A President Betrayed by Bureaucrats: Scott Atlas Exposes The Real COVID Disaster

I was always surprised that almost all countries adopted the Chinese Communist approach to dealing with the virus: Sweeping lockdowns. As it was mainly the elderly who were dying, it seemed to me that they alone should have been the focus of government action.

But the Leftist establishment have always been sympathetic to Communism so it is no surprise that it was the Communist example that was automatically assumed to be best. The article below shows just how rigid and resitant to evidence the establishment were in gleefuly grabbing their opportunity to control everyone

Jeffrey Tucker

I’m a voracious reader of Covid books but nothing could have prepared me for Scott Atlas’s A Plague Upon Our House, a full and mind-blowing account of the famed scientist’s personal experience with the Covid era and a luridly detailed account of his time at the White House. The book is hot fire, from page one to the last, and will permanently affect your view of not only this pandemic and the policy response but also the workings of public health in general.

Atlas’s book has exposed a scandal for the ages.

It is enormously valuable because it fully blows up what seems to be an emerging fake story involving a supposedly Covid-denying president who did nothing vs. heroic scientists in the White House who urged compulsory mitigating measures consistent with prevailing scientific opinion. Not one word of that is true. Atlas’s book, I hope, makes it impossible to tell such tall tales without embarrassment.

Anyone who tells you this fictional story (including Deborah Birx) deserves to have this highly credible treatise tossed in his direction. The book is about the war between real science (and genuine public health), with Atlas as the voice for reason both before and during his time in the White House, vs. the enactment of brutal policies that never stood any chance of controlling the virus while causing tremendous damage to the people, to human liberty, to children in particular, but also to billions of people around the world.

For the reader, the author is our proxy, a reasonable and blunt man trapped in a world of lies, duplicity, backstabbing, opportunism, and fake science. He did his best but could not prevail against a powerful machine that cares nothing for facts, much less outcomes.

If you have heretofore believed that science drives pandemic public policy, this book will shock you. Atlas’s recounting of the unbearably poor thinking on the part of government-based “infectious disease experts” will make your jaw drop (thinking, for example, of Birx’s off-the-cuff theorizing about the relationship between masking and controlling case spreads).

Throughout the book, Atlas points to the enormous cost of the machinery of lockdowns, the preferred method of Anthony Fauci and Deborah Birx: missed cancer screenings, missed surgeries, nearly two years of educational losses, bankrupted small business, depression and drug overdoses, overall citizen demoralization, violations of religious freedom, all while public health massively neglected the actual at-risk population in long-term care facilities. Essentially, they were willing to dismantle everything we called civilization in the name of bludgeoning one pathogen without regard to the consequences.

The fake science of population-wide “models” drove policy instead of following the known information about risk profiles.

“The one unusual feature of this virus was the fact that children had an extraordinarily low risk,” writes Atlas.

“Yet this positive and reassuring news was never emphasized. Instead, with total disregard of the evidence of selective risk consistent with other respiratory viruses, public health officials recommended draconian isolation of everyone.”

“Restrictions on liberty were also destructive by inflaming class distinctions with their differential impact,” he writes, “exposing essential workers, sacrificing low-income families and kids, destroying single-parent homes, and eviscerating small businesses, while at the same time large companies were bailed out, elites worked from home with barely an interruption, and the ultra-rich got richer, leveraging their bully pulpit to demonize and cancel those who challenged their preferred policy options.”

In the midst of continued chaos, in August 2020, Atlas was called by Trump to help, not as a political appointee, not as a PR man for Trump, not as a DC fixer but as the only person who in nearly a year of unfolding catastrophe had a health-policy focus. He made it clear from the outset that he would only say what he believed to be true; Trump agreed that this was precisely what he wanted and needed. Trump got an earful and gradually came around to a more rational view than that which caused him to wreck the American economy and society with his own hands and against his own instincts.

In Task Force meetings, Atlas was the only person who showed up with studies and on-the-ground information as opposed to mere charts of infections easily downloadable from popular websites.

“A bigger surprise was that Fauci did not present scientific research on the pandemic to the group that I witnessed. Likewise, I never heard him speak about his own critical analysis of any published research studies. This was stunning to me. Aside from intermittent status updates about clinical trial enrollments, Fauci served the Task Force by offering an occasional comment or update on vaccine trial participant totals, mostly when the VP would turn to him and ask.”

When Atlas spoke up, it was almost always to contradict Fauci/Birx but he received no backing during meetings, only to have many people in attendance later congratulate him for speaking out. Still, he did, by virtue of private meetings, have a convert in Trump himself, but by then it was too late: not even Trump could prevail against the wicked machine he had permissioned into operation.

It’s a Mr. Smith Goes to Washington story but applied to matters of public health.

From the outset of this disease panic, policy came to be dictated by two government bureaucrats (Fauci and Birx) who, for some reason, were confident in their control over media, bureaucracies, and White House messaging, despite every attempt by the president, Atlas, and a few others to get them to pay attention to the actual science about which Fauci/Birx knew and care little.

When Atlas would raise doubts about Birx, Jared Kushner would repeatedly assure him that “she is 100% MAGA.”

Yet we know for certain that this is not true. We know from a different book on the subject that she only took the position with the anticipation that Trump would lose the presidency in the November election.

That’s hardly a surprise; it’s the bias expected from a career bureaucrat working for a deep-state institution.

Fortunately, we now have this book to set the record straight. It gives every reader an inside look at the workings of a system that wrecked our lives. If the book finally declines to offer an explanation for the hell that was visited upon us – every day we still ask the question why? – it does provide an accounting of the who, when, where, and what. Tragically, too many scientists, media figures, and intellectuals in general went along. Atlas’s account shows exactly what they signed up to defend, and it’s not pretty.

The cliche that kept coming to mind as I read is “breath of fresh air.” That metaphor describes the book perfectly: blessed relief from relentless propaganda. Imagine yourself trapped in an elevator with stultifying air in a building that is on fire and the smoke gradually seeps in from above. Someone is in there with you and he keeps assuring you that everything is fine, when it is obviously not.

That’s a pretty good description of how I felt from March 12, 2020 and onward. That was the day that President Trump spoke to the nation and announced that there would be no more travel from Europe. The tone in his voice was spooky. It was obvious that more was coming. He had clearly fallen sway to extremely bad advice, perhaps he was willing to push lockdowns as a plan to deal with a respiratory virus that was already widespread in the US from perhaps 5 to 6 months earlier.

It was the day that the darkness descended. A day later (March 13), the HHS distributed its lockdown plans for the nation. That weekend, Trump met for many hours with Anthony Fauci, Deborah Birx, son-in-law Jared Kushner, and only a few others. He came around to the idea of shutting down the American economy for two weeks. He presided over the calamitous March 16, 2020, press conference, at which Trump promised to beat the virus through general lockdowns.

Of course he had no power to do that directly but he could urge it to happen, all under the completely delusional promise that doing so would solve the virus problem. Two weeks later, the same gang persuaded him to extend the lockdowns.

Trump went along with the advice because it was the only advice he was fed at the time. They made it appear that the only choice that Trump had – if he wanted to beat the virus – was to wage war on his own policies that were pushing for a stronger, healthier economy. After surviving two impeachment attempts, and beating back years of hate from a nearly united media afflicted by severe derangement syndrome, Trump was finally hornswoggled.

Atlas writes:

“On this highly important criterion of presidential management—taking responsibility to fully take charge of policy coming from the White House—I believe the president made a massive error in judgment. Against his own gut feeling, he delegated authority to medical bureaucrats, and then he failed to correct that mistake.”

The truly tragic fact that both Republicans and Democrats do not want spoken about is that this whole calamity is that did indeed begin with Trump’s decision. On this point, Atlas writes:

Yes, the president initially had gone along with the lockdowns proposed by Fauci and Birx, the “fifteen days to slow the spread,” even though he had serious misgivings. But I still believe the reason that he kept repeating his one question—“Do you agree with the initial shutdown?”—whenever he asked questions about the pandemic was precisely because he still had misgivings about it.

Large parts of the narrative are devoted to explaining precisely how and to what extent Trump had been betrayed. “They had convinced him to do exactly the opposite of what he would naturally do in any other circumstance,” Atlas writes, that is

“to disregard his own common sense and allow grossly incorrect policy advice to prevail…. This president, widely known for his signature “You’re fired!” declaration, was misled by his closest political intimates. All for fear of what was inevitable anyway—skewering from an already hostile media. And on top of that tragic misjudgment, the election was lost anyway. So much for political strategists.”

There are so many valuable parts to the story that I cannot possibly recount them all. The language is brilliant, e.g. he calls the media “the most despicable group of unprincipled liars one could ever imagine.” He proves that assertion in page after page of shocking lies and distortions, mostly driven by political goals.

