Trump news – live: Ex-president’s intelligence chief ‘stunned’ by former boss’s praise for Putin

<i>Vladimir Vladimirovich has clearly outsmarted Joe Biden and the West generally.  Western "sanctions" have been exposed as a paper tiger.  Trump can see that and rightly notes the sad comparison between Biden and Putin.  It is Biden his remarks are aimed at, not Vladimir Vladimirovich.  Biden is very much a hopeless dummy. Trump does say that he is angry about the debacle in Ukraine

Trump does NOT say so but it might be noted that a lot of Western conservatives quietly admire the way old-fashioned values survive without much challenge in Russia. The American Left often is so extreme as to seem borderline insane.  That doesn't wash in Russia.  Conservative support for any action against Russia can therefore be expected to be reluctant and Trump's remarks may give some voice to that</i>

Donald Trump’s former director of national intelligence has voiced his dismay at the ex-president’s remarks praising Vladimir Putin as he mounts a full-scale invasion of Ukraine. Speaking to The Daily Beast, Dan Coats said he was “stunned” by Mr Trump’s remarks. “I cannot think of any other US president that would in a situation like this say what he said,” he told the site.

Twice in two days, the former president hailed Mr Putin as “smart” and blamed Joe Biden for what is happening. “He [Mr Putin] was going to be satisfied with a piece and now he sees the weakness and the incompetence and the stupidity of this administration,” Mr Trump said while speaking with Fox News presenter Laura Ingraham. “As an American I am angry about it and I am saddened by it. And it all happened because of a rigged election.”

In another video clip from Wednesday night that was circulated on social media, Mr Trump can be heard saying: “Trump said Putin is smart. He’s taken over a country for $2 worth of sanctions. I’d say that’s pretty smart.”

Russia has the West by the short and curlies

By controlling Ukrainian resources in addition to its own resources, Russia will call the tune on the supply of major commodities.  Oil and gas are just the start. "Punishing" Russia is a joke.  It is Russia that is in the position to do some punishing.  Vladimir Vladimirovich knew that all along. It may have been his principal motive for the move into Ukraine

In a matter of hours, the world order has turned drastically less favourable for the Western democracies.

Vladimir Putin’s seizure of Ukraine elevates Russia into a full-spectrum commodity superpower, adding critical market leverage over global grain supply to existing strategic depth in energy and metals.

We wake up to the sobering reality that Russia is too pivotal for the international trading system to punish in any meaningful way. It influences or determines everything from bread in the shops, to petrol for Europe’s homes and power plants, to supply chains for aerospace and car plants, or soon will do if Kyiv falls.

Who knew that almost 90 per cent of Europe’s imports of rapeseed oil comes from Ukraine, or Spain’s jamon iberico depends on grain feed from the black earth belt of the Ukrainian steppe? Ukraine turns Putin’s neo-Tsarist empire into the Saudi Arabia of food, controlling 30 per cent of global wheat exports and 20 per cent of corn exports.

It is not just Brent crude oil that has spiked violently, hitting an eight-year high of $US102. Aluminium smashed all records this morning. Chicago wheat futures have hit $US9.32 a bushel, the highest since the hunger riots before the Arab Spring.

Do not confuse this with inflation. Rocketing commodity prices are a transfer of wealth to exporters of raw materials. For Europeans at the sharp end, it acts like a tax, leaving less to spend elsewhere. It is deflationary for most of the economy. If it continues for long, we will slide into recession.

So while there is brave and condign talk of crippling sanctions against Russia, it is the West’s pain threshold that is about to be tested. My presumption is that Fortress Russia will endure this contest of self-reliance more stoically than Europe’s skittish elites.

Sanctions are of course imperative as a political statement. The West would be complicit if it did nothing. But the measures currently on the table do not change the equation.

The debate in British parliament over whether to hit a few more oligarchs or restrict London access for more Russian banks has bordered on parody: Brits talking to Brits in a surreal misunderstanding of raw geopolitics, as if Putin was going to give up his unrepeatable chance to snatch back Kyivan Rus and shatter the post-Cold War dispensation of Europe because David Lammy is vexed by golden visas.

Nor does the temporary German suspension of Nord Stream 2 change anything. The pipeline was never going to supply extra gas this decade. The Kremlin’s purpose was to reroute the same Siberian gas, switching it from the Ukrainian corridor to the Baltic, depriving Kyiv of self-defence leverage. Once Putin controls Ukraine, Nord Stream 2 instantly becomes irrelevant.

The cardinal error was made in June 2015 when Germany went ahead with the bilateral pipeline just a year after the annexation of Crimea, signalling that the first anschluss of 21st century Europe would go unpunished, or worse, that it would be rewarded with a strategic prize. If you want to date the death of a sovereign democratic Ukraine, it was that merkantilist decision. Royal Dutch Shell was an abettor. Putin got our measure.

The 36 per cent fall in the Moex index in Moscow means that Western investors with a Russian portfolio through pension funds or ETFs have lost money. It does not mean that Russia is being forced to its knees, as some would have it.

Nor does the modest decline in the rouble imply unmanageable economic stress. Russia’s exchange rate mechanism is designed to let the currency take the strain, cushioning the internal budget against shocks.

Russia is sitting on $US635 billion ($887 billion) of foreign exchange reserves. It has a national debt of 18 per cent of GDP, one of the lowest in the world. It has a fiscal surplus and does not rely heavily on foreign investors to finance the state. This renders US sanctions against new issuance of sovereign bonds a mere nuisance.

The Kremlin is enjoying a windfall gain from commodities. Benchmark gas futures contracts (TTF) for March have hit extreme levels of €120 MWh. Russia is earning $US700 million a day from sales of oil to Europe and to the US, which needs heavy Urals crude to replace sulphurous Venezuelan barrels for its refineries.

The harsh truth is that Europe would spiral into crisis within weeks if flows of Russian gas were cut off - by either side. The short-term loss of revenue for the Kremlin would be a small fraction of Russian gold, euro, and dollar reserves. There is no symmetry in this. Whatever the rhetoric, energy business as usual will proceed.

The US and Europe can and will enforce a technology blockade, restricting Russia’s access to advanced semiconductor chips, acting in tandem with Taiwan’s TSMC and Korea’s Samsung. This will hurt but it will take time. Russia has stockpiles. It has its own producers able to make mid-level chips down to 28 nanometres.

China may be irritated by how far Putin has gone in Ukraine but it will not join Western sanctions. Nor will it stop Chinese companies supplying chips to Russia through deniable middlemen and plugging some gaps in technology. Putin can reasonably calculate that Western zeal for sustaining this hi-tech embargo will wane before it does irreversible damage to Russia.

Now we face a reconstituted Russian empire in tooth claw, as far West as the Carpathians, with a stranglehold on the raw materials of our existence. None of this was inevitable. It is the result of systematic policy failure.

Europe has vetoed expulsion of Russia from the Swift nexus of global payments for fear of the systemic blowback into its own banks, and because it would have made it hard to pay for Putin’s oil, gas, metals and grains - leaving aside the risk that Russia might go all the way up the retaliation ladder.

The US itself is ambivalent over shutting down Swift because it would accelerate the de-dollarisation of global finance. If the US plays its trump card, it risks losing the card. China and Russia already have their own payment systems that could be linked for bilateral trade.

So one watches the Western pantomime over sanctions with a jaundiced eye, knowing that almost everything being discussed is largely beside the point, and that only military strength matters when push comes to a 200,000-man military shove.

The errors that led to this lie in years of European disarmament, the result of both wishful thinking by a complacent elite and because of fiscal austerity imposed by EU commissars during the eurozone crisis, with no regard for the larger strategic picture.

It is the fruit of periodic “resets” in relations with the Putin regime, invariably forgiving his sins, and dressing up commercial self-interest as if it were an attempt to lure him away from a Chinese axis of autocracies. The final trigger was Joe Biden’s decision last July to override congressional sanctions against Nord Stream 2, selling out Ukraine in a deal with Angela Merkel.

President Biden thought he could “park” Russia on one side and focus on China. He appointed a known Russophile as a key adviser on Russia. He neglected to appoint a US ambassador in Kyiv, long leaving matters in the hands of a junior with a taste for the quiet life, to the point of toning down cables to the White House that might have raised alarm. Putin drew the conclusion that this was his moment to strike.

We can only pray for brave Ukrainians fighting without air cover against crushing military might. More Stinger and Javelin missiles would have helped enormously a few months ago but it is almost certainly too late now to change the outcome by shipping out weapons.

The West must fall back to the next line of defence, the Nato line from Estonia to Romania, and face the long arduous task of military rearmament.

It would have been easier and wiser to stiffen a democratic Ukraine while we could. Now we face a reconstituted Russian empire in tooth claw, as far West as the Carpathians, with a stranglehold on the raw materials of our existence. None of this was inevitable. It is the result of systematic policy failure.

