Why ARE so many midlife women having children alone? In the past five years Britain’s seen a boom in solo motherhood

For a child to grow up with neither a father nor brothers and sisters is bound to be upsetting to the child at some stage and the deprivation is real.  A father and siblings can contribute a lot to a child's mental and emotional development.

So why the solo mothers?  The core reason is that some women fail to find a male partner.  Why that failure? Circumstances will vary but very often there will be a mismatch between what the women want and what is available.

So how come the unrealistic expectations?  A large part of the blame must lie with feminist attacks on men.  Women are likely to see something in whatever is attacked in men and want to avoid it.  That could mean avoiding normal men.

And then on top of that feminists tell women that they can have it all. As many women have found, they cannot. But some women  are nonethless reinforced in demanding "all".  It is very unwise to expect any approach to "all" but the bombardment of feminist talk from the media and elsewhere about it must have an effect.

Little Olivia Coy loves drawing pictures of her family. There’s Mummy, sister Isobel and her grandparents, all with their stick arms and triangular bodies. There isn’t a daddy in the picture.

Even though she understands what one is, Olivia knows some families, like hers, don’t have one. She knows that ‘a nice man had helped Mummy’ make her, and that’s good enough for her . . . for now. This is her family, and she’s happy with it.

Olivia is a sperm donor baby. Her mother Jennifer wasn’t prepared to let the absence of a partner stand in her way of becoming a mother and decided to go it alone.

Moral or ethical concerns aside, no one can deny such families are a growing trend. According to NHS figures, in 2007, there were only 351 treatment cycles in Britain for single women. The latest statistics show this has risen to 1,290 — accounting for about 3 per cent of all cycles. When the women who were inseminated with donor sperm but did not have full in vitro fertilisation (IVF) are added, 2,279 women tried to start a family on their own in 2017. And this isn’t the full picture, with plenty more procedures being carried out privately.

Last month the singer Cheryl announced she would use a sperm donor to have her next child. The reality TV judge who has a son — Bear, who turns three next month — with former One Direction band member Liam Payne, said she feels she is running out of time to find a partner and plans to have ‘more than one’ child through fertility treatment.

She isn’t the only celebrity to consider going it alone either. In October, singer Natalie Imbruglia, 45, announced the birth of son Max. She had already posted on Instagram in July that she was expecting ‘with the help of IVF and a sperm donor’.

Yet not everyone thinks single women should be pursuing fertility treatment. Indeed, nine years ago documents were leaked revealing health chiefs for South London had created a policy to only fund fertility treatments for couples ‘living in a stable relationship’ because single women having children would ‘place a greater burden on society’.

The statement caused uproar — but it’s a conviction many NHS Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) hold.

According to the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence, all women under 40 should be offered three cycles of IVF treatment. But at a local level, it is individual CCGs who make the final decision about who is eligible for NHS-funded IVF in their local area.

Yet for those single women with enough cash, there is always hope. It has led to the creation of a fertility industry worth £320 million, offering to help single women become mothers — for the right price.

Increasing numbers are freezing their eggs while they pursue careers or look for Mr Right.

Treatment cycles with frozen eggs rose from 410 in 2012 to 1,462 in 2017. Now the Department of Health and Social Care is considering whether to allow them to store eggs for longer; currently, the cut-off point is ten years.


Dam operator to defend its role in 2011 Brisbane flood catastrophe

This whole affair was a disgrace to the Queensland Labor government of Anna Bligh and her bureaucrats. Anna was basically an emptyhead and the bureaucrats thought they could do no wrong.

A Conservative government had built a big flood-control dam at Wivenhoe that should have ended Brisbane floods for good.  But it was not proof against opportunistic politicians and inert bureaucrats.  

To avoid building a new dam, the "Green" Labor government proceeded to use the flood compartment of the dam to store water.  Then the bureaucrats managing the dam just stuck to their regulations and saw no need to do anything when the floodwater came surging into the dam.  They ignored all approaches to open the floodgates until it was too late and flood it did.

People died in the resultant flood, to say nothing of property damage and loss

In the circumstances, it is no wonder that the insurers are denying liability. They did not ensure against irresponsible politicians or brainless bureaucrats. They will no doubt claim that the dam operators followed the book so are not liable.

The plaintiffs need to show that following the book was irresponsible when the whole of the flood compartment was not available

THOUSANDS of victims of the 2011 Queensland floods face losing compensation payouts after state-owned dam operator Seqwater confirmed it will appeal a landmark class action result. The confirmation comes a week ahead of a deadline for parties to seek leave to appeal to the NSW Supreme Court. 

The Queensland Government has ruled out an appeal but as The Courier-Mail revealed in December, both Seqwater and Sunwater were planning to appeal. Sunwater has not yet confirmed whether it will go ahead with its appeal. Seqwater chief executive Neil Brennan said the decision to appeal had been taken after advice from its insurers. 

"The decision to appeal has not been taken lightly," Mr Brennan said in a written statement. "It has followed an extensive review of the judgment and consultation with its insurers." 

Natural Resources Minister Anthony Lynham hit out at Seqwater's decision. "I am disappointed that Seqwater's insurers did not heed our call not to appeal," Dr Lynham said. "As the Treasurer and I said at the time, if a Ministerial Direction could be given to Seqwater to not appeal, it would not bind their insurers. Further, it may compromise Seqwater's insurance policies." 

But Opposition Leader Deb Frecklington said the Government could have prevented the appeal. "(Premier) Annastacia Palaszczuk had the power to direct these government-owned  corporations to not undertake this cruel action, but she failed to act," she said. "Seqwater will now slug taxpayers to defend itself in Court" 

Maurice Blackburn Lawyers principal lawyer Rebecca Gilsenan, who is representing the victims, also called for the state to step in. "These appeals and disputes mean real justice is a long way off for our clients, who have won their case and deserve to be paid for what they lost when the dam operators flooded them," she said. 

"The only way to bring this to an end is for the state to step in with a whole-of-government approach." 

Former Ipswich councillor Paul Tully, whose Goodna home was flooded in 2011, said the move would add to the distress of flood victims. "Flood victims have endured nine long and tortuous years," he said. "This could drag out another two years in the court of appeal and the High Court of Australia. "These insurance companies are toying with people's lives and futures." 

From the Brisbane "Courier Mail" of 22/2/20

New wave of coral bleaching raises concerns for Great Barrier Reef

Given the Greenie lies about the last bleaching  -- Peter Ridd won a court case over his criticisms of them --  this report is fit only to be ignored

Perhaps the most amusing part of the previous scare was when the Federal minister visited the reef to see for herself how bad it was.  She found it looked fine.  We read:  "The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority has supported Environment Minister Sussan Ley's appraisal that the reef is "good" and has "a vibrant future"."

They completely walked back their cries of doom

Another wave of coral bleaching is hitting the Great Barrier Reef as temperature levels surge above average.

The federal government’s lead reef protection agency on Wednesday discovered significant bleaching on three reefs in the far north of the world’s largest coral reef ecosystem.

“That is the first time we’ve seen significant bleaching so far this summer,” said David Wachenfeld, chief scientist with the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority.

“It is a confirmation of our growing concern about what is happening out on the reef at the moment.” Heat stress that has built up on the far northern, central and southern parts of the reef over the summer has intensified over the last week. “These levels of heat stress are definitely capable of causing coral bleaching and we are now at a heightened level of alertness for what is happening out there in the park,” Dr Wachenfeld said.

A bleaching warning has been issued for large parts of the Torres Strait and far northern management areas of the marine park, where significant bleaching across multiple hot spots is likely.

Most of the area covered by the marine park was 0.5 to 1.5C above average as of February 11, with some central and southern parts being 2 to 3C warmer. “February is the hottest month of the year on the reef so these anomalies are really very concerning,” Dr Wachenfeld said.

The reef authority has been told of bleaching in other areas and is sending staff to survey the damage.

Further heat stress is expected over the next few weeks as temperatures remain high.


The problem isn’t capitalism. It’s capitalists like me

SAM HILL has a point below. He does not have much of an  answer to it but he sees that unevenly distributed economic rewards must cause envy if not anger.  And anger is a powerful motivator that can cause  attacks of various kinds on what causes the anger.  The large number of communist revolutions in the 20th century are powerful evidence of that.

The customary way of preventing too much of that anger was redistribution, invented in 19th century Britain by Disraeli and in 19th century Germany by Bismarck -- both strong and patriotic conservatives.  And all advanced societies to this day do redistribute income extensively.

But is redistribution enough?  The undoubted appeal of the borderline insane Bernie Sanders suggests not. Clearly, a lot of anger and call for change remains.

It helps to understand the Sanders upsurge if we look beyond redistribution to the other influences that have so far reinforced social stability.  And we can see that most clearly in the two large countries which have been most immune to the materialistic temptations of Communism.  Both Britain and the USA have never in their history had economically motivated revolutions or much parliamentary success for extreme-left parties.

So what makes the UK and the USA different?  Two main things: Patriotism and the church.

For a long time in Britain, all respectable people went to church on Sunday.  And the one bit of religious guidance that they undoubtedly received was the famous Ten Commandments.  And one commandment that received attention was "Thou shalt not covet".  Envying the prosperity of others was morally and religiously wrong.  The commandment specifically ruled out communism.  So that was a useful influence in Britain for a long time.