I was particularly struck by his chapter on testing, mainly because that whole racket mystified me throughout. From the outset, the CDC bungled the testing part of the pandemic story, attempting to keep the tests and process centralized in DC at the very time when the entire nation was in panic. Once that was finally fixed, months too late, mass and indiscriminate PCR testing became the desiderata of success within the White House. The problem was not just with the testing method:

“Fragments of dead virus hang around and can generate a positive test for many weeks or months, even though one is not generally contagious after two weeks. Moreover, PCR is extremely sensitive. It detects minute quantities of virus that do not transmit infection…. Even the New York Times wrote in August that 90 percent or more of positive PCR tests falsely implied that someone was contagious. Sadly, during my entire time at the White House, this crucial fact would never even be addressed by anyone other than me at the Task Force meetings, let alone because for any public recommendation, even after I distributed data proving this critical point.”

The other problem is the wide assumption that more testing (however inaccurate) of whomever, whenever was always better. This model of maximizing tests seemed like a leftover from the HIV/AIDS crisis in which tracing was mostly useless in practice but at least made some sense in theory. For a widespread and mostly wild respiratory disease transmitted the way a cold virus is transmitted, this method was hopeless from the beginning. It became nothing but make work for tracing bureaucrats and testing enterprises that in the end only provided a fake metric of “success” that served to spread public panic.

Early on, Fauci had clearly said that there was no reason to get tested if you had no symptoms. Later, that common-sense outlook was thrown out the window and replaced with an agenda to test as many people as possible regardless of risk and regardless of symptoms. The resulting data enabled Fauci/Birx to keep everyone in a constant state of alarm. More test positivity to them implied only one thing: more lockdowns. Businesses needed to close harder, we all needed to mask harder, schools needed to stay closed longer, and travel needed to be ever more restricted. That assumption became so entrenched that not even the president’s own wishes (which had changed from Spring to Summer) made any difference.

Atlas’s first job, then, was to challenge this whole indiscriminate testing agenda. To his mind, testing needed to be about more than accumulating endless amounts of data, much of it without meaning; instead, testing should be directed toward a public-health goal. The people who needed tests were the vulnerable populations, particularly those in nursing homes, with the goal of saving lives among those who were actually threatened with severe outcomes. This push to test, contact trace, and quarantine anyone and everyone regardless of known risk was a huge distraction, and also caused huge disruption in schooling and enterprise.

Much more HERE


Also see my other blogs. Main ones below:

http://edwatch.blogspot.com (EDUCATION WATCH)

http://antigreen.blogspot.com (GREENIE WATCH)

http://pcwatch.blogspot.com (POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH)

http://australian-politics.blogspot.com/ (AUSTRALIAN POLITICS)

http://snorphty.blogspot.com/ (TONGUE-TIED)


IQ and autism

There is an interesting video about IQ by Edward Dutton below. Ignore his manic introduction. I have noted his work before. His interest in IQ has, regrettably, made him something of an outcast in academe. Last I heard he was teaching at a university in sub-arctic Finland, which is a long way from his origins in Northern England.

In the video below he presents the Baron-Cohen theory of an association between autism and a very high IQ. He does not define the high IQ group precisely but he includes Mensa members in his coverage so he is apparently discussing people in the top 2% of IQ and perhaps some a bit lower than that. Since I am a former Mensa member and organizer, I am inclined to see him as talking inter alia about me.

And I do fit his major claim about high IQ: That high IQ is associated with autism. I am clearly a high-functioning autistic. I have outlined the evidence for that elsewhere. And many of the things that he says of high IQ people are indeed recognizable in me and by me. So I think there is considerable truth in his generalizations.

There are however some problems with his presentation. The largest problem is that there are a wide range of autistic behaviours, Some people are severely disabled by it and some, like myself, suffer only mild limitations. And not all autistics are highly intelligent, though they do often have some unusual "gift" in some way. My gift is to do even the hardest adademic tasks at lightning speed. I wrote my Ph.D. dissertation in 6 weeks, among other things.

Another problem is of the chicken and egg variety. Does autism cause high IQ or does high IQ cause autism? Dutton seems to think that what makes you highly intelligent also makes you autistic. Maybe -- but there are surely SOME high IQ people who are not autistic. That is obviously a testable proposition but I am not aware of anyone who has tested it

There is some obvious truth in it however. A high IQ person does see the world very differently from Joe Average and that must create social difficulties. And social difficulties are the hallmark of autism. My own social skills are certainly not the best but I have had a rather nice time with the ladies over the years so they cannot be too bad. Many good memories.

So I think Dutton is right in seeing autism as the characteristic ailment of high IQ people but I strongly doubt that all highly intelligent people are autistic. Dutton does tend to overgeneralize.

There is however a research literature in support of his ideas



The Salvation Army Has Gone Woke Too Now, and They're Losing Support

How is the anti-white racism of CRT or any form of racism consistent with the repeated Biblical assertion that we are all one in Christ  -- e.g. Galatians 3:28: "There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus."

The Salvos are now clearly post-Christian.  They ignore Bible teachings on homosexuality too.  If you want a guide to the Christian afterlife, you will not find it from them.  They now teach conventional "worldly" ideas only

The Salvation Army is losing some long-time support this holiday season in light of the organization picking up on anti-racism and Critical Race Theory (CRT) teaching. Reporting from Carly Mayberry with Newsweek highlights the problematic teaching document in question, "Let's Talk About Racism," which aims to address "racism and the Church."

As Mayberry reports:

Definitions of institutional and systemic racism are included while real or perceived differences in life outcomes ("inequities") are attributable not to individual effort and other circumstances, but to discrimination. Sections address topics including police brutality, health care and Black unemployment linking such topics to "racial inequity."

That's troublesome for those who note The Salvation Army has been a leader in confronting racism long before the rest of the country and over five decades before the civil rights movement. And they're asking why then should members of an organization built by the Christian faith to actually assist people of all races in need, be repentant of behavior they never perpetuated?

One can find the document through a simple Google search. The question asked above is a worthwhile one, since one of the things the document hopes to achieve is to "Lament, repent and apologize for biases or racist ideologies held and actions committed." There's an entire section on "Lamenting and Repenting," which is a theme throughout the teaching document.

Of particular concern, and what is a theme of CRT programs, is the idea of rejecting colorblindness. The document makes several suggestions for white Americans for "challenges... to overcome and address," so as to "begin the process of creating lasting racial reconciliation and healing."

They include:

"Denial of racism."
"Education about racism and inequality"
"Defensiveness about race."
"Little or no exposure to People Of Color."
"Become aware of your bias."
"Stop denying that White privilege exists and learn how it supports racial inequity."
"Racism is not an individual act, it is systemic and institutional."
"Stop trying to be ‘colorblind’"

One long-time donor who has called it quits is Greg Koukl, who issued an open letter to the Salvation Army on November 1 shared over Facebook, as highlighted by Mayberry. 

"I am not going to fall for the CRT “Kafka trap” that my protestations are actually evidence of my racism, and neither should you. There is a massive number of academics—black and white, Christian and non-Christian, atheist and theist—who have raised the alarm against the aggressive indoctrination and, frankly, bullying of CRT—not to mention the racial essentialism inherent in the view, the false witness it bears against virtuous people, and the general destruction it continues to wreak on race relations in this country. CRT has set us back 50 years," his letter writes in part.

Koukl makes other points clear, such as how he does acknowledge there is racism, but that CRT is not the way to go about it. "To be clear, I am not claiming there is no racism to be dealt with or are no racist Christians who need to repent. What I am saying is that critical race theory is not an accurate characterization of contemporary racial dynamics in America (as many have argued). Therefore, since its analysis is faulty, it offers a faulty solution, one that creates a whole set of new racial tensions and provides no productive resolution to them," he writes later in the letter.

The letter also closes by inviting people to come to their own decision on whether or not to donate. "I spoke at length about this turn on my radio show this week, inviting my audience to read your material for themselves and make their own judgments. I told them, though, that as for me, I was redirecting my giving elsewhere. I am not “cancelling” you, as many in the CRT movement would gladly do to me. Rather, I am carefully investing my resources in organizations that I fully trust will serve Christ in truth and only in truth, and I no longer trust The Salvation Army to do that," Koukl also writes.

While the preamble to the teaching document claims that it "is a voluntary discussion guide," Mayberry also wrote that training took place "in matters of racial equity in a compulsory manner in January" and that the "agenda for the Territorial Virtual Officers' Councils on Racial Equity workshop mirrored the "Let's Talk About Racism" resource put out by the Commission and was required of current officers."



<b>Stephen Colbert Wants Self-Defense Laws to Change Since Rittenhouse Was Found Not Guilty</b>


<i>Note those fists. A clenched fist is the traditional emblem of the Left.  It is a boiling over of the anger and hatred within them</i>

Late-night host Stephen Colbert said that since Kyle Rittenhouse was found not guilty of murder charges because he was defending himself from aggressors during the Kenosha riots, self-defense laws must change. 

