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Posts by naturalman1975

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  • ‘Racist’ school excluded English-speaking students from trip (Kidderminster, England)

    10/23/2014 1:41:00 PM PDT · 38 of 38
    naturalman1975 to reed13k
    Yes, immersion is important. And these kids get that. These kids are generally in an English speaking, English using classroom - for 99% of their school year. They get immersion.

    But you still get faster results if you also build vocab in other ways by exposure.

    My wife is considered a top experts in the field of English teaching. By the end of primary school (age 12), her students are, on average 2.4 years ahead of where they are expected to be in English skills. Her ESL students make progress at just under twice the average rate for ESL students. She has been reading the comments in this thread and almost tearing her hair out in frustration at the misunderstandings she's seeing here.

    Having the English speaking kids accompanying these classes in the belief that this will be good for the non-English speaking kids is yet another example of simply using the English speaking kids as tools to teach the non-English speakers. The reason to take kids out of the classroom on excursions or incursions should be because it has an educational benefit for them not just to benefit other children. A lesson designed to build vocab in non English speaking children - and that is what this was and what it was designed to be - has no value for English speaking children.

  • ‘Racist’ school excluded English-speaking students from trip (Kidderminster, England)

    10/23/2014 3:01:45 AM PDT · 30 of 38
    naturalman1975 to Tennessee Nana

    Not the point. The idea is to build English vocabulary by exposure, so that vocabulary can be used for further development of further English skills.

    Everybody thinks they are an expert on education because everybody has been to school. Those of us who are experts because of years of experience and study should just shut up.

    A bunch of ignorant English parents bitch because their little darlings had to do schoolwork in class rather than have fun at school, and people leap out to their outrage bandwagon. Read the comments from the parents and that really seems to be what it is about - too many over indulgent parents don’t seem to understand that school is about learning, and any ‘fun’ activities should be to enhance educational purposes.

  • ‘Racist’ school excluded English-speaking students from trip (Kidderminster, England)

    10/23/2014 1:13:18 AM PDT · 22 of 38
    naturalman1975 to LoneRangerMassachusetts
    Further illustrating what I just wrote concerning the situation in England:

    Official figures reveal that English is no longer the first language for the majority pupils at one in nine schools

  • ‘Racist’ school excluded English-speaking students from trip (Kidderminster, England)

    10/23/2014 1:09:49 AM PDT · 21 of 38
    naturalman1975 to LoneRangerMassachusetts
    Cripes. Give us a break. I remember Italian kids who could not speak English being immersed in English speaking classes. There was no concept of bilingual education. This is the 1950's. After a couple of months I could talk with the Italian kid.

    A different world. I suspect most of the kids at your school spoke English.

    In England today, largely because of 'multiculturalism', there are 600 primary schools where more than 70% of the children speak another language other than English. Across the entire country as a whole, one in seven children's first language is not English.

    Imagine a classroom of 24 kids where only half the children speak English as their primary language, and there are six other languages represented in the classroom and the issues that poses - and how important it is to get those kids speaking English as fast as possible, if you want effective education of all the children, rather than spending large amounts of time dealing with language issues rather than teaching the children who do speak English. And the ESL kids don't really have the same incentive to learn English that they used to. That type of scenario is all too common in schools now.

  • ‘Racist’ school excluded English-speaking students from trip (Kidderminster, England)

    10/23/2014 12:54:10 AM PDT · 19 of 38
    naturalman1975 to Olog-hai
    So you’re arguing against socialism by arguing for it.

    No, I most certainly am not. I am opposed to socialist ideas of cramming all children into the same classes regardless of ability or attainment levels and not differentiating instruction to address differences.

    It’s the individuals who vary in ability, not the group. They would learn faster by being exposed to the English speakers, not sequestered away from them. Animals do not talk, so how would they learn English better from them?

    Expecting them to learn English by exposure to the English speakers, means treating the rights of English speaking children as less important in the classroom than the right of non-English speaking children. English speaking children are in that classroom to learn themselves - not to just be used as tools to teach non-English speaking children. ESL children should be in the regular classroom most of the time - but not all the time. They should be taken out for targeted teaching.

    And it's not a matter of children learning English from animals. As I said, it's to do with exposure to basic English vocabulary. I'm not sure how often you see basic 'readers' or primers, the types of books specifically written and designed to teach children language skills but these books tend to be illustrated with pictures that directly relate to the text on the page. They rely on children being able to identify what the pictures show and what words go with those pictures.

    That means building common English vocabulary and that is where experiences like this are useful.