It is still a useful influence in the parts of the USA to this day, despite the general decline of Christain commitment in most of the Western world.  The fact that Christianity has suffered  a big decline is one of the reasons Sanders has so much appeal.  One of the barriers to Sanders' ideas has largely crumbled.

The second traditional barrier to civil war was patriotism.  Consciousness of being a  part of a significant and high-achieving national whole engendered warm feelings in people  that were totally at variance with any desire to rip everything up and start again.

But patriotism has been in the doldrums too.  The Left have done their best to wreck it.  It was however only lying low.  Britain and the USA do have great historic reasons for national pride so when Donald Trump and Boris Johnson reauthorized it, there was an explosion of support for it that propelled both men to power.  So that patriotic core is still strong and will continue to do in the USA and the UK what is needed to keep the destructiveness of socialism at bay.

I am a capitalist because I remember socialism.

I was converted to capitalism by a few years at the University of Chicago and a few decades working internationally and seeing socialism up close and personal. Until recently, I was confident that we need not worry about trying that experiment again because socialism had been tested and had failed. It looks like I was wrong. Socialism is on the rise. Don’t blame Bernie and Elizabeth. Blame ourselves. Here’s why.

The version of capitalism we have implemented is a flawed one. Capitalism is based on the idea that enlightened self-interest and free markets produce the best possible allocation of resources and opportunities. When socialist economies began to fail in the late ‘70s, capitalists figured that if less socialist regulation was good, none at all would be even better. We’ve been working toward that end ever since. According to the Financial Times, 2018 had the lowest enforcement of antitrust regulation in almost a half-century. Even Adam Smith argued that capitalism needs rules. Without them, capitalism quickly dissolves into cronyism and eventually Russian-style kleptocracy.

We also rigged the system.

Capitalism is a $30 trillion game of Monopoly, with few winners and many losers. That’s okay. That’s the nature of the game. But we’ve fixed it to make sure the same people win all the time. We’ve created a twotier educational system that stymies upward mobility. We have taxation that lets capitalists pay too little for the public resources that led to their success. We’ve put in laws that protect industries and shield corporations from true competition. And we have played off one disadvantaged group against another. What we have now is a game where some players get extra rolls of the die and their own stack of Get Out of Jail Free cards.

We have been hypocrites about socialism. At its core, socialism is redistribution of wealth by the government. As Karl Marx put it, “to each according to his needs.” The U.S. has gotten the redistribution part down, but in our case we redistribute to each according to his voting clout—that is, we transfer wealth from urban areas to rural ones, to farmers, to older people and to industries with enormous lobbying budgets, like Big Pharma. All the while denying that’s what we’re doing. We’re increasingly being called out by have-nots who want a turn at the trough, like The Atlantic’s Derek Thompson who asks, “Boomers have socialism. Why not millennials?” If capitalists are against socialism, then we need to be against it all the time. If we are not really against it, then we need to stop demonizing people like Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren.

We have refused to listen to criticism, especially around income inequality. Technically, everyone in America (and most people in the world) are much better off since the ascendancy of capitalism. But they don’t feel better off. It’s biology. Let’s say tomorrow morning I drive across the street to Randy’s house and drop off a million dollars and then head down to George’s and drop off 10 million. You’d think Randy would be pretty happy. But I doubt it. Instead, he’ll come over and ask why George got more. According to the journal Science, the brain is more responsive to relative wealth than absolute wealth. Rather than trying to understand why people are frustrated, we have, for the most part, dismissed complaints about the wealth gap as sour grapes, or in the case of congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, as childish naivete.

And throughout it all, we have been less than gracious. Instead of being modest about our good fortune, we have often been boastful and accused the less fortunate of bringing it on themselves through sloth, profligacy or being unwilling to take risks.

Principled, fair capitalism remains the best and fairest system for everyone. It is far superior to socialism, “democratic” or otherwise, particularly for the poor and disadvantaged. Socialism would reduce inequality in America not by lifting the poorest up, but by forcing everyone toward a miserable mediocrity. (Although probably not billionaires. They’d move to Monte Carlo.) However, principled, fair capitalism isn’t really on the menu. We have created a type of capitalism and a class of capitalists that are very hard to like. If we want to know why socialism is making a comeback, we need only look in the mirror.


‘Don’t bastardise all men… these things happen’: Pauline Hanson says cowardly dad who murdered his entire family may have been ‘driven to do it’

It's good that we have sensible women such as Pauline Hanson and Bettina Arndt to speak up against the hateful and totally unreasonable feminist claim that Hannah Clarke was murdered by her estranged husband because that is what "men" do. Baxter's maleness has been given as the sole explanation for his evil deeds.

That millions of women are NOT murdered by their partner is ignored.  It is surely the vast non-murdering majority of men who tell you what "men" do. But feminists are so full of hate that they cannot see that.

So why did Baxter really do it?  Unless we know that, how are we supposed to prevent similar deeds by other troubled men?

Until we are given the full facts about the family history involved we cannot know for sure how it all worked out but from my point of view as a psychologist there is one highly likely explanation for the tragedy:  Baxter was a bully.

He was a common bully type, physically imposing and very egotistical.  The combination of a strong body and a big ego can be very problematical.  We see it in schoolyards all the time.  Some stronger kid will pick on some weak and "loser" kid.  In the course of a schooling that behaviour will usually be suppressed in some way, partly by teachers, partly by parents and partly by other students.

I remember a question I once asked my well-built son when he was in High School  I asked him whether any other kids picked on him.  He said "No. I'm too big for them.  And if I see them picking on some smaller kid, I put myself in between them".  So the corrective role of other students should not be ignored.

Sometimes, however, the bully gets away with a lot and forms behaviour patterns that last into adulthood.  But such patterns are very limiting in adulthood.  The bully will find himself avoided if not ostracized.  The bully of course sees this and endeavours to change his ways at least superficially.  He practices being "nice". But that pretence periodically breaks down.  His real motivation comes out in hostility of some sort.

So in the end he will be mistrusted and socially excluded.  And for anyone that is very grievous.  Among Aborigines, social exclusion is the mechanism behind a wrongdoer being "sung" to death.  So the bully in any society has usually been locked into a behaviour pattern that badly hurts him emotionally.

And when that hurts too much he may strike out fatally at the one whose disapproval hurts him the most.  He blames the other  person -- such as his ex-wife --  for his own deep unhappiness rather than himself. He sees that his life has been a failure and there is nothing left in it for him.  So death seems to him to be welcome.  So murder-suicide ensues.

So what can be done?  Just one thing:  Bullying has to be stopped at its source.  It has to be stopped during the bully's schooldays.  All Education Departments have high-sounding policies that claim to do that but enforcement is very lax.  So we cannot look at the existing system for hope.  A firmer approach is needed.

I would advocate sending bullies to a special school where bullying behavior is vigilantly watched for and heavily punished.  Bullying must be negatively reinforced, to use psychologist's jargon.  And talk is no good.  The bully has to be subjected to treatment that is a replica of what he normally does to others.

Politician Pauline Hanson has defended controversial comments about the horrific Brisbane murder-suicide, saying 'these things happen'.

In a crime which rocked Australia on Wednesday, Hannah Clarke, 31, was murdered by her estranged husband along with her three young children.

Aaliyah, 6, Laianah, 4, and Trey, 3, were burned alive by their own father on their way to school after he poured petrol in their car and lit a flame.

But Ms Hanson said the cowardly murders shouldn't lead to people 'bastardising all men' - saying Baxter could have been 'driven to it'. 'Don't bastardise all men out there, or women for that matter, because these things happen,' she said on Monday morning.

Speaking about domestic violence murders, she added that: 'A lot of people are driven to this, to do these acts for one reason or another.'

The killings have led to calls for more protection for domestic violence victims, after Ms Clarke was emotionally, sexually and financially abused by Baxter for years.

Speaking on Today, Ms Hanson said the murders have been in the news more than if it was committed by a woman - and that Baxter may have been 'driven to it'.

'You know, this has been for a week we have been in the news nearly every day about this horrific tragedy,' she said on Today on Monday morning.

'But we don't hear much about it when a woman has murdered her children by driving a  car into a tree, she threw out a suicide note. 'Or the woman who doused her husband with fuel and set him alight an said she was possibly driven to it.

'Hopefully the family law inquiry will get to the bottom of it.'

She also defended commentator Bettina Arndt, who made controversial comments about the Baxter murders.

Some MPs want Arndt to be stripped of her Order of Australia, after she praised a Queensland police officer for saying Baxter may have been 'driven too far'. Queensland detective Mark Thompson was taken off the case after making the comments.

'Congratulations to the Queensland police for keeping an open mind and awaiting proper evidence, including the possibility that Rowan Baxter might have been 'driven too far'," Ms Arndt wrote on Twitter. 'But note the misplaced outrage. How dare police deviate from the feminist script of seeking excuses and explanations when women stab their partners to death, or drive their children into dams but immediately judging a man in these circumstances as simply representing the evil violence that is in all men.'

Speaking about Ms Arndt's comments, Ms Hanson said she should not be stripped of her Australia Day honour.