"Of course, the big news on Friday was that, after being accused of crossing state lines, killing two people, and wounding another, last year, during a Black Lives Matter protest, Kyle Rittenhouse was acquitted on all counts. Okay, cards on the table, I’m not a legal expert, so I can’t tell you whether or not Kyle Rittenhouse broke the law, but I can tell you this: if he didn’t break the law, we should change the law. That seems simple. That seems simple," Colbert said on Monday to cheering applause from the audience.

"If Emily...said it was perfectly proper to go to Thanksgiving, drop trou and leave your a** print in the pumpkin pie, I’d be like, okay, not illegal, but the system is broken. So, Rittenhouse was found not guilty, but only a complete moron would celebrate this tragedy by making this guy a hero," he added.

As the trial, eyewitnesses, and video evidence proved, Rittenhouse only shot people who were actively attacking him during the August 25 riot. He was not in violation of carrying the AR-15 while being 17-years-old at the time and despite what Colbert said, he did not cross state lines on August 25 until after the shooting as he was already in the Kenosha area when the riots started.


Top Australian Official: We’re Transferring COVID-19 Patients to Quarantine Camps

<i>The story below is from an American publication, apparently based on a Facebook post and a story in <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2021/nov/21/nt-communities-of-binjari-and-rockhole-in-hard-lockdown-as-covid-outbreak-expected-to-worsen">The Guardian</a>.  

To comprehend  it you need to know that it refers to Aboriginal settlements. The inhabitants are totally welfare-dependant and famously inert in response to all government initiatives and requirements</i>

Australian authorities are removing COVID-19-positive patients and residents in the Northern Territory to a quarantine camp in Howard Springs, after nine cases were identified in the community of Binjari, according to a local official.

Hard lockdowns were implemented in Binjari and nearby Rockhole on Nov. 20, according to Northern Territory’s chief minister.

“Residents of Binjari and Rockhole no longer have the five reasons to leave their homes,” Chief Minister Michael Gunner said in a Facebook post dated Nov. 20. Australia’s five allowable reasons for people to leave their homes include going to work or school, buying food or supplies, exercising, caregiving, or getting vaccinated.

Officials have “identified five additional close contacts in Borroloola that had not previously been known to us. … They have all tested negative, and they are being transferred to Howard Springs,” he said.

Gunner said on Nov. 21 that eight people have been taken to a facility in Howard Springs, the Guardian reported.

“It’s highly likely that more residents will be transferred to Howard Springs today, either as positive cases or close contacts,” Gunner said. “We have already identified 38 close contacts from Binjari, but that number will go up. Those 38 are being transferred now.”

According to the Northern Territory government website, those who are taken to Howard Springs or the other quarantine camp, the Alice Springs Quarantine Facility, and “do not undergo a test, you will be required to remain in quarantine a further 10 days at your own expense.”

On Nov. 22, Police Commissioner and Territory Controller Jamie Chalker confirmed to news outlets that a 77-year-old man who was on an international repatriation flight died at the Howard Springs quarantine site over the weekend.

“He was an international repat. Obviously, he was a 77-year-old individual,” Chalker said, local media reported. “We’re just looking at whether they had any existing other issues, but certainly the initial advice is not indicating that it was a death relating to COVID.”

Over the weekend, thousands of people demonstrated in multiple Australian cities against vaccine mandates. About 85 percent of the eligible population is currently vaccinated as of Nov. 19.

In recent months, concerns have been raised about Australia’s federal and state governments’ COVID-19 emergency lockdowns and restrictions. For example, Melbourne has endured likely the longest lockdown in the world.

“There are concerns among parts of the community about some pandemic management legislation that the state government is currently trying to pass through the upper house of Parliament,” Melbourne-based journalist Dana Morse told Al Jazeera. “That bill has stalled, but people are concerned about the amount of power that the state government will have if the bill passes.”


CSIRO study proves climate change driving Australia’s 800% boom in bushfires

Study proves climate change driving Australia’s 800% boom in bushfires

This is a childish level of logic. There is no doubt that weather changes impact fires but PROVING that the weather changes are due to global warming shows no awarenes of the scientific and philosophical requirements for proving anything. As David Hume pointed out, you have to show constant conjunction between two things to substantiate a claim of causation and there is NO constant conjunction between any meteorological phenonena. Weak probabilities are all we have.

And there is no recognition below that Greenie restrictions on good forest management have increased the risk and severity of fires. There IS constant conjunction between restrictions on backburning and the severity of fires in the area

I have read the academic article concerned ("Multi-decadal increase of forest burned area in Australia is linked to climate change") and it goes to great length to prove what was in no doubt -- that fires have been on the increase in recent years

Of greater interest is what they found to correlate with fire incidence and severity. Their contribution there is assertions plus some desultory modelling. And the data they put into modelling is of the low quality that we have come to expect of modelling in this area. Let me quote their look at preventive burning:

We found no changes in the mean annual area of prescribed burning over the past 32 years, although we have no information on how successful those burns were in reducing fuel loads. However, given the lack of trend and the fact that on average, only 1% of forests are subject to fuel reduction burns every year, it is very likely that fuel management had no effect on the observed multi-decadal increasing trend in the burned area of forest fires

They correlate "prescribed" burning and admit that such figures tell us nothing. What is prescribed and what Greenies allow to happen are two different things. Their figures are clearly rubbish, as are their conclusions

But here is the clincher. I quote:

"The research also found Australia is bucking an international trend of decreasing fire activity"

If nobody else is getting the trend, how come it is due to global warming? Can you have global warming in one country? Is it global or is it not? Yet another logical failure in this pathetic study.

Climate change is the dominant factor causing the increased size of bushfires in Australia’s forests, according to a landmark study that found the average annual area burned had grown by 800 per cent in the past 32 years.

The peer-reviewed research by the national science agency, CSIRO — published in the prestigious science journal, Nature — reveals evidence showing changes in weather due to global warming were the driving force behind the boom in Australia’s bushfires.

Lead author and CSIRO chief climate research scientist Pep Canadell said the study established the correlation between the Forest Fire Danger Index – which measures weather-related vegetation dryness, air temperature, wind speed and humidity – and the rise in area of forest burned since the 1930s.

“It’s so tight, it’s so strong that clearly when we have these big fire events, they’re run by the climate and the weather,” Dr Canadell said.

The bushfire royal commission identified climate change as a key risk to ongoing bushfire catastrophe but did not make recommendations about reducing greenhouse emissions to curb the threat.

The CSIRO report found other factors have an impact on the extent and intensity of bushfires such as the amount of vegetation or fuel load in a forest, the time elapsed since the last fire, and hazard reduction burning. But Dr Canadell said the study showed the link between weather and climate conditions and the size of bushfires was so tight, it was clear these factors far outweighed all other fire drivers.

“Almost regardless of what we do the overall extent of the fire, really, is dictated by those climate conditions,” he said.

Climate scientists have found climate change is exacerbating the key fire risk factors identified by CSIRO’s study, with south-eastern Australia becoming hotter, drier and, in a particularly worrying trend, more prone to high wind on extremely hot and dry summer days.

The weather system that drove a blast furnace’s worth of westerly wind across NSW and Victoria’s forests, sparking some of the worst fires of the Black Summer in 2019-20, will be up to four times more likely to occur under forecast levels of global warming.

“All the various climate trends, which are so important, are all on the rise and they’re all connected to various degrees with anthropogenic climate change,” Dr Canadell said.

The study shows fires are becoming bigger and more common even when the Black Summer is not factored in. When the first half of the study period, from 1988 to 2001, is compared to the period between 2002 and 2018, the average annual forest burned area in Australia increased 350 per cent. That figured ramps up to 800 per cent when the fires of 2019-20, which burnt more than 24 million hectares of land, are included.

Mega-fires, which burn more than 1 million hectares, have “markedly” increased with three of the four recorded from 1930 occurring since 2000, while the gap between big blazes has had a “rapid decrease”, the study says.

Last year, the bushfire royal commission reported fuel-load management through hazard reduction burning “may have no appreciable effect under extreme conditions” that typically cause loss of life and property.

The CSIRO findings bolster that conclusion and call into question calls for native forest logging to be used as a bushfire management tool.

“This is happening regardless of anything that we might or might not do to try to stop the fires,” Dr Canadell said.

The increased frequency of bushfires is giving the bush less and less time to recover, which is changing ecosystems and threatening the survival of many plants and animals that are struggling to adapt to the pace of change and loss of habitat.


Tesla drivers angry after app outage stops them using their cars

I use a metal key to enter and start my conventional car and it has never yet had an "outage"

Tesla CEO Elon Musk has apologised on Twitter after hundreds of car owners were locked out of their vehicles due to an outage of the manufacturer’s app.

A number of Tesla drivers around the world complained on social media on Friday that they were unable to use their cars with their phone apps and had to rely on keycards if they happened to be carrying their keycards with them.

