Australian government has racist and sexist adviser


This 16 October 2014 video about Australia is called Barry Spurr allegedly describes Aboriginals as ‘human rubbish tips’ and women as ‘whores’.

From daily The Guardian in Britain:

Professor Barry Spurr suspended by Sydney University over offensive emails

Spurr, a consultant to the federal government’s national English curriculum review, has been suspended over ‘serious allegations’, university says

Gay Alcorn

Friday 17 October 2014 04.25 BST

The University of Sydney has suspended Prof Barry Spurr over emails in which he called the prime minister, Tony Abbott, an “Abo lover”, Indigenous Australians “human rubbish tips” and Nelson Mandela as a “darky”.

In a statement, the university said Spurr was facing “serious allegations in relation to offensive emails sent from a university account”.

Spurr, a poetry expert, was a specialist consultant to the federal government’s national curriculum review looking at English from foundation to year 12.

The emails, first obtained by website New Matilda, have seriously damaged the review’s findings, with Labor calling them “tainted” and the Australian Education Union saying the review had been exposed as “an ideological waste of time from the start”.

In a series of emails over two years sent to senior academics and officials within the university, Spurr wrote that Abbott would have to be surgically separated from his “Siamese twin”, Australian of the Year and AFL star Adam Goodes, who is Aboriginal.

He said the university’s chancellor, Belinda Hutchinson, was an “appalling minx”,’ while other women were described as “whores”. He used terms such as “mussies” and “chinky-poos”.

The national curriculum review, released this month, largely accepted Spurr’s recommendations regarding the teaching of English. He had asserted in his report to the review that “the impact of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on literature in English in Australia has been minimal” and advised a greater emphasis on the western literary canon.

The university said Spurr was immediately suspended from teaching and was “precluded from attending any university campus while the matter is investigated and dealt with in accordance with the terms of the university’s enterprise agreement”.

“Racist, sexist or offensive language is not tolerated at the University of Sydney.”

The government-appointed heads of the curriculum review, Dr Kevin Donnelly and Prof Ken Wiltshire, chose Spurr as a specialist consultant on English.

Donnelly told Guardian Australia he had not heard of the email story and “would have to Google it”. “I have no comment.” Wiltshire did not respond to requests for comment.

The education minister, Christopher Pyne, attempted to distance the government from the controversy, saying the subject experts were chosen by the independent review and that the government had no involvement. Pyne rejected the denigration of minority groups, saying it was “repugnant”.

Spurr was a well-known conservative critic of the national curriculum before his appointment to review English. In 2010 he contributed to a critique published by the the libertarian think tank the Institute of Public Affairs.

In his chapter, Spurr was scathing about the curriculum proposed by the former Labor government. “An empty generosity is proposed, bloated with ramifying detail and long on windy rhetoric, an obesity of the mind: short on nourishing, intellectually-bracing substance. It is the educational equivalent of fast food.”

He also stressed the importance of studying the Bible as “essential” throughout a child’s learning. “The biblical story of Noah’s ark is an obvious example of the kind of text to which the youngest children will be drawn and it can begin their introduction to the ‘great code’ of literature in English.

He has published books including Studying Poetry, See the Virgin Blest: Representations of the Virgin Mary in English Poetry and Anglo-Catholic in Religion: TS Eliot and Christianity.

Spurr’s expert advice to the national curriculum was influential, with most of his recommendations accepted in the final report. He criticised the emphasis on Aboriginal texts, saying the “the impact of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on literature in English in Australia has been minimal and is vastly outweighed by the impact of global literature in English, and especially that from Britain, on our literary culture”.

He noted that the curriculum suggested reading texts that made links between students’ lives and texts about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children. “Why aren’t texts mentioned that might establish links between young Australian children’s lives and those from Europe or North America? Why must the linkage be confined to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander texts?”

The review recommended that there should be a “greater emphasis on dealing with and introducing literature from the western literary canon, especially poetry,” which Spurr had urged. It also recommended a “stronger emphasis on exemplary literary texts”, with less focus on “children creating their own literature”, again, a recommendation of Spurr.

In one of the emails published by New Matilda written on 19 April this year, Spurr reveals that Pyne wanted him to compare Australian school curriculums with curriculums from other countries.

“The Californian high school English curriculum has arrived (as Pyne wants me to compare ours with other countries). Another 300 pages of reading!

