Monthly Archives: February 2020

Existing Home Sales Post Strong Finish For 2019

We're going to take a short break from our ongoing coverage of the impact of China's coronavirus epidemic on the U.S. stock market to focus on a bright spot in the U.S. economy: rising existing home sales.

December 2019 saw the strongest aggregate totals for existing home sales in years, with the equivalent market cap for this portion of the U.S. economy reaching $1.63 trillion based on Zillow's available data.

Estimated Aggregate Existing Home Sales, 49 States and District of Columbia*, January 2016 to December 2019

A combination of both rising prices and rising number of sales contributed to 2019's strong finish, with the Northeast and South regions showing the greatest strength.

Estimated Aggregate Existing Home Sales, U.S. Census Northeast Region, January 2016 - September 2019
Estimated Aggregate Existing Home Sales, U.S. Census South Region, January 2016 - September 2019

Aggregate sales were also up in the Midwest and West regions of the U.S., although not as strongly as in the Northeast and in the South.

Estimated Aggregate Existing Home Sales, U.S. Census Midwest Region, January 2016 - September 2019
Estimated Aggregate Existing Home Sales, U.S. Census West Region, January 2016 - September 2019

Meanwhile, seasonally adjusted aggregate sales were also up in each of the U.S.' top five states for existing home sales in December 2019:

Estimated Aggregate Transaction Values for Existing Home Sales in Top Five States, January 2016 to December 2019

California and Texas are still both below their March 2018 peaks, but aggregate existing home sales in Florida, New York, and New Jersey are reaching new relative highs. It should be noted however that they are doing so mainly the basis of rising prices rather than a rising number of sales.

That was true across most of the United States. Zillow indicates 40 states recorded new peaks in their seasonally adjusted median sale prices for existing homes in December 2019, where Zillow's available data extends as far back as March 2008 for 37 of these states.

New home sales through January 2020 will be out later today, which we'll follow up tomorrow since they represent a much bigger contributor to the U.S.' gross domestic product.

25/2/2020: No, 2019-nCov did not push forward PE ratios to 2002 levels

Markets are having a conniption these days and coronavirus is all the rage in the news flow.  Here is the 5 days chart for the major indices:

And it sure does look like a massive selloff.

Still, hysteria aside, no one is considering the simple fact: the markets have been so irrationally priced for months now, that even with the earnings being superficially inflated on per share basis by the years of rampant buybacks and non-GAAP artistry, the PE ratios are screaming 'bubble' from any angle you look at them.

Here is the Factset latest 20 years comparative chart for forward PEs:

You really don't need a PhD in Balck Swannery Studies to get the idea: we are trending at the levels last seen in 1H 2002. Every sector, save for energy and healthcare, is now in above 20 year average territory.  Factset folks say it as it is: "One year prior (February 20, 2019), the forward 12-month P/E ratio was 16.2. Over the following 12 months (February 20, 2019 to February 19, 2020), the price of the S&P 500 increased by 21.6%, while the forward 12-month EPS estimate increased by 4.1%. Thus, the increase in the “P” has been the main driver of the increase in the P/E ratio over the past 12 months."

So, about that 'Dow is 5.8% down in just five days' panic: the real Black Swan is that it takes a coronavirus to point to the absurdity of our markets expectations.

Australian Politics 2020-02-25 15:02:00


Shocking standard of new teachers

They don't know primary school stuff, let alone show any benefit of a university education.  It's a tremendous revelation of non-existent school standards.  The blind are leading the blind.  No wonder so many parents send kids to private schools

Clare Masters

GRADUATE teachers are leaving university, without basic literacy skills, including spelling and grammar, and are increasingly needing tutoring to pass the literacy portion of their qualifying exam.

Tutoring agencies are seeing a rise in the number of graduates seeking help to pass the Federal Government's Literacy and Numeracy Tests for the Initial Teacher Education (LANTITE) test, required to become a teacher, and experts are saying the test should be done as an entrance' exam to weed out unsuccessful candidates.

Some agencies say students are struggling with basic skills like fractions, grammar and even knowing the number of weeks in a year. "We have been surprised by the number of university students studying to be teachers who are seeking assistance with their literacy skills to pass their LANTITE, and who may have already failed this test a number of times," said Dr Selina Samuels, chief learning officer at tutoring service Cluey. She said there had been over 750 inquiries for LANTITE support in just four months.

Teacher Melinda Wood, from The Tutoring Academy, said many of her students were missing basic foundation skills. "With literacy, they don't know the simple rules for grammar, punctuation and how to spell or do fractions.

"I had one student who didn't attend primary school in her own country and came to Year 8 in Australia and has difficulty reading. She is doing a Masters of Education and she is struggling a lot."

Ms Wood gave one example of a question that asked students to estimate an annual income from weekly pays and said students were failing it in practice tests as they "don't know how many weeks are in a year".

