International fans converge on Sydney Harbour Bridge ahead of FIFA Women's World Cup

Why block traffic on a traffic artery for a sport with only a small following?  If closing the bridge to promote women's soccer is right, why not close it to celebrate men's soccer.  I am not holding my breath. It is just more discrimination in favour of women.  Some people are more equal than others, it seems.  

Many people use Sunday as an occasion to visit friends and relatives.  To bad on this occasion if any of those they wanted to visit lived on the other side of the harbour

An estimated 4,000 people from around the world danced, sung and walked their way across the landmark ahead of the ninth iteration of the competition. 

Unity Celebration marked the 25-day countdown to the international soccer competition kicking off in Australia and New Zealand in July.

Chants from home countries and the sounds of drums shook the bridge during the event, which began with a smoking ceremony, followed by live cultural performances and speeches.

A special double-sided World Cup jersey was also unveiled, commemorating the co-host countries.

'The fans are amazing'

Head of the 2023 competition, Rhiannan Martin told ABC News she was expecting a massive turnout.  "We have great opportunities here for everyone to watch, I think the level of football will improve through the tournament."

Tehlia and Steve, two fans from Jamaica, were excited to see their home country play in next month's competition. "It's amazing to be in Australia while they're in the World Cup, and we can be here to support them," they told ABC News.

Anna, from Columbia, danced across the bridge with a group of friends. "We really can't wait until the girls get here. This is amazing, we are so excited," she said.

The 2023 competition will run from Thursday, July 20, to Sunday, August 20.

During the 32 days, 64 matches will be played in 10 stadiums across Australia and New Zealand.

There are 32 countries vying for the trophy — the largest number of competitors in the women's competition so far.

The first two games will take place in Auckland's Eden Park and Sydney's Stadium Australia, with the host countries versing Norway and Ireland respectively. 

The Matildas, representing Australia, are in Group B alongside Ireland, Nigeria and Canada.

Ms Martin acknowledged the investment put in by Australia and New Zealand in preparation for the games, and said it will prove a tough competition. 

"The groups are very strong. I know Australia have got a strong group," she said. "We're looking forward to fantastic football in 25 days."


The allure of surgically enlarged breasts

Below is an example of it. I am not at all immune from finding larger breasts attractive. I like a D cup presence as much as any man. But the amazing thing is that enlarged breasts are still acclaimed when blind Freddy can tell they are not natural. Normal breasts are NOT hemispherical

I did once have a girlfriend who went from B to DD and I did like it at first but it ceased to excite me after a while. Focusing on the breasts tended to distract from focusing on the person and feelings about our relationship. The balance was all wrong. My girlfriend these days naturally takes a 12C bra, which I find entirely satisfactory

image from

Ekin-Su Culculoglu turned up the heat in a distressed denim mini-skirt and low-cut dusky pink crop top in east London on Friday.

The Love Island star, 28, flaunted her perfect curves as she attended loungewear brand Blakely's store opening in Stratford's Westfields shopping centre.

Ekin-Su ensured all eyes were on her as her ample cleavage and toned stomach were on full display in the summery ensemble.

The TV personality also made sure to flaunt her endless legs in the super short skirt.

She added inches to her frame with a pair of cream heeled shin-high boots.

Ekin-Su finished off the outfit with a black leather Louis Vuitton handbag.


"I exposed war crimes among the SAS"

The report below by a female sociologist is one in a long line that judges wartime behavior by peace time standards.  As such, it is typically unjust.    It is particularly egregious however in judging the highest risk military situations by civilian standards.

I am a former Army psychologist so perhaps have a keener awareness of the issues than some.  I have no field experience.   All I know is what I could learn from talking to people here in Australia.   But one thing I have learned loud and clear is that military experience greatly reshapes attitudes.  

One of the reasons miitary veterans often refuse to talk about their wartime experiences is that they know how their wartime actions were guided by different standards than civilian ones.  The heat of battle alters attitudes and attitudes alter behaviour.

And nowhere is all the more so than in special operations.  Such assignments are super high-risk and big pressure and survival instincts are at their highest there.  The stress is great and anybody acting under stress is likely to make different decision from peacetime ones.  And that is acknowledged throughout the military.  And it is that acknowledgement that leads to "coverups".   People who try to apply armchair standards to wartime behaviour are seen as missing the point and are therefore sidelined as much as possible.  It is exactly such sidelining that the lady below experienced.

It would so wonderful if war could be waged like a game of chess but that is never going to happen.  To use a common cliche, war is hell and there are many demons in hell.  Democratic societies do their best to exclude or expel the demons but that will only ever be a campaign with limited success. 

"Hypermasculinity" has got nothing to do with the problem.  All  that is at work is the attitudinal response to the military situation.  In social psychologist's jargon, what we see are "the demand characteristics of the situation".+

It is rather regrettable that the sociologist lady below abandoned that obvious social explanation in favour of a pseudo-psychological one.

As the most frontline of SAS fighters, all that applies particularly to Ben Roberts Smith.  He tried to explain his  actions under the highest stress by civilian standards but inevitably failed.

It wasn’t long ago that I had been a successful business owner with a string of government contracts.

For me, it all began on Australia Day 2016. That was the day I submitted a report to army chief General Angus Campbell that would trigger the biggest inquiry into war crimes in Australia’s history. It would also be the day that David Morrison, chief of Army from 2011 to 2015, would be awarded Australian of the Year. Chair of the committee that chose the winner was Special Forces soldier Ben Roberts-Smith.

The first time I heard mention of war crimes among Australian Special Forces soldiers in Afghanistan was in 2014, in a small, partially furnished office in an Army barracks. I’m a sociologist and I had been contracted by the army to undertake a number of research projects. I was speaking with an army chaplain about domestic violence prevalence. The conversation went well beyond the initial topic. It was the first time I heard of the “serious misconduct” that was occurring within SAS patrols in Afghanistan. The chaplain described returning from deployment “a broken man”, having tried and failed to have his concerns taken seriously.

It wasn’t until late 2015, in one of the first interviews I did for a project in Special Operations Command, which oversees special forces units, that the chaplain’s story came back to me. That project began as an examination of Special Operations capability. It ended in a report on war crimes that led to the Brereton Report and news stories that resulted in Victoria Cross recipient Ben Roberts-Smith unsuccessfully suing this masthead for defamation.

The Federal Court last month found Roberts-Smith was a liar and murderer who engaged in war crimes. At the time of my initial report, I had no idea what that report would eventually cost me, personally and professionally.

For I now realise that what I was coming up against was more than the horrific acts of a few rogue soldiers. It was the cult of brand “SAS”; the cult of the male warrior. In this cult, unsanctioned violence is justified, encouraged and celebrated.

It seemed my report on the SAS had triggered a threat to some Australian men’s masculinity. I’d dared question their heroes. These loud voices would hound me for years. The attacks on me to be bashed, killed, tortured, and my livelihood destroyed came via Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, email, text and phone call. Mostly the backlash came from those not in the military, but some were ex-military and younger white male soldiers – all of whom appear to idolise the SAS as a stronghold of hypermasculinity.

When the war crimes allegations emerged, then-defence minister Peter Dutton said he had made it “very clear” to Defence that I should not be awarded further contracts. That he did not want the military to be “distracted by things that have happened in the past”. My credibility was questioned repeatedly by Jacqui Lambie and reiterated in the Murdoch press.

It became politically inconvenient for me to keep speaking about the SAS issues. In 2021, I had written an essay about how misconduct becomes entrenched in organisations and how it spreads, and I used the SAS as a primary example. The Australian Government Solicitor unsuccessfully tried to stop my essay being published.

In a letter I received from the government solicitor’s office shortly after publication, I was told my conduct and public statements had “harmed the Commonwealth”. The result was that my ongoing work with the government was “terminated for convenience”.

The implications for me, my family, my business, and my staff were profound. The message had been sent to the department loud and clear that I was now a liability and a risk. No work would follow. Work in the pipeline was stopped indefinitely. I’d told the truth, so they cut me out.

After that my business collapsed and my mental health declined amid the endless stream of misogynistic threats through social media. Work from other organisations was not forthcoming. I gather this was because most businesses hire consultants to tell them what they want to hear, not uncover what is really at the heart of their problems.

I once heard Special Forces described as the “weeping sore” of the Army that no one was prepared to tend to. But there is a cost to organisations that leave issues to fester. It teaches others in the organisation that bad behaviour is acceptable, that those who engage in it will be protected, that to dismiss it is the norm. Such attitudes seep through an organisation and rot it. When the day finally comes that these problems must be addressed, the damage is far greater for all involved.