Queensland house ad infuriates hundreds of Reddit users

This is a very unsophisticated comment. Such blocks of land are called "battleaxe" blocks and are well-known in Queensland. Apartment blocks often have them. My house is built on one and I have never had any problems with it -- but it is handy for setting up a long table for summer evening dinner parties

image from

An ad for a four-bedroom house in Queensland has infuriated homeowners and tenants, with hundreds taking to Reddit to rant about councils and lament the state of the Australian property market.

An aerial shot of the home — located in Logan and positioned on a 3258 sqm block — was shared to the forum site.

At first glance, it looks like your average block of land — but on closer inspection, has an L-shaped “private yard” that wraps around the neighbouring home on one side, and very little space between the neighbouring house on the other side.

Many pointed out the narrow-looking home and odd shaped yard were likely the result of one person buying a single, large block of land and then dividing it into two or three.

“I imagine the weird block shape was due to an owner dividing one larger block into two, rather than anyone who was in a position to build row houses,” commented one user.

Another wrote that they “used to live in a house where the owner sold off part of the backyard (original block was over 1000 sqm so we still had a yard)”.

“Developer next door built three units on his resulting L shaped block. Then I discovered selling off your yard was not uncommon here,” they went on.

“To access the back you have to go THROUGH the current house which makes it impractical to build or sell afterwards. The block on the left would be a better proposition for that.”

To Fight Wokeness, the GOP Should Embrace Immigrant Voters

<i>A lot depends on the immigrants concerned but East Asians (Chinese, Japanese, Koreans) tend strongly to be culturally conservative  and good citizens generally -- low crime rate etc.  The GOP should reach out to them</i>

The rise of ultra-progressive ideologies and the decline in patriotic sentiment are two broad cultural trends that worry American conservatives. Some may be tempted to imagine that these two phenomena are connected to immigration and the resulting ethnic and racial diversity—especially since opposition to immigration is common among conservatives for security, economic, and cultural reasons. Contrary to conservative worries, however, immigration and diversity can actually reduce the impact of wokeness while boosting American patriotism.

It is true that most immigrant families require two or three generations to achieve total or near-total cultural assimilation into American life. But it is during this transition period that immigrants and their children are most likely to hold conservative values. Ultra-progressive beliefs such as Critical Race Theory and esoteric concepts of gender are not immigrant imports, but rather reflect the beliefs (or professed beliefs) of long-settled US-born natives.

A long running General Social Survey (GSS) question about race, going back to 1977, has asked: “On average, blacks have worse jobs, income, and housing than white people. Do you think these differences are because most blacks just don’t have the motivation or willpower to pull themselves out of poverty?” A progressive person will obviously be inclined to answer “no,” while a (very) non-woke person will answer “yes.” Overall, 35 percent of respondents said no in 1977, a figure that almost doubled to 63 percent in 2018. (See Figure 1, below.)

This general trend shouldn’t come as a surprise. But when you break down the data, surprises do emerge. Only 34 percent of native-born Americans gave the progressive response in 1977, a number that soared to 65 percent in 2018. For immigrants, however, the share delivering the progressive response—47 percent—was the same in 2018 as it was in 1977 (though it fluctuated during the interim).

When it comes to avant-garde ideas about identity, non-white immigrants tend to be less woke than the progressive (and largely white) Americans who often purport to speak or act on behalf of non-whites. At a Loudoun County, VA school board meeting in June 2021, for instance, the fiercest critic of the (mostly native-born Americans) who’d championed the decision to teach Critical Race Theory was Xi Van Fleet, a Chinese immigrant who fled to the United States after living through Mao’s Cultural Revolution. “I’ve been very alarmed by what's going on in our schools,” she said. “You are now teaching, training our children to be social justice warriors and to loathe our country and our history.” A school-board recall election targeting San Francisco’s wokest board members, similarly, was co-led up by Siva Raj, an immigrant from India awaiting permanent residency.

Of course, there are outliers on both sides. Hari Kondabolu, a second-generation US-born child of Indian immigrants, produced a documentary that resulted in the cancellation of the fictional Indian-American character Apu in The Simpsons. On the other wing is Vivek Ramaswamy, the Ohio-born son of Indian immigrants. The title of his book, Woke, Inc: Inside Corporate America's Social Justice Scam, tells you all you need to know about his views.

The divide between native-born progressives and immigrants is expressed in language usage. According to Pew Research, only 16 percent of immigrant Latinos have even heard of the now-fashionable (but entirely unnecessary, and widely mocked) term “Latinx” as a substitute for Latino or Hispanic; and only two percent of them use it—a percentage smaller than the 2.9 percent margin of error in the Pew survey. (Of native-born Latinos, 32 percent have heard of the term Latinx and four percent use it.)

Australian university bosses order review of perfect university entrance scores after IB students beat iconic James Ruse school

Lenient marking has been widely used as a response to pandemic difficulties and IB markers may have gone a bit too far.  But how to mark during extensive classroom absences is not an easy dilemma to solve

Powerful university chiefs have ordered a review of International Baccalaureate results amid concerns that overly generous marking gave private schools an ATAR advantage after more than one in 20 IB students in NSW achieved 99.95 last year.

The surprising results have upset some school principals, parents and many in the broader education sector, who worry that inflated IB results could undermine the fairness of the HSC. Students with top ranks gain access to the most sought-after degrees in the state, such as law and medicine.

The IB is offered in only some NSW private schools and is often part of the school’s marketing. It is not offered in public schools. Former HSC boss Tom Alegounarias said the most disadvantaged students suffered when “financial privilege” played a role in school-leaving credentials.

“There is no clearer ethical responsibility than to treat all students equally, and our universities are failing at it here,” he said.

But a spokeswoman for the IB said the organisation’s priority was to ensure students were not disadvantaged when applying for university during the pandemic.

Last year fewer than 600 NSW students sat the IB diploma, but at least 41 of them achieved the highest possible university entrance rank, compared with just 35 across the whole country the year before. Of 55,000 HSC students eligible for ATARs, only 48 achieved the same 99.95.

Twelve of the IB top achievers were from a single, non-selective girls’ school, and nine were from a non-selective boys’ school. Just five students from the highly selective James Ruse Agricultural High – the state’s top school for the past 26 years – achieved the same rank by doing the HSC.

The NSW Vice Chancellors’ Committee has asked the University Admissions Centre (UAC) – which it owns – to investigate the sharp rise in so-called perfect scores, a number of sources told the Herald on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorised to speak publicly. IB students’ ranks will not be affected.

The university chiefs are concerned about so-called grade inflation, which involves awarding higher marks than in the past for the same standard of work.

“As we saw with the HSC, changes were made to IB assessment procedures in consideration of the pandemic and this may have impacted on their scores,” the UAC’s head of marketing and engagement, Kim Paino, said. “But we will continue to monitor IB results to ensure that our conversion remains fair.”

The IB was generous in its marking of Northern Hemisphere exams last May, giving out quadruple the number of top marks as it had on average over the previous four years.

The number of top IB ranks does not affect the number of top ranks given to HSC students, but it does secure them spots in the state’s most sought-after university courses at the expense of lower-ranked HSC students.

The issue of how to equate IB marks with the ATAR has long been a point of friction, partly because of the lack of information given to Australian authorities, and partly because many in the education sector feel it gives some private school students an unfair advantage.

The IB only gives Australian authorities a mark out of 45, and not the students’ raw marks. UAC equates a 45 with an ATAR of 99.95. In contrast, UAC has access to all HSC data and analyses it significantly, adjusting according to subject difficulty before giving students a mark out of 500 and ranking them.

UAC was supposed to get more detailed data from the IB for 2022 university admissions so that it could better differentiate ranks, but the IB decided to delay that until 2023, saying students had already faced too much disruption during the pandemic.

Many of the private principals whose schools do not offer the IB are worried about this year’s results.

“It’s causing consternation,” said one, who did not want to be named. “I think there will be some schools who think, ‘if you can get 12 kids to get 99.95, why would we be doing the HSC?’ I think it’s a real threat to the reputation of the future of the HSC if that’s going to continue.”

Ms Paino said UAC was guided by fairness and accuracy when assessing ATAR equivalents for international qualifications, which include British A-levels and American SATs. “It’s not always easy because of the very fine-grained nature of university selection ranks,” she said.

“We also regularly review our conversions to ensure they are providing a fair comparison with local students.”

The chair of IB Schools Australasia, David Boardman, said the conversion from IB scores to ATAR equivalents was managed by Australian authorities and the association had no input. “The association wishes that all students are treated equitably regardless of whether they study an IB program or an alternative,” he said.

The IB Organisation has been honest about easing students through the pandemic. “The IB has taken the pandemic’s global disruption to education into account when determining grades for this year,” a spokeswoman said. “The IB’s main priority has been to ensure students are not disadvantaged by the pandemic, including their applications to university and higher education.”

How does the International Baccalaureate compare to the HSC?
There has been significant grade inflation in Britain’s A-levels since the pandemic began, with the proportion of students there getting top grades rising by almost 75 per cent. The IB is widely used in Britain, where students with both credentials compete for university entry.