“And whereas the local curriculum has the phrase ‘Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander’ on virtually every one of its 300 pages, the Californian curriculum does not ONCE mention native Americans and has only a very slight representation of African-American literature (which, unlike Abo literature, actually exists and has some distinguished productions).”

On Friday, Abbott said he had seen a report about the emails, but ‘“I haven’t had much of a chance to read it yet and I’m not easily upset, I’ve got to say, so I’ll study it closely.”

Shorten said Abbott’s remarks were inadequate. “It is not right when you are the leader of this country to simply laugh off racism. It’s not leadership to not stand up for minorities, to not recognise that what makes this country great is that we come from a hundred different countries, and that adds to the richness of who we are.”

“The government needs to explain and reassure Australians that the view of the reviewer and the disgusting remarks have not infiltrated the curriculum that is taught to all young Australians.”

The federal president of the Australian Education Union, Angelo Gavrielatos, said the emails exposed the national curriculum review as ideological.

“It is clear that Professor Spurr’s independent review of the English curriculum had a strong influence on the final review, which quotes him extensively.

“While Pyne can try and distance himself from these shocking remarks, he cannot change the fact that the curriculum review has been tainted by the people that have been chosen to contribute to it.”

Extinct giant kangaroos, new research


This music video is called Saint Saens: Carnival of the Animals~Kangourous (Kangaroos).

From daily The Independent in Britain:

The mystery of the extinct giant kangaroo is solved – it didn’t hop

The giant Sthenurus – dead for 30,000 years – was three times the size of the modern-day kangaroo

Steve Connor, science editor

Wednesday 15 October 2014

It looked like something out of the pages of Alice in Wonderland but this giant, short-faced kangaroo hid another peculiar characteristic down its pouch – it walked rather than hopped on its hind legs.

The extinct marsupial, which was nearly three times bigger than the largest living kangaroos, died out 30,000 years ago, but only now have scientists been able to tie its locomotion down.

With a leap of the imagination, the researchers were able to visualise how the giant Sthenurus kangaroo, which weighed up to 240kg, moved around by putting one foot in front of another rather than hopping on both legs.

Bipedal hopping is a quintessential feature of kangaroo locomotion, but the Sthenurine group of extinct ‘roos was clearly made for walking, according to Christine Janis of Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island, who led the study published in the on-line journal PlosOne.

“When I first saw a mounted skeleton of a Sthenurine I was struck by how different it was in the back end to modern kangaroos, despite the superficial similarity of long hind legs,” Dr Janis said.

“My work emphasises that the large modern kangaroos are highly specialized in their anatomy for hopping in comparison with other large extinct kangaroos,” she said.

“Sthenurines almost certainly did hop, except perhaps for the very largest ones. The issue is that their anatomy is also suggestive of bipedal walking, which is the unexpected issue here,” she added.

Modern kangaroos use hopping to move around at speed but when moving slowly they walk mostly on all fours, using their massive tails as support – so-called “pentapedal” locomotion.

The extinct Sthenurus, however, must have walked on its hind legs because its anatomy does not fit with the notion of hopping or pentapedal locomotion, Dr Janis said. For a start, it had “robust”, heavier bones compared with the more slender anatomy of modern kangaroos, which would have made hopping hazardous.

“If it is not possible in terms of biomechanics to hop at very slow speeds, particularly if you are a big animal, and you cannot easily do pentapedal locomotion, then what do you have left? You’ve got to move somehow,” Dr Janis said.

An analysis of the giant kangaroo’s anatomy suggests it was well suited to bearing the animal’s entire weight on one leg, which is crucial for bipedal walking. Its ankle bone, for instance, had a flange over the back joint to provide extra support – something missing in modern kangaroos.

Sthenurus has proportionately bigger hip and knee joints than today’s kangaroos and the shape of its pelvis – broad and flared – suggested that it had large gluteal muscles in is backside, which would have allowed it to balance on one leg as it moved the other leg forward, Dr Janis said.

“I think that they originally took this up as an alternative slow gait to the way that other kangaroos move slowly on all fours using their tail to propel their hind legs past their front legs [because] hopping is biomechanically impossible at very slow speeds,” Dr Janis said.

“This requires a flexible back and supporting their weight on their hands, whereas sthenurines had a stiff back and specialized hands for feeding. So they had this unique walking gait,” she said.

Sthenurine kangaroos died out around the same time that modern humans arrived in Australia and began to spread across the continent, suggesting that their demise may have had something to do with human hunting.