But the greatest takeaway from my experience is a personal one. That despite the cost, I would do it all again. I am grateful for the trust placed in me by soldiers and officers who gave accounts of egregious acts of violence and cover-ups. I have never taken it for granted and I have felt an unwavering duty of care to them.


The rise of autism

Diagnoses of autism have "exploded" in recent years. Why?  There is a lot of doubt that there is  a real underlying increase in cases of autism.  Most psychologists would account for the rise as an effect of expanded diagnostic criteria.  And that in turn is an aspect of what is often called the  "medicalization" of deviant behaviour.  That is the explanation that I incline towards.  I am aware that there are some claims of a role for diet and pollution but I see no clear evidence of that

A friend of mine who is a most experienced practicing psychologist has however offered me a rather novel explanation -- an explanation that is both sociological and draws strongly on history. History is the only laboratory of sociology so it is undoubtedly the place to look for sociological explanations. 

The starting point of the explanation is that the very first diagnosis of autism was by Kanner in 1943.  Did he invent it?  Why was it unknown before his work?  Clearly, it must have existed all along but why did it come to attention as a recognized syndrome so recently?

My psychologist friend has come up with an explanation.  He says he was recently reading a book about etiquette in the Victorian era and was amazed by the minuteness of the rules that governed social interactions at that time.  The whole idea of social etiquette has become rather passe these days but the aim of the rules was to make social interactions easy and pleasant for all parties.  It was not some authoritarian invention.  It was a set of arrangements that had arisen  through trial and error over time that most people were comfortable with. There was such a clear consensus about the rules that you could write books setting out the rules for those who needed to learn them.  So the rules did have something of a straitjacket character

And that was GOOD for autistic people, or at least the less disabled element of the autism spectrum.  Autistics did not have to feel their way towards socially acceptable behaviour.  It was all very clearly laid down for them by society.  The rules were made to ease social interactions and they had that effect for anybody who followed them  So the social expectations of the day DRAGOONED autistics into adaptive behaviour  They did not have work it all out themselves

That explanation will not of course work for extremely withdrawn forms of autism but for the more articulate parts of the spectrum it makes considerable sense.  It is only the breakdown of social mores resulting from two ghastly world wars that deprived social behaviour of much of its guidelines. The old order was destroyed and not replaced. And once Kanner had described juvenile autism, people began to see degrees of it elsewhere.  And that is where we are today

This is not of course a glorification of Victorian society.  Charles Dickens has convinced us all that Victorian society was thoroughly wrongheaded. It is simply an argument that Victorian rules had some benefit for some people, not all of whom were high and mighty -- people with poor social competence generally

This is not of course a theory about the origins and causes of autism but merely a theory about its visibility.  So what are the causes of autism?

I remember when I was doing a seminar in abnormal psychology as part of my Masters degree in psychology in the department of psychology at the university of Sydney in 1968, Kanner was much mentioned, but the discussion centred around whether autism was a psychosis. I have never thought that

The  long-running theory of autism traced the condition to "refrigerator mothers".  I forget who first proposed that theory but I would shoot  him if I could. To blame poor distressed mothers for the dysfunction of their child   was extremely cruel and unforgivable to my mind.  Fortunately that theory fitted so few actual cases that it was perforce eventually abandoned.

That led to an exploration of physical causes instead. I was a party to those debates and found one explanation persuasive: That autism was caused caused by excessive stimulus sensitivity which was in turn caused by an overdeveloped cerebral cortex.  I still subscribe to that theory and believe that it is now the mainstream one. There is no complete consensus in any area of science, however, climate science excepted, of course.

As a small amusing note in confirmation of that theory, I have observed informally that autistic people  tend to wear big hats! And when I met my present girlfriend via a dating  site she said that the thing she most liked about my photo  was my high forehead. She is very bright, has an intense interest in psychology and believes herself to be a high functioning autistic -- a diagnosis with which I concur.

I have had many papers published in the academic journals on abnormal psychology topics but none on autism.  My interest in it was however sparked by a recent realization that I too am a high functioning autistic.  And that has benefited my social life. You can see from the early photo with my sister below below what my forehead has been like from the beginning.  Plenty of room for a large cerebral cortex.

I have however had 4 marriages and three ladies still call on me regularly even though I am in my 80th year so I think that promotes the view that at least some autistics can have an interesting life

Women are more likely to survive a heart attack if they are accompanied to the hospital by a man

One for the feminists.  At the risk of enraging feminists, I might point out that a woman with a man by her might actually be healthier and thus require less attention.  Why would a woman with a man in her life be healthier?  I am afraid good looks and good health are correlated.  Work it out from there.  Life isn't fair

It is a sad thing to admit – and no doubt what we’re about to say will be a shock to many – but as cardiologists with decades of experience, our advice to women is this: if you think you’re having a heart attack, take a man with you to the hospital. It may just save your life.

Research shows that women’s symptoms are often not taken seriously by emergency medics, but if there’s a man around to advocate the patient is less likely to be dismissed.

Even in our brilliant NHS, which has some of the most cutting-edge treatment available in the world, evidence shows women are much more likely to die from heart problems than men. We are 50 per cent more likely to be wrongly diagnosed – which can be fatal – and less likely to be treated promptly.

Women are 34 per cent less likely than men to get an angiogram – a type of X-ray used to diagnose a heart attack – within 72 hours of their symptoms starting. We’re also three per cent less likely to receive timely procedures using drugs or stents to restore blood flow. In fact, the British Heart Foundation (BHF) calculates that 8,243 women’s lives were lost in England and Wales between 2002 and 2013 because they didn’t receive the same standard of care as men.

The outcomes for women having heart operations – such as valve replacements and transplants – are also worse, largely because the procedures were developed for, and trialled on, men. Even after being discharged from hospital after successful treatment, women are less likely to be given the drugs recommended to prevent further heart attacks.

Alarming attack on "misinformation"

Who is to decide what is misinformation?  The government?  Much that was called misinformation about Covid subsequently was vindicated as truth.  We may have to rely on the High Court to strike this down

Digital platforms – including social media, search engines, and dating sites – could face fines of up to $6.8m under proposed new laws aimed at combating misinformation online.

Under historic new legislation proposed by the government, digital platforms could face penalties of up to $6.88m for failing to address systemic disinformation and misinformation.

The government has released a draft framework to empower the Australian Communications and Media Authority to hold digital platforms responsible for misleading or deliberately deceptive information online.

Minister for Communications Michelle Rowland said the proposed legislation was aimed at protecting Australians from the growing threat.

“Mis and disinformation sows division within the community, undermines trust, and can threaten public health and safety,” she said.

“The Albanese Government is committed to keeping Australians safe online, and that includes ensuring the ACMA has the powers it needs to hold digital platforms to account for mis and disinformation on their services.”

The Communications Legislation Amendment (Combating Misinformation and Disinformation) Bill would give the media regulator greater powers to act on systemic issues.

For the first time, the ACMA would be empowered to access documents from digital providers related to misinformation and disinformation on their platforms.

The proposed authority would not extend to the content of private messages sent online.

The bill targets endemic misinformation and disinformation issues which pose a serious harm to Australians, and it would allow the ACMA to fight continued noncompliance from digital providers.

If platforms allow the spread of harmful lies and propaganda to continue, the regulator would be able to register enforceable industry codes with a maximum penalty of $2.75m or 2 per cent of a company’s global turnover (whichever is greater).

Should the code of practice prove insufficient, the ACMA would be able to implement an industry standard which would carry maximum penalties of $6.88m or 5 per cent of global turnover.

The proposed powers would apply to digital platforms accessible in Australia, including search engines, social media sites, dating sites, and web forums.

The ACMA would be focused on encouraging services to implement strong systems to tackle misinformation and disinformation rather than regulating specific content.

Unlike the eSafety Commissioner, the regulator would not have the authority to request the removal of posts or content.

The proposed legislation enacts key measures recommended in the 2021 ACMA report on the adequacy of digital platform measures to combat disinformation.

Public consultation on the draft bill will begin on Sunday and conclude on August 6, with the legislation to be introduced later this year.

“This consultation process gives industry and the public the opportunity to have their say on the proposed framework, which aims to strike the right balance between protection from harmful mis and disinformation online and freedom of speech,” Ms Rowland said.

“I encourage all stakeholders to make a submission and look forward to introducing the Bill into parliament later this year, following the consultation process”.

‘It’s just ridiculous’: Key unions demand premier scrap $500m Powerhouse redevelopment

I heartily agree. I can see no point in destroying useful buildings.  But governments tend to have an edifuce complex.  Politicians want their name on a foundation stone

Two of the state’s most powerful unions have called for a halt to the proposed $500 million redevelopment of the Powerhouse Museum at Ultimo, and the reinvestment of the savings to top up pay rises for frontline health and emergency sector workers.