Eventually, Mr Musk announced late on Friday that “server issues” which had caused the problem with the app had been resolved.

Musk responded directly to a South Korean driver who reported receiving a message about a server error while attempting to connect with his Tesla Model 3 via the app on his iPhone.

Functionality should “be coming back online now. Looks like we may have accidentally increased verbosity of network traffic,” Musk tweeted. “Apologies, we will take measures to ensure this doesn’t happen again,” he said.

But drivers had already posted a multitude of complaints online, such as one who tweeted: “I’m stuck an hour away from home because I normally use my phone to start car.”

Another wrote: “THOUSANDS of @Tesla owners are locked out of their vehicles because Tesla servers went down over two hours ago.

“I’m one of them. They said we’d be helping the environment by owning an electric vehicle, but ‘walking’ isn’t what I had in mind.”

The problem seemed to be widespread, with tweets surfacing in countries such as the US, Canada, Denmark and Germany.


Melbourne's anti-vaxxers have started placing Nazi-themed stickers around city. Stickers show Star of David, image of Adolf Hitler and a syringe with messaging

image from https://i.dailymail.co.uk/1s/2021/11/25/12/50962997-10242523-Melbourne_s_anti_vaxxers_have_started_placing_stickers_around_th-m-157_1637844002352.jpg

I am a great fan of vaccines. I have had them all. But I fundamentally object to compulsion in the mstter. I had no side-effects at all from my two Astra Zeneca shots but most people do get side-effects of varying degrees of severity, including death. In the circumstances, people are surely entitled to say "No thanks".

So using Nazi imgery is a very clear way of emphasizing that government tyranny can be a very bad thing. I think the handling of the coronavirus by methods copied from Communist China will go down in history as one of the great medical disasters

Melbourne's anti-vaxxers have started placing stickers around the city controversially comparing themselves to Jews in the Holocaust as they continue to protest against mandatory vaccinations.

The stickers, which have been spotted around the Victorian capital in recent weeks, show three images - the Star of David, Adolf Hitler and a syringe.

'What's the difference between vaccine papers and a yellow star? 82 years. We are increasingly living under National Socialiam. Stop medical apartheid,' the message reads.

The stickers have caused outrage in the Jewish community, with community leaders calling for the government to take a stand against the propaganda.

They have been placed on walls, street signs and crossings around the city, usually in areas of high foot traffic.

The Chairman of the Anti-Defamation Commission said the comparison between anti-vaxxers and slaughtered Jews was 'hateful and cruel'.

'To hijack the Holocaust, in which six million Jews and millions of others were slaughtered and burned, to suggest that Hitler's Final Solution is comparable to lifesaving vaccination efforts is to trivialise and downplay humanity's most immense tragedy,' Dr Dvir Abramovich said.

Church of England school CANCELS Winston Churchill and JK Rowling

The deeds of Mary Seacole have been greatly exaggerated by Leftists who wanted a black heroine.  She was just a good-hearted woman who ran a bar.  Details here
A school which sparked outrage by cancelling Winston Churchill and JK Rowling for not being diverse insisted the change was 'led by pupils' as it begged parents 'Hope you will support us'. 

Holy Trinity Church of England Primary School in Richmond previously had houses named after the Prime Minister and the Harry Potter author - alongside Sir David Attenborough and Emmeline Pankhurst.

The school - which caters for young children aged three to 11 - claims pupils had asked for the house names to be more diverse. 

It then replaced Churchill and Rowling with England star Marcus Rashford and nurse Mary Seacole.

After MailOnline broke the story, school chair of governors Michele Marcus desperately tried to shore up backing from mothers and father of pupils.

In a newsletter today she urged: 'The change was entirely driven and led by our pupils and they feel proud of having effected this change and knowing their views were heard.

'There may be further interest in the subject and I hope you will support the school in our position.' 

The school, whose headteacher is Alison Bateman, timed the announcement of the changes to coincide with Black History Month in October.

While some are happy with the recognition of school meals campaigner Rashford and Crimean War lifesaver Seacole, parents think the school decided to cancel Churchill and Rowling because they are deemed controversial figures.  

Earlier in the day one parent told MailOnline:  'A lot of us are quite shocked that the school authorities have decided that the contributions of Churchill and Rowling deserve to be erased from the records without so much as a consultation with parents.

'Presumably this has happened party due to the supposed thoughtcrimes committed by these two national figures. For context, the other two – unchanged - house names are 'Pankhurst' and 'Attenborough'.

'I am not alone in feeling appalled that this cowardly action has been taken.'


Amazing: Murderous black driver suddenly becomes white

Below is how Darrel Brooks initially appeared:

Since then some media outlets have deleted his image entirely, other have lightened his skin colour and some have gone the whole hog and rendered him as white. Photo editing software has a lot to answer for. Identifying criminals as black is politically incorrect. The lie prevails over the truth that blacks are a very troublesome population segment.



More British troops deployed to guard Polish border amid Belarus migrant crisis

What the devil are British troops doing on the borders of Belarus in the heart of Europe?  Can Europe not look after its own problems?

More British troops will be deployed to Poland's border with Belarus to help address the migrant crisis.

Thousands of migrants, mainly from the Middle East, have sought to cross into the European Union at the frontier between Poland and Belarus in recent weeks.

The UK and allies have accused Belarusian president Alexander Lukashenko of engineering the crisis, with defence secretary Ben Wallace saying the migrants were being used as “pawns”.

The Daily Telegraph reported that about 100 soldiers from the Royal Engineers will be sent to help physically reinforce the Polish border although details of the deployment are still being worked out.

Mr Wallace, who visited British troops training in Poland, told the newspaper: “Can you imagine going from Iraq, to here, onto a border, not much clothes, not much food, not much money, and then being a pawn in the Belarusian leader’s game? I think that’s heartless and I think it is cruel.”

Western governments have accused Mr Lukashenko, a close ally of Russian president Vladimir Putin, of deliberately encouraging the migrants to breach its borders in retaliation for sanctions the EU has imposed in response to his repressive rule.


Kyle Rittenhouse wasn’t convicted because, in America, white reasoning rules

Michael Harriot below is perfectly correct.  America IS ruled by legal notions that people of European descent see as reasonable. Such people are a big majority in the USA. And majority rules.

 Ideas of proper behaviour do differ as between different ethnic groups.  If you want to see what black ideas  produce, just look at the egregiously high rate of interpersonal violence prevailing in any African country.  

And European ideas of proper behaviour do very much hold that you are entitled to defend yourself if attacked -- which Rittenhouse was

Before sending a Kenosha, Wisconsin, jury to deliberate if Kyle Rittenhouse is a murderer, Judge Bruce Schroeder informed Rittenhouse’s hand-picked jury that his fate rests on the “privilege” of self-defense.

Neither side disagreed that the 18-year-old intended to shoot Anthony M Huber, Joseph Rosenbaum and Gaige Grosskreutz. They don’t disagree that the Smith & Wesson M&P 15 is a dangerous weapon. However, under Wisconsin’s self-defense statutes, Rittenhouse was allowed to use deadly force, even if he provoked the 25 August attack, if he “reasonably believed” it was necessary to prevent his own death. Even though he traveled to the city and walked into a chaotic scene with a killing machine.

Kyle Rittenhouse, who killed two demonstrators during protests in Kenosha, Wisconsin, was acquitted of all charges on Friday.© Photograph: Getty Images Kyle Rittenhouse, who killed two demonstrators during protests in Kenosha, Wisconsin, was acquitted of all charges on Friday.
Related: Kyle Rittenhouse acquittal: five key takeaways from the courtroom drama

“A belief may be reasonable even though mistaken,” the jury instructions read. “In determining whether the defendant’s beliefs were reasonable, the standard is what a person of ordinate intelligence and prudence would have believed in the defendant’s position.”

Before former Kenosha alderman Kevin Mathewson summoned “patriots willing to take up arms and defend our city from the evil thugs”, no one else had died during the unrest in his city. Before Rittenhouse killed two people and wounded another, no one else had been shot. So, why is it reasonable to believe Rittenhouse needed a killing machine to protect himself against the “evil thugs” who were not shooting and killing people?

The “reasonable man” test derives from the description of a nondescript English character called the “man on the Clapham omnibus” – a reasonably educated, but average, hypothetical passenger on a London bus route whose thoughts and actions are defined as “ordinary”. The US supreme court case Graham v Connor enshrined this concept into law. The reason police are often acquitted of killing unarmed citizens is that they can argue that a “reasonable” police officer would have used deadly force, even if the officer turned out to be wrong and the victim was unarmed. When I first heard this principle, the first thing I thought was: “A white person came up with this.”

Because all of our opinions are shaped and colored by our experiences, “reasonable” is a subjective notion. Only white people’s perceptions are made into a reality that everyone else must abide by. Think about how much privilege one must have for their feelings to become an actual law that governs the actions of people everywhere.

