Weekly salon 28/7

1. ‘African gangs’

Here’s what started the whole business according to Margaret Simons’ report Looking for trouble in May:

    Victoria Police executive director of media and corporate communications, Merita Tabain, wrote a confidential email to the editors of Melbourne’s main media outlets expressing concern that aggressive behaviour by journalists might “exacerbate the current tensions.” She used the incident at the Tarneit shopping centre as an example.

    The incident, she said, had been provoked by the photographer’s decision to “move in to take close-up photos of a group of African teenagers socialising.” The teenagers, she went on, “had been doing nothing of public interest prior to the photographer’s decision to move in and take the photos and [the group] reacted to the photographer and what he was doing. This led to police being called in and a scuffle ensued in which police were spat on and arrests were made.”

    The photographer had apologised for provoking the incident, Tabain reported, but the published article makes no reference to this.

Simons wrote about the incident just after it happened in January. The article published in the Daily Mail carried no apology and was a beat-up about African gang violence.

Andrew West spoke to Nyadol Nvuon, lawyer and writer, and Margaret Simons on Tuesday 24 July, 2018 on Late Night Live.

The troubles appear to stem from South Sudanese youth from Tarneit, 25 kilometres west of central Melbourne, where:

The dominant ethnic group is not Africans or Sudanese, but Indians, who make up about 23 per cent of the population. After Australians and British migrants, Filipinos come next, at 4 per cent of the population, closely followed by Chinese. From there the ethnicities are more or less even in proportions — Italians, Irish, Maori, Maltese, Punjabi. Sudanese are the biggest African group and well down the list of population groups, at just under 2 per cent, or about 500 people at the last census.

We are talking about a couple of dozen kids or young men in a locality which has 162 nationalities. They may act in groups, but not in ‘gangs’ and mostly not in a planned way. Basically it’s young men, many born here, who are having trouble fitting in and making their way.

Andy Park’s Backstory and 7.30 report segment Lost boys: who are the African youths behind the headlines? takes us into the heart of the problem.

The blathering of politicians has made the situation multiple times worse. Channel Seven fear-mongering has brought mass protests:

People have had enough.

There was dog-whistling before the super Saturday byelection. Turnbull, Dutton and other Commonwealth ministers should stay out of an issue which is for Victoria to deal with. Here’s Moir:

We were told on Insiders that 40 people have died from domestic violence this year.

2. Medical records

Some of the following comes from a conversation I had with my doctor.

On the advice of my cardio I carry a list of the medications I’m taking, plus major operations. Any medico with half a brain could tell from that my main chronic health issues in a far more readily accessible way than my medical file, which is voluminous.

Many medicos are opting out because a doctor has to be a ‘fit and proper person’ in the eyes of the AMA. Doctors are human and suffer from conditions like depression too. A big problem, however, is being vulnerable to foul play, even identity theft. IT experts tell us the bigger danger is from within, from people who have keys to the system, and mean harm for whatever reason.

I’m told that the data is not always accurate, with a 39-year old finding his record showed him with a heart condition he did not have. Doctors are worried about the technical competence of the government, given ABS and other stuff-ups.

Then there is the matter of insurance companies, especially in relation to mental health.

Shorten says My Health Record rollout should be suspended until potential flaws addressed.

In the SMH, Dr Kerryn Phelps agrees as:

    The number of Australians choosing to opt out of My Health Record could run into the millions, as criticisms of the scheme continue to mount and doctors threaten a boycott to protect their patients’ privacy.

A simple list of medications, chronic conditions, allergies, operations and indications of the existence of health directives which we could opt into might be the go.

Norman Swan put a powerful case in favour of staying in on RN Breakfast this morning (link not up yet). Better for us and the whole community, he says, pointing out that we can edit the entry and prune out the bits we don’t want there. We can learn from Canada, he says, and if we lived in Scandinavia we would be more relaxed about this kind of thing.

3. Richard Walsh on Nine swallowing Fairfax

It was presented as a merger, but it was really an entertainment company swallowing a newspaper company. Except that what they were probably after was the rest of Stan and Domain.

Paul Keating said it was all wrong – Nine has ethics of an alley cat.

Richard Walsh says Keating doesn’t realise that the world has moved on, and what else was in prospect for Fairfax except dying a slow death? Walsh says Nine would be mugs to spend a few hundred million on assets and then trash them when the value of the assets is in the quality journalism.

A large part of the problem, however, is that for a long time Fairfax was run by mugs.

Walsh says there is now more diversity than ever with Crikey, The Conversation and the Australian edition of The Guardian. He could have mentioned also The New Daily, I understand owned by the industry super funds, Inside Story, The Monthly, The Saturday Paper, New Matilda and others.

