Trump runs North Korea playbook in feud with Iran

The interpretation of Trump's warning to Iran below is pretty right but it misses out another element of the equation. Trump is indeed trying to terrorize Iran verbally, just as he initially did with the Norks but that is only half of his strategy.  With the Norks, Trump piled on the pressure by being nice to President Xi and thus getting China to pressure the Norks.  China seems to have cut off most of North Korea's oil supply, for instance.  So Mr Kim HAD to cave.

And what has Trump just done before heavying Iran? Made nice with President Putin.  So he has confidence that Putin won't come to the rescue of Iran.  Russia has in the past given some assistance to Iran: Their nuclear reactor, for instance.  So Trump's strategy is as good as anything in
Vom Kriege by Clausewitz. He has both launched a frontal attack on Iran and cut off their retreat.

It's possible that the whole Helsinki show was in order to clear the decks: To ensure that Putin would stay neutral in any conflict with Iran. With Obama's nuclear deal with Iran now off the table, Trump had to do something to "solve" Iran and this may be his opening move

The White House blamed Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Monday for provoking warlike threats from President Trump, as the administration sought to step up economic and political pressure on Iran in a campaign similar to the strategy that brought North Korea to the nuclear bargaining table.

Gearing up to implement tough economic sanctions on an Iranian economy that is already faltering, Mr. Trump and his top advisers also have made it clear to Iran’s leaders in the past two days that the U.S. will no longer sit back quietly in the face of Tehran’s typical “death to America” rhetoric and other threats.


It was reminiscent of Mr. Trump’s “fire and fury” warning to North Korean leader Kim Jong-un last summer.

Mr. Trump fired this online shot across the bow after the Iranian leader declared in Tehran, “America must understand well that peace with Iran is the mother of all peace, and war with Iran is the mother of all wars.”

Liberals accused Mr. Trump of attempting to pivot away from negative media coverage of his summit last week with Russian President Vladimir Putin by threatening war against another longtime U.S. adversary in the Middle East.

“President Trump’s belligerent tweet is another alarming warning sign that he’s blundering toward war with Iran,” said Sen. Tim Kaine, Virginia Democrat and co-author of a 2015 law that gave Congress the right to review the Iranian nuclear deal before congressional sanctions could be lifted. “The prospect of President Trump starting a catastrophic war should concern us all, and we must be vigilant in stopping it.”

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Mr. Trump has been tougher on Iran than President Obama since the beginning of his presidency and that his latest comments were consistent with his approach to Tehran, which included pulling out of the nuclear deal last spring.

“The president’s responding to Iran, and he’s not going to allow them to continue to make threats against America,” Mrs. Sanders said. “If anybody is inciting anything, look no further than to Iran.”

Asked by reporters Monday afternoon whether he had any concerns about provoking tensions with Iran, Mr. Trump replied, “None at all.”

Mr. Rouhani scoffed at Mr. Trump’s threat to halt Iranian oil exports and said Iran has a dominant position in the Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz, a major oil shipping waterway. Washington later eased its stance, saying it might grant sanction waivers to some allies.

In reaction to Iran’s threats, the U.S. military has renewed its pledge to secure free flow of oil from the strait. However, at least as of last week, the Pentagon said those Iranian threats had not led the U.S. military to reposition or add to forces in the Middle East.

“We haven’t adjusted our force posture in response to any of those statements. And I don’t think that’s warranted. I wouldn’t recommend that,” John Rood, undersecretary of defense for policy, told a security forum in Colorado on Friday.

James Jay Carafano, a national security specialist at The Heritage Foundation, said the president was expressing himself to Tehran “in a uniquely Trumpian manner.”

“No one should doubt the U.S. resolve to protect its interests,” Mr. Carafano said. “The president was not afraid to use force in Syria. Clearly, he would do so here, but only if provoked on the ground — he is not going to be cowed or impressed by threats from Tehran. On the other hand, he is not going to be reckless in the use of force, but I imagine if the Iranians thought about trying something, the tweet was a reminder they won’t get away with it.”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is bitterly opposed to Iran, praised Mr. Trump’s “strong stance.” Germany said threats of war were “never helpful.”

With popular discontent over Iran’s faltering economy and sliding currency, and the prospect of tough new U.S. sanctions, Iran’s leaders have called for unity.

The Iranian rial plunged to a record low against the U.S. dollar on the unofficial market on Monday amid fears of military confrontation between Iran and the United States. The dollar was being offered for as much as 92,000 rials, compared with about 75,000 last week.

While Washington prepares to reimpose economic sanctions on Tehran after pulling out of the nuclear deal, Iran’s faction-ridden religious and political elites have closed ranks against Mr. Trump’s hawkish approach.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the administration will never stop calling out Iran for its human rights abuses, religious persecution and fomenting of terrorism.

“Sometimes it seems the world has become desensitized to the regime’s authoritarianism at home and its campaigns of violence abroad, but the proud Iranian people are not staying silent about their government’s many abuses,” Mr. Pompeo said in a speech at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum in California. “And the United States under President Trump will not stay silent either. In light of these protests and 40 years of regime tyranny, I have a message for the people of Iran: The United States hears you; the United States supports you; the United States is with you.”


Report: Trump Fuel Standards Rollback to Cost $457 Billion

This is all just modelling and you get out of a model whatever you put in.  And you can be sure that the benefits of avoiding lightweight cars -- which the Obama standards would mandate -- were not included. Lightweight cars give less protection in an accident so cost lives.  How do you cost lives saved?

And one of the "costs" in their modelling -- global warming -- is just a chimera.

The only benefit in the Obama regulations that I can see is less money spent on fuel. But that is a personal cost not a cost to government.  And fuel costs are much more influenced by the ever changing prices charged at the pump rather than anything else.  And Trump's phone call to King Salman of Saudi Arabia will almost certainly do more to arrange affordable fuel than any set of regulations would.  Keeping fuel prices down is a laudable goal but there are many better ways of arranging that than mandating that people drive around in eggshell cars.

As for California keeping it's own stringent standards, the interstate commerce power clearly gives the Feds authority to regulate anything to do with motor vehicles, regardless of anything governor moonbeam might claim

The Trump administration is expected to announce a pause on vehicle emissions standards this week, setting less stringent levels than Obama-era rules and revoking California’s authority to set its own standards. A forecast released Tuesday from clean energy advocacy group Energy Innovation suggests that the policy change will cost the country $457 billion.

Those costs are fuel-related, and do not account for health implications. The group also linked the policy to over 13,000 additional pollution-related deaths.

“It’s hard to overstate the foolishness of this move,” said Hal Harvey, CEO at Energy Innovation.

According to reports on the administration’s plans, Trump officials will keep fuel emissions standards at the 35 mpg fleet average required in 2020. The Obama administration had increased those requirements to 50 miles per gallon, or 36 miles per gallon in real-world driving, by 2025.

The Trump administration’s rollback was widely anticipated after Scott Pruitt, then Environmental Protection Agency administrator, announced in April that an agency review of the standards determined they should be revised in a joint process with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

The plan expected this week would also do away with California’s waiver to set standards more stringent than national requirements, granted by the Environmental Protection Agency under Clean Air Act authority. California’s policies also include EV targets.

Since the administration undertook a review of the standards in March 2017, California has steadfastly defended its legal right to make its own policies. In April, California Governor Jerry Brown said the EPA’s plan to revise standards represented a "cynical and meretricious abuse of power [that] will poison our air and jeopardize the health of all Americans.” In May, the state sued the federal government along with 16 other states and Washington, D.C. Thirteen states plus D.C. use California’s emissions requirements over the federal standards.

Energy Innovation’s analysis finds that economic losses will be most dramatic if the Trump administration revokes California’s waiver. While the policy will bring initial economic gains resulting from the reduced cost of producing less-efficient cars, around 2025 the policy will start costing the country money. Losses accelerate beyond 2030. If the administration leaves California’s waiver in place, the predicted losses will ring in at $274 billion.

The organization’s calculation uses its open-source, peer-reviewed Energy Policy Simulator, which accounts for several sectors of the economy including transportation, land use, electricity supply, buildings, industry and agriculture.

Modeled as a gas tax, Energy Innovation said the policy would top out at an added 57 cents per gallon in 2040.

Loosening emissions standards would also inevitably increase greenhouse gas emissions. Energy Innovation expects the greatest increases in the 2030s, before electric vehicles undercut the share of gas-powered cars. In 2035, the group forecasts an 11 percent increase in emissions with a revocation of the California waiver and a 7 percent increase if the waiver is left in place.

