Monthly Archives: June 2019

EDITORIAL: Secrets that can injure

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THE main point to make about the debate now raging over the sanctity of Catholic Confession is that a great many of the allegations of church inaction in the face of evidence of criminal acts against children don’t relate to formal Confessions.
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Much of the outrage and unhappiness expressed by victims of abuse by clergy has been directed at those who appear to have become aware of crimes and alleged crimes in situations well removed from the Confession box.

So those demanding the truth about who knew what, when they found out and what they did, should not let themselves be too distracted by the argument about the inviolability of Confession. It is an important issue, but not the main one.

Still, the argument that priests who hear Confessions of child sexual abuse should keep that information secret is so transparently morally bankrupt that the merest moment’s reflection should reveal it as inimical to everything Jesus Christ preached or stood for.

It is one thing to say that, without confidentiality, transgressors may not confess their sins at all. And in many circumstances it would be reasonable to agree.

But when the crime confessed is the black, wicked sin of sexual abuse against children, no argument suffices to maintain secrecy.

Indeed, a mountain of evidence, an ocean of human misery and an uncounted number of suicides demonstrate beyond doubt that keeping these deep crimes concealed behind clerical robes and doctrinal smokescreens is utterly destructive to everybody involved.

It is sad that the worldwide Catholic church, a light and comfort to so many, seems at one level to regard public criticism of its unfortunate past record of child abuse as an attack on its role or status. The fact is that almost everybody – of any faith – would concede that the church is peopled in large part by fine and humane idealists.

Indeed, much of the impetus for the royal commission soon to begin has come from those who represent the Catholic church at its best.

The royal commission is not just about the Catholic church. But to the extent that it must and will concern the church, the inquiry represents a healing opportunity that the organisation’s hierarchy should not ignore.

Just as the many victims of child sexual abuse need justice and healing, so does the church.

Attempting to cloak in liturgical respectability the use of the traditional sanctity of Confession as a defence against revealing heinous crimes is a grave moral error that can only deepen the injuries the church has already suffered.

Makeover for Yellowglen in champagne fight

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TREASURY Wine Estates will introduce new packaging and branding for its sparkling wine house Yellowglen to arrest softening sales, as a proliferation of locally produced sparkling wines and heavily discounted imported champagne tempts drinkers away from the 40-year-old label.
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The renewed marketing push will be targeted at the important $10 to $15 price bracket and coupled with the release of a new premium range of Yellowglen wines that will sell for around $49 and attempt to match well-known champagne houses in terms of flavour and quality.

Michelle Terry, managing director of the Treasury Wine Estates division that overseas Yellowglen, said the changes to the well-known label’s look followed a year-long review of the brand.

”We looked at the commercial performance, where we were strong, where we were not strong, the market structure, trends and what was happening with the Australian dollar, movement of French competitors into the market and then also domestic competitors,” Ms Terry said on Tuesday.

The review found that Yellowglen, Australia’s No. 1 sparkling with a 25 per cent market share, was dominant in the $8 to $10 price range but had ceded territory and customers to its rivals when it came to $10-plus.

”We had seen some softening in our position in the market in the teens … so it’s important for us that, given that is a growing market, we re-establish our credibility in that part of the market as well as in a premium offering,” Ms Terry said.

The refresh would include packaging changes to be introduced between now and Christmas and a marketing campaign in the new year.

Yellowglen has improved its performance within the Treasury Wine Estates portfolio, with its core brands returning to growth in 2011-12 and up 3 per cent in Australia/New Zealand for the period. But the sparkling wine category in Australia has been overshadowed by the booming champagne market, fuelled by the high Australian dollar that makes the imported French bubbly highly price competitive.

A global oversupply of champagne has seen the close-knit French champagne houses look for markets to soak up excess supply, also forcing prices at the shelf down and closer to the traditional price points for sparkling wine.

According to industry data, champagne growth remains robust, up 10.5 per cent in value terms and 14.1 per cent in volume for the year to June.

