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Flaky Flake makes a nuisance of himself again

He has always hated Trump and wants to protect Mueller from action by Trump. Thank goodness he is out in a couple of weeks. 

He has no leverage anyway. The Senate is in GOP hands for the next two years so he doesn't matter. And it would be a grave mistake to let one man rule the roost the way he wants to.  Do that once and others would soon follow.  There would be a bedlam of competing special positions

It reminds me of the doings in Austria's Abgeordnetenhaus (lower house of Parliament) in the early years of the 20th century.  Many of the deputies had strongly held personal views that they would not compromise on, so almost no new laws would get through it. There was such dissatisfaction with the situation that some deputies would ring bells and sound horns in response to things they disagreed with. It was chaos.  It was so disorderly that citizens would sit in on its sessions for entertainment.

One of those sitters was the young Adolf Hitler. He ensured that nothing like that happened once he took charge


The head of the Senate Judiciary Committee canceled votes on nearly two dozen of President Trump’s judicial nominees.

The move Wednesday evening by Sen. Charles Grassley, Iowa Republican, resulted from a standoff in the panel caused by the refusal of Republican Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona to vote for any judicial picks.

Mr. Flake has said he will oppose all judge nominations unless a bill to protect special counsel Robert Mueller gets a floor vote. An effort to force one failed Wednesday.

As a result, the committee’s Thursday business meeting was canceled.

SOURCE

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An aging America: Old people will outnumber children for the first time in the country's HISTORY

This is an old scare. It treats as permanent trends that may not be permanent. The major cause of the birth dearth among white women would seem to be mainly a delay of birth, not a cessation of birth.  Where women once tended to have children in their teens and 20s, it is now often in their 30s. So once all those delayed births start happening, the statistics should look  very different.

And an older population is not a total disaster.  In some places already the retirement age has risen to 70 and there are laws in place that prevent forced retirement due to age.  Many oldsters want to continue working and they are increasingly being allowed to do so.

And, finally, the economy could be rearranged to make do with a proportionately smaller workforce.   As any libertarian will tell you, most government work could be dispensed with and the workers thus released could go into more productive occupations

The article below also hints at another interesting process that can be summed up as "Asian mothers often have Caucasian children."  That sounds rather mad but the underlying fact is that East Asians and Caucasians tend to get along fine and the result is many Eurasian births.  And Eurasians often look indistinguishable from Caucasians.  More detail on that here


Adults 65 and older will soon outnumber children for the first time in America's history, it has been revealed.

The US Census Bureau released new projections this year that showed the country's changing - and aging - demographics.

By 2030 all baby boomers will be older than age 65 and one in every five Americans will be retirement age.

The Census Bureau said that deaths will 'rise substantially' between 2020 and 2050, meaning the country's population will naturally grow very slowly.

Projections also revealed that America will become more racially and ethnically diverse, with the country's share of mixed-race children set to double.

The non-Hispanic White-alone population is projected to shrink from 199 million in 2020 to 179 million in 2060.

Meanwhile, the 'Two or More Races' population will be the fastest growing over the next several decades. 

SOURCE 

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Six in ten Asian-born Australians experience racism in accessing housing, survey finds

It is typical of a Left-leaning newspaper like the SMH to blame everything on racism.  If you believed Leftist media outlets, you would think Australia rivals Nazi Germany for racism.

As it happens, I usually have both Chinese and Indian tenants so I suppose I can talk with some immunity from a charge of racism.

The first thing to note is that the data is highly suspect. Online surveys tend to be answered by those who have a dog in the fight concerned.  Much lower and differently distributed examples of discrimination could be expected from a representative survey.  So the findings below are essentially rubbish from beginning to end.

From my involvement in the matter, what is actually happening is dislike not of the race of a tenant but the inability to communicate well with people who have poor English. And East Asians find English very difficult to learn.  I am sure that Asian speakers of Australian English would rarely find difficulty.

I put up with poor English because I have found Chinese to be otherwise exceptionally good tenants.  Indians are more diverse but usually have passable English and I like their generally cheerful attitudes.  Indian English is the de facto national language of India so Indians have little difficulty in adapting to Australian English


When it comes to access to housing in Australia, the playing field is far from even.

Our recent research has found that race matters. Many Australians experience racism and discrimination based on their cultural background.

This is particularly the case for Asian Australians. They experience much higher rates of racism across a variety of everyday settings, but particularly when renting or buying a house.

An online national survey of 6001 Australians measured the extent and variation of racist attitudes and experiences. We examined the impacts of where Australians are born and what language they speak at home on their experiences of racism.

Our research revealed that if you were born overseas, or if your parents were born overseas and you speak a language other than English at home, you are likely to have many more experiences of racism than other Australians. Racism is experienced in a variety of settings –workplaces, educational institutions, shopping centres, public spaces and online.

Survey participants born in Asia were twice as likely as other Australians to experience everyday racism. In fact, 84 per cent of these Asian Australians experienced racism.

For those born in Australia to parents who were both born in an Asian country, rates of racism were just as high (86 per cent).

If you speak an Asian language at home, your experiences of racism are also likely to be high. Speakers of South Asian and East Asian languages experience racism at alarming rates – 85 per cent and 88 per cent respectively. Those who speak Southwest/Central Asian and Southeast Asian languages experience rates of discrimination (79 per cent and 78 per cent respectively) similar to those for all participants of a non-English-speaking background (77 per cent).

Anti-Asian housing discrimination

Published findings for New South Wales and Queensland in the 1990s revealed that 6.4 per cent of Australians reported having experienced ethnic-based discrimination when renting or buying a house. Our recent national study has found this proportion has increased dramatically. In recent years, 24 per cent of Australians have experienced housing discrimination.

As with the broader pattern of everyday racism, Asian Australians are feeling the brunt of housing discrimination. Almost six in ten (59 per cent) Asia-born participants in our study experienced racism in accessing housing. This compares to only 19 per cent of non-Asian-born participants.

Asia-born respondents were also more likely to report frequent experiences of housing discrimination. Some 13 per cent reported these experiences occurred “often” or “very often”. This is more than three times the average exposure of non-Asian-born Australians.

In particular, participants born in Northeast and South/Central Asia are more frequently exposed to racism in housing. And 15 per cent and 16 per cent respectively reported housing discrimination occurred “often” or “very often”. This compares to only 9 per cent of those born in Southeast Asia.

The survey also found that if you have two Asia-born parents you are highly likely to experience such racism (44 per cent). Similarly, if you speak a language other than English at home (especially an Asian language), you are more likely to experience housing discrimination (45 per cent).

South Asian language speakers (e.g. Hindi, Tamil, Sinhalese) experience housing discrimination at a much higher rate of 63 per cent. The rate for East Asian language speakers (e.g. Chinese, Japanese, Korean) is 55 per cent. Only 19 per cent of English-only speakers had the same experiences.

SOURCE

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African crime: Attack the writer, and miss the point

Bernard Lane, writing below, has run into a Leftist misapplication of natural justice. It is natural justice that I am responsible for my own deeds only, not the deeds of others. Leftists use that to say that we cannot act against or discuss a criminally-inclined group if some members only of the group are actual criminals. But that seems to most people to be instinctively wrong.  Why?

What they overlook is that it is not only justice that needs to be discussed in reference to such a group but prevention.  We have a strong need to protect ourselves from members of that group. But we have no certain knowledge of which group members are likely to harm us. So we act probabilistically. Most of our knowledge is probabilistic.  We expect that dogs will bark but some don't.  Our knowledge that dogs bark is strong knowledge but it is in the end only probabilistic.


So we often HAVE TO act on probabilistic knowledge..  If (say) we wish to protect ourselves from the frequent vicious attacks emanating from South Sudanese youths, our only recourse is to reply on our probabilistic knowledge of them and do something to restrict all of them from access to us. Britain dealt with Irish terrorism by instituting detention without trial so there are available precedents.

Justice is tangential to the problem.  The issue is prevention.  Only perfect knowledge could give us perfect justice but we do not have such knowledge. Prevention, however, is not in principle difficult.  Returning them all to their ancestral homeland, for instance, should be quite effective and only minimally oppressive



I am Twitter’s racist of the day. I wrote two words — African crime — that are not supposed to go together, unlike white supremacy. My Tuesday coverage of Melbourne’s crime problem ran to 5000 words, plus maps and charts. It sketched an atlas of crime hot spots across the city by people born in the conflict-ravaged Horn of Africa, mostly Sudanese. I knew it would be contentious, that any data analysis is imperfect, and so took care in framing it.

Twitter doesn’t care about that. Activist group Sleeping Giants Oz tweeted: “We are about to have a LONG rant about a News Corp @australian article compiled by @Bernard_Lane where they exclude ALL other criminals and focus ONLY on migrant East Africans committing crime in Victoria”.

No mention that I’d conceded African-born offending was “arguably trivial” compared with the rap sheet of the Australian-born. But the Sudanese are over-represented in the crime data, and police reports suggest an alarming degree of violence and contempt for the law, leaving a legacy of trauma and fear.

The long rant never came, unless that was all the rant on offer. What happened was that hundreds of people retweeted Sleeping Giants, sometimes adding their own abuse, conspiracy theories and bad spelling. The Twitter feed kept scrolling along, hour after hour.

