February 26th 2005


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Articles from this issue:

COVER STORY: NATIONAL AFFAIRS: The WMC takeover - losing our last mining giant

EDITORIAL: A challenge to the biotech corporations?

SCHOOLS: The battle for our children's minds

SPECIAL FEATURE: 1.5 million dead Armenians (but don't tell the EU)

ECONOMICS: Australia's plight in dire need of a remedy

SUGAR INDUSTRY: Anger at stalled sugar package

ENERGY: Ethanol needed for new fuel, engine standards

STRAWS IN THE WIND: Conspiracy against public health / Half a loaf is better than one / Palm oil - a New Class aphrodisiac

IRAQ: Shi'ite win in Iraq elections vindicates US role

CHINA-TAIWAN RELATIONS: China's anti-secession law raises tension

CHINA: Beijing's ban on sex-selective abortion

POPULATION: Why Australia must decentralise to new states now

OPINION: The tsunami of bias

The Holocaust Industry (letter)

Communist killings (letter)

Putin a second Stolypin? (letter)

The Left and the Iraq War (letter)

Misinformation about WW2 bombing (letter)

No reaction to Dutch infanticide (letter)

Link queried (letter)

Sure-fire recipe for disaster (letter)

BOOKS: DAWKINS' GOD: Genes, Memes, and the Meaning of Life, by Alister McGrath

BOOKS: GOD UNDER HOWARD: The Rise of the Religious Right in Australian Politics

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STRAWS IN THE WIND:
Conspiracy against public health / Half a loaf is better than one / Palm oil - a New Class aphrodisiac


by Max Teichmann

News Weekly, February 26, 2005
Conspiracy against public health

Tanya Giles, along with Kate Jones, gave Herald Sun readers an insight into why a third of Victorian students are overweight or obese. As they reveal, the average student eats three serves of junk food and a sweet drink at school every day.

This in itself would be a recipe for flab - and, further down the track for many, diabetes or heart trouble - but it is only part of the story. What do they eat after school and when they are glued to one or the other of their electronic outlets?

Only 10 per cent of primary-school students, under 10, play outdoors in their after-school time. Our reporters drew all this from a detailed government survey which shows that "93 per cent of children eat junk-food, such as lollies, chocolates, biscuits, cakes and buns at school; and 40 per cent have a sweet fruit drink or cordial, packed for lunch" (my italics).

What happened to the school tuckshop, supposed to keep an eye on junk food? And what happened to the school lunch packed by loving parents who knew very well which food was healthy and which was junk, well before the pathological effects of junk food, etc, were being publicised by contemporary critics, including doctors and dieticians?

The answers, I suppose, are:

(1) The long-running campaign for junk food, sweet drinks (and drinks laced with alcohol), promoted ruthlessly and relentlessly, and roping in sportsmen and film hacks - any agent of influence whose reputation could be exploited - to legitimise this shoddy conspiracy against public health, especially that of the impressionable young.

(2) Following from that, the blackmail by children of their parents, to provide what they see on the Box and what the other kids are eating, or else ... they'll throw a tantrum, and buy it elsewhere. To make things worse, many parents are eating this lethal rubbish themselves - a problem similar to parents who booze or who use a "recreational" drug, and then try to forbid their children from following suit.

(3) Greater affluence all round, which enables even the poorest family to buy junk food en masse (although it is dearer) and to give their children pocket money to cover not simply lunches, but more, much more, besides.

The phenomenon of giving a child money to buy lunch goes back a long way, and was particularly rife among the Beautiful People, even 30 years ago.

They would now be called doctors' wives - I don't know if they had a special name then. But the spectacle of lines of expensive cars outside wealthy schools, with mothers, dropping off children with enough money to buy three or four lunches, was familiar enough then.

But most mothers didn't see things that way.

Now, however, the phenomenon of full-time or at least part-time work for mothers, and the single-parent subculture, have all but banished those once precious transactions between mothers (and some fathers) and their children.

Money has taken the place of love. And the long campaign by business, and the haters of the nuclear family, to press for children's rights led quite naturally to treating the child as the autonomous consumer and spender: as a part of the market.

Naturally, the children choose sweet things and fatty things. As do their infantilised parents - only such parents take this oral fixation industry to the next stages: tobacco, alcohol and drugs.

Naturally, their children are influenced to do the same: only more and more of them want to jump up the age ladder and achieve equality now!

This adds up to a disaster for our children, of which the horror stretch of children's diets, as outlined by Tanya Giles and Kate Jones, forms but a part: part of a social, cultural and medical crisis.

But what are our governments, political parties and churches doing or saying about this rising tide of gluttony and child neglect, which has become part of the Australian way of life? Next to nothing. For the vested interests, including our wretched media, are too powerful.

It is safer and easier to grieve about the health and happiness of children in distant lands than in our own. We could try both, of course.

Half a loaf is better than none

A remarkable and, at least for me, unexpected development in the emerging American political story has been the proposal by President George W. Bush to make substantial cuts in US farm subsidies: using the need to reduce the swelling budget deficit as his justification.