"They use spell check and stuff at home to help them but the. second they are in exam conditions they don't know how to cope."

The recent PISA scores show Australian students are falling behind and Centre for Independent Studies' Blaise Joseph said a teacher's core skills needed to be high. "Evidence shows it is really important teachers be high achievers. Over the years we have lowered the bar for entry standard for teacher education degrees," he said.

"We have about one in five Australian students below the minimum standard for literacy and that is going to be reflected in new teacher intakes. It defies common sense you have uni students who don't have basic literacy and numeracy skills who are then going to be responsible for teaching literacy and numeracy to children."

From the Brisbane "Courier Mail" of 24/2/20

Great Australian Bight: Equinor abandons plans to drill for oil

Norwegian oil company announces it has scrapped its $200m plan to deepwater drill in Great Australian Bight Marine Park

After extensive Greenie harassment

Norwegian oil giant Equinor has abandoned plans to drill for oil in the Great Australian Bight, declaring the controversial project did not make commercial sense.

The company said on Tuesday it had told federal, South Australian and local authorities it had decided to scrap the $200m project to deepwater drill in the Great Australian Bight Marine Park.

It is the third major oil company to abandon plans to drill in the bight, following BP and Chevron.

“Following a holistic review of its exploration portfolio, Equinor has concluded that the project’s potential is not commercially competitive compared with other exploration opportunities in the company,’’ the company’s country manager for Australia, Jone Stangeland, said in a statement.

The decision is a significant win for environment groups and other opponents of the project, including Indigenous elders and local councils. The proposal sparked protests supported by tens of thousands of people opposed to fossil fuel extraction in a marine wilderness area.

Equinor’s announcement comes shortly after the proposed Stromlo-1 well site, in water more than 2.2km deep and nearly 400km off the South Australian coast, was granted environmental approval by the federal offshore petroleum regulator. The Wilderness Society launched legal action challenging the decision last month, arguing opponents had not been properly consulted.

Peter Owen, the Wilderness Society’s South Australian director, welcomed Equinor’s decision to “responsibly withdraw” from the project.

“It’s been a while coming, but the right decision is the right decision, and we have no doubt that the hundreds of thousands of people that have supported the campaign to fight for the Bight will be both delighted and relieved to hear this news,” he said.

Owen called on the Morrison government to “listen to the people and permanently protect the unique waters of the Great Australian Bight from drilling for good”.

The federal minister for resources, Keith Pitt, said the government was disappointed about Equinor’s decision, but pleased the company had made clear it would still be part of the oil and gas industry in Australia. It said the decision would be “particularly hard for South Australia”.

He said the government remained committed to “encouraging the safe development of Australia’s offshore petroleum resources. “The Bight basin remains one of Australia’s frontier basins and any proposals for new oil and gas fields in this area will be assessed fairly and independently,” he said.

Equinor was granted a petroleum title over areas in the Bight in 2011. In December, it cleared the second of four regulatory hurdles it needed to pass before it could start drilling, when the National Offshore Petroleum Safety and Environmental Management Authority, known as Nopsema, granted its environmental approval.

The company described the decision as an important milestone that followed more than 400 meetings with community and other organisations. Environmentalists, local councils and elders of the traditional owners of the Bight, the Mirning people, denied they had been properly consulted and vowed to continue to fight the project.

Industry body the Australian Petroleum and Production and Exploration Association said the company’s decision to drop the project was disappointing for South Australians, who would have benefited economically, and for the “wider Australian community”, which needed new energy supplies.

Matthew Doman, the association’s chief executive, said: “The proposed exploration activity had been subject to an extreme campaign of false and exaggerated claims that deliberately overstated the risks and ignored the potential benefits.”

Greenpeace Australia Pacific’s chief executive, David Ritter, said the decision was an “incredible win for people power and nature”. He said it followed years of relentless campaigning by coastal communities, Indigenous traditional owners, surfers, the seafood industry, tourism operators and local businesses.

“Never doubt the power and determination of the Australian people,” Ritter said.

Sarah Hanson Young, the Greens environment spokeswoman and a South Australian senator, called on other parties to back Greens’ legislation that would put the Bight forward for world heritage protection.

“Opening a new fossil fuel basin in the middle of our ocean was always madness,” she said. Moving to net zero emissions by 2050 means we must reduce pollution now, not give the green light to new polluting projects.”

Noah Schultz-Byard, South Australian director of the Australia Institute, said polling suggested an overwhelming majority of people would support world heritage listing for the Bight.

Stangeland said Equinor said it still held an offshore exploration permit in Western Australia and would maintain “other ongoing interests and activities in Australia”.


‘Secretive’ GetUp angers volunteers

A feeding trough for a Leftist elite?

GetUp faces rising dissent in its ranks from supporters who claim the left-wing campaign group’s leadership is “secretive” about how it spends millions of dollars raised from public donations, and no real power is allowed to so-called “members” in running the organisation.

