Satellite information reveals Antarctica ice thinning at ‘extraordinary rate’

This tired old con again.  A key Leftist modus operandi is to tell only half the story, leaving out the bits that contradict  Leftism. It is simple dishonesty designed to deceive people who are not well-informed on poliical issues.

What they ignore here is Zwally's finding that Antactic ice is ON THE WHOLE increasing and that the relatively small area they concentrates on -- West Antarctica -- has substantial sub-surface vulcanism that inevitably causes some melting.  You would melt too if you had a volcano under you

Antarctica is losing ice at a rapid rate, according to new satellite information.

Glaciers are now sliding into the sea because of the warming Southern Ocean as ice vanishes five times faster than it did in the 1990s.

The West Antarctic ice sheet used to be stable a few decades ago, but new evidence shows that up to a quarter of it is now thinning.

In the worst-hit locations, more than 100 metres of ice thickness has been lost.

Completely losing the West Antarctic ice sheet would result in global sea levels rising by about five metres.

This amount of sea level rise would drown coastal cities around the world.

Scientists think sea levels are now rising at the extreme end of what was predicted to happen gradually just a few years ago, and current losses of ice are said to be doubling every decade.

This research has been published in the journal of Geophysical Research Letters.

It describes how scientists used satellites images to compare the sizes of ice sheets from 1992 to 2017 with weather information.

Professor Andy Shepherd, who led the study, said: “From a standing start in the 1990s, thinning has spread inland progressively over the past 25 years — that is rapid in glaciological terms.

“The speed of drawing down ice from an ice sheet used to be spoken of in geological timescales, but that has now been replaced by people’s lifetimes.”

Prof Shepherd also stressed some glaciers, such as the Pine Island and Thwaites glacier basins, are past the halfway point of melting.

This new work should help researchers to more accurately pinpoint where sea levels will rise so appropriate preparations can be made to try and save affected areas.

The underside of glaciers are thought to be melting because the sea is too hot, and not even snowfall can counteract the damage.

Prof Shepherd added: “In parts of Antarctica, the ice sheet has thinned by extraordinary amounts.”

He now thinks West Antarctica melting has caused 5mm of sea level rise since 1992.

He concluded: “Before we had useful satellite measurements from space, most glaciologists thought the polar ice sheets were pretty isolated from climate change and didn’t change rapidly at all. “Now we know that is not true.”



The scientific allergy to the truth

It is amazing to me how scientists and other academics so often prefer self-serving myths to reality -- despite the truth being in plain sight. I encountered that repeatedly during my research career in the late 20th century.

The biggest example of that pig-headedness in recent times is the absurd global warming theory.  A majority of scientists seem to accept it as truth despite the evidence being so conclusively against it.  Its central claim -- that CO2 in the atmosphere warms the earth -- is starkly contradicted by the "grand hiatus" from 1945 to 1975-- when over a 30 year period, CO2 levels leapt while temperature levels remained flat.  That huge disconfirmation would be fatal to a truly scientific theory.

And from 1950 to the present day, academic psychologists are determined to believe that conservatives are in some way mentally defective.  Psychiatrists, for instance, have never ceased "diagnosing" Mr Trump as mentally defective in some way, with NYC "shrink" Bandy Lee in the vanguard.

But perhaps the most extraordinary belief of academic psychologists -- going all the way back to 1950 --is the still frequent claim that conservatives are the "authoritarians" of the world, despite the immeasurably largest example of authoritarianism in C20 being the ghastly Soviet system.  Were the Soviets conservative?

And the old bit of Soviet disinformation to the effect that the National socialist ideology of Hitler's Germany was "Rightist" is still generally believed -- despite the fact that all of Hitler's major doctrines (antisemitism, eugenics, close government control of industry etc.) were characteristic of the Left in Hitler's day.

So it must come as no great surprise that a recent great  breakthrough in historical scholarship should be greeted with academic disbelief. The Voynich manuscript (MS) has at last been convincingly and extensively deciphered. The MS was a vast work by medieval standards, with copious illustrations that should have given a highroad into the meaning of the text

But no-one could "crack" the meaning of the text.  It appeared to be an alphabet of some sort but nobody knew how the letters sounded so their meaning remained unknown.  Generations of scholars, cryptographers and computer experts had tried to "crack" the code involved, with nothing emerging that made sense of more than a few lines of the MS.

Than along came Gerard Cheshire, a young English linguist who claimed to have deciphered the whole thing after only 2 weeks of work -- by making some very simple assumptions.  That was an enormous slight on the reputations of all the big names who had gone before him so was bound to be disbelieved.  And it has been.  Scholar after scholar has rubbished Cheshire's work.

Cheshire first circulated his findings in 2017 so he is aware of the criticisms of his work and has replied to them.  But the criticisms are not at all fatal to his findings. Cheshire foolishly claimed that the pidgin Latin in which the MS was written was widely used in Europe. That is unlikely but not necessary to his argument.  I would claim that it was a form of pidgin Latin that was used either in Italy or in Aragon, as Aragon dominated some parts of Italy in the Middle Ages.  That the Pidgin Latin of Aragon might have absorbed some words from other pidgins of the times surely poses no difficulty.

A more serious criticism is that Cheshire's translations are to a degree speculative. They are. But that is normal in philology. Words change both their meanings and their forms over time and getting back to the particular meaning at a particular time is no easy matter. So all language reconstructions are to a degree speculative. There is even debate over the correct translation of some parts of Beowulf, which is written in Old English and is generally well-understood. And let us not forget the difficulties of translating even modern German words into modern English words adequately

But the journal article (linked below) is the best evidence for Cheshire's claims. I wonder how many critics have actually read through the vast academic journal article concerned. I have.  And I find it most impressive.  Cheshire repeatedly shows that his interpretation of the "alphabet" used in the MS makes sense.  He shows that the words produced by it are Latinate -- similar to other evolved versions of Latin. 

Once he has transformed the MS words into our familiar Latin alphabet, however, he sometimes has to speculate on the meaning of the word at that particular time and place.  And he makes a good fist of that.  And he does that over and over again.  And it is that repeated success that is so convicing. It shows that he has got the key to getting it right.  If he were wrong he might get a few lucky hits but showing that his system works over and over again throughout the MS could only come from his understanding of the MS being correct.

So why are so many academics rubbishing his work?  Jealousy, basically. That he did so easily what they agonizingly failed to do is a big blow to their self-esteem.  And they want to avoid that blow by disbelieving it.  Freud called it defensiveness. JR


Tariffs -- The Taxes That Made America Great

Patrick J. Buchanan over-eggs the pudding below.  He writes as if tariffs are uniformly desirable.  They are not.  Tariffs are always a tradeoff.  You sacrifice low prices in Wal-mart for some other objective -- maintaining defence related industries at home, for instance.  Economists have always recognized that.  Buchanan is not the bearer of some new revelation.  If your defence relies heavily on cutting edge aerospace industries, for instance, it is reasonable and proper to ensure that the products it uses are available at home.

That is in fact an area where successive administrations have been remiss.  Rare earth minerals are vital in modern electronic devices.  So what is the main source of them at the moment?  China!  How crazy can you get?  America has plenty of such minerals in the ground so it is only a matter of the miners being able to make a buck getting them out of the ground for all America's needs in that area to be produced locally.  A tariff on the import of such minerals from China would achieve that objective.

Mr Trump has articulated very clearly why and how he uses tariffs -- which he in fact does sparingly.  He wants fairer trade wich China -- so that they stop trying to keep American goods such as motor vehicles out while their goods come freely into America.  His second objective is to avoid the social disruption that happens when a whole industry suddenly dies -- which has happened at various places in the mid-West.  He wants transitions to be gradual rather than sudden so that the people affected have time to adjust.

Both those objectives are perfectly rational and no surprise to the economics profession.  The important thing is that you have a clear idea of what you want to achieve in levying tariffs.  Mr Trump has a crystal clear idea of that.  Levying tariffs willy-nilly would be a great folly.

As his limo carried him to work at the White House Monday, Larry Kudlow could not have been pleased with the headline in The Washington Post: "Kudlow Contradicts Trump on Tariffs."

The story began: "National Economic Council Director Lawrence Kudlow acknowledged Sunday that American consumers end up paying for the administration's tariffs on Chinese imports, contradicting President Trump's repeated inaccurate claim that the Chinese foot the bill."

A free trade evangelical, Kudlow had conceded on Fox News that consumers pay the tariffs on products made abroad that they purchase here in the U.S. Yet that is by no means the whole story.

A tariff may be described as a sales or consumption tax the consumer pays, but tariffs are also a discretionary and an optional tax.

If you choose not to purchase Chinese goods and instead buy comparable goods made in other nations or the USA, then you do not pay the tariff.