    Some people prefer being outraged, rather than looking to see how problems can be fixed. But I'm not a socialist in any way, shape or form. I believe in education that works - and that means acknowledging differences among children - all differences - and designing educational experiences that address those differences where they impede learning. I believe it's critically important that children in English speaking countries learn English as quickly as possible, and that means given them the lessons they need to make sure that happens early. And that is what this school seems to me to be trying to do.

  • ‘Racist’ school excluded English-speaking students from trip (Kidderminster, England)

    10/23/2014 12:37:03 AM PDT · 15 of 38
    naturalman1975 to knarf

    Given where Kidderminster is, the most likely language for ESL children to have spoken is Punjabi, which is spoken by a lot of Muslims but also by a lot of Hindus and Sikhs as well. The next most common language is Polish.

  • ‘Racist’ school excluded English-speaking students from trip (Kidderminster, England)

    10/23/2014 12:23:54 AM PDT · 9 of 38
    naturalman1975 to Olog-hai
    Baloney. You don’t segregate English speakers from the trip, the most likely of all to help these kids learn English.

    Yes, you do actually some of the time - if you're actually interested in truly educating children as opposed to just indoctrinating them in socialist ideas like "all children are equal and there are no differences in ability" as all too many schools are nowadays.

    Grouping by ability is by far the most effective way of educating children quickly and efficiently - taking children at the same level and putting them together and targeting their specific needs, rather than trying to do this in a group of widely disparate needs. When it comes to language teaching, that means taking the children who don't speak a language well and putting them together for specifically targeted lessons.

    And when you look at the primers used in early primary school to teach children how to read, one of the best ways to help young children from ESL backgrounds to learn English quickly is to expose them to the common nouns and verbs in those books in real life environments. Visiting zoos and farms is a good way to do this as so many of these books use animals as basic concepts for illustrations - you need the child knowing that the animal they are looking at is a tiger is you want them to start working out that the initial sound in that word is a 'T'.

    I'm a history teacher at one of Australia's most successful independent schools - a role I came to fairly late in life after a military career because of the influence of my wife weho is one of the senior English/Primary Literacy teachers at the same school. She's been running programs that work to create highly educated and literate children for about thirty years at this point. We know what works.

    Yes, you want the children to have considerable contact with native English speakers - but not all the time. You need targeted work to meet their needs, and at the same time, it means the kids who already speak English can get lessons aimed at their higher level rather than having to put up with lesson always being aimed at the kids in the class who need special help, and finding themselves being used as tools to teach others who are at a lower level, rather than being given their own opportunities to learn.

  • ‘Racist’ school excluded English-speaking students from trip (Kidderminster, England)

    10/23/2014 12:03:16 AM PDT · 4 of 38
    naturalman1975 to Olog-hai

    The purpose of the trip was to help the non-English speaking children learn English.

    As I support immigrant children (children of genuine lawful immigrants, I mean) learning the native language of their new society as quickly as possible, I find it hard to be outraged by measures being taken to do that.


    10/23/2014 12:00:27 AM PDT · 8 of 17
    naturalman1975 to Nateman
    O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.
  • Ottawa shooting: Kevin Vickers hailed as hero who took down attacker

    10/22/2014 11:50:10 PM PDT · 35 of 35
    naturalman1975 to A Formerly Proud Canadian

    Thank you for that - that certainly does qualify as another Sergeant-at-Arms of a Parliament doing the ancient job to perfection.

  • Police South of the Border are Often Disarmed

    10/22/2014 2:20:17 PM PDT · 6 of 10
    naturalman1975 to marktwain

    You would rarely see a police officer in Australia with an empty holster - but you will see quite a few who have neither a weapon or holster because the holsters are issued with the firearms. At least up until recently - in my state at least, it’s just become policy (with our recent elevation of our terrorist alert state) for police in uniform to be armed at all times - before that, quite often they wouldn’t carry firearms if they were on non-patrol/response duties.

    I’ve seen reports (I haven’t checked into them) that suggests that the first police on the scene at the Port Arthur Massacre in 1996 were unarmed and that might have turned out quite differently if that hadn’t been the case. It was a peaceful rural area and the local police didn’t see the need to be armed.

    Police here are issued with firearms at the start of shifts and return them at the end of shifts. Police can get permission to carry a personal firearm when off duty (I’m not sure of the exact conditions on that), but historically very few have done this. I suspect that may have changed more recently. But that would be separate from their service firearms.

  • Ottawa shooting: Kevin Vickers hailed as hero who took down attacker

    10/22/2014 12:57:45 PM PDT · 1 of 35
    In Westminster based Parliaments, the Sergeant-at-Arms is a major ceremonial position - they carry the Mace during the Speakers daily profession to the House. Historically, and traditionally, their job was to protect the body of the Speaker, and the Parliament at large - I think it's probably been a long time since one took action to do this so dramatically in real life.