Longtime GetUp volunteers who have worked in senior campaign roles said the group’s senior executives disliked criticism, and questions about operations were often rebuffed.

“GetUp is terribly secretive,” a former volunteer said. “They seem to take the view that new people are coming in all the time, so it doesn’t matter if they lose others.”

The Australian has obtained internal correspondence between GetUp’s economic fairness campaigns director, Ed Miller, and several disillusioned supporters who claim the group “lacks transparency” and has not addressed “specific concerns about where and how funds are spent”.

Other disillusioned GetUp ­activists gave the example of $250,000 allegedly raised in donations as part of GetUp’s “protect the ABC” campaign, yet they had no evidence the money was used for campaign billboards or ads.

The Australian reported on Monday that GetUp spent more than 70 per cent of the $12.4m in public donations it raised last year on staff salaries, administration costs and travel, despite telling supporters in its online appeals for funds that “every dollar” would be used to build a fairer Australia “with spending on billboards, hard-hitting TV ads and rallies”.

GetUp devoted $3.6m of its annual donations total to “campaign expenses” while outlaying $7.2m on salaries, according to the group’s audited 2019 financial report. Another $1.4m was spent on administration, $806,000 on rent and more than $500,000 on travel.

GetUp, however, says 89 per cent or $12.4m of total expenditure was “related” to campaigns, including the $7.2m “wages for the staff”. It says its expenditure should not be compared with charities delivering social services.

Disillusioned GetUp followers complain the group gives no breakdown of spending on each campaign and rebuffs attempts to gain such information.

A longtime GetUp activist from Brisbane told Mr Miller in internal online communications that his concern, shared by others, related to a “lack of transparency”. “Despite what you say, an outsider cannot easily obtain the ­information,” he wrote.

The complainant also claimed volunteers helping GetUp’s unsuccessful campaign to oust minister Peter Dutton from his Queensland seat of Dickson at last May’s election stormed off “in ­despair” on polling day because voting cards were “so off-topic and irrelevant to local voters”. “All this dysfunction contributes to the sense of unease about GetUp’s ­attitude to their volunteer base,” the complainant said.

Mr Miller responded that he was “genuinely really sorry” the GetUp volunteer felt aggrieved, and conceded many staff and volunteers were feeling “burned out” after the election because of “strategic errors”. Another volunteer from the NSW central coast joined the online conversation. “Yes, we had the same experience during election day,” he said.

The Brisbane complainant later directed criticism at GetUp national director Paul Oosting, disputing his claims during a recent National Press Club address about the group’s “responsiveness and responsibility to its members’ input”.

Mr Oosting has repeatedly declined to respond to questions from The Australian about whether some concerns had been raised internally about spending.

He has also declined to disclose salaries for GetUp executives, including himself, or how GetUp’s donations income-to-spending ratio compares with other groups in the charity and not-for-profit sector. Mr Oosting defended the $7.2m in salaries, saying GetUp’s strategists, campaigners, organisers and developers were some of its “greatest assets” and the “driving force”. A GetUp spokeswoman said she was not aware of internal concerns about GetUp.

As a not-for-profit company, GetUp does not pay income tax because its financial reports show annual deficits. GetUp says it did not launch a “bushfire relief efforts” appeal, or directly raise funds for bushfire relief, instead referring members to the NSW Rural Fire Service or Red Cross.


Desperate white South African farmers who rushed for protection visas in Australia have their claims rejected

It's a lot easier if you are an Afghan or an Iranian

A surge of South Africans seeking protection in Australia have been disappointed as no visas have yet been approved.

Rejection letters to the families applying for protection and humanitarian visas have said they are not refugees because the violence in South Africa is widespread, random and opportunistic.

'The risk of murder and serious physical/sexual assaults is one faced by the population of the country generally and not by the applicants personally,' said the letter, quoted in The Australian newspaper.

South Africa's minority white farmers say there has been a concerted campaign to drive them off their land, and violent murders - some involving horrific rape and torture - have been forcing them to leave.

Liberal National Party member Savanna Labuschagne, herself a migrant from South Africa, said some people had their skin ironed off and holes drilled through their knee caps.

'An elderly couple had boiling water poured down their throats. I could go on for days. How do we help our people?' she told The Australian.

Ms Labuschagne said both blacks and whites had suffered from the South African government's 'corruption'.

She also shared some of the racial hatred that has been directed at the white minority by black South Africans on Facebook.

One black South African man had posted to social media that it was his duty and the duty of others to 'eliminate every white person in South Africa'.

'The only way to end racism and the oppression of my people is to destroy the white race. This must be done as quickly as possible,' his post read.

Ms Labuschagne along with fellow LNP member Patti Maher, also a South African migrant, said they were feeling frustrated as South Africans were prevented from receiving assistance by the bureaucracy. 

