the higher social echelons tend to be on average more intelligent. So what comes naurally to an upper class person will largely be the same as what comes naturally to a high IQ person.

I benefited from that during my year in Britain. I didn't try for it but my high degree of social acceptance would be the envy of most upwardly ambitious strivers in Britain. I even had an aristocratic girlfriend, which is not a bad index of acceptance. More on that here

A study of 8,118 professionals and higher-level managers found that those who came from a prosperous background were much more likely to move around the UK, and ended up in richer areas when they did move, than those with working-class parents.

Moving to a richer area meant better access to well-paid jobs and better schools, which meant that people from poorer backgrounds were “unable to close the gap” on their peers.

In an article to be published this week in the British Sociological Association’s journal Sociology, Dr Katharina Hecht, of Northeastern University, in Boston, US, and Dr Daniel McArthur, of the University of York, said that it was likely that wealthy parents had more resources to help their children buy a house.

The two researchers carried out a longitudinal analysis of census data about people born between 1965 and 1981 who were working in higher managerial and professional occupations by the age of 30 to 36.

They examined whether people had moved home over a distance of at least 28km from when they were aged 10 to 16, and compared the occupations of their parents, how often they moved home and the level of affluence of the local authority district they moved to.

Of those with higher managerial and professional parents, around 60% made at least one long-distance move, while only 30% of those whose parents’ occupations were classed as “semi-routine” or “routine” had moved areas.

“Among higher managers and professionals, those with advantaged backgrounds lived in more affluent areas as children than those from disadvantaged backgrounds,” said McArthur and Hecht, who was formerly based at the Politics of Inequality research centre at the University of Konstanz in Germany.

“This area gap persists during adulthood: when the upwardly mobile move, they are unable to close the gap to their peers with privileged backgrounds in terms of the affluence of the areas they live in – they face a moving target.

“Therefore, even when the upwardly socially mobile – who grew up in less-advantaged places and are less likely to move long-distance – do move area, they are unable to close the gap to their intergenerationally stable peers who started out in more affluent areas.”

The researchers say that for women in higher professions, differences in family background correspond to the difference between “living in economically mixed areas on the south coast, such as Portsmouth, and living in affluent areas of the London commuter belt, such as Brentwood”. The difference was less dramatic for men.

“Geography shapes access to opportunities to accumulate wealth including the highest paying jobs, higher house prices, and opportunities for entrepreneurship,” they said.

“Affluent parents will be better able to facilitate … moves to high cost but opportunity-rich areas such as London or the South-East.

“The children of higher managers and professionals are likely to have wealthier parents and hence receive larger transfers of wealth. They will be able to afford houses in more expensive areas, net of income, than their counterparts from less advantaged backgrounds. As a result, wealth is likely to play an important role in explaining why those from advantaged backgrounds move to more affluent areas than the upwardly mobile.”

The head of the Social Mobility Commission, Katharine Birbalsingh, has said there should be less focus on getting poor pupils into Oxbridge and more moves to improve people’s lives in smaller steps.

In her first report as commissioner, she said that occupational mobility had been fairly stable for decades and that it was not true that social mobility had been getting worse on all counts.

Research by the Sutton Trust earlier this year found that social mobility had become much more limited, with those who lived in rented accommodation as children now far less likely to own their own homes in later life.

It found that many people now had a greater chance of falling down the class structure than moving up.

Is it time to defund the humanities?

As I have often pointed out, I am a big fan of much in the humanities but I don't see it as deserving of taxpayer subsidy

My own first degree was an Arts degree but I think the argument in favour of Humanities involvement in education is greatly over-egged. I am not at all sure that any arts and humanities courses should be publicly funded. There is very little evidence that they do any good. All we get are high flown assertions to that effect

I myself greatly enjoyed my studies of Homer, Thucydides, Chaucer, Tennyson, Wordsworth, Hopkins, Goethe, Wittgenstein, Schubert, Bach and Beethoven etc. and still do -- but I can't see that I needed to go to university to acquire that familiarity

Much of the cost of running our universities and other centres of higher education is borne by government, meaning the taxpayer. Therefore, to reciprocate, one of the main responsibilities of these institutions should be to produce graduates who meet the needs of society. This is not to suggest that we should exclude the ‘follow your dreams’ brigade from higher education. But funding, facilities and priority should be given to subjects that will contribute more to our national prosperity and societal requirements. These subjects would include engineering, computer science, mathematics, chemistry, physics and other sciences intended to improve our skill deficiencies, our industrial productivity and to encourage more entrepreneurs. To improve our public services, we need to expand training in medicine, dentistry, nursing, other healthcare professions as well as social work of different kinds.

