Bonville raid allegedly uncovers large scale weed crop

POLICE have found yet another marijuana crop on the Mid North Coast, this time at Bonville.

Drug and Firearms Squad detectives seized more than $5.5 million worth of marijuana and charged two men yesterday as part of investigations which began with the establishment of Strike Force Harthouse.

The State Crime Command’s Drug and Firearms Squad strike force was created in November last year to investigate the cultivation and supply of cannabis across NSW.

Their inquiries uncovered a remote property near Coffs Harbour allegedly being used for the large-scale cultivation of cannabis.

Following investigations, strike force detectives executed a crime scene warrant at the property on Williams Road at Bonville, assisted by officers from Coffs/Clarence Police District, Northern Region Enforcement Squad, the Dog Unit and Marine Area Command.

Two men were arrested after a raid allegedly uncovered more than $5m worth of marijuana plants at a house in Bonville.

Investigators allegedly located and seized 1845 cannabis plants, which NSW Police said was worth an estimated $5.5 million on the streets.

Two men – aged 22 and 29 – were arrested at the property and taken to Coffs Harbour Police Station where they were charged with cultivate prohibited plant (large commercial quantity) and participate in criminal group contribute criminal activity.

They were both refused bail to appear at Coffs Harbour Local Court today.

Investigators are working with the Department of Home Affairs regarding the visa status of the group.

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Study uncovers the locus of male sexual desire in the brain

The locus of male sexual desire has been uncovered in specific regions of brain tissue where a key gene named aromatase is present, reports a new Northwestern Medicine study in mice.

The gene regulates sexual behavior in men, and thus can be targeted by drugs to either increase its function for low sexual desire or decrease its function for compulsive sexual desire, scientists said. Aromatase converts testosterone to estrogen in the brain, which drives male sexual activity.

The study was published Sept. 10 in the journal Endocrinology.

Aromatase’s full function in the adult brain had not previously been known.

This is the first key finding to explain how testosterone stimulates sexual desire. For the first time, we demonstrated conclusively that the conversion of testosterone to estrogen in the brain is critical to maintain full sexual activity or desire in males. Aromatase drives that.”

Dr. Serdar Bulun, senior author, chair of obstetrics and gynecology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and Northwestern Medicine

When Northwestern scientists knocked out aromatase selectively in the brain, sexual activity in male mice decreased by 50%, despite their having higher levels of blood testosterone levels (compared with control male mice).

“Male mice partially lost interest in sex,” said corresponding study author Dr. Hong Zhao, research associate professor in obstetrics and gynecology at Feinberg. “Aromatase is the key enzyme for estrogen production. Estrogen has functions in males and females. Testosterone has to be converted to estrogen to drive sexual desire in males.”

If a normal male mouse is put with a female one, Bulun said, “it would chase after her and try to have sex with her. If you knock out the aromatase gene in the brain, their sexual activity is significantly reduced. There is less frequency of mating. The male mice are not that interested.”

The finding can contribute to new treatments for disorders of sexual desire, the scientists said.

Low sexual desire, clinically known as hypoactive sexual desire disorder, is a common condition and can be a side effect of widely used medications such as a category of antidepressants known as SSRIs. A treatment to boost aromatase in this disorder could heighten sexual desire, Bulun said.

On the flip side, compulsive sexual desire is another condition that can be treated by an existing systemic aromatase inhibitor, but that treatment has side effects such as osteoporosis. Now, new selective drugs that suppress only the brain promoter region of the aromatase gene can be developed, Bulun said. These new selective medications would not cause the side effects of the currently existing aromatase inhibitors.

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Rock climbing’s newfound popularity uncovers dark past of unsavoury route names, sparking its #MeToo moment

As society has grappled with cultural reckonings of movements like Black Lives Matter and #MeToo, sport has not been spared.

None more so than the sport of rock climbing, where a debate about the names of climbing routes has divided what was once a small, close-knit community with strong traditions.

Warning: The following article contains words and phrases that may offend some readers

In just the past two months, a debate has exploded within the climbing fraternity about route names considered to be sexist, misogynistic, homophobic and racist.

Names like Rape and Carnage, Rape and Pillage, Flogging a Dead Faggot, Pasty Poofs and One Less Bitch have been raised as being deeply offensive.

As a result, climbing has been forced to reconcile its past.

“Definitely it’s grotesque,” Emma Horan, who has represented Australia in climbing and runs one of Sydney’s largest bouldering gyms, said.

“I started climbing when I was seven and I’d never considered the implication of the names — I guess that’s my privilege.

“And then [when] one of our other friends, who’d been climbing for not too long, made reference to it, I thought, ‘Actually, that is really bad.'”

There are thousands of route names in Australia alone.

Indoor rock climbing has grown in popularity in recent years.(ABC News: Daniel Irvine)

Many relate to sexual acts, while others refer to band names, musicians, drugs, and even Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter.

The debate has exposed fractures in a sport that has grown massively over the past decade. It moved from the alternative to the mainstream as indoor climbing gyms took off and the sport became an Olympic event.

How a climbing route is named

It all goes back to one of climbing’s unwritten rules around the sanctity of what’s known as “the first ascensionist” — the person who first climbs a route has the right to name it.

Some of them are written down in print in the form of guidebooks. Hundreds of thousands of others exist in cyberspace on a database called The Crag, which also functions as a social network for climbers.