'It was a horrendous act of what he did to his children,' she said. 'It was a tragedy and I am very deeply sorry for everyone.

'But Bettina Arndt should not be stripped of her Order of Australia. She is clearly stating what she thinks and what a police officer said.

'This is why I have pushed for the family law inquiry to get behind what is happening on this.'

The mum-of-three had desperately tried to keep her young family safe from their evil dad, but was struggling after her domestic violence protection order was watered down.

It has since emerged that he subjected Hannah to years of domestic violence, prompting the brave mum to finally leave him last November.

There was a domestic violence order (DVO) in place, but she expressed frustration that the conditions wouldn't be enough to keep her family safe.

Despite being stalked every day by her monstrous ex, the DVO was watered down to allow her husband to be a close as 100 metres from her.

'I have to go back to court and had to drop off an application today to get the DVO conditions changed as he keeps turning up where I am,' the mother-of-three said in text message to a friend, sent on January 30.

'He got the DVO adjourned and when they did that they took off the no contact and made it just 100m from my home so technically he’s not doing anything wrong … hence why we need it changed!'

Even the female police officer who helped Hannah lodge her DVO last year told her it would do little to protect her from her evil husband.


Mass.: Cambridge high school struggles with equal access to AP classes

They have tried all sorts of things to get black academic achievement up to white levels but nothing works.  When will they face the obvious fact that blacks on average just have lesser academic ability?  The decades of failure to close the gap is testimony to that

They also mistake cause and effect below.  They think that because blacks feel unequally treated, it must be the fault of racism.  In fact it is their lesser ability that causes blacks  to feel unequally treated.  When teachers assume that blacks will not do well they do so because that is generally true.

CAMBRIDGE - For decades, the high school in this famously diverse and progressive city has waged war on its achievement gap. Twenty years ago, officials at Cambridge Rindge and Latin tried eliminating the school’s "house” system that divided students into schools-within-schools, saying it segregated them by race; soon after, the school created heterogeneous classrooms that mixed together students with differing academic abilities. Three years ago, the school made another landmark change to stamp out racial segregation, mandating honors English and history courses for all freshmen.

But according to one key measure, none of the efforts have worked.

A Boston Globe analysis of state data found that when it comes to Advanced Placement test taking, Black students are more underrepresented in Cambridge than in any of the 13 other towns and cities bordering Boston. Last year, just 9 percent of the 433 students who took AP exams in Cambridge were Black — although Black students made up nearly 30 percent of the enrollment at the high school.

The stubborn persistence of the gap, in the face of repeated attempts to wipe it out, has contributed to recent racial tensions at the high school, where some Black students say they still feel like outsiders. And it sharply underscores the difficulty of this widespread problem: even a place as seemingly progressive and well-intentioned as Cambridge struggles mightily.

Naia Aubourg, a 2018 graduate of Rindge and Latin, said she and many of her Black classmates were funneled into lower-level courses beginning in middle school, and teachers and counselors at Rindge and Latin never explained AP to her. Now a sophomore in college, Aubourg said she had to take extra preparatory courses to catch up when she arrived on campus as a freshman. "The opportunities in high school were only there for people who knew how to access them,” she said.

It is a vexing, deeply painful problem for Cambridge, one that has long been detailed in reports and lamented at public meetings. School officials said a series of major changes in recent years should make AP classes more diverse in time. But they acknowledged that the problem has deep and complicated roots, and that there is no easy fix.

"We recognize that it’s not going to happen overnight, that it’s probably going to be a number of years . . . and there is frustration that the pace of change isn’t faster,” Superintendent Kenneth Salim said.

First created in the 1950s, Advanced Placement courses boomed in popularity in recent decades. Considered one of the most rigorous curricula in high schools, they are widely seen as critical college preparation. But Black and Latino participation has lagged, and the College Board — the New York nonprofit that oversees the program — has in recent years urged high schools to remove obstacles to enrollment and strive for AP classes that more closely resemble their student populations.

That effort remains a work in progress. Nationally, Black students are 15 percent of all public school students, but only 9 percent of AP exam takers, according to the College Board. In Massachusetts, 9 percent of students are Black, as are 6 percent of AP test takers. Latino students face a wider divide: 21 percent of all Massachusetts students, they represent only 10 percent of AP exam takers.

Even more troubling, perhaps, is the disparity in AP exam scores, state data show. In Cambridge, white students took 411 AP tests last year and 89 percent received scores of 3 or higher out of a top score of 5, which could qualify them for college credit. By contrast, of the 50 exams taken by Black students, only 48 percent received scores in the same range.

Educators, community members and students in Cambridge said several specific policies and practices have contributed to the AP gap. Those have included a lack of basic education about AP and cumbersome entrance requirements to some AP classes, such as prerequisite courses and teacher recommendations.

And then there’s the way students have been labeled and separated by their perceived abilities, a practice known as "tracking,” which, despite high-profile counter-initiatives, has flourished periodically at both the middle and high school levels in Cambridge.

Aubourg, 19, said her course was set in middle school, when many Black students were "tracked” into a path of lower expectations. Aubourg’s mother worked long, demanding hours when her daughter was in high school, and was unfamiliar with Advanced Placement. Aubourg was an upperclassman by the time she learned — via "word of mouth” — how to access the school’s menu of advanced offerings.

Elaina Wolfson, another 19-year-old graduate of Rindge, said early tracking permanently consigned too many Black and Latino students to a path that did not prepare them. "It’s so hard to push past that barrier,” she said.

Determined to improve the experience of Black students, Cambridge school officials have attacked their achievement gap anew in recent years. As part of a multiyear initiative known as "Leveling Up,” the district did away with tracking for English and social studies classes in the first two years of high school. Heterogeneous "honors for all” classes were phased in for freshmen in English two years ago, and then in social studies last year. Physics is taught in mixed-ability classrooms to all freshmen.

Next, the district tackled tracking in middle school math classes, ending its achievement-based grouping system for seventh graders last year and for eighth graders this year.

The approach also intensifies support for students: A summer "preview” class boosts confidence for nervous AP students; two new freshman guidance counselors help explain course options; and teachers use results from the PSAT - taken by sophomores and juniors - to help identify those with AP potential.

Leaders said they have tried to learn from past mistakes. Twenty years ago, when the Cambridge school district made a controversial switch to "achievement-blind” high school classes, teachers received little preparation, and struggled to teach to the wider range of skills in their classrooms. This time, Salim, the superintendent, said the school system spent a year preparing educators, re-working curriculum, and consulting outside experts before making changes. They also sent two deans to Evanston, Ill., to study the successful measures used at Evanston Township High School to bolster Black and Latino enrollment in AP.

"Historically, individual principals or administrators have had bold ideas, but they lacked the collective support of the district as a whole,” Salim wrote in an e-mail.

Yet Salim and Damon Smith, the high school’s principal, acknowledged that vestiges of the past remain, including some teachers who may still selectively steer students away from AP.

The overall percentage of AP students who are Black and Latino has not budged, three years into the school’s "leveling up” initiative. Yet there are signs that change is taking root. Two current sections of AP US history mirror the overall diversity at the high school, which is 43 percent Black and Hispanic and 38 percent white.

One afternoon last month, those AP classes were filled with attentive sophomores — the majority of them, students of color — who listened intently to a lesson spanning the Red Scare, the Ku Klux Klan, the Chinese Exclusion Act, and the Harlem Renaissance.

Nearly all the students in both AP classes said they had been encouraged by a teacher to enroll. Most said that in the beginning, they felt nervous and intimidated. But all are planning on taking more AP classes.

One student, Herani Hiruy, 15, said some of her other honors classes are mostly white. Often, she said, she stays silent in those classrooms, reluctant to join in discussions because she is Black.

"You can tell that other people notice you’re the only person of color,” she said, "and you feel like you’re representing a whole group.”

Some students, teachers, and community residents said programmatic changes alone will never erase the divide. Real transformation, they said, will require a hard, unflinching look at the racism that persists at Rindge and Latin.

Two years ago, members of the high school’s Black Student Union drew public attention to the everyday presence of racism at their school, detailing their experiences in a series of gut-wrenching videos. Members of the group described slights, insults, and microaggressions from teachers who stereotyped them or doubted their potential.

In one video, a student recounted the teacher who, assuming she might be on "welfare,” told her she could get a fee waiver to take an AP exam.

The videos sparked outrage, including on the part of some teachers who felt they had no way to respond or offer context. More upheaval followed, after a white Cambridge School Committee member uttered the n-word during a 2018 visit to a high school class to discuss why the school’s computers block some racial slurs but not others.

Tensions flared again in December, when a long-awaited report on the n-word incident cast blame for it on a Black teacher — the adviser to the Black Student Union — who had invited the committee member to the class. In response, the student union demanded policy changes to address racism and inequities at the school.

Current Black Student Union members did not respond to interview requests. But Aubourg, who helped reinvigorate the dormant organization when she was a student at Rindge, said it was painful and eye-opening to see how some people reacted to Black students’ stories of mistreatment.

"Cambridge is famous for panels, meetings, conversations, and they’ve been having them for 30 years,” she said. "But it’s a sugar-coated conversation. No one wants to go [into] the nitty-gritty of what’s going on.”