China loses the sale. This is why Beijing, which runs $350 billion to $400 billion in annual trade surpluses at our expense is howling loudest. Should Donald Trump impose that 25% tariff on all $500 billion in Chinese exports to the USA, it would cripple China's economy. Factories seeking assured access to the U.S. market would flee in panic from the Middle Kingdom.

Tariffs were the taxes that made America great. They were the taxes relied upon by the first and greatest of our early statesmen, before the coming of the globalists Woodrow Wilson and FDR.

Tariffs, to protect manufacturers and jobs, were the Republican Party's path to power and prosperity in the 19th and 20th centuries, before the rise of the Rockefeller Eastern liberal establishment and its embrace of the British-bred heresy of unfettered free trade.

The Tariff Act of 1789 was enacted with the declared purpose, "the encouragement and protection of manufactures." It was the second act passed by the first Congress led by Speaker James Madison. It was crafted by Alexander Hamilton and signed by President Washington.

After the War of 1812, President Madison, backed by Henry Clay and John Calhoun and ex-Presidents Jefferson and Adams, enacted the Tariff of 1816 to price British textiles out of competition, so Americans would build the new factories and capture the booming U.S. market. It worked.

Tariffs financed Mr. Lincoln's War. The Tariff of 1890 bears the name of Ohio Congressman and future President William McKinley, who said that a foreign manufacturer "has no right or claim to equality with our own. ... He pays no taxes. He performs no civil duties."

That is economic patriotism, putting America and Americans first.

The Fordney-McCumber Tariff gave Presidents Warren Harding and Calvin Coolidge the revenue to offset the slashing of Wilson's income taxes, igniting that most dynamic of decades — the Roaring '20s.

That the Smoot-Hawley Tariff caused the Depression of the 1930s is a New Deal myth in which America's schoolchildren have been indoctrinated for decades.

The Depression began with the crash of the stock market in 1929, nine months before Smoot-Hawley became law. The real villain: The Federal Reserve, which failed to replenish that third of the money supply that had been wiped out by thousands of bank failures.

Milton Friedman taught us that.

A tariff is a tax, but its purpose is not just to raise revenue but to make a nation economically independent of others, and to bring its citizens to rely upon each other rather than foreign entities.

The principle involved in a tariff is the same as that used by U.S. colleges and universities that charge foreign students higher tuition than their American counterparts.

What patriot would consign the economic independence of his country to the "invisible hand" of Adam Smith in a system crafted by intellectuals whose allegiance is to an ideology, not a people?

What great nation did free traders ever build?

Free trade is the policy of fading and failing powers, past their prime. In the half-century following passage of the Corn Laws, the British showed the folly of free trade.

They began the second half of the 19th century with an economy twice that of the USA and ended it with an economy half of ours, and equaled by a Germany, which had, under Bismarck, adopted what was known as the American System.

Of the nations that have risen to economic preeminence in recent centuries — the British before 1850, the United States between 1789 and 1914, post-war Japan, China in recent decades — how many did so through free trade? None. All practiced economic nationalism.

The problem for President Trump?

Once a nation is hooked on the cheap goods that are the narcotic free trade provides, it is rarely able to break free. The loss of its economic independence is followed by the loss of its political independence, the loss of its greatness and, ultimately, the loss of its national identity.

Brexit was the strangled cry of a British people that had lost its independence and desperately wanted it back.


Are eggs bad for you again?

There was a great panic in the '90s and thereabouts that eating eggs could give you heart attacks -- Because they were chock-full of that evil cholesterol.  And people took that very seriously.  Once that old ticker stops ticking, that is the end of you.  The life support system for your brain is switched off. So, to their great rage, the chicken farmers lost a lot of business

Over the years however new studies came out that exonerated the old cackleberry.  So bacon and egg breakfasts are still allegedly wrong but not because of the eggs. NOTHING could be as evil as bacon!

I really should stop my bad habit of reading the medical journals but lately the old scare has had a bit of a revival.  A big study has come out with a lot of very small effects that incriminate eggs. See here and here.  I am tired of putting up nonsense reports in detail so I will not this time reproduce abstracts. Those links will get you the findings in all their glorious complexity.

For a start we are talking about effects that are probably too small to be taken seriously at all:  "The absolute differences in mortality and cardiovascular disease risks that we saw for dietary patterns that involve higher cholesterol intake ranged between about 1% and 4% over 17.5 years of follow-up."

And cholesterol does NOT give you heart attacks:  "When you look at the coronary heart disease end point alone instead of all forms of cardiovascular disease, you don’t see a significant association between dietary cholesterol and coronary heart disease"  If so, why are eggs bad?

But we in fact don't have to worry about any of the results from the study. It is a load of bull, to put it bluntly.  How so?  It is a meta-analysis of 6 studies so getting uniform demographic controls under those circumstances was "ambitious".  And at least some of the 6 studies has no control for income at all.  So you have no way of knowing whether you are looking at an egg-consumption effect or a poverty effect.

If poor people are less respectful of official dietary dictates and recommendations (they are) it could be that the big egg eaters are the poor.  Eggs are cheap food. When I buy eggs it costs me around 30c per egg.  And a 3-egg omelette is a pretty good breakfast. Middle class people, in contrast, would often be aware of the great cholesterol beast threatening their health and would be having lots of nuts and broccoli to eat instead of bacon & eggs.  Sad souls!

So it's my conclusion that all the study really shows is that poor people have worse health, which is arguably the most replicated finding in the whole epidemiological literature.  It tells us NOTHING about eggs or cholesterol generally


Lost someone to Fox News? Science says they may be addicted to anger

Linda Rodriguez McRobbie has an article in the Boston Globe under the above heading.  It is a long article but it is mainly an account of how anger works physiologically.  No evidence at all is offered to justify the claim that Fox news listeners are particularly angry.  

She has just one case study of a man who became more angry after listening to Rush Limnaugh.  But you can "prove" anything from one case

I reproduce below her few paragraohs that have some possible relevance to her contention. In the third paragraph she makes  a case that Americans are angrier than they were but quite overlooks that all the anger may be coming from Leftist hatred of Donald J. Trump.

The lack of self-insight among Leftists is truly crashing. Amid the daily outbursts of fury from the Leftist media at everything the President says or does, the mentally blind Ms McRobbie overlooks all that and in a perfect display of projection says that it is CONSERVATIVES who are characterized by anger.

Conservatives direct reasoned arguments and some mockery at Leftists but that constitutes "hate" appparently.  NO criticism of Leftism is allowed. Linda's article proves only how heavily she is beset by the usual Leftist defence mechanisms of projection, compartmentalization and denial.  But I suppose that I am being "angry" in saying that.

While all partisan news outlets follow the emotionally exploitative playbook, Sobieraj says, right-wing outlets have so far deployed it with more success — talk radio is around 90 percent conservative. Rage disrupts logical thought, reducing complex issues to black and white answers: build the wall, lock her up, make it great. However, the polemical nature of right-wing rhetoric may be pushing people on the left to react accordingly.

When anger addicts find a medium that resonates with them, they may not recognize how emotionally affected they are by the fiery rhetoric. “It doesn’t sound like outrage when you agree with it,” says Sobieraj. “It sounds like someone truth-telling and so it feels great — that’s why this content is successful.”

Inundated by extreme viewpoints designed to stoke emotions, Americans may be feeling more threatened, and therefore, more irate. A 2016 Esquire/NBC survey found that half of all Americans were angrier than they had been the year before; 31 percent of respondents were enraged by something in the news a few times a day, while 37 percent were angry once a day. Meanwhile, acts of road rage involving firearms have more than doubled since 2014, according to The Trace.



The NYT on free speech

Their supercilious writer below, Kara Swisher, is perfectly correct but largely irrelevant. Conservatives such as Mr Trump do often express their concerns in free speech terms but what they are basically objecting to is political bigotry.  They object to Leftists censoring their words.  They object to politically discriminatory treatment.  They object to being discriminated against on social media.  

It cannot be long before conservatives start to us use anti-discrimination law to pull the social media censors up hard.  The range of categories that get anti-discrimination protection is ever widening and it just needs one Southern State government to add conservatives to the list of protected categories for the social media companies to be in big trouble.  It might not even need new legislation

I’m sorry to be the one to have to tell the president, but someone has to: Social media is not the public square, not even a virtual one.

Not Facebook. Not Reddit. Not YouTube. And definitely not Twitter, where a few days after Facebook announced it was barring some extremist voices like Alex Jones, President Trump furiously tapped out: “I am continuing to monitor the censorship of AMERICAN CITIZENS on social media platforms. This is the United States of America — and we have what’s known as FREEDOM OF SPEECH! We are monitoring and watching, closely!!”

He can monitor (yes, that’s definitely a creepy word) and watch all he wants, but it will not matter one bit. Because the First Amendment requires only that the government not make laws that restrict freedom of speech for its citizens.