Walsh is a book publisher, and I’d have to say does not show the insights of Katharine Murphy. I’ve heard her several times, but not the podcast On Disruption with Michelle Grattan. She is worried. The world has changed in ways Walsh does not seem to understand.

Part of the reasoning was to bulk up into financial heft. I think the company is worth about four billion, which in international terms is small. It’s less than AMP has lost in recent months to remain at around $9.6 billion.

The Washington Post is now owned by Jeff Bezos, owner of Amazon and personally worth about $US143 billion. He seems to let them run themselves, unlike uncle Rupert. The Guardian is owned by Scott Trust Limited, which exists to secure the financial and editorial independence of The Guardian in perpetuity. That may be our best bet in retaining quality journalism.

4. What’s going on?

Most days during the week Climate Plus gets about 30 visitors through link referrals and internet searches. On the weekend those stats went down, as they usually do.

However, hits or ‘views’ on non-current posts reached 64 different posts in the archive on Saturday, and 75 on Sunday. Someone is rummaging around in our innards. I hope they like what they see.

37 thoughts on “Weekly salon 28/7”

  1. Just a pedantic note – it’s Katharine Murphy (not Katherine) 😉
    And yes, she is one of Australia’s finest journalists.

  2. Brian (Re: 4. What’s going on?):

    However, hits or ‘views’ on non-current posts reached 64 different posts in the archive on Saturday, and 75 on Sunday. Someone is rummaging around in our innards.

    Do you have any data on what was viewed? Any common themes? Was it one viewer, or multiple viewers?

    Perhaps your fame has spread?

  3. I could make that view count skyrocket if you want, easy.
    Probably raise the amount of moderating through the roof though.

    Best not.

  4. Whose interests are being served best with MyHealthRecord?

    Patients/casualties/ clients? Paramedics, accident-&-emergency staff, intensive care staff, specialist practitioners, general practitioners, pharmacists, social workers, rehabilitation staff and other health workers? Or the marketers of expensive I.T. systems?

  5. Wife had a lot to do with South Sudanese while preparing a Nuer/English dictionary. Worked with a small team of leading Nuer immigrants. In Brisbane the South Sudanese community was working hard to keep young people who had often spent a lot of time in refugee camps and escaping from conflict out of trouble and developing into good adults.

  6. Thanks zoot, I try to get it right. Then in correcting that I find two more typos in the same paragraph! I was over 50 when I first encountered a typewriter, and my fingers have never gone where they are supposed to.

    Graham, Dr Nicholas Tatonetti, Assistant Professor of Biomedical Informatics, Columbia University was on Breakfast and Professor David Henry of Bond University and the University of Melbourne was on the Health Report, which gave the fullest account I’ve heard so far.

    Can’t find the Norman Swan Breakfast link.

    It’s all fine with me, and I can see benefits to lots of groups, but there seems to be an issue of trust in this country in relation to government, I think in part because most service areas have been sliced multiple times with “productivity dividends” in the budget process to the point at which they become dysfunctional.

  7. Geoff M, all I know is which posts have been accessed and the numbers. I don’t get to know how many different people are involved. There are perennial faithful posts and often if something is topical a relevant post is accessed that I have forgotten about.

    What happened on the weekend was quite unusual. No pattern discernible.

  8. Brian:
    Did wonder about the upsurge in accessing older posts. My wild guesses include (1) Somebody has passed the word around that ClimatePlus is a good place to find sensible discussion of relevant topics – without being pestered to buy or join something. (2) Some Nasties – or those acting for Nasty clients – are building up a profile of activity and individuals on this site. (3) It is part of a high school or undergraduate assessable exercise. (4) The Illuminati or the Vatican or the Kremlin or the Committee To Re-Elect Trump are peeved at a few things that have appeared here. And if not them, then it must be ASIO or CIA or NSA or the Bolivian Navy’s 3rd Electronic Surveillance Bureau.

    I don’t know – but I hope the interest is benign and positive.

  9. Great suggestions, Graham. It did occur to me that the intent may be malign, but probably not.

    My rellies say they read the blog when they’ve got nothing better to do. The one who matters most is supportive, so we’ll carry on.

  10. Committee to Re-Elect Trump
    = CREET
    Not CREEP, as for R. M. Nixon.

    All visits by intelligence agencies occur without detection; reject hypothesis; permanent feed of all emails, posts, selfies mandated for known subversives; no detection possible; Bolivian Navy renowned for bumbling incompetence, see Lake Titicaca Rescue Catastrophe – Final Report (redacted); most likely Bolivian Navy Air Wing (Hang Glider Battalion); note use of crystal set receivers and handwritten intercept notes in quadruplicate; also innovative employment of carrier pigeons (Andean Predatory Eagle/Hawk Losses, Final Report, redacted); all vulnerabilities noted; avoid Bolivian air space until further notice; typewriter ribbon blockade on Bolivia, expected positive results in three years time.