Between 2017 and 2019, between 260 and 275 students achieved top scores of 45 in the May session of the IB. In 2020, that climbed to 341, and in 2021 it soared to 1187. There were fewer candidates in 2021 than in 2020.

Nurses feared for their lives, as town of Bourke grapples with rising crime by Aboriginal youths

It is getting towards a refusal by nurses to go there.  There have been examples of that elsewhere.  But the young thugs don't care.  In such situations an enhanced police presence is often the only thing that keeps medical services available

The nurses told the ABC's The World Today program that they fear for the safety of their colleagues and patients due to a lack of security and staff.

All of the nurses who spoke to the ABC shared their stories on the condition of anonymity.

Steve, not his real name, said he feared a nurse could lose their life if security was not improved. "I can get stabbed any time of the day, that can happen at any time," he said.

In one of the most recent incidents, several student nurses were allegedly threatened and robbed by young offenders armed with a knife.

The escalating threat of violent crime has had an effect on staff at Bourke's hospital and their ability to care for patients, according to the nurses, and they fear some patients could even die due to a chronic lack of hospital staff.

Helen, another nurse, said staffing and security had to be improved before it was too late. "Are they going to wait for someone to die before they do something?" she said.

Mark Spittal, the chief executive of the Western NSW Local Health District, which has responsibility for the hospital in Bourke, said the safety of staff was of the highest priority. "We have zero tolerance for threatening or criminal behaviour that affects our workforce," said Mr Spittal.

But the town, 800 kilometres west of Sydney, is still struggling to end the threat of crime.

On Sunday night, a visiting magistrate experienced crime first-hand. Police say several young offenders allegedly broke into a Bourke motel room where the 66-year-old woman was sleeping and tried to steal her handbag, after wrestling her to the ground.

Three juveniles, including a 10-year-old, were arrested.

Abuse 'every single day', says nurse

The nurses who spoke to the ABC shared details of several times they had felt unsafe during their time in the community.

Nancy worked as a nurse at Bourke hospital for more than two years, before leaving in 2020. "They just abuse us, every single day," she said.  "I've had colleagues who were physically harmed by the patients, one of them was punched in the face."

She said there were not enough staff at the hospital to deal with patients with mental health and drug and alcohol issues, which she said were common.

"A mental health patient, he was brought in by the police, they said they already frisk searched him for any dangerous items," she said.

But quickly a violent and dangerous scene broke out in front of her. "Right in front of me, right in front of the hospital, he just took out a blade and started slashing himself," she said.

"He went out of the hospital and grabbed a rubbish bin and he smashed it, he smashed it on the front door and the glass front door, it was broken."

Incidents such as this have led the University of Sydney to suspend its student nurse placements in Bourke.

The situation is exacerbated by the lack of adequate security staffing, according to Steve. "It's pretty scary because we don't have like a proper security guard on duty at night," he said.

He said he had been told by violent patients that they would stab him if they saw him outside the hospital.

While he worked in the town, he feared going to authorities and having to testify in court, because of potential reprisals.

"Bourke is just a small town and if I appear in court or something like that, I don't know what will happen, I'm just also scared of my life if I do that," he said.

Another nurse, Helen, said general staff at the hospital had tried to help with the security situation, but with only one security guard who was not always on shift, protecting nurses was impossible.

"The gardeners, the cleaners, the kitchen staff [tried to help but], they don’t hold a licence as security," she said.

She left Bourke in 2020, after three years at the hospital.

Mr Spittal from the Western NSW Local Health District told the ABC that after a recent security audit of the hospital, changes have been made since the incidents described by the nurses.

"A number of measures have been established or expanded, including a 24/7 presence of security personnel and improvements to infrastructure, including lighting," he said.

"Further improvements and measures will be put in place in the coming days."

‘Grey corruption’ cuts our living standards, so it’s a shame they shelved the integrity commission

What Danielle Wood says below is broadly correct but she is the Chief executive of the Grattan Institute, a Leftist outfit, so she can be expected not to see the elephant in the room.  She doesn't seem to have thought at all about WHY corruption happens. And the elephant is constant Leftist attacks on business, mostly in the name of the environment.  

Defence against Greenie attacks is often difficult and most of those attacked will inevitably take any recourse to defend themselves -- in forms that can sometimes be identified as "corruption".  

It would be much easier for businesses to keep on the ethical "strait and narrow" if they were more often allowed to just get on with business.  It won't happen, of course

A week ago, the government very quietly announced it would not deliver on its promise for a federal integrity commission in this term of Parliament. This came just a fortnight after Transparency International announced Australia had tumbled down the international league table for its corruption perceptions index.

Bad news for government integrity, certainly. But also bad news for the economy.

The uncomfortable truth is that clean government matters for living standards.

Decades of economic research have illuminated the relationship between government corruption and economic stagnation. It has also identified the reason corruption is such a handbrake on growth.

First, corruption increases the uncertainty around investment decisions. How much will I have to bribe someone to get a licence to operate? Is the government going to be giving a leg-up to my competitors? This uncertainty depresses the level of private business investment and wastes entrepreneurial talent. Why take a punt in the market when there are better returns to be had ingratiating yourself with the government?

Second, corruption influences the level and type of government spending. Tax breaks for mates, and/or channelling government money into projects to benefit friends and benefactors, means less for worthy projects and core spending such as health and education which improves the lives of everyday citizens and the productive capacity of the economy.

Third, corruption means more red tape and regulation. The more complex the operating environment, the more incumbent firms can extract economic rents, often without raising attention. The proliferation of regulation dulls economic dynamism by creating impediments to innovation and new entrants.

Finally, corruption can erode some forms of what economists call “civic” or “social capital” – essentially the trust between fellow citizens. A country where suspicion and distrust is rife is a country where it is harder for firms to reach mutually beneficial deals.

If you think that these concerns only apply in “really” corrupt countries – ones where bags of money change hands to get things done – think again.

The insidious impacts of “grey corruption” – governments exercising their powers to favour private interests or political interests over the national interest – can chill economic activity through exactly the same channels.

This means we can boost Australians’ living standards by sweeping a broom through the areas where grey corruption typically flourishes.

Greater controls on pork-barrelling – the misuse of taxpayers’ money for political advantage – would be a good starting point. Examples are thick on the ground of federal and state governments directing infrastructure dollars, or grants schemes, or defence projects, with an eye to the seat margin rather than the size of benefit to the country. Redeploying the billions of dollars spent on these projects each year to ones that deliver better value for money would be an immediate boost to living standards.

Another area ripe for disinfectant is the role of money in Australian politics. The federal government lags much of the developed world, and its state government counterparts, in rules to reduce the risk of donor influence. There are currently no limits on how much money can flow to federal political candidates or parties. The transparency regime for donations is so inadequate that we can’t even be sure who the biggest donors are.

Grattan Institute analysis shows the sectors with the most to gain or lose from government decisions – mining, property and construction, gambling – tend to donate much more than we would expect given the size of their contribution to the economy. This means that Australians are living with permanently heightened risk that government decisions – including in big, economically sensitive areas like tax, housing, and climate policy – will be skewed to favour donors over the national interest.

Capping campaign expenditure and moving to best-practice disclosure requirements would lift an impediment to better policy-making.

Another priority should be safeguarding our important institutions from political interference. This means making sure that independent institutions – courts and tribunals, but also important economic institutions including the Reserve Bank, ASIC, and the ACCC – can pursue their mandates fearlessly. One step would be to ensure appointments to these types of institutions are made on merit rather than gifted to political mates, which forthcoming Grattan’s research suggests is becoming more common. For example, about 21 per cent of current members of the Administrative Appeal Tribunal have a direct political affiliation. The proportion of new members appointed to the AAT with a political affiliation increased from less than 8 per cent in 2014-15 to 32 per cent in 2018-19.

Ultimately, making sure than the best-qualified people occupy these important roles, free to make decisions without political baggage, would help Australians to retain confidence in the rule of law and independent economic decision-making. These are central foundations of Australia’s long-run economic prosperity.

Fixing the rules of the game in each of these areas would make a difference. But a federal integrity commission is also needed, to make sure governments are playing by these rules. It must be empowered to investigate significant maladministration – these types of grey corruption – and not just criminal conduct.

Australian governments are rightly looking for a way to build a stronger, more dynamic economy in the wake of COVID-19. Cleaning up their conduct, to put the public interest at the centre of all government decision-making, would be an excellent place to start.

Anthony Albanese’s historic battle cry in a war on family wealth

History reveals him for the envy-driven far-Leftist that he is.  Has he changed?  When pressed, he did not renounce his past far-out comments

Anthony Albanese sharply criticised capitalism and family wealth as causes of social injustice while suggesting incomes above $100,000 a year were not entirely deserved.

The Opposition Leader made the previously unreported ­remarks while arguing for an ­inheritance tax when he was ­assistant general secretary of NSW Labor in the early 1990s.