The Obama administration often framed its pollution prevention and climate policies as vital to public health. Energy Innovation’s analysis suggests Trump’s turnaround on vehicle emissions could lead to a bump in premature emissions-related deaths. By mid-century, policy-linked deaths would top 13,000 without California’s waiver and over 8,200 with it.

Harvey points to large metropolitan areas already missing air quality targets, like Los Angeles, Dallas and Atlanta, as those to be most impacted by the higher mortality rate.

“Every time there is an increase in air pollution, especially in a so-called non-attainment area, you increase asthma attacks,” said Harvey. “Those cause increased deaths.”

Many deaths would be in disadvantaged and marginalized communities located near freeways.

In addition to detrimental health and economic benefits, Harvey said the policy change will leave automakers in a bind. Though manufacturers have lobbied to relax standards in the past, they balked at a potential regulation freeze.

Harvey said the Obama policy aligned federal standards with California’s stricter policies, making it easier for automakers to meet just one standard. If California’s waiver stays put, the U.S. car market will again be torn in two. Car manufacturers hoping to compete in those markets will have to meet the more stringent standards.

“How do you decide your cars [standards] if you have no idea if Trump’s going to win or original regulations are going to prevail? If you’re smart, you’re going to follow the original regulations anyway,” said Harvey. “Car companies have to make multibillion-dollar decisions based on new uncertainty.”

Clarifying the uncertainty will likely be left to the courts. While the administration is already facing legal challenges from some states, the decision this week is expected to prompt more lawsuits.

The two policy actions, freezing the standards and revoking California’s waiver, could find their way to the Supreme Court. Harvey said the courts may decide cases based on the merit of the policy change or defer to the executive branch. President Trump’s recent nomination of Brett Kavanaugh — or “Mr. Deference” as Harvey called him — to the Supreme Court may give the administration an edge.

In the past, Kavanaugh has ruled that ultimate authority to craft environmental regulation rests with Congress, not the EPA, although he has called dealing with global warming “urgent.”


Stupid logic about genes in the BMJ

All British medical journals have a distinct Leftist bias so the conclusion below was  predictable.  Leftists hate any evidence that genes cause anything so the claim below that genes  do not influence social class was to be expected.

Their basic leap of logic is that individual genes have only a narrow mode of action so they cannot cause anything as complex as social class.  That's logic?  Its like saying that tires can't by themselves make a car move so tires are irrelevant to cars.

The universal conclusion of those who study the relationships between genes and traits is that any one trait is polygenetic.  Just as a car needs a lot of bits to make it go, so any trait needs a particular underlying SET of genes for it to manifest itself.

And as Charles Murray showed decades ago, social class is strongly determined by IQ. High IQ people tend to get rich and low IQ people usually stay poor.  And IQ IS heavily genetically determined, so the paper below is just counter-factual rubbish aimed at drawing a particular do-gooder conclusion

Genetics and social class

N A Holtzman


Objective: To assess claims that genes are a major determinant of social class.

Design: Using genetic epidemiological principles, five claims on the role of genes in determining social class are examined: (1) traits that run in families are usually inherited; (2) complex traits can be explained by alleles at a single gene locus; (3) complex traits are transmitted intact from one generation to the next; (4) natural selection explains social advantage. (5) Heritability estimates provide a valid estimate of the importance of genes in explaining complex human traits or behaviour.

Results: (1) Traits that run in families can result from environmental exposures that differ by social class. (2) The protein encoded by any single gene has too narrow a range of biological activity to explain traits as complex as social status. (3) Because alleles at different gene loci are transmitted independently, genetic inheritance cannot explain why offspring display the same complex traits as their parents. (4) The propagation of mutations that might result in a selective advantage takes much longer than the time for which any social class has achieved or maintained dominance. (5) Heritability measures are accurate only when environment is maintained constant. This is impossible in evaluating human traits.

Conclusions: The roots of social class differences do not lie in our genes. Consequently, genetics cannot be used as a justification for maintaining a ruling class, limiting procreation among the poor, or minimising social support programmes.



Donald Trump could be ready to order a strike against Iran, Australian Government figures say

Senior figures in the Turnbull Government have told the ABC they believe the United States is prepared to bomb Iran's nuclear capability, perhaps as early as next month, and that Australia is poised to help identify possible targets.

But another senior source, in security, emphasises there is a difference between providing intelligence and "active targeting"
It comes amid intense sabre-rattling by US President Donald Trump and his Iranian counterpart Hassan Rouhani.

The ABC has been told secretive Australian defence facilities would likely play a role in identifying targets in Iran, as would British intelligence agencies.

But a senior security source emphasised there was a big difference between providing accurate intelligence and analysis on Iran's facilities and being part of a "kinetic" mission.

"Developing a picture is very different to actually participating in a strike," the source said.

"Providing intelligence and understanding as to what is happening on the ground so that the Government and allied governments are fully informed to make decisions is different to active targeting."

The top-secret Pine Gap joint defence facility in the Northern Territory is considered crucial among the so-called "Five Eyes" intelligence partners — the US, UK, Australia, Canada and New Zealand — for its role in directing American spy satellites.

Analysts from the little-known spy agency Australian Geospatial-Intelligence Organisation would also be expected to play a part.

Canada would be unlikely to play a role in any military action in Iran, nor would the smallest Five Eyes security partner New Zealand, sources said.

Any US-led strike on Iranian targets would be fraught for a region bristling with tensions. Israel would have reason to be anxious about retaliation, given Iran rejects Israel's right to exist.

That said, Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in April invoked the so-called "Begin Doctrine" that calls on the Jewish state to ensure nations hostile to Israel be prevented from developing a nuclear weapons capability.

"Israel will not allow regimes that seek our annihilation to acquire nuclear weapons," Mr Netanyahu said.



We should denounce folly

Modern society suffers when tolerance is given to fools.  We too often give them the power and prestige they demand

James E. Smith, Ph.D.                                                                     

An old adage says we should “gladly suffer fools.” The opposing view is that we should “stop doing stupid.” Either way, the key concern is the direct impact that not confronting stupid or shortsighted actions has on morale and the long-term effectiveness of any decision-making/leadership process.

Whether it is managing people, business processes, visionary leadership or important innovation efforts, the need to mitigate stupid, wasteful directives, interjections and interruptions has become an essential requirement if we are to grow socially and economically.

A primary reason we as a species have been so successful is our ability to take advantage of acquired knowledge in making decisions and solving problems. These abilities also allow us to aggressively protect ourselves from the varied and changing environments we choose to live in, amidst the diverse personalities that we are expected to live and work with.

In other words, we have the ability to successfully teach, mentor, lead and manage as required to precipitate the next great something. This becomes a clear necessity in staying ahead of the problems that prior generations created in solving even earlier problems. It also seems to be a primary characteristic for any advancing technological society, where the notion of simply stepping off the progress merry-go-round in favor of “an earlier, simpler time” will lead only to frustration and a train to Emerald City.

And yet many seem to have an apparently endless willingness to allow, or at least tolerate, acts of stupidity. This is certainly not a new problem. Each generation has had to deal with the few, but noisy and persistent, actors who make life and progress just a little harder to navigate. But unlike in the past, when we may have had the luxury to argue trivial points ad nauseam with little consequence, the accelerating rate of our social and technological development means we can no longer tolerate these delays.

Consider how our society often indulges foolishness by individuals or groups acting out of ignorance or petulance. These people expect to continue getting away with their interference, obstruction, stupidity and obnoxious behavior because they think they are entitled, above reproach or simply smarter than the rest of society, or they have ensconced themselves high up in the hierarchical or governmental pecking order.

Many people who fit this description actually begin as foolish, but appeal to the mercy of their associates or subordinates, learn what is needed, and use the group’s combined skill set to move the process forward. This preferred path eventually removes the party from the “stupid group.” (Your own past experiences can judge what percentage of the population chooses this option.)

Others, however, ignore reality and micro-manage whatever capabilities, skill sets and authorities they have been given or assigned – and often request more time and resources to advance their beliefs, agendas and ignorance. Ultimately, if they fail to accomplish their goals, they find ways to blame everything and everyone around them for their failure. If they plead their case well enough, they may even be rewarded with a promotion and even greater responsibilities that they can’t or won’t handle in the future.