Here’s the whole text if you need a refresher — and anyway, it’s kind of short: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”

With all the loud opinions and screechy videos and belligerent tweets — and that’s just our president on any given Sunday — many people have mixed up the actual free-speech rights of “AMERICAN CITIZENS” with the ability of loudmouths and bullies to spew whatever they like to tens of millions of people any time of day or night.

The confusion is understandable. Those inventive entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley, with their smooth libertarian groove and anything-goes tone, let users huff and puff away so much that you would think that they were actually committed to the idea of a free-for-all. And they were, until it became clear that humanity could get really ugly and out of control pretty quickly and turn it into a Free Speech Thunderdome.



Conservative critics of Trump's tariffs are WRONG

The received economic wisdom that has come down to us from David Ricardo onwards is that tariffs are uniformly impoverishing overall. And those who understand comparative advantage and the various theories involved can usually see only minor holes and exceptions in that theory. And it is true that in a fully free-trade world the theory would be 100% correct.  But we don't live in that world, nor are we likely to

Some critics allow that Trump's tariffs are reasonable as a temporary measure -- designed to coerce other nations to adopt freer trade policies.  That is certainly the headline aim of the tariffs and is sufficiently persuasive to most conservative commentators for them to adopt a "wait and see" posture.

But I believe that there is a warrant for tariffs of a PERMANENT nature.  And it is not a million miles away from popular thinking, as distinct from economists' thinking.

My hypothesis is that there is a trade-off between tariffs and unemployment such that as tariffs go up unemployment goes down. That sounds a crazy connection but it has been true since even before Trump's inauguration.  As soon as his election win was announced, Trump started to talk tariffs and almost immediately employment began to look up.  And what do we see now after more than 2 years of Trump? An almost unbelievable low of 3.6% unemployment.  Around the same time half way through the Obama administration, the figure was 8%.

You have to go back to the postwar boom under Ike to get much better than 3.6% --  and unemployment at that time was materially affected by the many workers who had been taken out of the workforce through death, disease and injury in WWII.  War is a heck of a bad way to maximize employment but it does have that effect.

So in the Trump administration, we do seem to have have a continuing demonstration that a tough tariff regime has led to reduced unemployment.

But is it all coincidence?  Obama diehards say that the low unemployment is a continuing effect of what Obama did -- though they can't name any mechanism for that.

One possible pointer to it not being a coincidence is the huge prospering of America behind the high tariff walls of the 19th century.  The tariffs were arguably the real cause of the civil war but despite that setback America developed rapidly from its primary-producing beginnings and was soon in a position not inferior to the major European powers.

So was unemployment low then?  We have no reliable figures to test that but the rate of industrial expansion strongly suggests that it was.  Millions of jobs were created.

So I think we now have two points of evidence in favour of my hypothesis.  But there is another example that is really stark.  What would you say to unemployment levels in an affluent society that stayed BELOW 2%?  Impossible?  It's not.  That is the situation that prevailed in Australia under Robert Menzies during the 1950s -- an era often remembered by those who were there (I was) as a golden age.

And guess what?  It was also an era of heavy protective tariffs.  There was a deliberate will to have everything possible made in Australia.  And if it could not reasonably be made in Australia, it could always be obtained from Britain.

That sounds all rather quaint to modern ears but the policy was underpinned by memories of wartime shortages.  During WWII, many things could simply NOT be imported.  Australia is a long way from anywhere else and so there was large scope for cargo-ships to be sunk by hostile powers.  So making as much as you could locally seemed not only obvious but urgent.

So the high tariff policy was not motivated  by an attack on unemployment but it did have that effect.

Now WHY would high tariffs cause minimal unemployment?  It's obvious psychologically.  If a businessman has a firm assurance that he will not be allowed to go broke by the sudden presence of cheaper goods from overseas, he will feel very easy in his mind about setting up shop.  He will feel confident that his investment in new manufacturing businesses will pay. And so all sorts of profitable businesses sprang up in Australia and searched for workers to staff them. There were jobs galore on offer and most people had a choice of what sort of job they wanted to do.  I remember myself the ease I had in finding jobs.

So that is the theory:  Tariffs stimulate business confidence and confident businessmen go on a hiring spree in their keenness to make money

It remains true that tariffs increase prices but the tradeoff of having most workers working is surely an at least equal compensation.  Dollars and cents are not the whole of personal or national welfare.

And the effect of the dollars and cents should not be exaggerated.  Despite its tariffs, Australia was in the '50s one of the most prosperous places in the world.  Australia is a major primary producer so there was often steak on the dinner table, most houses had a substantial backyard where you could grow most of your fruit and vegetables if you were so inclined, you could get on a steam train and go interstate to visit family and friends at vacation time, there was always the family car for local trips, the newspapers had lots of interesting news, particularly from overseas,  you could hear all the latest songs on the radio, the ladies all had pretty dresses and even in small towns there were several bars where one could drink cold beer after a hard day's work.  What else is there? -- JR


Criticizing Australia

Under the heading "What the fear of 'getting Yassmin-ed' says about free speech and racism in Australia", there is a long article by Pakistani writer Sami Shah which says that recent immigrants to Australia risk a lot of abuse if they criticize Australia.  To him that is proof of racism.

It is nothing of the sort.  For at least the whole of the 20th century and beyond Australians have been angered by criticism of their country.  And that criticism mostly came from English immigrants -- birthing the epithet "Whingeing Pom".

Since both those terms are little known outside Australia I guess I should explain:  A "Pom" is an English person and whingeing is the sort of complaining vocalization you get from an overtired baby.  The expression is in other words a very derogatory term for an English person who criticizes Australia.  And the English are THE SAME RACE as old Australians.  So it is hardly racist.

The sensitivity to criticism arose from the unceasing flow of English-born immigrants to Australia.  When things are done differently in Australia, Poms tend to assume and say that the Australian way is inferior. After hearing such claims many times Australians lose patience with that and tend to ask the "Pom" why he doesn't go back to England.  Which normally leads to a backtrack.

So the hostility to criticism that Mr Shah describes is due to the criticisms, not the speaker. It is not unique to any ethnic group. Mr Shah simply does not know his ethnography.  Treading on toes will get you a counterblast no matter who you are.

Yassmin Abdel-Magied was particularly insulting.  She insulted Australia's war-dead, the sort of thing which many people worldwide would find unforgiveable.  She too did not know her ethnography.


Boston's Metco program will now bus random minority students into suburban schools

In the Metco program, Boston students are bussed to suburban schools. A limit of 100 students per school is observed so that the bussed students do not wreck the suburban schools.  So the number of minorities wanting to get their children on the program greatly exceeds its limits. Those who apply soonest are the ones who make the grade.

This means that parents who are organized and think ahead get the available slots.  And that of course selects for brighter parents, who tend to have brighter and more organized children.  So such students cause minimal disruption to their host schools

And we can't have that!  The Leftist fixation on destroying anything they can has now invaded this program too.  Students will now be chosen randomly for the program, thus injecting a big dose of ghetto into otherwise orderly schools.  The talk is of fairness.  The glee is over how disruptive the new arrangements will be.  The old compulsory bussing program got knocked out by white flight so this revives at least a part of it

The days of Boston families signing up their children for the Metco program as soon as they are born are now history.

Massachusetts education officials have given the voluntary school integration program permission to choose students through a lottery instead of on a first-come first-serve basis, in an effort to bring more fairness to those who get in. Under the changes, announced Monday, parents will be able to submit applications only in the fall for the following school year.

“This is a very historic moment for Metco,” said Milly Arbaje-Thomas, chief executive of the Metropolitan Council for Educational Opportunity, which runs the program. “We now will be able to meet all constituencies in all neighborhoods, whether they are long-term residents or newcomers. We want a student population that is more reflective of Boston’s demographics.”

The new system, which was originally proposed earlier this year, will be phased in over the next two admission cycles, starting with students seeking slots for the 2020-21 school year. Applications will also shift from paper to an online portal. Families, however, will still be able to apply in person at the program’s Roxbury office.

Metco, which enrolls 3,300 Boston students in 33 suburban districts annually, has often been held up by researchers and policy makers as a successful way to voluntarily integrate public schools. A Harvard University researcher this winter found that Metco students had higher high school graduation rates and college enrollment rates than their peers in traditional Boston Public Schools and charter schools.

The children are bused from Boston to the schools in the suburbs. The state spends about $20 million annually to fund Metco in Boston and another program in Springfield, although suburban districts spend their own money on the program, too.

The program’s success has fueled a fever-pitched frenzy to get in, resulting in a waiting list of 15,000 students, about half of whom were infants or toddlers. Program staff filed away paper applications in the order they were received and for the specified school year.

But the program also has been plagued with questions over the fairness of its application process and whether it is truly serving students with no other options. That’s because the program tends to enroll a student population that is more affluent than the one in the Boston Public Schools.