Sudanese-Australian lawyer Nyadol Nyuon took me to task for “Making a whole community responsible for the conduct of others because of their skin colour. Have you ever had to answer for any crime because the person who did it shared the same race as you?”

Nowhere had I suggested collective responsibility.

If a white-on-black crime is in the news, I feel a kind of shame, but shouldn’t my first response be empathy for the victim, regardless of our group identities? Nobody in the Twitter feed expressed compassion for Elena Morgan, the white woman bashed by three teenage girls of African appearance. If crime is a racist media concoction, it has no true victims.

I’d acknowledged in the coverage that a fixation with African crime was hurtful for the law-abiding majority of people from the Horn of Africa. This only infuriated Nyuon, who likened it to “when they piss on you, then tell you it is raining”.

I also had included a reference to the 2007 murder of Sudanese refugee Liep Gony by two whites in Noble Park. It was a shocking crime and I couldn’t understand why the judge had ruled out a racial motive. This earned me a rebuke from Gony’s cousin, Nyawech Fouch, for “using” this tragedy “to support your ‘reverse racism’ argument”.

I had expected that race, nationality, culture and history would be conflated.

So I’d written: “Nobody suggests a racial link to crime in Melbourne but there is a question whether the horrors that qualify people for refugee status also create problems for their resettlement in a peaceful society ruled by law, especially if those new arrivals encounter prejudice and unemployment.”

Nyuon challenged me: “What is African crime? Does this include white Africans?”

The coverage focused not just on Sudan but three other Horn of Africa countries with a presence in Melbourne and a history of regional conflict often spilling over borders.

I kept in the analysis the very low “alleged offender incident” counts of people from Eritrea, a small country not spared the agonies of the region, because it suggested that arriving in Melbourne as a traumatised refugee did not mean you were predestined to a life of criminal dysfunction; what happened here counted too.

Sydney lawyer James Wheeldon, whose job would require him to be a careful reader, joined the Twitter feed: “this is garbage reporting and an egregious misuse of statistics”. He accused me of not comparing like with like, suggesting he had not paid much attention to the coverage before moralising. At least he read it, I think.

Criminologist Jarryd Bartle entered the fray, intimating I was a fraud because the data I had claimed to make use of was not publicly available. I asked if he’d read the full coverage. “Paywalled,” he tweeted in complaint, willing to criticise what he wasn’t willing to read.

Next came Benjamin Millar, a journalist with a local paper in Maribyrnong, the council area with the highest number of “offender incidents” involving people from the Horn of Africa across the past decade.

He upbraided me for the “privileged white fragility” I had displayed when rejecting the suggestion of reverse racism.

If a white woman is bashed by blacks on his watch as a reporter, is her “white privilege” a mitigating factor? Is her hurt different from the bruises of black-on-black violence?

Millar did have one useful criticism of my data analysis, which I added to the coverage.

Twitter exemplifies the tactic today to “call out” racists. This involves a lot of digital high fives but what does it actually achieve? Relentless smearing of people as racists only reinforces the dubious category of race as the lens through which we view the world. Individuals give up empathy for the tribal loyalty of identity politics.

This week’s anti-racists were blind to the point of my coverage: that in Melbourne’s violence, there may be lessons on how to make future resettlement of refugees more successful.

If activists dwell only on the supposed bigotry of white Australia, they risk undermining popular support for a generous humanitarian program.

SOURCE


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What’s New in the Latest U.S. Climate Assessment

Below is the first part of an NYT article. It is totally uncritical.  The days of journalists examining evidence critically are now gone -- except for anything favouring Mr Trump, of course.

Yet the report has glaring holes.  Attributing South coast flooding to global warming without mentioning all the reports showing land subsidence there is just not serious reporting. It is a perfunctory restatement of an item of faith.  It is a sort of chant of the global warming religion, not anything scientific


Global warming is now affecting the United States more than ever, and the risks of future disasters — from flooding along the coasts to crop failures in the Midwest — could pose a profound threat to Americans’ well-being.

That’s the gist of Volume Two of the latest National Climate Assessment, a 1,656-page report issued on Friday that explores both the current and future impacts of climate change. The scientific report, which comes out every four years as mandated by Congress, was produced by 13 federal agencies and released by the Trump administration.

This year’s report contains many of the same findings cited in the previous National Climate Assessment, published in 2014. Temperatures are still going up, and the odds of dangers such as wildfires in the West continue to increase. But reflecting some of the impacts that have been felt across the country in the past four years, some of the report’s emphasis has changed.

Predicted impacts have materialized

More and more of the predicted impacts of global warming are now becoming a reality.

For instance, the 2014 assessment forecast that coastal cities would see more flooding in the coming years as sea levels rose. That’s no longer theoretical: Scientists have now documented a record number of “nuisance flooding” events during high tides in cities like Miami and Charleston, S.C.

“High tide flooding is now posing daily risks to businesses, neighborhoods, infrastructure, transportation, and ecosystems in the Southeast,” the report says.

As the oceans have warmed, disruptions in United States fisheries, long predicted, are now underway. In 2012, record ocean temperatures caused lobster catches in Maine to peak a month earlier than usual, and the distribution chain was unprepared.

SOURCE

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London cops learn the wrong lesson

Rather than admit that female police are useless on the frontline, they learnt that you should let violent offenders go!  They learnt that they should fail in one of their most important duties

Police leaders have warned they will tell officers to let violent suspects go if they do not have broader support following an attack on a female PC.

Ken Marsh, chairman of the Metropolitan Police Federation, said if officers were going to get assaulted for simply doing their job, then it was not worth putting themselves at risk.

He spoke out after video footage emerged of two officers locked in a violent struggle as they tried to make an arrest in Merton, south London, on Saturday.

A female police officer was filmed being kicked in the head during the routine traffic stop, before being left lying dazed in the road clutching her head just feet away from a passing bus.

Her male colleague was dragged around in the road as he tried to stop a suspect in a white tracksuit from running away.

The female officer had tried to use incapacitant spray on the pair but to no effect. Both were hospitalised following the attack, treated for head injuries and cuts.

A member of the public helped the male officer in the struggle but several cars went past without stopping and the person filming the attack did not appear to step in and help.

Martin Payne, 20, from Croydon, was detained and charged with assault under new legislation designed to toughen up sentences for those who attack emergency workers. The other two suspects remain at large.

Mr Marsh said: "Are we now in a society where, if we think we can't detain somebody, we just let them go? It's just not worth it.

"We're going to come to a point where we're going to start pushing messages out to our colleagues: 'Risk-assess it dynamically and, if you think you can't detain a person, just let them go.'

"We don't come to work to get assaulted, and if we're not going to be backed up in what we're doing then what is the point?"

He told the Telegraph that their numbers and finances had been “stripped down to the bone”, warning that a police officer in London was attacked every hour.

“Society has changed, people think it’s OK to drop kick a police officer in broad daylight because they have impunity - nothing really happens.”

He said the new Assaults on Emergency Workers (Offences) Act would only help if it is legislated correctly and the powers are used.

The latest attack follows a spate of assaults on female officers.

Last month, footage emerged of armed robber Owen Smith dragging PC Ellie Young from a patrol car as he tried to flee a raid on an Esso garage in Horsham. She was left with arm, leg, shoulder and neck injuries after continuing to tackle him alongside colleague PC Vicky Canales.

Smith was jailed for 14 years at Hove Crown Court for his part in the raid.

PC Anne Bloomfield was left with a fractured skull after being attacked with a Champagne bottle. She had stepped into support a colleague who had been punched and kicked at a property in Nottingham but sustained a hairline fracture of her eye socket, a black eye and bruising to her face and hand. She later admitted she thought she was going to die.

Lee Carl Wright was charged with GBH without intent and was jailed for just two years eight months.

Another female officer from Nottinghamshire was knocked unconscious by a suspect who hit her with a pair of handcuffs.

Chris Bryant, the Labour MP who sponsored the new emergency workers legislation, said the footage of the Merton attack “turned your stomach”. But he warned:  “The bill will only be effective if there are enough police officers to implement it and there is the will to act. “We need to have the police, the prosecutors and the courts all lined up and taking it seriously but they also need government backing.”

Dave Keen, chairman of the Nottinghamshire Police Federation, said the force was “at a tipping point” and that criminals were becoming aware that back up was further away.

“Policing is at risk,” he said. “Every day, officers are going out at fear of being attacked. I would issue a plea to the courts to use these new powers and take it seriously.”

SOURCE


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Faith rewarded: Actress Prayed Over Home, and Property and Animals Were Untouched by California Wildfire

I am always moved and delighted when people see the hand of God in their lives.  That was certainly a powerful and wonderful Psalm she recited.  In the pic below you can see the confidence and repose her faith gives her. Her God even saved her horses. Her poor helpless horses could have done nothing to save themselves.  Faith can do wonderful things.  As I write this I am listening to one of the greatest works of faith:  "The Passion According to Matthew" by J.S. Bach.  It takes me to another place


Actress Brenda Epperson, who once played Ashley Abbott on “The Young and The Restless,” told CBN News Thursday that she prayed over her California home, asking God to spare it from the California wildfire. As a result, the fire stopped at the border of her property.

"I just kept praying Psalms 91 over our home, 'whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will find rest in his mighty shadow. I will say of the Lord he is my refuge and my God in whom I trust. Surely, he will save you from the fowler's snare and the deadly pestilence. A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand but it will not come near you," she said in a Facebook video.

