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Do parolees really ‘walk free’? Busting common myths about parole

Parole is a hot topic in politics and in the media at the moment, fuelled by several high-profile parole applications. Recently, Keli Lane’s attempt to be released on parole after years in jail for the murder of her baby daughter was unsuccessful. Paul Denyer, known as the “Frankston Serial Killer” for murdering three women in the 90s was also denied parole. Meanwhile, Snowtown accomplice Mark Haydon was granted parole with strict conditions, but is yet to be released. Some media coverage of such well-known cases is littered with myths about what parole is, how it’s granted and what it looks like. Here’s what the evidence says about three of the most common misconceptions. Read more: ‘No body, no parole’ laws could be disastrous for the wrongfully convicted Myth 1: people on parole walk free Parole is the conditional release of an incarcerated person (parolee) by a parole board authority, after they have served their non-parole period (minimum sentence) in jail. This isn’t always reflected in headlines. Some coverage suggests people on parole are released early and “walk free” without conditions. This is not true. According to the Adult Parole Board of Victoria: Parole provides incarcerated people with a structured, supported and supervised transition so that they can adjust from prison back into the community, rather than returning straight to the community at the end of their sentence without supervision or support. Parole comes with strict conditions and requirements, such as curfews, drug and alcohol testing, electronic monitoring, program participation, to name a few. People with experience of parole highlight its punitivism and continued extension of surveillance. Myth 2: most parolees reoffend Another myth is that the likelihood all parolees reoffend is high. Research over a number of years has consistently found parole reduces reoffending. For example, a 2016 study in New South Wales found at the 12 month mark, a group of parolees reoffended 22% less than an unsupervised cohort. A 2022 study by the NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research found parole was especially successful in reducing serious recidivism rates among incarcerated people considered to be at a high risk of reoffending. Read more: Serial killers’ fates are in politicians’ hands. Here’s why that’s a worry More recently in Victoria, the Adult Parole Board found over 2022–23, no parolees were convicted of committing serious offences while on parole. In contrast, unstructured and unconditional release increases the risk of returning to prison. Myth 3: parole is easy to get While the number of parolees reoffending has dropped, so too has the total number of people who are exiting prison on parole. Over a decade ago, Victoria underwent significant parole reforms, largely prompted by high-profile incidents and campaigns. In just five years following Jill Meagher’s tragic death in 2012, the Victorian government passed 13 laws reshaping parole. The result is the number of people on parole in Victoria has halved since 2012, despite incarceration numbers remaining steady. These reforms have made it more difficult for people convicted of serious offences to get parole, as well as preventing individuals or specific groups from being eligible for parole (such as police killers, “no body, no parole” prisoners, and certain high-profile murderers). Similar laws can be found in other states. For example, no body, no parole was introduced in all other Australian states and territories, except for Tasmania and the Australian Capital Territory. As a consequence, more people are being released at the end of their full sentence. This can be detrimental not only for the incarcerated person but the wider community, because they are not receiving the reintegration support parole provides. Aside from restricted access due to political intervention, parole is facing a new crisis, which has nothing to do with eligibility or suitability. Last year, 40% of Victorian parole applications were denied, often due to reasons unrelated to suitability. Housing scarcity played a significant role, with 59% of rejections (or 235 applications) citing a lack of suitable accommodation as one of the reasons parole was denied. This is playing out across the country. Parole is vulnerable to community and media hype, and political knee-jerk reactions in response to high profile incidents involving a person on parole. Because of the actions of a few, parole as a process has been restricted for many. Read more: Political interventions have undermined the parole system’s effectiveness and independence While the wider community are active in advocacy efforts to restrict parole from certain people or groups (for example, this petition for Lyn’s Law in NSW), public efforts to restrict parole seem at odds with its purposes. Despite this, research suggests when the public are educated about the purposes and intent of parole, they are more likely to be supportive of it. The susceptibility of parole to media and community influence results in frequent, impactful changes affecting individuals inside and outside prisons. Headlines such as “walking free” have the potential to mislead the public on the purpose and structure of parole. Coverage should portray parole beyond mere early termination of a sentence by accurately reflecting its purpose and impact.