This latter situation is clearly too prevalent in our society at all levels of corporate America, and, of course, within the government: local, state and federal. It is also prevalent in our social programs and the very activities we subject ourselves and our children to. In many of these cases, people get fed up and walk out, while others feel compelled by societal, employment and governance rules and expectations to put up with it all.

It is clear to a growing number of us that we as a society have sat too long letting people who have perfected the art of stupid continue to add ever increasing levels of nonsense to our already busy lives, through accident, oversight, ignorance, laziness, personal gain, or just plain self-entitlement.

Letting “stupid” continue, with no relief or recourse, is affecting our home, social and work environment, our creative and innovative talents, and the governance we expect and subject ourselves to.

We shouldn’t have a problem with ignorant people who are willing to learn and to do the best they can. The problem is with those who are unwilling to learn, or to develop new skill sets but still expect to be allowed by silent assent to do as they please. Even worse are the growing numbers of people who expect to succeed by virtue of their imperious demands and loud, obnoxious, even threatening behavior.

Non-reaction on our part has perpetuated growing levels of such behavior on their part, and an increasing degree of hopelessness and complacency on the part of decent, reasonable people. That has an additional downside.

Failure to respond and act in response to stupid or bad behavior breeds greater incompetence, as equally or more incompetent people are recruited at all management and leadership levels, to ensure that “stupid” isn’t exposed or jeopardized. More importantly, we also get a lowered performance bar, reducing or even removing challenges and the need for excellence. This result makes us all stupid.

Clearly, stupid has been around since little Jimmy decided to poke the sleeping bear with a stick.

I do believe, though, that we as a population have increasingly (and incorrectly) decided that it is just plain easier to let things continue as they are. We have become a nation of people who are too busy to get involved; too indoctrinated into believing the current state of affairs was mandated on high; or too intimidated by loud, menacing street mobs to question their wisdom or asserted “will of the people.”

These will eventually become more opportunities for well-deserved Darwin Awards to weed out the worst practitioners of stupid (or worse) behavior.

I don’t believe today’s “middle America” had any real input into the present situation, though it may be complicit through its silence. But I get an uneasy feeling that what is being pontificated, decided and decreed is being listened to and accepted by too many people who are either clueless, apathetic or feeling obligated by self-imposed, job-related or socially pressured expectations to just sit there and take it.

I also believe a growing percentage of those same folks simply don’t notice or acknowledge what they read or hear about, or even witness with their own eyes. So why do we continue down this path?

I don’t have an answer. Maybe we just need a few people with the courage and presence of mind to speak out, step forward and refuse to take it anymore. It may require a groundswell from the general population to get noticed. But that is unlikely to happen without a few brave people taking a stand.

All I know is, a lot of individuals in this world are still plugged-in and aware enough to know things are not right, or not right enough.

We all see and call things wrong at times, or frequently. However, if we haven’t made a few mistakes, we probably haven’t done anything good either, or we are still in bed with the covers pulled over our heads.

Making well-reasoned decisions – and standing up to bullies, oppression and intolerance – are hallmarks of our nation’s success story. Our continued success, and even survival, depends on this continuing. It seems to me it’s time for each one of us to identify and challenge a small piece of the human foolishness around us, and work to improve the situation, by demanding that the perpetrators “Stop Doing Stupid!”

 Via email


We're racist towards robots, too, study finds

All this shows is that Africans have made the colour brown a danger sign

Have you ever wondered why you rarely see a brown or black robot?
A couple of researchers at Monash University in Melbourne and Canterbury University in New Zealand were having trouble finding any — why were all the robots white?

It led them to investigate whether people ascribe race to robots, and if this changed their behaviour towards them. What they discovered was that humans carry their racial biases over to robots.

"If you ask anybody, 'Are you racist?' of course they will say no," said Dr Christoph Bartneck, one of the study's authors and a professor at the Human Interface Technology Lab at the University of Canterbury in New Zealand.

Instead, the researchers adapted a research tool called the "shooter bias" paradigm.

This is where the participants are asked to play the role of a police officer.

They are then shown images of people and they have to decide whether to shoot at the person or not.

In the original study, participants were shown images of people who were either white or black, armed or unarmed.

In this study, participants were also shown robots with two "skin" colours.

"What we observed is that the exact same bias observed with humans can also be observed with robots," Professor Bartneck told RN Drive. "People changed their behaviour towards brown robots in comparison to white robots."

Professor Bartneck said the race of the participant did not play a role.



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Weather catastrophe in Australia: Farmers crippled by the 'worst drought in 100 years' are facing another TWO YEARS of scorching temperatures and no rain

On past form, one has to expect that this is another long-range prediction that the BoM will get wrong.  On principle I predict substantial rain some time over the next summer.

It's not only form, however that makes this an odd prediction.  We have just had an El Nino over 2016/2017 and there is normally at least 10 years between them.  Secondly, El Nino brings warmer water to the East coast and warmer water means MORE rain, not less. So, farmers:  Don't sell your farm yet.

An El Niño event has been predicted for the end of the year, leaving farmers already struggling with a devastating five-year drought facing disaster.

The Bureau of Meteorology announced the odds of an El Niño system forming this year are now twice as high as normal.

El Niño events often result in severe droughts, bringing higher temperatures, lower than average rainfall and increased risk of bushfires, lasting as long as two years.

If an El Niño does form in the latter half of 2018, it could prove catastrophic for parched Australian farmers who have been crippled by a years-long nationwide dry spell which some are describing as the worst drought in 100 years.

BOM senior forecaster David Crock said on Wednesday there is typically about a 25 per cent chance of an El Niño pattern developing.

The likelihood of one forming is now at 50 per cent, approximately double the normal probability.

'During El Niño, rainfall in eastern Australia is typically below average during winter–spring,' the Bureau of Meteorology stated.

'Daytime temperatures are also typically warmer than average for southern Australia. A neutral ENSO phase has little effect on Australian climate.

'Most international climate models surveyed by the Bureau suggest the tropical Pacific will continue to warm.

'Five of eight models indicate this warming will reach El Niño levels in the southern hemisphere spring, while a sixth model reaches El Niño levels in December.'


A hot summer in the North of the world

When I read the article below about unusually hot weather in the Northern hemisphere I had to laugh.  Why?  Because I live in the Southerrn hemisphere in Australia and we have been getting a lot of reports of an unusually cold winter -- e.g. here.

So the Green/Left have been up to their old tricks again and reporting only the facts that suit them.  There is not one mention of cold weather anywhere below.  It's so blatant. It is one big cherry-pick and as such is totally dishonest.  You can "prove" just about anything by carefully selected examples. The report below is not remotely scientific.

Two comments from fellow skeptics were also interesting.  They also mentioned the selectivity in the reports below.

Climatologist Tim Ball wrote:

"Why don’t they report all the record cold temperatures being set. For example, the coldest July 2 in 107 years in Eugene Oregon and the lowest ever recorded by satellite in Antarctica at -144°F.

The pattern is due to a normal Meridional flow in the Rossby Wave of the Circumpolar Vortex.

One  of the failures of climate science is it studied averages initially then in the 1970s started looking at trends. Even today it has ignored variation and that is a sure indicator of the increased Meridional flow.

What is happening is normal, explainable and yet being exploited by those with a political agenda"

Paul Driessen wrote:

"My recollection is that the hottest temperature ever recorded in Alaska was 100 degrees F … in Fort Yukon … in 1915. I’ll bet the Post didn’t want to mention that little inconvenient truth, nor a lot of other record highs in other parts of the world, many inconvenient decades ago"

In the town of Sodankyla, Finland, the thermometer on July 17 registered a record-breaking 90 degrees, a remarkable figure given that Sodankyla is 59 miles north of the Arctic Circle, in a region known for winter snowmobiling and an abundance of reindeer.

This is a hot, strange and dangerous summer across the planet.

Greece is in mourning after scorching heat and high winds fueled wildfires that have killed more than 80 people. Japan recorded its highest temperature in history, 106 degrees, in a heat wave that killed 65 people in a week and hospitalized 22,000, shortly after catastrophic flooding killed 200.

Montreal hit 98 degrees on July 2, its warmest temperature ever measured. Canadian health officials estimate as many as 70 people died in that heat wave.

In the United States, 35 weather stations in the past month have set new marks for warm overnight temperatures. Southern California has had record heat and widespread power outages. In Yosemite Valley, which is imperiled by wildfires, park rangers have told everyone to flee.