South Africa has been divided by deep racial grievances since the apartheid system of racial segregation ended in 1994, and this has been worsened by an economic gulf between rich and poor.

White people, who are less than 9 percent of the population, own most of the farmland in South Africa.

They are vastly outnumbered by black people who make up 80 per cent of the country's 57.7 million population, but who have the least amount of land ownership.

South Africa's ruling party the African National Congress, led by Cyril Ramaphosa, plans to take land without compensation from minority white farmers, who own most of the farmland, and redistribute it to black South Africans.

South Africa's parliament voted in 2018 to amend the constitution to allow land seizures, and has issued a proposed land expropriation bill on which the public comment period is open until 29 February, Business Tech reported.

In March 2018, Mr Dutton suggested white farmers were being persecuted and deserved special attention under Australia's humanitarian program.

He instructed his department to consider claims from persecuted South African farmers, alongside people from Asia, the Middle East and other African countries.

Liberal politicians pushed for up to 10,000 South Africans to come to Australia.

South Africans responded with a surge of 220 claims for humanitarian visas made in the last two years, almost triple the previous rate.

South Africans had previously made just 350 applications for humanitarian visas from 2008 to 2010, an average of 35 per year.

However most of the visa applications have so far been denied leaving South Africans disappointed.

Of the 570 humanitarian visa applications since 2008, only 41 were granted and 340 are still to be finalised, The Australian reported.

Protection visa applications have also failed with 97 rejected in the past three months.

Of 33 protection visa applications lodged since November, none have been approved.

A Home Affairs spokesperson told Daily Mail Australia on Monday that anyone who makes a claim for protection will be considered under the humanitarian program, and that there are many other visas available to South Africans such as the skilled, temporary and family visas.

'Almost 80,000 visas have been granted to South Africans since July 2018, allowing them to come to Australia,' the spokesperson said.

'South Africa is the 9th largest source country of permanent migrants in Australia.'

To be considered a refugee, a person must have a well-founded fear they will be seriously harmed because of their race, religion, nationality, political opinion or membership of a social group, the Home Affairs Department says on its website.

The serious harm can be to their life and liberty, or the denial of a capacity to earn a livelihood to survive.

Australia's Refugee Review Tribunal wrote in 2011 that despite concerns among white South Africans that they were being targeted for race, most evidence pointed to other motivations such as financial gain.

Crime is widespread in South Africa where 14 million people live in extreme poverty, and farmers are isolated and thus can be seen as easy targets.

In 2018, South Africa suffered almost 20,000 murders with most of the victims being black victims of black violence, while only 62 were farm murders - not all of them white, according to government figures quoted by investigative journalist James Pogue writing in Harper's Magazine.

Mr Pogue wrote that the brutality of the torture inflicted on some of the white victims does indicate a level of racial vitriol in the attacks.

In May last year, South African activist Annette Kennealy, 51, who spoke out against attacks on white farmers was found stabbed and beaten to death on her own farm in Limpopo province.

Kennealy was a public supporter of the white Afrikaner community and in her last Facebook post, she shared a link alleging that 10 farm attacks, including one murder, had been reported in just four days in 2019.

She also routinely shared links and stories relating to politics in South Africa, and the government's plans to start expropriating farms from white land-owners.

The South African Human Rights Commission has said black farmers have given evidence that farm safety isn't the preserve of any one racial group, although it does not dispute that there are attacks motivated by racial hatred.


Volatility Rears Up for the S&P 500

Statistically speaking, the S&P 500 (Index: SPX) got pretty interesting yesterday, where we define "interesting" as any change in the level of the S&P 500 of 2% or more.

In falling 3.35%, the decline in the S&P 500 on Monday, 24 February 2020 falls into pretty rarefied territory, where in the 70 years since 3 January 1950, covering some 17,649 trading days for which we have data, the S&P 500 has only recorded drops 2.85% or more on just 133 days.

That's not as rare as you might think, because on average, the market has seen drops like that on average every 132-133 days. Except, when volatility in the market cranks up to levels like that, big changes in the level of the S&P 500 are not evenly distributed over time, but instead tend to be clustered close to each other when they occur. The following chart shows all the daily percentage changes in the S&P 500 and its predecessor indices from 3 January 1950 through 24 February 2020, where the biggest changes fall outside the red-dashed lines, which represent daily percentage changes that are more than three standard deviations away from the mean trend for the index.

S&P 500 Daily Volatility (Percent Change Between Closing Value and Previous Trading Day's Closing Value), 3 January 1950 - 24 February 2020

Looking at the level of the S&P 500 itself, the change that took place on 24 February 2020 wasn't all that surprising. To help make that point, we've animated the following chart showing the forecast from the dividend futures-based model we use to project the future trajectory of the S&P 500 that we presented long before the market opened on Monday to what it looks one trading day later. If you're accessing this article on a site that republishes our RSS news feed, please click through to our site to access a working version of the animated chart.