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Was famous bushranger Captain Moonlite definitely gay? An historian explains why it’s much more complicated

Captain Moonlite, the bushranger known for the Egerton bank robbery of 1869 and the Wantabadgery outrage of 1879, is commonly thought to have been gay or queer. In recent years, his love for gang member James Nesbitt has been celebrated in art, music and theatre. Now the Heritage Council of New South Wales is considering adding the graves of Moonlite and Nesbitt to the State Heritage Register in recognition of their “publicly acknowledged same-sex relationship”. The Heritage Council, however, has several issues to contend with. For one, the nature of the relationship between Moonlite and Nesbitt is not as sure and settled as has been assumed. For another, the headstone that now marks Moonlite’s grave obfuscates, rather than celebrates, his feelings for Nesbitt. Meeting and memory Andrew George Scott – the man behind the Moonlite moniker – met James Nesbitt in Pentridge Prison, Coburg, between 1875 and 1877. The two reunited on the outside in 1879, and Nesbitt followed Scott on his ill-fated trek into New South Wales where, with four other companions, they “stuck up” Wantabadgery Station. In an ensuing confrontation with police, Nesbitt, August Wernicke (the youngest of Scott’s companions) and Constable Edward Mostyn Webb Bowen were all mortally wounded. Nesbitt and Wernicke were buried in unmarked graves in Gundagai Cemetery. Scott and another of his companions, Thomas Rogan, were hanged for Bowen’s murder on January 20 1880. In the weeks leading up to this, as he awaited “the last dread sentence of the law” in a condemned cell in Darlinghurst Gaol, Sydney, Scott wrote numerous documents, including letters intended for friends, acquaintances, clergymen and Nesbitt’s parents. In these, he recorded he loved Nesbitt and wished to “fill the same grave” as him so they might be together forever. Many of Scott’s letters were not sent and the wish they contained was not initially acted upon. When Scott’s condemned-cell writings were rediscovered in the 1980s, they were swiftly assumed to reveal a romance. In the decades since, it has almost become a commonplace that Scott was homosexual and Nesbitt his lover. Hidden histories Determining the nature of a relationship from the past can be a complex matter. It requires, among other things, a sophisticated understanding of how emotions were expressed and how language was used in the relevant context. Phrases used to express romantic love today were not necessarily used in the same ways in the past. Modern-day terms and concepts, from “homosexual” to “gay”, are also of limited use in understanding and describing historical people and their relationships. Before these terms and concepts were current, people understood themselves, their desires and their intimacies in other ways. Unfamiliarity with the past, a yearning for queer forebears, and present-day views on sexuality have prevented us from seeing Scott and Nesbitt’s relationship as anything but romantic (in the everyday sense of the word) and sexual. And yet Scott’s language about Nesbitt conforms closely to the 19th-century concept of manly love – a bond between men which was “passing the love of women” precisely because it was free from any sexual element. It is also significant that one of Scott’s preferred words to describe Nesbitt was simply “friend”: he was, Scott wrote to supporter John Alexander Dowie, “the truest best friend that man ever had”. It was in memory of a male friend that Tennyson penned his famous lines: Tis better to have loved and lost / Than never to have loved at all. Moonlite’s motivations Two vital points must be recognised when approaching Scott’s writings about Nesbitt. The first is all of Scott’s expressions of affection post-date Nesbitt’s death – a violent death, suffered at a young age, in consequence of decisions made by Scott. At the time of writing, Scott was suffering from intense trauma and grief – and as much as any emotion, Scott’s writings are evidence of grief. The second relates to Scott’s intent. In the wake of his death, Scott was seeking to craft a legacy for Nesbitt. Nesbitt had died ignobly, while resisting the police, and was destined to be remembered as nothing but a scoundrel bushranger. Scott, however, wished him to be remembered otherwise: as honourable, truthful and brave. He even portrayed Nesbitt as Christ-like. While it remains a possibility Scott and Nesbitt were lovers, as is commonly thought, Scott conveying as much in his condemned-cell writings would have undermined the image of Nesbitt (and himself) he was desperate to establish before his voice was silenced. Moonlite’s grave Scott’s remains were finally reinterred in Gundagai Cemetery in 1995, and marked by a headstone which reads: ANDREW GEORGE SCOTT CAPTAIN MOONLITE BORN IRELAND 8-1-1845 DIED SYDNEY 20-1-1880 “As to a monumental stone, a rough unhewn rock would be most fit, one that skilled hands could have made into something better. It will be like those it marks as kindness and charity could have shaped us to better ends.” Andrew George Scott Laid to final rest near his friends James Nesbitt and Augustus Wernicke who lie in unmarked graves close by. Gundagai 13-1-1995. This differs from what Scott specified in his condemned-cell writings: Nesbitt’s birth and death dates have been excluded, while Wernicke’s name has been added. The quote is also an addition, albeit with a crucial omission: “As to the monumental stone for my friend and myself […]”. Without these italicised words, the visitor is led to infer that Scott intended his headstone to mark three people (himself, Nesbitt and Wernicke) and is distracted from Scott’s desire to occupy the grave of Nesbitt specifically. Were the Heritage Council to proceed with its listing it would be both formalising a view of a historical relationship that is open to conjecture, and honouring a grave that deviates from the desires of the deceased. Read more: Friday essay: how a ‘gonzo’ press gang forged the Ned Kelly legend

