Category Archives: Australia

No Lashes Today In Iran

Marzyieh Vafamehr is an actress who was born in Iran and then fled to Australia. She appeared in a film entitled, “My Tehran For Sale” which won awards at film festivals but is banned in her native land. For some reason she returned to Iran and wound up arrested for defaming the country and sentenced to one year in jail along with 90 lashes. She appealed and a court ruled for her freedom and no lashes.

This is just another story of what daily transpires in Iran, a land run by clerics who decide what is or is not correct behavior. No one knows why the appeals court ruled for the Australian actress. A dictatorship always contains capricious actions which lack explanation.

We hope Ms. Vafamehr now knows that Iran is not a place for her body.

Iranian Film Star Punished For Film

Iranian-Australian actress, Marzeih Vafamehr appeared in an Australian-Iranian film which was shot on location in Tehran in 2009. “My Tehran for Sale” depicted the life of an Iranian actress who encounters problems attempting to be a movie star and it goes behind closed doors in Tehran in order to depict the lives of young people who dislike the clerical run society in which they live. The film won several awards when it came out in 2009. Attempts to get the film shown in Iran met with anger on the part of censors although some bootleg versions are being shown.

Ms. Vefamehr, whose family left Iran in 1997 in order to live in Australia, was arrested when she returned to Tehran and now faces a one year prison sentence along with 90 lashes for daring to depict Iran in other than the best of all lights. The clerics who rule Iran are the clerics who dislike honesty and an open society. Lashes went out in the 19th century throughout the world–except for in modern Iran!

Rain, Rain Please Don’t Go Away

Repubicans  mock stories  concerning global warming by noting  there are  more reports about more snow. Perhaps, the  mistake was using the word, “warming,” rather than “change.” New Zealand is working with the US to assist the island of Tokelau in the Pacific which is running out of water. A larger than normal change in water temperature has resulted in less rain for islands in the South Pacific. Rain has gone further westward leaving Tokelau with not enough water.

Desalination facilities are being provided along with  more  water, but it remains unclear how the future will  work out. Will wind shifts prevent normal rain, and, if so, must people be moved from the island.

Please do not bring this story to the attention of the Republican party.

 

Celibacy And Human Rights

Among the saddest stories one encounters are tales of those in the Catholic Church who encounter examples of sexual abuse. A recent story from Australia describes the ongoing  rape of a now senior Anglican cleric during his formative years as a trainee Catholic priest. Current Archbishop John Hepworth left the Catholic Church after being continually sexually abused and became an Anglican. Monsignor David Clappo now faces charges he prevented investigation of this  rape charges. Actually, Hepworth insists at least three priests used him  for sexual purposes.

There is nothing unusual about such charges which only serve to raise questions about the theory of a celibate priesthood. Cappo continues to insist he acted with “proper and due diligence” but someone was raped and no one has been disciplined for this abuse. It is time for the Catholic Church to end the 1,000 year experiment with a celibate priesthood.

Good And Bad Of Internet

The Internet has unleashed a torrent of opportunities for young people to make contacts with others of their age as well as to encounter those who would not ordinarily have crossed their path of life. Schools in Australia are taking advantage of new technology which allows them to monitor Facebook activities of their students. James Griffin of SR7 says his company goes “where the conversations are, where young people or communities of interest are coalescing online. His company then informs schools as to what is going on.

Lila Mularczyk of New South Wales Secondary Principals’ Council says it is their policy to remove statements made by students on Facebook. “Our policy now extends the concept of the school playground to any environment in the social media platform where a student of the school or a teacher is identified by name, image or inference.”

There are bullies who wander the halls of schools. There are bullies who torment youth on Facebook. However, schools control what occurs in schools, not what transpires on the Internet. That realm belongs to local police officials. The real question is: Who determines what is appropriate as a comment and are there checks to their power to make such decisions?

Lift The Veil Or Else!

The government of Australia is concerned that some Muslim females wear a niqab which prevents others from seeing their faces. A new proposed law would make it a criminal offense if a Muslim female refused to lift the veil when requested by police. Current estimates are only about 2,000 Muslim women wear a veil in Australia. But, a few weeks ago some guy put on a veil, pretended to be a Muslim woman and robbed a store. There is no question, the nation of Australia is under attack from men posing as Muslim women and wearing veils. Who knows, maybe criminals will soon be wearing a burqa. According to the law, refusing to lift the veil can result in a fine of $6,000 and a year in jail. Of course, a few political leaders urged that provision be made for a dangerous felon wearing a veil to have access to a woman, but time is of the essence and if you allow one female driver who went five miles over the speed limit to have special privileges, what is to prevent murderers and rapists to demand the same extra time?

I wonder if we could get a law in Australia–or anywhere–which requires Hedge Fund types to lift the veil of secrecy on their manipulations or face jail time?

Are Humans Shrinking? Blame It On Muslims!