While there is no doubt about the value of the white lives Rittenhouse snuffed out, there’s also no doubt that Rittenhouse was venturing into one of the scariest, most dangerous situations those white jurors could imagine: a Black Lives Matter protest. It is easy to see how, for Rittenhouse and jurors, the victims were part of the frightening mob of “evil thugs”.

In America, it is reasonable to believe that Black people are scary.

Understanding the innate fear of Blackness embedded in the American psyche does not require legal scholarship or a judge’s explanation. This belief shapes public perception, politics and the entire criminal justice system. And it is indeed a privilege only afforded to whiteness.

Only white people’s perceptions are made into a reality that everyone else must abide by.

Researchers have found that Americans perceive Black men as larger, stronger and more threatening than white men the same size. A 2016 paper found that Black boys are perceived as older and “less innocent” by police officers. Black girls as young as five years old are viewed as older, less innocent and more aggressive than white girls. In real life, 35% of gang members are Black, but in Hollywood, 65% of the roles described as “gangsters” are played by Black actors.

The idea of the “scary Black person” manifests itself in every segment of the US criminal justice system. It’s why police are more likely to stop Black drivers, even though – according to the largest analysis of police data in the history of the world – white drivers are more likely to be in possession of illegal contraband. It’s why unarmed Black people are killed by cops at three times the rate of whites, in spite of the fact that most on-duty police fatalities are committed by white men. After controlling for factors that include education, weapon possession and prior criminal history, the US sentencing commission found that federal judges sentence Black men to prison terms that are, on average, 20% longer than white men with similar circumstances.

It’s why 5,000 people responded to Mathewson’s Facebook call-to-arms. It’s why police officer Rusten Sheskey was not charged with a crime for shooting Jacob Blake seven times in the back and the side. Blake’s pocketknife made Sheskey fear for his life, but Rittenhouse was allowed to waltz past officers from the same police department carrying a killing machine during chaotic protests. They did not see the gun-toting teenager as a threat. He is not Black. He was not scary.

That privileged loophole extends past the borders of Wisconsin. It is on display in the trial of the men who killed Ahmaud Arbery in Brunswick, Georgia. The impromptu lynch mob hunted Arbery down based on an 1863 law that allows citizens to arrest anyone based on “reasonable and probable grounds of suspicion”, referred to by Cornell professor Joseph Margulies as a “catching-fleeing-slave law”. This explains how a court could seat only one Black juror in a county that is 26.6% Black.

Knowing how this belief has shaped reality for every Black person in America explains why white people are the only group who doesn’t think “attention to the history of slavery and racism is good for society”. It is reasonable to assume that Black history is as scary as the people in it. It is reasonable to assume that police fear for their lives when they detain Black suspects. It is reasonable for conservatives to assume that Black voters will upset the political equilibrium if they are not systemically suppressed. And yes, it was reasonable to believe that Kyle Rittenhouse’s white jurors would grant him the privilege of self-defense.

The Rittenhouse verdict is proof that it is reasonable to believe that the fear of Black people can absolve a white person of any crime.


“My body is a temple”: Vaccine hesitancy, religious exemptions, and the integrity of Christian witness

This is a fairly competent bit of theology below but it seeks to apply a broad context to 1 Corinthians 6:19-20. That may be convenient but it ignores the specific context of the passage. The passage is primarily about fornication  (illicit sex).  Paul regards fornication as unnatural and hence defiling the body.

But it is precisely unnatural things that some Christians object to:  Vaccinations, blood transfusions, smoking, consumption of coffee and alcohol etc.  A "pure" body would not have those things within it is the conclusion

One can argue about what is unnatural but if illicit sex is unnatural, a fairly broad definition is obviously intended by Paul.

So I think the avoidant stances of some Christians are well justified by the "temple" reference

As governments and businesses implement COVID-19 vaccine mandates, increasing numbers of people are seeking exemption on religious grounds. As such, mainstream social and political discourse has begun to stray into theological territory, with uninspiring results. One common refrain among those seeking exemption from vaccination is the assertion, “My body is a temple”. Given the near ubiquity of this phrase in the sphere of health and wellness, most people are likely to have forgotten that it comes from the apostle Paul.

In 1 Corinthians, Paul writes, “do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, which you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you were bought with a price; therefore glorify God in your body.” (1 Corinthians6:19-20) Here, Paul is repeating a refrain from earlier in this same letter: “Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you?” (3:16)

It has become common for Christians to claim that being forced to take the COVID-19 vaccine is a violation of their religious convictions because their body is a temple, and they are commanded to keep it pure. They make this argument for a variety of reasons. For example, some believe the vaccine has dangerous side-effects; others think it contains microchips; and some have suggested that it can alter your DNA or cause infertility. Each of these, it seems, would violate the purity of their bodily temple, making it unsuitable as a vessel for the Holy Spirit.

It is worth stating unambiguously that there is no evidence that any of these things are true of the available COVID vaccines, beyond some extremely rare and typically mild side-effects. Nonetheless, the question I would like to consider is whether a vaccine could, in theory, go against Paul’s exhortation in this passage.

“A temple of the Holy Spirit”

Let’s begin with Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians itself. Most commentators agree that the purpose of the letter is to urge unity among the Christians in Corinth. In the third chapter, Paul addresses the elephant in the room. The Corinthians have been drawing lines of separation based on who brought them to the faith. Some have been saying “I belong to Apollos” (which is to say, “I’m a member of Apollos’s faction”), while others say “I belong to Paul”. And yet, Paul sees no reason for this to cause strife: “We are God’s servants, working together; you are … God’s building.” Paul and Apollos cooperate in building on the foundation that Christ himself laid. And this leads him to ask: “Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you? If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy that person” (3:16-17).

Paul says that the Corinthian church as a whole is God’s temple, and those who cause division among them are threatening to destroy it. Paul’s warning is not about the pollution of their individual physical bodies, nor any threat from outside. He is warning them about the effect of their own divisive actions on the community. Paul follows this with fitting words for our time: “So let no one boast about human leaders” (3:21).

Three chapters later, Paul returns to the image of the temple, this time with individual Christians in view. Now he is discussing specific sinful habits that are causing division among the Corinthians. In particular, he commands them not to engage the services of prostitutes, and in general to “shun fornication” (6:18). And why should they do this? Because their body is a temple of the Holy Spirit (6:19). Far from suggesting that the Holy Spirit cannot dwell in a body that is physically contaminated by illness, microchips, medicines, or other substances, Paul is urging them to keep themselves free from sin.

Paul is repeating a central theme of the New Testament, which is that the purity laws found in the Torah no longer hold for those who are in Christ, because he has fulfilled them (Matthew 5:17). Christian notions of purity are not about food laws and physical cleanliness, but about the heart. As Jesus explains, “it is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but what comes out of the mouth.” He goes on to explain that “out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander. These are what defile a person.” (Matthew 15:11, 19-20)

Paul has something similar in view in his second letter to the Corinthians: “let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and of spirit, making holiness perfect in the fear of God” (2 Corinthians 7:1). He explains that the sins of sexual immorality and idolatry defile the body and the spirit, and he urges them to free themselves of it (see also 1 Thessalonians 5:19-24).

Grounds for exemption?

It is worth considering the implications of Paul’s words if they did mean what those seeking exemptions from the COVID-19 vaccine take them to mean. If the Holy Spirit cannot dwell in a body that has been contaminated by chemicals or debilitated by injury (let alone in a body injected with a safe and effective vaccine), then countless people who have fallen victim to natural or manmade disasters would be bereft of the presence of God. Similarly, if physical cleanliness was in view, then surely the COVID-19 virus itself would do at least as much to contaminate one’s body. After all, natural illness is one of the main causes of impurity in Leviticus.

Furthermore, it is central to the Christian faith that we may well be called to sacrifice our bodies for the sake of others (see John 15:13; Philippians 2:3-4; 1 John 3:16). We witness this most acutely on the cross. Jesus’s body was made impure by his crucifixion — in fact, that’s a considerable part of the point. It is worth repeating that there is no reason to think that receiving a COVID-19 vaccine involves bodily sacrifice. Regardless, the theological principles here do not support those seeking exemptions. There is no Christian belief that the body must be kept free from physical contamination in order to be a fitting vessel of the Holy Spirit.

In reality, what those seeking exemptions are arguing is that they believe the vaccine will harm them, and therefore they shouldn’t be forced to take it. There is nothing distinctly religious about the fear of bodily harm involved in vaccine hesitancy. In general, non-religious people fear bodily harm just as much. This should lead us to question why religious exemption is being sought here. The answer, it would seem, is that there is a long-standing precedent for exempting religious communities from government mandates, so people have reached for religious exemption as a ready-made solution for their fears.

