Housing: The election issue no one wants to talk about ahead of Federal election

<i>There is a good reason why the parties do little about this.  Governments are the cause of the problem, not the solution.   Get government out of housing and the problem would largely vanish.  

Both to buy and to rent housing is costly because the supply is legislatively restricted.  Landlord and tenant laws keep investors out of rental housing provision and land use restrictions -- "zoning" -- limit how many houses can be built.</i>

A shocking number of the most vulnerable Australians are being left out in the cold by both major parties this election, new figures reveal.

While wages have remained close to stagnant for more than a decade, rental prices in every corner of the country have climbed at an increasingly rapid rate.

The annual housing affordability survey by Anglicare found that for most low-income earners and those on welfare finding suitable housing was almost impossible.

By taking a snapshot of 45,992 rental listings from one weekend in March this year, the study found just 720 – or roughly 2 per cent – were considered affordable for someone earning a full-time minimum wage of $772.60 per week.

Those on the age pension could afford just 1 per cent of listed dwellings and for someone on a disability support pension, youth allowance or JobSeeker, the figure dropped down to zero per cent.

Affordability was measured by a person paying less than 30 per cent of their salary on rent, a long-established metric beyond which financial stress can be expected.

Some of those on higher payments could consider share housing as an affordable option; however, this may be unsuitable, particularly for older Australians.

For those on youth allowance, even a share house was above their affordability threshold.

One JobSeeker recipient from Wollongong in NSW told Anglicare that they received $580 per fortnight in payments but were paying $520 each fortnight in rent – leaving just $60 for all other expenses.

“I can‘t buy phone credit, I can’t pay my internet bill, I can’t buy money to put on my travel card. There’s just no way to stretch it to cover everything,” they said.

The report found there was not a single affordable rental or share house option for a person on JobSeeker in the Illawarra region.

With 950,000 people on JobSeeker and other unemployment payments, advocates say the issue should be front and centre of this year’s election.

“We keep hearing that this election is about living costs, but housing is the biggest cost facing Australians,” Anglicare Australia executive director Kasy Chambers said.

“Voters are desperate for action. Instead, parties are promising more of the same. At best they are offering grants that overheat the market. At worst they ignore the problem,” Ms Chambers added.

Both major parties have largely shied away from even mentioning housing affordability in the early weeks of the campaign.

Scott Morrison received a swift backlash for suggesting in one interview the best way to help renters was for them to buy a house through the Coalition’s expanded first-home buyers’ support scheme.

The government's plan to relieve housing stress also includes an additional $2bn in low-cost financing aimed at delivering 29,000 more homes through the National Housing Finance and Investment Corporation (NHFIC).

Since 2018, the scheme that the Prime Minister devised during his time as treasurer has helped create around 15,000 social and affordable homes through loans to community housing providers.

Labor says it will establish a $10bn Housing Australia Future Fund to deliver 30,000 new social and affordable homes over the next five years, also through the NHFIC.

The Greens revealed that as well as committing $21bn towards building new dwellings they would remove tax breaks for those with two or more investment properties.

Ms Chambers said the situation called for 500,000 new social and affordable rentals across Australia, saying investing in housing is the “most powerful” way to make the market more affordable.

Australian Council of Social Service chief executive Dr Cassandra Goldie said she would also like to see JobSeeker payments increased on top of “a substantial boost to social and affordable housing stock and reforms to tax settings like negative gearing and the capital gains discount to address its structural causes”.

“People on low incomes are caught in crushing pincer movement of rising rents and stagnant incomes. They have long been priced out of major cities and, increasingly, from many regional areas,” she said.

“Without major housing policy changes, this situation is likely to continue to deteriorate.”


Is Albo another Biden?

With an elite father, an Indonesian mother and being homosexual, you would think that Flinty would be a solid Leftist. And he was in his early life. Around the turn  of the century, however, he switched his allegiance from the ALP to the Liberal party. And that drift has continued to the point where he is now very conservative. 

We see that in the article below.  He makes an energetic case about the importance of the upoming Australian Federal election, when others might see two very centrist candidates, with little depending on who gets in.

He may be right.  An ALP government might create havoc. Politicians saying one thing and doing another are a familiar phenomenon.  If Albo does turn out to be a disaster, Flinty can at least say that he told us so

David Flint

The 2022 election, closely monitored by criminals, domestic and international, could be one of the most important in Australian history.

As with other countries, a poor government could result in Australia becoming an unidentifiable shadow of itself.

The first criminal group is the fraudsters, strengthened by ‘reforms’ camouflaged as ‘making voting easier’. With the weakest protections against fraud among comparable democracies, the advent of pro-Labor ‘independents’ in Liberal electorates has given fraudsters an incentive to move beyond the marginals (this column, 2 April).

Opposition to European-style voter ID legislation, based on the insulting ground that it would disadvantage the indigenous, has been led by the man the pollsters suggest will be the next PM, Anthony Albanese. But pollsters can be very wrong, as this column demonstrated in detail before the last federal election.

The second criminal group is the same people smugglers who, under the Rudd government with Albanese as a minister, delivered with impunity over 50,000 illegal immigrants on 800 boats with over 1,200 drowning.

But when Tony Abbott promised to turn them back, Labor, LINOs (Liberals In Name Only) and the commentariat scorned him, claiming this was impossible and would lead to war with Indonesia.

Albanese claimed in the campaign that he supports Abbott’s Sovereign Borders policy, but draws the line at offshore processing which crucially denies illegal immigrants years of taxpayer-funded access to tribunals and courts. He said he agreed with Abbott’s temporary protection visas. But within hours he reversed himself on both, demonstrating that, as with the economy, he has no idea.

The third criminal group is the ruthless drug lords from the mainly Mexican and Colombian drug cartels. Since Joe Biden, whom some Border Control officers say should be named the ‘Drug Lords’ and Chinese Communists’ Employee of the Year’, stopped building Trump’s nearly finished wall and threw open the southern border, there is little difficulty in delivering dangerous drugs into the US. With Biden recently announcing the relaxation of Trump’s Title 42 legislation authorising Border Control’s immediate expulsion of especially single male illegals, both people smugglers and drug lords are ready to step up the drug trade to epidemic proportions.

So is the fourth group of criminal gangsters, the ruthless multi-billionaire thugs who control the Chinese Communist party, the source, directly and indirectly, of fentanyl. This is a powerful synthetic opioid used not only by addicts but also to lace other products taken unwittingly. As a result, opioids are now the major cause of death among the American young, with over 100,000 deaths per year.

At the 2018 Buenos Aires G20, Senator Bill Hagerty says Trump told Xi to stop sending fentanyl to the US. While Xi obeyed, he crucially made no promises about Mexico.

While both drug lords and Beijing are enriched by this evil trade, the communists have a more sinister objective. This is to undermine and punish their enemies, above all the USA.

But since the Morrison government rightly refused to behave like a cowardly tributary country, Australia is now being punished by the most flagrant breaches conceivable of Beijing’s obligations under international trade law.

That this has not had the deleterious effect hoped for will only encourage Beijing to work with the drug lords to push drugs into Australia should the borders be thrown open by an Albanese government.

As they probably will be for the reason that Marxism, which Churchill likened to a bacillus plague, has infected many if not most of the West’s institutions through a variant which could be identified as ME2, Marxism with Elite characteristics. (ME1 would precede Marcuse’s invention of critical theory). Realising both Marx’s proletarians and Mao’s peasants are stubbornly conservative, ME2 thinkers substituted race and their invention, ‘gender’, as the new oppressed through whom the West and its institutions can be destroyed.

ME2 critical race theory has delivered an anti-white, anti-European agenda which has led some Western governments into deceitfully making sudden, secretive and irreversible changes to a country’s population and its sense of order.

This has been done not only without the consent of the electorate, but without even consulting them, probably in the belief that they will be neutered by the new votes the politicians believe they have bought.

Blair did this to Britain, Merkel to Germany and much of the European Union and now Biden is doing this to the US. It was only Abbott, with Morrison and Jim Molan, and at an earlier time, Howard, who saved Australia from a similar fate.

(Pity then that the politicians have so mishandled legitimate immigration. But that is another question.)

One truly informative feature of the current campaign is the debate over the Liberal candidate Katherine Deves. She is dedicated to saving women’s sport through the self-evident truth that sex is not a matter of choice and a born male can never become a woman. In this debate, Albanese has emerged as a card-carrying adherent of critical gender theory. This is a clear indication that he, like most politicians, is infected to the gills with the ME2 variant. He will inevitably follow this on the borders and everything else. He will be a local mirror of the Biden administration, hopefully not as bad.

Meanwhile, Morrison clearly rejects critical gender theory, has refused to bend the knee to Beijing and has appointed our first real Minister of Defence in many a year, Peter Dutton.

Dutton is the likely architect of Aukus, the one truly global response to the emerging Moscow-Beijing-Tehran Axis. Pending a return to the White House of Donald Trump or someone as effective, we, even more, need a government in Canberra that will stand up to China and resist the pressure to open the borders.

Conservatives would be advised to vote carefully, preferring proven candidates including those from sound smaller parties but ensuring their ultimate choice is a return of the Morrison government.

The future of this country is at stake as it rarely is in an election.


What are the least attractive jobs? Singles reveal the occupations they'd be most turned off by on a date

This report reveals how misleading generalizations can be.  It says, for instance, that nurses are not a good partner choice.  But I have always got on well with nurses.  I had, for instance,  a 7 year mariage to one and a 14 year relationship with another -- not to mention more fleeting liasons.  