The Public Service Association, representing 40,000 public sector workers, says it will press for Premier Chris Minns to personally intervene to shelve plans the Labor government inherited for the knockdown rebuild of the museum’s 35-year-old modern wing.

The Public Service Association’s general secretary Stewart Little said his members, including more than 100 permanent museum staff, believed the project was an extravagance the state could ill afford at a time of crippling cost of living increases.

He was joined in his criticisms by Health Services Union boss Gerard Hayes who said spending to redevelop and reconfigure the museum’s inner-city location made as much sense as knocking down and rebuilding the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

“As a health service person, we are in very difficult economic times. Why would we be dealing with luxury wish lists when we are not dealing with providing the necessities?” Hayes asked.

Union criticism of the project comes at a sensitive time of wage negotiations with the Minns government which went to the election promising to scrap the cap on public sector wages.

Unions are agitating for an improvement in the government’s standing offer of a 4.5 per cent wage increase and have identified the Powerhouse redevelopment as a potential source of budget savings to fund a more generous wage offer – all at a time when treasurer Daniel Mookhey says the NSW budget is facing $7 billion in unexpected cost pressures.

At the March election, Labor pledged to “save” the Powerhouse Museum at Ultimo as a “world-class institution” and is currently undertaking broad community consultation about the museum’s future.

These reorient the museum’s entrance and demolish the museum’s galleria, home of NSW’s first train, Locomotive No 1 and the priceless Boulton & Watt rotative steam engine, and the Wran wing along Harris Street.


Disgusting New Zealand racism

The NZ government is Leftist.  The Left have never been able to let go of racial discrimination.  Ever since Karl Marx, they have had a fascination for it.  They condemn racism but they are the chief practitioners of it

In the name of equity, surgeons in Auckland, New Zealand, have been told to consider the ethnicity of their patients when trying to prioritise care, namely to specifically prioritise patients from Maori and Pacific Islander backgrounds, placing them ahead of those with European or Asian ancestry. 

The policy, which is part of Health New Zealand’s ‘Equity Adjustor Score,’ aims to use several factors to determine the priority of patients waiting for surgeries, including if they live in isolated communities or how long they have been waiting for a procedure.

However, the rules also factor in the ethnicity of the patient, with a report from the New Zealand Herald newspaper explaining that surgeons have reacted particularly negatively to the new guidelines, with one even going as far as to say they were disgusted. 

The surgeons, all of whom spoke anonymously to the newspaper, stated that patient priority should come down to how urgent the treatment was or how long they had been waiting, with one surgeon saying, “It’s ethically challenging to treat anyone based on race, it’s their medical condition that must establish the urgency of the treatment.”

Ayesha Verrall, New Zealand’s Health Minister, defended using ethnicity to prioritise health care saying, “The reformed health system seeks to address inequities for Māori and Pacific people who historically have a lower life expectancy and poor health outcomes.”

Prime Minister Chris Hipkins also defended the guidelines saying, “Those who are arguing we should do nothing need to explain why they think we should expect those on low incomes, in rural areas and Māori and Pacific to wait longer.”

“I’ve seen concerns that have been raised about the mechanism that they are using to do that, and I’ve asked the minister of health to look at that to make sure that there is a reassurance that we are not replacing one form of discrimination with another,” he added. 

David Seymour, leader of the right-wing ACT party, accused the government of “promoting racial discrimination” saying “prejudice and discrimination” were becoming official government policy in New Zealand.  

New Zealand is by no means the only country to factor in ethnic backgrounds for health care as the premise is seemingly common in several English-speaking countries, such as the UK, where the National Health Service (NHS) states that it also factors in ethnicity as part of a clinical prioritisation programme.  

In Canada, Indigenous Canadians were prioritised for the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine in 2021 and others urged the government to prioritise minority groups, known as “racialized” in Canada, claiming that “systemic racism” was one reason why black Canadians had high rates of hospitalisation in areas like Toronto during the pandemic. 

In 2021, the Canadian Medical Association Journal published an article that claimed there is “systemic anti-black racism” in the Canadian healthcare industry and called for the industry “to dismantle systemic racism in its structures and institutions.”

Recommendations for change include training health care providers in anti-racism, anti-oppression and decolonialization, as well as routinely collecting race-based data in partnership with racialized communities. Finally, the Black Medical Student Association of Canada provides recommendations for medical schools to address anti-Black racism in medical education and admissions, and outlines the need for medical reform to be guided by critical race theory.

While Canada does not prioritise surgeries based on ethnicity, the country does prioritise them based on COVID-19 vaccination status.

In 2018, Alberta resident Annette Lewis learned that she had a terminal illness that would require an organ transplant but was refused the transplant last year because of her refusal to take the COVID-19 jab.

A court of appeal in Alberta later ruled that unvaccinated people like Ms. Lewis were ineligible for transplants stating, “Being vaccinated against COVID-19 is a necessary component of proper medical care for individuals, including Ms. Lewis, who are seeking an (organ) transplant.”

Earlier this year, Ms. Lewis attempted to take her case to the Canadian Supreme Court but the Canadian top court simply refused to hear her. 

A similar case was seen in Australia, in which a woman was refused a heart transplant because she did not take the vaccine, as she feared that the established side effects of myocarditis could be too risky for her.


Homosexuality and the Bible

I am a great believer in letting the Bible speak for itself. And there is no doubt what it says about homosexuality. Even female homosexuality gets a blast. So for my own handy reference I have put together what I think is a full collection of the actual texts. I reproduce that list below in case it is of use to others than myself

The verses mostly benefit from being read in context but the quotes below should make a good start on that. I have used the King James Bible translation below as it is the most familiar but that can sometimes be a bit obscure. For instance, in the text about Sodom and Gomorrah you need to be aware that the word "know" was used as a euphemism for having sexual intercourse

Genesis 19:4-8 4 But before they lay down, the men of the city, even the men of Sodom, compassed the house round, both old and young, all the people from every quarter: And they called unto Lot, and said unto him, Where are the men which came in to thee this night? bring them out unto us, that we may know them. And Lot went out at the door unto them, and shut the door after him, And said, I pray you, brethren, do not so wickedly. Behold now, I have two daughters which have not known man; let me, I pray you, bring them out unto you, and do ye to them as is good in your eyes: only unto these men do nothing; for therefore came they under the shadow of my roof.

Leviticus 18:22 Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination.

Leviticus 20:13 If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them.

Mark 10:6-9 But from the beginning of the creation God made them male and female. For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and cleave to his wife; And they twain shall be one flesh: so then they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.

Matthew 19:4-10 And he answered and said unto them, Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female, And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh? Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.

Romans 1:27 And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet.

1 Corinthians 6:9-11 Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.

1 Corinthians 7:2 Nevertheless, to avoid fornication, let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband.

1 Timothy 1:8-11 But we know that the law is good, if a man use it lawfully; Knowing this, that the law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and for sinners, for unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers, For whoremongers, for them that defile themselves with mankind, for menstealers, for liars, for perjured persons, and if there be any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine; According to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, which was committed to my trust. For whoremongers, for them that defile themselves with mankind, for menstealers, for liars, for perjured persons, and if there be any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine; According to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, which was committed to my trust.

Jude 7 Even as Sodom and Gomorrha, and the cities about them in like manner, giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh, are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire.


COVID-Vaccinated MORE Likely to Be Hospitalized: CDC Data

There are some problems with inferences here but a complete reversal of the expected result is extreme and seems unlikely to be explained by confounds etc. We may have to allow that the vaccines are more harmful than helpful in the medium term

COVID-19 vaccine effectiveness against hospitalization turned negative over time, according to U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) data presented on June 15.

The effectiveness against hospitalization plummeted to negative 8 percent for people who received one of the old COVID-19 vaccines, according to data from a CDC-run hospital network.

A dose of one of the updated bivalent vaccines moved the protection above zero, to 29 percent, but the protection fell back to negative 8 percent beyond 89 days, the data show.

The protection estimates were for adults without a compromised immune system from Jan. 23 to May 24, when the XBB strain was dominant in the United States. The data came from people hospitalized at one of 25 hospitals across 20 states that are part of the Investigating Respiratory Viruses in the Acutely Ill network. Both cases and controls were hospitalized with COVID-like illness but the cases tested positive for COVID-19 and the controls tested negative for COVID-19.

“We see a pattern of waning against hospitalization,” Dr. Ruth Link-Gelles of the CDC said while presenting the data to a U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) panel as they consider updating the composition of the vaccines.

Link-Gelles didn’t specifically comment on how the effectiveness turned negative but noted the wide confidence intervals for some of the effectiveness estimates.

