Sunday, August 01, 2010

An affirmative action disaster in Australia

There was no way Christine Nixon was the most qualified for Victoria's top police job. And it eventually showed. When there was a desperate need for a firm co-ordinating hand she didn't have a clue. Had she been a real leader she could have pulled all the other slack b*stards into gear. But there was basically no-one minding the shop -- so people died, many probably needlessly. When it comes to jobs, people should be judged on their competence -- not on what they've got between their legs

FORMER police commissioner Christine Nixon apologised unreservedly yesterday for her bungled performance on Black Saturday after the Victorian Bushfires Royal Commission lambasted her "hands-off approach".

The commission's final report delivered a damning appraisal of Ms Nixon's willingness to claim responsibility as chief commissioner and co-ordinator of the State Emergency Response Plan on February 7 last year. It described her leadership as "inadequate".

The report was highly critical of Ms Nixon's decision to leave the Emergency Co-ordination Centre at 6pm, return home and go out to dinner with friends rather than stay and lead an offensive against the fiercest fires to strike the state.

"It is not satisfactory that at this time - when she was aware of the potential for disaster and, in fact, while the magnitude of the disaster was becoming apparent with confirmation of fatalities - Ms Nixon was absent," it said. "On a day when conditions were predicted, and then proved, to be worse than Ash Wednesday, something more was required."

The report said Ms Nixon's approach to emergency co-ordination and the manner in which she acted "left much to be desired". It also expressed "dismay" at her approach in giving evidence before the royal commission, describing parts of her testimony as "inaccurate and incomplete", but found that she "did not intentionally mislead it".

Ms Nixon yesterday accepted the findings and was sorry and sympathetic to fire victims still trying to piece their lives back together. "The commission says on that day I should have stayed and I agree," she said. "They say that I should have been more active on that day and I agree."

Ms Nixon said she felt responsibility for what happened on the day. "I think back, was there something I could have done differently that may have saved people and I don't think there was but I've certainly learnt a lot from it," she said.

Asked if she would act differently if she had her time over she said: "I think all of us would do everything differently."

Ms Nixon was not the only leader to receive scathing criticism from the report. It found former CFA chief Russell Rees and DSE chief fire officer Ewan Waller relegated responsibility and did not do enough to warn communities about the firestorm heading their way.

The report said Mr Rees and Mr Waller were not fully across details of the deadly fires, did not personally map or monitor them and failed to seize responsibility.

Alarmingly, the report revealed Mr Rees did not speak to the incident controller of any of the major fires. "He therefore remained operationally removed from the fires and, as a result, was not in a position to appreciate the deficiencies in the staffing and expertise of some incident management teams," it said.

"Mr Rees did not review the warnings being issued for the Kilmore East fire despite the fire's obviously disastrous potential. "He did not review any predictive maps for any of the fires and would therefore not have been in a position - even had he reviewed the warnings being issued - to assess whether it was appropriate to warn the communities in the predicted fire path."

The report found "a disturbing tendency among senior fire agency personnel - including the chief officers - to consistently allocate responsibility further down the chain of command".

"Although the chief officer of the CFA and the chief fire officer of the DSE were undoubtedly in command of the resources in their respective agencies, neither was directly controlling the response to any of the fires," it said.

The report concluded that Mr Rees and Mr Waller should have done more to issue warnings, support incident management teams and institute statewide planning. "To the extent that they relied on their subordinates to perform these tasks, this reliance was ineffective," it said.

CFA chief Mick Bourke refused to comment directly about the criticism levelled at Mr Rees or reveal where he was yesterday, but said the report would be a "catalyst for change".

The commission found Police Minister Bob Cameron "acted properly" before and during the fires, but said he should have raised the option of declaring a state of disaster with Premier John Brumby.

Though she admitted to a lack of leadership on Black Saturday, Ms Nixon hoped her poor performance on that day would not overshadow her previous eights years as chief commissioner. "I hope that the community, when they do get a chance to read this in more detail, takes note of what the commission has had to say," she said.

"They certainly suggest that I should have done things differently and that's certainly part of it, but I think you have to judge a person's behaviour in the context of all of the things they have ever done as a leader."


Secular attempt to dictate religion in Australia

Creationism is a historic Christian doctrine so Christian parents have every right to have their kids taught about it. If they don't want to have their kids taught about it, nobody is telling them that they have to. It's not "hijacking" anything to teach the doctrines of your faith.

Kids have all the rest of their school time to hear the evolutionist side of the story so what is so bad about a different view being given at least some exposure? Where is the "tolerance" and respect for "diversity" among those who oppose it?

I am an atheist but I sent my son to a Catholic school precisely because I wanted him to hear the other side of the story. He seems to have emerged unharmed from the experience and in fact enjoyed his religion lessons at the time. So it is possible to practice tolerance as well as preach it -- JR

Primary school students are being taught that man and dinosaurs walked the Earth together and that there's fossil evidence to prove it.