So how come?  What attracts me is their down-to-earth nature but how do I deal with the shift-working issue?  I don't.  In the two relationships I mentionred, neither lady worked shifts.  They had normal daytime jobs.  Nursing is a quite varied field and that was no oddity. So the shift issue did not arise. 

Mind you, I am friends with a nurse who does work shifts so that could be an issue if we ever took our friendship further.

But the basic point is that the category "nurse" is too broad.  A lot depends on the particular nurse.  I have some very good memories of nurses

Single men and women have revealed how a date's job can impact their attractiveness - and agree shift workers and those with 'huge responsibilities' are the least desirable.

Dating coach Louanne Ward raised the topic on her She Said, He Said Facebook Page and Aussie men and women explained why some occupations are 'a complete turn-off'.

And while many men and women feared they would be judged for low-paying or unglamorous jobs, it was the opposite.

The singletons admitted to steering clear of people with high-powered jobs, or well-paid industries because it can lead to a 'doomed relationship' and 'narcissism'.

Fifo workers, lawyers, doctors, policemen and sex workers were among the most commonly mentioned.

'I avoid shift worker occupations with irregular shift rostering or long shifts like 12 to 14 hour shifts. So people in nursing, or doctors or truckies,' one man said.

According the the men and women in the Facebook group the following professions are the least likely to 'get a date'. 

 1 - Nurses and doctors who do long shifts

2 - Fifo workers

3 - People in high-powered roles like doctors and lawyers

 4 - Truck drivers 

5 - Police officers and military men

'I think jobs where people are too much power, makes them lack empathy,' one woman said. 

The conversation comes after a divorce lawyer revealed the jobs she would avoid when looking for Mr Right.

Firemen, police officers, military men, surgeons, and pilots all appeared on the list shared by JettieGirl28 on TikTok.

'When I first started practicing family law 13 years ago, a woman attorney gave me a statistic about the top five professions of men that women should avoid marrying,' she said in the video.

'Over the course of my career, I've watched my most difficult cases and, shockingly, many of them involved men in these five professions.' 

The men and women in the dating advice group agreed with the lawyer for many of the fields. 

One woman said she avoids men in the military and police force because she believes they can become 'callous'. 'I can't deal with the callous nature they very easily and scarily switch into as that's what they need to do at work to survive,' she said. 

The divorce lawyer also did a post detailing the occupations people should avoid when looking for Mrs Right.

Many people assumed the same jobs would be on the list but she said that's not the case in her experience.

And while most of her female clients are teachers and nurses these are not the most difficult or dangerous divorces. 

'If you have a problem with this scroll along, because I am about to hurt a lot of people,' she said.

She said the most difficult women in divorces are stay at home mums, explaining they are often terrified of their futures financially.

She also said in relationships where the mum stays at home the father often 'feels like an ATM' and the women feel under valued. 


Targin pain relief drug shortages leave cancer patients, chronic pain sufferers without options

This is a  bit overhyped.  I am myself on Targin to control the pain from a cracked rib.  And it does seem to help.  I am able to take it because I have a supply left over from last year

But is not irreplaceable. It is just an opiate plus something to combat the constipation that opioids cause.  And it is not so good at that. I have to take an apieriant as well

Thousands of cancer patients are being forced to spend their final days sitting in medical waiting rooms trying to source alternative pain relief because of a critical nationwide shortage of a major drug.

Targin is a slow-release oxycodone and naloxone combination often prescribed to cancer patients in the palliative stages and chronic pain sufferers to reduce severe pain.

But stocks have dwindled due to issues with shipping lines and flight availability.

"These patients don't want to spend what limited time they have left at the hospital on the phone to doctors, in waiting rooms, trying to get prescriptions," north Queensland pharmacist Cate Whalen said.

"They want to be spending those last days with their families and those that love them."

Finding alternatives

Dr Abhishek Joshi is a medical oncologist at Townsville ICON Cancer Care and Townsville University Hospital.

He said his clinic saw about 1,000 new patients each year and the shortage would affect about half of them.

"Switching a pain drug which a patient has been using for a long time to a newer alternative and finding a drug of an equivalent dose is not an easy task. That process can take time," he said.

"Patients might now have to undergo a period ranging from days to weeks in which their pain levels might actually fluctuate and start affecting their lifestyle."

Dr Joshi said it was the first time he had seen a shortage of Targin.

"I know regional towns are not the preference sites where these stocks are channelled, mostly bigger cities and metros are much more advantaged," he said.

"So, we have to really fight hard to make sure our patients are getting the stock. There is no sort of specific timeline as to when these shortages will go away."

Unlike many other drugs on the market, Targin does not have a suitable substitute.


It's a mistake to ban Holocaust denial

I agree with Jeff Jacoby below. He makes some good points.  He could have added that antismitism is a deeply ingrained European tradition.  And that usually includes holocaust denial. I am pretty sure that all holocaust deniers are also antisemites. 

So is there any hope of eradicating antisemitism?  There is not.  Poland once had a very large Jewish population and still has particularly strong antisemitic traditions even though Jews are a rarity there now.  

The Polish govenment does its best to prevent expressions of antisemitism but the idea seems to be passed on privately.  I know of antisemitic utterances even among people of Polish ancestry who have grown up in the Anglosphere.  It  looks like there is something ineradicable in Polish brains

And for the less prosperous populations in Europe -- e.g. in the Balkans -- antisemitism can be fairly openly expressed.  It provides a ready explanation of why they are economically backward.  They claim that they are somehow kept down by "The Jews".  It is a very useful belief there.  It will never go away.

And there is little point in arguing with something so deeply ingrained. Antisemites of European origin can be otherwise pleasant people.  They are just expressing ingrained traditions. As Jeff Jacoby says, all we can hope for is to be aware of who they are

Holocaust denial is an explicit crime in 17 nations, among them Germany, Austria, Italy, Poland, and Israel. Canada is on the brink of becoming the 18th. Included in the federal budget that Parliament will pass in coming days is an amendment to the nation's criminal code making it illegal for anyone to publicly deny that the Holocaust took place or to justify or minimize the genocide of 6 million Jews during World War II. The measure has support across party lines; there seems little doubt that it will be enacted — perhaps as early as Yom Hashoah, the annual day of Holocaust remembrance, which returns Thursday. Whether it should be enacted is a different matter.

"There is no place for antisemitism and Holocaust denial in Canada," Marco Mendicino, the nation's public safety minister, told reporters earlier this month. "That's why we've pledged to prohibit the willful promotion of antisemitism through condoning, denying, or downplaying the Holocaust." The proposed change is backed by the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs, a leading advocacy group, and by Irwin Cotler, a former Canadian justice minister and a highly respected human rights activist.

I'm against it.

I despise Holocaust deniers. They are contemptible antisemites and brazen liars who express their Jew-hatred through the grotesque project of rehabilitating the reputation of Adolf Hitler and Nazi Germany. In their eagerness to pervert history, they do more than insist, idiotically, that the most comprehensively documented crime in history never occurred. They also ridicule and taunt the innocent men, women, and children who were its victims. "I don't see any reason to be tasteful about Auschwitz. It's baloney, it's a legend," sneered the notorious Holocaust denier David Irving. "I'm going to form an association of Auschwitz Survivors, Survivors of the Holocaust, and Other Liars, or A-S-S-H-O-L-S."

My father was one of those survivors, the only member of his family to come out of Auschwitz alive. Until the day he died, his left arm was marked with the tattoo he received during the Nazi Selektion that designated him for slave labor on his first day in the notorious extermination camp. He died last year, coincidentally on the 76th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz. Anyone who denies, justifies, or minimizes the Holocaust is guilty of a vile rhetorical assault not just against truth but against my father and his martyred parents, brothers, and sisters. Those deniers deserve to be drenched with all the obloquy and contempt decent people can pour upon them.

But they do not deserve to be prosecuted as criminals, or punished by the state.

I oppose laws criminalizing Holocaust denial for reasons both moral and practical.

As an American, I cherish the First Amendment and the principle of unfettered expression it embodies. To ban something as odious as Holocaust denial may seem a modest price to pay to maintain a minimal level of social hygiene. Who is harmed, after all, if scurrilous hatemongers are forced to keep their malicious ideas to themselves?

The answer is that we are all harmed. It's dangerous to empower the state to punish ideas — even ideas that are cruel, obnoxious, and false. A government that can criminalize Holocaust denial this week can criminalize other opinions next week. "If there is any principle of the Constitution that more imperatively calls for attachment than any other," wrote Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. in 1929, "it is the principle of free thought. Not free thought for those who agree with us, but freedom for the thought that we hate."

That is the first reason Holocaust denial shouldn't be added to the criminal code. But it's not the only one.

Emory University historian Deborah Lipstadt, recently confirmed by the Senate as the new US envoy for combating antisemitism, makes the point that such laws amount to intellectual surrender. In a 2016 debate at Oxford University, Lipstadt argued that "laws against Holocaust denial suggest that we do not have the facts, figures, and extensive documentation to prove precisely what happened." Never was there a genocide more meticulously recorded by its perpetrators while it was underway or more comprehensively described by scholars and survivors in the years since.

When Gen. Dwight Eisenhower, the supreme commander of Allied forces in Europe, visited the Buchenwald concentration camp complex immediately after its liberation by US forces, he understood at once that the sights he was viewing were the antidote to what we now call Holocaust denial.