The program also has failed to keep pace with the changing diversity of Boston, enrolling mostly black students at a time when the city has seen a big infusion of Latinos and other ethnic and racial groups.

The state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education formally approved the new application process on April 30. The program has largely purged its waiting list.

“We appreciate the thoughtful approach that Metco Inc. has taken, and we believe these changes will help bring clarity to the Metco enrollment process in Boston,” said Jacqueline Reis, a state education spokeswoman.

Families hoping to secure seats for their children for fall 2020 can apply between Oct. 2 and Dec. 31. The lottery will take place in January. Children who don’t win a seat will need to reapply for a subsequent school year.

More changes could be on the way. Arbaje-Thomas said the program will be drafting specific admission criteria. Currently, the program refers applicants to specific districts, which have some discretion in making admission offers.

“We are trying to keep the program viable and alive for another 50 years,” she said. “In order to do that you have to modernize.”



Here we go again: Trump is insane!

Bandy Lee is leading the charge again.  She never gives up.

She is a NYC "shrink" (psychiatrist) so is an expert at attributing motives that may or may not be there.  And Mr Trump is giving her frabjous joy, as we see in her article below.

Psychologists are generally rather contemptuous of psychiatrists on the grounds that their conclusions are only weakly based on evidence.  And I am one of those critics.  As a social psychologist (I have many articles in the Journal of Social Psychology) I am quite amazed at Dr. Lee's apparent ignorance of the demand characteristics of the situation under which her "evidence" was produced.

Let me describe it.  Robert Mueller was running a show which was devoted to finding "dirt" on Donald J. Trump.  And all the media were proclaiming that the whole thing was a lay down misere and that Mr Trump would soon be booted from office. What would you do if you were interrogated by Mr Mueller in that situation?

You would engage in what is colloquially called "ass-covering".  You would portray Mr Trump in as bad a light as you could without actually lying.  So you would be one of the good guys if Trump fell. You wouldn't lie outright in case Trump survived and came to get you. You would generalize, exaggerate, interpret and "forget" things like context.

And an awareness of that situation makes plausible what Mr Trump said about the Mueller report: That it is a pack of lies. Since Trump was right and the media were wrong about his Russia connection, should we not take the word of the one man who has demonstrably come out clean from all the accusations? I do. Dr Lee is building her castle on sand, on fiction, to be precise. Her continuing poorly-founded interest in Mr Trump's mental health seems rather obsessional, and hence not fully sane

Concerns about Donald Trump’s fitness for the office of president arose during the campaign and continue to this day. But now, in the Mueller report, we have an abundance of new evidence that sheds light on these concerns. What makes this a unique opportunity is the quality and relevance of the data: They are derived from multiple sources both friendly and opposed to the president, were obtained under oath, and show us how the president conducted himself in the eyes of those who worked directly with him while in office.

While we were concerned enough to put our initial cautions in a public-service book, “The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump,” each additional piece of evidence has substantiated the correctness of that assessment over time. Now, the Mueller report elevates this assessment to new levels. Here is just a small sampling:

“The president’s efforts to influence the investigation were mostly unsuccessful, but that is largely because the persons who surrounded the President declined to carry out orders.” (Vol. II, p. 158)

The pattern that emerges of the president is one of rash, short-sighted decision-making, without consideration of consequences. He is protected only by actions on the part of former FBI director James Comey, former White House counsel Don McGahn, and former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski, who, in effect, shield the president from himself by refusing or failing to follow his directions. Reckless, impulsive moves that are self-destructive, despite the intention of self-protection, are characteristic of dangerous impairment. They impede Trump’s capacity to prioritize national security.

“The president asked [former chief of staff Reince] Priebus to reach out to [former national security adviser Michael] Flynn and let him know that the president still cared about him.” (Vol. II, p. 43)

“[Former campaign chairman Paul] Manafort told [Manafort’s former business partner Rick] Gates that he had talked to the president’s personal counsel and they were ‘going to take care of us.’ ” (Vol. II, p. 123)

“[Attorney Robert] Costello told Cohen the conversation was ‘very, very positive . . . you are loved’ . . . you have friends in high places.’ ” (Vol. II, p. 147)

The president reveals that he operates from a different logic than the rule of law, or commonly held principles, in a manner that is manipulative and incompatible with democracy. His seditious manner and encouragement of similar subversion of institutions is closely connected to a view of the world as a threatening place where he must fight for himself and buttress his support. This is a paranoid stance that can quickly turn into violence when a paranoid person is feeling cornered, as corroborated by the president’s later attacks and threats against Cohen when the latter started cooperating with the special counsel. This is a dangerous mindset.

“According to notes written by [Jody] Hunt [chief of staff to then-attorney general Jeff Sessions], when Sessions told the president that a special counsel had been appointed, the president slumped back in his chair and said, ‘Oh my God. This is terrible. This is the end of my presidency. I’m f-----d.’ [Former communications director Hope] Hicks saw the president shortly after Sessions departed and described the president as being extremely upset. . . . [S]he had only seen the president like that one other time, when the ‘Access Hollywood’ tape came out during the campaign.’’ (Vol. II, pp. 78-79)

These episodes demonstrate not only a lack of control over emotions but preoccupation with threats to the self. There is no room for consideration of national plans or policies, or his own role in bringing about his predicament and how he might change, but instead a singular focus on how he is a victim of circumstance and his familiar whining about unfairness.

This mindset can easily turn into rage reactions; it is commonly found in violent offenders in the criminal justice system, who perpetually consider themselves victims under attack, even as they perpetrate violence against others, often without provocation. In this manner, a “victim mentality” and paranoia are symptoms that carry a high risk of violence.

“We noted, among other things, that the president stated on more than 30 occasions that he ‘does not recall’ or ‘remember’ or have an ‘independent recollection’ of information called for by the questions. Other answers were ‘incomplete or imprecise.’ ” (Vol. II, p. C-1)

This response is from a president who, in public rallies, rarely lacks certainty, no matter how false his assertions and claims that he has “the world’s greatest memory” and “one of the great memories of all time.” His lack of recall is particularly meaningful in the context of his unprecedented mendacity, which alone is dangerous and divisive for the country. Whether he truly does not remember or is totally fabricating, either is pathological and highly dangerous in someone who has command over the largest military in the world and over thousands of nuclear weapons.

The Mueller report details numerous lies by the president, perhaps most clearly regarding his handling of the disclosure of the meeting at Trump Tower (Vol II, p. 98ff). First he denied knowing about the meeting, then described it as only about adoption, then denied crafting his son’s response, and then, in his formal response to Mueller, conceded that it was he who dictated the press release. Lying per se is not especially remarkable. Coupled with the other characteristics noted here, however, lying becomes a part of a pervasive, compelling, reflexive pattern of distraught gut reactions for handling challenges by misleading, manipulating, and blocking others’ access to the truth. Rather than being seen as bona fide alternatives, challenges are perceived as personal threats and responded to in a dangerous, no-holds-barred manner.

“ ‘Call Rod, tell Rod that Mueller has conflicts and can’t be the special counsel.’ McGahn recalled the president telling him ‘Mueller has to go’ and ‘Call me back when you do it.’ ” (Vol. II, p. 86)

This incident merits singling out not only because of its egregiousness, but also because of its foolishness. In a post-Nixon era, and especially after the experience of firing Comey, a rational, non-impulsive person with reality-based decision-making would hesitate before pursuing this path. Congruent with his reasons for firing Comey, “to take the pressure off,” he apparently believed he could use all the powers at his disposal to have his way, and almost delusionally expected impunity. Such a mindset of false beliefs in freedom from consequences is extremely dangerous when coupled with power and is great cause for alarm in the US presidency.

As mental health professionals, we are able to offer our understanding of behavior when it reflects profound impairment. The psychological nature of the president’s impairments is thoroughly revealed in the Mueller report. The report has documented the president as willful, enormously self-absorbed, ruthlessly exploitative, threatened, and delusionally heedless of the consequences of his impulsive actions. His dangerousness constitutes a national crisis.



Church body apologizes to former principal over 2017 exit from Presbyterian school in Brisbane

The PMSA put Ms Kearney in an impossible situation that could only lead to her resignation. The dramas were sparked when Somerville House senior executive Rick Hiley was axed by Ms Kearney over an alleged IT data breach but then promoted by the PMSA to become their executive manager, effectively overseeing the school's governance.

Hiley was subsequently held to have been innocent in his actions but throwing him in Ms Kearney's face like that was offensive and arrogant in the extreme.  A proper enquiry should have been held before any action was taken. Just a bit of Christian humility would have gone a long way. So the apology from the PMSA is long overdue.  One hopes that they have learned that they are not gods

Ms Kearney had launched legal action against them so this apology may be a forced one designed to avoid a large legal bill.  If so, it would indicate that they have learned nothing and should resign

A church body overseeing four of Queensland’s top private schools has publicly apologised to the former principal of the prestigious Somerville House girl’s school for the “part we played’’ in her 2017 resignation.