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Australian writers have been envisioning AI for a century. Here are 5 stories to read as we grapple with rapid change

Australians are nervous about AI. Efforts are underway to put their minds at ease: advisory committees, consultations and regulations. But these actions have tended to be reactive instead of proactive. We need to imagine potential scenarios before they happen. Of course, we already do this – in literature. There is, in fact, more than 100 years’ worth of Australian literature about AI and robotics. Nearly 2,000 such works are listed in the AustLit database, a bibliography of Australian literature that includes novels, screenplays, poetry and other kinds of literature. These titles are often overlooked in policy-driven conversations. This is a missed opportunity. Literature both reflects and influences thinking about its subjects. It is a rich source of insights into social attitudes, imagined scenarios and what “responsible” technology looks like. As part of an ongoing project, we are creating a comprehensive list of Australian literature about AI and robots. Here are five Australian literary works of particular relevance to national conversations about AI. The Automatic Barmaid The Automatic Barmaid is a short story by Ernest O’Ferrall, who wrote under the pen name “Kodak”. Like his contemporaries Banjo Paterson and Henry Lawson, Kodak was best known as a writer of comedic bush stories. This particular story was published in The Bulletin in 1917 and is available for online reading through Trove. The story concerns an automaton named Gwennie, who at first seems too good to be true, as she is cheaper and more efficient than a human barmaid. But Gwennie soon causes trouble by getting stuck on problems that humans could easily solve, like not realising a bottle is empty. The Automatic Barmaid is a humorous depiction of robots as tempting and cheap but not always suitable replacements for human labour. It is no coincidence the story was published in 1917, just before the Great Strike: the culmination of waves of strikes that occurred during the first World War. One of the triggers for the Great Strike was the use of time and motion studies, especially by rails and tram companies, in which workers’ activities were timed to evaluate performance. Gwennie would have performed perfectly in these studies. Today, most Australians do not trust AI in the workplace, particularly when it comes to HR tasks like monitoring, evaluation, and recruitment. The Automatic Barmaid shows how persistently sceptical we have been about our technologies over the last century, and how much we value human workers’ adaptability and resilience. The Successors A. Bertram Chandler was a sailor turned science-fiction writer, who published prolifically from the mid-1940s, particularly in his Rim Worlds series. His 1957 short story The Successors begins with a general and a professor meeting while their planet – presumably Earth – is under attack from an unknown race of invaders. These two characters initially seem to be humans at some point in the future, but they are later revealed to be part of a race of robots that overthrew humanity. The robots have enslaved the humans who once enslaved them. The professor muses that, in the end, the humans and the robots are not so different after all. The Successors explores an as yet unachieved scenario. It imagines Artificial General Intelligence (AGI). Most current AI systems are what we call “narrow”, and can only complete a limited number of tasks in specific areas. For example, a chess-playing AI could not be expected to make investment recommendations. We are, however, moving towards AGI: AI systems that can complete a wide range of tasks across various areas. A robot that can walk around, speak and overthrow humanity would be an example of AGI. Australian MP Julian Hill has spoken openly about the risks and benefits of AGI, arguing that “action by governments to grapple with the impact of AGI is now urgent”. Although many people believe that AGI is still a long way into the future, thinking about extreme future scenarios, like the one in The Successors, can help us identify where we might need to mitigate risk. These scenarios can also give us insight into our present concerns about technology, inviting us to consider what we are afraid of and why. Read more: Nuclear bombs, artificial intelligence and the madness of reason – in The Maniac, Benjamin Labatut examines the troubling dawn of the digital age Moon in the Ground Keith