The bivalent vaccines, made by Moderna and Pfizer, were introduced in the fall of 2022 with the hopes of improving protection against hospitalization and death after the old vaccines proved increasingly incapable of providing sustained shielding.

Dr. Robert Malone, who helped invent the messenger RNA technology utilized by the vaccine companies in their vaccines, said that the negative effectiveness is consistent with prior data such as a study from the Cleveland Clinic that found each successive vaccine dose increased the risk of infection.

Other papers have also estimated that protection against infection turns negative over time. Some datasets have indicated that vaccinated people were at higher risk of hospitalization, long seen as a surrogate for severe disease.

Researchers in one recent paper said that repeated vaccination—some Americans have received a half-dozen COVID-19 shots in under three years—weakens immune systems, potentially making people susceptible to life-threatening conditions such as cancer.

The estimates were negative even after CDC officials made adjustments for factors such as age, sex, and ethnicity. The median time since the last dose for the people who only received one or more doses of an old vaccine was 464 days. For the group who received a bivalent vaccine but saw effectiveness turn negative, the median time was 137 days.

Other Data

Data from another network found that protection neared zero over time.

Among adults deemed immunocompetent after XBB became dominant, the protection from the old vaccines against hospitalization was measured at 9 percent in the CDC’s VISION network. A shot of a bivalent vaccine increased protection to 51 percent, but the shielding plunged to 20 percent 90 to 179 days after the shot.

From September 2022 to May 2023, immunocompromised adults in the same network who only received an old vaccine had just 3 percent protection against hospitalization.

A bivalent shot increased the protection to 39 percent, although the shielding was reduced to 11 percent beyond 119 days.

VISION includes sites across 11 states, including Kaiser Permanente Northern California and Columbia University in New York.

Under half of each age group in the United States has received a bivalent dose, including 43 percent of those age 65 and older and 0.6 percent of 2- to 4-year-olds.

The CDC didn’t present data on the effectiveness against infection.

XBB became dominant in the United States in January, displacing BA.5 and its subvariants. The bivalents contain a BA.4/BA.5 component in addition to the Wuhan component. The FDA plans to update the vaccines to target XBB and its sublineages for a renewed vaccine campaign in late 2023 and early 2024.

“We’re concerned that we may have another wave of COVID-19 during the time when the virus has further evolved, immunity of the population has waned further, and we move indoors for wintertime,” Dr. Peter Marks, an FDA official, said during the meeting.

Turn to ‘Critical Illness’

Officials have increasingly been focusing on protection against so-called critical illness, or intensive care unit admission or death, as protection against hospitalization drops lower and lower.

Protection against critical illness from a bivalent was 58 percent initially and only dropped to 48 percent, according to data from VISION during XBB’s predominance.

There weren’t enough critical cases in the Investigating Respiratory Viruses in the Acutely Ill network to provide estimates of protection against critical illness, Link-Gelles said.

She said that patterns of waning with the bivalent vaccines “have been very similar to what we knew from the monovalent vaccine” and that U.S. officials don’t make vaccine policy decisions “based solely on vaccine effectiveness data.”

Limitations of the data include the high levels of prior infection, or natural immunity, and potential differences between unvaccinated and vaccinated people, officials said.


More PFAS excitement

Ever since Erin Brokovich dramatized it, there has been much heartburn about a common class of chemicals known as PFAS that are widespread in the environment. It is widely used in industry and most Americans as a result have some of it in their blood. And is bad for rats if you give it to them. So it must be bad for people? Sadly for the drama-queens, it isn't. Over many studies PFAS have been found to be harmless to people in the doses normally encountered.

The latest study is one done in Australia and everybody seems very tense about it. You can read below a claim that the government tried to nobble it. In the washup, however, they had no need to. The researchers once again found no conclusive evidence of harm from PFAS. It was a rather pathetic study but I will bypass that for the moment and simply reproduce the actual findings from the study -- below:

For most of these health outcomes, we estimated the differences between the towns and comparison areas to be relatively small. For others, the differences were of modest size, but our estimates were imprecise, meaning the likely size of each difference could be anywhere between quite small to quite large. Even though our studies included almost everyone who had ever lived in the towns in the years we had available data (in some cases dating back to 1983), some of the conditions studied are uncommon and we observed only a few cases. For these outcomes, we could not precisely estimate the differences between the towns and comparison areas, and there is very little we can say about whether a difference really exists.

Due to the nature of our studies, there were certain design limitations. We were unable to fully account for certain risk factors (e.g. smoking) that could have led to observed differences in rates (or lack of them) between the towns and comparison areas (‘confounding’). In particular, we were not able to account for socioeconomic factors as well as we would have liked. This is important, as socioeconomic conditions are strongly linked to health. In addition, some findings could have arisen just by chance alone and not because an association truly exists.

In light of the above, while there were higher rates of some adverse outcomes in individual towns, the evidence suggesting that this was due to living in these areas was limited. We did not have direct measurements of PFAS exposure and we cannot rule out that the higher rates were due to chance or confounding. Further, there was low consistency in our observations across the three towns (something we would not expect if PFAS caused an outcome), and there is limited evidence from other studies observing similar results or explaining how potential biological processes can result in PFAS causing these effects in humans. Overall, our findings are consistent with previous studies, which have not conclusively identified causative links between PFAS and these health outcomes

People living in areas with high PFAS concentrations sometimes blame their illnesses on it but that is an unproven and unlikely claim

Health officials asked university researchers to remove references about potential community concern over elevated rates of cancer found in towns contaminated with “forever chemicals”, even as the federal government was defending multimillion-dollar litigation over the pollution.

Emails obtained by the Herald and The Age under freedom of information laws reveal federal health bureaucrats expressed concern to Australian National University researchers about how they reported “very high” rates of certain types of cancer they uncovered in an independent study of residents exposed to per- and poly-fluoroalkyl chemicals (PFAS) leaching off Defence sites.

Samantha Kelly with her son William, 7, in the garden of their new home after they fled contaminated Williamtown. Kelly fears her son’s health issues could be linked to exposure to “forever chemicals” after he was born with high levels in his blood.

The emails reveal the Department of Health circulated the draft version of the study to other Commonwealth departments “for their review of any red-line issues” in October 2021, while Defence was in court defending a $155 million class action over property devaluation caused by the toxins.

In anonymised emails released to the Herald, a bureaucrat told the researchers it was “counterproductive” to mention throughout their report that residents may be concerned about elevated rates of adverse health outcomes in their communities.

The department suggested researchers “highlight the significance of ‘null findings’” and say their study found “no consistent links between PFAS contamination and the health outcomes observed”.

The researchers declined to add the suggested line. “The research team is independent and did not make changes to any parts of the reports where we disagreed,” said Professor Martyn Kirk, who led the ANU research team.

“The research team did not agree to follow any departmental advice to emphasise null findings.

“We didn’t include anything in the report that we weren’t happy saying, particularly as it relates to causes of disease.”

A large number of the changes the department requested were not made by the researchers, a review of the documents by this masthead confirms.

A spokeswoman for the Department of Health said it did not seek to change the study’s findings but rather to “highlight the findings as presented and draw out the context”.

The spokeswoman rejected suggestions the department tried to “downplay” the findings of elevated rates of certain adverse outcomes in the towns.

“In reviewing the draft reports from the study the minor suggestions made by the department focused on increasing clarity and consistency within the reports,” she said.

“It was a matter for the ANU study team as to how they considered and incorporated any feedback provided.”


Dark Emu documentary reveals new evidence of Aboriginal mining and trading

Although I once taught in a university department that offered courses in anthropology, my contact with the discipline is only a nodding one. I think I have learned enough, however, to offer some preliminary observations about the controversy below. The most original claims below are about the Mithaka are so I will confine my comments to that

And what I see of the "research" involved is pretty ludicrous. Example:

It consists of little more than "Ethnohistoric accounts". And what are they in plain speech? They are stories recently "remembered" by elderly Aborigines. Which makes them no evidence of anything.

The claims also feature historical accounts by whites of Aborigines in the middle of the 19th century and as late as the early 1900. "Diaries and photographs from the early 1900s" are evidence of what pre-settlemt Aborigines did??? Should we not instead conclude that Aborigines had learned some things from whites in the previous 150 to 200 years?

And some writers have drawn large conclusions about holes in the sandstone in the Mithaka area. see below

image from

"Mysterious stone formations" have become "more than 200 quarry sites" which are alleged to have produced "grinding stones" Examples below:

Calling them grinding stones requires imagination. Once when I was a kid I did do a bit of amateur archeology. I went digging in the Innisfail area in a place that was reputed to have been an Aboriginal settlement. And I made a very clear discovery. It was a very recognizable stone axe with grooves to allow it to be fastened to a shaft.