Animation: Alternative Futures - SP 500 - 2020Q1 - Standard Model - Snapshots 20200221 and 20200224

The heavy black line representing the actual trajectory of the S&P 500 is closely paralleling the orange-dashed line representing the trajectory the dividend futures-based model indicates would apply if investors are closely focusing on 2020-Q4 in setting current day stock prices. You'll also note a big change in the future forecast about 30 days from now, which is an echo of the volatility event that just took place. This echo is an artifact of our use of historic stock prices in projecting future stock prices, where the important thing to know right now is that it will be in flux until things settle down.

As for what to pay attention to in the days ahead, the big question now is not whether the Federal Reserve will be cutting short term interest rates in the U.S. in 2020, but how many times it will in 2020. At the end of the last week, investors were betting on two rate cuts, but as investors respond to growing indications of massive supply chain disruptions resulting from China's coronavirus epidemic, the odds are increasing there will be a third. We've animated the probabilities recorded by the CME Group's FedWatch tool for what the Fed will do with the Federal Funds Rate at upcoming meetings of its Federal Open Market Committee to show how it has changed from what we presented yesterday:

Animation: CME Group FedWatch Tool - Probabilities of Federal Funds Rate Changes at Upcoming FOMC Meetings - Snapshots 20200221 and 20200224

To summarize what the FedWatch tool is indicating, investors are by betting the Fed will be forced to implement quarter point rate cuts in both 2020-Q2 and 2020-Q3, and the odds of a third rate cut in 2020-Q4 have risen.

That uncertainty for 2020-Q4 accounts for why the alternative futures spaghetti forecast chart is indicating investors are remaining mostly focused on 2020-Q4 at this time. However, if more bad news erupts to cause investors to shift their forward-looking focus earlier in the year, particularly to 2020-Q2, such a change in focus would likely be accompanied by a much larger drop in stock prices.

And that's without any changes in investor expectations for future dividends. If those fundamental expectations change, say with companies acting to cut dividends to preserve their cash flows because they anticipate sharply lower revenues and earnings from experiencing supply chain disruptions, then the market could be in for a really rocky ride.

We told you the S&P 500 was getting pretty interesting. The next several days should see quite a lot of action, particularly from central banks looking to head off as much trouble as they can, which will have an effect on stock prices. How much remains to be seen.

Update 25 February 2020: More bad news erupted today, so now we're looking at a genuine new Lévy flight event, with investors shifting their focus from 2020-Q4 inward toward the nearer-term future of 2020-Q2:

Will the new Lévy flight event continue, or will something change to refocus investors on the more distant future horizon? We'll see what tomorrow brings!

Update 26 February 2020: The S&P 500 continued down, but by a small amount compared to the previous two days:

Update 27 February 2020: Another big drop as the market's latest Lévy flight event continues. We're likely within several percent for where the market will stabilize in the short term as investors have nearly completed shifting their forward-looking focus from 2020-Q4 to 2020-Q2.

The S&P 500 has recorded its fastest ever correction (a decline of at least 10%) at this point.

Australian Politics 2020-02-24 15:39:00


‘Don’t bastardise all men… these things happen’: Pauline Hanson says cowardly dad who murdered his entire family may have been ‘driven to do it’

It's good that we have sensible women such as Pauline Hanson and Bettina Arndt to speak up against the hateful and totally unreasonable feminist claim that Hannah Clarke was murdered by her estranged husband because that is what "men" do. Baxter's maleness has been given as the sole explanation for his evil deeds.

That millions of women are NOT murdered by their partner is ignored.  It is surely the vast non-murdering majority of men who tell you what "men" do. But feminists are so full of hate that they cannot see that.

So why did Baxter really do it?  Unless we know that, how are we supposed to prevent similar deeds by other troubled men?

Until we are given the full facts about the family history involved we cannot know for sure how it all worked out but from my point of view as a psychologist there is one highly likely explanation for the tragedy:  Baxter was a bully.

He was a common bully type, physically imposing and very egotistical.  The combination of a strong body and a big ego can be very problematical.  We see it in schoolyards all the time.  Some stronger kid will pick on some weak and "loser" kid.  In the course of a schooling that behaviour will usually be suppressed in some way, partly by teachers, partly by parents and partly by other students.

I remember a question I once asked my well-built son when he was in High School  I asked him whether any other kids picked on him.  He said "No. I'm too big for them.  And if I see them picking on some smaller kid, I put myself in between them".  So the corrective role of other students should not be ignored.

Sometimes, however, the bully gets away with a lot and forms behaviour patterns that last into adulthood.  But such patterns are very limiting in adulthood.  The bully will find himself avoided if not ostracized.  The bully of course sees this and endeavours to change his ways at least superficially.  He practices being "nice". But that pretence periodically breaks down.  His real motivation comes out in hostility of some sort.