Aubourg believed she and her classmates of color were seen as less capable by some educators. And some students internalized that bias.

Rachel Williams-Giordano, an AP US history teacher at the high school, said she has encountered some Black students who fear ridicule for seeking more challenging coursework.

"It’s not that the classes are too hard,’’ said Williams-Giordano, who is Black. "It’s that it’s not socially accepted among some of the students of color . . . It’s like, 'You’re trying to be white’ or 'You’re nerdy.’ ‘’

Caroline Hunter, a former teacher and administrator who worked at Rindge and Latin for 34 years, was a member of the "Concerned Black Staff” who produced a 1980s report exposing a racial divide in student achievement. She is stunned that the same problems persist today.

"The question,” she said, "is why is Cambridge still dealing with this tale of two cities?’’


UN, WHO, Lancet report says every Australian child under threat from climate, poor diet

This is just more Green/Left propaganda from the usual suspects.  It's an enchiridion of Green/Left moans.  "The Lancet" is highly political. It criticized the Iraq war and is very "Green". And the less said about the UN the better.

If Australia is such an unhealthy environment, how come it has  one of the world's longest life-expectancies?  That's the bottom line

Australia has been singled out for scathing criticism by the World Health Organisation for threatening the future of its children through disproportionately high carbon emissions, undermining positive scores in child health, socio-economic equity and education.

A major joint report by the WHO, UNICEF and the scientific journal The Lancet concludes the future of children around the world, including Australia, is being threatened by ecological degradation, climate change and predatory marketing practices that drive obesity.

Australia’s children were ranked 20th in the world on a ‘flourishing’ index, which takes into account poverty, health, education and protection from violence, but Australia’s performance on an index of sustainability was dire, with a rank of 174 out of 180 countries.

The poor sustainability rank was driven by high CO2 emissions per head of population, with the WHO estimating that Australia’s emissions would be 524 per cent above a global target by 2030.

It’s the first time the WHO has included a country’s sustainability score as a measure of the future wellbeing of children. The report says if global warming exceeds 4 degrees Celsius by the year 2100 in line with current projections, “it would lead to devastating health consequences for children, due to rising ocean levels, heatwaves, proliferation of diseases like malaria and dengue, and malnutrition.”

The nations ranked top in the world on the score of child flourishing were Norway, South Korea and the Netherlands. The flourishing index measures the mortality of children younger than five years old, access to child and maternal health services, basic hygiene and sanitation, growth and nutrition, prevalence of extreme poverty and educational achievement.

However, the report – compiled by a Commission of 40 child and adolescent health experts from around the world – found that no single country is adequately protecting children’s health, their environment and their futures.

Co-chair of the Commission, former New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark, said children were facing future “existential threats”.

“Despite improvements in child and adolescent health over the past 20 years, progress has stalled, and is set to reverse,” Ms Clark said. “Every child worldwide now faces existential threats from climate change and commercial pressures.

“Countries need to overhaul their approach to child and adolescent health, to ensure that we not only look after our children today but protect the world they will inherit in the future.”

Australian academic Peter Sly, Director of the Children’s Health and Environment Program from the University of Queensland, was a local author of the report. He singled out excessive exposure of Australian children to fast food and gambling advertisements for particular criticism.

The report found children’s exposure to predatory commercial marketing of junk food and sugary beverages is associated with purchase of unhealthy foods and overweight and obesity. The number of obese children and adolescents increased from 11 million in 1975 to 124 million in 2016 – an 11-fold increase, with dire individual and societal costs. An estimated 28 per cent of Australian children are overweight or obese.

“The various governments and regulators responsible need to impose restrictions that truly protect children,” Professor Sly said. “Self-regulation is not working and did not work with the tobacco industry. A complete ban on advertising for all forms of alcohol and all forms of gaming during any program, including all sporting events likely to be watched by children, broadcast before 8:30 pm will be required to protect children. We did it for tobacco, so why not alcohol and gambling?”

The Director-General of the WHO, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said the landmark report was a “wake-up call”.

“This report shows that the world’s decision makers are failing today’s children and youth: failing to protect their health, failing to protect their rights, and failing to protect their planet,” Dr Tedros said. “This must be a wakeup call for countries to invest in child health and development, ensure their voices are heard, protect their rights, and build a future that is fit for children.”

Local academics responded to the report by saying Australia had been “disgraced” on the world stage.

Anthony Okely, a researcher in child health and education at the University of Wollongong, said the report should concern Australian politicians.

“While we like to believe we are putting our children first and meeting their needs, our ranking on the Sustainability Index shows that our actions are not meeting our words,” Professor Okely said.” Australia’s very low score on this index is eroding many of the advances we have made in ensuring our children are flourishing.

“Our children are growing up in environments that are not supporting their right to an active, healthy life. The high levels of child obesity testify to this. Children are living more sedentary lifestyles, spending large amounts of time using electronic media for entertainment. This exposes them to marketing of unhealthy foods, displaces time they could spend being physically active, and compromises healthy sleep patterns.”

Liz Hanna, an academic at the Australian National University who also chairs the Environmental Health Working Group at the World Federation of Public Health Associations, said it was no wonder young people around the world were organising mass protests.

“This rigorous study married the voices of children with global metrics,” Dr Hanna said. “It further explains why the world’s children are uprising, demanding governments protect their future.

“Australia’s poor ranking provides powerful evidence that Australia has lost its way. Ranking 174th out of 180 countries on the Sustainability Index is as shameful as it is stupid.

“Decades of wilful neglect of the environment and the erosion of compassion have transformed the lucky country to an international laggard that is failing its children. By taking our natural advantages for granted, Australia is squandering its opportunities to secure a safe and healthy future for our children.

“Pandering to the sugar industry, and refusing a sugar tax, needlessly renders children at high risk of obesity, diabetes and a life plagued by chronic disease and disability.

“Similarly, steadfastly clinging to fossil fuel industries, against solid scientific evidence, unfolding climatic crises and environmental degradation knowingly accelerates climate change and robs children of their future.”


The IPCC goal of 1.5C degrees of warming may be more easily reached than we think

There is constant talk about the difficulty of reaching the "Paris" goal of 1.5C warming over pre-industrial levels. Great efforts are said to be needed if we are to reach that goal.

But notice something:  We are already about one degree above pre-industrial levels.  So all the Angst is about just half of one degree.  That hardly seems worth getting excited about.  The IPCC report on 1.5 degrees lists a number of things that would happen with such a temperature rise but none seem dramatic except for the expected sea level rise of about half a meter.  And a good thing from 1.5 degrees is also listed -- that we would have more rain and less drought.

But the changes in sea level so far are heavily contested, with some scientists calling into question whether we have had any sea level rise at all in the last half century or so. So any concern there must  be taken with a grain of salt.

There does seem to have been a small, slow and erratic increase in global temperatures over the last 150 years or so but even Warmists don't attribute all of that to man's activity.  So in that context, a change of half a degree from present levels would seem likely to come about naturally over the current century.  And if it did, would we notice such a small change?  I can't see it. A temperature change of 1.5 degrees above pre-industrial level would seem perfectly comfortable and unlikely to bother us.  We have much greater temperature changes during every day.

So what are the Warmists going on about?  They think that much larger temperature rises will happen and we will struggle to keep to .5 of a degree over what we presently have.

But that is a pure prophecy and speculation.  Looking at the temperature changes so far, rises are not going to be regular nor are they likely to be great.  Warmists rely on their dinky models to support prophecies of big climate change. The temperature record so far, however,  suggests only slight change.  There have been several extensive periods of no temperature changes at all  -- e.g 1945 to 1975.

So I think  the modest rise of half a degree will come about perfectly naturally, with no effort and no concern on our part at all  -- JR.

Boston Public Schools graduation rates drop

They are obsessed with overcoming the gap between black and white educational achievement.  But nobody knows how to do that.  So they keep trying their old failed recipe:  Getting blacks enrolled in white schools, which just makes it harder for the black kids.  They see whites achieving what they cannot. And the whites have to take a back seat while teachers work on the blacks  The end result is that the education of both racial groups is damaged.

Conservatives could have told them that but now their results have told him that. Not only has the gap worsened but EVERYBODY has done less well

The gap between the percentage of Black and white students graduating high school in Boston widened dramatically last year, as the city’s overall graduation rate declined for the first time in more than a decade, according to newly released state data.

Of the 4,347 students in the Class of 2019, 73.2 percent earned a diploma within four years of starting ninth grade. That rate was notably lower than for the Class of 2018, which saw 75.1 percent of students earn diplomas within four years.

The decline comes as Massachusetts officials conduct their first comprehensive review of the Boston system in a decade, with members of the state education board urging Commissioner Jeffrey Riley to take aggressive steps to address low performance in the state’s largest school system. The drop in graduation rates will probably add more urgency to those calls.

“I wish the news today was better, but I’m a firm believer that we can’t make progress if we don’t fully face the facts,” said Boston Superintendent Brenda Cassellius in a statement. “The fact is, we have more work to do to help more students earn their diplomas.”

Cassellius, who took over as superintendent one month after the Class of 2019 graduated, said overhauling high schools is a top priority. In the coming months, for instance, she intends to present the Boston School Committee with a proposal to have high schools adopt MassCore, a state-recommended set of courses that align with admission requirements to state universities and include such measures as four years of math and a minimum of five electives — an area where many Boston high schools fall short.