The brutal weather has been supercharged by human-induced climate change, scientists say. Climate models for three decades have predicted exactly what the world is seeing this summer.

And they predict that it will get hotter - and that what is a record today could someday be the norm.

"The old records belong to a world that no longer exists," said Martin Hoerling, a research meteorologist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

It's not just heat. A warming world is prone to multiple types of extreme weather - heavier downpours, stronger hurricanes, longer droughts.

"You see roads melting, airplanes not being able to take off, there's not enough water," said Katharine Hayhoe, director of the Climate Science Center at Texas Tech University. "Climate change hits us at our Achilles' heel. In the Southwest, it's water availability. On the Gulf Coast, it's hurricanes. In the East, it's flooding. It's exacerbating the risks we already face today."

The proximate cause of the Northern Hemisphere bake-off is the unusual behavior of the jet stream, a wavy track of west-to-east-prevailing wind at high altitude. The jet stream controls broad weather patterns, such as high-pressure and low-pressure systems. The extent of climate change's influence on the jet stream is an intense subject of research.

This summer, the jet stream has undulated in extreme waves that have tended to block weather systems from migrating. The result has been stagnant high-pressure and low-pressure systems with dire results, such as heat waves in some places and flooding elsewhere.

"When those waves are very big - as they have been for the past few weeks - they tend to get stuck in place," said Jennifer Francis, a professor of atmospheric science at Rutgers University. Last year, scientists published evidence that the conditions leading up to "stuck jet streams" are becoming more common, with warming in the Arctic seen as a likely culprit.

Gone are the days when scientists drew abright line dividing weather and climate. Now researchers can examine a weather event and estimate how much climate change had to do with causing or exacerbating it.

Last year, when Hurricane Harvey broke the record for how much rain could fall from a single storm, researchers knew climate change had been a factor.

Months later, scientists presented findings that Harvey dumped at least 15 percent more rain in Houston than it would have without global warming. Theory, meet reality: When the atmosphere is warmer, it can hold more moisture. Climate change does not cause hurricanes to spin up or thunderstorms to develop, but it can be an intensifier.

In Dallas, where the temperature hit 100 on 10 out of 11 days this month, three homeless people have died of heat-related causes in the past week, said Brenda Snitzer, executive director of the Stewpot, a downtown shelter.


Earth's resources consumed in ever greater destructive volumes

The arm-waving generalizations below are another iteration of a very old chant. The scare even predates global warming.  And it still is as asinine as ever.  The basic flaw in the scare is philosophical.  They fail to consider what a resource is.   Because of that simple-mindedness, they overlook a basic truth.  Resources are CREATED.  A thing is not a resource until somebody finds a use for it.

For instance:  There are some parts of the world where there are acres of pesky red pebbles lying around upon the ground: Bauxite.  Weipa in Northern Australia is one such place.  And those pebbles were useless to man and beast until Hall & Heroult found that they contained aluminium oxide and devised a way to get the aluminium out of them.

Aluminium was once as rare as gold. It is now so common that most households regularly throw it out -- used aluminium foil from food wrapping.  Those red pebbles suddenly became a huge resource.  And since aluminium is the most plentiful metal in the earth's crust we are NOT going to run out of that very useful metal.  And if we include its alloys, it can do just about anything that any metal can do.

And the process of resource creation continues.  Plastics are another example.  Black sticky stuff -- crude oil -- is the source of an innumerable array of things made out of plastic.  And with the advent of fracking, talk of "peak oil" has strangely faded away. And it's only in the 1940s that we found a use for uranium. It can now supply all our electrical power from now to kingdom come if the Green/Left will let it. Curiously, in the early days of nuclear power, the Left welcomed it.  It is still the safest form of power generation.

What about food?  Ever since Hitler, Greens have been worried about food running out.  Hitler launched his war because he thought he needed Russian farmland to feed his Reich.

An excellent answer to that scare is China. Under Mao Tse Tung, China imported lots of wheat from Australia to feed their people. Food certainly does run short under Communism.  Soviet Russia also had 70 "bad seasons" in a row.  But look at China now.  Under Chinese-style capitalism China has become a major food exporter.  Have a look at the labels on all those cans of "Own brand" food in your local supermarket.  Half of them will be from China.

Those clever little Chinese farmers can grown anything anywhere, more or less.  Only their Politburo could not.  They can feed a population of over a billion in good style and still have lots left over.  They now supply most of the world's garlic and even most of the world's truffles!  Is anything sacred? And remember, while feeding us, China also supplies most of our electrical goods!

So where are our food shortages going to come from? Most governments in the Western world are driven frantic trying to find markets for their surplus food.  They do all sorts of strange things to deal with those surpluses.  America pays its farmers not to farm part of their land.  The characteristic state of food supply markets is glut.

OK. One more thing: What about water?  There are droughts a-plenty and a lot of competition for the available water in some parts of the world.  Are we doomed to drying out?  An instructive example is the Middle East.  It has had a lot of drought in recent years.  But there is one country in the ME that has plenty of water: Israel.  Why?  Is it a plot by the learned elders of Zion?  No.  They don't exist, despite the fact that all Arabs (just about) believe in them.  No.  Israelis have developed very efficient desalination technology -- so they suck all the water they want out of the sea.  They have made seawater a resource.  What they do, others can do.

Oh!  And what about the pre-Warmism scare that we are running out of phosphates?  We were getting most of our phosphates from bird poop and the birds weren't pooping fast enough. We need phosphorous for our bones so that could be bad.  Shortly after the scare had got legs, however, a vast new deposist of mineral phosphates was discovered in North Africa. That scare quickly evaporated.

In conclusion, there is just one basic resource: Human brainpower

Humanity is devouring our planet’s resources in increasingly destructive volumes, according to a new study that reveals we have consumed a year’s worth of carbon, food, water, fibre, land and timber in a record 212 days.

As a result, the Earth Overshoot Day – which marks the point at which consumption exceeds the capacity of nature to regenerate – has moved forward two days to 1 August, the earliest date ever recorded.

To maintain our current appetite for resources, we would need the equivalent of 1.7 Earths, according to Global Footprint Network, an international research organisation that makes an annual assessment of how far humankind is falling into ecological debt.

The overshoot began in the 1970s, when rising populations and increasing average demands pushed consumption beyond a sustainable level. Since then, the day at which humanity has busted its annual planetary budget has moved forward.

Thirty years ago, the overshoot was on 15 October. Twenty years ago, 30 September. Ten years ago, 15 August. There was a brief slowdown, but the pace has picked back up in the past two years. On current trends, next year could mark the first time, the planet’s budget is busted in July.

While ever greater food production, mineral extraction, forest clearance and fossil-fuel burning bring short-term (and unequally distributed) lifestyle gains, the long-term consequences are increasingly apparent in terms of soil erosion, water shortages and climate disruption.

The day of reckoning is moving nearer, according to Mathis Wackernagel, chief executive and co-founder of Global Footprint Network.

“Our current economies are running a Ponzi scheme with our planet,” he said. “We are borrowing the Earth’s future resources to operate our economies in the present. Like any Ponzi scheme, this works for some time. But as nations, companies, or households dig themselves deeper and deeper into debt, they eventually fall apart.”

The situation is reversible. Research by the group indicates political action is far more effective than individual choices. It notes, for example, that replacing 50% of meat consumption with a vegetarian diet would push back the overshoot date by five days. Efficiency improvements in building and industry could make a difference of three weeks, and a 50% reduction of the carbon component of the footprint would give an extra three months of breathing space.

In the past, economic slowdowns – which tend to reduce energy consumption – have also shifted the ecological budget in a positive direction. The 2007-08 financial crisis saw the date push back by five days. Recessions in the 90s and 80s also lifted some of the pressure, as did the oil shock of the mid 1970s.

But the overall trend is of costs increasingly being paid by planetary support systems.

Separate scientific studies over the past year has revealed a third of land is now acutely degraded, while tropical forests have become a source rather than a sink of carbon. Scientists have also raised the alarm about increasingly erratic weather, particularly in the Arctic, and worrying declines in populations of bees and other insect pollinators, which are essential for crops.


The strange death of Protestant Britain

There is an article under the title above in "The Tablet", an international Catholic publication. It is very graphic in documenting the decline of church attendance in Britain. A small excerpt below. What the author, Ian Bradley, writes is no great surprise of course.  The churches themselves have long been agonizing over their steadily shrinking congregations.