So I know that real Aboringinal artifacts have a shape derived from their use and which suggests their use. Form follows function. I can see nothing of that in the bits of rock above. None of their different shapes suggest grinding of anything. A profusion uf well-worn flat stones would have been expected but I see none of that

That is pretty obvious so some writers suggest that these bit of rock were "blanks" to be used for later work to transform them into something. But where are those later works? I can find no mention of lots of them being found

My conclusion is that the sandstone holes are natural formations of some kind. Aborigines may have visited them but are unlikely to have produced them

So why all the excitement? We read that "The current project was initiated in part by the Mithaka Aboriginal group", which suggests that it is just propaganda designed to promote respect for Aborigines

Bruce Pascoe’s bestselling book Dark Emu challenged thinking about Indigenous history – and sparked a fierce culture war – by arguing that Aboriginal people engaged in agriculture, irrigation, construction and baking rather than just being hunter-gatherers before European settlement.

Now the author, academic and farmer has gone even further in a documentary that argues there is new evidence of Aboriginal mining and trading of the grinding stones that were produced.

Writer-director Allan Clarke’s The Dark Emu Story, which has a world premiere at Sydney Film Festival on Saturday, refers to a recent archeological site on Mithaka country in south-west Queensland that Pascoe believes reveals a new level of sophistication to Aboriginal land use.

“The people there were engaged in a massive mining operation to extract mining stone cores and dressed them and faced them so that they would be a product for other communities,” he said on the way to Sydney for the screening.

“The trade of those stones is yet to be really studied, but it’s going to be fascinating because nearly three and a half million stones were mined and then crafted. The vast majority – 95 per cent – were traded.”

Pascoe said these sandstone cores, or blanks, were used to grind grain, which indicated that Aboriginal people largely had “a grain-dependent civilisation” before British settlement. Outside the tropics and desert regions that did not produce grass “the vast majority of places were grinding grain into flour”.

While the archeological site in the documentary is between Birdsville and Windorah, Pascoe said there was similar evidence of surface mining further west.

“The mining doesn’t look like conventional mining,” he said. “But any miner would understand that it would be called mining. There’s no machinery obviously, but there were tools and levers.”

Published in 2014, Dark Emu was critically acclaimed, won major literary awards and has sold a phenomenal 360,000 copies. The Indigenous dance company Bangarra adapted it into a dance and Pascoe wrote a version for young readers.

But there has also been ferocious backlash that questioned Pascoe’s claims about the sophistication of Aboriginal culture and the quality of his research.

The most comprehensive rebuttal came two years ago in anthropologist Peter Sutton and archeologist Keryn Walshe’s book Farmers or Hunter-Gatherers? The Dark Emu Debate.

They argued that Pascoe was broadly wrong in his claims about the sophistication of Aboriginal culture and that his book was poorly researched, exaggerated many points, selectively emphasised evidence to suit his opinions and ignored information that did not support his case.

Sutton and Walshe raise their concerns in The Dark Emu Story, which will screen on the ABC later this year.

But as producer Darren Dale of Blackfella Films has said, the documentary is “us trying to reclaim some of the debate around the book”.

Clarke, a writer-director who is best known for the SBS documentary The Bowraville Murders, is a Muruwari and Gomeroi filmmaker and The Dark Emu Story has Indigenous academic Marcia Langton, broadcasters Stan Grant and Narelda Jacobs, choreographer Stephen Page and others arguing for the book’s importance despite the criticisms.

Originally planned as a three-part series, it is now a single feature-length documentary that is competing in the festival’s $60,000 competition for “audacious, cutting-edge and courageous” films.

“Because the culture wars erupted the way they did, that had to be addressed,” Pascoe said. “That’s now quite a significant part of the film’s purpose, to talk about those issues and how they manifest themselves in Australia.”

Pascoe rejected the criticisms in Sutton and Walshe’s book.

“I find it a little bit embarrassing that people of such great intelligence can avert their eyes from the bleeding obvious,” he said. “The film addresses that and the significance of the new archaeologies is unmissable and this is what I hope Australians will cheer about.

“They will find after watching the film that there are many examples of Aboriginal people having a really strong, well-founded society and economy.”

The controversy has been hard on Pascoe, who says in the documentary that it resulted in him separating from his wife, author Lyn Harwood, for four years and that they still live in different houses, adding: “I just feel very tired in my spirit.”

Before the screening, Pascoe said he expected the backlash.

“I was also expecting the kind of [positive] response that the book had because during its production over a period of five or seven years, I’d come to understand Australia’s craving for a more realistic telling of the history,” he said. “But I knew that there were some in the country that could not tolerate anything but a colonial Raj mentality.”

Andrew Bolt and other conservative commentators have called Dark Emu a literary hoax and claim Pascoe invented an Aboriginal family background.

“I wasn’t surprised at all,” Pascoe said. “Eighty-five per cent of my genes are Cornish and English so I can see both sides of the fence.

“That’s a difficult position to be in. You ask any Aboriginal person how difficult it is to honour both families.

“But it’s really the Australian condition, where we have to come to terms with the fact that for 30, 40 years there were virtually no white women in this country. As a consequence, there are a lot of mixed-race Aboriginal people.”

Pascoe said Australians should be excited by archeological revelations that indicate “a culture that has no other likeness in the world”.

“This last 20 or 30 years has been quite revelatory about the culture of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people,” he said.

The Voice to parliament referendum, Pascoe said, had been caught up in the same culture war as Dark Emu.

“It’s really sad that conversations which should be considered and full of information and progress become three-word slogans – “the Canberra Voice” and things like that, which are just silly,” he said. “Aboriginal people who have misgivings now, should the Voice succeed, will find that it changes a lot.”


The collapse of civilization under black rule

I visited SA both during and after apartheid. During apartheid, Johannesburg was truly a garden city: A most civilized place. No more

Africa’s Richest City Is Crumbling Under Chaos and Corruption. Johannesburg was built on gold. It’s now such a mess that homeless people direct the traffic

Solomon Owa’s fingers work quickly as he speaks over the hum of his sewing machine. That’s because the hum of his sewing machine might stop at any moment. “In a few minutes, the power will go,” he said.

The 51-year-old runs a tailoring business from his garage in Johannesburg. Outages leave him idle for up to 10 hours a day. Surrounded by piles of colorful material, he needs to work while he can.

It’s a rush that South Africans have begrudgingly become accustomed to as they’re forced to use more and more ingenuity to navigate daily life: Charge devices, take a shower before the hot water goes off and leave the house before the traffic lights go out. Schools, hospitals, restaurants and businesses rely on backup generators to keep running. Homeless people guide vehicles through potholed streets for cash.

The continent’s richest city was built on gold, but it’s now defined by chaos, crime and corruption more than ever. It encapsulates the wider collapse of basic services across South Africa. From a broken railway network disrupting trade to archaic sanitation that triggered a recent cholera outbreak near the capital, Pretoria, parts of the country increasingly look like a failing state.

At the heart of the dysfunction in Johannesburg is a governance crisis. Since the country’s governing national party, the African National Congress, lost control of the city in 2016, unstable coalitions have resulted in six mayors in four years. The current leader is a member of a party that holds 1% of the municipality’s 270 seats.

Services and maintenance are the most visible casualty. Then there are the rolling blackouts implemented by Eskom Holdings SOC Ltd.

The state-owned power utility, which has become a byword in recent years for South Africa’s troubles, has a fleet of coal-fired power stations that are old, poorly maintained and badly designed. The shutdowns are known locally as “loadshedding” and last for up to four and a half hours at a time.

The country still functions, but the hurdles are getting higher. “We may not be at a point in South Africa where we are a failed state, but we are certainly a failed government,” said Tessa Dooms, director of policy at Rivonia Circle, a non-profit organization whose stated aim is to transform South Africa into a “robust, sustainable democracy.”

“We don’t feel the effects of having a failed state because of other sectors of society continuing to function,” she said. “But we certainly are feeling the effects of failed governance.”

Johannesburg needed 300 billion rand ($16.3 billion) to build new infrastructure — power, water, sanitation — and make repairs, according to former Mayor Mpho Phalatse, who was voted out of office in January. The current administration plans to spend the lion’s share of its latest budget on “sustainable services” to help clear the backlog of improvements.

That’s about 60 billion rand, according to the plan unveiled on June 13 by Dada Morero, another former mayor and now an ANC member of the finance committee. “While we are cognizant of the growing backlogs, we are limited in our ability to respond due to the suppressed revenue performance in recent years,” he said.