BPS officials have repeatedly stressed they are working to reduce achievement gaps among students of different backgrounds, but the new graduation rate data reveal that the racial disparity in high school graduates widened notably.

Specifically, the four-year high school graduation rates for Black students dropped from 76.4 percent in 2018 to 71.9 percent last year. By contrast, the four-year graduation rate for white students increased from 80.6 percent in 2018 to 81.9 in 2019.

Consequently, the gulf in graduation rates between Black and white students has more than doubled, resulting in a 10-percentage-point divide.

“I’m disheartened to hear these numbers,” said the Rev. Willie Bodrick II of the Boston Network of Black Student Achievement, who also serves on a School Committee task force on opportunity and achievement gaps. “This is not acceptable and needs to change. … Why does there continue to be an exacerbation of the gaps?”

Latino students continued to record the lowest graduation rates among the system’s racial groups. The portion of Latinos earning diplomas dropped more than a half percentage point in 2019, to 67 percent. Their rate lags white students by 15 percentage points and Asian students by nearly 25 percentage points.

Moreover, graduation rates for Black and Latino students in Boston significantly trailed statewide averages for the demographic groups. Statewide, 79.9 percent of Black students earned a diploma within four years, while 74.4 percent of Latino students did.

Iván Espinoza-Madrigal, executive director of Lawyers for Civil Rights, said the declining rates and the widening gulfs among racial groups is alarming.

“The numbers speak for themselves: BPS is not meaningfully supporting students of color so they can graduate from high school, let alone college,” he said. “BPS must dedicate more resources to close achievement and graduation gaps across diverse student populations. The failure to do so traps students of color in a cycle of poverty and hardship.”

City Councilor Michelle Wu said the school system has reached “a breaking point for acknowledging how systemic the issues are and how urgently they need to be fixed.”

“The time for little patches here and there or experimenting with a new program at a small set of schools… has long passed,” she said in an interview. “We need to accept the reality that the system itself so deeply needs equity and reform across the board. We need to have the will to make changes for all our high school students, not just for some of them.”

In visiting high schools across the city last year, Wu said she was struck by the glaring disparities, from the physical condition of the buildings, to the level of resources the schools had, to the opportunities students were given.

City Councilor Andrea Campbell, who released a plan last year calling for overhauling the city’s high schools, called the growing disparity in graduation rates disturbing.

“Our BPS students deserve better and we need a real plan to fix this,” she said in an e-mail.

Riley, the state education commissioner, declined to comment.

The last time Boston experienced a decline in its high school graduation rate was in 2007, when the rate dropped more than 1 percentage point from the previous year to 57.9 percent, according to state data. Since then the portion of high school students earning diplomas climbed steadily, except for 2013 when the district recorded the same rate as the previous year.

Boston School Committee Chairman Michael Loconto said the system has already begun to take steps to overhaul high schools,stressing high school reform is a top priority. “I am confident that the release of this data will only strengthen the district’s resolve to increase rigor across our schools, support additional improvements in our dropout rate, and improve educational outcomes for all of our students,” Loconto said in a statement.

Across the state, 88 percent of the 75,000 students who should have graduated last spring earned diplomas, nearly identical to the rate in 2018 of 87.9 percent. Results were more mixed among the state’s smaller cities.

Brockton, Lowell, and Springfield, for instance, declined overall; Worcester was relatively stagnant; and New Bedford climbed dramatically from 58.6 percent in 2018 to 71.9 percent last year.

Springfield officials focused on the positives in announcing their results Friday. In a press release, they noted that their high school drop-out rate hit an all-time low at 4.4 percent, representing a more than 50 percent reduction over seven years. Officials also singled out individual high schools for praise in raising graduation rates over that seven-year period.

“We want every single student to stay in school so we will keep working hard towards that goal,” said Springfield Superintendent Daniel Warwick in a statement.

Cassellius also highlighted bright spots in the data for Boston, noting the school system’s five-year graduation rate continued to climb, an encouraging indication that students are not giving up on a diploma even after their classmates have graduated and moved onto college. For the Class of 2018, that means 80 percent of students who started high school in fall 2014 earned a diploma within five years, five percentage points higher than the four-year rate.

“We’re becoming more effective at helping students who need a little more time and support to cross the finish line,” Cassellius said.


This fire season, areas of Australia have burnt that used to be too wet to burn

Australia is a land of natural climate extremes.  Always has been. And we had one of our periodic extremes recently. A combination of severe drought and unusually high temperatures  amplified our usual summer bushfires.

A historical perspective is missing in most commentary on it.  Claims that the 2019/20 fires were unprecedented simply show how short memories are. The area burnt, for instance, was much greater in 1974/75.  And who remembers that in the Sydney of 1790 (Yes. 1790, not 1970) bats and birds were falling out of the trees from heat exhaustion?

But weather is highly variable from place to place and time to time so some areas were drier than usual. Some areas had dried out that usually remained damp -- resulting in the events described below

I have deleted below all the claims that the fires were influenced by global warming.  The floods that have immediately followed the fires and put them out are also a great extreme.  Were they caused by global warming too?  Even Warmists have seen the incongruity of claiming that global warming could cause both drought and floods in quick succession so have generally gone silent about climate change.  But if climate change did not cause the floods, how can we know that it caused the drought? We cannot.

There is absolutely no way we can prove that climate change had any influence on the fires.  Claims that climate change did have an influence are mere assertion, mere opinion, mere propaganda.  There are well-established methods in science for establishing causes. None of them were applicable to the recent extreme events.  So there is no reason to believe that the recent events were anything more than normal variations

Binna Burra Lodge in the Gold Coast hinterland was 81-year-old Tony Groom’s life. His father founded the mountain hiking retreat in the 1930s, Tony ran it in the 60s and 70s, and his daughter, Lisa, 52, grew up there.

The lodge’s wooden cabins, bordered by rainforest on one side and eucalypts on the other, were a touchstone for people’s lives: for weddings, wakes and walks around the ancient world heritage forests of Lamington national park.

Next door, Tony and his late wife, Connie, lived for almost 40 years in Alcheringa, a stone-walled house with a deck where Lisa and her brother would dangle their feet out over the Coomera Valley

On the morning of 8 September 2019 the lodge, the heritage-listed cabins and the Grooms’ family homestead were razed to the ground by a bushfire. About 450 hectares of rainforest burned around Binna Burra that day – the kind of lush forest that doesn’t usually burn.

Firefighters use the forest fire danger index to tell them how bad conditions are. The index combines the key ingredients that influence a bushfire – temperature, wind speed, humidity and the dryness of the “fuel”, including grasses and fallen wood from trees.

The trends show not only that conditions are becoming more dangerous, but that the fire season is starting earlier.

The number of severe bushfire danger days has increased in spring for large parts of Australia

Australia’s spring months are September, October and November. The spring of 2019 was the worst year on record for high-risk bushfire weather in south-east Queensland, and for the entire country.

The conditions that helped a fire take hold at Sarabah, north-west of Binna Burra, had been building since the beginning of the year.

Rainfall was well below average, the ground was unusually dry and, in the days before the fire struck, daytime maximum temperatures were at near-record levels after months of hotter-than-average weather.

Then came the winds.

Australia’s devastating fire season of 2019 and 2020 has so far burned through more than 7.7 million hectares in the south-eastern states, claiming 33 lives and almost 3,000 homes. Firefighters have never experienced anything like it.

Neither has Australia. 2019 was the hottest and driest year on record.

The kind of conditions that have delivered devastating and deadly major bushfires in the recent past are going to increase, according to Dr Richard Thornton, the chief executive of the Bushfire and Natural Hazards Cooperative Research Centre.

“People tend to base their risk perception on what they’ve experienced before – a bushfire every 50 or 100 years,” Thornton says. “Their risk perception is based on history. But history is not a good predictor of the future.

As for the home at Alcheringa, and Binna Burra Lodge, there are plans to rebuild in a way that will minimise damage from future fires. But they know the future will be different.


Snopes Beclowns Itself with Awful 'Confirmation' of Hitlerian Tones in Trump Tweet

The author below picks up several of the glides in Mikkelson's post but misses some big ones.

I was particularly amused by this: "[Hitler and Trump] unceasingly attack objective truth". It is certainly true that Trump gets some details wrong but who is it who constantly tell us that "There's no such thing as right and wrong". It's not Trump or any other conservative. It is the Left. So it is actually the current LEFT that Hitler resembles!

And the claim that "Fake news" is a paraphrase of Hitler's "Lügenpresse" (lying press) is extraordinary. "Fake news" was a term used by the American press in the run-up to the 2016 election.  It was a term made popular by Hillary Clinton in response to a claim that she was running a racket out of a NY pizza parlour.

So, again, both Lügenpresse" and "fake news" were first used by Leftists: Hitler and Hillary. Trump just made use of Hillary's term to use it against her and her ilk.

And there is the general point about Mikkelson's post that cherrypicking one bit from a longer screed can prove almost anything.  You have to look at the relevant literature as a whole to make a fair comparison.  But cherrypicking is a constant recourse of the Left.  The whole truth is just too embarrassing to them.  So Mikkelson is just another deceitful Leftist cherrypicker.