    They do have modern duties in coordinating security as well in some places - luckily Canada is one of those, which is why they had a man with these skills in the role.

  • Former Prime Minister (of Australia) Gough Whitlam has died, aged 98

    10/20/2014 10:18:27 PM PDT · 8 of 9
    naturalman1975 to SevenofNine

    From the Queen’s representative, rather than the Queen herself, but yes.

  • Former Prime Minister (of Australia) Gough Whitlam has died, aged 98

    10/20/2014 2:51:22 PM PDT · 1 of 9
    Whitlam was, probably, Australia's most socialist Prime Minister. He was removed from office - sacked - along with his entire government by the Governor-General on November 11th, 1975, after he failed to suggest any constitutional solution to a budget crisis precipitated by illegal attempts by his finance minister to obtain a large loan from the middle east to pay for his government's reforms. This made him a martyr and virtual messiah figure to the Australian left.

    He also served this country as a Royal Australian Air Force officer (bomber navigator) during the Second World War - that, at least, is worthy of respect.

    He will be treated with the dignity of a former Prime Minister, and that's not inappropriate - but his place in history is destined to be controversial and not what his supporters would want.

  • Plea to honour father who foiled Sydney Harbour mini sub (Japanese attack on Australia - WWII)

    10/20/2014 1:29:52 PM PDT · 1 of 14
    Even in Australia, it's not always appreciated by people today that Australia came under quite a bit of direct attack by Japanese forces during World War II. Our northern towns were bombed. Cities up and down the coast were shelled. But the midget submarine attack on Sydney Harbour - right into the heart of Australia's oldest and largest city, was, probably, the most dramatic such attack. 19 Australians and 2 British were killed when HMAS Kuttabull was sunk at anchor that night, which was bad enough - but if the Japanese attack had completely succeeded, things could have been far far worse - there were three large ships at anchor that day - the USS Chicago, HMAS Canberra (both heavy cruisers) and HMAS Adelaide (a light cruiser). The loss of any of these ships could have lead to deaths in the hundreds, not to mention being a significant loss of naval power in the Pacific - in particular USS Chicago and HMAS Canberra went on to fight at Guadalcanal and Savo Island (where Canberra was sunk) before Chicago was lost at the Battle of Rennell Island. HMAS Adelaide had a less dramatic career escorting convoys, but did sink the German Ramses.

    I've looked into the case of WO Herbert Anderson, as described here, and I think he does get a raw deal in the historical record. He took the decision to attack what he had decided was a Japanese midget submarine on limited evidence, and he was right. But this article nonetheless gives a false impression - it seems to suggest that Admiral Muirhead-Gould's skepticism about whether or not Anderson had really identified a submarine lead to delays in warnings being issued. It didn't - Muirhead-Gould had already issued a general alarm and orders for anti-submarine measures well before he confronted Anderson - even though he doubted the reports of submarines in the Harbour, he prudently issued the alerts anyway. His doubts did not cause delay.

    Seeing I am writing this and I have mentioned the Australian and British sailors lost, I think I should also mention the following. The attacks on Sydney Harbour were part of a larger Japanese mission - over subsequent days, the larger submarines that had launched the midget subs - attacked merchant shipping inking three ships and killing 49 merchant seaman. They also shelled Sydney and Newcastle. During the shelling of Sydney, an American pilot 1st Lieutenant George Cantello of the USAAF was killed attempting to respond to that attack. A street and a park in the suburb of Hammondville (where he crashed) are named in his honour.

  • Australia’s Parliament House lifts face veil ban

    10/20/2014 12:40:57 PM PDT · 7 of 7
    naturalman1975 to Gay State Conservative

    The problem is this whole thing was mishandled. The ban should have explicitly been on all forms of face coverings with no exceptions - but it wasn’t. It was specifically on religious headcoverings. This would almost made it both unconstitutional under Section 116 of the Constitution, as well as violating anti-discrimination laws. So it could not be allowed to stand.

    Now, if there are any security issues of real concern, the appropriate authorities (the Australian Federal Police) are free to reintroduce restrictions that clearly do not reference religion (such as ‘no covering of the face under any circumstances’) in a way that will pass constitutional muster, and legal muster. As it was, the restrictions put in place prevented that happening, and would have almost certainly been struck down by the High Court anyway.

  • Standout Student: Meredith Jones scores perfect SAT, ACT

    10/17/2014 5:47:38 PM PDT · 22 of 49
    naturalman1975 to sitetest

    Yes, and I expect that if you manage a perfect score on one test, your options are so broad that doing the second test would often seem unnecessary.