Fundamentalist Christians are hijacking religious instruction classes despite education experts saying Creationism and attempts to convert children to Christianity have no place in state schools.

Students have been told Noah collected dinosaur eggs to bring on the Ark, and Adam and Eve were not eaten by dinosaurs because they were under a protective spell.

Critics are calling for the RI program to be scrapped after claims emerged Christian lay people are feeding children misinformation.

About 80 per cent of children at state primary schools attend one half-hour instruction a week, open to any interested lay person to conduct. Many of the instructors are from Pentecostal churches.

Education Queensland is aware that Creationism is being taught by some religious instructors, but said parents could opt out.

Australian Secular Lobby president Hugh Wilson said children were ostracised and discriminated against if they were pulled out of the class. In many cases, the RI lay people were not supervised by teachers. {So...?]

Kings Christian Church youth worker Dustin Bell said he taught "about creation" in Sunshine Coast schools. Set Free Christian Church's Tim McKenzie said when students questioned him why dinosaur fossils carbon dated as earlier than man, he replied that the great flood must have skewed the data.

Queensland Teachers Union president Steve Ryan said teachers were sometimes compelled to supervise the instructors "because of all the fire and brimstone stuff". Mr Ryan said Education Queensland had deemed RI a must-have, though teachers would prefer to spend the time on curriculum.

Buddhist Council of Queensland president Jim Ferguson said he was so disturbed that Creationism was being aired in state school classrooms that he would bring it up at the next meeting of the Religious Education Advisory Committee, part of Education Queensland. He said RI was supposed to be a forum for multi-faith discussion. [Since when?]

Education Queensland assistant director-general Patrea Walton said Creationism was part of some faiths, and therefore was part of some teaching.

New research shows three in 10 Australians believe dinosaurs and man did exist at the same time. The survey, by the Federation of Australian Scientific and Technological Societies, shows a "worrying" lack of basic scientific principles.

"The results underscore the need for students to be exposed to science and mathematics through a well resourced education system, rather than learning about science through Jurassic Park," FASTS president Dr Cathy Foley said.

PhD researcher Cathy Byrne found in a NSW-based survey that scripture teachers tended to discourage questioning, emphasised submission to authority and excluded different beliefs. She said 70 per cent of scripture teachers thought children should be taught the Bible as historical fact.

A parent of a Year 5 student on the Sunshine Coast said his daughter was ostracised to the library after arguing with her scripture teacher about DNA.

"The scripture teacher told the class that all people were descended from Adam and Eve," he said. "'My daughter rightly pointed out, as I had been teaching her about DNA and science, that 'wouldn't they all be inbred'? "But the teacher replied that DNA wasn't invented then."

After the parent complained, the girl spent the rest of the year's classes in the library. [That is punishment?? I didn't realize that books are such a bad thing]


Israel president claims English are 'anti-semitic'

I am no fan of Peres but there is a lot of evidence that he is right about this. The BBC is just about all the evidence you need but also see here and here and here and here and here

Israel's president has accused the English of being anti-semitic and claimed that MPs pander to Muslim voters. Shimon Peres said England was "deeply pro-Arab ... and anti-Israeli", adding: "They always worked against us." He added: "There is in England a saying that an anti-Semite is someone who hates the Jews more than is necessary."

His remarks, made in an interview on a Jewish website, provoked anger from senior MPs and Jewish leaders who said the 87-year-old president had "got it wrong". But other groups backed the former Israeli prime minister and said the number of anti-semitic incidents had risen dramatically in the UK in recent years.

The controversy follows the furore last week over David Cameron's remark that Gaza was a "prison camp", as he urged Israel to allow aid and people to move freely in and out of the Palestinian territory.

Mr Peres, a Nobel Peace Prize winner who is three years into his seven-year term as president and was awarded an honorary knighthood by the Queen in 2008, said that England's attitude towards Jews was Israel's "next big problem". "There are several million Muslim voters, and for many members of parliament, that's the difference between getting elected and not getting elected," he said.

"And in England there has always been something deeply pro-Arab, of course, not among all Englishmen, and anti-Israeli, in the establishment. "They abstained in the [pro-Zionist] 1947 UN partition resolution ... They maintained an arms embargo against us in the 1950s ... They always worked against us. They think the Arabs are the underdogs."

By contrast, relations with Germany, France and Italy were "pretty good", he added.

He made the comments in an interview with the historian Professor Benny Morris of Ben-Gurion University of the Negev published last week in Tablet, a Jewish news website.

The wide-ranging interview covered Mr Peres' role as one of Israel's longest-serving political leaders – an MP for 48 years, twice prime minister, and holder of other ministerial posts over the decades. He is firmly on the Israeli Left. He was awarded Nobel Peace Prize in 1994 jointly with Yitzhak Rabin and Yasser Arafat for his part as foreign minister in the peace talks which produced the landmark Oslo Accords.