    Penguins massing off Patagonia.
    Pollen counts rising.
    Down to last three dozen gin bottles,
    situation critical.
    Over and out.

  11. Looks like Coles is reintroducing plastic bags.
    Maybe it’s the first step in our Australian companies realising that ‘ overwhelming social media sentiment ‘ has no relationship with overall consumer values.
    I doubt the media will learn this any time soon,

  12. Thanks Ambigulous. No, it wasn’t a Bolivian flag on the stern of container ship cruising suspiciously back and forth on the ocean side of Moreton Island, it was a football club flag in same red-yellow-green and may have something to do with any comments on ClimatePlus about some of its members failing to get into a World Cup team. It is not all the highly-directional radio aerials all pointing out of the containers towards a certain northern suburb of Brisbane that worry me, it is all those pointed cylindrical things on short rails pointed in the same direction. Hope their intentions are friendly and not otherwise.

    Sorry, can’t think of any better answers at the moment, As Alice said, “Curiouser and curiouser”.

  13. Maybe it’s the first step in our Australian companies realising that ‘ overwhelming social media sentiment ‘ has no relationship with overall consumer values.

    Alas, it seems they haven’t realised yet.
    We can live in hope.

  14. Well, have “social media” reversed that old saying:
    all publicity is good publicity


  15. Looks like Coles is reintroducing plastic bags.

    You do know that Coles never dispensed with plastic bags don’t you?
    They decided to charge for reusable plastic bags (which, in a free market, is their right) and some of their customers whined and whinged instead of behaving like rational participants in a free market and taking their custom elsewhere.
    Seems to me it’s more of a market failure than a triumph of social media.

  16. zoot

    One thing I find amazing, is that it has taken so long for the “free plastic bags” to disappear from our friendly C**** and W*********.

    I can recall discussing this (phase out) with friends about ten years ago, and doubtless it wasn’t a fresh idea then. We Victorians can be very slow. [BTW, we bridle at the term “stupid”, but feel free.]

    Incandescent light bulbs were phased out more quickly.

    Why so slow with the bags?
    Are retailers still hoping for degradable paper bags made from recycled paper or other feedstock?

  17. Ambi – when I were a kid supermarkets didn’t exist and when we went shopping we always took a bag or basket with us.
    Then supermarkets appeared and as part of their “superior” service they provided brown paper sacks in which we carried our purchases home.
    I don’t know why we can’t return to single-use bags which are biodegradable as well as readily recyclable (unlike plastic).
    It’s probably a bridge too far to expect the average Aussie to consider reusable bags

  18. zoot

    And yet, and yet…. all sorts of businesses and charities in our small regional town have been providing sturdy reusable shopping bags (“tote bags”?) for the last decade at least, including C**** and W*********. And folk shopping at the more recent A*** supermarket long ago adjusted to the new way.

    So a sizeable proportion of the townsfolk have well and truly adjusted. Is the present fuss a silly beat up?

    At our place we use a few of the tote bags for all kinds of other purposes – as many people re-use the flimsy supermarket bags around the house until they get binned.

    When I were a kid, we had different things to get fussed about: Suez crisis, Princess Margaret falling for that unsuitable bloke, Berlin Blockade, nowt about plastic bags. Not ‘avin’ mooch plastic, life were ‘appier like.

    Damn you, Bert Evatt!

  19. Just to let folks know, I’m pretty busy over the next three days with one thing and another, but next post will be on the NEG catastrophe delivered to appease the Coalsheviks. If you want to get ahead, the Australian Government Department of Environment and Energy has produced a handsome document Powering forward: A better energy future for Australia, featuring Snowy 2.0 on the cover.

  20. Brian (Re: AUGUST 3, 2018 AT 10:08 AM):

    …the Australian Government Department of Environment and Energy has produced a handsome document Powering forward: A better energy future for Australia, featuring Snowy 2.0 on the cover.

    You are aware that this document is dated Oct 2017? That means it’s pre-ACCC report and pre-AEMO ISP-2018 report – I think a lot has happened since October 2017.

  21. Brian:
    You now have more than enough unexpected visitations to find a pattern – though you may need the assistance of a friendly statistician, intelligence analyst, detective or fourteen-year-old to make it leap off the page for you.