  • The beginning of the people's Web: 20 years of Netscape

    10/17/2014 5:14:36 PM PDT · 7 of 32
    naturalman1975 to sopwith

    I remember running around with (I think) Netscape 1.2 on a disc in my pocket - it was the last version that could fit on a single disc - installing it on computers all over the building I was working in, because somehow my superiors had decided this was my job (actually I was supposed to delegate it to somebody more junior but after numerous efforts to explain what was needed, it was easier just to do it myself).

    Then a week or so later having to write up a set of guidelines as to how to use this new world wide web - it should have, but honestly did not occur to me, that in a building full of sailors (most of who were still in their twenties) that thoughts would rapidly turn to “Hey, can I find porn with this?”. At that moment, I realised I’d become an old fart.

  • Standout Student: Meredith Jones scores perfect SAT, ACT

    10/17/2014 4:36:09 PM PDT · 7 of 49
    naturalman1975 to RummyChick

    From something I read a few months ago, less than ten kids manage this perfect double each year.

  • Confirmed: Australian air strikes have killed ‘multiple’ ISIS targets in Iraq

    10/16/2014 8:07:29 PM PDT · 1 of 7
    To try and anticipate questions in advance - note the "at least". This does not mean that Australian aircraft have only dropped weapons twice.

    But that is possible. It takes some hours for the Super Hornets to get from their base in the UAE to the combat zone and they are then reliant on controllers finding them targets - and whether that can happen depends on what is happening on the ground then and there, and what can be seen.

    In addition to the Super Hornets, Australia also has a KC-30A deployed which is providing refuelling services to aircraft from a number of coalition nations as mentioned in the report.

  • Australia’s prime minister threatens to body-slam Russia’s Putin

    10/16/2014 2:36:11 PM PDT · 16 of 16
    naturalman1975 to Tijeras_Slim

    I wish my students learned as effectively!

  • Australian chef who killed self after boiling wife in a pot mourned by family, friends 

    10/16/2014 2:01:32 PM PDT · 14 of 73
    naturalman1975 to Cboldt
    Is this story true?

    Unfortunately, yes. Not surprisingly, it's been a huge news story across Australia.

  • Bomb squad probes materials at Cerberus naval base (Australian naval base)

    10/15/2014 11:12:59 PM PDT · 8 of 10
    naturalman1975 to lee martell
    Any particular reason the name Cerberus was chosen?

    By the late nineteenth century before Australia became a single country, the Australian colonies had all become self-governing semi-independent states (foreign policy was still set from London, as was most defence policy, but they had a considerable degree of self-rule). The colony of Victoria established its own small Navy in this period. One of its ships was the 'Breastwork Monitor' HMVS (Her Majesty's Victorian Ship) Cerberus. She was an ironclad that developed ideas first seen is America's USS Monitor.

    HMAS Cerberus was named in honour of HMVS Cerberus.

    HMVS Cerberus accompanied by a torpedo boat, c1905.

    The wreck of the HMVS Cerberus (now seriously decayed, unfortunately efforts to raise money to save what has left have never succeeded) lies just a few hundreds yards off a beach in Melbourne's Port Phillip where she was sunk as a breakwater.

    So that's the name's tradition in Australian service. Before that the name was used in the Royal Navy, but its use started in the days when the RN had so many ships that coming up for names for them was often quite random. I believe that at the time the first HMS Cerberus was commissioned, in the mid 18th century, it was mostly a matter of needing a name that started with 'C' because that's what the RN was doing at the time with her class of frigate.

  • Bomb squad probes materials at Cerberus naval base (Australian naval base)

    10/15/2014 9:16:06 PM PDT · 3 of 10
    naturalman1975 to Mastador1

    Given our recent increase in terrorism threat levels, I hope that’s all it is.

  • Bomb squad probes materials at Cerberus naval base (Australian naval base)

    10/15/2014 9:03:35 PM PDT · 1 of 10
    HMAS Cerberus is the main training establishment for the Royal Australian Navy (and also provides some training for the Australian Army and Royal Australian Air Force). It is located on the outer southeast edge of Melbourne.
  • Australia’s prime minister threatens to body-slam Russia’s Putin

    10/15/2014 5:29:55 PM PDT · 12 of 16
    naturalman1975 to DemforBush
    To show you just how out of touch I am with Australian politics, I honestly thought their PM was some liberal harridan who got all testy in a debate with some male politician a couple years back.