Import competition, namely champagne, was a threat at higher price points for sparkling wine, Ms Terry said. ”Sometimes we see consumers trading up [to champagne] and that’s one of the reasons why we are firmly trying to establish Yellowglen as the premier house of sparkling from Australia in that territory as well.”

As part of an added premium offering, Yellowglen has launched a new label called ”XV” (Exceptional Vintage), which will have a limited supply and retail at $49-$59 a bottle. The XV range will use quality parcels of fruit from vineyards around Australia.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

Thinking about sex all the time becomes an honour

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World first … the 2012 NSW Scientist of the Year, John Aitken, who has patented a male contraceptive.THERE are few men who can claim to know the intricacies of sperm like John Aitken.
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The reproductive biologist has patented a world first: a chemical contraceptive that kills sperm as well as the bacteria that cause sexually transmitted infections.

”If we could combine fertility regulation with protection against sexually transmitted disease, that would be a wonderful benefit to the population,” Professor Aitken said.

The contraceptive is having safety trials and, for this research and more, Professor Aitken has been named the 2012 NSW Scientist of the Year.

The British-born biologist first became interested in the biology of sex after reading a book on elephant reproduction when he was a university student. He completed a PhD under the tutelage of the book’s author, the reproductive biologist Professor Roger Short.

After a stint at the World Health Organisation in Geneva he realised ”the most important single thing to deal with on the surface of this planet is the unsustainable rate of population growth”.

”[It was then] I became very interested in developing improved forms of contraception.”

The University of Newcastle laureate professor also set himself the difficult task of developing the world’s first biological male contraceptive. ”When you designing contraceptives for women, you’re trying to stop the ovulation of one egg a month. Men produce 1000 spermatazoa a second,” he said.

To top it off, Professor Aitken also studies the reproductive workings of domestic animals and has developed a non-surgical technique to sterilise cats and dogs, as well as produced a medium to improve the shelf life of the semen of horses and cattle.

But before he invented methods to prevent pregnancy, his research laboratory at the University of Edinburgh in the mid 1980s tackled the reverse issue: why about one in every 20 males were infertile.

Professor Aitken and his team found that too many free radicals in the body, a process known as oxidative stress, left sperm unable to fertilise an egg.

Since then, small studies suggest the problem can be remedied with antioxidants, found in fruit and vegetables, a treatment that may have enabled thousands of men to become fathers.

”Our understanding of male reproduction is probably 20 years behind our understanding of female reproduction,” he said.

Professor Aitken hopes his award, one of eight NSW Science and Engineering Awards announced on Wednesday night, will highlight the contribution his research team has made in reproductive science.

He said his objective is to ”give people the choice to have exactly the number of children they want”.

The NSW Deputy Premier, Andrew Stoner, said Professor Aitken’s research also improved the efficiency of NSW’s world-leading horse breeding industry, worth more than $4.2 billion each year.

Other awards went to Matthew England and Angela Moles, from the University of NSW, and Peter Robinson from the University of Sydney.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part Two

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Sensual and smouldering … Bella and Edward’s romance steals the show in the final Twilight film.Directed by Bill Condon
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Written by Melissa Rosenberg, based on the novel by Stephenie Meyer

115 mins, Rated M

Cinemas everywhere

After five movies, the series that brought abstinence back into vogue for teenagers concludes with a rebirth, a fair bit of tasteful sex within marriage, and a long and dramatic fight with the forces of darkness. Admittedly, the two people getting it on are dead, or undead, but that doesn’t mean they can’t enjoy their newfound freedom. Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart) may have died at the end of Breaking Dawn Part 1, but her topaz eyes open as the first shot of the final film, revived by a vampire’s love. Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson) looks on with the gaze of a vampire who’s been waiting a long time for love. In vampire movies, if not in the lives of actors, romance can be permanent and perfect, and consummated in front of a log fire.

The final film satisfies on many levels. It is looser and funnier than its predecessors, less driven by boring action and fighting than the middle films and more confidently realised than its immediate predecessor. Bill Condon has relaxed into the story and characters, or perhaps he has earned the right to make it his way – albeit under the watchful eye of Stephenie Meyer,  writer of the books, who has a prominent credit as producer.