What is interesting however is the report that the peak year for both Catholic and Anglican churchgoing was 1955.  That's pretty recent. What can have happened around that time to have caused such a decline?

To answer that, however, we have to look much more widely than Protestant Britain, because the truth is that Western Europe as a whole has lost faith.  It is only in the former Communist countries where faith survives, mostly Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox  faith.

Bradley, a Presbyterian minister, asserts that Catholic congregations have held up better in England than Anglican ones but is rather glib about that.  Is he unaware of the boost to Catholicism in Britain from Poland? Many Catholic congregations in Britain are now largely Polish. And there are also immigrant contributions from Asia (the Philippines and Vietnam) and Africa. So purely British Catholicism is also in sharp decline.  That is most clearly seen in the dearth of vocations these days. Australia is much like Britain and in Australia, as the old Irish priests die off, your priest these days is likely to be Asian or black.

So what is it about Western Europe and its derivative societies that has killed faith?  The answer is rather clear, even as to timing:  It is the Welfare State.  The Welfare State in Britain was the work of Clement Attlee, who was a politician for the Labour Party who served as Prime Minister from 1945 to 1951. The welfare State was widely adopted to varying degrees elsewhere in postwar Western Europe and took away most of the great anxieties in life.  You no longer risked hunger or unattended ill health and your children had good opportunities for advancing themselves through education.  The State became God. It did what God merely promised.

There were of course some other influences pushing in the same direction.  WWII spurred a great upsurge in scientific knowlege and technical innovation (think penicillin) that gave us more control over nature.  Instead of nature being "red in tooth and claw", it became "endangered". It was no longer a source of fear. Instead of misfortunes being caused by "hobgoblins and foul fiends", they are now caused by well-understood meteorological events and viruses, for instance.

That the welfare state was central, however, is powerfully shown by the example of Eastern Europe, including Russia.  Under Communist tyranny, everybody lived under a very comprehensive welfare state -- in theory.  In practice, the state was a source of fear. If you kept your head down, you had a job but the food was mostly poor and only intermittently available.  And health care was rudimentary for most.

So Eastern Europe experienced the welfare State as a nightmare, with only the afterlife promised by the church offering any prospect of relief.   And, now that Communism has gone from those unfortunate lands, the promises of socialism are still regarded with great cynicism and the faith that it tried to suppress forcibly is remembered as the true hope.

So that accounts well for the decline of the mainstream churches but Bradley also acknowledges the flourishing of smaller, often Pentecostal churches.  So what have those churches got that the old mainstream churches have not?  It would be very easy to say that they have a revised form of Christianity.  Perhaps their theory and practice is more "modern".

But that is not at all true.  Sin still matters to them.  Heaven and hell still matter to them.  They are "old" not "modern".  It is the mainstream churches who have gone "modern" in a desperate quest to hang on to their congregations.

Many would see the watershed for that transition in the book "Honest to God" by John A. T. Robinson, Bishop of Woolwich, published in 1963.  Not to put too fine a point on it, that book marked the introduction of atheism into the Church of England.  There was no longer a God.  There was only a "ground of our being", whatever that means.  So eventually you would even get Archbishops of Canterbury, such as Robert Runcie, claiming that in private they meditated rather than praying.

So it seems clear that the mainstream churches have moved in  exactly the wrong direction to hold their congregations.  This is most clearly seen in the case of the Anglican diocese of Sydney in Australia.  Sydney is a big city but it has only about a sixth of the Australian population -- but it has a third of Australia's Anglicans. And it is very "old fashioned".  Most of its clergy could probably assent sincerely to the declarations of the "39 articles of religion" found in the Book of Common Prayer, first published in 1662.

To put it in a nutshell, the Sydney diocese still preaches the old Protestant faith of 400 years ago -- and thrives doing so. Where the Sydney Catholic seminary has about 6 students, the Anglican church's Moore College has about 300.  The old Protestantism was a deliberate and sustained attempt to get back to the religion of the New Testament -- and in doing so they tapped into a spiritual powerhouse.

The rise of Christianity out of Israel into all the European world in its first few centuries was meteoric and transformative.  From the words of an obscure Judean prophet it became the religion of all Europe, sweeping all the old religions of Europe aside.  So tapping into that faith was to tap into great religious power. The old churches have become weak but Christianity has not.  It still has its old power to transform lives if it preaches redemption instead of homosexuality

So Eastern Europe and the Sydney diocese are strong counterpoints to the decline of traditional Christian Europe.

I have not so far mentioned the USA but my analysis applies well there also.  America is MUCH more religious than Europe. Why?

1). America still has a rather patchy welfare state with quite a lot of people falling into severe poverty at times. And access to healthcare is also very patchy, made worse by Obamacare.

2) America was founded by religious fanatics and there have long been religious "revivals" in America which keep the old Bible faith before people's minds. And that works all the old transformative Christian magic.

IN ST ANDREWS, my home town, the Presbyterian church built to commemorate the four Protestants burned to death here during the Reformation was recently turned into a university research library. Next door there was for many years a Salvation Army Citadel, a testament to the virtues of teetotalism and evangelical assurance championed by General William Booth. It is now a "Beer Kitchen".

A similar fate has befallen much of the rest of the Protestant landscape of Britain. In the South Wales Valleys Nonconformist chapels have all but disappeared, languishing, rotting and deserted where they have not been turned into second-hand furniture depositories.

In 1901 the city of Hull, long known as "pure and Protestant Hull", had one of the highest churchgoing populations in the country and 115 places of Christian worship, most of them Nonconformist chapels. Now just 11 remain in use and Hull has the lowest level of church-going of any British local authority. It is those denominations that have been the bedrock of British Protestant identity that have declined most spectacularly in the last 60 years. The two national denominations, the Church of England and the Church of Scotland, have each lost 75 per cent of their membership over this period


Simple solution to STEM teacher shortage

Both ideas put forward below have great merit but they do not exhaust the possibilities.  Another idea is to make teaching into more attractive work than it is today.  It seems fairly likely that a fair percentage of mathematically talented people are fairly nerdy types and they would be very much pushed away by the boisterous and occasionally violent classrooms that greet government school teachers today.  Almost all teachers report problems with indiscipline and it is a major reason reported for teacher turnover.

So it is a problem generally, not only for maths teachers and solving it in general would help bring back mathematical enthusiasts who have been deterred from teaching in the first place.

And both the source and the solution for indiscipline are historically as clear as day.  Leftist ideas that forbid physical punishment are the fons et origo of contemporary problems. The few disciplinary options that are now available to head teachers are plainly insufficient.  The orderly classrooms of yesteryear are now rare.  As a result, education for all is now regularly disrupted.  As usual, Leftist ideas have proved destructive.

So physical punishment needs to be an option again.  It was until recently.  I remember it myself. So it can clearly be an option again. It would require a revised legal framework but it would substantially fix education, including STEM education

Faced with the shortage of qualified teachers for science, technology, engineering, and maths (STEM) subjects, the federal government recently announced its intention of solving this problem — but it is a state and territory issue.

Alan Finkel, Australia’s Chief Scientist, delivered an excellent speech last week extolling the importance of teaching rigorous content knowledge in STEM subjects. He identified the problem of many student arriving at university to study STEM-related degrees without the necessary foundations. Clearly, we need to improve the quality of maths and science teaching across the school system.

But it is difficult to attract science and maths graduates to the teaching profession. Approximately 20% of Years 7–10 science and maths teachers in Australia do not have any university qualification in their subjects.

One straightforward idea to encourage STEM graduates to become teachers — which CIS has been advocating for many years — is to allow differential, market-driven pay rates for teachers depending on the demand for qualified teachers in their subjects.

This isn’t like the simplistic ‘pay all teachers more’ or ‘introduce performance-based pay’ solutions.

Rather, teacher salaries should be higher or lower depending on whether there is an oversupply or undersupply of teachers in the subject. For example, if there is an oversupply of history teachers and an undersupply of science teachers, then schools should be able to pay science teachers relatively more.

While this might seem an absolute no-brainer, it is surprisingly controversial. Education unions tend to oppose differential pay rates, which helps explain why we continue to have set teacher salaries that only vary with experience and expertise, and not with subject area. As long as this is the case, it is very hard to see an end to Australia’s STEM woes.

The truth is maths, engineering, and science graduates tend to be in demand by many employers, and so they have to forgo relatively high-paying jobs to go into teaching.