    Julia Gillard - PM from 2010-2013. The male politician she attacked in that 'debate' was Tony Abbott - and it wasn't actually a debate. It was a disgusting speech where she falsely accused him of being sexist, in an effort to distract attention away from her political problems. On the very day she made the speech, her party was fighting to install a man accused of sexual harassment into the Speakers position of the Australian Parliament in order to shore up her numbers - it was cynical and dishonest - but the world's media wasn't interested in the facts, just in a woman screaming SEXISM, so it went viral.

  • Australia’s prime minister threatens to body-slam Russia’s Putin

    10/15/2014 5:25:47 PM PDT · 11 of 16
    naturalman1975 to KingofZion

    Unfortunately while I wouldn’t have a problem if Abbott had threatened this, he didn’t. “Shirtfront” has multiple meanings in Australia depending on what part of the country you are in (which affects what sport is popular). Abbott is from New South Wales, where Rugby is the main form of football and he played Rugby himself. A “shirtfront” in Rugby is a lot milder than its form in Australian Rules Football - in Rugby, it means putting yourself right in somebody’s face to confront them - in Australian Rules, it refers to a violent type of tackle. The Victorian media (Victoria is the centre of Australian Rules Football and Rugby is not played there all that much, or followed that closely) misinterpreted the statement because it assumed that their definition was universal - and that’s spread.

  • Proud Australian patriotism not a cause for shame

    10/15/2014 1:34:48 PM PDT · 3 of 7
    naturalman1975 to naturalman1975
  • Proud Australian patriotism not a cause for shame

    10/15/2014 1:28:54 PM PDT · 1 of 7
  • In a stunning reversal, the Australian Labor Party bails out on the ‘carbon tax’

    10/14/2014 8:37:42 PM PDT · 21 of 21
    naturalman1975 to Gay State Conservative
    I read the Sydney Morning Herald with some regularity and I got the sense that this tax was a central issue in their most recent election and it was a big factor in their Labor Party (the lefties) losing power.Of course I could be wrong...10,000 miles of separation can make it difficult to accurately measure a nation's pulse.

    You are right - it was a big deal and it was a huge factor in them losing the election - not just the tax itself, but the fact that they went to the previous election categorically ruling it out, and then introduced it (to be fair, they were not expecting to wind up with a hung Parliament and needing the Greens to form office, and the Greens demanded this change - nonetheless it was a huge broken promise - "There will be no carbon tax under a government I lead" became an Australian equivalent of America's "Read my lips. No new taxes."

    And not all that much has really changed with this announcement - Labor's policy so far hasn't changed, they just won't be calling it a tax anymore, but a price. It's a promising sign that Shorten is backing away but this raises his performance on this issue from an F to a D at most. Better but not by much.

  • British Parliament Votes to Recognize Palestine

    10/14/2014 2:08:17 PM PDT · 51 of 60
    naturalman1975 to Olog-hai
    Okay, that might answer the who, but how? It seems to be a very subjective POV that I suspect not all share.

    I'm not entirely sure what you mean by 'how'. But I'll try and explain why it would be seen as a panic reaction by many who understand the system - no, not all - but I would say most.

    Motions to be voted on can come before the British House of Commons in a number of different ways. Some of these ways are far more significant than others and that reflects how important an issue is to the British government.

    In this case, this motion came to Parliament via the 'Backbench Business Committee' and that is one of the least significant ways to get a debate into the chamber. It's not that the issues being raised aren't important - while some are quite trivial, sometimes an important issue does come up - but if the only way an issue can get into the Parliament is via the Backbench Business Committee, it means that first of all, the Government (as embodied by the Cabinet) didn't think it was important enough to spend time on, as they have control of most of Parliament's time. Then the Opposition (as embodied by the Shadow Cabinet) didn't think it was important enough to spend time on, as they have the next largest allocation of time. Thirdly it wasn't seen as important enough to be an Early Day Motion (traditionally moved by the most powerful backbenchers), and fourthly it wasn't important enough to be an Adjournment Debate.

    It could have been a Westminster Hall debate, which is even less important than a Backbench Business motion before the House, but the form really does indicate, how insignificant this issue is in terms of a change in British government policy.

    So it's not a significant vote - and so the government treated it in the ways such insignificant votes are normally treated. As much as possible, they ignored it. Ministers didn't vote - and didn't even turn up. That's what is normal in these cases.

    Now, why would it be seen as panic if Cameron had handled it differently?

    Because the only reason an incumbent government would turn a vote like this into a big deal is if they thought they were in danger of losing control of the House. The only reason a Prime Minister would want such a vote is to shore up a shaky leadership or a shaky government. It would be a clear message that the government was in trouble.