The series was always about the eyes, rather than the fangs. There has rarely been a prettier group of actors assembled on a movie screen. The film’s sensual close-ups were a part of the meaning. The sensuality, the restrained smoulder, was newish in teen movies when the first film appeared four years ago. The series got tired along the way, veering into action and bad dog effects as the wolf pack Native Americans fought the middle-class vampires. The final film restores order and balance, with a firm grasp of what made the series exceptional in the first place: the belief, the insistence, that teenage love could be as dramatic, life-threatening and complicated as any other love story. It was not trivial, even if it was between vampires. That seriousness is the real achievement of the series.

Read Paul Byrnes’s full review on Friday

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

GREG RAY: Freeway to frustration

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SWANSEA MP Garry Edwards has suggested that slow drivers who hog the right-hand lane on the F3 freeway ought to be booked.
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He’s got a fair point, but the slow-coaches shouldn’t be the only F3 transgressors to feel the brunt of the law.

I’ve been up and down the freeway a few times lately, and it’s only served to remind me how much I hate that road. It brings out the worst in many drivers.

Certain roads seem to make the drivers who use them behave in particular ways.

You get the Darby Street crawl. Even before they made it a 40km/h zone, Darby Street was a pain for super-slow progress. Pedestrians darting about (some of them drunk, on weekend nights) and drivers looking in vain for parking spaces.

And the Maitland Road slalom, as drivers weave around those turning either left or right.

There’s the Glebe Road “box-em-in” game, where you have to weigh up the benefits of trying to be nice to people trying to turn left at the lights, against the knowledge that many drivers in the left lane will – if they can – box you in behind people turning right.

To be considerate, you should stick to the right-hand lane at the City Road lights, eastbound, unless turning left, because if you are going straight ahead you will prevent left-hand turners from getting the advantage of the green arrow.

But if you do that, it’s a race to move left on the other side of the lights before the box-em-in champs race up the inside and trap you.

There’s the King Street pain-in-the-neck, stop-and-start run, late afternoons and early evenings where they have the lights rigged to make you stop at every single last one, from Darby Street to Beaumont Street.

And the 5pm Hunter Street West total clog, that really started to get serious after they closed Hannell Street and forced everybody onto Stewart Avenue.

The Carnley Avenue lottery, where those who know the police often put radar traps near the top of the hill fight with their accelerators to stay on 70km/h.

Meanwhile, those who still think it’s an 80 zone or who are willing to take a risk go blurting past at full tilt. It sometimes takes them a while to realise the bloke standing on the road in the fluoro vest is a highway patrol officer. Bad feeling.

But the F3 is the worst. It’s like a video game where the main aim is to get to the end in one piece, but it’s got a whole heap of games within games that people play for extra points or to relieve their boredom.

“Box-em-in” is really popular, and it’s a reason so many people hog the right.

Because no matter how long the turkey behind you has been sitting happily at four car lengths, as soon as a slow vehicle looms ahead, he has to pass you, at just the right speed to box you in and make you brake so that you will be stuck while 25 cars dawdle by.

“Outta my way” is another great F3 game. Every time you pull out to overtake, a turkey (usually with bright driving lights) appears out of nowhere and rides your bumper, letting you know that you are slowing them down.

Meanwhile, the turkey you were overtaking because they were driving at 95km/h, has now sped up to 115km/h, daring you to risk a ticket.

I reckon the answer to most of the nonsense is to put those point-to-point cameras on the freeway – the ones that film you at various stages of your journey.

If you get to the end of the road too quickly that means you were speeding, so you get a ticket in the mail.

And while they’re at it, they could film the slow-coaches in the right-hand lane and send them a letter too.

In the meantime, I’ve started rediscovering the joys of the old Pacific Highway from Brooklyn south which, with all its twists and turns, can be a less stressful alternative than the mad racetrack of the F3.