Johannesburg became Africa’s richest city thanks to a gold rush that started in the late 19th century and continued through the apartheid era. The metropolis of more than 5 million people then became the economic dynamo of Nelson Mandela’s “Rainbow Nation” and the hope for prosperity that came with it.

Almost half of the population is unemployed and living in poverty. Nationwide, the jobless rate stands at 32.9%. Around 18 million people rely on some form of social aid, which makes the number of beneficiaries twice as many as registered taxpayers.

Meanwhile, crime has proliferated. The once flourishing central business district is an eyesore where derelict buildings are hijacked by criminal syndicates, forcing out major commercial operations from the area. For more petty criminals, in vogue are cables and metals that can be stolen from electricity substations and sold on the black market. Others just try to connect to the grid illegally.

The power cuts make the morning and evening commute an obstacle course as motorists weave around gaping holes, uncovered manholes, unattended sinkholes and exposed power cables. Seeing homeless people in groups of up to 10 control traffic when the lights go out is now a common occurrence.

Given Masiyendi, a self-appointed traffic controller, moved to Johannesburg eight years ago from his village in Venda more than 500 kilometers (310 miles) away. Things didn’t go his way and he found himself on the streets. His latest gig has proven more lucrative than begging.

In the morning, Masiyendi goes to a corner shop where the owner gives him the loadshedding schedule for the day so he can position himself by the traffic lights when they go out.

Motorists embrace the makeshift solution to keep traffic moving, given a trip that should take 15 minutes can end up being two hours. On an average day Masiyendi says he can make up to 300 rand in tips from drivers.

Officials are less happy. “Police have been the most hostile towards us,” said Masiyendi, 32. They get picked up and dumped on the outskirts of the city, he said. “Our only crime is directing traffic.”

The outages also provide the cover of darkness for more serious misdemeanor. In Roodepoort, west of Johannesburg, 12 mini local substations costing 700,000 rand each, have had to be replaced in the space of two weeks.

Residents in the suburb of Fleurhof went without power for six days after a transformer was stolen during loadshedding between 10 p.m. and 12:30 a.m. one night. Local resident Sipho Masigo, 45, said he had to rely on a small gas cylinder to heat water and barbecue what they could.

“All of our food for the month was spoilt,” he said on his street near the vandalized electricity station, eerily quiet except for the buzz of a generator coming from the only house with lights. “On day four we had to take out all the meat, braai it, eat it and give the rest away.”

City Power, which procures electricity from Eskom and distributes it in Johannesburg, reckons it lost more than 500 million rand over the past year as a result of materials damaged or stolen during loadshedding. The infrastructure is unable to cope with the surge that comes with the return of power, which damages cables and substations, prolonging darkness for days at a time.

There’s also the question of whether they can get hold of the supply in the first place. “As a business we pay around 19 billion rand to Eskom for electricity annually, but half the time we don’t get that electricity,” said City Power spokesman Isaac Mangena. “It means that we have wasted that money and we are not making any profit.”

Eskom Chairman Mpho Makwana said in an interview with Bloomberg on June 9 that a change in management structure has helped improve performance and blackouts are being reduced.

That’s probably little conciliation to Justice Ikechukwu Oparaugo. His small restaurant in the inner city has been hit by both crime and power outages.

The once lucrative business is now on its last legs because of energy insecurity. Oparaugo, 52, was forced to dismiss half his staff and move to a smaller premises, but he is still losing money. On a day last month, he had cooked 2,000 rand worth of food and sold only a fifth of that. A local gang also demanded that he pay 350 rand a week in protection money.

“In the morning I can no longer start cooking early like I used to because they take electricity,” said Oparaugo, who added that he couldn’t afford to buy a generator or switch to gas like some larger restaurants. “When you wake up, it’s not there.”

A number of business leaders have raised the alarm over the nation’s current trajectory. The central bank estimates that power cuts cost the economy 900 million rand a day and will shave two percentage points off this year’s growth rate.

In recent weeks, they met with President Cyril Ramaphosa and pledged their support in the three critical areas of energy, logistics and law and order, according to Cas Coovadia, chief executive officer of lobby group Business Unity South Africa.

For Solomon Owa, the tailor, it feels like he’s been here before. Now married with two children, he moved to South Africa 23 years ago from Nigeria’s Delta state as the country faced energy insecurity that crippled the economy.

The first sign of decay he noticed was the dirt, how he needed to polish his shoes more often, he said. Then came the rest. “What happens when the lights go out? Vandalizing starts,” he said. “My country went the same way, the same route. After some years, things fall apart. Everything is gone.”


Japanese burger chain wins legal stoush with landlord over Covid pandemic rent reduction

I am quite a fan of MOS burgers so I am pleased that they had a win. Making their landlord pay for losses caused by government policy is regrettable, though. Compensation should have come from the government

image from

A Japanese-themed burger chain with three outlets in Queensland has won a legal stoush with its Brisbane city landlord over a bid to pay half-rent during the toughest six months of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The dispute between MOS Burger Australia Pty Ltd and its landlord in the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal revealed the extent of its massive sales slump at its store at 79 Adelaide St in Brisbane’s CBD.

In April 2020, sales slumped 92 per cent compared to the previous year, to $12,091, the court heard.

The next month sales were zero and in June they fell 93 per cent compared to the 2019 figure to just $10,217, the tribunal heard.

MOS applied to the tribunal to get rent relief from landlords Telado Pty Ltd and G & J Drivas Pty Ltd because the sales of the CBD store slumped in the six months to September 2020.

They claimed relief under state laws passed in 2020 aimed at helping struggling small businesses during the pandemic.

The three members of the tribunal ruled they were satisfied that Mos Burger met the requirement of being a small business during the pandemic.

The tribunal ruled that MOS was entitled to pay 50 per cent of its rent for each month between April and September 2020.

It ruled that MOS should be able to waive payment of $106,043 in rent due to the pandemic, so it was allowed to pay $185,953 in rent instead of the usual rent of $291,966.

The landlords, Telado and G & J Drivas, unsuccessfully argued that MOS was 40 per cent owned by two large Taiwan-stockmarket listed companies so should not be considered a small business.

MOS is part-owned by An-Shin Food Services Ltd, listed on the Taiwanese stock exchange and Teco Australia Pty Ltd whose board members include the chairman of Teco Electric & Machinery Co Ltd, a company also listed on the Taiwanese stock exchange.

For 2020, An-Shin had revenue of $US187m ($$250m) and Teco had revenue of $US74m ($$99).

There are still three other MOS stores open in Queensland – in Sunnybank, Westfield Mt Gravatt and at Australia Fair on the Gold Coast – which sell Wagyu beef burgers as well as katsu and karaage chicken burgers, or burgers with lettuce instead of a bread bun.

The chain opened its first Australian store in 2011.


Forza Berlusconi! Silvio in Sardinia

A brilliant essay below by Boris Johnson. As one rather expects of a Latinist, Boris is a past-master at English writing and he magnificently turns his talent below to writing humorous and vivid prose.  You have to know what an inflorescence is, though.

I grew up among Italians and tend to  like them and Berlusconi was enormously Italian -- something that Italians recognized well and rewarded with their votes.  I miss him and am pleased that the essay below encapsulates him so marvellously

My favourite Silvio anecdote is when he congratulated Barack Obama on his suntan.  The American media were beside themselves with horror over it but Italians laughed

Silvio Berlusconi, who had three spells as Italian prime minister, has died at the age of 86. Boris Johnson, at the time editor of this magazine, and Nicholas Farrell were summoned to interview him in 2003.

It is twilight in Sardinia. The sun has vanished behind the beetling crags. The crickets have momentarily stopped. The machine-gun-toting guards face out into the maquis of myrtle and olive, and the richest man in Europe is gripping me by the upper arm. His voice is excited. ‘Look’ he says, pointing his flashlight. ‘Look at the strength of that tree.’ It is indeed a suggestive sight.

An olive of seemingly Jurassic antiquity has grown from a crack in the rock, and like some patient wooden python it has split the huge grey boulder in two. ‘Extraordinary,’ I murmur. My host and I stand lost in awe at olive power. If Silvio Berlusconi, 67, Italian Prime Minister, is secretly hoping that a metaphor will form in my head, he is not disappointed.

What does it show, this outrageous olive, but the force which through the green fuse drives Berlusconi himself? And what does it stand for, this colossal cracked stone? You could try the Italian political establishment; or the European liberal elite; or just civilised Western opinion: all things which Silvio has scandalised and divided. Only last week the Swedish foreign minister, Anna Lindh, anathematised not just Berlusconi, but Italy itself.