"The things I saw beggar description," he cabled the Joint Chiefs of Staff. "The visual evidence and the verbal testimony of starvation, cruelty, and bestiality were so overpowering as to leave me a bit sick. . . . I made the visit deliberately, in order to be in position to give first-hand evidence of these things if ever, in the near future, there develops a tendency to charge these allegations merely to 'propaganda.'"

An immense ocean of evidence attests to the horror of the Holocaust and the scope of its evil — from contemporaneous notes made by liberators to oral histories recorded by thousands of survivors (including my father) to, not least, the powerful acknowledgments of German guilt by postwar German governments. That is the best response to Holocaust denial.

Proponents of measures like the one in Canada endorse a ban on Holocaust denial as a prophylactic against antisemitism. Their case would be stronger if the laws actually had that effect. Yet in all the countries that have made it a crime to lie about Hitler's war against the Jews, has antisemitism been suppressed? In many of them, it is surging. A ban on Holocaust denial and other antisemitic hate speech may be easy to enact. But there is no reason to think it will do any good.

Prosecution is no way for a free society to deal with haters who deny and distort the Holocaust — or any other historical truth. "I tremble at the thought," Lipstadt told her Oxford audience, "that we might leave the regulation of ideas in the hands of politicians." I do too. You either believe in free expression for people you loathe or you don't believe in free expression at all.


The blessing of 'rote' memory

I agree with Jeff Jacoby below. The poetry I memorized in my student days is a lasting pleasure to me. Sometimes I just recite it in my head and sometimes I recite it out loud for an audience. I know, for instance, about the first hundred lines of Chaucer's "Canterbury Tales" by heart -- in the original Middle English. I once won a heart by reciting it to a lady.

I also once got a very good response from a brilliant lady by reciting in an appropriate setting Goethe's
Meeres Stille, even though the lady knew no German

I also enjoy Tennyson's poems but since "Break, Break, Break" is in fact praise of a homosexual love I have never recited it to anyone

HERE'S A hypothesis: Perhaps one factor in Volodymyr Zelensky's skill as a wartime political leader is his training as an actor, which developed his ability to rally followers, evoke empathy, and convincingly express the justice of the cause for which Ukraine is fighting. Arguably, the many years Zelensky spent memorizing scripts and honing the ability to deliver lines effectively are now contributing to his effectiveness as Ukraine's president.

In a similar vein, historians have argued that Ronald Reagan's experience in Hollywood prepared him to become the "Great Communicator" who later proved so successful as president of the United States.

Winston Churchill wasn't a professional actor. But he too committed prodigious amounts of material to memory — not only entire speeches to be delivered in Parliament, but also vast swaths of Shakespeare's plays. Richard Burton ruefully recalled playing Hamlet in a performance attended by Churchill, who, from his seat in the audience, could be heard reciting the prince of Denmark's lines. "I could not shake him off," Burton said. "I tried going fast. I tried going slow. . . . He knew the play absolutely backward; he knows perhaps a dozen of Shakespeare's plays intimately."

More than one observer has suggested that the rhetoric in Churchill's wartime speeches echoes the inspiriting patriotism — "We few, we band of brothers" — of the message delivered by Shakespeare's Henry V before the Battle of Agincourt.

I don't want to overstate the point. It does seem plausible to me that practice at memorizing texts and reciting them by heart would be an asset for anyone with political aspirations. But memorization is a wonderful and valuable activity regardless of any political benefits.

There was a time when memorization was a standard feature of American schooling. In 1927, New York City's board of education directed grade school teachers to teach poetry to pupils, with particular emphasis on the use of rhythm, diction, and imagery. Children were to memorize at least some of the poems they studied. Among the material recommended by the board "for reading and memorization" in the first, second, and third grades were works by Robert Louis Stevenson, Christina Rossetti, Alfred Tennyson, Lewis Carroll, and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. By the time they were in seventh and eighth grades, students were memorizing chunks of Edgar Allan Poe and Shakespeare, along with Lincoln's Gettysburg Address.

Needless to say, it isn't only literature that can be memorized. The elements of the periodic table, the names and locations of the 50 states, the 46 US presidents, the first 100 digits of pi, the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, all the Best Picture Oscar winners — the list is literally endless.

When I was 11 or 12, I took it into my head to memorize the names of every sitting US senator and governor. Some of my sports-minded friends knew the starting lineup of each American League baseball team. When my twin niece and nephew were toddlers, my brother taught them the names of the 15 former Soviet republics and their capitals. He would say "Kyrgyzstan" and, from their high chairs, they would call out "Bishkek."

Everyone memorizes some things — the multiplication tables, their Social Security number, song lyrics, the wifi password, family members' birthdays — but memorization for its own sake has long since gone out of favor. Writing in The American Scholar more than 40 years ago, the late Clara Claiborne Park, a professor of English at Williams College, commented on the disdain with which professional educators dismissed learning material by heart as mere "rote memory."

She quoted one college professor who sneeringly called memorization "the lowest form of human intellectual activity." If anything, the rise of the Internet has exacerbated that attitude. "I've almost given up making an effort to remember anything," Clive Thompson, a columnist at Wired, has written, "because I can instantly retrieve the information online."

Winston Churchill was known to commit prodigious amounts of material to memory, including speeches to be delivered in Parliament and vast swaths of Shakespeare's plays.

But there is nothing "low" about mastering a block of information so effectively that you can surface it at will. Who has ever regretted being able to recite Rudyard Kipling's "Recessional" from memory? Or readily identify a bird from its songs? Or name the planets of the Solar System? You don't have to be a "Jeopardy!" contestant to relish having instant recall of thick slices of knowledge. Memorization takes work, but there is joy in the accumulation of knowledge that requires no googling.

The more information for which you develop "muscle memory," the more tools you have for thinking and reasoning — the more connections you can perceive in the world, the more insights you can draw, the more moments of intellectual serendipity you may experience. In that sense, memorized information is mental circuitry that provides a path for imagination and understanding to flow.

Granted, memorizing "mere" facts and figures is not the same as learning to think. But it does stock one's mind, as Park put it, with something "to think about, to think with, a range of language to think and speak in."

Our brain's capacity for memory is immense. We really should be putting it to better use.

Riots in Sweden as anti-Islam activists set fire to the Quran

When it comes to Muslims, many Swedes do not agree with their government's tolerant policies.  The more they see of Muslims the less they like them.  The specifically anti-immigrant "Sweden Democrats" party gets around a third of the vote in national elections

Sweden has arrested more than 40 people after clashes between police and protesters rallying against plans by a far-right group to burn copies of the Muslim holy book, the Quran, police said on Monday.

Eight people were arrested in the city of Norrkoping and 18 people were detained in the neighbouring city of Linkoping, police said in a statement.

Protests have turned violent in several cities since Thursday, leaving 26 police officers and 14 civilians injured, police said at a press conference on Monday.

The unrest has been sparked by the leader of the anti-immigration and anti-Islam group Hard Line, the Danish-Swedish politician Rasmus Paludan who is aiming to drum up support ahead of September elections.

Paludan, a lawyer and a YouTuber who intends to stand in Swedish legislative elections in September but does not yet have the necessary number of signatures to secure his candidature, is currently on a “tour” of Sweden.

The 40-year-old is visiting neighbourhoods with large Muslim populations where he wants to burn copies of the Muslim holy book Quran as Muslims observe the holy month of Ramadan.

In Malmo, where he burned a Quran on Saturday, fire erupted in a school overnight, officials said.

“Criminals have profited from the situation to show violence toward society, without any link to the demonstrations,” national police chief Anders Thornberg said at a press conference on Monday.

“There are too few of us. We have grown, but we have not grown at the same pace as the problems at the heart of society,” he said, asking for more resources for the police.

As protesters burned cars and lobbed rocks at the police in Sunday clashes, officers responded, head of police special forces Jonas Hysing said.

“Some 200 participants were violent and the police had to respond with arms in legitimate self-defence,” he said.

Police had earlier said officers wounded three people after firing warning shots during Sunday’s “riot”.

On Thursday and Friday, around 12 police officers were injured in the clashes. In the wake of the string of incidents, Iraq’s foreign ministry said on Sunday that it had summoned the Swedish charge d’affairs in Baghdad.

It warned that the affair could have “serious repercussions” on “relations between Sweden and Muslims in general, both Muslim and Arab countries and Muslim communities in Europe”.

Saudi Arabia has condemned what it called the “deliberate abuse of the holy Koran by some extremists in Sweden, and provocation and incitement against Muslims”.

Iran and Iraq earlier summoned the Swedish ambassadors to lodge protests.


Ivermectin as Treatment for COVID-19 May Become More Accessible in Tennessee

If you read the research reports that purport to discredit Ivermectin, you find that NONE of them observed the stipulation that it must be administered as soon as possible after onset of the illness -- e.g. here. A typical interval in the studies concerned is 5 days. It can work after that time but usually does not

Tennessee may make ivermectin accessible without a prescription for treatment against COVID-19 if legislation that was approved in the Senate on April 6 is signed by Gov. Bill Lee.

One of the sponsors of Senate Bill 2188 (pdf), state Sen. Frank Niceley, a Republican, told The Epoch Times, “It’s one of the most important bills we’ve passed this year.”

“The bill would put it behind the counter with a consultation, which means you would explain your symptoms to the pharmacist, fill out a sheet listing your preexisting conditions and what other medication you’re on in order for the pharmacist to determine the right dosage,” Niceley said.