So in the end he will be mistrusted and socially excluded.  And for anyone that is very grievous.  Among Aborigines, social exclusion is the mechanism behind a wrongdoer being "sung" to death.  So the bully in any society has usually been locked into a behaviour pattern that badly hurts him emotionally.

And when that hurts too much he may strike out fatally at the one whose disapproval hurts him the most.  He blames the other  person -- such as his ex-wife --  for his own deep unhappiness rather than himself. He sees that his life has been a failure and there is nothing left in it for him.  So death seems to him to be welcome.  So murder-suicide ensues.

So what can be done?  Just one thing:  Bullying has to be stopped at its source.  It has to be stopped during the bully's schooldays.  All Education Departments have high-sounding policies that claim to do that but enforcement is very lax.  So we cannot look at the existing system for hope.  A firmer approach is needed.

I would advocate sending bullies to a special school where bullying behavior is vigilantly watched for and heavily punished.  Bullying must be negatively reinforced, to use psychologist's jargon.  And talk is no good.  The bully has to be subjected to treatment that is a replica of what he normally does to others.

Politician Pauline Hanson has defended controversial comments about the horrific Brisbane murder-suicide, saying 'these things happen'.

In a crime which rocked Australia on Wednesday, Hannah Clarke, 31, was murdered by her estranged husband along with her three young children.

Aaliyah, 6, Laianah, 4, and Trey, 3, were burned alive by their own father on their way to school after he poured petrol in their car and lit a flame.

But Ms Hanson said the cowardly murders shouldn't lead to people 'bastardising all men' - saying Baxter could have been 'driven to it'. 'Don't bastardise all men out there, or women for that matter, because these things happen,' she said on Monday morning.

Speaking about domestic violence murders, she added that: 'A lot of people are driven to this, to do these acts for one reason or another.'

The killings have led to calls for more protection for domestic violence victims, after Ms Clarke was emotionally, sexually and financially abused by Baxter for years.

Speaking on Today, Ms Hanson said the murders have been in the news more than if it was committed by a woman - and that Baxter may have been 'driven to it'.

'You know, this has been for a week we have been in the news nearly every day about this horrific tragedy,' she said on Today on Monday morning.

'But we don't hear much about it when a woman has murdered her children by driving a  car into a tree, she threw out a suicide note. 'Or the woman who doused her husband with fuel and set him alight an said she was possibly driven to it.

'Hopefully the family law inquiry will get to the bottom of it.'

She also defended commentator Bettina Arndt, who made controversial comments about the Baxter murders.

Some MPs want Arndt to be stripped of her Order of Australia, after she praised a Queensland police officer for saying Baxter may have been 'driven too far'. Queensland detective Mark Thompson was taken off the case after making the comments.

'Congratulations to the Queensland police for keeping an open mind and awaiting proper evidence, including the possibility that Rowan Baxter might have been 'driven too far'," Ms Arndt wrote on Twitter. 'But note the misplaced outrage. How dare police deviate from the feminist script of seeking excuses and explanations when women stab their partners to death, or drive their children into dams but immediately judging a man in these circumstances as simply representing the evil violence that is in all men.'

Speaking about Ms Arndt's comments, Ms Hanson said she should not be stripped of her Australia Day honour.

'It was a horrendous act of what he did to his children,' she said. 'It was a tragedy and I am very deeply sorry for everyone.

'But Bettina Arndt should not be stripped of her Order of Australia. She is clearly stating what she thinks and what a police officer said.

'This is why I have pushed for the family law inquiry to get behind what is happening on this.'

The mum-of-three had desperately tried to keep her young family safe from their evil dad, but was struggling after her domestic violence protection order was watered down.

It has since emerged that he subjected Hannah to years of domestic violence, prompting the brave mum to finally leave him last November.

There was a domestic violence order (DVO) in place, but she expressed frustration that the conditions wouldn't be enough to keep her family safe.

Despite being stalked every day by her monstrous ex, the DVO was watered down to allow her husband to be a close as 100 metres from her.

'I have to go back to court and had to drop off an application today to get the DVO conditions changed as he keeps turning up where I am,' the mother-of-three said in text message to a friend, sent on January 30.

'He got the DVO adjourned and when they did that they took off the no contact and made it just 100m from my home so technically he’s not doing anything wrong … hence why we need it changed!'

Even the female police officer who helped Hannah lodge her DVO last year told her it would do little to protect her from her evil husband.


The domestic violence double standard

Bettina Arndt

Across Australia, we reeled when we heard news that former Rugby League player, Rowan Baxter had set fire to his car, killing his ex-wife and three young children, and then stabbed himself to death. Unthinkable acts that chilled everyone to the bone.