What’s more, she kept horses from other farms safe from the flames.

"We could only evacuate the horses that could fit in our trailer which was three horses. And then all of our neighbors had borders so all of their horses, 25, 30, horses went in that pen. And so there was 35 horses there and the fire stopped. God stopped that fire, Wendy, right at our property line, right at our fence." she said in an interview with CBN News.

“There was angels all around," she said, adding, "It could have been horrific, and God stopped it.” 

She and her family evacuated at some point and had to leave the animals behind.

“I have prayed over this property so many times, and pled the blood of Jesus over this property, and walked to the perimeter and just not only done that, but thanked God that he gave us this property, but prayed over it that our animals would be safe and no harm or danger would befall us. In Isaiah 54:17 that ‘No weapon formed against us will prosper,” Epperson said.

She said a sculptor friend of hers lost his home, “and he built this incredibly beautiful cross, and the only thing standing was the cross.”

When she and her family returned to their home, "Every horse was okay. They had water, they didn't even have ash on them."

Epperson said she has faith that God will use the California wildfires as an opportunity for people to get to know him.

"The good that's going to come out of it is I believe that revival, that God is going to wake us all up. I know my life is changed and I just want to share the love of God even more with everybody," she said.

"I just want to say that God's love is there for each one of us if we would just simply say, 'Yes.' And it's been an honor helping friends and neighbors," Epperson added.

More than 600 people are reported missing and 63 people died from the wildfire.


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Pregnant women who take paracetamol could lower their child's IQ and raise their risk of autism, research finds

No drug is free of side-effects but I have long noted that paracetamol (APAP) is much more dangerous than aspirin, principally because of its well-established liver toxicity.  The findings below would seem to add to that message but maybe not.  People who take a lot of painkillers are probably of worse health overall.  So maybe all we are seeing is that the children of unhealthy mother are unhealthy too.

The journal article is "Prenatal Exposure to Acetaminophen and Risk for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder and Autistic Spectrum Disorder: A Systematic Review, Meta-Analysis, and Meta-Regression Analysis of Cohort Studies" and the authors  there are also cautious about the meaning of the findings.  They say: "These findings are concerning; however, results should be interpreted with caution given that the available evidence consists of observational studies and is susceptible to several potential sources of bias.


Women who take paracetamol during pregnancy risk lowering their child's IQ, a study has revealed. Taking the drug is also associated with a higher risk of ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) and autism. 

Researchers from US universities, including Harvard, reviewed nine studies that looked at 150,000 mothers and babies in total.  Their findings suggest that the balance of hormones in the uterus are altered by taking paracetamol, also known as acetaminophen (APAP).

One study analysed found a three-point drop in IQ for five-year-old children whose mothers had taken paracetamol for pain relief without fever. Other research shows youngsters exposed to the drug in the womb struggled with speech.

It's not the first time scientists have found a link between paracetamol use and delayed speech.

In January, research from New York found that taking the go-to-pain relieving drug during pregnancy delays babies' speech by up to six times. 

Expectant mothers who take acetaminophen more than six times during their early pregnancies are significantly more likely to have daughters with limited vocabularies, the study found. 

Paracetamol is generally available without prescription and is the most commonly used medication in pregnancy. 

Research this year has shown the common painkiller can raise a child's risk of ADHD by up to 30 per cent, and up to a 20 per cent for autism, when taken by their mothers.

The study, led by Dr Ilan Matok, from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, analysed 132,738 mother-child pairs over three-to-11 years.

Dr Matok said: 'Our findings suggest an association between prolonged acetaminophen use and an increase in the risk of autism and ADHD.'

SOURCE

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Umair Haque is a dingbat

Umair Haque lives in the West but, going by his name, is of Pakistani origin. He also seems to see himself as a profound thinker, though he is in reality just another blinkered Leftist, repeating tired old Leftist tropes. As a good Leftist, he is lost in a mental world of his own with only occasional contact with the real world. He gets himself published a lot on the Leftist Medium and Eudaimonia sites, however, and is popular in Leftist circles, so some critique of his lucubrations is perhaps called for.

One of his most recent articles is titled "Why Winning a War for Capitalism Is Losing One to Fascism: The Lesson America Still Hasn’t Learned From Two World Wars"

There is an element of truth in that.  The modern-day Left has inherited Fascism's obsession with controlling everything but Umair seems to have missed the conservative pushback against that in the persons of Thatcher, Reagan and Trump.  No-one would claim that the pushback has been wholly successful but both Reagan and Trump won tax reductions and other reforms that led to big economic booms and rising prosperity generally

Umair's picture of the average American being ground down is a Leftist staple but it has no contact with the reality under Trump -- with a booming economy creating jobs for everyone, even for generally disadvantaged minorities such as blacks and Hispanics.  And while the historically low rates of unemployment are important, even more important is the employment rate.  The enthusiasm for business that is abroad in the land has created a huge demand for labor and that has drawn discouraged workers --people over 50, people with poor education etc. -- into the labor force.  Businessmen have such a big need for workers that they are hiring in previously neglected categories. When faced with the fact that their only job applicant is over 50, they just say, "Better an old guy than no guy"

And through the combination of big tax cuts and the need to entice workers to work for them, employers are offering higher wages, ending a long period of wage-rate stagnation. So the enthusiasm and dynamism of the Trump economy is a complete answer to Mr Haque's gloom.

Mr Bezos and others might be doing well but so are millions of ordinary Americans.  And some of America's richest men -- such as Bill Gates and Warren Buffett -- are putting their money to work in charitable causes.  The big yachts are primarily a Russian folly.   Rich Americans tend to have better taste.  Even Bloomberg has just given a large slice of his fortune to Johns Hopkins university, his alma mater.  The situation is across the board not as Mr. Haque imagines it.

I am well prepared to believe that the situation in Pakistan is dismal but America is not Pakistan. Those great crowds cheering themselves hoarse at Mr Trump's rallies are not cheering oppression and poverty. Even blacks are smiling at Mr Trump. Mr Haque hasn't got a clue



A few excerpts below from Mr Haque's Jeremiad


World War II, it’s generally agreed, was brought about by a peace whose terms were poisonous. In the aftermath of World War I, the victors demanded reparations from the aggressors, who were the defeated, that were simply too steep to pay. A shattered Germany was therefore left unable to really recover, and as its frail, unstable institutions buckled, in the resultant failure, the chaos and decline, the flames of fascism rose — and soon enough, consumed the nation whole, and then set fire to the world.

The strange thing is all that’s different today is that the roles have been reversed. Peace didn’t cost the losers of the last war too much, and drive them into failure and ruin — oddly enough, victory did. But the result, strangely, is just the same: the flames of fascism rising, authoritarianism triumphant, in the void of chaos left by failure and degeneration.

Which country do I speak of, and which war? America — and the Cold War. Now, the overly simplistic story that Americans are told, by their own intellectuals and thinkers, is this: they won the Cold War, and defeated the evil empire, a nation of pure freedom and bravery and faith and so on. Of course, reality is subtler, grayer, more nuanced. America might have won the Cold War — but it lost a greater battle. The battle for its own soul, its own democracy, which, today, self-evidently, is on the ropes, being fought desperately to remedy and to rescue, with limited, if any real, success.

Capitalism winning also meant its own economy stagnating, as capitalists took all the gains, and poured them into useless, idle pleasures, yachts and mansions, exploiting people harder, better, faster — all of which meant that writing a social contract to cushion people from those very blows became impossible, because money was tied up in yachts wasn’t invested in say, healthcare or education or retirement — and all that meant that democracy was more or less doomed to implode.

Americans were told they were “liberating” people — when in fact, more often than not, they were denying them sovereignty and self-governance. They had confused capitalism with freedom — and still do — because the idea was that anything else was morally intolerable. If you’re on a crusade, you have to save people’s souls — even if they might not want to be saved.

What happened next? Well, it wasn’t just that cost of all these wars for capitalism’s sake mounted — though they did, and inevitably, plunged America deep into debt. A subtler and stranger — yet perfectly predictable thing — happened. War after war was fought. Some hot, some hard, with bullets — some soft and quiet, with whispers. Which side would buckle first — run out of resources, money, ideas, stratagems? The capitalists, or the communists? One day, the game was over. The Soviet Union collapsed. America, it seemed, had won.

By this point — the 1990s — when the Cold War was done, capitalism was about to rule the world. What was the alternative, after all? So just a decade later, China and India were “integrated” into the global capitalist economy, which means they could trade with America at last. Bang! The global economy went into overdrive. It heated up so fast and so hard, awash with so much money in the hands of so many speculators and quick-buck-artists, that soon enough — whoosh!! — a huge, titanic bubble had inflated. And then, inevitably, of course, it popped. Wham! It melted down into the greatest “recession” since the Great Depression — one from which the world has never really recovered.

But what, again, about the average American? Let’s think about him. All these wars were fought to extend the borders of capitalism. Capitalists grew colossally, grotesquely rich — that much is true. Today, Bezos, Brin, and Buffett can buy entire cities without blinking. But that victory had a price. Winning a war for capitalism freed its invisible fist to deliver the average American a fatal blow.