Recent studies in Australia raise the issue as to whether the human race is getting shorter. Professor Henneberg notes there are physiological limits as to the height humans can reach and the growing height witnessed over the past hundreds of years may be drawing to a close as we attain the maximum height for a human. He notes biochemical limitations of human growth and as people have become taller, it has led to problems of blood circulation and higher blood pressure. In a sense we are like the giraffe who finally attained a certain height and can not go beyond it. Add in the decline in physical exercise on the part of young children which results in less stimulation for the muscular system and those hampers gone growth.

I await a Fox News report dealing with the election of a Muslim president born in Kenya has led to the decline in height of the American people. I can see Glenn Beck drawing a diagram on how Muslims in the Middle East are shorter than those of European background so the more Muslims arriving in America the shorter we will become. Down with those Muslims! And, when I say, “down,” I am referring to their height!

REPUBLICANS DEFEND MICE RIGHTS!

Heavy rains in south Australia have created a mice epidemic. Hundreds of thousands of mice are scurrying through farms consuming everything in sight. Some farmers are witnessing their pigs being assaulted by the mice which forces them to soak pigs in oil in order to create a nasty taste. The assault by mice on animals has created a problem for Republicans. Mice have rights. Mice have a right to live. Mice have a right to eat. After all, once government steps in to regulate what mice can eat, it deprives them of their free enterprise rights to become fat and wealthy. If Wall Street hedge managers can feast off the flesh of their clients, does this mean mice can feast off the flesh of pigs? Then again, one could classify the actions of Wall Street money gougers as sort of sneaky or is it they are the pigs in this saga of eating and consuming.

It is a fundamental belief of all free enterprise Republicans that each individual has a right to consume whatever he gets his hands–or mouth on– which means mice have rights in the land of Republicans. If we take away mice rights to eat pigs, does this mean we take away the rights of hedge fund managers to make a pig of themselves in their ravenous consumption of the wealth of Americans?

Flash News! Mitt Romney has made clear he defends the rights of mice to eat pigs in Massachusetts, but this does not mean what is good in Massachusetts is also good for the entire United States of America.

It’s Gay To Deny Gay Rights

The government of Australia provides financial support to many churches including assistance in areas such as the adoption of children, but these groups also get a waiver of accepting the principle of gay rights. For example, churches are provided opportunities to develop employment services and other social assistance programs, but in so doing they are not bound by laws that protect the rights of gays and lesbians. It is one thing to allow a church to decide if a person can become a priest, it is another thing if the church receives government funding for adoption of children and then refuses to allow a gay couple to adopt a child. A church has the right to decide its policies on internal factors such as membership or leadership, but if it solicits money from the government, it is necessary to accept societal requirements dealing with the rights of individuals.

Of course, there is something strange about churches seeking help from the government. Why not simply utter a few extra prayers to God. Of course, that assumes God agrees with the idea He came upon the Earth only for straight folk.

Bonus Payments To Teachers-Good Idea?

The Australian government has decided to utilize a bonus system that rewards “excellent teachers.” This is the same philosophy that is supported by US Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan. After all, who can be against rewarding “excellent teachers?” I have taught for 55 years and during that time worked with over 12,000 teachers. I have also taught about 3,000 students at the secondary level. I have written textbooks for teachers and have served as a Dean of Education. What do I know about “excellent teachers?” Of course, one could pose the same question to anyone reading these words.

Any process of determining who is an “excellent teacher” must begin by posing several questions?
What is being taught?
What are the goals of the teacher?
Can these goals be measured at this point in time?
How do I measure what is being taught?
WHO does the measuring?

There are teachers who go through the curriculum and test what was taught. Statistically, 90% of all questions posed students from Kindergarten to Graduate school are RECALL of information that was taught. Less than ten percent of what happens in a classroom entails critical or creative thinking. It is extremely rare to be able to evaluate critical or creative teaching. Since principals are doing the observations of teachers this raises the question as to their qualifications to evaluate critical and creative thinking. How many principals, as teachers, taught in this manner?

A student teacher once posed a question to me in September. “How do you teach differently in May from September?” Wow, what a great question. In other words, if someone observed me in September they witnessed a teacher who was quite different from the teacher in May. By May, I emphasized more strongly critical and creative thinking on the part of my students. A high school student in my first period class once asked if she could come to my 7th period class due to a doctor appointment. As she left the room, she was shaking her head. I asked, why? She responded: ‘you are a completely different teacher at 2:30 p.m. from 9:00 a.m.” Of course, I am. Isn’t an actress different for the Wednesday Matinee audience than she is on opening night?

Few who seek bonus payments for “outstanding teachers” were “outstanding teachers?” themselves. Few grasp the long term goals of an “outstanding teacher.” I can measure how many cars you sold today, but I cannot measure how many students you impacted to become critical thinkers. Teaching is a long term process that does not readily lend itself to immediate success.

We argue for a focus on creating a curriculum which fosters critical and creative thinking. We argue for empowering teachers to assume more responsibility for deciding on what and how to teach. We argue for creating a TEAM of teachers rather than continuing the individual handling teaching and never discussing it with peers.