    Now, if the government was in trouble, then acting like it is (while perhaps not wise politically) would be accepting reality not panic - but to act like it is in trouble when it isn't is panic.

    And the fact that Labour could only get the vote to 276 indicates that the government isn't in trouble, so if Cameron had acted like it was, panic on his part would be the logical conclusion.

    The foreign relations between Britain and Israel seem to be deteriorating rapidly in spite of what you regard as prudence by the Commons.

    Not prudence by the Commons. Prudence by the Government and Prime Minister. And, yes, there are problems with Britain's and Israel's relationship - but they would not be improved by a minor meaniningless debate, being raised to a major one that could try to force a change of policy on the government (it would fail to do so).

    Nothing positive could have come out of elevating this to a large scale vote. In the best case scenario, the government would win such a vote by about 80 votes. In the worst realistic case scenario, it would only win by about 20 votes (a few different scenarios lead to that type of margin - theoretically an even worse result is possible but if things were that bad, the coalition would have collapsed at this point). That second result would weaken the government. As it is, Labour could clearly only get about the 280 number anyway, associated with the 80 point defeat scenario, and there was no risk of the vote even being close.

  • British Parliament Votes to Recognize Palestine

    10/14/2014 12:55:11 PM PDT · 48 of 60
    naturalman1975 to Olog-hai
    But you did not say who would judge the government to be “panicking”. Saying “those that understand” et cetera is a dodge and specifies nobody.

    It specifies a large number of people including myself. We don't necessarily fall neatly into any other category.

    If I was talking about a similar group of people in America, I'd say "People who understand the Constitution". People who have taken the time and effort to learn about how government works, (or who were made to do so at school - unfortunately, speaking as a teacher, we're somewhat discouraged from teaching our students this nowadays - I wonder why?)

    Informed voters. People who actually follow politics in depth, rather than just rely on the soundbites they see on the news. Americans can certainly be forgiven for not understanding the intricacies of the Westminster system - far better that they understand their own and for the same reason.

    It's the anti-Israel lobby in Britain that want to make this vote out to be a much bigger deal than it is, because it stokes their ego, and makes them seem more powerful and successful than they are. It's Labour (well, most of Labour - Israel does have some support in the Labour Party, but it's a minority) that wants to make this vote out to be a bigger deal than it is. It's their allies in the left wing media in the UK that want to make this vote out to be more significant than it is.

    It's not a tiny matter - it shows that the Labour Party has a major bias towards Palestine and against Israel - but most people already knew that. That could become a very significant problem indeed when they next win a general election. But this vote is being presented by the media as a massive win for that side of politics - in fact, it is a defeat. They couldn't get near a majority in the House even with a whipped vote. That makes the issue a dead letter now as far as the current Parliament is concerned.

  • British Parliament Votes to Recognize Palestine

    10/14/2014 12:19:38 AM PDT · 36 of 60
    naturalman1975 to Olog-hai
    Letting the Labour Party run amuck

    Actually, I'll address this just a little further.

    It is a feature of the British system - deliberately built into it - that Her Majesty's Most Loyal Opposition (the formal term) gets twenty days a session in Parliament to present its ideas for discussion. This reflects the fact that a large number of people did vote for them and deserve representation. And Labor didn't use those days for that debate. That's because the Labor Party leadership didn't want this debate.

    Instead, it's come up in one of the "Backbench day" when Backbench MPs from any party who can't get their leaders to support them in raising an issue have the chance to do so. And that's forced Labor into taking a stand on the issue that they really didn't want to take electorally. I'm not saying the Government wanted this debate - but politically, there's a lot of advantages in it for the supporters of Israel, because Labor has had to nail its colours to the mast and shown that they cannot be trusted on that issue.

  • British Parliament Votes to Recognize Palestine

    10/14/2014 12:13:21 AM PDT · 35 of 60
    naturalman1975 to Olog-hai
    That’s not an answer. Who would judge the government as “panicking” if they moved to suppress a vote on the state of Palestine?

    I've given you my answer. I'm sorry if you don't like it, but it is my answer.

    People who understand the British Parliamentary system like me, for example, would see the government as panicking. Because they would be treating this vote as if it was important when it actually means virtually nothing substantive at all. The only reason I could see them doing that was if David Cameron had lost his marbles and nobody in his Cabinet was daring to try and stop him. It would be a sign of a government in disarray that didn't have a clue how to do its job.

    Letting the Labour Party run amuck

    The Labor Party is the Opposition. They don't have the right to set policy. They certainly have the right to raise matters in Parliament. Doing so is not running amuck. It's what they are supposed to do.