The average American was now expected to be a “consumer” in this new world system — to buy the things that this new capitalist world could offer, cheaper and faster. To buy more of them, year after year, month after month — that is the only way capitalism could grow, after all. But now anyone, anywhere, could compete with Americans for jobs, for labour, for work to do and be done — and usually, they could do it faster and cheaper, if not better and truer. But to consume, one must either also produce — or be subsidized. The average American was running out of chances to produce, and earn that way — even the pension he’d worked for his whole life was made legal to “raid” so that capitalists could get richer. And nobody was subsidizing him, lending him a supporting hand.

SOURCE 

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Transgenerational advantage

Summary below of a particularly dumb TED talk from a New School professor. The New School is far Left from wayback so the idea presented is as dumb and impractical as you would expect of that. It's true that economic advantage tends to be passed on from father to son but why and how?  The Newschooler doesn't know.  He just knows that it is.  So he resorts to vague generalities -- which apparently sounded clever to his audience.

That wealth is transmitted in some automatic way once you have it is absolute bunkum.  How many times have we read of people winning big in a lottery and blowing the lot in short order?  Having money does not even encourage you to keep it, let alone pass it on.

But there is no need for "cleverness" in order to explain the phenomenon that our Newschooler has noticed.  It's perfectly plain why rich men tend to have economically successful children.  It's because you have to be pretty smart to get rich (As Charles Murray showed decades ago) and IQ is highly hereditary.  Both father and son get rich because they are both  smarter than the average.

Giving a son money will do nothing to alter the main operative factor in wealth acquisition: IQ.  If he is smart he doesn't need it and if he is dumb he will simply blow it.


Economists often point out the simple truth that having wealth makes it easier to get more wealth, which means those who have a lot of money pass on an advantage from one generation to the next.

To adjust for that, economist Darrick Hamilton, a professor at The New School in New York, recently proposed a kind of baby trust fund system. His idea is to give all kids in the US a chunk of cash when they’re born, ranging between $US500 and $US60,000 based on their family’s wealth. That would help give all of thems a fair shot at a prosperous future, he said.

“Wealth is the paramount indicator of economic security and well-being,” Hamilton told a crowd at the TED Conferences headquarters in New York in September. “It is time to get beyond the false narrative that attributes inequalities to individual personal deficits while largely ignoring the advantages of wealth.”

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Beto 2020? How O'Rourke became a Texas sensation who could shape the future of the Democrats

I reproduce in full below an article from the Leftist "Guardian". Like many others, I had noticed the popularity of O'Rourke among Leftists. I had heard nothing of what ideas he stood for and wanted to find out.  So I read the article below carefully.  I found nothing in that long article about his ideas.  The only thing that came close was his approval of the kneeling footballers.  Essentially, he appears to be a man of no ideas, a policy emptyhead

Contrast that with "Build the wall" and "lock her up", which are succinct but very clear policy proposals.  I in fact wonder why Trump has initiated no legal proceedings against Hillary.  There certainly seem "prima facie" grounds for at least some charges.  I suspect that Trump has simply acted within the wise Western tradition of mercy to the defeated -- something I wrote about recently

So I can only assume that O'Rourke is a smooth-talking supporter of each and every sort of grievance and that he conveys a pervasive dislike of America as it is.  He presumably supports standard Leftist talking points such as free healthcare for all and raising the minimum wage but that in no way makes him unique and therefore does not explain his notable drawing power. It would be sad indeed if such an emptyhead were to attain significant political office in America

O'Rourke is however well within a grand old Leftist tradition of policy vacuity.  When a Leftist sees a problem his reponse is usually little more than "pass a law"!  Any thought about the causes of the problem is minimal and simplistic

Ezra Klein, self-described "wonk" and editor of the Leftist "Vox" site has an article up under the title, "To beat Trump, House Democrats need to fight on policy, not just scandals" -- so he too sees Leftist vacuity as a problem


When Beto O’Rourke, the punk rock guitarist turned US congressman for the distant border town of El Paso, announced in March 2017 that he was going to run for Ted Cruz’s Senate seat in Texas, the spokesman for the state’s Republican party quipped: “Who?”

No one is asking who Beto O’Rourke is now. He may have lost his plucky bid to win the first statewide election in Texas as a Democrat since 1994, but he came so close that he thoroughly wiped the smirks off Republican faces.

Less than three percentage points separated the incumbent senator and his insurgent challenger – 50.9% Cruz, 48.3% O’Rourke – 222,922 votes out of more than 8m cast.

For O’Rourke it marks a phenomenal achievement. In just 19 months, almost unassisted, he took the Texan Democratic party from its virtually moribund condition, gave it a stiff dose of adrenalin, and brought it back to life.

For Texas, and for the US, the fact that O’Rourke came within striking distance represents something even bigger – the hope that the second largest state in the union might finally be freeing itself from the iron grip of the Republican party.

That in turn raises a tantalizing prospect for progressives everywhere – if O’Rourke could do it in Texas, a place synonymous with the modern hardline Republican party, what could he do in other parts of the US?

“If you look at the top line and see O’Rourke losing, you’re missing the point,” said Bethany Albertson, associate professor at University of Texas at Austin. “No Democrat has come close in Texas in decades, voter turnout was way up, and young people who have never voted before were drawn for the first time into the democratic process.”

That’s a formula that the Democratic party nationwide is desperate to replicate. But how did he do it? What was the secret of the Beto magic?

When O’Rourke set out on his unlikely mission he did so with the contemporary equivalent of a horse and cart. As Rolling Stone has pointed out, at that point he had two aides, both of them old friends from El Paso, and a rented sedan.

He put them to good use. By election day he had spawned a vast army of 25,000 volunteers and had raised $70m – all of it through small donations through the online portal ActBlue, not a penny through big corporate donors – more than any US Senate campaign in history.

O’Rourke wore through a lot of shoe leather in the process. He crisscrossed a state that is larger than France – from his hometown of El Paso to the eastern border of Texas is 900 miles – visiting each of its 254 counties. His message was: “I wouldn’t vote for a politician I had never seen either.”

Wherever he went, he sprinkled seeds of Democratic rebirth. Using digital apps, he empowered volunteers in each county to begin mobilizing their neighbors. It was entirely decentralised, with next to no quality control, which meant trusting volunteers implicitly – but it succeeded in unleashing huge reserves of untapped energy.

Carrie Collier-Brown, a lawyer from the suburbs of south-west Austin, was one of the new Beto super-volunteers. She described what it has been like this year creating a team of about 150 volunteers in her area out of nothing.

“We built the infrastructure out of scraps and with no instructions,” she said. “It feels like we’ve been flying by the seat of our pants all year.”

Together with a “bunch of pissed-off suburban women”, as she puts it, she set up in January a group of volunteers which they called “Blue Action Democrats”. Every weekend they knocked on hundreds of doors, liaising closely with the local Beto O’Rourke campaign staff.

In the final weeks of the election they were supported by “pop-up offices”, more than 700 of which mushroomed across Texas. The offices were improvised out of volunteers’ spare rooms, studies, garages, garden sheds – any space where the all-important get-out-the-vote drive could be spearheaded.

The numbers tell the story. Sixty-eight percent of registered voters in Collier-Brown’s area turned out and cast their ballot – twice the proportion in the last midterm elections in 2014 and slightly more even than the 2016 presidential election.

Collier-Brown said that there was a price to pay – “My kids are very close to calling me Aunty Carrie” – but the gains have been immense. “The Beto campaign has taught us an important lesson: that connecting with your neighbors is how to engage everyone, how to take back our democracy, and ultimately how to win elections.”

Collier-Brown is part of one of two key electoral groups which O’Rourke focused on more than any others – white women (or Anglo women as they are known in Texas). Exit polls show that O’Rourke attracted the votes of 39% of Texan white women – compared with the 29% who backed Hillary Clinton in 2016.

Mark Jones, a professor of political science at Rice University, thinks that 10-point swing was partly explained by a female backlash to the vulgarity, aggressive posturing and sexual impropriety of Donald Trump. But that was not all.

“Beto O’Rourke wasn’t just campaigning against Trump. He was campaigning for a different kind of politics that are optimistic, positive. He spoke to thousands of people who are upset about the divisiveness in America today.”

Soon after O’Rourke had conceded defeat on Tuesday night, he addressed thousands of his loyal supporters in a baseball stadium in El Paso. He told them: “We’re not about being against anybody. We are not going to define ourselves by who or what we are against, or what we are afraid of or scared about. We are great people.”

That message also spoke to the second key group mobilized by his campaign – young people. Again, the numbers tell the story.

In 2016, Clinton attracted the votes of 55% of the 18-29 age range in Texas, to Trump’s 36%. This week, O’Rourke won a stunning 71%, to Cruz’s 29%.

Not only did he win over young people in far greater proportions, he also crucially managed to unlock a door that has been frustratingly closed to progressive causes in vast swaths of America for years. He persuaded young voters who usually overwhelmingly opt to stay at home in midterm elections to get off their couches, get over to the polling stations, and vote.

Figures for overall Texas turnout have yet to be completed, but early voting data is again stunning. The number of 18 to 29-year-olds casting an early ballot this year was five times greater than in the 2014 midterms.

One crucial explanation for how O’Rourke opened the door on young voting was that he speaks to Texans in their own language. Literally so, if they are Hispanic – having grown up in El Paso, a city with an 80% Latino population, he is bilingual in Spanish and flips effortlessly between idioms.