Then came the press conference from the Queensland police, a very strange event where the police spokesman, Detective Inspector Mark Thompson, suggested it was important to keep an open mind and compile proper information about what had happened. “Is this an issue of a woman suffering significant domestic violence and her and her children perishing at the hands of the husband, or is it an instance of a husband being driven too far by issues he’s suffered by certain circumstances into committing acts of this form,” he said.

It was an extraordinary statement, given the pressure the police are under to simply promote the violent man narrative, ignoring any inconvenient truths that muddy the waters. Thompson looked most uncomfortable, suggesting he was privy to much more information.

My initial reaction was to stay out of it, given the battering I have taken on recent weeks. But then I discovered that even though I had made no public comment about the case,  I was trending on twitter as my enemies used this tragedy as a means of beating me up, claiming I was misguided to challenge the feminist narrative on domestic violence. Baxter was proof that men are dangerous, posing immense risks to women and children.

Immediately our media fell into line, using this tragic case to promote the need to protect women from violent men. And slamming Detective Inspector Thompson for daring to suggest that men can ever be “driven” into acting this way.

Learning more

Then, out of the blue, I heard from a woman who was close to the Baxter family, telling me that many in the community were alarmed that the truth of what happened was being so distorted. I had a long phone call with her where she explained the background to Baxter’s actions – information I hope will be revealed in the coroner’s inquiry. The people with real knowledge of the case are naturally nervous now of speaking publicly, although I hope they will eventually be willing to give media interviews.

It led to a sleepless night as I wrestled with the knowledge of what would happen if I got involved in this explosive issue versus my reluctance to allow the bastards to win. That would be the result if I was cowered into silence, avoiding public engagement on an issue which is at the heart of over a decade of my writing about the way domestic violence is being misrepresented to demonize men.

In the end I decided I have nothing to lose - and the truth matters. Someone reminded me of James Baldwin’s quote about “the most dangerous creation of any society is the man who has nothing to lose.”  Man or woman. Despite the attempts to damage to my public reputation through media pile-ons, I’m still standing and will keep fighting.

So, this morning I posted a few carefully written social media comments

Next I pointed out how differently we treat women who commit similarly horrible acts, immediately searching for reasons, asking what drove them to it. I posted this blog, which outlines some of the cases where women have committed violent acts, murdering their partners and children.

We’ve seen many cases of women committing homicide or filicide, where the press coverage is entirely focussed on explanations for her behaviour. See this article about a Cairns woman who killed 8 children.

I’ve also posted research showing both men and women commit such crimes such as this comprehensive study published in 2009 by Nielsen et al in the Medical Journal of Australia, looking at all cases of child homicide in NSW between 1991 and 2005. It found that, in cases of family homicide/revenge/homicide-suicide like the Rowan Baxter case, men were the perpetrators of child homicide in 10 cases, while women were the perpetrators in seven cases. Yes, tiny numbers. There’s no epidemic of these violent acts, thank goodness. But men certainly aren’t the only perpetrators. 

The filicide evidence shows children are killed by mothers and fathers at roughly similar rates. The most recent figures covering 2000 – 2012 show 76% of the 284 victims were killed by a custodial parent—46% by a custodial mother & 29% by a custodial father.

Pissing in the wind?

Maybe it is stupid to even try to counter the mighty onslaught from the domestic violence industry, who are cynically using this tragedy to recruit politicians and prominent people to call for more funding to protect women and children. This is after many, many millions have been spent on our feminist domestic violence policies which so clearly are failing to address the complexities of the problem.

It is just amazing that the media is so united in constructing a careful narrative of a battered woman and controlling man, with violence orders failing to protect a vulnerable family from his murderous rage. This video of Baxter rough-housing with his children is being used to demonstrate his dangerous toxic masculinity – despite the obvious delight of his children and the fact they keep coming back for more.

How come not a single journalist has the courage to investigate what drove police officer, Mark Thompson, to risk his career by voicing concerns about the complexity of the case? Now Thompson has been forced to step down from the investigation, apologising for his “ill-chosen” words.

This is Stasiland in action. Police across the country must be shuddering at the fate of this brave colleague who paid the price for doing his job with professionalism and honesty. Look at this article from the Courier Mail.

I am calling on people to write to the Queensland Police asking that he be reinstated to his position in the investigation. And please write also to your local MP, asking that they resist the cynical push for more money for domestic violence policies which fail to address the real issues.

A public inquiry

If the coronial inquest into this case reveals the truth, it could make a strong case for a public inquiry into how this happened. Why can’t we ask the hard questions that we would have asked if it was a female perpetrator? Like:

How did he get to such a state of irrationality, despair and desperation that he could do such a thing?

Why wasn’t he seeking support? Is there any support available for men in his situation?

What could we as a society have done better to prevent this?

That does not mean we are victim blaming or seeking justification. Merely a deeper understanding. Why is this so unacceptable simply because we are talking about a man?