    And letting them in this case, sends a clear message to the British voters that Labor is pro-Palestinian. They can't hide from that. They can't deny it. And the voters can make their own decision as to whether or not they want to vote for that.

    I think Labor has just reduced its chance of winning the next General Election. I certainly hope they have.

  • British Parliament Votes to Recognize Palestine

    10/13/2014 11:56:55 PM PDT · 33 of 60
    naturalman1975 to Olog-hai
    To whom would it have seemed that “the government was panicking”? especially versus standing on principle?

    To people who understand and follow the Westminster system and British politics in detail, and know what the normal response to such debates is - which is not to dignify them by responding to them.

    This vote does matter in a sense - it shows that the Labor Party has a lot of support within it for recognising Palestine as a state. That's significant, because Labor could win government at the next election.

    But it doesn't say anything about the stance of the current British government, or about current British policy.

    Some in the media - especially those who would like to stir up trouble for David Cameron and his party (for whatever reason) are trying to paint this as more significant than it is. And it's not that hard to do, because most people don't understand the system that well. They hear 'Parliamentary Vote' and think they are all important. A lot of them aren't (Early Day Motions, Adjournments Motions, and Backbench Business among them).

  • British Parliament Votes to Recognize Palestine

    10/13/2014 11:46:09 PM PDT · 30 of 60
    naturalman1975 to Olog-hai
    Backbenchers only rarely get the chance to put a matter before the House, and because of that, by convention, governments don't block such opportunities. It's considered an abuse of a privileged position to stop an Honourable Member from bringing up any issue they want to, when they only get a chance to do so once every couple of years at most. The right to speak in Parliament is a fundamental right for an MP and the right to have their Member speak is a fundamental right of the people.

    So if you disagree and you know it has no chance of succeeding in changing anything, you don't try and block the debate. You simply treat it as an irrelevancy and don't turn up. Which is what has been done in this case. Only enough no votes turned up to require a recorded vote, rather than just a voice vote (a lot of votes in the House of Commons are simply voice votes where the Speaker judges Aye or Nay by hear - any vote can be forced to a count but a lot aren't). If that hadn't happened, Labor could try and claim that they, say, got 300 votes instead of 274 and nobody could say for certain that they didn't. With a recorded vote, it's clear they didn't. If 300 conservatives had turned up to vote against it (which they would have if there had been any chance of the vote in favour getting that high) it would have looked like the government was panicking. They would have been panicking - because the vote wasn't that high.

  • British Parliament Votes to Recognize Palestine

    10/13/2014 11:24:14 PM PDT · 27 of 60
    naturalman1975 to Olog-hai

    Understand - there are 650 members of the House of Commons.

    This vote - non binding - got 274 votes or about 42% - and it only got that because Labor required its members to vote for it under party discipline and some of them would have done so only because they knew it wouldn’t actually have any effect.

    The actual government of the United Kingdom, for the most part, didn’t even dignify the debate by attending - which is why the No vote was so low. Again, if the vote had meant something, about 300 MPs would have turned up to vote no, but with this type of debate, it’s generally considered better to treat it as irrelevant rather than dignify it with a response - you just put enough MPs into the House to require a counted vote, not just a voice vote.

    The Westminster system is quite arcane and complex in its traditions, which makes this look like a bigger deal than it actually is to those who don’t know the system well.

  • British Parliament Votes to Recognize Palestine

    10/13/2014 11:19:25 PM PDT · 25 of 60
    naturalman1975 to scrabblehack
    What would it take for the vote to be binding? The Prime Minister’s assent for a binding vote?

    It would have to be a proper Act of Parliament, that went through all the correct procedures (full debate and multiple readings) in both Houses and the received the Royal Assent (which would be automatic if it had followed the other procedures). This doesn't even come close.

    It's what is referred to in the British system as a Backbench Business Debate which are designed to allow 'backbench' MPs (ie, non Ministers or Shadow Minister) the occasional opportunity to raise an issue they regard as important. Seniors members of the government and opposition, by definition, do not involve themselves in these matters - they have other opportunities to outline their policies.

    In essence, Labor (currently in opposition) supports the idea of the recognition of Palestine and this was a way for them to put that on record. The government (the Conservatives, Liberal Democrats, and assorted smaller groups) generally does not - and most didn't even bother to turn up for the debate on that basis which is a reason the No vote was so low.

    The Yes vote was 274 - if it had reached over 300, then Labor would have been able to try and use it to put pressure on the government for a full debate - there's no formal rules on that but as the House of Commons has 649 voting members (650 total, but the Speaker only votes in the event of a tie), by convention, an issue that attracted 300 votes in such a motion is one a government could be pressured to settle one way or the other. It didn't, so it really does nothing.