He also speaks the language of the young. He is fluent in Instagram and Snapchat, and has a flair for producing viral videos, whether air-drumming to the Who or skateboarding through a Whataburger parking lot.

When the Guardian talked shortly before the election to Karl Rove, the ultimate political kingmaker in Texas who helped turn the state Republican in the 1990s, he was dismissive about O’Rourke’s most viral video. In it, the Democratic candidate defended NFL players who had taken the knee during the national anthem in protest at police brutality, saying there was “nothing more American” than that.

For Rove, that video demonstrated that O’Rourke would never be able to win over the mainstream of the Texan electorate as he was too outspokenly liberal. What Rove may not have counted on, however, was how electrifying such a statement might have been for many younger Texans who are more receptive to new expressions of patriotism.

O’Rourke amplified his natural affinity with younger voters through a heavy push on social media. Much of the $70m he raised through small online donations – twice the amount brought in by his opponent – went on digital advertising, especially on Facebook where ads were kept to six seconds or less and tightly targeted both geographically and on voters’ personal interests.

According to the Texas Tribune, for much of 2018 his campaign invested more than any other political advertiser on Facebook. In the last six months more than $6m of O’Rourke ads on the site were viewed almost 20 million times.

Young voters, white women, Latinos, online fundraising, digital advertising, social media, volunteering, shoe leather – the Beto O’Rourke campaign had it all in terms of modern electioneering. It may have been largely improvised, and there was no instruction manual, but it did the job.

Not only did it bring O’Rourke within a whisker of pulling off the biggest political upset in decades, it also had a knock-on effect for other Democratic candidates lower down the ticket.

What is being dubbed the “Beto coattail” syndrome played a major role in taking back the US House of Representatives for the Democrats by boosting turnout and thus helping Collin Allred in Dallas and Lizzie Fletcher in Houston unseat incumbent Republican Congress members.

The impact was even more pronounced in the state legislature where two Republican state senators were turfed out and at least 12 Texas House seats flipped from the Republicans to Democrats.

In many ways the explosion of energy that O’Rourke has brought to the progressive movement in Texas bears comparison to the equally audacious campaign conjured up by Barack Obama in the 2008 presidential race.

Both politicians are notable for their charisma and rhetorical skills, and for the skill in which they communicated through social media and in person.

Which is why, perhaps inevitably, whispers of “Beto 2020” can already be heard floating in the Texas wind. “Beto has done the near impossible,” said Mark Jones. “If he wants to run for the White House, there’s definitely a lane open for him.”


SOURCE

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"It benefits the American right to characterise campus culture wars as debates over “free speech”, when often they are not"

Excerpts below from an essay by nicely presented and experienced Leftist journalist SOPHIE MCBAIN, writing in the hoary Leftist organ "The New Statesman". I repeat her sub-headline above.



She grudgingly admits below that a lot of student activism has inhibited the expression of conservative ideas on campus -- but her sympathy with the student censors is clear.

And her blinkered apology for them is that it is not really an issue of free speech.  Of course it is not.  It is a debate about political ideas, conservative ideas in particular.  The mention of free speech arises only when the expression of conservative ideas is censored in some way.  It is Leftists who force the debate into a debate over free speech.  That is not the doing of conservatives.  Conservatives invoke their right of free speech as a defensive strategy to protect themselves from the censors.  The issues are POLITICAL.  Issues of free speech are secondary to that.

She also says: "If students disagree with right-wing speakers, why should they not exercise their right to protest?"  In saying that she mischaracterizes the issue.  A right to peaceful public protest is well accepted.  But it is when protest degenerates into coercion that objections rightfully arise

She also says: "When speakers are de-platformed at universities they are not forced into political obscurity."   But, again, that is not the issue.  The issue is the Leftist monoculture on campus that leaves students with distorted impressions of conservative ideas.  The issue is educational.  Conservatives simply want to have at least some say in what ideas are presented on campus.

Ms McBain is a fluent writer and is particularly fluent in evasion. She has to be. The inherent authoritarianism of Leftism cannot be admitted



In recent months, two of America’s most prestigious literary institutions have found themselves embroiled in heated debates over the boundaries of acceptable speech. In early September, the New Yorker announced that its editor David Remnick would interview Donald Trump’s former chief strategist, the far-right agitator Steve Bannon, on stage at the magazine’s annual festival. After facing harsh criticism from readers and several staff writers, Remnick quickly rescinded the invitation. A fortnight later, the editor of the New York Review of Books Ian Buruma was fired amid uproar over his publication of an essay by Jian Ghomeshi about how the former radio host’s career was destroyed by accusations of sexual harassment. Ghomeshi’s essay was an unedifying and unreflective exercise in self-pity in which he downplayed the nature of the accusations against him and mischaracterised his legal case.

It’s understandable that readers were perplexed by the editorial decisions made at both magazines. It was, after all, odd that of all the influential thinkers to headline its festival, the New Yorker chose Bannon, and that of all the under-represented voices that could write with intelligence and nuance about the #MeToo movement, the NYRB commissioned Ghomeshi. Yet both incidents also raised broader questions over how publications should respond to social media outrage over their coverage, and how America’s liberal establishment should handle politically unpalatable views. What is the best way to probe and challenge right-wing thinking, without over-amplifying marginal figures or normalising far-right rhetoric? How does the mainstream media determine what viewpoints are too extreme or offensive to be published? ...

There is evidence to suggest that younger people may be less tolerant than older generations of speech they consider offensive or otherwise harmful. In recent years, the number of speakers disinvited following campus protests has increased and critics say a culture of “safetyism” has emerged in academia, in which students angrily shut down the discussion of unsettling ideas.

If students disagree with right-wing speakers, why should they not exercise their right to protest? When speakers are de-platformed at universities they are not forced into political obscurity. Far from it. Figures such as Yiannopoulos like to portray themselves as free-speech warriors leading “dangerous” campaigns against a powerful liberal establishment, but they are hardly disempowered outsiders. America’s right-wing media and the white nationalist movement now have the ear of the White House, after all. One imagines it might entertain Bannon to watch the “globalist media” agonise over the best way to cover his nationalist populist perspective, when you can hardly imagine Breitbart or even Fox News worrying about whether they are giving liberal voices a fair hearing. Students are exposed to right-wing ideology, even if they do not welcome its proponents on campus.

Undoubtedly some of the case studies explored by Lukianoff and Haidt suggest that concepts such as microaggressions and trigger warnings are sometimes taken to ludicrous and damaging lengths by students. Some of the speakers who have recently been disinvited are hardly right-wing extremists: they include the IMF’s Christine Lagarde and a regional head of the American Civil Liberties Union. Despite this, I found myself admiring the confidence and fluency with which students are testing out arguments about power and privilege that I was merely dimly aware of as a student, only a decade ago.

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Warmist projection again

In an article under the title "The Role Harassment Plays in Climate Change Denial", Leftist organ "Mother Jones" complains about criticisms directed at Warmists, completely ignoring the torrent of criticisms and threats that Warmists pour out at climate skeptics -- not to mention the many attacks on the livelihood of skeptics.  To amplify their criticisms they do their best to link critics with Nazis.  Relevant excerpt below

That is of course totally amusing:  The Nazi party really was the first Green party.  The end state desired by the current Greens and the Nazis is the same:  A return to a romanticized rural past.

And the whole point of Hitler's "Drang nach Osten" (invasion of Poland and Russia) was because Hitler feared food shortages so wanted Slavic farmlands to feed Germans.  And who is it today who are always predicting food shortages?

And, like the Nazis, the Greens never stop their attempts to make us all march in lockstep with them towards their addled goals.  Like the Nazis, they think they have the right to tell everyone else what to do. Nazis and Greens are both fundamentally authoritarian.  So, in the usual Leftist way, Ms Jones is projecting onto skeptics their own Green/Left chracteristics.

For full details of how "Green" the Nazis were see "The Green Swastika: Environmentalism in the Third Reich", By William Walter Kay


But the right’s denial of climate change science nonetheless repeats many of the same patterns that have appeared in other extremist targets, from guns to immigration to abortion. These patterns include the appropriation of Nazi or anti-Semitic imagery, the demonization of funders and prominent advocates, and the distortion of the terms of the debate. Climate change has become another flashpoint for irrational, hateful, sometimes violent rhetoric, and even personal attacks on people who have risen to some prominence as scientists, funders, and advocates.

Stephan Lewandowsky, a University of Bristol cognitive scientist who studies science denial, notes how the virulently anti-government message that has long dominated climate denial discourse shares common themes with people who believe in conspiracy theories writ large. “Science as well as respect for others’ religions or ethnicity are considered establishment norms, just like truth-telling, and hence the people who support (and are incited by) Donald Trump are likely to reject all of those norms,” Lewandowsky tells Mother Jones, “which again would link science denial, anti-Semitism, and conspiracy theories as a cluster or related phenomena.”

The appropriation of particular labels, often involving Nazis, has also appeared in environmental debates. Self-described climate change skeptics have rejected being called “deniers,” arguing, as the conservative think tank figure and Trump EPA transition official Myron Ebell has, that the label is meant to tie“some people to Holocaust denial.” But the skeptic side has deployed an even more direct appropriation of Holocaust imagery.