“Ivermectin is one of the many therapeutic options, like vaccines, monoclonal antibodies, and anti-virals, that have proven to be effective in the treatment of COVID-19,” Republican state Sen. Rusty Crowe, a co-sponsor of the bill, said in a statement. “This bill will provide for a safe and effective way for patients to quickly access ivermectin over the counter, and under the supervision of their pharmacists and the physician with whom the pharmacists have their collaborative agreement.”

Ivermectin is approved by the Food and Drug Administration as an anti-parasitic drug but isn’t authorized for treatment of COVID-19.

In 2021, ivermectin joined hydroxychloroquine as one of the controversial early treatments for COVID-19. Many medical professionals were threatened with losing or lost their medical licenses for prescribing both drugs to treat COVID-19, based on the allegation of misinformation.

“Ivermectin clearly works,” Niceley said. “We’ve had doctors in the Senate who prescribe it all the time. You’ve got to take it early. As with any disease, early treatment is better than late,” he said, adding that he took ivermectin when he tested positive for COVID-19.

Niceley said one of the reasons for the bill is to make ivermectin safer so that people aren’t getting the wrong dose, as many have resorted to purchasing the farm-grade veterinary horse de-wormer. Though some have reported positive results even from using the veterinary version of the drug, media reports focused on allegations of people overdosing and crowding emergency rooms, leading to a false report that gunshot victims were being prevented from receiving care.

“Ivermectin is safer than Tylenol,” Niceley said. “There’s no reason to not try it.”

Because the efficacy of ivermectin depends on early treatment, the bill will facilitate a person’s ability to get the drug in the early stages.

“If you have to make an appointment with a doctor and wait two weeks to get in, it’s too late for early treatment,” Niceley said.

In a March Senate Health and Welfare Committee hearing, Front Line COVID-19 Critical Care Alliance co-founder Dr. Paul Marik, who has advocated for the use of ivermectin, spoke in support of the bill.

“It’s probably one of the safest medications ever made,” Marik said. “Over 3.7 billion people have been given ivermectin for the treatment of parasitic diseases in Africa, Asia, and South America.”

More people have died from Tylenol, which is also referred to as Panadol in some parts of the world, than from ivermectin, Marik said.

“One couldn’t have asked for nature to give us a more perfect drug because it kills the virus, via a number of mechanisms, and it also has potent anti-inflammatory properties. So it really is the perfect drug for the treatment of COVID-19,” Marik said.

There has been a propaganda campaign to dismiss the drug as a toxic horse de-wormer, he said, though “it’s probably the most effective drug against SARs-CoV-2.”

“It’s an outrage that there’s been such a profound propaganda to limit its use to silence doctors who prescribe it and to limit pharmacists from dispensing it,” he said. “If we had utilized our protocol, which we had published in March 2020, it’s my belief we could have saved hundreds of thousands of lives because the key to COVID is early treatment.”

Dr. Denise Sibley, a Johnson City, Tennessee, physician who said she had adopted Marik’s and the Front Line protocols using ivermectin in treating “almost 4,400 folks,” including members of the Tennessee House and Senate, said she’s used ivermectin not only for COVID-19 symptoms in her patients but also for vaccine injuries. Unfortunately, it became difficult to obtain after “a certain letter went out” in September 2021, she said.

The Misinformation Inquisition

In July 2021, the Federation of State Medical Boards (FSMB), a non-profit organization, issued a statement warning that physicians “who generate and spread COVID-19 vaccine misinformation or disinformation are risking disciplinary action by state medical boards, including the suspension or revocation of their medical license.”

Medical boards such as the American Medical Association and the American Pharmacists Association followed suit.

In September 2021, the Tennessee Board of Medical Examiners (TBME) adopted the FSMB’s statement.

Throughout this time, the safety and efficacy of the vaccine has also come into question, with more reports of people contracting COVID-19 after getting the jab, as well as people experiencing sometimes fatal side effects.

After the TBME issued its own warning, Tennessee state Rep. John Ragan said the board didn’t have the authority to create a new disciplinary offense without lawmakers’ approval.

The board pulled the statement from its website, but the question remained as to whether the board would continue to investigate and charge physicians. To date, there isn’t a precedent for the board upholding a policy that was not published on its website.

Ragan had told The Epoch Times that the adopted policy moved out of “the guardrails of the law” and gives the board arbitrary judgment on what misinformation is.

“I explained that if they are going to have a policy on this sometime in the future, they need to define what misinformation and disinformation are because otherwise what you have is the Inquisition,” Ragan said. “It then becomes a situation of, ‘Heresy is what I say it is, and I’ll know it when I see it kind of thing.’”

In October 2021, the Tennessee legislature passed a bill that emphasized the legislature’s role in drafting laws that establish disciplinary offenses regarding dispensing and prescribing medication for COVID-19.

Still, the stigma around the drug continued, and physicians such as Sibley reported the drug close to impossible to find.

“I’ve had patients drive four hours on a Sunday to a pharmacy that had ivermectin, so it’s very difficult to obtain,” she said. “Any increased access to ivermectin would help save lives.”

A Placebo?

In an April 6 Senate floor discussion on the bill, Republican Sen. Richard Briggs said Marik and other “experts that we had testifying on this may be spreading more misinformation than actual information on it,” and said that, based on his research, he believes ivermectin has a placebo effect.

However, he went on to say that ivermectin must be administered within the first 48 hours “or it doesn’t work.”

Briggs’s concern, he said, is that by making ivermectin more accessible, it would show to the public that ivermectin is as effective as other drugs such as Remdesivir and monoclonal antibodies.

“We’re going to have patients on a scientifically proven ineffective drug rather than getting the treatment they need for COVID,” Briggs said.

Others who spoke in opposition to the bill, such as Democrat Sen. Jeff Yarbro, echoed Briggs’s argument, pointing to research that he said proved ivermectin is ineffective, and that what he called misinformation surrounding ivermectin had led to overdoses.


Flirty emails got Mark Schlissel fired. A deeper history weighs on Michigan’s flagship

This is a rather sad case.  To be a bit corny about it, Cupid's arrow strikes unpredictably.  Sometimes you just know that a person you meet is one whom you can communicate with in a totally easy and enjoyable way.  It happens to me on rare occasions.  Though I am perhaps lucky to have autistic tendencies and so have always had no difficulty staying on the strait and narrow with my partner at the time.  I think Prof. Schlissel was punished for being simply human.  There appears after all to have been no affair, just lovelorn emails.  I feel sorry for him

He is a lonely, bearded scientist who has an important job in the Midwest. A Brooklyn native, raised in a traditional Jewish household, he is amused by a satirization of the sexual fantasies of New Yorkers.

He is married with children. But he dreams at work about a sojourn in Paris with a woman other than his wife — someone who enjoys a good bistro; someone who makes his heart hurt.
He asks saucily if he might “lure” her with a knish.

This is the portrait of Mark S. Schlissel that emerges from 118 pages of documents that the University of Michigan’s Board of Regents made public on a Saturday evening in January, shortly after they had removed him as president. 

In this collection of cringey communications between Schlissel and a subordinate, the university’s former top executive is stripped of his veneer of esteem, reduced instead to a lovestruck buffoon. All of it was so unbecoming of a man in Schlissel’s position, the regents agreed, that he should be summarily fired with cause.

Schlissel’s termination ranks among one of the more profoundly embarrassing firings of a major university leader in modern memory. Instantly memeable, excerpts from the emails quickly wound up on T-shirts and stickers. Before the Sunday sun had risen, some prankster had chalked the word “Lonely” on a campus sidewalk above a Michigan “M,” referencing one of the messages Schlissel had signed with the first letter of his name.

Turbulence around Schlissel was nothing new. He had, since 2020, worn the scarlet letter of a Faculty Senate vote of no-confidence, drawing the ire of professors for his handling of the pandemic, among other things. His tensions with the board, whose members are elected by statewide vote, had begun to bleed into public view. Even so, most expected this to end just as it often does for people in Schlissel’s rarified air: The president walks away with warm regards from the board and giant fistfuls of money. Schlissel’s transgressions upset this timeworn choreography.

But his story is about more than a president getting crosswise with his board, or what appears to have been a workplace romance. The university’s recent history imbues his downfall with a complicated resonance that people in Ann Arbor are still sorting through. His firing came less than two years after Schlissel dismissed the university’s [black] provost, Martin A. Philbert, who was accused of sexually harassing multiple women over the course of 15 years at Michigan.

Taken together, the two cases sent a message that the the university’s problems with sexual misconduct go all the way to the top. It isn’t that simple. There is nothing in the public evidence that would definitively establish that Schlissel engaged in sexual harassment. Even so, he gave fodder to a more systematic criticism that Michigan’s leaders still don’t get it. After all of the apologies, the legal settlements, the training sessions, the promises, and the shame, something has yet to sink in at the highest levels. Something is left to understand.

Since Philbert’s firing, in 2020, the university has signaled its willingness to turn over every rock, hiring an outside law firm to investigate how the system failed. As president, Schlissel was a visible champion of this work. But new reporting from The Chronicle suggests that the job remains unfinished. 

A retired professor, who has not previously discussed with the news media her role in the Philbert case, told The Chronicle that she was met with intimidation and indifference more than 15 years ago, when she first reported allegations against the future provost. Another faculty member, who has not spoken with news reporters about the case before, said she was twice told that decision makers at the university believed in Philbert’s capacity for “rehabilitation.”