Another impediment for STEM graduates becoming teachers is that they must take two years off paid work to do a Master of Teaching. Until recently, it was possible to do a one-year Graduate Diploma of Education instead.

The benefits of a Masters compared to a Diploma are arguable — and university teacher education degrees often don’t equip teaching graduates with evidence-based practices. So it is hard to argue that STEM graduates should have to do a further two years of full-time study to become qualified teachers.

Introducing differential teacher pay rates for STEM teachers won’t solve the problem overnight, but there seem to be few other viable options.


Lauren Southern needs a new t-shirt

Jeremy Sammut below preaches in favour of the individual and against the fractionating into groups preached by the Left. I wholeheartedly agree with him. He does not however confront the question: "How do we get there from here?"

And that is the fatal flaw in his criticism of Lauren Southern below.  Multiculturalism has an almost complete monopoly of the media.  We are constantly told that no other system of thought can possibly be virtuous.  We are constantly presented with the wonders of all sorts of minority groups.  And those groups are always held up relative to white males.  White males are the boogeymen, the villains.  You can be proud of your identity as long as you are not a white male.

That monologue has to be disrupted if we are to defeat racism.  Because multiculturalism has become a form of racism.  White males are what the Jews historically were:  A group that is too successful and has to be cut down to size wherever possible.

So Lauren disrupts that monolithic narrative. She shows that another view is possible. And in so doing she exposes the emperor's clothes. She openly challenges the "consensus" and shows that there is no answer to her challenge. Multiculturalists abuse her but no reasoned argument from them is forthcoming. Trump won power by challenging the hate that the Left pour out on ordinary white people so there is great potential for Lauren's message also to hit home.

White males do still undoubtedly rule the roost so they are not as vulnerable as Jews once were but it does get tiresome to be identified day in and day out as the source of all evil.  And it is more than tiresome.  It is borderline deranged. Lauren is in the end standing up for sanity

Below is a picture of two blue-eyed, blond-haired white men of European origin who rule very big roosts. Multiculturalism seems to be some way off yet.

It is fair to say that in these politically correct times there is a lack of political leadership around many contentious social issues that many politicians and community leaders hesitate to speak out about.

It is also a truism that politics abhors a vacuum. However, we should be careful not to fill the vacuum with another vacuum.
This thought is prompted by the controversy generated by the visit to Australia by the 23-year-old Canadian alt-right activist Lauren Southern.

Southern — who had already tried to drum up publicity over her initially rejected visa application — pulled another stunt upon arrival in Brisbane by wearing a t-shirt emblazoned with the slogan ‘It’s Okay to be White.’

This was followed by Southern — who speaks fluent soundbite — telling the media how pleased she was to be in country committed to “Western culture — something that may not be here for much longer if left-wing Australian politicians continue their pathological worship of multiculturalism.”

If Southern’s heart is in the right place, her arguments certainly aren’t. For many of the things she is saying on western culture and multiculturalism, claims to stand for, and literally wears on her ‘T’, are mutually exclusive.

Yes, ‘hard’ multiculturalism poses a danger to Western culture when migrants from countries with conflicting cultural values migrate and are not encouraged to integrate with the norms and values of their new country.

But, no: the answer to multiculturalism is not to practice a different form of identity politics — a new form of tribalism — by being proud of ‘whiteness’.

What is actually worth defending about Western culture (and is the antidote to identity politics and multiculturalism) is the fundamental principle of respect for the individual — regardless of superficial differences such as those that are literally skin-deep.
If Southern really wants to defend Western culture and all it should truly stand for, she should buy a new T-shirt.
This one should be emblazoned with that famous quote by one of the greatest proponents of the respect for the individual, Dr Martin Luther King: “judge not by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.”


Fossil fuel industry spent nearly $2 billion to kill U.S. climate action, new study finds

It's always amusing when the Green/Left try to glue some facts on to their half-baked theories.  Below is an example.  As usual, they tell only half the story -- or rather on this occasion only a small fraction of the storty.

They agonize over the sums various producers of traditional fuels spend on lobbying Congress and say that environmetalists spend a lot less. And that is the only sort of promotional expenditure they mention.  And they don't even show WHAT causes the lobbyists were pushing. They assume that every cent went to promote climate skepticism. But big companies have lots of interests and it is possible that global warming was only a small part of the causes that they were lobbying for.  We don't even know that they mentioned global warming at all.  Greenies have a paranoid conviction that it was all about them but offer no proof of that. So strike one for the first part of the story that they "overlooked"

But the really BIG strike is that they have ignored the Greenie effort at promoting their cause to the PUBLIC.  Lobbying Congress is all well and good but if you have the public on your side, Congress is in your pocket.  And on my count you would be lucky to see one anti-warming article in the media for 50 pro-warming articles.  Skeptics are hugely outnumbered by apostles of the Warmist creed.  So if you look at TOTAL promotional activity, the amounts some companies spend on lobbying Congress are just a drop in the bucket.

Amazing how different it all looks when you look at the whole picture, isn't it?

Legislation to address climate change has repeatedly died in Congress. But a major new study says the policy deaths were not from natural causes — they were caused by humans, just like climate change itself is.

Climate action has been repeatedly drowned by a devastating surge and flood of money from the fossil fuel industry — nearly $2 billion in lobbying since 2000 alone.

This is according to stunning new analysis in the journal Climatic Change on “The climate lobby” by Drexel University environmental sociologist Robert J. Brulle.

The most important conclusion of Brulle’s is that spending by those in favor of climate action was dramatically overwhelmed by the big fossil fuel suppliers and users: “Environmental organizations and the renewable energy sector lobbying expenditures were dwarfed by a ratio of 10:1 by the spending of the sectors engaged in the supply and use of fossil fuels.”

The study serves to help put to rest notion that the effort to pass climate legislation has ever been a fair fight. But then, the big corporate producers and consumers of fossil fuels have hundreds of billions of dollars in annual revenue — thus dwarfing the funds available to major environmental groups and the emerging clean energy sector.

Brulle analyzed the “countervailing power ratio,” which is the total lobbying expenditures by the big fossil fuel trade associations along with the transportation, electric utility, and fossil fuel sectors divided by the total lobbying expenditures of the renewable energy sector along with environmental organizations

“Special interests dominate the conversation, all working for a particular advantage for their industry,” as Dr. Brulle told ThinkProgress in an email. “The common good is not represented.”

Indeed, the other key point of the study is that a truly staggering amount of money has been spent lobbying Congress on climate change this century, more than $2 billion.

The biggest surge came, unsurprisingly, during the 2009-2010 period — when Congress came the closest it ever did to passing serious climate legislation

During 2009 and 2010, total lobbying expenditures on climate change accounted for a whopping nine percent of all lobbying expenditures.

The House of Representatives passed the American Clean Energy and Security Act, often called the Waxman-Markey bill, by a slim margin in June 2009. At that point, the fossil fuel industry launched an all-out — and ultimately successful — lobbying push to undermine any effort by the Senate to  pass their own version of the climate bill over the next 12 months.

Indeed, of the top nine energy companies with the biggest lobbying expenditures between January 2009 and June 2010, six were Big Oil companies (led by ExxonMobil), and the other three were a coal producer and two coal-intensive utilities.

“It’s clear that when the greatest threat presents itself — like when Congress and the Executive branch are aligned and favorable to and recognize climate change as a major issue,” explained Brulle, “these corporations that engage in the supply and use of fossil fuels work the hardest to upend legislative efforts by increasing their lobby spending ten-fold.”

Finally, it’s worth noting, as Brulle does, that electric utilities, which collectively have spent vast sums lobbying on climate change, were not all lobbying uniformly against the climate bill in 2009 and 2010.

But the biggest carbon polluters at the time, such as Southern Company and American Electric Power (AEP), were among the very biggest spenders.

Also, as the study notes, “several corporations’ apparent support for climate policy is a sophisticated strategy to simultaneously attempt to appear to support such legislation, while actually supporting efforts to undermine it.”

To do this, some companies had memberships in coalitions that both supported climate legislation (U.S. Climate Action Partnership) and that opposed it (American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity).

And it appears to be the case that the opponents of the climate bill were very actively trying to kill the bill, while many of the so-called proponents were mainly lobbying to shape the bill “as a hedge against unacceptable climate legislation in case their first preference (no action) is defeated,” as the study notes.