In 2014, University of Alabama-Huntsville meteorologist Roy Spencer suggested on his blog that the best defense against the label “denier” would be to call those who were concerned with rising temperatures “global warming Nazis.” He even used an image of a swatsika [sic] on the post to illustrate his point, sparking a flurry of news coverage. His suggestion drew condemnation from the Anti Defamation League Southeast chapter.

[Read Roy Spencer's reply to that here]

SOURCE


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The Rohingya:  Muslims whom nobody wants

Rohingya are mostly Bangladeshis who moved to Burma during the period when both countries were ruled by Britain.  The Burmese had no say in it but tolerated in their midst people whom they regarded as foreigners.  The Burmese are East Asian Buddhists, very different from the South Asian Rohingya.

During the British period all "Indians" did well and tended to ride roughshod over the native Burmese, often disrespecting Buddhist customs and holy places.  The Burmese reasserted themselves after gaining their independence, however, and many Rohingya did not accept that. They could not take the sort of treatment that they had previously dished out. So in the usual Muslim way the Rohingya turned to acts of terrorism against the Burmese state, now called Myanmar.  Muslims have long turned to acts of violence against "infidels" to get what they wanted.

It didn't work with the Burmese however. At the time Burma was a military dictatorship and still largely is.  The Burmese rulers hit back hard and are still doing so.  They now just want the little brown men permanently out of their peaceful Asian country.

Myanmar has however come under international pressure to halt their campaign because even the ancestral country of the Rohingya -- Bangladesh -- does not want them.  Bangladesh is a Muslim country with theoretical Muslim duties of hospitality but NO Muslim country ever offers permanent resettlement to other Muslims. Only foolish Western countries let in a people with a history of religiously motivated violence.  There are however many oil-rich Muslim countries who could conceivably be pressured into admitting them

Note that Myanmar also has a large non-Muslim population of immigrant Han Chinese, particularly in the North.  There is no aggression against them.  All men are not equal

The Prime minister of Myanmar is Aung San Suu Kyi, who gained international credit for her resistance to military rule.  Her moral authority was crucial to causing the transition to civilian rule.  The Rohingya issue has however led to pressure on her to renounce the oppressive policies against the Rohingya. She has not been responsive to that.

So what goes on in her mind about that? One can only speculate, but  my speculation is that she is comfortable with the Han Chinese immigrants in the North because they look like Burmese and have the same Buddhist religion.  The little brown men of the Rohingya with their horrible Arab religion evoke no sympathy from her, however.  Buddhism and Islam could hardly be more different



The United Nations doesn’t want it to happen. Dozens of rights groups say they are shocked. Even the people who will be affected the most, Rohingya Muslims from Myanmar, are upset that their future, once again, is being decided without their input.

On Thursday, a few of the more than 720,000 Rohingya who fled slaughter, rape, and village burnings in their homeland last year are due to be repatriated to Myanmar from Bangladesh.

It is a process that has been repeatedly delayed, and one that few, apart from the Myanmar and Bangladesh governments, seem to think is a good idea.

On Tuesday, the UN high commissioner for human rights, Michelle Bachelet, warned that forcing the first batch of about 2,200 Rohingya living in refugee camps in Bangladesh to return to ground zero of mass violence against the minority Muslim group would be a “clear violation” of core international legal principles. The United Nations estimates that at least 10,000 people were killed last year in the outbreak of ethnic cleansing.

“The human rights violations committed against the Rohingya in Myanmar amount to the worst atrocities, including crimes against humanity and possibly even genocide,” Bachelet said. “With an almost complete lack of accountability, indeed with ongoing violations, returning Rohingya refugees to Myanmar at this point effectively means throwing them back into the cycle of human rights violations that this community has been suffering for decades.”

The United Nations has recommended that top military leaders in Myanmar be put on trial for crimes that include genocide. In September, the International Criminal Court, which rules on war crimes and crimes against humanity, opened an initial inquiry into some of these “crimes of persecution and other inhumane acts.”

As Bangladesh and Myanmar have pursued various iterations of repatriation agreements, UN officials have repeatedly said they were not involved adequately in the process. Rohingya Muslims, too, have complained about being isolated from decisions about their fates.

It is not clear whether the Thursday deadline will be met, given previous missed targets for repatriation.

In Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, now home to the world’s largest refugee camp, one of the people who found her name on a repatriation list said she had no idea how she was picked to return. The woman, whose name is not being used for her protection, said she had no wish to return to Myanmar.

The UN said that at least two elderly men in the refugee camps had attempted suicide rather than face the possibility of returning to the site of crimes against the Rohingya.

Repatriations to Myanmar are supposed to be safe, voluntary, and dignified, according to a bilateral agreement. But Myanmar officials have repeatedly rejected reports of mass violence committed against the Rohingya, who are Muslims in a majority Buddhist country.

Two reporters for Reuters who documented a mass grave in Rakhine state, where the Rohingya are from, are now in prison, sentenced to seven-year terms. On Wednesday, Reuters reported that Vice President Mike Pence had told Myanmar’s leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, that the United States demanded better press freedoms in the country and that the persecution of the Rohingya was “without excuse.”

Given the reluctance of officials in Myanmar to admit to any systematic violence committed by the military, which ruled the country for nearly half a century and still wields considerable power, international human rights groups have expressed concern about the future well-being of any potential returnees.

A coalition of 42 humanitarian and civil society groups has deemed the repatriation process “dangerous and premature.”

“Most of all, refugees tell us that they are afraid,” said a statement from the International Rescue Committee, one of the nongovernmental organizations that signed the joint protest of the upcoming repatriation.

But Dr. Win Myat Aye, the social affairs minister of Myanmar, said in an interview that there would be no harm inflicted upon any repatriated Rohingya, 150 of whom would be processed each day.

The returnees could even return to their original homes, provided they still existed, Win Myat Aye said.

“It’s safe for them to live here,” he said. “They can live here for the long term.”

Most of the remaining Rohingya in Myanmar have been herded into bleak camps or have been prevented from leaving their villages. Education and health care are severely limited.

Win Myat Aye said Myanmar authorities had vetted an initial list of returnees submitted by the government of Bangladesh and found that 65 were “terrorists” who were not welcome back. The Myanmar government says that any violence last year was related to clearance operations against Rohingya insurgents, who launched coordinated attacks on police posts and an army base in August 2017.

The military-led pogroms against the Rohingya, aided by Buddhist civilians, killed thousands and left hundreds of villages razed by fire, according to international rights monitors. The mass violence followed decades of persecution of the Rohingya, who were stripped of their citizenship by a xenophobic military junta.

Waves of Rohingya fled to Bangladesh during previous bouts of repression. Some returned home, only to escape again last year when the frenzy of violence reached a crescendo.

“The history of the Rohingya in Myanmar is one filled with repeated episodes of violence, flight, and return,” Bachelet said. “We need to speak with one voice to stop this cycle from repeating itself again.”

SOURCE

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THE planet has tipped into its sixth mass extinction event and scientists warn we may have passed the point of no return

And we may have done nothing of the sort.  And do they seriously expect us to believe that "humans have wiped out about 60 per cent of the planet’s animal life since 1970"?  It's just speculation based on hokey statistics.  And the "sixth mass extinction event" is just a Greenie invention. And it must be one of the wildest prophecies yet that "more than two thirds of the world’s wildlife could be gone" in two years time.  The whole thing is transparent BS.  You would have to be mad to believe all their fantasy statistics

IT’S not a horror book, but the latest Living Planet report makes for some seriously frightening reading.

Perhaps the scariest statistic: humans have wiped out about 60 per cent of the planet’s animal life since 1970.

Equally worrying: more than two thirds of the world’s wildlife could be gone by 2020 if current trends continue.

The World Wildlife Fund and its various partners have tracked population changes in Earth’s animal species for decades and the details of the latest report are more grim than ever, they warn.

The Living Planet Index tracks more than 4000 species spread across nearly 17,000 populations. From 1970 to 2014, the number of animals with a backbone — birds, reptiles, amphibians, mammals and fish — plummeted across the globe, on average, by about 60 per cent.

For freshwater vertebrates, losses topped 80 per cent. Geographically, South and Central America have been hit hardest, with 89 per cent less wildlife in 2014 than in 1970.

But Australia’s region didn’t fare particularly well either. The report found that Australia’s Koala population is disappearing at a rate of about 20 per cent a decade.

Environmental degradation and what critics say is a lack of government oversight to protect koala habitats led environmentalists to declare the koala was “functionally extinct” in Queensland in 2016.

Australia’s deforestation along the east coast put us among the worst in the world and the only developed country on the list of big deforesters, according to the report.

MASS EXTINCTION EVENT

The index of extinction risk for five major groups — birds, mammals, amphibians, corals and an ancient family of plants called cycads — shows an accelerating slide towards oblivion. Depending on which categories are included, the current rate at which species are going extinct is 100 to 1000 times greater than only a few centuries ago.

By definition, this means that Earth has entered a mass extinction event. It is only the sixth such event in half-a-billion years — and this one has been led by humans.

Louise McRae from the Zoological Society of London worked with the WWF to produce the data which underpins the report. Speaking to ABC radio this morning she said human-led agriculture and exploitation was the overwhelming culprit.

“We can put the cause down to humans in some form or another,” she said.

“We looked at what was threatening these populations and the biggest cause was loss or fragmentation of their habitat, that’s the primary cause and the driving force of that is conversion of land for agriculture.”