“If you become a millionaire through hard work or investment you are taxed on it,” Mr Albanese said. “If, however, you gain your wealth through the lottery of birth then there’s no taxation and you achieve that economic influence in society through nothing other than sheer luck. I believe that quite clearly is in contradiction to Labor’s social justice ­objectives.”

At the 1991 Australian Labor Party centenary conference, Mr Albanese introduced a resolution for the Hawke government to consider an inheritance taxes.

The treasurer at the time, John Kerin, and commerce minister, John Button, rejected Mr Albanese’s idea as politically unpalatable. The revelation comes as the Morrison government steps up its attack on Mr Albanese’s character and policy record in the wake of damaging Newspoll figures showing the Coalition trailing Labor.

Mr Albanese has since moved away from his radical left heritage, positioning himself as a centrist politician and safe pair of economic hands ahead of the upcoming federal election.

But in June 1991, Mr Albanese began his speech by quoting comments made by former Labor senator Robert Ray in a pamphlet titled The Case for Death Duties distributed by the British socialist think tank, the Fabian Society.

“If I can begin with a quote from a delegate to the conference which sums up the situation, that delegate said that: Accumulated income in the form of capital is for all socialists at least part of the source of many social injustices,” Mr ­Albanese said, noting the delegate was Senator Ray.

He insisted people earning ­incomes of more than $100,000 (about $200,000 today) did not “actually earn them”.

“We are not looking at Mr and Mrs Suburbia in the middle class to hit this tax with,” Mr Albanese told the Labor conference in Hobart.

“We are really looking at the top 10 per cent of town and if I started on a quote from Robert Ray, I think I can finish on a quote from (former Labor finance minister) Peter Walsh and that quote is that moreover, those who get very high – say over $100,000 incomes per year – do not actually earn them.”

While Mr Albanese gave the speech three decades ago, the radical ideas he espoused epitomise his socialist past that he has sought to bury as he asks the Australian public to elect him prime minister.

Five years after he gave the speech, he entered federal parliament at the 1996 election.

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said Mr Albanese posed a “significant threat to Australia’s economic future with his socialist ideals and lack of economic experience, having never held a Treasury portfolio”. “He has spent his whole ­career being a cheerleader for higher taxes,” he said.

“The carbon tax, the mining tax, congestion tax, retirees tax, housing tax, family business tax, higher taxes on income and superannuation and, most damning of all, death duties.”

Asked about his speech, Mr ­Albanese said Mr Frydenberg’s ­attack over his support for an inheritance tax showed the government had “no substantial critique of the policies Labor is taking to the upcoming 2022 election, which is what we will implement if we are elected”. “It is a sign of the absolute desperation from a divided, dishonest and incompetent government that they are using taxpayer-funded staff to analyse debates which are more than three decades old,” he said.

In the speech, Mr Albanese went on to claim that money inherited or gifted had not been earned by the recipient and should be taxed. Death duties would “distribute inheritances more widely than a mere duty on the estate”, he said. “It could also take into ­account gifts and other requests over a period of time as one way of ensuring that there was minimal avoidance of such a tax.”

Without an inheritance tax, Mr Albanese argued, there was a “horizontal inequity against earned income, in favour of unearned income”.

The commerce minister at the time, Button, responded to Mr ­Albanese’s resolution by saying the policy had been taken from the Australian Democrats and “probably hasn’t been very well thought out”. He appealed to Labor delegates not to introduce death duties because “the text of this resolution will be picked on by our opponents with glee”. Button also noted that Walsh, whom Mr Albanese had quoted, had said the inheritance tax “should apply to $50,000 thresholds”.

Kerin said that before the states had traded away death duties “there was a lot of destruction done to Australian farming”.

“I want to run into the next election with no new taxes,” he said. “Whatever you do, delegates, don’t give the Liberals the opportunity to misrepresent this woefully as we run into the next election because they will do that.”

During his speech, which repeatedly addressed “Comrade Chair”, Mr Albanese rejected the proposal for a consumption tax – like the GST – and instead said there should be taxes that hit the “top end of a town” – a turn of phrase adopted by Mr Albanese’s predecessor, Bill Shorten, during the 2019 election campaign.

“I believe there could be no greater political distinction coming out of this conference in showing the real distinction between the Labor Party and the conservatives in our centenary year than the fact that the conservative forces are pushing a consumption tax,” he said.

“This conference has rejected, earlier on, a consumption tax unanimously and a suggestion that we actually consider looking at things which hit the top end of town out of this conference would be an appropriate measure.”

Criticising the Hawke government, he said the profits of the Prices and Incomes Accord (an agreement between the ACTU and the Labor Party) “have been wasted and squandered in an orgy of speculation and unproductive investment”.


The latest study of Ivermectin

This was a generally well conducted academic study with clear findings. It was NOT however a double-blind study, meaning that it was open for experimenter expectations to influence the result. Such expectations can be very biasing. And the experimenter expectation in this case would be exactly what was found. The study clearly COULD have been double blind so it is curious that that was not done. Were they fearful of getting a result that favoured Iverectin? One has to surmise that


Importance: Ivermectin, an inexpensive and widely available antiparasitic drug, is prescribed to treat COVID-19. Evidence-based data to recommend either for or against the use of ivermectin are needed.

Objective: To determine the efficacy of ivermectin in preventing progression to severe disease among high-risk patients with COVID-19.

Design, Setting, and Participants: The Ivermectin Treatment Efficacy in COVID-19 High-Risk Patients (I-TECH) study was an open-label randomized clinical trial conducted at 20 public hospitals and a COVID-19 quarantine center in Malaysia between May 31 and October 25, 2021. Within the first week of patients’ symptom onset, the study enrolled patients 50 years and older with laboratory-confirmed COVID-19, comorbidities, and mild to moderate disease.

Interventions: Patients were randomized in a 1:1 ratio to receive either oral ivermectin, 0.4 mg/kg body weight daily for 5 days, plus standard of care (n = 241) or standard of care alone (n = 249). The standard of care consisted of symptomatic therapy and monitoring for signs of early deterioration based on clinical findings, laboratory test results, and chest imaging.

Main Outcomes and Measures: The primary outcome was the proportion of patients who progressed to severe disease, defined as the hypoxic stage requiring supplemental oxygen to maintain pulse oximetry oxygen saturation of 95% or higher. Secondary outcomes of the trial included the rates of mechanical ventilation, intensive care unit admission, 28-day in-hospital mortality, and adverse events.

Results: Among 490 patients included in the primary analysis (mean [SD] age, 62.5 [8.7] years; 267 women [54.5%]), 52 of 241 patients (21.6%) in the ivermectin group and 43 of 249 patients (17.3%) in the control group progressed to severe disease (relative risk [RR], 1.25; 95% CI, 0.87-1.80; P = .25). For all prespecified secondary outcomes, there were no significant differences between groups. Mechanical ventilation occurred in 4 (1.7%) vs 10 (4.0%) (RR, 0.41; 95% CI, 0.13-1.30; P = .17), intensive care unit admission in 6 (2.4%) vs 8 (3.2%) (RR, 0.78; 95% CI, 0.27-2.20; P = .79), and 28-day in-hospital death in 3 (1.2%) vs 10 (4.0%) (RR, 0.31; 95% CI, 0.09-1.11; P = .09). The most common adverse event reported was diarrhea (14 [5.8%] in the ivermectin group and 4 [1.6%] in the control group).

Conclusions and Relevance: In this randomized clinical trial of high-risk patients with mild to moderate COVID-19, ivermectin treatment during early illness did not prevent progression to severe disease. The study findings do not support the use of ivermectin for patients with COVID-19.

Tesla sued by California civil-rights agency for alleged racial discrimination, harassment

If this prosecution goes ahead, Musk could well move his car factory to a more friendly State.  He is already half-way down that path.  He also has a factory in China that could be expanded.  And that would largely complete the de-industrialization of California, with the resultant loss of working-class jobs and an expanded welfare bill

A California regulatory agency has sued Tesla for alleged racial discrimination and harassment, saying the electric-vehicle maker turned a blind eye to years of complaints from Black factory workers.

The California Department of Fair Employment and Housing’s complaint filed Wednesday targets alleged workplace issues at Tesla’s principal US car plant, located in the San Francisco Bay Area.

“After receiving hundreds of complaints from workers, DFEH found evidence that Tesla’s Fremont factory is a racially segregated workplace where Black workers are subjected to racial slurs and discriminated against in job assignments, discipline, pay, and promotion creating a hostile work environment,” Kevin Kish, the agency’s director, said in a statement.

Tesla didn’t respond to requests for comment.

The company criticised the civil-rights agency’s investigation in a blog post that pre-empted the lawsuit. “Tesla strongly opposes all forms of discrimination and harassment and has a dedicated Employee Relations team that responds to and investigates all complaints,” the company said Wednesday.

