May 16th 2009

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Articles from this issue:

COVER STORY: Impending collapse of Australian agriculture

EDITORIAL: Implications of the budget black hole

CANBERRA OBSERVED: Kevin Rudd backs down on climate change

GLOBAL FINANCIAL CRISIS: IMF's global outlook: expect the worst

MANAGED INVESTMENT SCHEMES: Behind the collapse of Timbercorp

INTERNATIONAL TRADE: Re-inventing the wheel of international trade

CHINA: China sees US as dying Roman empire

INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS: Taiwan's WHO entry breakthrough

UNITED NATIONS: UN anti-racism conference blames Israel

ARTIFICIAL REPRODUCTIVE TECHNOLOGY: Does family matter? Ask the kidsÂ…

POPULATION: One-child policy for Australia, says green group

ABORTION LAWS: Further threats from pro-abortion fanatics

RUSSIA: Russia faces catastrophic population decline

AS THE WORLD TURNS: Ageing population adds to financial crisis / Turn back the clock / Obama axes school voucher program

CINEMA: Shielding one's eyes from the truth - 'Good'

BOOKS: HEAVEN AND EARTH - Global Warming: the Missing Science, by Ian Plimer

BOOKS: WORLD WAR II: BEHIND CLOSED DOORS: Stalin, the Nazis and the West, by Laurence Rees

BOOKS: WAR AND MEDICINE, by Thuyavan with John Whitehall

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Ageing population adds to financial crisis / Turn back the clock / Obama axes school voucher program

News Weekly, May 16, 2009
Ageing population adds to financial crisis

The EU's working age population will peak next year before tipping into decline for half a century. This will cause a relentless rise in pension and health costs that risk asphyxiating the region's economy.

A new report by the European Commission said this financial crisis could turn into a "permanent shock to growth" from which Europe never fully recovers unless it moves fast to bring its public debts under control. ...

Every country in the EU has a fertility rate below 2.1 births per woman, the minimum to keep the population stable. The average is 1.51, chiefly caused by women waiting late into their 20s or 30s before having children. This stretches out the generations. ...

An ageing crunch is already baked into the pie, hitting hardest from 2015 to 2035.

The EU "dependency ratio" will soar: there will be two workers to support each person over 65, compared to four today.

- from Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, "Europe's age crisis begins to bite", The Telegraph (UK), April 29, 2009.

Turn back the clock

[Britain] should embark on a Restoration Of The Married Family Act, which would end the many-headed attack on stable married families and restore the lost position of fathers in the home, one of the major causes of bad behaviour by boys.

Divorce should be difficult. Every social institution, every law, tax-break and benefit, should discriminate clearly and unapologetically in favour of those parents committed to each other by the marriage bond.

None of these things is actually outrageous, though if a frontbench spokesman for any party dared embrace them, he would be met with cries of rage and fake expressions of shock and be quickly driven from his post.

There are plenty of people still living who can testify that when such rules operated, millions of British people lived free and happy lives, learned useful things in orderly schools, did not need to be under police surveillance, pass through metal detectors on their way to classes or be watched by CCTV cameras.

Yes, there were disadvantages and difficulties. Who denies it? Perfection isn't possible. But they were nothing compared with the horrible mess we have made with our good intentions.

Who would have thought, 50 years ago, that a headmaster would be knifed to death at the gates of his school, thousands of children would be forced to take powerful drugs to make them behave. ...

And who would have believed that people would say this was freedom and progress and that Conservative politicians would declare they were happy with this country as it is?

The supposed freedom is a new slavery, enforced by social workers, lawyers, the BBC and PC police. The alleged progress is an accelerating slide back into the Dark Ages.

- from Peter Hitchens, "We CAN turn back the clock and make our schools places of excellence. Here's how...", Mail on Sunday (UK), April 18, 2009.

Obama axes school voucher program

Washington, DC's school voucher program for low-income kids isn't dead yet. But the Obama Administration seems awfully eager to expedite its demise.

About 1,700 kids currently receive $7,500 vouchers to attend private schools under the Opportunity Scholarship Program, and 99 per cent of them are black or Hispanic. The program is a huge hit with parents - there are four applicants for every available scholarship - and the latest Department of Education evaluation showed significant academic gains.

Nevertheless, Congress voted in March to phase out the program after the 2009-10 school year unless it is re-authorised by Congress and the DC City Council.

Education Secretary Arne Duncan is not only preventing new scholarships from being awarded but also rescinding scholarship offers that were made to children admitted for next year. In effect, he wants to end a successful program before Congress has an opportunity to consider re-authorising it.

We know that Barack and Michelle Obama have opted out of public schools in DC - as they also did in Chicago - and chosen a private school for their own girls. So have 44 per cent of Senators and 36 per cent of Representatives, according to a new Heritage Foundation report.

Less well known is that Mr Duncan has exercised another, far more common kind of school choice for his family. Science magazine recently asked Mr Duncan where his daughter attends school and "how important was the school district in your decision about where to live?"

He responded: "She goes to Arlington [Virginia] public schools. That was why we chose where we live, it was the determining factor. ... I didn't want to try to save the country's children and our educational system and jeopardise my own children's education."

It certainly is easier to champion public schools when you have your pick of the better ones (like the Duncans) or the means to send your children to a private school (like the Obamas).

- from "Arne Duncan's choice", The Wall Street Journal, May 5, 2009.

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TRANSGENDER: one shade of grey, 353pp, $39.99

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