I could go on and talk about Hitler's party platform etc., but I think I have said enough for the moment.  I say much more about Hitler here

Fact-checking websites have a checkered reputation at best. Many lean so far to the left that they cannot recognize their own bias. None has carried that standard so proudly, however, as Snopes. This week, even they have completely outdone themselves. In a February 12, 2020 article titled, "Does This Trump Tweet Echo ‘Mein Kampf?’" Snopes engages in so many sophomoric logical fallacies that they may have done permanent damage to whatever remains of their reputation.

I kept screen captures, just in case they become so embarrassed that it would be too much to leave the article up, even for them.

Snopes founder David Mikkelson authored the article, in which he cites a tweet from August 2018 to examine the issue.

Incidentally, the author reveals his bias right out of the gate by choosing such an old tweet. This has clearly been on his mind for a while now. Here's how Mikkelson confirms this tweet:

The statement on the right comes from Hitler’s 1925 autobiographical manifesto “Mein Kampf,” begun while he was imprisoned for his part in a failed coup d’état in Munich, Bavaria, in November 1923. Although Hitler’s work is subject to the vagaries of translation (since Hitler wrote in German), the above passage does appear as worded in Chapter 11 of “Mein Kampf” in at least one English-language translation

There are so many holes in that explanation, it boggles the mind. Let's examine, first of all, the direct comparison of what Trump has said about the biased press, versus what Hitler said about the press not supporting his agenda. A rather large distinction right off the bat, no? They both criticize the press, so they're both Literally Hitler™. This is what's known as a Causal Fallacy — in this case, assuming a correlation with insufficient evidence.

It should go without saying but apparently bears repeating: Trump criticizes the press for their political bias and failure to report accurately, thereby misleading consumers of news and incompletely informing them. Hitler criticized the press for not getting on board with his fascistic plans for German society. The comparison falls apart on its face.

Mikkelson isn't done with the logical fallacies, however. He then commits an Appeal to Authority — and what an authority!

To what extent the two statements presented above resemble each other is something of a subjective issue, but many critics, such as civil rights lawyer Burt Neuborne, have drawn parallels between Trump’s and Hitler’s attacks on the mainstream press.

Burt Neuborne is an attorney and law professor who litigated cases for the ACLU and NOW, and founded the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU Law School. Neuborne has repeatedly accused Trump of bearing a strong resemblance to Hitler. In fact, he wrote a book about it, which Mikkelson quotes:

[Hitler and Trump] unceasingly attack objective truth. “Both Trump and Hitler maintained a relentless assault on the very idea of objective truth,” [Neuborne says]. “Each began the assault by seeking to delegitimize the mainstream press. Hitler quickly coined the epithet Lügenpresse (literally ‘lying press’) to denigrate the mainstream press.

Trump uses a paraphrase of Hitler’s lying press epithet — ‘fake news’ — cribbed, no doubt, from one of Hitler’s speeches. For Trump, the mainstream press is a ‘lying press’ that publishes ‘fake news.’” Hitler attacked his opponents as spreading false information to undermine his positions, Neuborne says, just as Trump has attacked “elites” for disseminating false news …

They relentlessly attack mainstream media. Trump’s assaults on the media echo Hitler’s, Neuborne says, noting that he “repeatedly attacks the ‘failing New York Times,’ leads crowds in chanting ‘CNN sucks,’ [and] is personally hostile to most reporters.” He cites the White House’s refusal to fly the flag at half-mast after the murder of five journalists in Annapolis in June 2018, Trump’s efforts to punish CNN by blocking a merger of its corporate parent, and trying to revoke federal Postal Service contracts held by Amazon, which was founded by Jeff Bezos, who also owns the Washington Post.

Notice that? "Cribbed, no doubt, from one of Hitler's speeches." No proof, no detailed analysis of potential plagiarism. Just speculation. Neuborne engages in the same causal fallacy Mikkelson does. That explains why Mikkelson likes his writing so much — it affirms Mikkelson's own biases without having to ask himself the hard questions.

If an author refuses to show enough intellectual honesty to thoughtfully compare not just the words, but the intent of a statement, then why should anyone take them seriously?


Finkel: Coal could be sidelined by a push for gas to serve as a transition fuel, and a move toward renewably produced hydrogen

I watched most of Finkel's speech on TV. It was politely received: No eruptions from critics in either direction.  His logic about the interim use of natural gas was basically irrefutable.

Where he went off the rails was in his advocacy of hydrogen as the ultimate fuel. That idea has been around for many years but stumbles on questions of cost and safety.  Basically you take a fuel that is usable in its own right and use its energy to produce a new fuel.  That is very inefficient and inevitably more costly than just using the fuel you already have to do other things

Finkel saw hydrogen as particularly good for powering motor vehicles.  That is again pie in the sky. You need a heavy pressure vessel to store hydrogen and that is both more costly, more tricky to deal with and more dangerous than the simple sheet metal tank that normal motor fuels require

Not gonna happen

Australia’s chief scientist, Alan Finkel, has come out in support of the government’s strategy of using gas as a transition fuel to generate electricity while the sector moves away from coal toward clean energy sources.

“We cannot abruptly cease our use of energy,” he told the National Press Club this week. “Make no mistake, this will be the biggest engineering challenge ever undertaken. The energy system is huge, and even with an internationally committed and focused effort, the transition will take many decades.”

“Ultimately, we will need to complement solar and wind with a range of other technologies such as high levels of storage, long-distance transmission, and much better efficiency in the way we use energy.”

“But while these technologies are being scaled up, we need an energy companion today that can react rapidly to changes in solar and wind output. An energy companion that is itself relatively low in emissions, and that only operates when needed. In the short-term, as the prime minister and Minister Angus Taylor have previously stated, natural gas will play that critical role.”

The strategy was first flagged in 2015 by the then-Minister for Environment and Energy Josh Frydenberg but was picked up by Prime Minster Scott Morrison just last month, amid devastating bushfires, which climate scientists and bushfire experts have linked to Australia’s love affair with coal and other fossil fuels.

Since the Morrison government has shown a renewed interest in gas, some coalition MPs, most notably from the National Party and from areas that have for many years relied on exporting coal, have stepped up their defense of it and have begun petitioning for government subsidies for coal-fired power.

Australia’s incoming resources minister, Keith Pitt, hasn’t turned away from coal either, telling The Sydney Morning Herald that he will push for more exports. But Pitt also threw his support behind a plan to extract gas from an area in northern New South Wales following a landmark energy deal between the state and federal government, which would see an investment of $2 billion into the east coast market.

Gas is still a fossil fuel, but not all fossil fuels are created equal. Burning natural gas, for example, produces less than half as much carbon dioxide per unit of electricity compared to coal and reduces emissions by 33 percent when producing heat.

While natural gas produces less carbon dioxide during burning, it is around 30 times better at holding in the atmosphere, meaning that if enough methane leaks during production, it could be as detrimental to the environment as burning coal, if not worse.

In the northern New South Wales region of Narrabri, the proposed big gas project has been met by both stiff resistance and support from locals. Some argue that the environmental effect will be disastrous for the region’s farmers, while others claim that it is essential to create jobs and boost the economy.

The federal government’s backing revived hopes for the plan, which involves ambitions to extract gas from coal seams lying deep beneath the Pilliga Forest.

In return, the federal government asks that the state government set a target of delivering 70 petajoules a year of new gas into the market. Coincidentally, that’s precisely the estimated output of the Narrabri project.

The project is yet to secure the final state and environmental approvals, but gas giant Santos has already invested around $1.5 billion into it, and now with federal backing, it’s likely to pass all checks unabated.

Morrison has ruled out making any similar energy deal with the state of Victoria to help reduce its carbon emissions and lower power costs unless the state government ditches its longstanding ban on onshore gas exploration.

Siding with the federal government, and also seeing gas as a transition fuel, business groups such as the Victorian Chamber of Commerce and the Energy Users Association have urged the state government to expand conventional onshore gas extraction and lift the ban.

The deal would likely also include guarantees against “premature closures” of coal-powered fire stations in Victoria, which provide around 70 percent of the state’s energy. In return, federal investment would likely include power from the Snowy Hydro 2.0 scheme delivered to Melbourne, Ballarat, Shepparton, and other urban centers across the state.

Finkel, who helped prepare and release the National Hydrogen Strategy late last year, stressed that coal was not an option and tipped hydrogen as the way forward during his speech at the National Press Club. “Enter the hero, hydrogen,” he said, after discussing the perils of climate change.

Hydrogen carries more energy than natural gas and is carbon-free, so the burning of it does not contribute to climate change. Hydrogen can, however, be produced in two ways, through the process of electrolysis, using solar and wind, or through chemical process, using combusting fossil fuels like coal and gas.

For now, the hydrogen strategy has recognized the need to reduce emissions to combat climate change and is only considering options using fossil fuels if they come with carbon capture and storage, which involves pumping carbon emissions into underground cavities. According to the Australian Institute, carbon capture and storage projects have a poor track record of delivering on their promises, and now the industry is using the same “unsuccessful technology” to promote hydrogen.