The second biggest threat to species was over exploitation such as hunting, over fishing and the illegal wildlife trade.

In fact, the report was released the same day as China announced it is relaxing the ban on trade in rhinoceros and tiger parts for scientific, medical and cultural purposes.

The introduction of invasive species in certain environments was also a factor in the dramatic species decline.

Ms McRae noted the increased role of environmental groups in protecting wildlife habitats and called on world governments to do more to protect the planet’s biodiversity.

“We’ve actually got more land protected than ever before but it’s not enough to stem the decline,” she said. “So what this report is asking for is top level commitments by governments — something similar to the Paris Climate Accord — that is going to take the decline of biodiversity seriously.”

CROSSING THE LINE

In 2009, scientists weighed the impact of humanity’s expanding appetites on nine processes — known as Earth systems — within nature. Each has a critical threshold, the upper limit of a “safe operating space” for our species.

The do-not-cross red line for climate change, for example, is global warming of 1.5 degrees Celsius, according to a new UN report.

So far, we have clearly breached two of these so-called planetary boundaries: species loss, and imbalances in Earth’s natural cycles of nitrogen and phosphorous (mainly due to fertiliser use).

For two others, climate and land degradation, we have one foot in the red zone. Ocean acidification and freshwater supply are not far behind. As for new chemical pollutants such as endocrine disrupters, heavy metals, and plastics, we simply don’t know yet how much is too much.

More generally, the marginal capacity of Earth’s ecosystems to renew themselves has been far outstripped by humanity’s ecological footprint, which has nearly tripled in 50 years.

“In terms of a tipping point, for certain habitats, for certain ecosystems, for coral reefs for example, they are at a very critical stage. The alarm is quite real for certain areas of the planet,” Ms McRae told the ABC.

SOURCE


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Co-ed or single-sex schools? Are all-boys or all-girls schools still relevant?

Christopher Scanlon gives below a pretty good summary of the evidence that the social background of the pupils underlies the  degree of success that different schooling types have in getting pupils through their final exams.  And that is true because IQ underlies socio-economic status.  As Charles Murray showed decades ago to great outrage, the richer are smarter on average.

Scanlon does however treat social class very gingerly and thus overlooks the one thing that DOES give private schools of all types an advantage.  Particularly for boys, the friends they make at school will be the core of their friendship group for life.   And they will tend to marry their friends' sisters. So they will tend to have both bright friends and bright wives.  And that is gold for an easy progression through life.  They really will have class "privilege"


As a parent of a school-aged daughter it feels like I’ve engaged in, or overheard in playgrounds and kids’ parties, roughly a million conversations about the pros and cons of single sex schools vs co-ed schools.

The angst-ridden nature of these conversations would make you think that school choice is one of the most important decisions a parent is ever going to make for their child. Many of these conversations feature “facts” about the benefits of single-sex schooling.

But how well do these facts stand up to scrutiny? While single sex schools typically outperform co-educational schools in terms of academic results, it’s unclear whether this is due to the absence of the opposite sex or other factors, such as socio-economic status of parents.

Kids who attend well-resourced schools tend to do better academically than kids at poorer schools, unfair as that may be.

As most single-sex schools in Australia are private schools or select-entry schools, the benefits may have more to do with the socio-economic backgrounds of the kids, rather than the gender make-up.

Yet the results factor is most often brought up by parents in terms of gender exclusivity, fuelling anxiety about school choice.

One particularly entrenched view is that single-sex schools are good for girls’ science and maths education. Girls, it’s suggested, will “dumb down” to fit with persistent gender stereotypes about girls not being innately good at these subjects. But the evidence is hardly compelling.

Sociologist Dr Joanna Sikora from the Australian National University found that while girls at gender-segregated schools are slightly more likely to pursue science in their final years of schooling compared to their peers who attend co-ed schools, it’s unclear whether this has to do with the absence of boys.

Other factors, such as coming from a wealthier family and, in the case of physical sciences at least, being born overseas and speaking a language other than English at home, appear to be important factor in girls’ selection and performance in science subjects (not the gender of fellow students).

And even accepting that girls from single sex schools are more likely to opt for science subjects in their senior years, it doesn’t seem to have a lasting impact.

Dr Sikora found that while boys attending single-sex schools are likely to express an interest in careers in medicine or physiotherapy compared to boys at co-ed schools, girls attending single-sex schools don’t aspire to careers in science any more than girls who share classrooms with boys. How lasting the effects of single-sex schooling are is a theme that comes up in other research.

Dr Katherine Dix from the Australian Council of Education Research compared NAPLAN literacy and numeracy results for boys, girls and co-educational schools at years 3, 5 and 7 and found that while students attending single-sex schools start out strong, the benefits declined over time.

In Year 3, for example, students at all-girls schools start out 7.2 school terms ahead in reading compared to their peers at co-educational schools, while students at all-boy’s schools are 4.6 terms ahead of their co-ed peers.

But by Grade 7, girls at all-girls schools are only 1.9 terms ahead and boys at single-sex schools are than half a term ahead of their co-ed peers. Similar results apply to numeracy. Students in Grade 3 at an all-boys school start out 4.3 terms ahead of their peers at co-educational schools while girls start out 3.1 terms ahead.

But by Grade 7, the boys from single-sex schools are only 2.8 terms ahead and girls are less than a term ahead of their co-ed peers.

“The most important outcome of having single-sex schools in any educational system”, says Dr Dix, “is not that they may be better, but rather that they offer families choice.”

Schools, however, do more than provide academic outcomes. They also play a role in the development of children’s identity and socialisation. And when it comes to single sex schools, that includes a strong pitch to parents about how the school will inculcate gender identity.

Single sex school marketing often includes statements about the type of young men and young women schools will produce.

Forget “gender whisperers” as Prime Minister Scott Morrison labelled strategies to support transgender students in schools, many single sex schools use a gender megaphone to tell the world how they will shape student’s gender identity.

While many parents might regard that as a plus, the ideal of gender they promote — sport-loving future male CEOs or community-minded, forthright yet agreeable, young woman leader —may not suit every student.

What about the artsy boy, with little interests in sports? Or the young woman who feels constrained by "traditional feminine" expectations of behaviour?

While the benefits or otherwise of single-sex schooling may be up for debate, what is clear is that single-sex education is in decline in Australia, and has been for some time.

According to Dr Katherine Dix’s work, data shows that that the proportion of students from independent schools attending single-sex schools fell from 31 per cent in 1985 to just 12 per cent of students in 2015.

If your head is spinning at the research results, a better approach might be to consult another kind of expert.

Rather than worrying about the advice of educational consultants, school marketing departments or, dare I say it, the academic researchers, my wife and I have decided when the time comes, we will consult the experts in our own house.

I’m talking about our children. Involving them the question about school choice is about empowering them to think about the kind of learning environment they want.

It’s about finding out who’s in their friendship network. If you daughter has many friendships with boys or your son socialises with girls, then these friendships may well be key to their engagement with schooling — and their academic success.

Ask them about what subjects they like best, and about what they do. Do they take opportunities to show leadership, or do they work best when they’re supporting and following?

If nothing else, including your child in this discussion and really listening to and observing them during it, show them you take their views seriously, and help them to begin a lifetime of making important decisions for themselves.

After all, they’re the ones who are going to be most affected by your decision.

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Energy storage capacity set to soar, 300 UK-based companies involved in new sector

More slippery Green/Left statistics.  They give battery statistics in MW (Megawatts) and GW (Gigawatts). And they mean it as they do so repeatedly.  And it is the post of a renewables website so it is official, not just some journalistic muddle.

But MW and GW tells you nothing.  You want to know for HOW LONG you can supply current at that rate.  You need to give your figures in MWh (megawatt hours).  So the figures below are wholly meaningless from any practical viewpoint.  If they supply current at any sort of high rate, batteries regularly go "flat" in a matter of minutes.  And what use is that?

The Green/Left HAVE to deceive -- because reality constantly undermines their claims.  And it doesn't bother them to lie.  They believe that "There's no such thing as right and wrong" anyway.  They are a very poisonous lot


A new database to be launched by RenewableUK today shows a massive increase in battery storage capacity is set to take place - enough to power nearly half a million electric vehicles.

Planning applications in the UK to install just 2MW of battery storage capacity in 2012 have soared since then to a cumulative total of 6,874MW in 2018. (92% of applications for storage projects are approved first time).

The database will allow RenewableUK members to access comprehensive information on nearly 400 UK energy storage projects. It will show where operational projects are located on an interactive map, as well as schemes being planned and under construction, including those sited alongside solar, wind and tidal energy projects.

It also reveals that the average capacity of applications for new battery storage projects has increased from 10MW in 2016 to 27MW today, and that more than 300 UK-based businesses are operating in this new sector.

3.3GW of storage capacity (including hydro projects) is now operational in the UK and a further 5.4.GW has planning consent -  including 4.8GW of battery storage, which is enough capacity to fully charge 480,000 electric vehicles.

The database will be launched at the first joint conference on energy storage to be held by RenewableUK and the Solar Trade Association, in London today.

The conference will explore what our energy system would need from storage to achieve 100% of our power from renewable generation, and the new technologies that could get us there. Developers, investors, representatives from Government, National Grid, Ofgem, legal professionals and policy analysts will examine the new business models and energy services which are already up and running, and the shape of those to come, as well as the potential obstacles standing in the way of the rapid development of a low-carbon system.