    Big Red was an excellent guide for anyone heading out that way on a holiday. Happiness speaks for itself. But 2015 Seasons Greetings …. well …. hhmmm, let me think about that one.

    Another of my wild guesses: If plagiarism is a motive then, if you have the time, energy and patience, you could run a few key phrases through Google and see if anything pops up – but this wouldn’t reveal any recycling of material from ClimatePlus for assessable essays or semester projects or anything else undergraduate.

  22. On visitations, thanks Graham, but it’s got me stumped. Up again today to 113.

    Some are repeats, like Blogging hiatus! Also good stuff like Hansen got it right.

    Inclined to think it’s benign. Can’t do their brain any harm!

  23. Hi Brian, can you see where the visits are coming from? I haven’t written much or checked on my blog lately, but I used to get a lot of visits from North America and Russia that I think were bots. They also left a lot of fake comments. I analysed it when I wrote my thesis and decided about half the visits were probably bots, in the end.

    The problem with fake comments has got much worse lately, probably something to do with changes to Blogger.com – I dread to go and check, there’s probably hundreds in moderation waiting to be deleted.

  24. I just went and checked my blog – I haven’t written anything for nearly three weeks, in that time there have been several hundred visits, mainly from Russia. Pretty well all bots I’d say. There’s also loads of fake comments sitting in the spam folder waiting to be deleted!

  25. Val, good to hear from you.

    All I can tell is that most of them come from search engines. Maybe bots, maybe a change in how the Google algorithm treats the site. We may be appearing higher on their list, because of the number of hits. Kind of self-feeding.

    We hardly get any spam at all in the spam folder. I think that has to do with the Askiment settings, but I don’t personally know how that works.

  26. Brian (Re: AUGUST 3, 2018 AT 10:19 PM):

    How do you get October 2017?

    This webpage says:

    A better energy future for Australia
    Publisher: Department of the Environment and Energy
    Date: October 2017

    Documents: Powering forward: A better energy future for Australia (PDF 5.5MB)

    You ask:

    Can you find anything more recent?

    To be honest, I haven’t been looking for latest official government policy directions on energy. I do keep an eye/ear ad hoc as the occasion arises on what politicians are saying publicly in the media re energy policy.

    Thanks for your link (at comment AUGUST 3, 2018 AT 11:59 PM).

  27. Brian,

    Have you seen RenewEconomy article headlined Full absurdity of National Energy Guarantee laid bare?

    These statements caught my eye:

    Oliver Yates, the former head of the Clean Energy Finance Corporation, underlines this point, saying that most investors are actually taking into account what the scientists are saying, even if the Australian government and its key energy institutions are not.

    “There is no way any investor will accept that this pathetic emission profile will remain, especially following the release of the IPCC 1.5°C report in October (that the government already has in its hands),” Yates says.

    “Every investor expects a higher emission target so you have a policy that tries to freeze renewables when in reality investment in coal is frozen, as all investors know that it will be phased out fast.”

    Carbon Brief article headlined Guest post: ‘Peak coal’ is getting closer, latest figures show, dated July 31, by Dr Christine Shearer, who is a researcher and analyst for the US-based energy research group CoalSwarm, includes (bold text my emphasis):

    While significant, the amount of coal power capacity that began operating during the first half of 2018 (20GW) was nearly matched by the amount retired (16GW), for a net increase of just 4GW – the slowest rate of growth on record. If the slowdown continues global coal capacity should peak by 2022, if not sooner.

    Then later (bold text my emphasis):

    In June, Carbon Brief noted the number of coal units in the world could already have peaked, as countries including China phase out older, smaller units. In the first six months of 2018 that peak was passed, with 43 units added and 52 retired, meaning the global coal fleet shrank by nine units.

    Yesterday, I rang Craig Kelly MP Canberra office to draw attention to the Carbon Brief article referred above and highlight the specific texts quoted above, as well as the figure shown below the sub-heading Coal pipeline shrinks again. I wonder whether the Monash Forum will update their Coal Factsheet 1 to reflect the latest data, or will this new data be too inconvenient for their apparent pro-coal narrative? We’ll see.

  28. Geoff M, I had seen that RenewEconomy post thanks.

    Nearly done, post out later this PM.

    Alan Kohler announced ‘peak coal’ on TV the other night. That is, as a commodity. Haven’t looked for a link yet.

  29. Before this one recedes, I wanted to share that I heard on the ABC from someone who seemed to know that health records are traded freely on the ‘dark web’.

    My wife is going to develop a short statement of what doctors and others really need to know. I’ll follow suit. We’ll keep a hard copy and USB on us when we are out, including info like where out wills are.

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