Antill’s novel Moon in the Ground was published by pioneering Australian science fiction press Norstrilia in 1979. It is about an extraterrestrial AI that can adapt its physical form to its environment. This AI is discovered near Alice Springs by American FBI agents, who try to train it for militaristic use on a nearby base. A struggle between the Americans and the Australians ensues, with both trying to harness the power of the AI for their own political aims. The novel is a response to the political climate of the time. When it was published, the Cold War was ongoing. In the story, the US is depicted as paranoid about communism and desperate for global power. Moon in the Ground speaks to the longstanding connections between defence and robotics, autonomous systems and AI – connections that Australia is now looking to strengthen. It also illustrates the connection between technology and political power: a connection that Antill, formerly of the Royal Australian Navy and later a public servant, would have seen firsthand. Access to the newest, most advanced technologies can help a country gain power over others. However, as Moon in the Ground shows, chasing that power too keenly can be destructive. The Tic-Toc Boy of Constantinople The Tic-Toc Boy of Constantinople, a short story by Anthony Panegyres, was published in 2014 as part of the steampunk collection Kisses by Clockwork. The story centres on Phyte, a robot who looks and acts like a human boy, apart from having a metal plate on his chest and occasionally producing steam. He is feared by everyone except his human creator, who intended him to be a test site for the creation of artificial organs that could be transplanted into humans. It turns out people are right to be afraid, as the human-clockwork hybrids (of which Phyte is one) have a primal urge to kill the humans that help them. The Tic-Toc Boy of Constantinople encourages us to think about how bodies are central to our experiences of the world. Like many steampunk works, it emphasises the long history of biomechanical enhancements and adjustments to human bodies. As Australia works towards integrating AI in healthcare, we need to think about how technologies interact with our bodies, and ensure that commercial interests do not overshadow public benefit. AI technologies can help us better care for our bodies by complementing the work of medical professionals. However, as wearable and implantable technologies become more common, reflecting on the ways we are augmenting our bodies will ensure that we are more than just test sites for other people’s plans. Read more: ‘Cli-fi’: could a literary genre help save the planet? Clade James Bradley’s 2015 cli-fi novel Clade follows a family from the near future living in an increasingly precarious and unpredictable world faced with ecological collapse. AI plays a relatively minor part in the narrative, but when it does appear, it is represented ambivalently. Dylan works for a company called Semblance that builds AI simulations, also called sims or echoes. These are virtual recreations of the dead assembled from as much data as available. The sims can read and mimic the responses of people who interact with them. “They’re not conscious, or not quite,” the narrator explains. “They’re complex emulations fully focused on convincing their owners they are who they seem to be.” Initially something of a gimmick, the sim business becomes very lucrative as more people die in the book. Over time, though, customers want to tweak their sims. The customers start making the dead less like they were and more as they would have preferred them to be. Dylan’s dad thinks his son’s work is exploitative, profiting as it does from vulnerable people. Dylan faces his own ethical dilemma when he comes across a request to build a sim of an ex-girlfriend’s brother. As the Australian Government works towards policies related to AI, and generative AI more particularly, attention to ethical development is becoming more prominent. Clade encourages us to think about where our boundaries might be and why. The technology Dylan works to develop already partially exists. Does this technology best serve Australians? If not, how can we make it so? Making sense of the world Humans tell stories to make sense of the world. Literary representations have much to tell us about how we understand and respond to the rapidly advancing and seemingly unpredictable technology of AI. To develop AI and robots that best respond to the needs of Australians, we can learn a lot from reading our own literature.