  • Burnt Magna Carta read for first time in 283 Years

    10/13/2014 2:13:13 PM PDT · 12 of 19
    naturalman1975 to goodnesswins
    So...the one I have from the late 1700’s isn’t worth much, eh?

    It would still be nice to have - and (speaking as an amateur in this area) it could still be worth hundreds or even thousands depending on its rarity and condition.

    And Perot's 1297 copy (now owned by David Rubenstein who has loaned it to the US National Archives) is still a very valuable document - there are less than twenty known Magna Carta's from the thirteenth century and all could expect to sell for millions, if not tens of millions - but if one of the 1215s ever went up for sale, it would probably break all records for sale price for any document.

  • Burnt Magna Carta read for first time in 283 Years

    10/13/2014 1:36:39 PM PDT · 10 of 19
    naturalman1975 to Hugin
    There are quite a few original copies.

    There are only four 'true originals' (from 1215) including this burnt one. Ross Perot owned a copy from 1297 - which is the version that is still considered part of English law in a technical sense (nearly all the provisions have been modified by later laws, but it's still 'on the books' as applying in any case where it wasn't modified.

  • British doctors and soldiers will not be guaranteed return to UK if they contract Ebola

    10/10/2014 4:25:09 PM PDT · 14 of 31
    naturalman1975 to Pollster1

    As I understand it (unless something has changed since the last news report on it I saw), the British are, in fact, sending the RFA Argus, which is a ship equipped with a hospital designed to receive casualties to Sierra Leone (technically it’s not a hospital ship because it carries weapons)

  • Australian Major General Craig Orme says the Islamic State will be defeated in Iraq

    10/10/2014 4:06:37 PM PDT · 1 of 10
  • Oklahoma prison officials unveil new death chamber

    10/09/2014 7:36:17 PM PDT · 28 of 34
    naturalman1975 to the OlLine Rebel

    I attended a lecture a few years ago by one of Australia’s last hangmen (the death penalty hasn’t been used here since the 1960s). He was trained in the UK by their experts (some of whom carried out dozens of hangings, one did hundreds). He claimed that once they got the method right by the late 1800s, there were basically no mistakes. No cases where it went wrong - as long as it was the professionally trained experts doing it.

    In the UK, it was basically a family business and they took pride in their work.

  • Australian Air Task Group conducts first strike mission (in Iraq)

    10/09/2014 12:33:51 PM PDT · 8 of 8
    naturalman1975 to ops33

    Al Minhad Air Base in the United Arab Emirates.

  • FReeper Canteen ~ Remembering Our Troops!! ~ 09 October 2014

    10/08/2014 6:06:31 PM PDT · 11 of 78
    naturalman1975 to Kathy in Alaska
    Royal Australian Air Force Hornets have just carried out their first strike missions in Iraq in the war against ISIS.

    Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more.

  • Australian Air Task Group conducts first strike mission (in Iraq)

    10/08/2014 6:00:14 PM PDT · 5 of 8
    naturalman1975 to Fred Nerks

    It is - and with precision bombing, you can do a lot with a little.

    And these planes can only drop bombs if they are given targets - and the way the command is set up, those targets are given to them by American controllers based on American intelligence judgements. I would not be surprised - especially given that Australian aircraft have only just started flying combat missions over Iraq - if the Americans aren’t primarily tasking US aircraft first where possible.

  • Australian Air Task Group conducts first strike mission (in Iraq)

    10/08/2014 5:09:19 PM PDT · 1 of 8
  • Young defence cadets warned not to wear uniforms in public amid terrorism fears

    10/07/2014 7:33:18 PM PDT · 6 of 13
    naturalman1975 to Will88

    Pretty much unnecessary as everybody knows it. We’ve already had one attack in Melbourne only a couple of weeks ago.

    Yes, sometimes the media don’t mention such things out of political correctness, but in this case, it just doesn’t need to be stated.

  • Young defence cadets warned not to wear uniforms in public amid terrorism fears

    10/07/2014 7:00:48 PM PDT · 1 of 13
    The cadets being discussed in this article are high school aged students (aged 12 1/2 -19). It could be considered fairly similar to JROTC programs in the United States.

    In Australia, school units tend to exist in 'elite' schools - the most expensive private schools, or old and highly successful government schools. There are also units associated with Defence Force bases (both regulars and reserves) which are open more generally. Where schools have cadet units, it has long been general practice for students to travel to and from school in cadet uniform rather than school uniform on days when they have parade and training.

  • Secret meeting ensured Australia had Super Hornets to strike ISIS

    10/07/2014 1:13:29 PM PDT · 1 of 5