RenewableUK’s Executive Director Emma Pinchbeck said:

“The energy sector is breaking new ground by making an unprecedented transition to a clean, flexible system which will power our country in the future. Energy storage is already playing a key part in that, from small local projects to grid-scale schemes. We’re decentralising the way the power system works and, at our conference, we’ll hear how an increased share of wind, solar and storage on the grid could transform UK energy markets”. 

The Chief Executive of the Solar Trade Association Chris Hewett said:

“Energy storage has already begun to unlock the full potential of wind and solar energy, and it’s happening faster than almost anyone anticipated. It’s clear that storage will be the foundation of a smart, flexible and decarbonised future energy system, and this conference is an excellent opportunity to hear straight from the experts and business leaders who are working to make that future a reality”.

SOURCE

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Hottest October day (28th) in 120 years: Queensland swelters as mercury tops 40C for the TENTH day in a row - and it's not over yet

One day is newsworthy? This is just nitpicking.  I have been enjoying springtime in Brisbane for a total of 40 years and the current season seems no different from any other.  We always get some warm days and some cool days and a temperture of 32 degrees C is no outlier for Brisbane.  34C is in fact about the usual summer afternoon temperature in Brisbane

At the time of writing in the afternoon of Monday 29th, it is in fact rather cool in Brisbane for the time of the year. I actually had to put a shirt on.  My thermometer says 22C.  We have just had rather a lot of rain too. It's been raining off and on for the last two days in fact.  No drought in Brisbane!

Monstrous heatwave, my foot


Australia's north is continuing to endure a monstrous heatwave, with no relief in sight.

Central Queensland registered 40C temperatures for the tenth consecutive day on Sunday, but the area will see extreme heat until Thursday.

The soaring temperatures shattered October records that had been in place for the region for more than 120 years, with one regional town topping out at nearly 44C.

'In Brisbane we'll probably see a few showers develop late this evening, it will be pretty cloudy as well,' Bureau of Meteorology forecaster Chris Joseph told the Courier Mail.

'It will probably be a better chance for showers tomorrow and pretty cool as well.'

The stormy skies in the state capital will come after it too basked in sunshine on Friday and Saturday. Crowds gathered to escape the heat at Streets Beach in the the city's South Bank Parklands as they sweated through temperatures of 32C on Friday.

Australia's major cities also had a dry Sunday, with Hobart the only capital to register any rainfall at all.

'Some locations have had two to three times October's rainfall in a week, but others haven't seen any significant falls. Overall, the cropping season is looking like one of the 10 driest on record,' climatologist Felicity Gamble told Daily Mail Australia.

The record-breaking dry spell could be a sign of things to come.

The Bureau of Meterology has predicted higher than average temperatures throughout the summer months for nearly the entire country.

The heatwave brings with it particularly grim conditions for the country's farmers, who have been suffering through a major drought.

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Forget fast food – air pollution could be causing childhood obesity (?)

Groan!  These stupid studies of roadside pollution never stop coming out.  This latest one ("Longitudinal associations of in utero and early life near-roadway air pollution with trajectories of childhood body mass index") is a wonderful example of sophisticated statistics being wasted on crap data.

The authors went to great trouble to get defensible data but ignored the elephant in the room:  income.  The people who live by busy roads are generally those who can afford no better:  The poor.  So this is a study of poverty.  And that poor people have worse health in all sorts of ways  is probably the most frequent finding in health research.  So their findings are most parsimoniously explained as yet another demonstration that poor people have worse health.  There is no need to invoke nitrogen oxide exposure as an explanation of anything.  Their findings prove NOTHING about NOx exposure. They are just an example of the hoary statistical fallacy that correlation is causation.

Note this recent study: "It’s poverty, not individual choice, that is driving extraordinary obesity levels"

Had they gathered a measure of income for each family they would have been able to use various statistical techniques (I personally like partial correlation) to remove the effect of income and see if there was anything else left to explain.  But they had no measure of income so could not do that.  If they had such data my guess would be that their quite weak effects would have vanished entirely once the effect of poverty was removed.

They did have a measure of education but some well educated people are poor and some poorly educated people are rich.  Bill Gates was a dropout and there are plenty of Ph.D. burger flippers around these days.  So education is not a reliable proxy for income.

The intellectual level of pollution researchers seems to be permanently stuck in the basement.  If a student had handed this in to me for an assignment, I would have failed it


Exposing children to nitrogen dioxide air pollution from vehicles in the early stages of their life could increase the risk of them becoming obese.

The new research, lead by a team from the University of Southern California and published in the Environmental Health journal, studied 2,318 children the region to see whether there was a link.

It found children living on or near busy main roads in the first year of their life were almost a kilogramme heavier by the age of 10 than those with low exposure.

The scientists were not able to examine how the harmful chemicals increased weight gain in the children but said inflammation of the brain could have caused anxiety-induced overeating and changes in fat metabolism..

They said other factors such as gender, ethnicity and parental education are unlikely that variations in diet could explain the strong link found.

A recent report suggested spending a long weekend in some of Europe’s famous cities could have the same health impacts as smoking up to four cigarettes.

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Women in physics: Why there’s a problem and how we can solve it

The title above and the excerpt below show that people with nothing better to do are still chewing away at this old issue -- even though all the attempted "solutions" have failed -- as they admit below.

But the first issue is surely why it matters.  There are many women in physics so clearly those who are inclined towards a physics career can have one if they give it priority.  There is certainly a lot of official encouragement of it.  So the issue is not whether women can contribute to physics.  Many can and do. What is at issue is the PROPORTION of women in physics.  So why does THAT matter? The proportion of women in physics is low but what is lost by that?

Feminists claim glibly that many valuable potential contributions to physics by women are not being made and see that as the loss to us all.  But where is the evidence for that? Given that there are large numbers of women already in physics could it not be that those women who have a serious avocation for physics are already there?  It certainly seems possible so the feminist claim seems nothing more than an unproven assertion.  Some proof would be nice -- but I am not holding my breath.

But feminists are routinely uninterested in proof for their various assertions so my call for proof in this matter will cause eye-rolling only.

So the real motivation for concern would appear to be the old falsehood that all men are equal -- and women are just as equal.  If that were true it would make some sense to expect equal representation of women in  all occupations whatsoever.  But it isn't true. All men are different, not equal and men and women are systematically different too.  The fact that different proportions of men and women are found in almost all occupations is ample evidence of that.  When do we let the evidence count?

And the relevant difference between men and women in physics is plain to see.  Physics is math-intensive and women are woefully outnumbered in the top tiers of mathematical ability.  The leptokurtic distribution of female IQ -- and mathematical ability in particular -- makes the small average difference between male and female mathematical ability translate into a large difference in absolute numbers at the top of the range. Some women have made and will continue to make significant contributions to physical knowledge and understanding but they will ALWAYS be a small minority in physics.  Given the different abilities between men and women on average, it cannot be otherwise.  Attempts to "solve" the difference are flailing at the wind. Flailing will continue to go on but it will be just as unsuccessful in the future as it has been in the past.

Finally, I must say something about the specific article below. They mention the paper by the terminally incorrect Alessandro Strumia. But in all the condemnations of his wickedness that I have seen (e.g. here), nobody mentions the powerful statistical evidence he presented. They content themselves with emotional reactions -- which is one of the things Strumia accused them of! Below is one of his graphs, showing how much more the work of male physicists is cited compared to the work of female physicists



Citations are the normal criterion of excellence throughout academe.  You can get a less extreme difference by including  arXiv articles, as Hossenfelder does, but such articles are not not peer-reviewed so that one has to resort to them to elevate the work of women is in itself something of a defeat.  Given their unknown quality, it seems likely that they are most often cited only to rebut them.

So how do the authors below reply to Strumia's careful research?  By mentioning that only three woman had received the Nobel prize in physics in the 117-year history of that prize. I would have thought that that fact rather supported Strumia! But in any case, thinking that selected instances can invalidate an average is a profoundly unmathematical way of thinking so is in itself surely an example of why women rarely do well in physics.  With friends like that ....


Women are still wildly under-represented in physics – but it doesn't have to be like that. Our special report looks at the steps we can take to improve things

WHEN we were 16 years old, my friend Karen and I were interviewed for an educational video. With our hair thick with styling mousse, pale blue eyeliner and misplaced teen swagger, we explained why we had chosen to study physics. We were the only two girls in our school that year who had. Our video was going to inspire other girls to do the same. We were going to change the world.

Thirty years on, it is safe to say our ambition failed. In 2016, no girls studied A level physics in almost half of the schools in England that admit girls. In the same year, just one-third of schools had two or more girls taking the subject. It is a similar picture across much of the world. Despite all the initiatives to attract more girls into physics, the proportion remains stubbornly low.

Physics and sexism has been thrust into the spotlight in recent weeks by the incendiary comments made by theoretical physicist Alessandro Strumia. At a workshop on gender in physics, of all places, at CERN near Geneva in Switzerland, he claimed that women were less capable than men at physics research. The day after he was suspended by CERN, Donna Strickland became only the third woman to receive the Nobel prize in physics in its 117-year history, sharing this year’s award for her pioneering work on lasers.

All this paints a picture of physics as a career that is unwelcoming to women to start with and isolating for many of those who do make it. But why is this still the case?

SOURCE