The University of Michigan’s administration considers the matter of Martin A. Philbert settled. But Schlissel’s firing cracks open history, inviting still unanswered questions. When powerful people cross the lines of propriety, who renders the final verdict on what really happened? Whose memory counts? Who is burdened by history, and who is allowed to forget it?

Why exactly was Schlissel fired? On a recent afternoon at Zingerman’s Delicatessen, a storied sandwich shop in Ann Arbor’s Kerrytown District, Jordan B. Acker confronts that question over a chicken-pesto sandwich. Acker, a 37-year-old lawyer from the Detroit suburbs, is chairman of the Board of Regents. On the subject of Schlissel’s termination, Acker stays mostly on script. He circles back continually to a letter that the board sent to Schlissel in January, stating the regents’ rationale for firing the president with cause.
“I think the letter kind of speaks for itself,” Acker says. ”It’s a judgment question at the end of the day. And I think it’s clear from the letter, what was lacking here was judgment.”

Strictly speaking, Schlissel was fired for violating a morals clause in his contract, which stipulated that he must at all times comport himself in a manner that promotes the “dignity, reputation, and academic excellence of the university.” Nevertheless, the board saw fit to invoke the past, calling Schlissel’s conduct “particularly egregious” in light of his commitment to stamp out sexual misconduct at the university. The letter lets the reader decide exactly what’s being charged here. Is the board calling Schlissel a hypocrite or accusing him of harassment?

“Mark Schlissel is not a monster,” Acker says. “He’s not an evil, evil guy. Mark Schlissel was guilty of extraordinarily poor judgment. But I put him and Martin Philbert in very different categories. Martin Philbert was engaged in sexual harassment. I can’t say the same about Mark Schlissel.”


Grace Tame hits out at Scott Morrison for his thankfulness about not having disabled chidren

Like Ms Tame, I am a high-functioning autistic so perhaps I can make a useful comment here.

The big problem in this "discussion" is overgeneralization. Leftists are very prone to overgeneralizations so that is no great surprise. Morrison's words were taken  as having greater generality than he undoubtedly intended.  He was construed as saying that all non-normal children were not a blessing --  which is not what he said at all.

And the "replies" to him were equally over-generalizing.  Shorten's claim that ALL chidren are a blessing is plainly false.  Fervent Christians may sometimes be able to convince themselves of that but many severely disabled children are undoubtedly a burden to their parents.  

In the case of high functioning autism, the child may indeed be blessed in some ways -- e.g. be good at music, some schoolwork etc -- but even there handicaps arise -- principally some difficulty in understanding other people's feelings, which is a considerable social handicap.

So the generalizations extracted by the Left from Morrison's statement of a particular case are the sort of nonsense that we unfortunately have to expect of them

Tame's view that high functioning autistics can more easily spot a phony was interesting however. I was not previously aware of such a generality but, on reflection, it is true in my case that I have never remotely been taken in by any fraudster. I get scam phone-calls almost every day but I usually hang up on them within seconds.  So Ms Tame may have a point in some cases

Grace Tame has taken a swipe at Scott Morrison after the Prime Minister said he and wife Jenny were 'blessed' their children were born without disabilities.

Mr Morrison made the comments - which have since been heavily criticised by Labor MPs and left wingers on Twitter - during the first election debate on Wednesday night.

The Prime Minister was asked about removing funding for the National Disability Insurance Scheme by Katherine, a mother of autistic four-year-old boy Ethan, who said she'd heard stories about families losing funding under the scheme. 

'I have a four-year-old autistic son, we are grateful to receive funding under the NDIS. I have heard many stories from people having their funding cut under the current government, including my own,' Katherine said during the debate.

'I've been told that to give my son the best future, I should vote Labor. Can you tell me what the future of the NDIS looks like under your government?'

Mr Morrison replied: 'Jenny and I have been blessed. We've got two children who haven't had to go through that. 

'So parents of children who were disabled - I can only try and understand your aspirations for those children. And then I think that is the beauty of the National Disability Insurance Scheme.' 

Following the debate, Ms Tame, who has high-functioning autism, shared a photo of her and Mr Morrison from their frosty encounter at this year's Australian of the Year morning tea at The Lodge and didn't hold back in her caption.

'Autism blesses those of us who have it with the ability to spot fakes from a mile off,' she wrote. 

She wasn't the only one unhappy with his comments about children with autism on Wednesday night. 

Labor frontbenchers Senators Kristina Keneally and Katy Gallagher led the criticism, with Ms Gallagher pointing to the example of her own autistic child. 

'I am 'blessed' to have a child with autism. She teaches me things every day. Our lives are enriched by her,' she wrote.

Ms Keneally retweeted her post, sharing her apparent outrage at Mr Morrison's choice of words. 

'Unbelievably, Scott Morrison just said he was 'blessed' not to have a child with a disability. Parents of children with a disability are blessed too,' she wrote. 

Bill Shorten, Labor's NDIS spokesman also weighed in, saying: 'ScoMo says he is 'blessed' to have two non disabled children. Every child is a blessing. 


We’re proud bimbos who are hell-bent on creating a new women’s movement

This sounds like youthful defiance of standards but it is difficult to see anything constructive in it.  Some of the women concerned appear to be naturally attractive so they can afford to be self-indulgent in their personal presentation.  They will attract partners anyway.  

There has to be tolerance of differences in all relationships.  And tolerating extreme forms of self-presentation may be seen by some men as just the price they have to pay for an otherwise desirable relationship.  For less attractive women, however, such a style could well be repellant

I feel lucky that my girlfriend is both good-looking and into naturalness.  She has no tattoos and wears minimal jewellery.  So I have to make no compromises on appearance.  She is very bright too, which I need.

In the words of the OG bimbo: That’s hot.

TikToker Chrissy Chlapecka has brought back more than just Paris Hilton-esque micro-miniskirts and bleach-blond hair — she and her fellow Gen Zers are proud “bimbos,” too.

The Chicago native, who has garnered 4.3 million followers on TikTok, regularly posts shamelessly scantily clad videos dolled up in head-to-toe pink to hype up her “bimbos-in-training,” convince them to dump their boyfriends and reclaim the term by embracing overt sexuality.

“It’s time to start being yourself if you want to dye your hair pink, dye your hair pink,” she exhorts in an intentional upskirt clip with 2.5 million views. “Life is short, nothing matters. Kiss that girl, get revenge on your ex, punt him into the sun, steal that man’s credit card info. Who cares!”

Her titillating hashtag, #BimboTok, has clearly inspired a legion of ladies, garnering more than 74 million views from wishful wannabes. Offshoots like #BimboTikTok and #Bimbofication have racked up another 500-million-plus views.

“It’s just my art form,” Chlapecka, 22, told The Post.

“I kind of see myself as TikTok’s older sister, who gives you silly bits of advice and wants to hype you up and wants you to embrace all the beautiful parts of yourself,” she continued. “Whether that’s your hyper-femininity, your bimbo wisdom in the way that I present it or however somebody wants to in their own way. Wearing the outfits I do makes me feel like the most authentic, beautiful version of myself.”

For Fiona Fairbairn, being a bimbo takes a simpler tune: Just leaning into extreme self-love and, of course, being the sexiest version of herself.

In a now-viral TikTok video with more than 688,000 views, 19-year-old Fairbairn crafted the unofficial bimbo manifesto to guide the bimbo army. Titled “Rules for Bimbofication,” the Toronto-native satirically advises aspiring fellow floozy friends to stop fact-checking, only focus on their looks and not to critically think.

Her video received a chorus of applause — and laughter from its slightly satirical tone — from women on the app, calling it “therapy.”

While the video was in jest, the message still rings true: At its core, bimboism is a “self-love movement” for many women. Fairbairn said the so-called trampy trend is “just about being in your own world and being OK with people underestimating you.”

“Knowing yourself and almost being obsessed with yourself, dating yourself — I feel like that’s the route to actual self-love,” Fairbairn, who has over 171,000 followers on TikTok, told The Post. “When you kind of exaggerate it, it will actually translate into real self-love. And when you have so much self-love, you’re calm, you don’t overthink so much.”

But don’t underestimate these brazen broads: While the clothes and attitude pay homage to the days of Playboy’s Holly Madison, these self-proclaimed bimbos have much more than air between their ears.

“I think a lot of people really underestimate the true intelligence that I have,” Chlapecka, who built her TikTok bimbo dynasty nearly two years ago, said. “My intelligence comes from emotional intelligence, connection and being able to communicate and talk to people the way they deserve to be . . . I think that can totally get overlooked.”

The term “bimbo” hasn’t always been so comforting — see the “holy trinity” of social pariahs Paris Hilton, Lindsay Lohan and Britney Spears during their “bimbo summit” heyday just over a decade ago. While the trend percolated in 2017 when adult star Alicia Amira founded “The Bimbo Movement” to empower women, these Gen Z gals, who came to adulthood in a post-#MeToo world, are bringing it mainstream once again — and are hell-bent on changing perception once and for all.

“It’s reclaiming hyper-femininity to not be seen as something that is inherently or innately vapid and something that should be looked down upon,” said Syrena, who goes by her username FauxRich.

Syrena, who boasts more than 122,000 followers on TikTok, said that being a girly girl is often “looked down upon as something that’s just so frivolous and stupid,” but she chalks it all up to systemic “misogyny.”