Fears also remain that hydrogen is being used as a lifeline for coal. Prior to discussing the terms of the strategy with Finkel and state energy ministers, Angus Taylor, the federal minister for energy, suggested that hydrogen production should be “technology neutral,” indicating it could be done using coal.


Survey finds people who identify as left-wing more likely to have been diagnosed with a mental illness

Although this finding is a straw in the wind it is not by itself conclusive.  The sample is not a random one so any generalizations from it may not be sound.

It is however consistent with all we know about Leftists.  Their ability to ignore reality is definitional of them -- which indicates heavy use of such neurotic defence mechanisms as compartmentalization, projection and denial.

Even neuroticism may be a kind diagnosis, however -- as loss of reality contact is the core definition of psychosis. Looking at the evidence as a whole therefore I think a fairly safe conclusion does emerge.

Amusingly, ever since at least 1950, Leftist psychologists have also been projective in this area.  They have labored mightly to show that conservatives are the maladjusted  ones -- with results that are convincing only to themselves

The analysis below used data from a survey carried out by a Leftist -- who is greatly outraged at the impertience of that.  He offers some criticisms of the analysis below but starts out with an outright lie while doing so. His reality denial is certainly going strong.  He summarizes the findings below as "Both extreme rightists and extreme leftists are more likely than moderates to have been diagnosed with most conditions.'

But look at the graph below.  Extreme Leftists (on the extreme Left of the graph below, as is fitting) are more than twice as nutty as extreme rightists.  Extreme Rightists are in fact fairly average on mental problems.

We do have a very large problem with Leftists. When you add in the truly insane torrent of rage and hate that they direct at Mr Trump, you have to conclude that a Leftist government would be a government for the insane by the insane

A new survey of more than 8,000 people has found that those who identify with left-wing political beliefs are more likely to have been diagnosed with a mental illness.

Ann Coulter’s “liberalism is a mental disorder” catchphrase has become something of a clichéd meme, but the data appears to support it.

Carried out by Slate Star Codex, the online survey collected a wealth of data from respondents about their education, demographic, lifestyle and political views.

The results show that people who occupy the farther left end of the political spectrum are more likely to have been “formally diagnosed with depression, borderline personality disorder, bipolar disorder, or schizophrenia.”

In addition, the results show that the highest percentage of respondents (38%) who admit being diagnosed with forms of mental illness also identify politically as Marxists.

In comparison, just 12.1% of conservatives say they have been diagnosed with a mental disorder.

While the survey is by no means scientific, it does give an insight into how disturbed people are more likely to be attracted to fringe leftist beliefs, which in a lifestyle sense usually encourage degeneracy and a lack of moral responsibility.

“It’s not a myth that left-wingers are more mentally ill,” said conservative commentator Milo Yiannopoulos. “And it’s not a surprise the internet has elevated crazy people with too much time on their hands to a central place in the national discourse. The “social web” is a social fucking catastrophe.”


Does immigration make littering worse?

Philippe Lemoine is a young and outspoken campus conservative.  He is also a very bright boy generally.  He is very much at ease with statistical analysis.  He uses that skill to do a thorough examination of the claim that minorities litter more.  He first takes apart a claim that they do not and shows the defense concerned to be statistical garbage

He then goes on to examine statistically all aspects of the issue and shows that blacks and Hispanice litter more than twice as much as whites.  His analyses are pretty straightforward so should be understandable by many readers.  Because he has to cover so many bases, his article is very long.  I reproduce below therefore just the more important excerpts.

Does immigration make littering worse?  It sure looks that way
Alex Nowrasteh and Andrew Forrester just published a piece which they claim to show that, in the US, immigrants don’t litter more than natives.

Their post has been shared pretty widely and uncritically by pundits, academics and journalists and it’s already being used to argue that anyone who claims that immigrants litter more than natives is a racist. The problem is that, as I will argue in this post, not only does their analysis fail to show that immigrants don’t litter more than natives, but insofar as the data they used show anything, they show exactly the opposite.

Nowrasteh and Forrester claim to have been moved to write about this because, even though the issue seems a bit superficial, the argument that immigrants litter more is made increasingly often by restrictionists:

At the recent National Conservatism conference, University of Pennsylvania law professor Amy Wax argued in favor of restricting non-white immigration to the United States because she said they litter more. My colleague David Bier was heckled at the Conservative Political Action Conference in 2018 and asked about immigrant littering. Fox News Tucker Carlson has been bringing up immigrant littering over the years, most recently with the help of City Journal associate editor Seth Barron.

If you ask me, this paragraph is extremely uncharitable, to the point of being dishonest. It makes his sound as if Carlson and Wax think the fact that non-white immigrants litter more alone justifies restricting non-white immigration, but obviously that’s not what they mean. They just use littering as one example of anti-social behaviors that, according to them, immigrants from certain parts of the world engage in more often than natives.

In fact, if you read what Wax said in her infamous talk (it was actually during the Q&A), she explicitly said as much:

"I think we are going to sink back significantly into Third Worldism. We are going to go Venezuela, and you can just see it happening. I mean one of my pet peeves, one of my obsessions, is litter, and I… If you go up to Stockbridge, Massachusetts, or Yankee territory, right? Or versus other places that are “more diverse,” you are going to see an enormous difference. I’m sorry to report. You know, generalizations are not very pleasant, but little things like that, which aren’t little, they really affect our environment, attitudes towards public space."

Anyway, having explained why they felt the need to jump into this debate, Nowrasteh and Forrester  describe how they allegedly showed that immigrants don’t litter more than natives:

"Fortunately, there are data available to at least partially answer this question. The American Housing Survey (AHS) is a biennial longitudinal housing survey that asks about the amount of trash, litter, or junk in streets, lots, or properties within a half-block of the respondent’s housing unit. The answers are a “small amount of trash,” a “large amount,” and “no trash.” We constructed a scale from zero to one using a min-max normalization for all non-missing observations where a higher value indicates more trash in a neighborhood. We then take a weighted average of these scores using the weighting variable present in the AHS public use file for each metropolitan area.

The smallest geographical unit in the AHS was the Core-Based Statistical Area (CBSA) for 15 major urban areas in the United States that account for about 33 percent of the total U.S. population (around 58 percent of the foreign-born population and 30 percent of the native-born population).

We linked the foreign-born shares of the CBSA populations from the 2017 American Community Survey (2013-2017, 5-year estimates) to the AHS survey responses on the amount of litter and trash. We then ran a regression where the independent variable is the percent of the CBSA’s population that is foreign-born and the dependent variable is the response to the litter question."

As they explain in the rest of the post, when they did that, they didn’t find statistically significant relationship between the proportion of immigrants in a CBSA and the amount of litter.

But does it mean that Nowrasteh and Forrester are right and that immigrants don’t litter more than natives? Well, no, it does not. Not at all. The way they analyzed the data makes absolutely no sense and, when you do it correctly, you find exactly the opposite result. In fact, insofar as the data show anything, they completely vindicate Wax, but amazingly Nowrasteh and Forrester reached exactly the opposite conclusion. The problems with their analysis are so obvious that, when I read their post, I just couldn’t believe it. The dataset they used contains more than 50,000 observations, but by aggregating at the CBSA level, they reduced that to only 15 observations. The only reason to use this approach is that, by doing that, we can precisely determine the demographics of the area where respondents live instead of using their own demographics for the composition of their neighborhood. But the CBSAs in the dataset are huge and contain a lot of people, whereas respondents were asked about the presence of trash in the streets within 1/2 block of where they live, so this is not helpful.

In general, when people complain about “immigration”, even if they don’t use any qualifier, they are only complaining about some groups of immigrants but not all of them, so the average effect of immigrants is irrelevant to their claims. For instance, when people in France complain about immigration, everybody knows they’re talking about African and North-African immigrants. I have almost never heard anyone complain about Asian immigrants, because they tend to do very well and don’t cause many problems.  Thus, if we are going to use the American Housing Survey to assess whether people like Carlson and Wax are right, we must disaggregate by region of origin and/or race, which Nowrasteh and Forrester didn’t do. Again, even if they had, it wouldn’t have shown anything one way or the other, because it would have done nothing to alleviate the problems with their methodology that I described above.

Finally, restrictionists about immigration don’t just talk about immigrants, but also about their descendants, because their central point is that neither immigrants nor even their descendants magically adopt the culture of their country of destination just in virtue of living there. You may think that it’s wrong, although it clearly isn’t, but in any case that’s the claim they make, so you can’t possibly refute it by just looking at immigrants. Indeed, just looking at immigrants and ignoring the effects of their descendants is another trick that pro-immigration advocates often use, but the effects of immigration are not limited to the effects of immigrants themselves. It also includes, among other things, the effects their descendants have. In fact, if you go back to Wax’s answer where she talked about littering, you will see that she doesn’t even talk about immigrants. She claims that littering is worse in areas that are more “diverse”, so she isn’t making a point about immigration per se but about race/ethnicity, although those issues are obviously related. Thus, if we want to use the American Housing Survey to assess whether she is right, we have to examine whether race/ethnicity, not just place of birth, is related to littering.

Even though I have just explained that one should disaggregate between immigrants depending on region of origin, let’s first see whether, when the data are analyzed at the individual level, we find a difference between natives and immigrants.As you can see on this chart, where I represented the confidence intervals, there is a statistically different between immigrants and natives, so the answer is yes.