Tesla, in the blog post, also cited its status as a manufacturing employer in the state. “Tesla is also the last remaining automobile manufacturer in California. The Fremont factory has a majority-minority workforce and provides the best paying jobs in the automotive industry to over 30,000 Californians,” the company said, adding that legal action was “unfair and counter-productive.” Tesla moved its headquarters to Texas from California last year, though it still makes a large portion of its cars in California.

The auto industry has long faced issues of discrimination on the factory floor. For instance, in 2017, Ford agreed to pay as much as roughly $US10m to settle sexual- and racial-harassment claims brought by individuals at two Chicago-area plants. The settlement followed an investigation by the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which said it found female and African-American employees had been subject to harassment. Unlike at Tesla, factory workers at other US automakers are organised by the United Auto Workers union, which represents them in their dealings with the companies, including on workplace issues.

The Department of Fair Employment and Housing, in its lawsuit against Tesla, is seeking unspecified monetary damages, as well as relief including job reinstatement and payment of lost wages and benefits.

The agency said in its lawsuit that Black workers routinely heard Tesla supervisors and managers using racial slurs and were confronted with racist graffiti in the factory. One Black worker heard racial slurs as often as 50 to 100 times a day, the agency said.

Black workers also reported being assigned to more physically demanding roles, experiencing more severe discipline and being passed over for professional opportunities, the agency said. Black workers were severely under-represented in managerial and other professional roles, the agency said.

Tesla said in a 2020 diversity report that Black employees made up 10 per cent of its US workforce and 4 per cent of people in leadership roles. The Department of Fair Employment and Housing said in the lawsuit that Black workers make up roughly 3 per cent of professionals at the Fremont, California plant and about 20 per cent of factory operatives.

“Tesla’s brand, purportedly highlighting a socially conscious future, masks the reality of a company that profits from an army of production workers, many of whom are people of colour, working under egregious conditions,” the agency said in its lawsuit, adding that Tesla’s investigations of complaints aren’t compliant with the law.

Shares in Tesla fell 3 per cent to close at $US904.55 on Thursday.

A federal jury in San Francisco last year found that Tesla had subjected a Black former contract worker to a racially hostile work environment, awarding him roughly $US137m in damages. Tesla has said it doesn’t believe the verdict is justified and has asked for a new trial or for the damages to be reduced.

Another Black former Tesla worker, Melvin Berry, won a $US1m judgment last year after an arbitrator found that his supervisors at the Fremont factory called him a racial slur. Tesla was obligated to investigate and stop the racial discrimination and failed to do so, the arbitrator said in her order. Tesla said that any actions the company took weren’t racially based, according to the order.

Tesla has also faced allegations of sexual harassment in California. More than half a dozen current and former Tesla workers sued the company late last year alleging that Tesla failed to prevent sexual harassment at its facilities, among other claims. Tesla has said it intends to try to move those cases into private arbitration, court records show.

The Department of Fair Employment and Housing has brought other high-profile cases. The California regulator last year sued Activision Blizzard, accusing the video game company of paying female employees less than their male counterparts, among other claims. The company pushed back against the allegations. Microsoft in January agreed to buy Activision.

This isn’t the first time Tesla has clashed with California officials. Nearly two years ago, early in the coronavirus pandemic, Chief Executive Elon Musk took aim at a high-ranking county health official in California over government orders that the company’s Fremont vehicle-assembly plant remain temporarily closed to slow the spread of Covid-19.

Video emerges of former Australian TV star saying the N-word on national TV

14 years ago, he addressed a white man as "N*gger", clearly using the word as a putdown.  Even 14 years ago that was pretty egregious.  But how is digging up the past helpful today?

Shocking footage has resurfaced of troubled former TV host Andrew O'Keefe using a racial slur during an interview on national television.

The disgraced star used the N-word while interviewing comedian Dylan Lewis as part of the Seven Network's short-lived television series This Is Your Laugh in 2008.

'I thought, this guy is wack, that's how we used to say it back then,' O'Keefe says  during the segment. 

'Wack means s**t,' replies Lewis.

However, the interview then takes a turn for the worse when O'Keefe responds: 'Not where I came from, n****r.'  

The offensive remark draws collective gasps from the audience, including Lewis, as an unfazed O'keefe carries on with the interview.

Inflation nation: US consumer prices surge to 40-year high

This is an outrageous attack on the savings and incomes of the average American.  It means that your greenbacks are devalued.  They buy less.  And that loss can not be made up.  It is permanent.  Raiding people's savings in particular is completely reprehensible.  And its cause is a government that issues new money to finance its spending rather than raising taxes to cover the expenditure

If you’ve noticed your dollars don’t seem to have the same purchasing punch as they did a year ago, there’s a very good reason for that.

Consumer price inflation in the United States rose at an annual rate of 7.5 percent in January, the Bureau of Labor Statics said on Thursday. That is the fastest pace since July 1982.

On a monthly basis, the Consumer Price Index (CPI) – which measures price changes in a basket of goods and services –  increased 0.6 percent in January compared with the previous month.

Surging prices for groceries, electricity, and rent led the charge higher, with the food index rising 0.9 percent in January, after increasing 0.5 percent in December.

The energy index also rose 0.9 percent in January compared with the previous month, as soaring electricity prices were partially offset by falling prices for gasoline and natural gas.

The so-called “core” index, which strips out volatile food and energy, rose 0.6 percent in January – the same rise as December.

January marked the seventh time in the past 10 months that the core index rose at least 0.5 percent.

Inflation is placing an increasingly onerous burden on American households but is especially tough on low-income ones because it eats up a larger share of their financial resources.

Economists over at Moody’s Analytics estimate that annual inflation is costing the average US household $250 a month based on December’s CPI figures.  Americans aged 35 to 54 are spending $303 – $305 more a month, according to Moody’s, while pensioners aged 65 and older, are spending $194 a month.

To place that burden and the financial fragility it feeds into perspective – some 36 percent of Americans do not have enough cash or cash its equivalent to cover a $400 emergency expense, such as a car repair or medical bill, according to the US Federal Reserve.

Instagram picture shows Grace Tame pictured with a very large bong. The then-19-year-old posted the photo along with a small green weed symbol

She is alarmingly good-looking and marijuana use has always been fine to the Left so the rapturous support evoked by the picture below was entirely predictable.  And the look on her face tells it all.  She was pretty high. I have not once used any drug of abuse but I have been around users often so I know that look.

The literature on the subject is quite mixed but there have been many studies reporting a descent into psychosis by users.  I have seen that too.  So a reasonable response to the photo might be to question her judgment.  That would include her rudeness to the PM

Comedians, musicians, politicians and other high-profile Australians have rallied around Grace Tame after an old photo of her pictured next to a bong went viral online.

The sexual abuse survivor and former Australian of the Year was back in the headlines just hours after she came under fire from Prime Minister Scott Morrison's wife for not showing 'respect or manners' after being welcomed into their home.

Critics delved into Ms Tame's Instagram feed on Monday and unearthed a photo from 2014 of her as a 19-year-old sitting on a couch with a large bong - a water pipe used for smoking cannabis - next to her.

The Left are the real enemy of blacks

In Africa, in Australia and elsewhere.  Leftists are angry people and love to create anger and destruction in others.  "Protests" by blacks are often egged on by white Leftists behind the scenes

Robert Glyne

As a boy growing up in Kenya during the Mau Mau uprising, I was used to seeing violence and cruelty.

My first major impression came one day when I was on the front porch reading a book not long after the uprising had been officially put down. I was surprised to see an African walking up to the house. He stopped nearby and after the formal greeting in Swahili, he asked if he could speak to the Memsahib.

I went inside and told mother that there was an African outside who wanted to speak to her.

She went outside and, seeing who it was, gave a shout of joy and went over to the man and gave him a great big hug.

This man’s name was Mugo and he was from the Kikuyu tribe.

During the Mau Mau, the terrorists tried to force their own people, the Kikuyu, to kill and murder their white employers. They did this by holding what was known as ‘oathing ceremonies’ which were rather cruel and bound the people through superstition and witchcraft. Many of these Africans, rather than be forced to kill their employers, went back to their tribal lands and waited until the uprising had been put down. Later, they returned to regain their employment.

Mugo was one of nature’s gentlemen. He was cheerful and stuck by the family through thick and thin. Mugo was an extremely decent man in every sense of the word.

There were several reasons why many Africans remained loyal to the Europeans.

One, was that they had employment and they were provided with accommodation. Two, they were given free medical treatment and their kids were given free education. More importantly, the money earned often went to their families who remained in their traditional villages. Lastly, most of the Africans realised that the modern world was arriving and they had to learn to deal with it.

Sadly, the British governments of the time found that it was very expensive to keep their army in Kenya, so they dropped Kenya like a hot potato.

Fast forward to the Rhodesian Terrorist war.

Many people are amazed when I tell them that 70 per cent of the Rhodesian security forces were, in fact, Africans who were extremely loyal to the Smith regime – not to mention the many Africans who worked in cafes and hotels and mechanical shops.