“To reclaim that is powerful,” the 23-year-old said.

Despite being enrolled in accelerated courses in high school, Syrena said people used to make fun of her voice for sounding “stupid.” But “ridding herself of the shackles” by becoming a self-proclaimed bimbo and ridding herself of the notion of what makes someone “smart” gave her liberation.

“As I’ve evolved into more of an adult woman, I dressed like what makes me feel really comfortable and what inherently makes me look at myself in the mirror and go like, ‘Oh, yeah, I would totally date myself,’ ” said Syrena.

The negativity surrounding bimboism is something Chlapecka is familiar with, too, but she takes the stigma in stride, even making reaction videos to their “funny” remarks.

“[They’re] just people who are angry at somebody who is openly queer and openly loving themselves and being a bimbo,” Chlapecka said. “Wearing the outfits I do makes me feel like the most authentic, beautiful version of myself.”

“They’re just mad at that person, me, for existing,” she added.

Fairbairn ignores the noise, though, and strides with pride as a bimbo.

“I just realized [when you’re] focusing on yourself and being your best self and being the hottest version of yourself,” she said, “you don’t have enough time to think about what other people are thinking about you.”


It sucks to be a Christian who doesn’t believe

Sam Leith's title above is paradoxical.  How can one be both a Christian and an atheist?  One cannot of course.  The central event of Chistianity is the resurrection.  Denying that that happened severs you from Christianity.  

But Sam Leith makes the point not only that we live in a culture suffused by Christian thinking and values but also that we can personally be aware of, and influenced by, elements of Christianity.  He is a cultural Christian.  I am glad that he has "come out" as that as I am such a person too.  The wonderful words of the KJV are burned into my brain too.  And I accept Christian principles and values as the best guide to life

And I have been much rewarded by that.  Whenever I do the Christian (kind, generous, forgiving) thing I get a reward.  Often almost instantly and sometimes after many years. I have found to be true the positive statement of verse 1 in the profoundly wise 11th chapter of the  book of  Ecclesiastes:

"Cast thy bread upon the waters: for thou SHALT find it after many days" (KJV)

Many atheists seem to be very angry about religion. They even hate it.  But there are some of us who grew up under explicitly Christian influences who are very glad of it

Easter Sunday. I went to church for the first time in ages. The little parish church has stood for 900 years in a village near where my parents live. It’s where my father James, who died last week aged 75, will be buried. It was a friendly, pomp-free service of the pragmatic sort – dogs were welcome, and there were tables with colouring-in pens to keep the kids occupied during the Eucharist. There was an easter-egg hunt in the graveyard afterwards.

Pathetic fallacy is a bitch. While my dad was dying, outside the window of his bedroom the wet Wiltshire spring went indifferently about its business. Now, with my dad a week gone, the sun is out and the sky blue. New lambs are cantering unsteadily in the field on the other side of the garden fence. The skirts of the treeline are full of bluebells and daffs. Everything taunts us with new life.

The reading in church was from the resurrection story, as told in the gospel of St John: Mary Magdalene, finding the stone rolled away from the tomb; Mary, confronting the man she takes for the gardener; and the man saying to her: ‘Mary.’ What a freight of feeling there is in that simple pair of syllables.

It’s funny: I found myself tearing up at these familiar points of the story. (Well, maybe not funny: maybe entirely predictable. Last week a YouTube video of the Ukulele Orchestra covering ‘Teenage Dirtbag’ had me in floods.) Even if what it describes never happened, there’s such beauty in the yearning it encodes, and in the generation after generation that have stood in this same place to affirm faith in it or to share that yearning. Here is Larkin’s vast, moth-eaten musical brocade, nothing to be derided.

At the same time, I was inwardly, priggishly disappointed that the gospel reading in this service was in a modern translation. Years of compulsory chapel in C of E schools, somewhat resented, have burned the sombre cadences of the King James Version into me. It occurs to me, with a shade of self-reproach, that in the first place I have no right whatever as an atheist to take a view on the form a Christian service should take – and that in the second, on the evidence of this if I’d been born a few centuries earlier I’d probably have been in favour of seeing William Tyndale burned at the stake for translating the Bible into English.

Yet I do take a view. I don’t think I’m alone in it. The thumbprint of the church is on me. That, I think, is what I identify in myself as cultural Christianity. The historian Tom Holland, among others, has made an eloquent case that we in the West live in a deeply Christian world even where we do not profess the faith. Secular liberal universalism, or whatever you want to call it, comes out of the Sermon on the Mount. The shape of Christian ethics is the shape of our secular ethics. It’s personal as well as societal. To be culturally Christian means to live a life without a shred of faith – yet knowing that the God in whom you don’t believe is the one who died on the cross at Golgotha.

It’s knowing that your father, who also did not believe, nevertheless felt the value of ritual to the human creature – and that to sing ‘Guide Me, O Thou Great Redeemer’ and ‘I Vow To Thee, My Country’ over his coffin will not be just a social formality or a hypocritical hat-tip, but will supply a comforting connection to the deep rhythms of history, to patterns of stories and of language that go back through the years. These stories, these rituals, are rich because they hold meaning in many more ways than the literal.

Poetry supplies the same connection. When we were openly distressed in front of him in the week before he died, my father would say: ‘All shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well.’ Julian of Norwich by way of T S Eliot: solace passed across the centuries hand to hand from the dead to the living. Also in his mind were fragments of Yeats: ‘I shall arise and go now.’ We’ll read the closing lines of “Little Gidding’ and ‘The Lake Isle of Innisfree’ at his funeral.

Also, we’ll play some music from the soundtrack of his favourite film, Top Gun. Sublime; ridiculous. Something very ordinary is happening here, something very unremarkable, something that has happened in every church in every generation since a man she took to be a gardener said: ‘Mary.’

I’d like to sit with a takeaway pizza on my lap and watch that movie with him again, crank the sound up and see the excitement on his face as the tomcats jump off the deck of the carrier in the opening minutes. But you know: Goose doesn’t come back. The tomb in Palestine is not the porch of spirits lingering. It sucks to be a Christian who doesn’t believe. I don’t hold out for the resurrection of the body or the promise of life everlasting. I want my Dad to be still alive.


Approval-seeking and the decay of critical thinking on the American Left

Writing below, MICHAEL LIND blames the mental straitjacket that encloses the American Left on the influence of big charitable foundations.  

I think he mistakes a symptom for the disease.  He seems to overlook that similar authoritarian uniformity prevails in the Western word generally.  From Finland to Australia, the Left have virtually the same current obsessions,  It does not need the support of American charitable foundations,

So how has this irrational and stifling mental uniformity that Lind describes arisen?  I see it as an effect of prosperity.  A majority of the population now has a life of no great material difficulty.  And they feel rather good about that.  They can now stop worrying about where the next meal is coming from and devote their attention to their quality of life.  At the simplest level they can now eat juicy steaks instead of sausages.

But food is not the only good thing in life.  There are many other things that people desire.  And a big one is that people like to be liked. They seek approval.  The esteem of one's peers is in fact hugely important.  People commit suicide for the lack of it.

So that gives us a handle on what is happening and why it is so powerful.  Ones political stances  can have a big effect on how we feel.  To some people politics is important.  And having people agree with you can be VERY important. Agreement  feeds your hunger for approval.   So some people pursue what they see as commendable ideas with great zealotry.

But there is no consensus on what policies are coommendable.  Most political ideas have powerful counterarguments.  So the choice of what policy to support is very important.  There is real doubt about which policy will win the approval of people you know.  And you may get it wrong! 

So how is one to avoid such doubts?  Intellectual uniformity does that.  So we live in an age when political positions are personally important to a lot of people, positions that strongly influence how well other people think of us. Our material needs are easily met so our big goal in life has become the approval of others. 

So when a political idea seems to be getting a lot of approval, a huge slice of the population gets onboard with it.  It becomes the gospel of the day and, like all gospels, dissenters from it must be attacked and preferably be disposed of.  Dissenters threaten one's feelings of self-worth so are resisted in any way possible.  They threaten our ability to run with the herd.

And ideas have to be simple to be widely accepted.  So seemingly crazy ideas such as "all men are equal" are proclaimed.  They are are simple yet appealing in various ways. The pursuit of equality, or "equity" as it is presently called, could not be simpler in theory and seems big-hearted.  It is wishing prosperity on everyone.  That it produces poverty and oppression if seriously pursued is undoubted but thinking about that is unpleasant so such thoughts are avoided.  Reality is uncomfortable.  

And self-deception is widely practiced.  People tend to believe what they want to believe. So crazy ideas can be entertained.  Unpleasant aspects of reality can be kept below recognition.  The Leftist herd likes pleasant and simple ideas so they are what will be declared. Any thought that the ideas concerned are destructive will be suppressed.

By and large, conservatives, by contrast, have sufficient strength of character to deal with reality as it is, without needing either simplification or self-deception.

So we see how the American Left have become the mental automatons that they usually are.  The cause of it runs deep into the present state of our civilization so all we can hope for is that their myths are not persuasive to a majority of the voters. One hopes that reality and rationality will eventually win the day.