Under the government of Forza Italia, she claimed, Italy could no longer be said to be part of the Western European tradition or share its values. You may think that a flaming cheek, given that Europe’s founding text is the Treaty of Rome. Where was Sweden, hey, at the 1955 Conference of Messina? You may find, like me, that at the sight of Berlusconi being monstered by Anna Lindh, your sword instinctively flies from its scabbard in his defence. But it was the attack by the Economist newspaper that, I suspect, got in among Berlusconi and his team, not least because it is read in — or lies inert on the coffee tables of – American boardrooms.

Twice now, this distinguished paper (motto: the wit to be dull) has given Silvio a frenzied kicking. It has said that he is not fit to govern Italy, and in a recent edition it laid 28 charges against him and said that not only was he unfit to govern Italy, he was also unfit to be president of the EU — an office he holds until December. It is the Economist attack which may have contributed to the presence of The Spectator here amid the wattle and rosemary of his 170 acre Costa Smeralda estate. Nick Farrell, our Italy correspondent and biographer of Mussolini, has flown in from Predappio. I have been summoned from the other side of the island where, coincidentally, the Johnson family has also been staying in infinitely less splendid accommodation.

When Farrell and I meet for a tactics talk in a Porto Rotondo bar, we decide that the charges must of course be raised with signor il presidente, as the Prime Minister is confusingly called. But we know that we are unlikely to reach a verdict on the key questions, relating as they do to the abortive 1985 sale of a state-owned biscuit company to Buitoni, the spaghetti kings. Let us leave those matters to the lawyers and the desiccated calculators of the Economist. We have a broader and higher purpose: that is, to establish whether or not we feel that Sig. Berlusconi is on the whole a force for good in Italy, Europe and the world.

For three hours we have been in his presence. We have sat at a table in his drawing room, Berlusconi at the head, nipples showing through his white Marlon Brando pyjama-suit, and from time to time that table has been pounded vigorously enough to shake the glass bibelots and naked female figurines that dot the room. We have drunk pints of sweet iced tea, brought silently and unprompted, as he has outlined his robust, neo-conservative view of the world. At one stage, after about an hour, the Prime Minister has vanished into the kitchen himself, and caused the appearance of three plates of vanilla and pistachio ice cream, as if to refuel his torrential loquacity. We have heard him extol Thatcher, praise Blair (I have never known us to disagree on anything), laud Bush and damn the Italian magistracy as ‘anthropologically diverse from the rest of humanity.’

It has been, says Valentino, his charming interpreter, the most detailed and generous interview that the leader has ever given, and by 7 p.m. Farrell and I are feeling, frankly, a bit limp. But there is no stopping the balding, beaming, bouncing multi-billionaire. He had a brush with cancer a couple of years ago; his skin is a little sallow for a man who has spent August in Sardinia; he looks less like a million dollars than a million lire. But he is the fizziest old dog you have ever seen. ‘Facciamo un giro,’ he says, by which he means, let’s go for a ride.

When Berlusconi takes the wheel of a golf buggy, he does not trundle: he prefers to whang it and weave it down the swept paths of his estate, like Niki Lauda on the Monza hairpin. And as his passengers sway like sea anemones, he gestures at a landscape which is, of course, naturally lovely, with the sun setting and the Tyrrhenian sea turning from indigo to faded denim. But everywhere he sees signs of his own handiwork and everything seems somehow the product of his own imagination. ‘There’ he says, pointing to a bank of blue plumbago. ‘This is the flower of Forza Italia. The flower doesn’t know it, but I know it.’

Forza Italia! Come on, Italy! The very name, with its football-terrace echo, is enough to wrinkle the nostrils of Anna Lindh and the Euro-nomenklatura. Forza Italia was the movement he founded in 1994 with his $12 billion fortune, and with which he first seized the premiership, only to lose it when his right-wing allies ratted on him, and the lawyers closed in. He was indicted on various charges of bribery and corruption. He struggled on in opposition. But the forza was strong in Berlusconi and in 2001 he came storming back. From port to port went the Forza Italia cruise ship — not unlike the one on which the 17-year-old Berlusconi had sung — and adoring crowds were produced for the cameras. At a cost of $20 million he peppered 12 million Italian households with his magnificent, 128-page all-colour Berluscography, An Italian Life. In it they found a story of fantastic, volcanic American self-propulsion; the early skill in Latin and Greek, a facility he hired for cash to less able pupils; the devoted friends who have remained with him as he expanded his empire, beginning with the town he built in 1960 in a swamp outside Milan which has 4,000 inhabitants and which seems from its photographs to be agreeable in a Milton Keynes-ish way.

We have sat at a table in his drawing room, Berlusconi at the head, nipples showing through his white Marlon Brando pyjama-suit, and from time to time that table has been pounded vigorously enough to shake the glass bibelots and naked female figurines that dot the room

They learnt of his first wife and how their feelings for each other turned ‘from love to friendship’ before he acquired his second wife, knock-out blonde soap-star Veronica Lario. There was news about his suits (Ferdinando Caraceni), his cook, his cancer and, above all, the testimony of his mother Rosella. Silvio’s mother said Silvio was a hell of a guy, and whatever Silvio’s mother said, other mothers took very seriously. Studded on every page were his cheery chipmunk grin and his Disneyish nose. To every small Italian businessman he stood for optimism and confidence and an ability to get things done. And here, in the first stop of our wacky races golf-cart tour, is a lesson in his can-do approach.

One day Silvio came along and found they had flattened the trees, in a 50-metre radius, to make a helicopter pad. He didn’t want a helicopter pad. He was devastated. He went to sleep on Easter night, wrestling with the problem. ‘At a certain point I decided that out of each evil you must find a good thing. I thought I could create a labyrinth, and then I decided to make something which had never existed before — a museum of cacti!’ We dismount and admire this bizarre amphitheatre in which an audience of 4,000 prickly customers, comprising 400 species from seven countries, looks down from circular terraces on to a beautiful blue pool facing out to the bay. It is cracked but somehow brilliant.

‘This is the brain of my finance minister,’ says Silvio, pointing to a thing looking like a wrathful artichoke, ‘ideas everywhere.’ He caresses the powdery flanks of another plant to show its ingenious defence against climbing ants. ‘And this,’ he says, pointing to a villainous set of spines, ‘is the mother-in-law’s cushion. This rock came from Lanzarote!’ Why did it come from Lanzarote? Was it really essential, this red pumice? Perhaps not: but it showed that Silvio could move mountains.

He has certainly moved Farrell, who is evincing signs of rapture. ‘Bravo, Signor Presidente’ says the biographer of Mussolini. Veramente bravo!’

Berlusconi waves aside our enthusiasm but cannot resist the moral. ‘See,’ he says, ‘this is what the private sector can do! I did this! I did it in three months!’ I did this: the boast of every alpha male. Thus the three-year-old to his doting mother; thus Agrippa on the frieze of the Pantheon.

The Italian population liked him for his energy and they handsomely returned him. In 2001 he achieved an unprecedented majority, commanding both houses of parliament. He had a huge opportunity to enact what he proclaimed was his vision: a Thatcherian tax-cutting reform of Italy. His enemies went into spasms of indignation and, in truth, one can see the cause of their unease. It is unsettling that one man should have such a concentration of commercial and political authority. It does make one queasy to think that this charming man is not only the biggest media magnate in Italy, owning Mondadori, the biggest publisher, AC Milan, the biggest football club, several newspapers and a huge chunk of Italian television — but is also Prime Minister.

We put these concerns to him and Berlusconi bats it all back in phrases honed with use. No, he didn’t go into politics to protect his own commercial interests, as Enzo Biagi, a columnist, has alleged that he privately confessed. ‘I couldn’t work all my life in Italy with a communist, left-wing government,’ he says. No, there is no conflict of interest. People can write what they like in his papers. ‘I am the most liberal publisher in history.’ And no, the Economist charges are old, footling, groundless, and the table incurs a good thudding as he iterates his defence.

It is quite the done thing, he protests, to pass a law exempting himself from prosecution for the term of his office. Chirac has done the same. But it was never our goal, in this interview, to establish the dodginess of his business practices. We were trying only to judge whether he was on balance a good thing. Our answer, when the trolley ride finally ends and we are sitting like a pair of oiled guillemots over a beer in Porto Rotondo, is an unambiguous yes.

It is hard not to be charmed by a man who takes such an interest in cacti and who will crack jokes at important EU gatherings, not only about Nazi camp commandants but also about whether or not his wife is running off with someone else. There is something heroic about his style, something hilariously imperial — from the huge swimming pool he has created by flooding a basin in the Sardinian hills, to the four thalassotherapy pools he has sunk for Veronica, powered by computers more advanced than those used on the moon shots.