The PMSA said it was aware of “ongoing misconceptions” regarding Ms Kearney’s resignation and that “after discussions’’ with the former principal had agreed to issue a statement.

“Ms Kearney led Somerville House as Principal with distinction from 2011 to 2017,’’ PMSA Chairman, Greg Adsett said in the statement.

“During that time, Ms Kearney’s many achievements advanced, and continue to enhance, the culture, performance and reputation of the school as providing the finest opportunities for girls’ and pre-prep education.

“Ms Kearney resigned her position in October 2017, to take effect at the end of the 2017 school year.

“We are sorry for the part we played in, and regret the circumstances leading to, Ms Kearney’s early departure.

“We would like to make clear that those events should not in any way be perceived to reflect poorly on Ms Kearney or negate her outstanding performance as Principal and lasting contributions to Somerville House.”

According to the statement, Ms Kearney has recently been appointed as Head and CEO of The Women’s College at the University of Queensland.

It has been reported that a group of parents and alumni had filed complaints against the PMSA with the Office of Fair Trading.

The 4500-strong “Beyond PMSA” is fighting for the PMSA to give up its incorporation under Letters Patent and be reincorporated under the Corporations Act, which they say would ensure greater transparency and accountability.

The application claims “unacceptable organisational failures exist because of Letters Patent”, and that “the future viability of PMSA schools is at significant and imminent risk”.



Why the Leftist obsession with the penis?

'It is a peculiar fact' stated Engels a few months after Marx died, 'that with every great revolutionary movement the question of 'free love' comes to the foreground'.' By the mid- to late-nineteenth century it was clear to advocates and opponents alike that many socialists shared a propensity to reject the institution of the family in favour of 'free love', if not in practice, at least as an ideal -- SOURCE

The Leftist obsession with the penis generally flies just under the radar but it can be detected as far back as Karl Marx.  Most politically-informed people are aware that Karl was against the family, on the grounds that it was a conservatizing influence (which it is). 

Marx could hardly have overlooked, however, a side-effect of a ban on the family.  It left the penis high and dry -- as it were.  There was nowhere for it to go outside the family.  Morals were very strict at the time about extra-marital sex.  There were of course abundant prostitutes in the 19th century but use of them was illegal, disgraceful and threatened syphilis.  All that was left for the penis was Mrs Hand and her five daughters.

Marx was himself married -- to Jenny von Westphalen, with whom he   had seven children.  Jenny was of an aristocratic family so Karl would have been well aware that it was common for wealthy men of the era to take a mistress -- so that would have been the liberation of the penis he envisaged for those who did not marry.  David Lloyd George, a Prime Minister of the UK during WWI, had a mistress (Frances Stevenson) for many years -- officially just his secretary of course

And in the 1920s and 30s "understood" homosexuality emerged.  Heavily Leftist British artists and intellectuals knew that they could not safely "come out" -- they could be prosecuted for it -- but nonetheless managed to create a general understanding that homosexuality was not only OK but rather "smart" -- J.M. Keynes, Lytton Strachey and the Bloomsberries generally.  The movie "Brideshead revisited" conveys that era very well.  You are never quite sure that the main character was queer.  So that was a rather clear example of a Leftist obsession with the penis.

And in the famous '60s, of course, there evolved a Leftist devotion to "free love", which had little to do with love.  It could more accurately be referred to as "penis liberation".  I was there.  I remember it well.  They say that if you remember the '60s, you weren't there.  But that refers to drug and alcohol abuse and I was teetotal throughout the 60s, incredible as that may seem.  Conservatives really are different. I was not totally abstemious about the other delights on offer, however. 

That was also of course an era of huge student demonstrations against "the war" (in Vietnam) and a total rejection of all conventional morality.  Fortunately, Christians held the fort and civilization survived.

And then in the '70s and '80s Leftists waged an unsystematic but extensive campaign to legalize homosexuality, which eventually succeeded.  At last the penis could do its thing without the burden of reproduction or the threat of prosecution.  The ban on homosexual marriage lasted right into the 21st century, however, but that too was eventually ground down.  Use of the penis just for pleasure became at last respectable.

So what was left after that series of victories?  Where could Leftists go next in their devotion to the penis? One might have thought that the war was over but a new campaign began with great ferocity:  A campaign to "liberate" extreme sexual abnormality.  Now one person could enjoy not only the delights of the penis but also the delights of femininity.  "Transgenders" became the icons of modernity and liberation.  Some individuals went too far and cut their penis off but they generally regretted it. And in a pinnacle of penis devotion, some mentally ill women were encouraged to have surgery which would "give" them a penis.  Freud claimed that women suffered from "penis envy" but he never foresaw that in his writings.

And any criticism of the various abnormalities concerned was ruthlessly crushed, with criminal penalties threatened in some jurisdictions.  So that is where we are now.  Who knows what Leftist devotion to the penis will bring forth next?

So why?  It's all just a case of self-indulgence.  Leftists believe that "There's no such thing as right and wrong" so why not?  Leftists reject all moral and prudential restraints so their only task is to destroy such restraints on their own behaviour.  And that fits in with their overall program of destroying existing society as a whole.

Leftists, of course claim that they are acting out of compassion but there is not the slightest compassion evident when they attack in various ways people who believe in Biblical morality.  They don't even show tolerance then, let alone compassion. Listen to almost anything they say about Donald J. Trump and the resultant outpouring of hate will convince you that hate drives them, not compassion -- JR.


Rugby Australia is between a rock and a hard place

They are facing  the prospect of penalizing Bible quotations.  What Folau said is straight from Romans chapter 1. An attack on   the Bible is normally swerved away from by even the most "correct" bodies.  On the other hand the intolerant Left WANTS them to penalize Bible quotations they do not like.

And there are two additional factors.  Tearing up Folau's contract could end up sending them broke.  Rugby does not have a big following anywhere.  The big football codes in Australia are AFL and League.  So Rugby cannot afford to get it wrong.

And the second factor is that there are a lot of Polynesian players.  Polynesians are often big men who are good at football.  And many Polynesians are also strong Christians who agree with Folau.  Some have threatened to strike if Folau is penalized.  So losing their best players is a prospect facing Rugby.  Will the fans turn out for second-string players?

So you see why the negotiations are not getting anywhere.  I think Rugby will have to back down.  If they do they will probably find that the Leftists are just a paper tiger after all

Israel Folau's family have defended him as his code of conduct hearing is set to continue for a third day, after no decision was made on whether his multi-million dollar contract should be ripped up.

The landmark hearing will resume on Tuesday following a weekend stalemate at Rugby Australia (RA) headquarters in Sydney.

The 30-year-old's loved ones have spoken out in support of his controversial social media posts, insisting it comes from a place of love, not hate.

Just four months into his four-year contract, Folau turned down a lucrative $1million settlement offer to end his row with RA, 7NEWS reported.

'The important thing for us is not so much the outcome, but how the glory of God is revealed throughout this situation and that his truth is preached to the whole world,' his cousin Josiah Folau said.

His father Eni Folau, a pastor at the family's Christian church insists that his son has done nothing wrong.

'Israel does not do any wrong at all, all the words he posted doesn't come from him, it comes from the Bible,' Mr Folau said.

Both his family and fellow church-goers insist the rugby star is pure at heart and a decent man.

They believe what he posted is not 'hate speech' but comes from a place of love, trying to 'save souls'.

A three-person panel, with representatives from RA and the Rugby Union Players' Association, are determining Folau's fate on the field.

RA chief executive Raelene Castle was asked to provide further evidence on Sunday, with NSW Waratahs supremo Andrew Hore also called on as more than 15 hours of legal jousting wasn't enough for the three-person panel.

Folau is fighting to save his career after Castle issued the dual international with a 'high-level' breach notice last month and threatened to tear up his four-year, $4 million contract following his latest round of inflammatory social media posts.

Last month Folau took to Instagram to proclaim 'hell awaits drunks, homosexuals, adulterers, liars, fornicators, thieves, atheists and idolators' unless they repent and turn to Jesus.

The full-back of Tongan descent was warned by RA last year after sharing a similar homophobic post that claimed gays were destined for hell.

Folau is being represented by high-profile solicitor Ramy Quatami and barrister Adam Casselden, who recently worked on the coronial inquest into the murder-suicide of Sydney family Maria Lutz and her children Ellie and Martin at the hands of their father Fernando Manrique in 2016.

The three-person panel is made up of chair John West QC, RA representative Kate Eastman SC and the Rugby Union Players' Association-elected John Boultbee.

If the tribunal determines that Folau has breached his contract, the panel must then decide if the breach was severe enough to terminate his career. 