If you are an intelligent and thoughtful young American, you cannot be a progressive public intellectual today, any more than you can be a cavalry officer or a silent movie star. That’s because, in the third decade of the 21st century, intellectual life on the American center left is dead. Debate has been replaced by compulsory assent and ideas have been replaced by slogans that can be recited but not questioned: Black Lives Matter, Green Transition, Trans Women Are Women, 1619, Defund the Police. The space to the left-of-center that was once filled with magazines and organizations devoted to what Diana Trilling called the “life of significant contention” is now filled by the ritualized gobbledygook of foundation-funded, single-issue nonprofits like a pond choked by weeds. Having crowded out dissent and debate, the nonprofit industrial complex—Progressivism Inc.—taints the Democratic Party by association with its bizarre obsessions and contributes to Democratic electoral defeats, like the one that appears to be imminent this fall.

Consider center-left journals of opinion. In the 1990s, The New Yorker, The Nation, Dissent, The New Republic, The Atlantic, and Washington Monthly all represented distinctive flavors of the center left, from the technocratic neoliberalism of Washington Monthly to the New Left countercultural ethos of The Nation and the snobbish gentry liberalism of The New Yorker. Today, they are bare Xeroxes of each other, promoting and rewriting the output of single-issue environmental, identitarian, and gender radical nonprofits, which all tend to be funded by the same set of progressive foundations and individual donors.

You cannot be a progressive public intellectual today, any more than you can be a cavalry officer or a silent movie star.

It is not surprising that the written output of this billionaire-funded bureaucratic apparatus tends to read like an NGO word salad with crunchy croutons in the form of acronyms that stud post-intellectual progressive discourse: DEI, CRT, AAPI, BIPOC, LGBTQ+. Wokespeak is Grantspeak.

Meanwhile, in one area of public policy or politics after another, Progressivism Inc. has shut down debate on the center left through its interlocking networks of program officers, nonprofit functionaries, and editors and writers, all of whom can move with more or less ease between these roles during their careers as bureaucratic functionaries whose salaries are ultimately paid by America’s richest families and individuals. The result is a spectacularly well-funded NGO-sphere whose intellectual depth and breadth are contracting all the time.

In the 1990s, you could be a progressive in good standing and argue against race-based affirmative action, in favor of race-neutral, universal social programs that would help African Americans disproportionately but not exclusively. Around 2000, however, multiple progressive outlets at the same time announced that “the debate about affirmative action is over.” Today race-neutral economic reform, of the kind championed by the democratic socialist and Black civil rights leader Bayard Rustin and the Marxist Adolph Reed, is stigmatized on the center left as “colorblind racism,” and progressives in the name of “equity” are required to support blatant and arguably illegal racial discrimination against non-Hispanic white Americans and “white-adjacent” Asian-Americans, for fear of being purged as heretics.

Immigration policy provides an even more striking example of the power of Progressivism Inc. to stifle debate on the center left. Up until around 2000, libertarians and employer-class Republicans wanted to weaken laws against illegal immigration and expand low-wage legal immigration, against the opposition of organized labor and many African Americans, who for generations have tended to view immigrants of all races as competitors. The Hesburgh Commission on immigration reform, appointed by President Jimmy Carter, and the Jordan Commission, appointed by President Bill Clinton and led by Texas Rep. Barbara Jordan, the pioneering civil rights leader who was left-liberal, Black, and lesbian, both proposed cracking down on illegal immigration—by requiring a national ID card, punishing employers of illegal immigrants, and cutting back on low-skilled, low-wage legal immigrants. As late as 2006, then-Sens. Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton both voted for 200 miles of border fencing in the Southwest.

Then, virtually overnight, the progressive movement flipped and adopted the former talking points of the Chamber of Commerce cheap-labor lobby. While Democratic politicians deny that they oppose enforcing immigration laws, center-left journals and journalists keep pushing the idea of open borders, in alliance with crackpot free market fundamentalists. On April 12, 2022, David Dayen in the American Prospect wrote that “declining immigration rates since the pandemic have contributed to labor shortages in key industries and harmed Americans who rely on those services.” Dayen linked to an article in the libertarian Wall Street Journal bemoaning rising wages as a result of lower immigration. On Feb. 20 of this year, The New Yorker published a long essay by Zoey Poll, “The Case for Open Borders,” a fawning profile of the libertarian ideologue Bryan Caplan, author of Open Borders: The Science and Ethics of Immigration, which, appropriately, takes the form of a graphic novel—that is to say, a comic book.

Back in 2015, Ezra Klein, then editor of the “progressive” outlet Vox, asked Sen. Bernie Sanders about the idea of “sharply raising the level of immigration we permit, even up to a level of open borders.” Sanders replied in alarm: “Open borders? No, that’s a Koch brothers proposal.” The lobby FWD.us, funded by Facebook and other large tech corporations that prefer hiring indentured servants (H-1Bs) bound to their employers instead of free American citizen-workers and legal immigrants, denounced Sanders for holding “the totally-debunked notion that immigrants coming to the U.S. are taking jobs and hurting Americans.” Vox then published an article by Dylan Matthews titled “Bernie Sanders’s fear of immigrant labor is ugly—and wrong-headed.” “If I could add one amendment to the Constitution,” Matthews declared, “it would be the one Wall Street Journal editorial page editor Robert Bartley once proposed: ‘There shall be open borders.’” In 2018, the progressive author Angela Nagle was canceled by Progressivism Inc. when she published an essay in American Affairs, “The Left Case Against Open Borders.” By 2020, when Matthew Yglesias, a co-founder of Vox, published One Billion Americans, the purging of dissidents and the fusion of the Progressivism Inc. party line on immigration with the anti-union, cheap-labor policies favored by The Wall Street Journal and Silicon Valley was complete.

The energy debate provides another example of the closing of the progressive mind. As recently as the early 2000s, some environmentalists favored reducing atmosphere-heating carbon emissions by expanding nuclear power, replacing coal with lower-carbon natural gas, or both. By 2010 these positions had been thoroughly anathematized by Progressivism Inc. Not only all fossil fuels but all nuclear energy—which provides 20% of utility electric generation in the United States, roughly the same as all renewable energy sources put together—must be completely eliminated from the energy mix, according to the green commissars. Insofar as only around 11% of global primary energy, and only around a quarter of global electricity, comes from renewable energy (chiefly hydropower, which has limited potential for expansion), the green fatwah against nuclear energy seems self-defeating—as well as certain to shovel American money to China, which holds near-monopolies on the rare earth metals and production facilities used to make things like solar panels and lithium batteries. China also happens to be a major source of the fortunes of some of the billionaires who fund progressive media and NGOs.

At this point in history, the foundations and advocacy nonprofits of Progressivism Inc. do not even bother to go through the charade of public debate and discussion before imposing a new party line. Half a century of debate, discussion, and activism gradually led to a majority consensus among American voters in favor of “negative liberty” for gay men and lesbian women, whose right to be free as individuals from discrimination in employment, housing, and military service need not require other Americans to change either their actions or their views.

In striking contrast, in a few years the ideology of gender fluidity went from being an obscure strain of thinking on the academic left to becoming the centerpiece of a radical program of social engineering from above carried out simultaneously by progressive, corporate, and academic bureaucracies. During President Obama’s second term, the federal government reinterpreted Title IX, a civil rights law passed as part of the Education Amendments of 1972, and suddenly threatened federal lawsuits and the cut-off of federal funding for public schools that did not allow boys and girls to use the bathrooms of the opposite (biological) sex, and demanded that boys and young men with gender dysphoria be allowed to join girls’ sports teams and use female locker rooms and showers. States that resisted this bizarre misreading of Title IX, which eliminated legal distinctions grounded in biological sex that the statute was written to protect, found themselves boycotted by multinational corporations and sports leagues. Corporate employees and university personnel who questioned the new party line now did so at risk of being fired or punished. All of this happened just between 2012 and 2016, with no public debate or discussion within the progressive camp, and no attempts to persuade conservatives, libertarians, liberals, or even pre-2012 progressives—only a sudden diktat from above, accompanied by contemptuous threats of punishment. In 2012, progressives were allowed to agree with Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton at the time that, while lesbian women and gay men should have access to civil unions, marriage should be between a biological man and a biological woman. By 2020, you were a hateful reactionary conservative bigot if you did not agree that some men can be pregnant and some women have penises.

Who decides what is and is not permissible for American progressives to think or discuss or support? The answer is the Ford Foundation, the Open Society Foundation, the Omidyar Network, and other donor foundations, an increasing number of which are funded by fortunes rooted in Silicon Valley. It is this donor elite, bound together by a set of common class prejudices and economic interests, on which most progressive media, think tanks, and advocacy groups depend for funding.

The center-left donor network uses its financial clout, exercised through its swarms of NGO bureaucrats, to impose common orthodoxy and common messaging on their grantees. The methods by which they enforce this discipline can be described as chain-ganging and shoe-horning.

Chain-ganging (a term I have borrowed from international relations theory) in this context means implicitly or explicitly banning any grantee from publicly criticizing the positions of any other grantee. At a conference sponsored by the Ford Foundation that I attended more than a decade ago, an African American community activist complained to me privately: “Immigration is hurting the people in the neighborhoods we work in. The employers prefer illegal immigrants to young Black workers. But if we say anything about it, Ford will cut off our money.”

Shoe-horning is what I call the progressive donor practice of requiring all grantees to assert their fealty to environmentalist orthodoxy and support for race and gender quotas, even if those topics have nothing to do with the subject of the grant. It is not necessary for the donors to make this explicit; their grantees understand without being told, like the favor-seeking knights of Henry II: “Will no one rid me of this turbulent priest?” In the last few years, even the most technocratic center-left policy programs—advocating slightly higher earned income tax credits or whatever—have often rewritten their mission statements to refer to “climate justice” and “diversity” and routinely sprinkle grantspeak like “the racial reckoning” and “the climate emergency” throughout their policy briefs in the hope of pleasing program officers at big progressive foundations.