Grants to farmers, if he gets his proposals through Congress, will be cut from an annual $1 million on average per farmer, to $350,000. This is a major reduction, and there are to be others.

The argument supporting the subsidy cuts is that it will make it easier for Third World farm exports to enter American markets, while reducing the power of heavily subsidised US agricultural exports. If implemented, the European Union will then be pressured to do something about their abominable agricultural protective practices.

"Trade, not aid" is the motto. For overseas aid has acquired an unlovely reputation for corruption, misdirection, handing enormous power to local leaders, and giving free rides to giant Aid bodies. Much of that would wither away, should the locals be able to get on with working and trading, and not supplicating.

This remarkable and politically courageous, almost foolhardy, innovation by Bush - certain to pit him against party supporters in Congress - has barely rated a mention in our closed-society media. When his budget is mentioned, our overtly left anti-Americans will talk about a Rich Man's budget and ... Congress will block Bush on agriculture anyway (wishful thinking, like civil war in Iraq?)

The Far Right, bunkered down in their protectionist version of anti-Americanism, don't want to confront Bush's declared aspirations, for they make holes in the bunker. But people shouldn't be in a bunker in the first place: for the core disputes about the nature and desirability (or otherwise) of economic rationalism and contemporary globalism, will still be there.

But Bush's proposals, if implemented, could have most beneficial effects upon some of the parts of the world most in trouble - and move a few of our doctrinal hillbillies off centre-stage.

More power to him.

Palm oil - a New Class aphrodisiac

In the $20 billion food-for-oil scam in Saddam's Iraq - involving some of the most senior officials, with Kofi Annan's son, and even the great man himself, being targetted by critics/investigators - some really sweet plums are starting to pop out of the pudding.

I notice that one of the senior officials likely to be charged - and soon - made three separate overtures to Saddam Hussein's people for allotments of cheap oil on behalf of a firm headed by Boutros Boutros-Ghali, the UN Secretary-General before Annan (this from Deutsche Welle).

The régime of Kurt Waldheim is starting to look like some Golden Age.

Needless to say, the Americans are acquiring enormous clout if they care to use it against the UN, America's powerful European enemies and Saddam's friends in the Western media and political networks. For Congress is painstakingly finding out where the bodies are buried.

We in Australia are not strangers to this kind of hanky-panky, are we?

First, there was Khemlani; then, there was the strange affair of Henry Fisher and the ALP during the later Whitlam period; and, of course, Colonel Gaddafi had a lot of money running around here. I remember one of his fronts in Brunswick, Melbourne.

The Saudis have poured in millions and I'd be astonished if the Iranians weren't lightening the material burdens of some Australians at this moment - agents of influence, so to speak.

On the other side of the ledger: up-front supporter-apologists for Cuba, North Korea and, earlier on, the Soviets, certainly haven't suffered any material loss by their heroic stands. Quite the contrary.

So ... recognising Australia's considerable political and strategic importance in the region, but also internationally, it would be paradoxical if some of that and other, Saddam moneys hadn't come our way. And then there is Al Qaeda.

But if this oil-for-food investigation is allowed to run its full course, I think it will prompt a general demand for the complete revamping of the UN, plus the comprehension of at least one reason why the leading lights of France, Germany and Russia behaved as they did.

Come back, Truth, all is forgiven!

The silly season we expect over the holiday period now appears to be a permanent feature of our media - with Channel Nine and the Herald Sun competing for the role of replacing Melbourne Truth and tarting up Woman's Weekly.

Given the parlous condition of federal Labor - and the rising number of skeletons in the Victorian Labor Government's closet, exceeding those in the Carlton cemetery - a general ban on serious discussion of anything is being enforced. All we are being offered now are dream factories - bad dreams.

One of the current fabrications is coming from the totally discredited Republicans. Forced to a referendum by these people - a truly awesome collection of provincial opportunists, bagmen and auto-didacts - Australians voted in all States and territories, and 72 per cent of all electorates, to maintain the status quo.

Gruesome personal attacks<

So the bagmen departed, but some are limping back. It is all media-powered, for Australians have no further interest in this matter. But a resumption of the gruesome personal attacks on diverse royals is again under way, linked to daily abuse of the Howard Government. (What's new there?)

Prince Charles will soon be paying us a ritual visit; so, given the desperation of Labor and their media friends, one might expect some bogus demonstrations, i.e., rent-a-hooligan, during this visit.

These protesters will be portrayed by the Yellow Press as the voice of Australia - whereas it will just be cash-for-commentators and escaped auto-didacts.

It does remind me of Hogarth's London. The toffs going past in their processions and their carriages, and a strange wild mob pouring out from the dram-shops, the houses of ill-fame or just from their normal vantage points in the gutter, to shout curses and hurl garbage at the symbols of privilege.

Then back to their slum life. Meanwhile, London goes on with its normal existence.

  • Max Teichmann




























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