It may or not be important that he claims never to have sacked any of his 46,000 employees. We scan closely the faces of his cook and a butler as they pass us in another golf cart and hail him matily. ‘Where are you off to?’ asks Berlusconi. ‘We’re off for a ride!’ they say. Yes, they seem happy. His appeal, for me, is that he is like so many of the things he has brought to this Sardinian coast. He is a transplant.

Suddenly, after decades in which Italian politics was in thrall to a procession of gloomy, portentous, jargon-laden partitocrats, there appeared this influorescence of American gung-hoery. Yes, he may have been involved in questionable business practices; he may even yet be found out and pay the price. For the time being, though, it seems reasonable to let him get on with his programme. He may fail. But then, of course — and this is the point that someone should write in block capitals, fold up and stuff in the mouth of Anna Lindh, Swedish foreign minister — he can be rejected by the Italian people.

She may not like it but he was democratically elected and can be removed by the very people Anna Lindh insults. If we are obliged to compare Silvio Berlusconi with Anna Lindh, and other bossy, high-taxing European politicians. I agree with Farrell: as the narrator says of Jay Gatsby, a man Berlusconi to some extent resembles, he is ‘better than the whole damn lot of them’.


Newspaper apologises for coverage of 1838 Aboriginal massacre

How can they apologize for something they didn't do?  The SMH has undergone several changes of ownership  since 1838 and the staff have undergone even more changes.  There is no known link between the person who wrote the 1838 article and anyone now involved with the paper.  

So what is the "apology" about?  I think it has to do with the current obsession with Aborigines that has been been put on high beam by the "Voice" referendum.  The SMH just wants to be in among the virtuous as far as Aborigines are concerned.

And part of that would simply be to raise awareness of the bad things that 19th century whites sometimes did to blacks.  It is an attempt to put present-day white Australians on a guilt trip.  But there is no cause for such guilt.  British justice prevailed in the 1838 matter and the white murderers were hanged for their deeds. Equality before the law prevailed even back then.  If anything, present day Australians can be proud of how justly the institutions of their ancestors ultimately acted

The Sydney Morning Herald has issued an apology for their historical coverage of the Myall Creek massacre.

In 1838, at least 28 unarmed Indigenous Australians were killed by 12 colonists at the Myall Creek near the Gwydir River, in northern New South Wales.

“In several editorials published before, during, and after two Sydney trials in late 1838 relating to the massacre, the Herald essentially campaigned for the 11 accused mass murderers to escape prosecution,” an editorial in the 9 June edition said.

“It also opposed the death sentence eventually handed to seven of the men.

“In one editorial published ahead of the trials and amid a public debate about legal protections for Aboriginal people, the Herald proclaimed: ‘The whole gang of black animals are not worth the money the colonists will have to pay for printing the silly documents on which we have already wasted too much time’.”

The newspaper also encouraged readers “to shoot and kill Aboriginal people if they ever felt threatened”.

The newspaper owned up to the errors made and issued an apology for their coverage, writing: “The Herald has a long and proud history of telling the Australian story. But on Myall Creek, the truth is we failed dismally.”


After the demise of Hillsong, is there a place for the church in modern Australia?

There is always great condemnation when prominent Christian leaders and preachers "go off the rails".  But that is inevitable. The standards Christians  try to live up to are impossibly high, inhumanly high.  Take Christ's teachings as recorded in Matthew 5.  Excerpt:

"Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth:  But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.  40 And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloak also.  And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain"

No normal human being could live up to that but insofar as people try we would live in a much kinder and more peaceful world. Let us be thankful for the high standards Christians set for themselves and find no cause for condemnation when their normal human instincts reassert themselves in various ways

Only a few years ago, Hillsong – a Pentecostal church planted in the north-western suburbs of Sydney in the 80s – was one of Australia's biggest and most successful exports.

"It should go iron ore, the Hemsworth Brothers, then Hillsong – it's massive," Marc Fennell told the ABC's The Drum.

His latest documentary for SBS, The Kingdom, charts the rise – and fall – of the megachurch that he was once a member of.

Mr Fennell isn't the only one interested in the subject matter. Earlier this year, American television network FX released a four-part documentary, The Secrets of Hillsong, and the Herald Sun launched its investigative podcast about the church, Faith on Trial.

Yet amid the scandals plaguing Hillsong, the Pentecostal church movement in Australia has survived.

The fall of Hillsong is not a unique story in Christianity

At its height, Hillsong was hosting prime ministers at their church services and conferences, winning multiple Grammys, and counting celebrities like Justin Bieber and Vanessa Hudgens among its members.

In recent years, allegations of trauma, abuse, fraud, cover-ups and exploitation have come to the fore, culminating in the resignation of Hillsong founder Brian Houston earlier this year.

But scandal is not a unique experience for the Christian church – Pentecostal, or otherwise.  Director of the Centre for Public Christianity Simon Smart says churches of all denominations have "good moments" and "regrettable ones" as they've evolved, adapted and reformed alongside social and cultural changes.

"Pentecostalism isn't alone in having its imperfections," he told the ABC's The Drum. "On a grand scale, you have the 16th-century Protestant Reformation that was responding to serious corruption within the church," Mr Smart explains.

"In recent times, churches have responded to deep systemic flaws when it came to responding to and taking preventative measures against sexual abuse within its walls.

"What was a terrible chapter in church history led to serious self-assessment and changes to internal practices such that church communities are now much safer places for children than they once were."

Mr Smart also noted that celebrity culture has had a negative influence on the church.  "I don't think [celebrity] has any place there," he said on The Drum.  "The founder of Christianity, Jesus Christ, was everything other than that – he was all about humility, compassion and love, and not about the grand gestures."

Tania Harris is an ordained Pentecostal minister who works in churches across all denominations in Australia and abroad.

"Wherever you find humanity, you'll find flawed humanity," Rev Harris says, "and where there is great success, those flaws can become apparent."

She believes that the rapid growth and success of Australian Pentecostalism contributed to its downfall.

"I've watched churches grapple with this since the pandemic and since the scandals have been exposed," Rev Harris says.


Hydrocarbons in space

"Fossil" fuels are alleged to be created by decaying plant matter. Chemically they are hydrocarbons. How come they are found in space? Fossils in space? Could it be that such fuels are primordial, not the product of ANY terrestrial process? This finding is yet more evidence in favour of the abiotic theory of "fossil" fuel origin

Astronomers using the James Webb Space Telescope discovered evidence of complex organic molecules in a galaxy 12.3 billion light-years away — the furthest and oldest ever detected.

Scientists using the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) have spotted a cloud of complicated organic molecules in a galaxy 12.3 billion light-years away — the farthest from Earth that molecules of this kind have ever been detected. The discovery, which was published on June 5 in the journal Nature, might help astronomers piece together a clearer picture of how galaxies develop.

"We didn't expect this," Joaquin Vieira, an astronomer at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and co-author of the new study, said in a press release. "Detecting these complex organic molecules at such a vast distance is game-changing."

The complex molecules in question are called polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). On Earth, PAHs are commonly found in wildfire smoke and car exhaust. In space, they might play a crucial role in star formation. Scientists suspect that they help regulate the temperature of gas clouds in stellar nurseries, thereby managing when and where stars develop, Nature reported.

Researchers first detected the galaxy, dubbed SPT0418-47, in 2020 using the National Science Foundation's ground-based South Pole Telescope. The distant mass of stars was only visible thanks to a trick of physics known as gravitational lensing. This effect occurs when light from a faraway object bends around a massive, nearby object, due to the closer object's gravity. In the process, the faraway light is distorted and magnified; in SPT0418-47's case, it appeared 30 times brighter.

The team studied this light, and their initial analysis indicated that SPT0418-47 was rich in heavy elements. But the scientists couldn't get a good look at its organic, carbon-containing components using the South Pole Telescope, which doesn't pick up the right wavelength of light.

A schematic showing a telescope looking past a nearby galaxy to see a far distant one

An illustration showing how astronomers use gravitational lensing to view distant galaxies that should be far beyond our sight. (Image credit: S. Doyle / J. Spilker)
JWST, however, can peer into exactly the right infrared range to detect PAHs. Sure enough, when the team trained the space-based telescope on the galaxy last August, a mess of complex organic molecules stood out.

"Everywhere we see the molecules there are stars forming," Justin Spilker, an astronomer at Texas A&M University and co-author of the study, told Nature. This supports the hypothesis that organic molecules help to birth stars.

But weirdly, there were also patches of the galaxy that lacked PAH clouds — and the team observed stars forming in those spots as well. "That’s the part we don’t understand yet," Spilker said. Understanding why and how stars form in these regions, and how they interact with organic molecules, will require further study.

"This work is just the first step," Vieira said. "We are very excited to see how this plays out."