But following his comments, James Clappison, the Conservative MP for Hertsmere and vice-chairman of Conservative Friends of Israel, said: "Mr Peres has got this wrong. "There are pro- and anti-Israel views in all European countries. Things are certainly no worse, as far as Israel is concerned, in this country than other European countries."

The MP added that he could "understand the frustration" that people in Israel felt with "certain elements of the British broadcast media" which present an unbalanced view of Israel. He said: "I can understand Mr Peres' concerns, but I don't recognise what he is saying about England."

Yet in Israel, Mr Peres is far from alone in holding such views, which have gained a wider following, particularly on the Right, since the expulsion of an Israeli diplomat over accusations that Mossad sent agents using British passports to assassinate a Hamas commander in Dubai.

Aryeh Eldad, a right-wing member of the Israeli parliament, the Knesset, accused Britain of working against Israeli interests for decades – ever since it "betrayed" its promises to build a Jewish homeland when it governed Palestine under a League of Nations mandate. "Both governments from the right and the left prefer Arab interests over Israeli interests," said Mr Eldad, whose father Israel was a leading figure in the Stern Gang, the most radical of the Jewish terror groups that fought British mandatory rule.

"The other layer is an ongoing, subtle form of anti-semitism. It is not as overt as it was in Germany, it is a quiet, polite form."

Some leading Jewish commentators in Britain disagreed. Rabbi Dr Jonathan Romain, minister of Maidenhead synagogue and a writer and broadcaster, said: "I am surprised at Peres. It is a sweeping statement that is far too one-sided. "Britain has supported both Israel and Arab causes at different periods over the last 50 years. There are elements of anti-semitism but it is not endemic to British society. "The tolerance and pluralism here make Britain one of the best countries in the world in which to live."

Mr Peres found support, however, from other pro-Israeli groups. Jacob Vince, the director of Christian Friends of Israel, said there was anti-semitism in the UK although many people had a positive view of Israel but were unwilling to express it publicly.

Mr Vince said it was "difficult to see how many MPs would not be influenced by the number of Muslim voters in their constituencies". The Government was not treating Arabs as the underdogs but rather was trying to appease them, he said. "The question is how well they understand those with whom they are seeking conciliation."

Mr Peres is "measured and moderate," he added. He said: "His comments have serious connotations and I am sure would not be said lightly."

One Israeli politician expressed disbelief that the doveish Mr Peres had launched such a broadside against the British. Benny Begin, a cabinet minister whose father Menachem was prime minister and before that leader of Irgun, the group that killed 91 people in an attack on Jerusalem's King David Hotel in 1946, said: "Peres? I simply can't believe he said that."

The latest figures show that the number of anti-semitic incidents in Britain is rising, according to the Community Security Trust (CST), a charity set up in 1984 to monitor such incidents. The situation in Britain had worsened "significantly" in the past decade, a spokesman said.

In 2009 there were 924 anti-semitic incidents, the highest figure since CST began keeping records in 1984, and 55 per cent higher than the previous record in 2006. The figures include reports, accepted only when backed by evidence, of physical assaults, verbal abuse and racist graffiti. The monthly figure has soared from 10-20 incidents in the 1990s to 40-50 now.

Last year nearly half of the 924 anti-semitic race attacks recorded by the CST showed a political motivation, with 66 per cent of those including some reference to Israel and the Middle East.

A 2009 report by the US-based Anti-Defamation League found one in five Britons admitted Israel influences their opinion of British Jews, and the majority of those said that they felt "worse" about Jews than they used to. It found, however, that Britain was less anti-semitic than other European countries.


Nicolas Sarkozy threatens some foreign-born criminals with loss of citizenship

Quite a limited threat but long overdue

PRESIDENT Nicolas Sarkozy has threatened to strip the French nationality from foreign-born criminals who use violence against police or public officials.

Struggling in the opinion polls after his Government was implicated in a financial scandal and in the wake of a spate of violent unrest, Mr Sarkozy announced a headline-grabbing package of security measures.

Top of the list, in a week when Mr Sarkozy had already threatened to expel foreign Roma who commit crimes back to Eastern Europe, was a vow to tighten nationality rules for other non-French-born criminals. "Nationality should be stripped from anyone of foreign origin who deliberately endangers the life of a police officer, a soldier or a gendarme or anyone else holding public authority," he said.

Speaking in the eastern city of Grenoble, scene in recent weeks of clashes between police and armed rioters, Mr Sarkozy said that foreign minors who commit crimes would henceforth find it harder to get citizenship on coming of age.

And he promised to review the welfare payments made to non-documented immigrants living in France, in a speech made amid renewed accusations that Sarkozy has swerved to the right to distract from his political woes.



Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN (Note that EYE ON BRITAIN has regular posts on the reality of socialized medicine). My Home Pages are here or here or here or Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


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