I asked many Africans why they did not support the terrorists; their answer was this. ‘We have seen what is happening in the rest of Africa. It is f***ed. we don’t want to end up like that.’

The percentage of black people who fought on the side of the terrorists was actually minute compared to the population as a whole, and many of them were only there because their families were threatened by the terrorists if they did not comply.

When protected villages were set up and the Africans felt safer, many of the terrorists actually changed sides and fought with the security forces.

A classic example was the Selous Scouts, who were a pseudo terrorist unit. The aim of the unit was to infiltrate the terrorist gangs and report them to the army. Many of these pseudo terrorists were in fact ex-terrorists who had willingly changed sides.

As an ex-SAS friend of mine stated: ‘If the blacks hated the whites as much as the media portrays, then all the four million black people had to do was to pick up a rock or a machete and kill the few hundred thousand whites. It would have all been over in a few days.’

Then, as now, the politicians were not interested in what the ordinary people think or want, they only listened to the noisy minority.

If anyone hated the Ian Smith regime, it was not the black people, it was the British government under the Labour idiot, Harold Wilson. Wilson tried to order parts of the British army and Air force to go and fight with the terrorists against the Rhodesians.

It is a little-known fact that the military refused to do as ordered, their reply was, ‘We will not fight against our own brothers, especially as they fought with us during the war.’

The British army had mutinied against their own government. (There is an ongoing story to that as well.)

One aspect of this is the reality that the Colonials realised that they had a duty of care to the African people and that was to help them adapt to the modern world, something which has been ignored.

The fallout of this stupidity is all too plain to see today.

Africa was thrown to the wolves in the name of political expediency. This has resulted in a return to tribalism, violence, and cruelty – not to mention the descent back into superstition and witchcraft.

In Australia, the duty of care that should have applied to the Aboriginals has been cast aside.

The biggest act of racism towards the Aboriginals was not the concoction and falsity of the ‘attempt at genocide’, it was the marginalisation of these people with welfare, only to be replaced later with empty gestures and false praise.

The message is clear… ‘We do not want you as part of our future, stay in the dirt whilst we hand you money from the working taxpayer.’

It is a known fact that reliance on welfare creates boredom, frustration, and resentment which in turn leads to alcoholism, drug use, and a drift towards crime – especially when there is no accountability due to too many people profiting from other people’s misery.

As one Aboriginal told me, ‘Whilst they have got us like this, they own us.’

Over the years, there have been many public meetings to address the problems of crime and violence within our community in Townsville.

In the lead-up to these meetings veiled threats were made to us from the Labor party and council. Undercover police were sent to the meetings, they were told to look for any evidence of racist comments. We were even told that the Aboriginals would attack us, and that the police were instructed to do nothing.

At the meetings however, we found a totally different scenario.

It was the Labor politicians who verbally abused us and tried to intimidate us. What we found from the Aboriginals was also different. The Aboriginals who did attend the meetings were actually on our side.

A comment from one woman said it all.

‘Hi mate. Even though it is some of our people who are causing these problems, we are not your real enemy. Our real enemy is those people.’ She was pointing to the Labor politicians who were strutting around trying to intimidate people who had attended the meeting.

Once again, it is up to ordinary people to realise what is going on and how stupid many of our so-called leaders are.


Leftist hatred of Christianity

Christian doctrine as set out by the Apostle Paul in Romans 2 says that Christians should not condemn homosexuals but that God will punish them because they are evildoers.  So any influence drawing one into such evil is clearly to be zealously avoided.  Deviants are not being condemned, just avoided as an evil influence.  

Christians should be entitled to obey their Holy book.  Freedom of religion is widely respected but not by the Left.  Before the Peace of Westphalia, religious wars killed millions.  Tolerance of religious ideas avoids that

The peace of Westphalia ended religious wars between nations. Religious tolerance within a nation was slower coming.  The big break came with revulsion against the persecutions by the murderous Mary Tudor.  Her successor, Elizabeth I,  specifically renounced religious  consciousness

This is what happens when the self-appointed preachers of tolerance and respect don’t get their way. LGBTQ activists have covered Citipointe Christian College in foul graffiti.

The school, which made national headlines this month for asking parents to agree to a Christian view of sexuality as a condition of enrolment, has been forced to remove signage to prevent further vandalism.

Staff have received a barrage of abuse, including death threats.

‘Be more respectful, or we’ll destroy your property.’

‘Be tolerant like us, or we’ll kill you.’

It’s a hell of an argument against people exercising their religious freedom.

Speaking of argument, everyone knows opponents of the Religious Discrimination Bill are not really trying to stop children being expelled from Christian schools for being gay. We know this because there’s not a single example of it ever happening. Not one.

What opponents of the Religious Discrimination Bill really want to stop is the LGBTQ worldview ever being criticised in a Christian School. We know this because they have said so. Repeatedly.

It is telling that critics of Citipointe Christian College’s enrolment contract were not satisfied when it was rescinded.

That’s because critics were less outraged by the contract than by the Christian worldview that informed the contract; specifically that homosexuality is a sin, and that gender is a fixed biological reality.

What activists really want is for Christians to agree that Christian beliefs on sexuality and gender are wrong. In short, activists are demanding Christians be less Christian.

A gay former Citipointe Christian College student told SBS that ‘language condemning homosexuality was very damaging to himself and other young people’.

It was so damaging that he completed 12 years at the school. And he wasn’t expelled for being gay. He graduated.

But, you know, the ‘language’!

A Parents, Family and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PLAG) spokeswoman said Citipointe Christian College needed to do more than scrap the enrolment contract and remove the principal, they needed to ‘show that they have changed their thinking’.

‘They need to come out publicly stating that there has been an error in their judgment and their thinking, and they agree that they were wrong,’ she said.

Well sure. But why stop there? Perhaps PLAG could do a full audit of Christian doctrines and advise the Citipointe community which ones they should change. Whatever’s left, after the gays and lesbians have redacted the bits and pieces they don’t like, could be called the Bible.

Just days after the Citipointe College contact became public, The Guardian pointed out that Penrith Christian College had a statement of faith that listed homosexuality and transgenderism as ‘not acceptable to God’.

How this is news, I am not quite sure.

There’s an old adage in journalism that news is not a dog biting a man; news is a man biting a dog. Similarly, one would think news is not a Christian school promoting a Christian worldview; news would be a Christian school promoting the LGBTQ worldview.

The Guardian reported breathlessly that Penrith school’s statement of faith is attached to enrolment forms and parents are asked if they have ‘read and understood’ it.

Rationalist Society of Australia president Dr Meredith Doig described the school’s beliefs as ‘appalling’ and warned that ‘schools like Penrith and Citipointe are just the tip of the iceberg’.

‘Their biblically-based anti-LGBTI views will become much more commonly seen if the Religious Discrimination Bill is passed,’ she said.

In other words, Christian views will become much more commonly seen if Christian schools are allowed to freely express their Christian views. This, rather than the imagined gay child expelled by hateful Christian teachers, is the real problem opponents of the Religious Discrimination Bill have.

Psychologist Paul Martin agreed the problem at Citipointe was not just the controversial enrolment contract but that ‘many people in evangelical Christian communities and even in evangelical conservative Protestant families still hold on to outdated beliefs about homosexuality’.

So, Dr Martin believes the problem with many Christians is that they still hold Christian beliefs.

Dr Martin insists that Christianity needs to move with the times, ‘the times’ being a euphemism for ‘fashion’. The problem for Dr Martin is that Christians aren’t trying to be fashionable, they are trying to be true to what they believe is the word of God, which puts their views beyond the times.

The psychologist continued: ‘What has happened at the school is so harmful that it could – for some people – be the trigger for suicidality.’

Speaking of psychology, it would be interesting to study the merits of the ‘change your views to mine, or people will die’ debating tactic. I suspect it is intended to work much the same as the ‘don’t let children be expelled for being gay’ tactic works – as a Trojan horse for banning suddenly unfashionable Christian doctrine altogether.

Gender dysphoria is often in fact autism

This is interesting to me as a high functioning autistic. But there are of course many varieties of autism. The tale below sounds partly familiar.  I have always had male friends but not so much.  I have always got on best with women.  But I didn't want to become one, however. I just wanted to get into their pants!  It led me to much happiness.  And it continues. Even at age 78 I have just acquired a bright and attractive new girlfriend

How many trans-identified children “desist”? That is, how many identify as transgender for a time, and then eventually stop doing so, prior to medical intervention (as distinct from detransitioners, who return to identifying with their natal sex after undergoing some form of medical transition)? The answer is that no one knows, in part because few experts are keeping track, and in part because what research does exist is highly politicized.

Some trans activists and advocates, for instance, object to the very idea of measuring “desistance” in the first place, on the argument that this approach may discourage a child from embracing a transgender identity. One Canadian trans activist and researcher insists that research in this area is simply “not relevant when deciding between models of care.” Others claim that the idea of desistance is rooted in transphobic “myth,” though research often shows otherwise.