“These names are maybe given in a moment of excitement and people are very young and think they’re funny,” The Crag’s head of business development, Ulf Fuchslueger, said.

“Very often in Australia, once a name is given to the first route on a cliff, people try to stay in the same context.”

A rock wall in the Grampians with metal climbing spikes and hooks
Metal climbing spikes and hooks can be seen on the face of this rock in the Grampians.(Supplied; Parks Victoria)

And so, in one of the Australian flash points around the popular climbing cliffs near Nowra on the New South Wales South Coast, you get the name One Less Bitch, followed by Queen Bitch, Bitch’n, Bitch Slap and so on.

But this is where the context of the debate gets murky — where one person’s humour or homage is another’s offensive statement.

One Less Bitch is a name of a song by controversial American hip hop group NWA.

Many of the names were given in the ’70s, ’80s and ’90s in what was then a largely counter-culture sport, much like surfing.

“You live out in the wild, you sleep at the cliff — it was not just a sport,” Fuchslueger said.

“There was all that revolutionary aspect of climbing as well.”

And it was particularly popular with some social groups — “punks, a bunch of hippies”, according to Horan.

“If you look at the people who were climbing early on, it’s a very male, white-dominated sport,” said Riley Edwards, president of LGBTQ rock climbing and social club ClimbingQTs.

A lot of those young men were listening to rap and punk and naming route names after their favourite songs, or making jokes about sex and porn.

“A lot of the racially toned names have come from rap culture, which in the ’80s and ’90s wasn’t so much discussed as inappropriate for white people to reference,” Horan said.

“When it was a bunch of young guys down at the crag, I don’t think they had the intention of anyone else doing those [climbs].

“I obviously am not comfortable with it, I know a lot of friends that are also not comfortable with it.”

Climbing community pushes back

Names such as Flogging a Dead Faggot — which has recently been reviewed and is listed in The Crag as “Sanitize Review” — are particularly problematic for gay climbers.

“For someone who may not have come out to their family or friends, to see these really homophobic slurs, if they read those things in the climbing space, or if they hear someone making a joke, how are they ever going to become comfortable in themselves, let alone to their climbing peers to be themselves?” Edwards said.

There was a time when only a handful of people would have known about the names, but the explosion in popularity of indoor climbing has led to many more people discovering them after making the switch to outdoor climbing.

The debate first began in Mexico two years ago, according to Fuchslueger, over a route called Tinder Pussy.

A rock climber looks downwards while hanging from the face of a large rock
Historically, the first person to climb a route has the honour of naming it.(Supplied)

When the Black Lives Matter movement erupted this year, it prompted a debate in the US about climbing route names that referenced slavery.

Very quickly, a similar debate began in Australia, exploding on social media and in climbing forums.

“It ended up in pretty nasty comments on our forums — we even had to delete some of that stuff because in itself it was pretty offensive,” Fuchslueger said.

The debate has mirrored others in the arts, media and public life over historic figures, their beliefs, and works.

“This sounds like the book 1984, where history is being rewritten to suit the regime,” one post on The Crag read.

A muscular man without a shirt climbs the exterior of a large rock
Ulf Fuchslueger says debate over renaming routes online ended up “pretty nasty”.(Supplied: Berna Fuchslueger)

Another said: “Climbers do seem to have a unique, and at times excruciatingly funny, sense of humour. It would be a travesty if it was supressed for something as trivial and irrelevant to real life as political correctness.”

The argument that “it was funny at the time” carries no weight for Edwards, though.

“It just seems like an outdated perspective, most likely coming from someone who’s never been subject to any form of discrimination or harassment,” they said.

‘It’s a complete change of culture’

Rob LeBreton, one of the original developers (route setters) and guidebook author for Nowra, was approached by the ABC to be interviewed but did not respond. None of his names have been flagged as offensive.

In an article for rock climbing magazine Vertical Life, he attempted a nuanced take on the debate, arguing: “Those that are blatantly racist, sexist, promote sexual violence, homophobic, etc, have no place in climbing or society.”

A rock climber ponders his next move while climbing the face of a big outdoor rock
Fuchslueger says older climbers “resent” the sport’s rise in mainstream popularity.(Supplied: Berna Fuchslueger)

He said context was important and that climbing opened his eyes to diversity, referencing the route names that came from rap music.

“For many of us, it was the first time we had seen African Americans as something other than the amusing sidekick in a movie or TV show,” he wrote.

The Crag is attempting to change the names and, indeed, Fuchslueger says many first ascensionists are coming forward to ask for that to happen.

But Fuchslueger acknowledges that it’s a slow process for a sport which, in some regards, is still struggling with its new-found popularity.

A climber clambers up a rock as members of a team applaud and give support.
Members of Melbourne climbing community ClimbingQTs.(Supplied: Australian Sports Foundation)

“It’s a big thing for climbing — it’s a complete change of culture, and that’s maybe one of the reasons that some people that are part of the older climbing community are not so happy with what’s going on,” he said.

“It’s all the people that are coming out of gyms that were never involved in setting up climbing areas and bolting. I’m sure there are many people who resent that.”

And therein lies one of the conundrums of the debate: how to preserve the sanctity and the legacy of the “first ascensionist” — that person who holds a special place in climbing.

“Even though these people had named them terribly, they have still done a service to the sport in actually being the developer of these areas,” Horan said.

“It costs a lot of money; it takes a lot of personal time. I don’t inherently think these individuals are bad, they’re just not particularly smart in their naming choices.”

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