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Out of alignment: how clashing policies make for terrible environmental outcomes

Policy alignment sounds dry. But think of it like this: you want to make suburbs cooler and more liveable, so you plant large trees. But then you find the trees run afoul of fire and safety provisions, and they’re cut down. Such problems are all too common. Policies set by different government departments start with good intentions only to clash with other policies. At present, the Albanese government is working towards stronger environmental laws, following the scathing 2020 Samuel review of the current Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act. The review noted planning, funding and regulatory decisions are “not well integrated or clearly directed towards achieving long-term environmental sustainability”. Stronger laws are not a standalone answer. We must find ways to align government policies far better, so progress on one front doesn’t lead to a setback elsewhere. As the government prepares to announce once in a generation changes to our main environment laws, it must find ways to reduce these clashes. Nature vs cities All levels of government have policies aimed at increasing canopy cover and biodiversity in cities. How hard can it be to plant trees? The problems start when you look for places to actually plant street trees. It’s common to encounter a wall of obstacles, namely, other policies and regulations. Fire prevention, human safety, visibility for road traffic and provision of footpaths and carparks are often legally binding requirements that can stymie this seemingly simple goal. Most cities in Australia are now actually losing canopy cover rather than gaining more. On the biodiversity front, urban sprawl is pushing many species and ecosystems to the brink of extinction. Last year, conservationists rediscovered the grassland earless dragon on Melbourne’s grassy western fringes, which we had believed was extinct. Now we had a second chance to save it, in line with the Australian government’s pledge to stop extinctions. The problem? The grasslands where the dragon was found near Bacchus Marsh, just outside Melbourne, are zoned for housing. Only 1% of the grasslands ecosystems suitable for these reptiles is still intact, and much of it has been earmarked for housing. From a housing point of view, the continued existence of the dragon now threatens plans for 310,000 homes. If we had better policy alignment, we would look to achieve both goals: protect the dragon and build more housing through methods such as building sustainable midrise developments in established urban areas. Read more: Victoria has rediscovered a dragon – how do we secure its future? Protecting the reef while exporting LNG Meanwhile, the Great Barrier Reef is bleaching again, the fifth bout in just eight years. Almost all the extra heat trapped by greenhouse gases goes into our oceans, triggering marine heatwaves and bleaching. If the world’s largest living structure bleaches too much, it will begin to die, threatening its rich biodiversity, cultural heritage and industries such as tourism. On the one hand, Australia wants to protect the reef and has funded efforts to boost water quality. But on the other hand, supportive government policies contribute to our recent emergence as a top exporter of liquefied natural gas, which is 85–95% comprised of the potent greenhouse gas methane. Land clearing in the catchments of rivers which flow to the reef is ongoing due to policy loopholes, which adds more smothering sediment, nutrients and pollutants to the reef’s woes. The shipping sector only has to abide by a voluntary code to avoid invasive species arriving in the ship’s bilge water, even though they could be carrying the tissue loss disease devastating reefs in the Caribbean and Florida. Read more: Out of danger because the UN said so? Hardly – the Barrier Reef is still in hot water Renewables versus biodiversity Calls to fast-track clean energy projects and stop them being held up by environmental approvals are risky. We could tackle one crisis (climate change) by making another worse (biodiversity and extinction). Australia has destroyed nearly 40% of its forests since European colonisation, with much of the remaining native vegetation highly fragmented. Because this clearing has already happened, it should be entirely possible to build renewables without damaging the homes of native species. In fact, we can do better – we can take degraded farmland, build solar on it and restore low-lying native vegetation around it to actually boost biodiversity. Requiring new renewable projects to be nature positive would encourage creative approaches to delivering infrastructure while benefiting nature. Policy clashes abound There is, sadly, no shortage of examples of clashing policies: Victoria’s “wild dog” bounty pays landowners to kill the dingo, a listed threatened native species relaxing new emissions rules for utes and vans conflicts with government climate efforts to rapidly reduce emissions exotic plant species such as buffel grass are still routinely used and promoted for use in agriculture, despite the damage they do to biodiversity and their ability to fuel more severe fires, more often. Read more: ‘Existential threat to our survival’: see the 19 Australian ecosystems already collapsing Why the lack of alignment? For politicians, the environment ministry is often seen as a poisoned chalice. Within government, departments often pull in different directions. When resource and agriculture plans conflict with environmental concerns, it’s not hard to guess which side tends to win. Case in point: the recent plans to remove gas project oversight from environment minister Tanya Plibersek in favour of resources minister Madeleine King. How can we make policies work together better for the environment? Governments should sift through all relevant policies and regulations to make sure nature-positive approaches are embedded. Requiring development proposals to benefit nature would go a long way to reducing environment-economy conflict. After all, most businesses are now looking into ways of becoming nature-positive. Too often, environment policies are seen as opposed to those promoting the economy, jobs and industry. But they don’t have to clash. Tremendous opportunities exist for a safer, more sustainable future, if we address current causes of friction and take a big picture approach to how we develop our policies. Read more: 5 things we need to see in Australia’s new nature laws

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Weather Forecast For Thursday April 4

Weather Forecast For Thursday April 4 Thursday April 4 is expected to be cloudy, with the high to be near 23°C/74°F and the low to be near 18°C/65°F, according to the Bermuda Weather Service. Winds are expected to be SSW. The relative humidity is expected to be near 88%. Sunrise will be at 7:02am and sunset will be at 7:41pm. High tide will be at 5:22am and 5:49pm, while low tide will be at 11:46am and 11:54pm. The Bermuda Weather Service has issued a Small Craft Warning valid this evening through Friday and their forecast for Thursday says, “Early sunny periods with rain & showers arriving by evening… Winds south-southwesterly strong, with gusts to gale force developing later in the day, then veering and easing west-southwesterly moderate to strong overnight… High near 23°C/74°F, low near 18°C/65°F. Clear sky UV Index forecast – 9 or very high.” Category: All