YouTube: Now playing, everywhere

Can the world’s biggest video-sharing site police itself?

Below are some excerpts from a big article in The Economist which surveys the issues and difficulties of regulating social media generally and YouTube in particular.  It essentially comes to no conclusions. I think one conclusion is possible however.

On all social media platforms, the administrators are constantly urged to ban "hate speech".  But it cannot be done -- for the simplest of reasons: One man's hate-speech is another man's fair comment, or even part of his religion.  The obvious recourse in that situation is NOT to censor at all.  And that was the initial policy of some sites.

Fascist attitudes are however much more common than tolerant ones and the torrent of attack and abuse directed at site administrators had to have an effect.  All administrators have now been trying to please everyone  They have however  discovered a version of an old political formula:  You can please all of the people some of the time, some of people all of the time, but you cannot please all of the people all of the time.

So the acceptable censorship of social media sites is an impossible task.  All we can hope for is some compromise that is not wholly unreasonable.

But if we cannot reasonably regulate ALL of the content on a site, can we reasonably regulate SOME of the content satisfactorily?  I think we can.  I think we can regulate it in a way that avoids political bigotry.  That is a much smaller ask than regulating everything but it should be possible.

What I propose is a variant on the ancient Roman
Tribunus plebis.  A tribune is someone appointed to safeguard the interests of a particular group.  I think social media platforms  should appoint two tribunes -- one for the Left and one for the Right.  And NO content should be deleted without the approval of BOTH tribunes.  Each tribune would need a substantial staff and he should be free to choose and train  his own staff.  The tribune himself (or herself) should be appointed by the head of the relevant party in the Federal Senate

That should do the trick

YouTube’s immense popularity makes the question of how best to moderate social-media platforms more urgent, and also more vexing. That is partly because of the view taken in Silicon Valley, inspired by America’s right to free speech guaranteed by the First Amendment, that platforms should be open to all users to express themselves freely and that acting as a censor is invidious. With that as a starting point platforms have nevertheless regulated themselves, recognising that they would otherwise face repercussions for not acting responsibly. They began by setting guidelines for what could not be posted or shared —targeted hate speech, pornography and the like— and punished violators by cutting off ads, not recommending them and, as a last resort, banning them.

As governments and regulators around the world have started to question the platforms’ power and reach, and advertisers have pulled back, the firms have gradually tightened their guidelines. But by doing so they have plunged deeper into thorny debates about censorship. Last year YouTube banned certain kinds of gun-demonstration videos. In January the platform said it would no longer recommend videos that misinform users in harmful ways, like certain conspiracy theories and quack medical cures. It also banned videos of dangerous pranks, some of which have caused children to hurt themselves. On April 29th Sundar Pichai, boss of Google, declared, in an earnings announcement that disappointed investors, that “YouTube’s top priority is responsibility”. He said there would be more changes in the coming weeks.

Governments meanwhile are taking direct action to curb content that they deem inappropriate. On April 21st, after bombings in Sri Lanka killed 250 people, its government took the draconian step of temporarily banning social-media sites, including YouTube, to stop what it called “false news reports”. After the Christchurch massacre, Australia New Zealand  passed a hastily written law requiring platforms to take down “abhorrent violence material” and to do so “expeditiously”. Even in America, where social media has been largely unregulated, members of Congress are drafting measures that would give significant powers of oversight to the Federal Trade Commission and restrict how online platforms supply content to children, an area where YouTube is especially vulnerable.

Ms Wojcicki says she needs no persuading to take further action against unsavoury material. Yet YouTube does not plan to rethink the fundamental tenets that it should be open to free expression, that people around the world should have the right to upload and view content instantly (and live), and that recommendation algorithms are an appropriate way to identify and serve up content. What is needed, she says, is a thoughtful tightening of restrictions, guided by consultation with experts, that can be enforced consistently across YouTube’s vast array of content, backed by the power of artificial intelligence.

Video nasties

YouTube’s record thus far does not inspire much confidence. Children’s programming, one of the most popular sorts of content, is a case in point. Parents routinely use their iPads or smartphones as baby-sitters, putting them in front of children and letting YouTube’s autoplay function recommend and play videos (see chart 3). Children are served up nursery rhymes and Disney, but sometimes also inappropriate content and infomercials.

YouTube has acted more decisively in other circumstances. Its crackdown on terrorist-recruitment and -propaganda videos in early 2017 used machine learning and newly hired specialists. There was an obvious incentive to do it. In what became known as “Adpocalypse”, big firms fled after learning that some of their ads were running with these videos, essentially monetising terrorist groups. There have been a couple of sequels to Adpocalypse, both related to children’s content, and both first uncovered by outsiders. This adds to the impression that YouTube lacks a sense of urgency in identifying its problems, and responds most rapidly when advertisers are aggrieved.

Ms Wojcicki disputes this, saying she began to recognise the increasing risks of abuse of the platform in 2016, as it became clear more people were using YouTube for news, information and commentary on current events. She says that was when she started to focus on “responsibility”. In 2017, as a result of Adpocalypse, she began expanding the firm’s staff and contractors focused on content issues; they now number more than 10,000, most of them content reviewers. Chris Libertelli, the global head of content policy, says that Ms Wojcicki and Neal Mohan, the chief product officer, have told him there are no “sacred cows” in deciding what content should be limited, demonetised or banned. Ms Wojcicki says that with wiser and tighter content policies, and the company’s technology and resources, she and YouTube can solve the problems with toxic content.

Everything in moderation

While the need for regulation might be clear, the details of what should be regulated, and how, are messy and controversial. Few free-speech advocates, even in Silicon Valley, are zealous enough to want to permit beheading videos from Islamic State or the live-streaming of massacres. Yet most of the questions about content moderation that YouTube wrestles with are much less clear-cut. YouTube appears to be weighing whether to ban white nationalists, for example. If it does so, should the site also ban commentators who routinely engage in more subtle conspiracy theories meant to incite hatred? Should it ban popular personalities who invite banned figures to “debate” with them as guests? Ms Wojcicki is conscious of the slippery slope platforms are on, and fears being criticised for censorship and bias.

Another important question will be how to go about enforcing restrictions. When you serve a billion hours of video a day the number of hard calls and “edge cases”, those that are hard to categorise, is enormous. The tech firms hope that AI will be up to the job. History is not reassuring. AI has been trained for straightforward tasks like spotting copyright violations. But even with low error rates the volume of mistakes at scale remains immense. An AI capable of reliably deciding what counts as harassment, let alone “fake news”, is a pipe dream. The big platforms already employ thousands of human moderators. They will have to hire thousands more.

Given the complexities, wise governments will proceed deliberately. They should seek data from platforms to help researchers identify potential harms to users. Regulations should acknowledge that perfection is impossible and that mistakes are inevitable. Firms must invest more in identifying harmful content when it is uploaded so that it can be kept off the platform and—when that fails—hunt for it and remove it as quickly as possible. With the great power wielded by YouTube and other social-media platforms comes a duty to ensure it is used responsibly.



Humans risk wiping out ONE MILLION natural species as the Earth's life-support system reaches breaking point, say UN scientists urging action

This is just "think of a number" talk.  There is no way they could have tracked one million species.  Extinction of species goes on all the time -- with or without human intervention.  And "extinct" species keep re-emerging

And where is the "breaking point"?  What is about to break?  They do not say.  Life seems to go on getting better and better all the time. Food has never before been as abundant or as cheap. China and India now feed their own people without having to import food.  This nonsense below is just childish alarmism.  It wouldn't even pass muster as a freshman essay

Mankind is on the verge of wiping out up to one million natural species which will put the Earth's vital life-support systems at breaking point, UN scientists will reportedly warn.

They say that food and water resources will run dry for future generations and put humanity in jeopardy unless immediate steps are taken to reverse climate destruction.

Stark warnings about the ecological crisis are to be made in a 1,800-page UN report which reveals that the annihilation of natural landscapes, forests and wetlands is leading to an 'unsustainable' loss of plants of animals which risk extinction.

Robert Watson, chairman of the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), told the paper: 'There is no question we are losing biodiversity at a truly unsustainable rate that will affect human wellbeing both for current and future generations.

'We are in trouble if we don't act, but there are a range of actions that can be taken to protect nature and meet human goals for health and development.'

The global assessment on the state of nature - the product of 400 experts over three years - will construct several scenarios for the future based on likely decisions taken by governments and policymakers over the coming years.

Food, pollination, clean water and a stable climate all depend on a thriving plant and animal population. 



The Death of Patriotism

The modern-day Left are NOT patriotic.  They were once, right up to JFK -- at a time when the ills of the world could be blamed on "the bosses".  But in a post-industrial society that no longer makes much sense. Most of the workforce were once employed in large industries such as mines and factories but such businesses now account for only a small fraction of the workforce so blaming a bad situation for the workers on a small clique of distant plutocrats just does not connect with the concerns of many voters these days.  The average employer these days is a small businessman who works alongside his employees so any faults can be attributed to him personally rather than to some large abstraction.