This should give Christians pause. Freedom of religion plays an important role in our society, but it is always in danger of being abused and misused. As Christians, we have a vested interest in ensuring that it is not. If our non-Christian neighbours come to see us as people who think the rules don’t apply to us, or as people for whom the well-being of the wider community is irrelevant, their tolerance for our beliefs is likely to wane. At the same time, if our theological beliefs are sacred, then we should be unwilling to let people twist them for political or legal purposes. The truth of what Paul wrote should matter more to us than the use to which it can be put in court. A vaccine cannot go against Paul’s exhortation, because it is not what goes into us that defiles us, but the sin that emerges from our hearts.

Paul warns the Corinthians not to deceive themselves, but to have true wisdom (1 Corinthians3:18). James describes such wisdom as “first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without a trace of partiality or hypocrisy” (James 3:17). Especially in the United States, the belligerent response on the part of many Christians to the public health efforts of the past two years looks rather different from this vision of wisdom. If we take Paul’s words seriously, our main concern shouldn’t be the physical purity of our own bodies, but the purity of our witness to the world around us. After all, the Christian witness has always been grounded, first and foremost, not in individual political liberty, but in self-sacrifice for the well-being of others.


Taking neurodiversity seriously

By Maria from Murrumbeena

Being neurologically diverse myself -- I am a high-functioning autistic -- I have some sympathy with the girl below.  I too realized from an early age that I was different and found normal classrooms stifling. 

But schools are tasked with all sorts of requirements so asking for special attention to non-neurotypicals may be  piling too much onto them.  Certainly, school health personnel should be trained to diagnose and communicate such abnormalities but after that I think the main burden of coping has to fall on the pupil and his/her family

When I was younger, I often thought something was wrong with me. Why was I so different from my classmates? I was made to feel broken.

I wasn't struggling with schoolwork; I love to learn. I just hated the environment. Noisy open plan classrooms, the expectation to concentrate for long periods and being confined to a desk.

But in year 8, I received a diagnosis of ADHD, Anxiety and Sensory Processing Disorder. A huge wave of relief came over me.

Imagine your brain as roads and each thought is a car. "Neurotypical" brains have traffic lights and road signs to keep thoughts organised and to stop the distracting thoughts from going on the main roads. ADHD brains don't have that.

So, there's a lot more cars on the main roads and the unnecessary information doesn't get filtered out.

But it turns out, I was not alone. After being unable to focus in class and turned away from the wellbeing office as they were full, I saw a year seven girl also waiting around.

She told me she had ADHD and anxiety and was being sent home. Although she wanted to stay and learn. She was a younger reflection of me.

This encounter flipped a switch inside my head.

I want high schools to start taking mental health and neurodiversity seriously. I'm going to continue raising awareness, educating, and advocating for fellow neurodiverse brains.

I will finish high school and get my education, even if it is the hard way.

To anyone like me, you are not alone. You do not need to be fixed because you are not broken. The system that is educating us is broken.


Electric cars are not a magic bullet for air pollution

Brake and tire wear from road transport vehicles is responsible for more fine particle emissions than exhaust fumes

The benefits of switching to electric vehicles to clean up our toxic air has been given much airtime, both at Cop26 and by the UK government in recent weeks (‘What if we just gave up cars?’: Cop26 leaders urged to dream big, 10 November). However, evidence shows that electric cars still emit PM2.5 particles, the most worrying form of air pollution for humans.

Photograph: Amer Ghazzal/Rex/Shutterstock© Provided by The Guardian Photograph: Amer Ghazzal/Rex/Shutterstock
The threat posed by air pollution cannot be overstated – the air we breathe can have a catastrophic effect on our health, right from the moment we are born. More than a third of maternity units in England are in air pollution hotspots that fail to meet the World Health Organization’s 2005 air quality guidelines. This means that every two minutes, a baby is born into areas surrounded by toxic levels of air pollution. Children are then likely to grow up, learn and play in these areas of lethal pollution. If we’re going to stop babies being born into toxic air, more electric cars won’t cut it. We need fewer vehicles on our roads altogether, not just cleaner ones.


Now palm oil is in the gun

It started out that ordinary animal fats --  saturated fats -- were widely used in processed food -- cakes, cookies etc.  But then we were all told that saturated fats were bad for you.  So manufacturers were told to switch to trans fats, which they did.

But some evidence soon emerged that trans fats were also bad for you.  So everybody was told to switch to palm oil in food preparation, which many did.

But now palm oil also appears to be bad for you!  You can't win against the food freaks, it appears.  

What next?  It can't be butter because that was condemned long ago.  The obvious move is to switch back to animal fats -- tallow, dripping etc -- and damn the food freaks.  When everything is bad for you, nothing is

New studies have discovered how a fatty acid found in palm oil affects the cancer genome, increasing the likelihood the disease will spread in human beings.

The spread of cancer, known as metastasis, is the main cause of death in patients with the disease. Researchers in the field say the vast majority of people with metastatic cancer can only be treated, but not cured.

The Institute for Research in Biomedicine (IRB) in Barcelona conducted a study on mice, finding that palmitic acid promoted metastasis in mouth and skin cancers.

Scientists suggest this process could be targeted with drugs or carefully designed eating plans in the future, but the team behind the work has put out a warning for patients putting themselves on diets in the absence of clinical trials.

According to the research, other fatty acids called oleic acid and linoleic acid found in foods such as olive oil and flaxseeds did not show the same effect.

“There is something very special about palmitic acid that makes it an extremely potent promoter of metastasis,” Professor Salvador Aznar-Benitah said via The Guardian.

The research found that when palmitic acid was supplemented into the diet of mice, it not only contributed to metastasis but also exerted long-term effects on the genome.

However, the professor also claimed it was too early to tell what diet should be taken for patients with metastatic cancers.

“I think it is too early to determine which type of diet could be consumed by patients with metastatic cancer that would slow down the metastatic process,” he said.

“That is a much more realistic approach in terms of a real therapy, that doesn’t depend on whether a patient likes Nutella or pizza. Playing with diets is so complicated.”

Prof Greg Hannon, director of the Cancer Research UK Cambridge Institute, praised the “rigorous and comprehensive” study into one of the most commonly used oils around the world.

“This is a rigorous and comprehensive study that suggests that exposure to a major constituent of palm oil durably changes the behaviour of cancer cells, making them more prone to progress from local to potentially lethal metastatic disease,” he said.

“Given the prevalence of palm oil as an ingredient in processed foods, this study provides strong motivation for further study on how dietary choices influence the risk of tumour progression.”

Made from the fruit pulp of the oil palm tree, palm oil plantations are grown in tropical regions in Indonesia, Malaysia, Colombia, New Guinea and Ghana.

According to Ethical Consumer, it is the most consumed vegetable oil on the planet, with 72 per cent of worldwide production being used in the food industry. A 2015 report by the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil estimated worldwide use would more than double by 2030 and triple by 2050.

Palm oil is a cheap substitute for butter, meaning it is especially common in dough and baked foods. It is commonly found in everyday pantry items, such as margarine, Nutella and biscuits.

Helen Rippon, chief executive at Worldwide Cancer Research, said the discovery is “a huge breakthrough in our understanding of how diet and cancer are linked”.

“Perhaps more importantly,” she said. “Is how we can use this knowledge to start new cures for cancer. Metastasis is estimated to be responsible for 90 per cent of all cancer deaths – that’s around 9 million deaths a year globally.

“Learning more about what makes cancer spread and – importantly – how to stop it is the way forward to reduce these numbers.”

The environmentally unsustainable nature of palm oil production, which has led to mass pollution and loss of native species, has long been a topic of pursuit for activists worldwide.

According to The Orangutan Project, palm oil plantations have been a major factor in deforestation in Malaysia and Indonesia, where 85 per cent of the world’s palm oil is produced.

Palm oil plantations are the biggest cause of rainforest destruction in these countries, where the United Nations reports an area of forest the size of 300 soccer fields is lost every hour.

This loss of rainforest displaces animals such as the orangutan and causes air pollution.

Palm oil is a common ingredient in food and cosmetic products, with alternate names such as palm oil kernel, palmitate, palmate, palmitic acid, elaeis guineensis and hydrated palm glycerides hexadecanoic.


Arizona State University professor says traditional grading system is 'racist' and demands an end to 'white supremacy' by grading papers based on EFFORT

Results don't matter? Teaching that is a strange preparation for later life.  Is any employer going to tell the kids that results don't matter?

A professor at Arizona State University is arguing that the traditional grading system is 'racist' and is calling for an end to 'white language' by encouraging teachers to grade students based on the labor they put into their work instead of factors like spelling, grammar or quality.

Asao Inoue, a professor of rhetoric and composition, has given a series of lectures on the topic and most recently delivered one during a virtual event Friday, during which he argued that labor-based grading 'redistributes power in ways that allow for more diverse habits of language to circulate,' the College Fix first reported.