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Frank Lloyd Wright disciple’s first architectural commission asks $10.5M in California

The spiraling creation of award-winning Frank Lloyd Wright disciple Wallace E. Cunningham is seeking a new owner. Just north of San Diego, in the census-designated place of Rancho Santa Fe, a twisting, avant-garde helix of a house has hit the market for $10.5 million. Known as the Wing, the 5,800-plus-square-foot estate was the first independent commission constructed by Cunningham, who was tapped for the project even before he completed his studies at Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesin West, according to Robb Report. The S-shaped house — which rather looks like a snail when viewed aerially — was completed in 1982 and spans 4.4 acres set behind gates, at the end of a secluded cul-de-sac and down a long driveway. Constructed mostly of steel, concrete and glass, the abode is meant to blend in with the surrounding land, harmonizing and curving to the area’s preexisting nature. “This home is literally a piece of living art. Why buy a painting when you can buy a home that has the same effect?” said Matthew Altman, who shares the listing with Josh Altman and Jason Saks from The Altman Brothers Teams team at Douglas Elliman. This is the team’s third Wallace Cunningham home, Matthew noted. They’ve previously sold Cunningham’s cliffside La Jolla, California mansion the Razor, which singer Alicia Keys purchased for $20.8 million in 2019, and the “Westworld”-famous Encinitas estate Crescent House. In all, the primary house has three bedrooms, a one-bathroom guest suite with a private entrance, and is built to surround a zero-edge pool, “a shimmering marvel that mirrors the bold architecture,” as the listing describes. There’s also a secondary building on the grounds with three bedrooms, its own kitchen and a full bath. As well, there’s a three-car garage, a private nature trail and extensive landscaping.

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‘The Population Bomb’ was wrong: The world now struggling to make more babies

I was born in the 1960s, just about the time people decided it was bad for children to be born. Oh, I don’t take it personally. It’s just people started to worry about a “population explosion.” Thanks to antibiotics, vaccines, mosquito eradication and better farming, people weren’t dying off as they had been. But they were still having babies. This led to more people. And quite a few folks — themselves already born — thought that was bad. The most famous is Stanford’s Paul Ehrlich, an entomologist whose bestselling book about people, “The Population Bomb,” promised the Earth a grim Malthusian fate, only a decade or so away. We’d see mass starvation, he predicted, and food riots in American cities before the 1970s were out. He urged the Federal Communications Commission to use its powers to ensure large families were always portrayed negatively on TV. (Take that, “Brady Bunch”!) He made a bunch of predictions, and pretty much all turned out to be wrong. (Instead of mass starvation, the biggest nutritional problem on Earth is now obesity, a problem even in countries once associated with hunger.) That Ehrlich made a bundle on wrong predictions isn’t such a big deal — we’ve had dozens of doomsaying futurists who’ve cashed in on fears that never materialized. The problem is people listened to him. Across the world, governments adopted population-trimming policies, from massively subsidized birth control to promoting two-worker households to China’s draconian “one child” policy, in which each couple was allowed only one child. That has left China with crippling demographic problems just as it hopes to burst forth as a superpower on the global scene; it’s now trying to encourage people to have more babies, as its leadership realizes it’s hard to be a superpower when your military-age population is shrinking (and, as only children, too valued by their parents to safely be employed as cannon fodder), your elderly population is growing and your society is stagnating. But don’t laugh too hard at the Chinese, because the problem is hitting almost everyone. Two decades ago, Phillip Longman wrote in Foreign Affairs about the coming “Global Baby Bust”: “Today, the average woman in the world bears half as many children as did her counterpart in 1972. No industrialized country still produces enough children to sustain its population over time, or to prevent rapid population aging.” Now it’s happening. “Global fertility isn’t just declining, it’s collapsing,” James Pethokoukis writes. “If you’re a Millennial or a younger Gen Xer, you’ll probably see the start of a long-term decline in human population due to the global collapse in fertility. That’s something that’s never happened before with Homo sapiens.” Fewer people are being born; in most countries outside Africa, nations (including the United States) are not producing enough people to replace the ones dying. This means the population will shrink, and the average age will go up. Some people think that’s fine. The world was doing OK with 3 or 4 billion people before, so why should we worry having that few people again? The trouble is 4 billion people on the way up is a very different population from 4 billion on the way down. The former was young and dynamic, with productivity increasing and risk-taking popular. The latter will be older, probably with a lower appetite for risk, and becoming less productive as it ages further. Some nations are already trying, with limited success, to encourage people to have more children. Others are relying on immigration, though if your native population is shrinking as immigrants pour in, it starts to look less like reinforcements and more like replacement. Elon Musk has been calling attention to this problem for a while, famously telling Italians their greatest contribution to the future is: “Make more Italians.” (And he’s put his, er, money where his mouth is, having far more kids than the average American tycoon.) But as the Chinese have learned, after a couple generations of being told to have fewer kids people aren’t ready to turn on a dime and have more again. Children are a blessing but also, especially in the early years, a sacrifice. I sometimes wonder whether the sexual revolution, which stressed nonreproductive sex, flourished in part because the Ehrlich message made that sound virtuous rather than selfish. Or maybe Ehrlich’s message flourished because it reinforced the sexual revolution. Meanwhile, the people still around will be the children of parents who had kids, and over a generation or two they’ll probably be disproportionately the children of parents who held pro-natal religious views and had big families. By the turn of the next century, we may see a world dominated by the descendants of Amish, Orthodox Jews, evangelical Christians, traditional-rite Catholics and fundamentalist Muslims. Not the 21st century we expected in Ehrlich’s day. But that’s what we get for listening to an “expert.” Glenn Harlan Reynolds is a professor of law at the University of Tennessee and founder of the InstaPundit.com blog.