In that situation new villains had to be found to satisfy leftist hatreds and ego needs.  But there was no obvious single whipping boy.  The faults in society seemed to be all over the place.  So it was the society as a whole that seemed faulty.  Blaming "society" was an old Communist war-cry anyway so that cry became mainstream. Leftists generally began to hate society as a whole.  And the only society of interest to most American Leftists was American society.  So America as a whole became the new Leftist whipping boy.  America as a whole came to be hated.

But hating America is the direct opposite of patriotism.  So the best Leftists can usually rise to is to say they are loyal to "what America could become", which only a Leftist could call patriotism.  It commits the Leftist to nothing.

But patriotism is a widely felt sentiment among Americans so the Leftist cannot get too far out of tune with that or he will get totally marginalized and disregarded.  So he has to pretend to be patriotic.  Hence the occasional challenge from Leftsts:  "Are you questioning my patriotsm?".  The proper answer to that is: Yes.

Recently, Congresswoman Ilhan Omar received strong pushback for comments she made at a fundraiser for CAIR (Council on American-Islamic Relations). Omar said the September 11, 2001 terrorist attack was “some people did something.”

Those words alone could be taken out of the context of her speech at the CAIR fundraiser. Omar stated that CAIR was founded after 9/11 to protect Muslims in this country from any backlash as a result of the attack. It was actually founded in 1994 and has a very troubled past, including with former board members indicted for sponsoring terrorism.

I’m sure there were a few racist idiots who were unkind to (those they thought were) Muslims after 9/11. I’m sure that hateful words were exchanged. Is that the same as nearly 3,000 Americans perishing in the flames of the World Trade Center Towers or the Pentagon or in a field in Pennsylvania? Seems like quite a stretch to me.

Omar can’t seem to help herself when it comes to criticizing this country (a country that took in her and her family as refugees fleeing war-torn Somalia), our president, and especially Jews. But when her comments start generating backlash from conservatives, she wraps herself in the flag and says, “You can’t question my patriotism!”

Patriotism: “The quality of being patriotic, devotion to and vigorous support for one’s country.”

That seems to be a reoccurring trend in our country, especially from those on the far Left. Whenever they are criticized for remarks they make that portray our country as evil and a horrible place to live, they play the PATRIOT CARD. They respond by saying, “You can’t question my patriotism.” Omar just joins the ranks of a number of politicians (Hillary Clinton and Nancy Pelosi come to mind) and media talkingheads who slap down anybody who calls them out for their slander and misrepresentation of what I believe is the greatest country on earth.

If this nation is so evil, then why did Omar’s family come here instead of the safe haven of say, Iran or Syria or any other Muslim nation, where she wouldn’t get her hijab in a bind every time she gets criticized for shooting off her mouth? I’m sure if she lived in Tehran, she could say anything she wanted without consequences. Why come here? Why do tens of thousands of illegal immigrants from south of the border continue to flood this country? Hasn’t word reached their home countries that we are bad and you don’t want to come here?

I believe we do have the right to question the patriotism of those who trash our country. I put my life on the line to defend this country and nearly lost it many years ago in the jungles of Vietnam. I have been back to Vietnam many times since the war. They do not have true freedom because our politicians abandoned them. South Korea is free today because we stayed.

Congresswoman Omar, I do question your patriotism because of your actions to undermine the freedoms we have in this nation. I believe every American can question your alleged patriotism and anyone else who would do harm to my country. Your ACTIONS speak much louder than your lame excuses.

True patriots are watching and we will call out anyone who acts in a manner that could be harmful to our nation.



Justice for Justine at last

The Minneapolis cops are good at coverups but this crime was so heinous that they had to let it go to trial

Why did the Somali cop fire?  His explanations are nonsense but I think I know why.  She was greatly admirable in her blonde beauty -- something he could never be.  So he fired in a jealous rage.  The constant Leftist shrieking about white privilege has now had a fatal outcome

The fiancé of Justine Ruszczyk Damond has spoken out against former police officer Mohamed Noor after the cop was found guilty of third-degree murder.

Don Damond told reporters on Tuesday that Justine's death exemplified a 'complete disregard for the sanctity of life.'

The Australian-American woman, 40, was gunned down outside her Minneapolis home after she called 911 to report a possible sexual assault behind her house in 2017.

'Nearly two years ago my fiance, Justine Damond Ruszczyk, was shot dead in her pyjamas outside our home without warning as she walked up to a police car which she had summoned,' Mr Damond said.

'Ironically, the Minneapolis Police Department emblem on the squad door reads: "To protect with courage and to serve with compassion".

'Where were these values that night? That night there was a tragic lapse of care and complete disregard for the sanctity of life. The evidence in this case clearly showed an egregious failure of the Minneapolis Police Department.'   

Noor was charged with second-degree murder, third-degree murder, and second-degree manslaughter in the 2017 death of Damond, a dual citizen of the U.S. and Australia.

A jury of ten men and two women reached a verdict on Tuesday after three weeks of testimony. The jurors were sequestered and deliberated for 11 hours.

Noor, 33, was found guilty of third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter, and was acquitted on the highest charge, second-degree murder.   

Third-degree murder is also known as 'depraved-heart murder,' meaning the act was committed without intent to effect death, but caused by acting dangerously and without regard for human life.

Second-degree murder means the murder was intentional but was not premeditated.

Noor was acquitted on the second-degree murder charge. Second-degree manslaughter occurs when a person causes death through negligence.

He was immediately led out of the courtroom in handcuffs. He is scheduled to be sentenced on June 7 and could face up to 25 years in prison. The former cop showed no reaction, but his wife cried as the jury's verdict was read at his trial.

During a press conference, Damond's father, John Ruszczyk, described the process as a 'painful journey' but said he was 'satisfied with the outcome'.

Noor's attorney asked that he be released on bond pending sentencing, but prosecutors opposed that on the grounds of the seriousness of the case.

The Hennepin County Sheriff's Office said it had concerns about Noor's safety if he was free.

The verdict is believed to mark the first time a Minnesota police officer is convicted on a murder charge for shooting someone while on-duty.

Damond, 40, was shot on July 15, 2017, shortly after she called 911 to report a possible sexual assault behind her home.

Noor fired at Damond from the passenger seat of the police cruiser he was in with his partner, Matthew Harrity, when she emerged from her home.

The victim, a yoga instructor, had approached the cruiser after calling 911 twice to report a possible rape in the dark alley behind her home. No such assault was ever found to have occurred.

In court, prosecutor Amy Sweasy said Noor violated Minneapolis police training policies - and endangered the life of his partner and a teenage cyclist also present.

She dismissed speculation that Damond contributed to her own death.

'He pulled (the gun). He pointed, he aimed, and he killed her,' Ms. Sweasy said. 'This is no accident. This is intentional murder,' she said. 

Noor had testified that he believed there was an imminent threat after he saw a cyclist stop near the police cruiser, heard a loud bang and saw Harrity's 'reaction to the person on the driver's side raising her right arm.'

Noor added that when he reached from the cruiser's passenger seat and shot Damond through the driver's side window, it was because he thought his partner 'would have been killed.'

He said that after Damond approached the cruiser, his partner screamed, 'Oh, Jesus!' and began fumbling to unholster his gun.

Then, Noor said he saw a blonde woman wearing a pink T-shirt raising her right arm at the driver's window, identified her as a threat and fired.

The prosecutor, however, suggested that the officers should not have been surprised by a woman walking to their car, given that the 911 caller reporting the possible sexual assault was a woman.

Ms Damond, a dual US-Australian citizen was to due be married to her fiancée a month after her life was cut short.

Her death sparked anger and disbelief in the U.S. and Australia, cost the city's police chief her job and contributed to the mayor's electoral defeat a few months later.

Neither officer had their body cameras running when Ms Damond was shot, something Officer Harrity blamed on what he called a vague policy that didn't require it.



Labour health cap to hit insurers hard

This is crazy stuff, as price control always is. If health insurance funds cannot raise enough money to cover their claims, what are they going to do? Go broke and leave millions uninsured?  There's just got to be an epidemic or two and that could happen

Health costs always run above inflation.  The constant flow of new drugs, new procedures and new devices ensures that.  They all have to be paid for.  So a 2% cap will put a spike in that.

What insurers will do is simply add nothing new to their schedules and quietly remove some of the costlier ones. So there might be a procedure that would restore your health but it will be unavailable to you. It will be available only to the very rich.  Is that an ALP policy?  It is, apparently.