Walking rather than hopping would have been a slower and less efficient means of moving fast, which may have been one of the reasons by the giant, walking kangaroo went extinct, leaving their hopping cousins to fill the void, Dr Janis explained.

Australian ‘ISIS terrorist sword’ really Shiite plastic ‘sword’


This video from Australia says about itself:

Tony Abbott‘s New Terror Laws

The Abbott government has proposed drastic changes to Australia’s current anti-terrorism laws. These laws, if enacted, will have massive ramifcations on the rights of all Australians, especially targating Islamic communities.

A community forum was held to address these concerns, and to organise a fightback against the amendments being passed into law.

Speakers on the night:

Adam Bandt MP, Greens Deputy Leader and Federal Member for Melbourne
Professor Jude McCulloch, Criminology, Monash University
Ghaith Krayem, Secretary, Islamic Council of Victoria
Colin Jacobs, Electronic Frontiers Australia
Rob Stary, Civil Rights Lawyer

The night was organised by Adam Bandt, who co hosted the event with Ellen Sandell, Greens candidate for the state seat of Melbourne.

Members of the audience were invited to make to make comments and ask questions of the speakers.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Elizabeth St, Melbourne.

*Technical Issue: Due to a camera malfunction, the first thirty three minutes of the video is slightly out of focus.

By James Cogan in Australia:

“Terrorist” sword seized in Australian police raids is plastic

13 October 2014

The Fairfax press revealed last week that the inscribed Arabic sword seized during unprecedented police raids on September 18—and portrayed by the media as the weapon that would be used in an Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS)-inspired plot to kidnap a random person and behead them in the street—was actually a plastic ornament. Moreover, it is a plastic Shiite ornament. Its inscription pays homage to the first Imam, Ali, who is considered by the Sunni Wahhabist extremists who make up ISIS as an apostate to Islam.

The revelation adds to the numerous, disturbing questions about the raids on 15 homes in five Sydney suburbs, which was the largest anti-terrorism operation ever carried out in Australia and involved some 800 state police, federal police and Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) agents.

Police armed with military assault rifles and supported by armoured vehicles cordoned off entire neighbourhoods. People were ordered to lie on the ground as their homes were ransacked. Fifteen people were arrested and hauled off to police stations for interrogation. Video footage and photographs of some of the detainees were published by the police on Twitter and the official police media site and then re-published by every television and print outlet.

The media went into a frenzy, recounting sensational information they received from “unnamed” sources. However, it was the photo of the sword, being carried by police officers in a transparent evidence bag, which provoked some of the most lurid assertions. The Daily Mail breathlessly headlined its report: “Was this the lethal sword terror cell planned to use to behead an innocent victim on a Sydney street?”

From the beginning, there were glaring discrepancies between the initial police statements and the claims that an imminent terrorist attack had been thwarted. A press release issued shortly after the raids stated that the police had “no information regarding a specific attack, including dates, time or location.” However, by the end of the day, 22-year-old Omarjan Azari had been named as a “terrorist.” The media was full of reports that he had taken a phone call from an Australian ISIS member in Syria in which he had been instructed to film the beheading of someone and post it on YouTube. Press coverage dwelt at length on the police seizure of an unspecified weapon from one home, and the ominous photo of the sword.

The government and the police subsequently made no attempt to explain that the sword was plastic and thus allowed the idea to circulate that Muslim fanatics had been on the verge of beheading someone. It has directly contributed to a hysterical and xenophobic atmosphere and the abuse and assault of Muslims, especially veiled women, by racist elements. …

As for the owner of the plastic sword, he is 21-year-old painter Mustafa Dirani, from a Shiite Afghan immigrant family. He does not know Omarjan Azari and has no history of involvement with any Sunni extremist grouping. Everything suggests that he and his friend Maywand Osman were included in the raids solely to increase the number of targets. They appear to have been selected because they were recently involved in a car accident that has been linked to a brawl. The warrant issued to search his parent’s home dramatically stated that he had engaged “in preparation or planning terrorist acts” between May and September 2014.

Britain: London Isil terror raids questioned as it emerges one of the suspects is Iraqi Kurd: here.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper will put Canada’s proposed combat military mission in Iraq to a vote on Monday. … But Harper’s plan to send Canadian warplanes to join the U.S.-led coalition’s bombing of Iraq may just make matters worse: here.

Canada’s Conservative government and corporate media are seizing upon a purported terrorist attack to advance the ruling elite’s agenda of war, reaction, and attacks on democratic rights: here.