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I’ve driven myself mad – Ronnie O’Sullivan says he has changed his thinking

Ronnie O’Sullivan says he has driven himself “mad” for two years and has gone back to basics after thrashing Ali Carter 10-2 to reach the semi-finals of the Tour Championship. O’Sullivan and Carter had a Manchester reunion in what had been termed a grudge match following their ill-tempered meeting at the Masters final in January, which ‘The Rocket’ won 10-7 to claim an eighth title. Carter accused O’Sullivan of “snotting all over the floor” and O’Sullivan responded by saying his opponent was “not a nice person” during an expletive-laden rant. O’Sullivan refused to speak about Carter in his pre-game interview, letting his snooker do the talking in a one-sided contest. But O’Sullivan opened up after booking his place in Friday’s semi-final, saying his unhappiness had prompted conversations with renowned psychiatrist Steve Peters. “I’ve just decided I’m going to change my thinking and forget about trying to fathom my game out,” world number one O’Sullivan told ITV4. “If I change my thinking I can accept whatever is thrown at me and take whatever. “It’s been a hard year, drove myself pretty much insane really. It’s just got to me. “I decided to speak to Steve Peters, said I wasn’t happy. “I had to go back to basics and get my head right. Deal with it because doing it the other way round isn’t working. “I’ve got to accept that’s life. You can’t be perfect all the time and trying to be perfect all the time is not ideal. “Just getting my head around it is the only option I’ve have left. I’ve driven myself mad for the last two years and not enjoyed any of it.” Carter never settled after missing an easy red in the opening frame which O’Sullivan punished by making a 77 break. A scrappy 28-minute frame followed and O’Sullivan went to the interval 4-0 up after compiling breaks of 87 and 54. Carter’s best in the first session was a meagre 13 and his senses seemed scrambled when attempting to swerve around the yellow to strike one of two reds left on the table. O’Sullivan capitalised with a frame-winning 51 and extended his advantage to 7-0 with breaks of 81 and 92 – those efforts taking all of a combined 14 minutes. Carter headed into the final frame of the afternoon session with the prospect of being whitewashed. But he responded in superb fashion with a 141 clearance to eclipse Tom Ford’s 138 as the highest break of the tournament, placing him in prime position for a £10,000 bonus. Carter closed out O’Sullivan again at the start of the evening session with breaks of 36 and 70 reducing the deficit to 7-2. It was a false dawn, however, as Carter ran out of position and missed a red for O’Sullivan to make a 62 clearance. O’Sullivan then cashed in with a decisive 52 break after another Carter error had opened up the table. Carter was put of his misery in the 12th frame as O’Sullivan compiled 67 before going in-off in the middle pocket, a rare mistake in a snooker masterclass. Zhang Anda and Gary Wilson will resume their quarter-final on Thursday level at 4-4, with the winner meeting O’Sullivan in the last four. Wilson won two frames on the black to lead 3-1 before Zhang fought back strongly in an even contest. Ding Junhui earned a 5-3 overnight lead against Mark Allen after winning a tight final frame.