The state should consider reducing university funding for the arts and humanities. Would our society suffer by having fewer graduates in English, history, geography, modern languages and other subjects, or would it prosper by redirecting that university funding to more beneficial subjects? Many readers will be enraged by that suggestion and I will be accused of being an intellectual philistine attempting another form of social engineering. On the contrary though, this is merely being pragmatic. As a nation, we should cut our cloth to suit our need.

A case in point is the cap on medical student places of 7,500 annually which has been static for almost a decade with the exception of A level grade inflation in 2020 and 2021. This number of training slots is totally inadequate for the needs of the NHS. To plug the gap, the General Medical Council registered 53,296 doctors from abroad between 2016 and 2021. The cap exists because of the costs of training doctors. There is no additional funding available but that could change if places for less essential subjects were reduced.

It is not to insult the humanities or other subjects to point out the problem we have in this country with ‘Mickey Mouse’ degrees. The term was even expressed by Margaret Hodge when Minister of State for Universities in the Tony Blair Labour government. She described it as ‘a degree where the content is not as rigorous as one would expect and where the degree itself may not have huge relevance in the labour market.’ That was 20 years ago and priorities have not changed. If anything more non-academic modules have been introduced.

Dame Margaret’s comment would have annoyed her boss who in 1999 had expressed a target of 50 per cent of school leavers going to university, a target recently increased to 70 per cent by the Tony Blair Foundation. That ambition would guarantee the creation of more unsuitable subjects especially for less able students who would be laden with debt from tuition fees. Why does Tony Blair not listen to his son Euan and voices from industry who advocate more apprenticeships?

By reducing funding for the humanities, students would begin to not think of university life as a goal in itself or as being a means of finding independence and liberation from parental influences. Instead the primary consideration would be the utility of their subject. There are of course, exceptions to this rule at the moment. The brightest students from the best universities studying the most esoteric subject may effortlessly move into finance, management consultancy or the law. There will also be scientists who fail in the job market. But it is the average student from the average university gaining the average BA degree who will have the most difficulty finding relevant employment. It is for them that this article is written. They should not suffer because of misguided career advice and a flawed state university funding policy.

The problem may be self-limiting as universities push for tuition fees to be increased closer to the £24,000 per year paid by foreign students. Prospective university students whose chosen subject has little relevance to the job market may be reluctant to take the excessive debt gamble. A glance at tables linking degrees to graduate entry salaries or to the chances of getting a job with that degree would be a wise move for most young people.

Part of the problem is that the decision on approximate career paths must be taken while selecting A level subjects. That is how we have arranged our higher education. At that age, students may be more attracted to softer subjects in preference to the greater discipline and demands of science subjects. That truth delegates greater responsibility to schools and to realistic career advice. Schools have the responsibility to guide students to good jobs.

I’m not suggesting that schools should indoctrinate students into science subjects but the advantages, importance and greater challenges of the broad range of studies defined by the STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) should be explained. Science and mathematics teachers could be encouraged to make the case to counterbalance the preference some pupils at that age have for softer subjects. They could be paid more than other teachers given the greater relevance of their subjects. And the state should itself reduce funding and therefore the number of humanity places available so that only the most rigorous and successful courses continue.

Science and technology look forward to a progressive future while English and history look back into the past and at best, attempt reinterpretation and revision. These subjects can be learnt alongside STEM subjects. And in my experience, many scientists are also hungry culture vultures – there’s no reason students can’t enjoy the arts outside of a university degree.