Thanks to the buy-out of the American center left by Progressivism Inc., there is literally nothing for a progressive public intellectual to do. To be sure, there are plenty of other kinds of mental work that you can perform as a member of the rising generation of young progressives even in the absence of a functioning public intellectual sphere. You can keep your head down and doubts to yourself, as you work on the technocratic policy that appeals to you the most: raising the minimum wage or free school lunches, perhaps. Or you can write endless variants of the same screed denouncing Republicans and conservatives as rabid white nationalists threatening to create a fascist dictatorship right here in America. Or you can join mobs on Twitter and social media to take part in Two-Minute Hate campaigns against individuals or groups singled out for denunciation that day by Progressivism Inc. Or you can try to obtain fame and bestseller status and wealth and tenure by getting the attention of the MacArthur Prize committee and editors at The Atlantic by auditioning for the role of designated spokesperson for this or that “protected class” or minority identity group—nonbinary Middle East or North African MENA), for example, not low-income Scots Irish Appalachian heterosexual Pentecostalist.

You can even be a professor. High-profile American progressive academics like Paul Krugman and Jill Lepore and Adam Tooze who moonlight as public affairs commentators are not public intellectuals, because they have the pre-approved left-liberal opinions on all topics that are shared by nine-tenths of the U.S. academic bureaucracy, from the richest Ivy League superstars to the lowliest adjunct at a commuter college. Back in the early 1990s, when as a young neoconservative Democrat I worked for The National Interest, our publisher, Irving Kristol, exploded in comic exasperation one day: “People are calling professors intellectuals! Professors aren’t intellectuals. Intellectuals argue with each other in cafes and write for little magazines. Professors are boring people who take out their dusty 20-year-old notes and give the same lecture over and over again.”

Unlike academics who recite the approved current center-left positions on all issues, genuine intellectuals, even if they happen to be employed by universities, are unpredictable. Often they are unpopular, because they criticize their own allies and appreciate what other schools of thought get right. They do not indulge in contrarianism for its own sake but tend to be controversial, because they put loyalty to what they consider to be truth above party or faction. Needless to say, such intellectual mavericks tend to perform quite poorly when it comes to the boot-licking, rote repetition of political slogans, acronym-juggling, groupthink, and “donor servicing” that constitute the forms of intellectual activity favored by big foundations and NGOs, whether of the right or of the left.

Young progressives who prefer a life of significant contention to a career of lucrative grant-mongering may take some solace from the fact that we have lived through this kind of foundation-driven, extinction-level event in our nation’s intellectual life before. In “Why Intellectual Conservatism Died,” published in Dissent back in 1995, I wrote that “instead of boldly attacking falsehoods wherever they are found, conservative editors tend to print only what they believe will confirm the prejudices of the program officers. The addiction to foundation dollars has reinforced the disastrous ‘no enemies to the right’ policy. The last thing the foundations want is for one set of grantees to criticize the policy views or intellectual standards of other grantees.”

Sound familiar? In hindsight, the end of the Cold War under Ronald Reagan and George Herbert Walker Bush witnessed a golden age of discussion and controversy on the American right, as neoconservatives debated paleoconservatives and religious-right thinkers, and national security hawks debated isolationists and foreign policy realists. Around 1992 that window suddenly closed, as right-wing foundations like Bradley and Olin made it clear that the only nonprofit organizations and journals that would receive funding would be those that espoused a new version of “fusionism”—uniting neoconservative fantasies of American world domination in foreign policy, libertarian fantasies about privatizing Social Security, and religious-right wishful thinking about a Christian or Judeo-Christian revival.

Thanks to blacklisting and censorship, foundation-imposed groupthink triumphed on the right, consolidating Conservatism Inc. and driving away those of us who sought to put the life of the mind above the life of the party. A decade later, President George W. Bush attempted to implement fusionist conservatism with a rigor that Reagan never attempted. In foreign policy, the Bush administration used 9/11 as an excuse to invade Iraq and attempted to realize the conservative fantasy of an American global empire, plunging the Middle East into chaos and bringing Iraq War critics Barack Obama and Donald Trump to power. In domestic policy, Bush tried to partly privatize Social Security, creating a voter backlash. The 2004 Bush-Rove campaign against gay marriage, calculated to bribe working-class evangelicals into voting for the party of tax cuts for the rich, backfired and led to majority acceptance of gay men and lesbians and the defection of many younger Protestant evangelicals.

On today’s center left, as on the bygone center right, the groupthink imposed by behind-the-scenes donors and their favored nonprofits and media allies is resulting in electoral disaster—this time, for Democrats. The progressive foundations, billionaires, and woke corporations backed a California initiative to legalize anti-white and anti-Asian discrimination; it lost, in part because so many Black and Hispanic Americans support the ideal of a colorblind American society. Democrats underperformed dramatically in 2020, even after COVID killed the economy and terrified most Americans, because the slogans of foundation-backed nonprofits—like Defund the Police and comparisons of the U.S. border patrol to the Gestapo—alienated many Democratic voters as well as swing voters. Black Democrats have favored candidates like Joe Biden and New York City Mayor Eric Adams who oppose anti-police radicalism. And a major reason for the political shift of Hispanic voters in Texas border counties is their opposition to the Democratic Party’s toleration of mass illegal immigration, summed up in the fatuous slogan “No human being is illegal.”

Conservatism Inc., including flagship journals like the National Review and flagship think tanks like the Heritage Foundation, remains a museum of mummies. Today, Progressivism Inc. is equally brain-dead. What survives of intellectual politics in the United States today consists of a growing number of exiles from establishment wokeness on Substack and an assortment of dissident leftists, conservatives, and populists, some of whom have come together in new publications like American Affairs, Compact, and The Bellows, and in quirkier couture shops like Tablet.

Having watched from up close over the past four decades as cliques of foundation program officers, individual billionaires, and their nonprofit retainers lobotomized first the American right and then the American left, I hope that I may live to see the American center left free itself from top-down orthodoxy and welcome dissension, discussion, and debate once again. But I doubt I will live that long.

The US And EU Have Unsustainably Plundered Natural Resources For Decades, Study Shows

This is all just opinion.  How do they define "sustainable"?  If it is minerals such as coal or elements such as aluminium, the world is virtually swimming in the stuff.  What is mined is simply a response to price.  If there is a shortage the price will go up and less accessible sources of the product will be brought into use.  

Both Britain and Germany are almost floating on coal and aluminium is famously the most abundant element in the earth's crust.  Asking how much use of a resource is sustainable is like asking how long is a piece of string

In an analysis looking back over almost 50 years of natural resource extraction across the world, researchers found the United States and high-income countries in the European Union drove the lion's share of global excess resource use beyond thresholds of environmental sustainability.

"The results show that wealthy nations bear the overwhelming responsibility for global ecological breakdown, and therefore owe an ecological debt to the rest of the world," explains economic anthropologist Jason Hickel from Spain's Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona.

"These nations need to take the lead in making radical reductions in their resource use to avoid further degradation, which will likely require transformative post-growth and degrowth approaches."

In a previous study, Hickel attempted to quantify responsibility for the climate crisis at the national level, by analyzing how much countries across the world exceeded their fair share of a safe threshold of carbon dioxide emissions.

In the new work, Hickel and fellow researchers applied the same kind of methodology to resource extraction, which is broadly considered to be a key starting point for where environmental degradation begins.

"Global material use has increased markedly over the past half century, to the point where, as of 2017, the world economy is consuming over 90 billion tonnes of materials per year," the team writes in the new paper.

"However, not all nations are equally responsible for this trend; some nations use substantially more resources per capita than others."

To identify where countries fall in terms of over-extraction responsibility, the team developed a "sustainability corridor", representing a safe or sustainable global limit for annual resource extraction (measured in billions of tonnes, or gigatonnes) for the period 1970 to 2017, then calculated how much nations over- or under-shot that threshold each year based on their population size.

The results show that almost 2.5 trillion tonnes of materials were extracted and used globally in the study period, with close to half of that amount (1.1 trillion tonnes) being in excess of the safe, sustainable corridor.

High-income countries (per World Bank classifications) were collectively responsible for 74 percent of that excess use, despite representing only 16 percent of the global population.

This excess resource exploitation was led by the US (which was responsible for 27 percent of the excess), and followed by EU countries and the UK, which together accounted for 25 percent of global excess resource use.

An interactive website developed by the researchers lets you easily explore the results of the analysis, comparing individual countries (such as China, which accounted for 15 percent of the excess), or wealth level categories of countries (which reveals lower-middle income and low-income countries never ever breached their fair share of resource use in the period, unlike high income and upper-middle income nations).

Aside from highlighting the global inequality of resource over-exploitation, the results also make clear that consumption of raw materials needs to sharply decline if the world is to have any chance of addressing ecological crises.

"High-income nations need to urgently scale down aggregate resource use to sustainable levels," the authors of the study write. "On average, resource use needs to decline by at least 70 percent to reach the sustainable range."

According to Hickel, it's a question that might require some reframing what the global economy really ought to be.

"The 'economy' is our material relationship with each other and with the rest of the living world," he tweeted shortly after the study came out.

"We have to decide whether we want that relationship to be based on extraction and exploitation, or on reciprocity and care."