Well, that’s it for now. I will keep you informed as this important issue develops, Tina

Via email from

Gang rapist Mohammed Skaf loses latest parole bid

In a sense Skaf is a victim of his Satanic Muslim religion, which teaches that women are things secondary to men

Notorious gang rapist Mohammed Skaf will remain behind bars for the rest of the year after his bid for freedom was knocked back for a third time by the NSW State Parole Authority.

Skaf, who was convicted alongside his brother Bilal over a terrifying series of rapes in Sydney in 2000 that shocked Australia, became eligible for parole in January 2017.

The parole authority has repeatedly rejected the now 36-year-old’s pleas for release, citing the fact that he has continued to blame his victims for his offending after being convicted.

Former District Court judge, Michael Finnane, QC, who presided over the “Skaf trials” said the series of gang rapes amounted to a crime “worse than murder”.

“In the worst case, a girl was raped 40 times by 14 men in four hours,” Mr Finnane told The Australian. “To be kidnapped and raped, and to be raped by a gang, only to find another gang turns up ... I doubt they will ever get over that.”

Mohammed Skaf was originally sentenced to 31 years in jail by Mr Finnane but his sentence was later reduced on appeal to 22 years with a non-parole period of 18 years.

Skaf can next apply for parole in November this year, and Mr Finnane said the community would likely be safer if the rapist is released on parole before his sentence expires in January 2024.

“At some point, he will be released,” Mr Finnane said. “That’s what is staring parole authorities in the face, this man is going to be released. “It’s better to put someone on parole and put them on tough conditions then just let them walk out at the end of their sentence,” he said.

Skaf can still apply to have this latest decision reviewed but if that application is rejected then the order to refuse parole will stand.

In one attack, Skaf tricked a 16-year-old school friend into going to Greenacre’s Gosling Park.

At the park, she was pinned down by her arms and legs and raped by Mohammed’s brother Bilal and one other man while twelve other men watched who were “standing around, laughing and talking”.

The second man held a gun to her head and kicked her violently in the stomach before she was able to escape.

Bilal Skaf led and orchestrated the sadistic attacks by using SMS and mobile phones in a “military style” operation, Mr Finnane said.

They called ahead to other attackers in a bid to co-ordinate the transport of gang members to the locations where women were being held.

“The victims were passed from group to group and each group was called by mobile phone. It was a calculated crime and I’ve never seen anything like it before or since,” he said.

A pre-release report compiled by Corrective Services in 2018 said Skaf “has demonstrated no change in his attitude toward his offences since the beginning of his sentence” and “continues to blame the victims.”


Frogs be dammed … Australia needs more water

It is no surprise that with a continent as dry as Australia our most precious resource would be water.

If that is a given, how is it that it is well nigh impossible to build a dam in this country? We had a brilliant start with the Snowy River Scheme, but it is almost as if we completed that and decided to rest on our laurels.

Those laurels are getting pretty parched now. It is a forlorn task to find a site for a new dam that the Greens might support. Greens opposition to new dams is implacable and, when combined with the understandable hysteria of those who will be displaced because their properties lie within the area to be flooded to create the new dam, you have the perfect confluence of forces to create the big media campaigns that can terrify governments and send them weak at the knees. Too many pollies run at the first whiff of grapeshot and opportunities are lost.

Michael McCormack, the leader of the Nationals, and Barnaby Joyce, the man who wants to be leader of the Nationals, and Matt Canavan, the man who should be leader of the Nationals, are the only politicians who seem to have any interest in building more dams. The Greens can always find an endangered frog that should be saved at the expense of human ­beings’ need for clean water, so there are guaranteed to be plenty of citizens death-riding any plans to construct a dam.

I hope we find someone in power somewhere prepared to tell the nay-sayers where to get off. It would be wonderful if Scott Morrison could find the courage to build a dam as well as finance a new coal-fired power station on the east coast of Australia. If he showed that kind of courage, Anthony Albanese would be flat out ever beating him.

Any pollie with the ticker to defy the noisy frontline of demonstrators that opposes building almost anything and go ahead with real nation-building infrastructure projects will experience a surge in support. The punters love action but they don’t get much of it. Australians are getting to the point, after a period of stable economic growth, to look for a leader prepared to drag us back up towards the top of the developed world’s list of countries that make things happen.

Gladys Berejiklian has shown us the way on infrastructure and that is why she is winning. Whether it’s road or rail, her government has plans in place that, once implemented, will keep NSW ahead of the game in the decades to come. The big plays do matter and she gets it that every parent has an eye on the kind of future being built for their children.


 Posted by John J. Ray (M.A.; Ph.D.).    For a daily critique of Leftist activities,  see DISSECTING LEFTISM.  To keep up with attacks on free speech see Tongue Tied. Also, don't forget your daily roundup  of pro-environment but anti-Greenie  news and commentary at GREENIE WATCH .  Email me  here