Post 2010,  the fossil fuel industry has maintained its consistent large edge in  lobbying over environmentalists and clean energy companies.

Sadly, brand new IRS rules from the Trump administration “will no longer force Kochs and other groups to disclose donors,” as the New York Times reported Tuesday. That means major anti-climate groups, like Americans for Prosperity, will  not have to report that it is heavily backed by the Koch brothers, who are billionaire fossil fuel barons.

In short, tracking the role of dirty money in politics just got a lot harder.

The bottom line is that one major reason for the lack of action on climate change is that, for nearly two decades, the opponents of serious action have been vastly outspending the proponents.


The transgender posse vs. Scarlett Johansson

I can see Jeff Jacoby's point below but in the end I don't agree with him.  This business of women playing men and blacks playing whites seems stupid and inauthentic to me. Why would you do that?  There are plenty of actors and actresses of all shapes and sizes. The case Jeff discusses may be an exception in that there may be no good tranny actors. Transgenderism is a mental illness so that may interfere with good acting.  Looking at it the other way, however, if trannies are bad actors, bad acting is to be expected in the part.

And why was Scarlett Johansson chosen to play a rough bird dressed up in men's clothing?  She is a gorgeous female. It's a crazy way to cast her.

I am a devotee of Viennese operetta and in some operettas women were deliberately cast in male roles ("trouser roles"). And I greatly dislike that. As far as I can see, it was just an instance of the decadence that was common throughout the German lands in the early C20 -- particularly in artistic circles.

The present fashion also has whiffs of decadence.  It is a feminist credo that men and women are so similar that  either sex should be able to play any part, whether the part is male or female.  That seems to me as blind as the rest of feminism. 

Men and women are stylistically different in all sorts of subtle ways:  The way they stand, the way they walk, the way they run, the way they drape scarves around themselves, the way they simper, the way they talk etc.  It is rare for a male to be able to portray a female convincingly and I doubt that there are  even many actors who can do so.  I see trannies around the place at times and to me they stand out like dog's balls.

It should simply be easier to get a convincing performance from a member of the group concerned

SCARLETT JOHANSSON IS no stranger to left-wing pressure. In 2014, protesters demanded that she sever her ties to an Israeli company, SodaStream. Last year a racial interest group condemned her for playing the character Motoko in "Ghost in the Shell," a Hollywood remake of a Japanese classic.

The posse came after Johansson yet again last week. Her supposed sin this time: agreeing to star in the upcoming movie "Rub & Tug," which tells the story of Dante "Tex" Gill, a brothel owner in 1970s Pittsburgh who was born female but lived as a man. The casting of Johansson triggered a backlash from transgender actors, who not only argued that the role should go to someone who personally identifies as transgender, but claimed it would be unethical and hostile to do otherwise.

Typical of the criticism was a tweet from Jen Richards, a transgender activist: "Here are the rules we the Trans decided," she posted. "Until the world stops erasing/oppressing/murdering us, trans women play trans women, trans men play trans men, nonbinary people play NB people."

The self-described "queer and trans" Yas Necati was even more categorical. "I don't care if Scarlett Johansson gives the performance of her life playing Gill," she wrote. "I don't care if it's beautifully acted, emotional, or even convincing. She shouldn't be playing a transgender man as a cisgender [i.e., conventional] woman."

This may pass for sophistication in Hollywood and other lefty precincts. It strikes me as pernicious nonsense.

To begin with, it denies the legitimacy of acting as a profession. Actors make believe. They portray characters who they aren't, and the more gifted and perceptive the actor, the more penetrating and meaningful the portrayal. In past films, Johansson has played a 17th-century Dutch servant, a high-school dropout, a drug mule who develops psychokinetic powers, and an extraterrestrial in human form. If Johansson's real identity didn't disqualify her for those roles, why should it disqualify her from the role of Gill?

To act is by definition to pretend — to pretend to be severely deformed, to be a Mafia don, to be the queen of England, to be a paralyzed mathematical genius.

Or to be transgender.

The demand that only transgender actors be cast in transgender roles is similar to the demand that only nonwhite actors be cast in nonwhite roles, and vice versa. The late playwright August Wilson, whose work chronicled the black experience in America, vehemently pressed that view in a series of high-profile clashes 20 years ago with Robert Brustein, the renowned drama critic and founder of the American Repertory Theater. Wilson argued that black actors should never appear on stage except in black roles (and, for that matter, that women should never play men). Brustein passionately rejected such separatism. The deepest purpose of drama, he said, was to illuminate "the workings of the human soul, which has no color."

Happily, Wilson's view hasn't prevailed. Some of the most memorable performances in modern times have been explicitly colorblind. To cite only a single illustrious example, think of Lin-Manuel Miranda's "Hamilton," with its cast of nonwhite Founding Fathers.

Catholic roles do not automatically go to Catholic actors. You don't have to be an immigrant in real life to play an immigrant in a film. Gay actors are not restricted to gay parts.

Great actors transcend their demographic categories. It would be folly to demand that casting decisions be rigidly confined within them. The last thing transgender actors should want is a rule restricting them to a ghetto of transgender roles.

Under pressure, Johansson has withdrawn from "Rub & Tug." Now it isn't clear the movie will even be made. The protesters may have ensured not only that Gill won't be played by a non-transgender woman — but that his life won't be depicted by anyone at all.

Australia's ABC panned over Paul Bongiorno's Uncle Tom slur

This is a bit hard to sort out, but it seems that Bongiornio found an ABC panel show to be boring.  He attributed that to the  fact that the participants were all Leftists and "Uncle Toms".  Whether that was true or not, his usage of the term "Uncle Tom" was greeted as politically incorrect.  In the original novel about him, Uncle Tom was a good guy.  But Leftists hate that

Warren Mundine [An Aborigine] has slammed a “hypocritical and disgraceful” response from the ABC after it distanced itself from commentator Paul Bongiorno and his reference to the indigenous businessman with the racial slur “Uncle Tom”.

In a statement provided to The Australian yesterday, the public broadcaster said: “Mr Bongiorno is not an ABC employee; his Twitter account is not an ABC ­account; any tweets are Mr Bongiorno’s own.”

It came a week after Bongiorno tweeted on July 8: “As many ‘righties’ on Dky (sic) after dark panels … and that includes ‘Uncle Tom’ lefties craving relevance.”

Mr Mundine told The Australian last night the tweet was written in clear reference to him, and described the ABC’s reaction as unacceptable. “Any organisation that reacted in this way would deserve to be pilloried for their pathetic, weak response,” he said.

Bongiorno apologised last night for causing offence and said he never intended to use a racist slur but he objected to Mr Mundine calling for the ABC to sack him.

“I am an independent commentator and journalist, currently on holidays; it is passing strange that the only reaction to some who take offence is to demand one of my employers sack me,” he tweeted.

“My tweet was in response to an attack on the ABC for only having ‘lefty’ panels. I made the point that there is plenty of evidence to show Sky has ‘rightie’ panels or acceptable ‘lefties’, which was my intention using the term ‘Uncle Tom.’ ”


‘Program did not consider the impact on victims’: ABC slammed by MP over NZ deportation piece

Leftists  going into bat for violent criminals is routine.  Note the Tookie Williams disgrace.  The  great hulking brute killed weak little Asians without a second thought   -- but the California Left did its best to save him from execution

In this case however there is something else involved.  Unmentioned on all sides is that the offenders were mostly Maori or part Maori and Maori have a high crime rate.  Kiwis don't want them back if only for that reason.  It gives them a real law & order problem.  Their underlying objections are racist but they dare not mention that

THE ABC has been slammed by Australian politicians over its Foreign Correspondent program which investigated why the country is “detaining, cuffing and deporting more New Zealanders than any other group”.

Journalist and former Wallaby Peter FitzSimons, who was the guest reporter on Tuesday’s night’s program, had gone to New Zealand to see how deportation had affected the relations between the two countries.

More than 1300 Kiwis have been deported from Australia — for committing crimes or being found to be of bad character — in the past three years, with another 15,000 set to be sent back over the next decade.

However it copped major backlash from Coalition ministers who say it failed to interview any victims.

“I watched the entire program, and I have to say I felt the ABC program did not consider the impact on victims,” Assistant Home Affairs Minister Alex Hawke told Sky News.

“There wasn’t a victim on the show, and what we’re talking about is serious criminal offences.