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Players must work hard despite Chelsea status and money – Mauricio Pochettino

Mauricio Pochettino warned his players hard work is still required at Chelsea despite the increase to their status and bank balance that comes with joining the club. A chaotic campaign that has seen the first-team squad decimated by injuries threatens to peter out, with the club marooned in 12th place ahead of the visit of Manchester United to Stamford Bridge on Thursday night. It comes five days after the league’s second-bottom side Burnley left west London with a 2-2 draw despite playing the whole of the second half with 10 men, as relations between the club and its supporters seemed to sink further into discord. The club has an FA Cup semi-final against Manchester City at Wembley to come later in the month, likely to be their only chance of salvaging a dismal season. Chelsea are on course for their second bottom-half league finish in a row and Pochettino called on his players to use the final weeks of the campaign to follow his own hard-working example and show supporters why they were signed as part of a £1billion overhaul of the squad. “When I was in Espanyol, my first job as a coach, I was on the training ground at seven o’clock every morning,” said the Argentinian. “Then I moved to Southampton, six-thirty. Then Tottenham, seven. Then Paris (St Germain), six in the morning. Now six forty-five. You can ask the guy on security. “It’s not going to change after 15 years. My passion is here. My motivation is football. You increase your bank account but that cannot put me in a comfortable zone to say ‘now I will arrive at nine o’clock and leave at two o’clock’. I need to keep pushing myself. “If (a player) arrives from another club where there was less money, less expectation but now I arrive here because people believe I am so good, what do I need to do? It’s to arrive early, it’s to work more, it’s to run more, be focused more. “It’s more responsibility now. We feel that responsibility.” The Chelsea Supporters’ Trust wrote to the owners and senior management last month to communicate their dismay at the direction the club is taking under the leadership of Todd Boehly’s Clearlake Capital consortium. The letter warned of potentially irreparable damage that is being done to the relationship between the club and its supporters, as the team has gone from being Champions League regulars to a mid-table side in less than two years. Pochettino rejected the suggestion players have already adopted the view that the season is doomed and there is little left to salvage. “If you are in a comfort zone, you drop in your level, you drop in your standard,” he said. “I don’t say that that has happened here. Too many other things have happened.”

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Rory McIlroy gets pre-Masters lesson from Tiger Woods’ former coach Butch Harmon

Rory McIlroy believes his lesson with Tiger Woods’ former coach Butch Harmon was “really worthwhile” as he prepares to make his 10th attempt to complete a career grand slam. McIlroy needs to win the Masters to join Gene Sarazen, Ben Hogan, Gary Player, Jack Nicklaus and Woods as the only players to have won all four major championships. The world number two started the year well with victory in the Dubai Desert Classic in January, but his form on the PGA Tour has been underwhelming ahead of this week’s Valero Texas Open. McIlroy revealed on the “I Can Fly” podcast with PGA Tour professional Morgan Hoffmann that he had recently visited Harmon in Las Vegas and expanded on the visit in his pre-tournament press conference in San Antonio. “I’ve done this a number of times in my career,” McIlroy said. “I met Butch when I was 14 years old, so we’ve always had a good relationship. If there’s one guy that I want to go and get a second opinion from, it’s him. “I think just after the Players (Championship) and just sort of struggling through that Florida swing and with some of the misses I was having with my irons, I just thought to myself I’m obviously missing something here and I just would love to go and get a second opinion and have him take a look, a second set of eyes. “The one thing with Butch is you go spend time with him and you’re always going to feel better about yourself at the end of it whether you’re hitting it better or not. “He’s sort of half golf coach, half psychologist in a way. It’s fun to go out there, I went and spent probably four hours with him in Vegas. He said a couple of things to me that resonated. “It’s the same stuff that I’ve been trying to do with my coach Michael (Bannon), but he sort of just said it in a different way that maybe hit home with me a little bit more. “It was a really worthwhile trip and I feel like I’ve done some good work after that. As I said, this is a good week to see where that work has gotten me.” Speaking before the Players Championship last month, where he carded an opening 65 before fading to a tie for 19th, McIlroy revealed the reasons behind his current struggles. “I have this amazing feeling with my woods at the minute, but when I try to recreate that feeling with the irons, it starts left and goes further left,” McIlroy said. “I have a swing thought for my woods and I need a different swing thought for my irons and that’s what I’ve been working on over the last couple of days. I feel like every other part of the game is in great shape.”

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