During his lecture, titled The Possibilities of Antiracist Writing Assessment Ecologies, Inoue said: 'White language supremacy in writing classrooms is due to the uneven and diverse linguistic legacies that everyone inherits, and the racialized white discourses that are used as standards, which give privilege to those students who embody those habits of white language already.'

In other words, Inoue urged teachers to focus on how much effort students put into their assignments and understanding the lesson rather than traditional spelling, grammar and punctuation grading norms.

Inoue refers to the common way most teachers and professors grade papers as a phrase he coined called 'Habits of White Language,' or 'HOWL.' Inoue said that HOWL and white supremacy culture '[make] up the culture and normal practices of our classrooms and disciplines.'

'Labor-based grading structurally changes everyone's relationship to dominant standards of English that come from elite, masculine, heteronormative, ableist, white racial groups of speakers,' Inoue said.

Inoue wrote a blog post on the matter that he shared in a tweet on October 25 with the excerpt: 'The antiracist use of any model of English languaging should open up our eyes, ears, and hearts to our own and others' languaging behaviors... to open up the conventionality and unconventionality of both our models and our own languaging…'

In his blog, he addresses white teachers specifically and writes: 'You grade your students on the English you learned and grew up with, the kind of English in your models and training, but like those Filipino or Native American students, your students aren't you, nor are they like the authors of your models. They do not come from where you or those authors came from, not exactly. And they are not embodied in their language practices in the same ways as you are.'

He continued: 'Further, your students will likely use their Englishes for different things in their lives than you do. It's not that they don't stand to learn something good from your English or your models, but we too often grade them on how closely they are like our models. This means you punish students for not being like you or like your models.'

In his lecture, Inoue also asked teachers to consider one characteristic of white supremacy culture that they engage in during their courses, the College Fix reported. At another point in the presentation, he had participating teachers and students pause to exercise 'an important antiracist practice' of examining how they participate in racism or antiracism.

'Pausing in our work helps us intervene and disrupt by first noticing ourselves participating in racism, engaging in white fragility, in white rage, or white language supremacy,' he said.

Inoue's talk came during a 70-minute event hosted by the Rhetoric, Writing and Linguistics Speaker Series sponsored by the Department of English at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. The discussion was geared toward professors but was also open to students, alumni and others.

According to an online description of the talk: 'Inoue poses problems about dominant standards of the English language in schools and universities and the Habits of White Language (HOWL) that are paradoxically meaningful and harmful to locally diverse students when used to evaluate their language performances and produce grades.'

Inoue told Fox News on Tuesday that 'labor-based grading ecologies are fundamentally about creating compassionate, democratic conditions, ones that are critical and rigorous, if by rigorous we mean deep, thoughtful, engagement with each other for each other's sake and not for grades or false external motivators that ultimately erode students' abilities to learn and take risks.'

Inoue said that he is not calling for an end to teaching spelling, grammar or punctuation, but what he's arguing 'for are safe classrooms that offer better, clearer ways to understand what it means to learn dominant forms of English in our world today'

'These new conditions can provide a wider group of students who come from a more diverse set of language backgrounds, to thrive and learn. This is important to do if we are to inquire about the politics of English language in our world that end up creating situations of misunderstanding and harm.'

Inoue said that he is not calling for an end to teaching spelling, grammar or punctuation, but rather: 'What I'm arguing for are safe classrooms that offer better, clearer ways to understand what it means to learn dominant forms of English in our world today.'

Inoue and his wife recently launched an antiracist teaching endowment that aims to fund 'an antiracist teaching conference for secondary and postsecondary teachers,' 'support a summer workshop or institute for a smaller group of teachers to learn about and research antiracist teaching approaches,' and create 'several scholarships for students who wish to focus on antiracist approaches to teaching in a variety of disciplines,' according to a blog post explaining the program.

In a tweet pinned on his profile, Inoue wrote: 'The new antiracist teaching endowment that my wife and I just started is now accepting donations! If you've benefited from my work at all over the years, consider donating something. Thanks!'


NSW Just Had A Major Change in Sexual Consent Law — Here's What That Means And What Comes Next

;A lot will depend on what the courts make of this.  A sexual encounter is often initiated by touch (kisses etc) rather than by words.  So are such encounters now illegal?

Maybe if the law applied only to people who had not previously had sex, it might makes some sense

Last night in the Legislative Assembly of NSW, a model of affirmative consent was approved. This means that NSW is one step closer to changing sexual consent laws for the better.

Under the new Bill, proposed by NSW Attorney-General and Minister for Prevention and Sexual Violence Mark Speakman, a person only gives consent if "at the time of the sexual activity, they freely and voluntarily agree to the sexual activity", and if it is communicated clearly.

Jenny Leong, the Greens spokesperson for Women's Rights in the NSW Parliament, excitedly announced that the State Parliament voted an "enthusiastic yes" to the Bill.

Jenny Leong and Lucinda Hoffman stand outside NSW Parliament representing sexual assault victims© Provided by Are Media Pty Ltd Jenny Leong and Lucinda Hoffman stand outside NSW Parliament representing sexual assault victims
What does the affirmative consent bill mean?

This Bill recognises that:

(i) every person has a right to choose whether to participate in a sexual activity,

(ii) consent to a sexual activity must not be presumed,

(iii) consensual sexual activity involves ongoing and mutual communication, decision-making and free and voluntary agreement between the persons participating in the sexual activity.

Jenny has been particularly instrumental in driving this change. This morning, in light of the news, she reflected on how revolutionary the Bill would be if it were to become law.

"The Bill puts victim-survivors at the heart of the law, and removes rape myths and assumptions from the Crimes Act. It removes the patriarchal assumption that anyone is entitled to sex without the active, enthusiastic consent of the other person," she said.

"This is a significant moment. This is a very significant reform," Ms Leong said. "It means that it can no longer be assumed that someone consents to having sex. The person who wants sex must be able to demonstrate that they took steps to ensure that the other person also enthusiastically consents to this," she continued.

What needs to happen now?

While this is a huge step forward, it's not the final step. Now, the Bill will be passed to the Legislative Council to be debated, either later this week or early next week. Once it passes through (assuming there are no amendments), the Bill will become state law.

If, however, the Legislative Council decides to make amendments, it will be passed back down to the Legislative Assembly to be debated again.

While the Bill is an incredibly important piece of the puzzle, Jenny reminds us that there are other crucial factors to consider.

"The law change in and of itself is not enough. Around that law reform there needs to be really strong education and training to ensure that the police, judiciary and agencies around the justice system are all aware of the reforms and are implementing them in line with those laws," she told ELLE this morning.

"We need to ensure that there is sufficient resourcing, policy changes and education in place, so that when this law comes into effect, we see a change in society," she continued.

how does affirmative consent differ to our current laws?

As the law currently stands, a person has committed sexual assault if they know the other person is not consenting, if they are "reckless as to whether" they consent, or there are no reasonable grounds for believing there was consent.

In 2017, NSW consent laws fell under intense scrutiny following the acquittal of a man accused of raping Saxon Mullins outside a Sydney nightclub. While the Judge agreed that Saxon had not consented to sexual intercourse, she ruled that her 'freeze response' had provided 'reasonable grounds' for the man to believe he had gained consent.

Following his acquittal, Saxon bravely came forward to tell her story and was the subject of a major Four Corners investigation. Here, after staying anonymous for the entirety of the trial, she told the entire world, "I am that girl." In doing so, she hoped to spark a wider conversation about the current consent laws in NSW, and how they were failing sexual assault victims.

Over the past few years, we have seen a major societal shift in our approach to sexual consent and the way in which we understand it, which means our laws need to be updated to reflect those attitudes. The affirmative consent Bill is a pivotal change, which if passed, will be instrumental in ensuring that cases like Saxon's do not happen again. 

It is hoped that it will also encourage victims of sexual assault to come forward and report their experiences with the knowledge that they will receive a just outcome. Our low reporting rates are a reflection of the mistrust people have in the current system, and it's something we desperately need to change.

If one thing is clear after last night's decision, it's that change is coming. It may have been a long time coming, but it's finally here. And, though they may not be inside parliament, we can never forget that it is the incredibly brave work of sexual assault survivors and advocates that continues to drive this change forward.

"While it's important to acknowledge the Attorney General in bringing the Bill, and the multi-partisan support for this Bill — it is critical that we acknowledge that credit for this reform sits with some incredibly strong survivor-advocates, feminists, experts and activists who have been through so much and who have never given up — and in particular survivor-advocate Saxon Mullins," Jenny said, in a statement this morning.

For now, we will patiently await the decision of the Legislative Council as the Bill moves into their hands, and soon, the interest of victims and survivors will be at the centre of our consent laws.


Last homes in asbestos-riddled Wittenoom to be demolished, but some want to stay

Nobody seems to be taking into account what it means that there are elderly people still living there. So if asbestos is so bad for you how come? Shouldn't they all be dead?