High-end estimates of desistance tended to arise from longitudinal studies of children who first reported gender dysphoria at an early age. The vast majority of those children resolved their gender dysphoria before, or early in, puberty. In one 2021 study published in Frontiers in Psychiatry, for instance, 88 percent of boys with gender dysphoria were found to have desisted by their teens or adulthood (and more than 63 percent were same-sex attracted). These results are consistent with established research; yet, in the current ideological climate, they often are seen as suspect. That’s because the traditional “watchful waiting” approach used by clinicians to treat children who present with gender dysphoria—which tends to be associated with a high rate of desistance—has largely been supplanted by a policy of encouraging social transition, an approach associated with an increase in observed dysphoria. Indeed, several studies show that nearly all children on puberty blockers go on to cross-sex hormones.

Behind these numbers lie individual stories. Here, I share one—that of a brilliant and insightful young man who struggled with gender issues for several years. His harrowing journey to self-awareness will be instructive for many of those talking and teaching about gender issues to children and young adults.

It was clear to Ash from an early age that he was different from other boys. Their world seemed to revolve around their bodies, while he was in his mind. They were sporty. He was scientific. They roamed in packs together, while he gravitated toward the girls. They were rowdy. He was gentle. And he had a vague sense that other people could connect emotionally in some way that eluded him.

Puberty was particularly hard on him. He’d had a high, clear tenor voice—unusual and strong and something he’d liked about himself—which descended into an unfamiliar bass. He grew body and facial hair that upset him on some visceral level—the thickness and coarseness of it. The pace of change unnerved him. He came out as bisexual in eighth grade, and his classmates responded by calling him a faggot—though they’d called him that in seventh grade, too, simply because of his not being traditionally masculine.

In ninth grade, he transferred to a new school where, for the first time, he found a group of friends. But something happened—he had no idea what, since it was so hard for him to understand social cues—and soon enough they abandoned him. In the winter, he had what he described as “a psychotic break,” and surrounded himself with imaginary friends.

Ash asked Google why puberty had been so unpleasant for him. Why he had trouble making friends. Why it was so hard for him to befriend boys, in particular, and why he felt different from them. Was it bad if your whole friend group was girls? “Very, very quickly I found different websites talking about being trans and how people had similar experiences to me,” he said. “And then they had transitioned and were happy now. And I thought that, wow, this is an easy way out. I love the idea of this.” He came to the conclusion that perhaps he was a woman.

He went to his therapist, whom he’d been seeing since the psychotic break, and told her that he’d hated puberty and his body hair, he didn’t fit in with other boys, he was mostly friends with girls, he didn’t like being a boy. All true things. She suggested that perhaps he was transgender, confirming his suspicions.

Because of his negative experience coming out as bisexual, Ash didn’t tell many people that he was identifying as trans besides his pediatrician and his therapist. Only they used she/her pronouns when addressing him.

“How did that feel?” I asked him.

He thought about that for a moment. “It felt … exhilarating,” he finally said. But despite the euphoria, his identity was still in flux. When school ended, and he went to summer camp, Ash asked people to use they/them pronouns.

Being science-minded, Ash scoured reputable medical websites for information about transition. He found that they either didn’t talk about the side effects of medical interventions, or that they would be mentioned in passing near the end of the article, without citations, or with citations to articles that he didn’t scrutinize. Later on, he came to wish he had done so.

When Ash finally told his parents that he believed he was trans, they were skeptical—not because they were bigots, but because they didn’t think the treatments Ash wanted were safe, nor that he fit the description of earlier generations of kids with gender dysphoria. Ash had never been particularly feminine or previously expressed any desire to be a girl. Ash wanted to get hormones right away, but his parents were determined to wait.

Rather than confront Ash directly over gender issues, they focused on strengthening their connection with him in other ways, through music, board games, and intellectual pursuits. “When I brought it up, they were happy to talk with me, but they didn’t engage or aggravate me, which was, I think, the best thing to do,” Ash recalls.

Still, their relationship became strained, because many of the websites Ash was reading encouraged trans kids to detach from their parents if they were not affirming. “There was a part of me that started to vilify them,” he told me. “[The sites] said, ‘Oh, if your parents aren’t ‘with it,’ they’re evil people.’”

This, too, was hard on Ash, who’d valued his relationship with his parents. There was also part of his mind that didn’t actually buy into the material he was reading online. Ash describes this period as being one of “cognitive dissonance.”

The next year, Ash got a new therapist, one who diagnosed him as autistic. And this, he says, was like a ray of sunshine: enlightenment.

The therapist “didn’t focus on the issues I was having with gender, but focused on the anxiety, depression, and living as an autistic person in this world, which were much, much more important, and I think [the discussion] relieved a lot of the distress that was fuelling my dysphoria,” Ash said. “I sort of came to a place where I thought, you know, just very internally, that perhaps I am not born in the wrong body … I found [an] identity of non-binaryness.”

Ash’s therapist had been working with him on seeing nuance in the world—something autistic people, prone to black-and-white thinking, sometimes struggle to do. The goal was to be “able to take a step back, to get a bird’s eye view in the stoic tradition and try to see things from other people’s points of view.”

His father, he learned, had been part of an online support group for so-called “gender-critical” parents of kids identifying as trans—i.e., parents who reject the model of instant affirmation and are aware of the uncertain science behind youth medical transition. Ash asked his father for data to back up his position. “I’m very amenable to concrete scientific evidence to an extent which most people are not,” he told me. “I think that the fact that my dad was there to have a conversation with me when I was ready was very important.”

After listening to his father and conducting his own research, Ash concluded that he’d been “misled.” He also learned about desisters and detransitioners from social media and Reddit, and read Keira Bell’s story. Bell had been an unhappy young lesbian with a traumatic childhood. She medically transitioned with a double mastectomy and testosterone, regretted it, and later petitioned the UK gender-identity development service to stop allowing vulnerable under-16s to make such life-altering decisions without adequate counselling. Her court victory was partly overturned, but an evidence review spurred by the case, concerning the effectiveness of puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones, showed that the “quality of evidence for these outcomes was assessed as very low certainty.”

Ash found out about other kids who were certain their struggles were located in their gender identity and who had undergone medical treatments, only to regret them and realize that their problems navigating the world were connected to autism. From there, he dove deeper into the side effects of those medical treatments—the effects on bones, heart health, and fertility, among other things. He came to feel grateful that his parents had drawn a hard line on medicalization.

Ash went to college early, but his social struggles followed him, and he found the woke culture that silenced debate about controversial social issues to be confusing. On several occasions, he was called out or humiliated, forced to apologize when he legitimately didn’t understand that what he had said was wrong. In time, he became afraid to speak.

For a while at college, Ash was still continuing to identify as transgender, even after coming to terms with his autism and the reality of transition. In part, this was because his transgender self-identification gave him entree into his school’s large LGBT social scene.

Yet at the same time that this peer group was providing Ash with a social landing pad, there also were aspects of it that unnerved him. “There were a lot of people talking about trans ideology quite a lot, and they were very adamant about it,” he said. It dawned on him that he needed to start thinking about himself in a holistic way, and not through the lens of a popular ideology.

What helped him finally leave that identity behind, he said, was interacting more with his sexuality: using his body for pleasure, understanding his sexual orientation, and coming to terms with the idea that nothing was wrong with his body or his way of being in the world. “Then I realized, why would I want to get rid of this?” he said. “This [body] is so cool and does interesting things.” (He still does not like his body hair, but now understands this to be a sensory issue related to his autism, one that can be addressed with shaving, not estrogen.)

Ash has become an advocate for autistic children. Around one in 44 kids is diagnosed as being on the autism spectrum these days, and some studies show that as many as five percent of them will identify as transgender (compared to about 0.7 percent of non-neurodiverse children).

“Currently, I do prefer to use they/them pronouns, but I’m not a Nazi about it because it’s a linguistic adaptation that is difficult for many people to make,” he told me. “I’m not responsible for affirming other people’s identities, and they shouldn’t be responsible for affirming my identity … For me, the way I am functioning in this society, the way people treat gender and categories and stuff, I just happen to fit into that [they/them] category.”

These pronouns do a lot of work. They not only signal to people that you’re cool, Ash said, but they signal a desire not to be subject to traditional gender norms. That was one of the things Ash desperately needed in the first place.

But that’s not how he thinks it should be. The boy category should be wide enough to accommodate him. Boys should be allowed to wear dresses—as young boys did in the 19th century. “I think people have gotten more sexist,” he said. “The trans ideology says, if you act and feel this way, then you’re just not in the right body.” It sends a message to effeminate gay men and butch lesbians that there’s something wrong with them as they are.

At the same time, Ash believes that the experience of being transgender is real for many people and that, for some, transitioning is the best way to ease their pain.

“A lot of gender critical people fall into this trap of thinking all trans people are fake, which I don’t believe is proper … I do believe that there are people who are legitimately transitioning and it is the best thing for them.”