Leftist health policy is always disastrous.  They should just leave health alone.  They have no idea about how to improve the situation.  They just rely on brute force and that is as dumb as you get

Bill Shorten’s plan to cap health insurance premium increases is set to fuel a $1 billion profit hit to insurers and slow earnings growth for private hospitals.

A wide ranging report by investment bank Morgan Stanley concluded there would be an immediate impact on health insurers if Labor wins the federal election, with the industry needing to address a $1bn earnings hole.

Mr Shorten has promised that should he win the May 18 election that he would cap health insurance premium increases at two per cent for two years, plus order a productivity commission review of the sector.

The 60-page report, led by equity analyst Sean Laaman, said the issue for insurers was that the earnings crunch was coming fast.



A new theory for why Republicans and Democrats see the world differently: Our political divisions aren’t red versus blue, but fixed versus fluid

The above is a heading that clever young Ezra Klein put up on his site late last year.  It looks like Ezra's political science degree from UCLA did not include any psychology.  Otherwise he would have realized that there is nothing new in his theory.  It is in fact an old dodge that Leftists have been using at least since 1950.  I have done a lot of research on it.

What it boils down to is what we in Australia would tend to call a "switcheroo".  You don't change the facts. You just stick another label on them -- even if you have to make up a new name for the purpose.  The 1950 group led by Marxist theoretician Theodor Adorno invented the label "intolerant of ambiguity to characterize conservatives while Leftists were "flexible"

Of course the Left is flexible.  They have been for a long time  -- super-flexible. When Hitler invaded Poland, he did so with Communist Russia as an ally.  And American Communists (longshoremen particularly) were vocal supporters of Hitler at that time. They saw Nazism as a fraternal socialist system -- which was in fact pretty right.  But when Hitler invaded Russia, American Communists didn't miss a beat.  They immediately became Anti-Nazi.  Very flexible.  "No principles" would be another way of putting it

And they do 180 degree turns all the time.  When Mr Obama began his presidency he was an outspoken opponent of homosexual marriage.  When the wind among Leftists began to blow in the opposite direction, however, his views promptly "evolved" to the opposite.

And when Bill Clinton failed to win a majority of the popular vote in his win of the presidency, that was fine and dandy.  It wasn't even an issue. But when Donald J. Trump also failed to win a popular majority that was and is an outrage that can only be fixed by a change in the constitution -- which mandates an electoral college.

And Leftists actually tell us that they have no principles.  They repeatedly tell us in any debate where they look like losing that "There is no such thing as right and wrong".  That's the ultimate in "flexibility".  Anything goes.  And they are even flexible about that.  Some things ARE wrong if they say so.  Racism and Donald J. Trump for instance.  Their flexibility is so great as to lead them into self-contradiction, which is about as mentally inadequate as you can get.  Only Freudian compartmentalizion enables it.

Meanwhile we silly old conservatives try to arrive at realistic and internally consistent policies.  How rigid, inflexible and intolerant of ambiguity we are!  The authors below call the divide  a  “fixed” versus “fluid” worldview but it's the same old relabelling of the chronic Leftist illogicality and inconsistency versus the conservative push for order and rationality.

In their illogicality we can often recognize all the old Freudian defense mechanisms: denial, projection, compartmentalization. Leftists use them all in their desperation to avoid recognizing how reality constantly contradicts their theories. They need those theories to justify their hatred of the world about them. In their need to think socialism makes sense, they are even sticking with Maduro at the moment.  Freudian denial, of course.

Their only loyalty is to their hatreds and socialism is hatred of the normal human way of doing things -- where you have to work for what you get.  That hate is the driving Leftist motive has  been thrown into sharp relief by the arrival in politics of Donald J. Trump.  He has elicited an unending orgasm of hate from them

“Of the many factors that make up your worldview, one is more fundamental than any other in determining which side of the divide you gravitate toward: your perception of how dangerous the world is. Fear is perhaps our most primal instinct, after all, so it’s only logical that people’s level of fearfulness informs their outlook on life.”

That’s political scientists Marc Hetherington and Jonathan Weiler, writing in their book Prius or Pickup, which marshals a massive trove of survey data and experimental evidence to argue that the roots of our political divides run so deep that they make us almost incomprehensible to one another. Our political divisions, they say, aren’t about policy disagreements, or even demographics. They’re about something more ancient in how we view the world.

Hetherington and Weiler call these worldviews, which express themselves in everything from policy preferences to parenting styles, “fixed” versus “fluid.” The fixed worldview “describes people who are warier of social and cultural change and hence more set in their ways, more suspicious of outsiders, and more comfortable with the familiar and predictable.” People with a fluid worldview, by contrast, “support changing social and cultural norms, are excited by things that are new and novel, and are open to, and welcoming of, people who look and sound different.”

What’s happened in recent decades, they argue, is that politics in general, and our political parties in particular, have reorganized around these worldviews, adding a new, and arguably irreconcilable, difference into our political divisions. That difference is visible in everything from what we think to where we live to how we shop, but it’s particularly apparent in how hard it is for us to understand how the other side views the world.



Headline of the week


They never give up.  They live permanently in a fantasy world. They are so discontented with the real world that they create their own.  The old slogan of the German Left (including Adolf) was "Alles muss anders sein".  After thinking about it for many years off and on, I think I have finally got an exact translation of that:  "Everything has got to be different".  What unhappy souls they are!.


Senate could become Bill Shorten’s best friend

Peter van Onselen is the token Leftist at "The Australian" but he says below what I have been thinking:  Shorten is all hot air when you reflect how unlikely it is that his destructive policies will get through the Senate.  In both Australia and the USA, Senates are a great force for stability and obstructing change of all sorts.

Van Onselen however adds a speculation about voters being devious, which I think is far-fetched.  He seems to think everybody else is  a professor of politics.  I think the Senate will be Shorten's best friend because it will prevent him from legislating great and impoverishing follies

The Senate could become Bill Shorten’s best friend. With the opposition leader’s tax agenda under significant scrutiny — even though most of it has been publicly known for years — the role of the house of review just might save Shorten from himself.

Australians vote more intelligently than they often get credit for. We know our electoral system and understand that governments don’t always get their way. Not in the upper house where the balance of power is held by minor parties.

Even if Labor wins the election, it can squeal all it likes about the mandate won, yet minor parties in the senate will claim the support they got in the senate is also a mandate to follow their policy scripts — which in the case of a number of the minor parties involves disagreeing with Labor’s plans on negative gearing and franking credits.

If voters think that Shorten’s tax agenda will be blocked then they can use their lower house vote to punish the Coalition for a mix of failures in government — doubling the deficit, changing prime ministers not once but twice, having no serious policy for addressing climate change, you name it.



Our fight against climate change will be hopeless unless we choose to have smaller families

The writer below, BELLA LACK, is well-named.  She is lacking in almost everything that  would enable an intelligent comment on her topic.  She seems totally unaware of the history of population limitation calls -- from Malthus on. See here for starters.

She makes the characteristic Leftist mistake of treating all men as equal.  That Africans and Europeans have very different reproduction rates seems unknown to her.  So lumping all birthrates together into one number is highly misleading.  A scientist would say that she fails to take account of a bimodal distribution.

What the future holds out because of the difference is a SHRINKING population in Europe and an increasing population in Africa and elsewhere in the Third World.

So if we were to follow her logic, she should be an urgent promoter of contraception in Africa while praising Europe for their "responsible" behaviour.  There is no sign that she sees that logic.  If she had another brain she would be lonely

Come 2030 I will be 27-years-old.  If population growth continues at its current rate I will be one of 8.5 billion people on Earth. That’s almost one billion more than today, and more than double the number of people alive in 1970. By 2050 some 10 billion people could call earth home.

The spellbinding beauty of mother nature is impossible to resist. Last year I travelled to Southeast Asia hoping to catch a glimpse of an orangutan at home in Borneo’s lush rainforests. Standing in warm twilight outside the Sepilok Rehabilitation Centre in Sabah, I gazed through my binoculars at orangutans hanging out in the tangled rainforest canopy. I paused for a second to reflect on the unfathomable privilege of being able to witness these creatures in the wilderness. In that moment there was nowhere on Earth I would rather have been. I was home.

Our natural world gives human beings so much and expects very little in return. But right now we are not honouring our side of the bargain. The devastating effects of global warming are already being felt by the natural world. The concentration of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere now stands at 410 parts per million. This is the highest it has been for some three million years. In Antarctica Adélie penguins are starving to death because the krill they eat are dying as sea ice retreats. In Central America the golden toad has been driven to the point of extinction due to droughts.

We gaze in wonder at our precious wildernesses but then think nothing of tearing them down. More than 80 percent of the original forest that covered the Earth 8,000 years ago has been cleared, damaged or altered. The rapid loss of species we are seeing today is estimated by experts to be between 1,000 and 10,000 times higher than the natural extinction rate. We simply can’t go on like this.