What it shows is that the toxicity of asbestos is very low. You only get ill if you have been breathing in a lot of it for many years. So the hysteria about it is greatly exaggerated. Asbestos products in peoples homes ("fibro") are no threat to health at all

The former asbestos mining town of Wittenoom has claimed many lives, but it is not enough to deter some who proudly call it home.

After years of compensation offers, the WA government will turn to forcibly removing the remaining properties, under a bill expected to pass Parliament.

It is hoped the clearing of the former town site will reduce the attraction for visitors, who ignore significant health warnings of asbestos fibres on the ground and in the air at Wittenoom. Just 12km away lies three million tonnes of asbestos tailings.

Peter Heyward moved to the area in the 90s and said he knew of the dangers but enjoyed the lifestyle. "This is just beautiful living here," he said.

"Looking at the mountains, you get the view of the savanna and you're right beside a gorge that's got water all year round."

Long-term resident Lorraine Thomas said she had options if she was forced to leave, but she hoped to live out her life in Wittenoom. "This is home, and I haven't got anywhere else that I've found in this state or in this country that I'd like to call home," she said.

"They can't move the hills, the whole area… I love the weather. "No person can take that from me."

The WA government's planned eviction and demolition would come with an undisclosed amount of compensation.

Mario Hartmann is one of the residents who recently took up an offer to hand over his property, but it has not kept him away. "It's too cold down south so I come in winter to enjoy the warm weather," he said.

Tourists warned to stay away

With more West Australians exploring their own state during the pandemic's travel restrictions, Mr Hartmann noticed a surge in visitors.

"This year I've never seen that many people come here, some days you would have 50, 60 cars going out [to the gorge and the asbestos tailings]," he said.

It is an alarming figure for Curtin University Associate Professor Alison Reid, who has examined the health impact of the mine.

"People [who visit Wittenoom] are putting themselves unnecessarily at risk," she said. "We know that the risk of mesothelioma [a rare cancer] can occur with low exposure, so I think in that case it should be closed."

At least 1,200 former Wittenoom residents and workers have died from lung cancer and mesothelioma, according to a database maintained by UWA's Occupational Respiratory Epidemiology Group.

"The Flying Doctors used to hone in on the town of Wittenoom from the blue haze on the horizon and that was the dust…that's how the workers and the people in the town got exposed, through that dust. "It has made Western Australia have the highest rates of mesothelioma in the world."

The area is no longer on official maps, it was declared a contaminated site and the state government have repeatedly warned the public against visiting.

Lands Minister Tony Buti said visitors posed a risk to the wider public because cars could spread particles beyond the area.

"There is no question that this area is one of the saddest chapters in WA history," he said. "However, we must be realistic, and the fact is it's unlikely Wittenoom will ever again be a safe place to live or visit."

Elon Musk sells off another 600,000 Tesla shares worth $687million for a total of $5.8billion this week

He knows he is benefiting from a huge bubble and is getting out before it pops.  The bubble will pop when enough people realize that electric cars are virtually useless in a Northern winter.  Heating is a huge drain on batteries but comes as a free byproduct in a conventional car

Tesla CEO Elon Musk pawned off another $687 million worth of Tesla shares Thursday after offloading $5 billion of his stake in the company in two separate transactions earlier this week, following the CEO's promise to sell $25 billion worth of the stock.

The string of sales comes less than a week after Musk's much-publicized Twitter poll where he asked followers if he should sell his $250 billion stake in the electric-car maker to pay President Joe Biden's proposed 'billionaire's tax.'

In the Saturday post, the world's richest person and Tesla's top shareholder criticized the controversial new tax plan proposed by the president's administration, saying that he does not earn a salary from the company and his only source of income is stocks, and that the only way for him to pay taxes would be to sell some of his stake. 

Musk, 50, who founded the car company in 2003, then declared to his 63.1 million followers that he would sell 10 percent of his shares - which would equate to roughly $25 billion - if they approved the move.

'Much is made lately of unrealized gains being a means of tax avoidance, so I propose selling 10% of my Tesla stock,' Musk, 50, wrote in the November 6 post. 

The exec then implored his 63.1 million followers: 'Do you support this?'

They did - with more than 2 million of the 3.5 million social media users surveyed voting that he should, spurring the CEO's massive sell-off.

The shares were sold at prices ranging from around $1,056.03 to $1,104.15 in multiple transactions, the filings reveal. 


Six major carmakers agree to phase out fossil-fuel vehicles by 2040

A great opportunity for China. China supplies whatever the market wants. And they already make lots of good conventional cars. It looks like they will be getting a lot more orders for them

Six major automakers on Wednesday will commit to phasing out the production of fossil-fuel vehicles around the world by 2040, as part of global efforts to cut carbon emissions, the British government said in a statement.

But sources familiar with the pledge's contents said some big carmakers including the world's top two, Toyota Motor Corp and Volkswagen AG, and crucial car markets China, the United States and Germany have not signed up. That highlighted the challenges that remain in shifting to a zero-emission future.

Cars, trucks, ships, buses and planes account for about a quarter of all global carbon emissions, data from the International Energy Agency showed, of which the bulk comes from road vehicles.

Sweden's Volvo, U.S. automakers Ford Motor Co and General Motors Co , Daimler AG's Mercedes-Benz, China's BYD Co Ltd and Jaguar Land Rover, a unit of India's Tata Motors Ltd , were set to sign the pledge at climate talks in Glasgow, the latest initiative to help cap global warming by mid-century.

Volvo has already committed to going fully electric by 2030.

Britain, which is hosting the COP26 summit, said four new countries including New Zealand and Poland were joining other nations already committed to ensuring all new cars and vans are zero emission by 2040 or earlier.

The statement comes on a day dedicated to transport at the conference.

Dying of COVID or with it? Pathologists take on conspiracy theorists

This is all very well but relies on all involved medical personnel as acting with complete propriety. Where an autopsy or a CT scan has been conducted there can be no doubt of the diagnosis.  

But how often are autopsy or CT scan results available?  In a busy emergency ward such procedures can easily be omitted.  The cases of people dying in accidents who are said to  be covid victims cast a particularly troublesome light upon the rigor of covid diagnoses.  Are such diagnoses invariably accompanied by an autopsy or scan?  It seems unlikely.

The authors below are talking about best practic but the issue is how often best practice is followed.  There are good reasons to believe that it often is not

Conspiracy theorists claim doctors are inflating the pandemic’s death toll by putting COVID-19 on the death certificate of everyone who died with the virus. But – the theory goes – they didn’t die from COVID, they died with COVID.

But the head of pathology at the Victorian Institute of Forensic Medicine has autopsied dozens of patients with COVID-19.

And on her table, she says, the signs of the virus are clear.  “Absolutely, it is very obvious. The post-mortem CT [scan] changes are striking. The appearances of their lungs in the autopsy rooms are striking.”

The claim that COVID-19 death counts are over-inflated has been a regular go-to for conspiracy theorists and lockdown opponents throughout the pandemic.

A diverse group has promoted the idea, including former US president Donald Trump.

The claims are standard boiler-plate for conspiracy theorists, who often rally around the belief that powerful people in society are trying to deceive the public for their own benefit, says Mathew Marques, who lectures in social psychology at La Trobe University.

“Rarely is there a new conspiracy theory that is surprising, when they all follow the same structure or pattern – lay beliefs about a secretive group of often powerful actors engaging in a malevolent plot against a society,” he says.

In hospitals, it is easy to work out if a person has died from COVID-19 – they wouldn’t be in an ICU ward on a ventilator otherwise. The Institute of Forensic Medicine handles harder cases: people who died suddenly in the community while they had COVID-19.

In many cases, like car accidents, the cause of death is obvious. In others, it requires a lot more work. The team runs a computerised tomography (CT) scan, and then if needed conducts an autopsy.

The most obvious signs a person has died from COVID-19 – not with it – are seen in the lungs, says forensic radiologist Dr Chris O’Donnell.

On a CT scan, the lungs are typically a dark black void – the scanner’s representation of space filled with oxygen.

In people who die of COVID-19, “that air is completely replaced by inflammatory tissue that fills up the air sacs and stops the exchange of oxygen,” says Dr O’Donnell.

“They struggle to breathe and even when they do get a breath in, none of the air they breathe can get into their blood because their lungs are blocked full of this inflammatory tissue. They die of lack of oxygen.”

In the disease’s early stages, the CT scan shows the lungs clouding over with inflammatory tissue. Radiologists refer to this as “ground glass”.

In late-stage disease, the virus has completely filled the lungs with inflammatory tissue. “We call that a white-out, when there’s no air in the lung,” Dr O’Donnell says.

These cases are clear-cut and are added to the pandemic’s official death toll. But when it is clear after autopsy that COVID-19 did not contribute to death, they are not added, Dr O’Donnell says.

“That’s our role: to look into these cases more thoroughly. We’re working to find the real truth, whether people have died of COVID or whether it’s something else.”