Next, since Wax singles out non-white immigrants, let’s see what happens when we disaggregate the group of immigrants into white and non-white immigrants.Well, look at that, it turns out that not disaggregating hid a significant difference between white and non-white immigrants. I wonder who could have predicted that? Well, I guess we know at least one person who had predicted it, Amy “the horrible racist” Wax.

But the white/non-white dichotomy is still very crude and no doubt hides a lot of heterogeneity, so let’s focus on immigrants and disaggregate further based on where they come from.As you can see, for most groups of immigrants, there is no way to know for sure whether they are less or more likely than natives to report the presence of trash in the streets near where they live. But this is not true for immigrants from South/Central America and the Caribbean, who are significantly more likely than natives to do so. As it happens, when people say that immigrants litter more than natives, hispanic immigrants are precisely the group they usually single out. Thus, far from undermining this claim, the data seem to support it. It should also be noted that South Asians are significantly less likely to report the presence of trash in the streets near where they live, but I’ve never heard anyone complain that Indian immigrants litter…

Finally, as I have explained above, people like Wax are not just concerned about immigrants themselves, but also about their descendants. Even if immigrants litter more than natives, it may not be a big deal as long as their descendants, having been socialized in the US, had adopted the local norms and behaved similarly to natives with respect to littering. In order to check whether the data supports this hypothesis, let’s look only at natives and disaggregate by race/ethnicity.


Mr Trump's faults

The Left loathe and abhor Mr. Trump. The main reason for the torrent of verbal poison that they pour out at him is the way he has made America prosper.  Almost from the moment his election win was announced in 2016, American multinationals started bring  their money and their jobs back home.  The American Left was trying all sorts of coercive measures to achieve that but all Mr Trump had to do was ask.

But America does not deserve to prosper according to the American Left.  It is a deeply corrupt and racist country that lives off the sweat of the poor, according to the Left.  So to them Mr Trump is doing the Devil's work, not that they would put it that way.  To them, America deserves drastic reform, not prosperity.

They have to show some caution in expressing  such hatred of their own country, however.  America is still mostly a land of patriots and those deplorable patriots have a vote!

So the Left have to display their anger at Mr Trump in some other way.   And Mr Trump provides plenty of fodder for that.  His personal style is such that he has redefined what "presidential" means.  During his run for the presidency, the Left mainly mocked his hair, but they have now found many other faults in him. He boasts, he gets facts wrong and he fires back at those who attack him. He is frankly childish.

Mr Trump's personal style is so unattractive that many American writers -- including some psychiatrists who should know better -- have "psychologized" him.  They have purported to show that Mr Trump has symptoms of mental illness.  That he is a "narcissist" almost goes without saying.

But here's the thing:  Conservatives can see all those symptoms too. They can see that Mr Trump's personal style is a great departure from what used to be called presidential.  At a minimum he lacks dignity.

But that does not bother Republican voters. They look beneath the surface to his radical policies and very much like what they see there. His approval rating among them is 94% at the moment.  As an example of Trump supporters being alive to his faults, take this quote from something I put up yesterday;

Trump, to be sure, is a strange guy. I have never witnessed anyone more in love with himself. If there is a world's record for narcissism, he holds it. I am reminded of Oscar Wilde's comment upon looking at himself in a mirror:  "the beginning of a lifelong romance."

That does seem to me to be a reasonable statement but, being a psychologist, I want to put it into a larger context:  Mr Trump actually needs to be like that.  The torrent of attack and criticism that has been aimed at him would have crushed most people long ago.  And yet, as far as we can see, it is all like water off a duck's  back to him. To quote a popular metaphor, he "has got the hide of a rhinocerous'.

So you need someone with an extremely high level of self-regard and self confidence to survive what Donald Trump has survived.  Narcissism can have a constructive place within the diversity of human society and Trump illustrates that. The great leap in prosperity that he has brought to America could not have been done by a more conventional man.

Prominent Australian conservative lets fly during heated debate over coal and bushfires as climate expert tells him Australia faces 'unimaginable' blaze seasons

Michael Mann is a pseudo-scientist.  He is so nervous about the quality of the data underlying his research reports that he opted to lose a court case rather than reveal his data.  Such a breach of basic scientific principles makes all his words unproven nasturtiums

Barnaby is perfectly correct to say that adopting stricter CO2 policies would do nothing to extinguish the fires.  The fires will burn as long as the fuel to burn is there and dry.  No fuel no fire.  Lots of dry fuel, lots of fire.  That's the essence of it and nothing else much matters.  Control the fuel buildup and you control the fires.  Laws of any kind passed in parliament are irrelevant to that

Barnaby Joyce has gone up against a climatologist in a heated debate about coal, bushfires and Australia's climate change policies.

During a 60 Minutes panel discussion between the Nationals MP and former fire chiefs, renowned US climate expert Professor Michael Mann said the country's bushfires will continue to worsen if the Coalition doesn't step up.

But Joyce hit back, saying that despite recognising the climate is changing, 'we're not going to [put out fires] by having this incredible debate in Canberra'.

Joyce said he believes Prime Minister Scott Morrison thinks Australia 'has got to do its part and is doing its part' to combat climate change and the growing fire threat.

Prof Mann shot down the outspoken MP's views, saying: 'In all fairness Barnaby, Scott Morrison and his government have played a destructive role in global negotiations to act on climate.

'[The Coalition] have literally dismissed the connection between climate change and these unprecedented bushfires that we're experiencing. 'The scientific community has spoken authoritatively on this matter.'

But when asked if he accepted that the fires have been driven by global warming, Joyce admitted climate change had played a role.

'I can absolutely accept that we've had a massive change in the climate. That is not my argument. My argument is one of immediate efficacy,' he said.

'We're going to put back into our fire breaks, we're going to make sure we build central watering points so that no [fire] truck has to travel more than 20km. 'These are the things that I want to concentrate on.'

Prof Mann fired back, saying politicians 'can't solve the problem if they refuse to accept the cause of the problem'.

Mr Joyce argued Australia has complied with international agreements.

'No that's not true,' Prof Mann responded.

Mr Joyce then went on to spruik the importance of exporting coal, and noted it's one of Australia's biggest exports next to iron ore.

'Therefore the money that comes from that - whether you like it or not - supports our hospitals, our schools, our defence force,' he said. '[We aren't going to] say to the Australian people "we're going to get rid of that income stream and you've got to accept that this money is not going to turn up".

'And I'll tell you what happens in politics if you do that - you lose the election.'

60 Minutes host Tara Brown asked Mr Joyce if he was overstating the wealth of coal to Australia, and reminded him the coal industry is just 2.2 per cent of the GDP and only employs 0.4 per cent of the population.

Prof Munn then doubled down on his views: 'How about the hundreds of millions of dollars being lost in tourism, the damage that's been done in these unprecedented bushfires?. 'The cost of climate inaction far outweighs the modest cost of taking action.'

But again, Joyce hit back. 'Are you saying that if Australia changes its domestic policies then the climate will change?.  'This idea that Australia unilaterally will make a decision that is going to change the climate is absurd.'

Prof Mann said there are a number of politicians around the world who are 'basically sabotaging climate action for the entire planet'.

'You can count [these countries] on the fingers of your hand. It's Saudi Arabia, it's Russia, it's the United States and Brazil. Does Australia want to be part of that family?'

But Joyce said Australians will lose their 'dignity' if Australia's economy becomes weakened if it stops exporting coal. 'If you want to sell this program, you have to say to [the Australian people] how you're going to make their lives more affordable and put dignity back into their lives,' he said.

His remarks angered retired Army General Major General Peter Dunn, who then went toe-to-toe with the former deputy prime minister. 'But what dignity have you got, Barnaby, when you are standing in the middle of rubble and saying "how on earth did this fire happen?",' he said.

He said the 'head of the serpent' fuelling bushfires is climate change. 'This country wants politicians to step up. It is the existential issue that the public have raised,' he said.

'It defeats me as to why you won't step up to it. All [scientists'] predictions have, damn it, turned out to be right.'

Prof Mann said the effects of climate change are 'actually worse than we predicted'.  'Here in Australia we are seeing an unimaginable crisis take place,' he said.

'We're not seeing the sort of action we need to be seeing here in Australia and around the world to avert truly catastrophic climate change.'

Former Victorian Fire Commissioner Craig Lapsley advised climate change deniers to 'go to the science'.

Prof Mann, who works at Pennsylvania State University, claimed Australia's future bushfire seasons will be even worse than what the country endured this summer. '(Fires) will become more intense, they become faster spreading, they become more extensive,' he said.

'When you turn the entire continent or large parts of it into a tinderbox, there's really no amount of fire suppression or backburning that's going to get you out of the problem.

'People ask me, is this a new normal for Australia? It's worse than that.'

Maj Gen Dunn, who lives in bushfire-ravaged Conjola on the NSW south coast, echoed Prof Munn's sentiments. 'What happened here? It was like a nuclear explosion. It was terrifying. It's a monster,' he said.

'We've really got to think about these sorts of things; how we manage bushfire fighting. The traditional approach has been well and truly proven to be ineffective.'

So far, 33 people have died in the horror infernos and millions of hectares of land has been destroyed.