“[Yet] I also know that there are people [for whom] that is a terrible thing. But whenever you’re talking to a person who’s identifying as trans, you don’t know which one they are.”

This strikes at the heart of the debates about desistance: There is no surefire way to know who will desist and who won’t. The only way to render evaluations is on a case-by-case basis through good-faith clinical care guided by fact, not ideology. Children must be made aware that many in their position do end up ultimately desisting. We owe it to these children not to pretend, for the sake of “affirmation,” that their current mental state about gender is a surefire indicator of how they’ll feel in the future.

Children and their families should know about the desistance literature, and that the way they feel now, no matter how intensely, isn’t necessarily a sign of how they’ll feel in the future. By exposing them to a diversity of stories, including Ash’s, we can restore balance to the discussion in a way that may help many distressed young people navigate a difficult and confusing time.

British Education Secretary responds to why Eton shouldn’t pay tax

British private schools usually offer various sorts of assistance -- such as access to playing fields -- to government schools in their area. Eton offers access to its rowing lake. But the basic reason they are given charitable status is that they are non-profit institutions which provide high quality education to their pupils which is not readily available elsewhere

Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi came under fire as he appeared to avoid explaining why Eton College, which charges £44,000 a year, deserves charity status which exempts it from taxes.

The Tory MP said to Sky News presenter Kay Burley that 50 per cent of the independent education sector has charitable status, including Eton.

Without saying exactly why Eton should be allowed to dodge taxes, Zahawi added: “I want to see those schools do much more to open up to children from disadvantages backgrounds.

‘Evidence suggests the best way forward’, Zahawi says
“They are doing a lot already, they want to do more with us on our journey which is really my focus, which is a system that is diverse. We have academies, we have free schools, we have independent sector, that’s a good thing I think in an education system.

“They want to do more on that journey, where we get every child to have a great education in every part of the country, at the right time in the right place, but I think it’s also important that they play their part.”

“What does that mean?”, Burley asked.

Zahawi replied: “Well, can we get our independent schools to join us on what the evidence suggests is the best way forward, which is a family of schools that are well-managed, tightly-managed, really well-supported in a multi-academy trust that’s high performing, that we know from evidence delivers the best outcome?”

Bumper crop elevates GrainCorp to ASX’s best performer

So sad for Greenies:  We are  not starving yet

GrainCorp says it expects its full year net profit to soar by as much as 100 per cent following a bumper crop, defying pandemic-fuelled labour shortages and supply chain disruptions that have plagued Australia’s food bowl.

The profit upgrade made it the best performer on the ASX on Monday, its shares surging by 13 per cent to $8.50 before easing to close at $8.10.

Chief executive Robert Spurway said the company overcame labour shortages and supply chain disruptions from Covid-19 and floods to process the harvest, which “broke multiple site receival records across our network”.

“The biggest challenge in the end for growers was the wet weather and the interrupted harvest from that point of view. Labour supply was certainly a challenge. But from our perspective, we planned for that very early and we were able to get the complement of workers that we needed,” Mr Spurway said.

The company now expects its full-year earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation to be $480m to $540m. This compares with $331m in 2021.

Meanwhile it has forecast underlying net profit of $235m to $280m versus $139m last year.

Not even VB maker, Asahi, bypassing GrainCorp to secure grain directly from farmers could dull Mr Spurway’s enthusiasm.

“I certainly wouldn’t like to comment but I still enjoy a drink when I can get one, in moderation,” he said.

“Generally, we continue to build a strong relationship with a number of global brewers and maltsters around the world and we’re seeing good demand for high quality malting barley both in Australia and globally.”

Key to the strong earnings forecast are the higher prices Australian grain has attracted, following drought across the northern US and Canada, combined with the threat of a Russian invasion in Ukraine, which threatens the nation’s harvest.

Ukraine harvested 32.4 million tonnes of wheat last year. Meanwhile, Australia’s wheat production is set to hit a record of 34.4 million tonnes this season, 3 per cent higher than the previous record set in the 2020-21 season.

The religion of peace at work

What a misnomer for Islam! As we see below. Their inability to get on well with women shows what pathetic creatures these barbarians are. Women give Western men problems too but almost always we at least live with them if we don't adapt to them. I am at present in a relationship with a woman from a totally different culture from mine but it is a warm relationship because we are big enough to tolerate our differences and enjoy what we have in common

A shocking video has shown an Iranian man grinning as he walked through the streets clutching the severed head of his 17-year-old wife, after he allegedly decapitated her in an “honour killing,” the New York Post reports.

The gruesome footage shows Sajjad Heydari strolling through a neighbourhood in Ahvaz, a city in the southwestern province of Khuzestan, on Saturday with Mona Heydari’s head in one hand and a blade in the other, East2West News reported.

Mona, who was also Sajjad’s cousin, had been forced to marry him when she was just 12 years old, according to the Women’s Committee of the National Council of Resistance of Iran.

She reportedly suffered domestic abuse but was pressured to stay in the marriage for the sake of their three-year-old son.

Mona did manage to escape to Turkey, but her family brought her back, Iran International reported.

A few days later, Sajjad and his brother allegedly tied her hands and decapitated her. Her body was dumped before her husband was seen walking through the streets holding her severed head.

A police official said the motive for the murder was “family differences”.

The two men have reportedly been arrested, but it was unclear what punishment they are likely to face.

Abbas Hosseini-Pouya, prosecutor general of Ahvaz, the provincial capital of Khuzestan, said Mona had sent photos of herself to her husband from Turkey that had fuelled his “negative emotions,” according to Iran International.

The Women’s Committee said that “not a week goes by without some form of honour killing making headlines.

The regime’s failure to criminalise these murders has led to a catastrophic rise in honour killings.

“In a report published in 2019, the state-run Sharq daily newspaper wrote that an annual average of 375 to 450 honour killings are recorded in Iran,” the resistance council said.

“The catastrophic rise in honour killings in Iran is rooted in misogyny and the patriarchal culture institutionalised in the laws and society,” the group continued.

“Although the father, brother or husband holds the knife, sickle or rifle, the murders are rooted in the medieval outlook of the ruling regime.

“The clerical regime’s laws officially denote that women are second-degree citizens owned by men,” it said.

Meanwhile, the state-run news agency Rokna was reportedly shut down after it published the shocking video.

What we really think about coal and gas

This is a laugh.  The survey was commissioned by the greenie crooks at the Climate Council.  As an old survey hand from way back, I know how you get the results you want from a survey.  I also know how to guard against that and did so in my own surveys.  But I see none of that in this survey

They may be hugely valuable exports, but new polling has revealed exactly what people in New South Wales and Queensland think about coal and gas.

Support for fossil fuels such as coal and gas appears to be tanking in Queensland and NSW, despite record prices being paid for the commodities overseas.

Australia’s resource and energy exports are expected to fetch $379 billion in earnings in 2021-22, up from $310 billion last year, the latest forecast from the Office of the Chief Economist shows.

But a new survey from YouGov commissioned by the Climate Council shows declining levels of support for fossil fuel industries, with fewer than one in five voters saying coal or gas should be an investment priority.

Surveying more than 2000 voters in Queensland and NSW, YouGov found massive support for renewables, with 60 per cent of respondents saying they should be a top government investment priority.

But coal was nominated as an investment priority by just 20 per cent of respondents in Queensland and 15 per cent in NSW. Gas was chosen as a priority by 15 per cent of respondents in Queensland and 17 per cent in NSW.

There were some discrepancies in views between the capital cities and the regions – support for coal was at 17 per cent in Brisbane but 28 per cent in outback Queensland – but in many instances the divide was slim.

Climate Council economist Nicki Hutley said the poll showed “people in NSW and QLD understand the era of coal and gas in this country is coming to a close”.

The results also showed it was not just so-called “latte sippers” who had concerns about fossil fuels, Ms Hutley said.

“We’re seeing strong agreement right across the board,” she said. “Whether it’s in NSW or Queensland, the majority are saying that our future prosperity lies in renewable exports or mineral critical exports such as lithium, not in exporting gas.”

The global value of critical minerals was expected to equal that of fossil fuels by 2040, Ms Hutley said, and Australians were becoming increasingly aware of the opportunities this presented.

“Losing coal … will be hard for people in that sector, and yes the government needs to support the transition, but it doesn’t mean that we’re going to fall into an abyss,” Ms Hutley said. “It’s quite the opposite. If we grab all the opportunities and become first movers [with renewables], there is a huge amount of economic opportunity for the taking.”

While the survey suggested a drop in support for natural gas, a spokesman for the Australian Petroleum Production & Exploration Association (APPEA) said rates of domestic usage for the commodity remained steady. People aren’t disconnecting, in other words.

APPEA CEO Andrew McConville said other recent polling by JWS Research showed 74 per cent of people think there is a role for gas in Australia’s future energy mix.

“This isn’t a question about choosing one energy type or another,” Mr McConville said. “We will always need gas and the evidence shows there will be demand stretching decades into the future.”