“In the domestic violence cohort I can tell you, there are sexual offences against women in front of their children in many cohorts in different parts of the world in Australia, and they’re serious, serious offences.

“The ABC program did argue, it kind of presented that we are doing something unfair, or that we are doing something wrong.

“The Australian Government makes no apology for deporting serious criminals who are not citizens of Australia.”
Peter FitzSimons talks to deportee Ko Haapu. The ABC was slammed by Home Affairs Minister Alex Hawke for the program failing to talk to victims.

New Zealand Justice Minister Andrew Little claims that Australia is breaching human rights with its hard-line deportation policy. But Mr Hawke dubbed this “irresponsible”.

He took to Twitter during the night of the program to express his disappointment in Mr Little:

Since the Migration Act was amended in December 2014, it gave powers to Australia’s Department of Home Affairs together with Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton the ability to cancel the visas of people who could pose a risk to the community or who they’ve deemed are not of “good character”.

Mr Dutton also took to his Twitter account during the Foreign Correspondent piece to share the millions of dollars Australia has saved from cancelling visas of particular persons:

During his Sky News interview Mr Hawke had a direct message for Aussies living across the Ditch.

“We would as the Australian Government say to citizens in New Zealand, ‘Well you must obey the law, and if you don’t obey the law you may be deported back to Australia.’

“We’d like to hear the same message from the New Zealand Government.”

Foreign Correspondent followed the case of former New Zealand soldier turned motorcycle gang member and deportee, Ko Haapu. He had also previously worked as security detail for former NZ prime minister John Key.

“I wasn’t on criminal charges … but I was still treated as a prisoner who has committed a crime,” Haapu told FitzSimons.

In the program titled “Don’t Call Australia Home” FitzSimons found that under the changes to the Migrant Act, “just being a member of a bike gang, an organisation suspected of criminal behaviour, was enough to get Haapu deported on ‘bad character’ grounds, even though it’s not illegal in Western Australia to belong to one”.

Mr Hawke said he was unable to comment on any individual case, but that many deportees who spoke to the media were not telling the whole truth.

“If people want to go into the public domain about their case, they should reveal to the public of Australia and New Zealand the full details of all of their cases, including the wrongdoing they’ve been engaged in, and what you see in the media quite often in relation to criminal deportation cases is only part of the story,” Mr Hawke said.

“The vast, vast, vast bulk of the crimes we see are shocking. They are repeat offenders, in many cases people have been warned several times over the past, when we had weaker laws, before this Government came to office, they received a warning that if they commit another crime they will be deported.

“It’s not their first crime, not their first time, and so I’d ask people to look very carefully into the details of any case in the public domain, and there is always more to the case in many cases than you’ll see in the public domain.”

“I’m unable to speak about any case, and you can ask me a hundred ways but I can’t do it. But I can say, look, if you’re involved in a criminal gang and you’re well known as a criminal gang associate, then obviously issues will pertain to your character,” Mr Hawke said.

“They are considerations. If you’re not a citizen of Australia, we have a perfect right to consider your character if you’re here on a temporary visa or another form of visa.”

During the program, when confronting Mr Dutton about Haapu’s case, FitzSimons put it straight to the Home Affairs Minister.

“He was held with no charge, no crime committed,” he said.

“Peter, he was a member of the Rebels outlaw motorcycle gang, and we know that they are part of a syndicate which is the biggest distributor of drugs in our country,” Mr Dutton told FitzSimons.

FitzSimons hit back saying, “You imply a raft of strong allegations, accusations against the fellow that we can’t see.”

“Well, Peter, that happens every day. I mean, there’s intelligence that’s gathered that’s not released for a variety of reasons,” Mr Dutton said.

Both politicians reiterated that the “Australian Government won’t apologise for deporting people with a criminal background, with criminal offences or of bad character”.

A spokeswoman for the ABC told that Foreign Correspondent had interviewed three deportees and there was no attempt on behalf of the program to downplay the seriousness of any of the crimes.

“One received a 12 month prison sentence for domestic violence; his wife was approached but did not want to appear on camera,” the spokeswoman said.

“The second was a convicted drug dealer, and interviewing victims of a drug dealer is not feasible in this context.

“The third was sent back on grounds of bad character and has not been convicted of a crime, so there were no victims to interview.”

The spokeswoman said that is true that the deportees were convicted criminals or had been judged to be of bad character, and are hard to empathise with, “but their cases do raise some difficult questions of principle — for example, whether it is correct to keep someone in prison for a long period without charge or conviction, and whether it is fair to deport and separate from their family someone who has done their jail time and officially paid their dues to society.”

She explained that the intent of the story was to reveal to the Australian audience the depth of feeling in New Zealand — as expressed by ordinary Kiwis and senior political leaders — about Australia’s policy.

“We were surprised by the level of anger and felt it warranted reporting, given that it potentially impacts on our relations with such a close neighbour and ally.

“Given the strength of the critique from New Zealand politicians, we felt it deserved a response from the Australian Government, which we obtained by way of an interview with Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton.

“It was reasonable for the program to explore such questions. Ultimately, of course, it was left to the viewer to decide.”

On the day the program aired (July 17), guest reporter FitzSimons posted a comment to his 67,000 Twitter followers to tune in: “My stint as Guest Correspondent on Foreign Correpspondent (sic), tonight, 8pm. See what you think!”

Many commented on his tweet, voicing their disappointment on how Australia is treating the New Zealanders in question, while others agreed with the Government’s policy.

One person tweeted: “I’m a Kiwi living in Aus and I totally support what Aus is doing. It’s a privilege living here, why should Aussies put up with someone tattooed with FTP on their neck?”

Another congratulated Fitzsimons, saying: “Excellent job. It is an embarrassing policy and not a good look for Australia. We have to do better by NZ.”


Richard Moon, Distinguished University Professor, University of Windsor, wants to to limit free speech

He has written a long article in which he canvasses a variety of views about "hate speech".  He clearly believes there is such a thing and deplores it.  That one person's hate speech might be someone else's plain truth he does not consider.  That does tend to display him as a bigot.  He knows what is hate and feels no need to discuss it:  Classic bigotry.

As an academic psychometrician, for instance, I think it is just the plain truth that African Americans on average have an IQ that is about one standard deviation lower than the white average.  And that is in fact the majority view among psychometricans.  The American Psychological Association has also accepted that as factual.

Yet in most public fora, anybody uttering that truth will be howled down and called a Nazi or the like.  It's definitely "hate speech" to many.

Does the moony man see no problem there?  What is hate speech can be very easily mistaken and any definition of it has, as far as I can see, insuperable difficulties.  Moony may say that he can arrive at a definition but he clearly needs to argue for it -- which he does not do despite the length of his article.  Even though he is an academic lawyer and should therefore be good at argumentation, I suspect that he just lacks the philosophical sophistication to consider the nature of truth and falsehood at any depth.

In the end, however he is sufficiently a product of his culture to allow that hate speech (however defined) should have free speech protections.  But he ends up as follows:

"Free speech may protect speech that is offensive or hurtful, including some forms of bigoted speech, but we degrade this central right when we see it as simply the right to offend or the right to say whatever we feel like saying, regardless of the impact on others."

His muddled thought shows itself there again.  We "degrade" a right if "we say whatever we feel like saying". But isn't saying  whatever we feel like saying what the right is?  Can a right exist if it can be "degraded?  Surely we have a right or we do not.

And if a right can be degraded there must surely be some metric of degradation to determine when and where the degradation occurs -- but he suggests no such metric, nothing for us to use to tell us when the degradation occurs.

In typical bigoted Leftist style he "just knows" things with no need for rational argument. Emotion is all.


I sent a link to the above post to Prof.  Moon and he replied as follows:

"Hate speech is unlawful in Canada.  The article is not about that.  Since you have not understood the argument, there is nothing for me to say in response.  I wish you best if luck.  Please no more trolling messages"

His reply is a complete evasion.  I did not mention one word about the legality of hate speech in Canada or anywhere else.  In typical Leftist style he turns to some side issue rather than deal with an actual issue.  He invents something he can answer rather than what was actually said.

I replied as follows: "What is judged to be hate speech is the issue"

I doubt that he will answer.

I feel rather sorry for him.  He is regarded as something of an expert on free speech but he has probably never encountered a philosophically competent argument from a conservative before.  Like so many Leftists, he would seem to have lived in a safe little hermetically sealed intellectual bubble so far.  They appear to be unable to handle the full light of day. John 3:20.