The Surge of Populism -- and Nationalism

Michael Barone is a respected conservative commentator but he has missed the point below. Trump is popular but that does not make him a populist. Populists are generally poorly informed, not graduates of the Wharton School. Nor is he a nationalist. Read Orwell for a very clear definition of nationalism.

Trump is simply an enthusiastic patriot. His love of America comes strongly through and endears him to masses of his fellow Americans. And his policies are in no need of new labels either. He is a conservative, very much so, but one with a take on economic issues that is both old and new -- but was also thoroughly conservative in practice. Read below for an understanding of that

Historical context below:

Perhaps in passing I should mention that noted British conservative philosopher Roger Scruton saw patriotism and conservatism as very closely allied

"Populist politicians and parties," writes the Ethics and Public Policy Center's Henry Olsen in The Spectator, are "rapidly gaining strength and power across the developed world." They're doing so despite the opposition and angry scorn of political and intellectual establishments of Left and Right and with a resilience that they find baffling.

Nothing exemplifies that resilience more than the current standing of Donald Trump's third presidential campaign. Trump didn't come close to a plurality, much less a majority, of the popular vote as the Republican nominee in 2016 and 2020; his conduct led to his party's loss of its House majority in 2018, and his endorsements of weak nominees cost it its Senate majority in 2022. Of course, despite his claims, he failed to win reelection in November 2020.

But there he sits, despite four indictments with 91 counts, polling 59% against multiple opponents in primary pairings and a 45%-45% tie against President Joe Biden, who led him 51%-47% in 2020.

As Olsen points out, Trump isn't the only politician often labeled as a populist who is doing well despite elite scorn. Italy's prime minister, Giorgia Meloni, comes from a party with roots in the fascist movement of Benito Mussolini. Though Mussolini has been dead for 78 years, that aroused more unease than the election of a former Communist to that post in 1998, just nine years after the fall of the Berlin Wall.

Other populists doing well lately include Germany's Alternative fur Deutschland and Canadian Conservative party leader Pierre Poilievre, longtime Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and, back in 2019, former British Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

In different ways and to different extents, these populists abjure the market economics and interventionist foreign policies of Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher and have been winning the votes without entirely endorsing the platforms of cultural conservatives.

The stock response of financial and corporate establishments has been to use any means to exclude such politicians from positions of power. In this country, that has included concocting and promoting the Russia collusion hoax rather than accepting Trump's election as legitimate and using intelligence officials to muscle social media to suppress news of the legitimate Hunter Biden scandal in 2020.

Now, the establishment may be throwing in the towel. In its most recent edition, the London-based Economist left off worrying about populists' supposed authoritarianism and conceded that "Europe is not about to be overrun by fascists, in a repeat of the 1930s."

"Rather than trying to exclude hard-right parties entirely from government and public debate," it went on, "the best response is for mainstream parties to engage with them, and on occasion to do deals with them. If they have to take some responsibility for actually governing, they may grow less radical."

Quite possibly, and quite possibly, some establishment folks may one day concede that some of their policies and presuppositions have not worked out well. Olsen cites "the blind faith elites had that the pursuit of wealth would transform China's Communist party," the "elite economic mismanagement" that caused the 2008 financial crash and today's inflation, and "elite insistence that traditional mores be disregarded," which has led to "culture wars." He might have added the overly stringent and scientifically unjustified COVID-19 lockdowns in this and other countries.

Some 30 years ago, in the late Irving Kristol's Public Interest Quarterly, I wrote an article in which I argued that democracies have had "four major types of political parties: religious, liberal, socialist, and nationalist." Some democracies over the preceding 160 and the intervening 30 years have fared better than others.

Religious parties in Europe have disappeared or changed character with the decline of religious belief. The Republican Party, for three decades since the 1980s, has had some of the character of a religious party, which has faded in the Trump years, while today's Democratic Party sometimes advocates with religious fervor the secular liberalism of an increasing number of its supporters. As I predicted in 1993, "parties will attack their opponents by calling them religious."

Liberal parties dedicated to 19th-century liberalism, free trade, market economics, religious toleration, and freedom succumbed in the 20th century to socialist parties closely allied with labor unions. Grover Cleveland's laissez-faire Democrats become Woodrow Wilson's statist Democrats. Britain's Liberal Party, with a 397-156 seat margin in 1906 and a front bench with two later wartime prime ministers, David Lloyd George and Winston Churchill, faded to third-party status as Labour elected a prime minister in 1924.

Anti-clerical liberal parties in Italy, Spain, and France "died from failure of nerve," as I wrote, failing to protect democracy against Mussolini, Franco, and Vichy. Socialist policies didn't work and were repudiated by Thatcher and Reagan -- and Tony Blair and Bill Clinton.

The democratic parties with staying power have been nationalist parties -- "not the nationalism of Hitler, of course," as I wrote in 1993, but the "nationalism that is open to various economic programs and compatible with cultural toleration." Olsen identifies "national solidarity" as the guiding principle of populist voters, who favor "the particular over the global, the communal over the individual, and the traditional over the novel."

"The United States may be entering a happy period," I wrote in 1993, "where it has two nationalist parties, with differing positions on important cultural and economic issues, but a fundamentally favorable outlook toward American nationalism, a condition we have not enjoyed since the mid-1960s."

Those hopes have been disappointed, most recently by the personal shortcomings of Donald Trump and Joe Biden, by the refusal of Trump's opponents to accept the legitimacy of his victory in 2016 -- and by his refusal to accept the legitimacy of theirs in 2020. It's looking like they will be disappointed for some time to come.


Kerry White: Indigenous No campaigner describes the Stolen Generation as a 'mistruth'

That white social workers took abused black and mixed-race children out of their abusive families and fostered them to caring white families does NOT create a stolen generation.  A rescued generation, more like it  The families of origin sometimes wanted their children back but the social workers were rightly  cautious about that.  They would have been slow to return children of any colour to an abusive family.  There is a high incidence of child abuse among Aborigines to this day

An indigenous No campaigner says use of the term Stolen Generation is among the 'mistruths' being raised in the debate over the Voice referendum.

Narungga woman Kerry White, who stood as a One Nation candidate in the last South Australian election and is scheduled to speak at a 'Freedom Rally' in Adelaide this weekend, made the comments at a No event in June.

This weekend's event is part of a series of No rallies across Australia standing against what it bills as 'hidden agendas of the Voice and other unlawful forms of tyranny'.

The protest also targets vaccine mandates and a bill to censor online 'misinformation' which has been proposed by Labor.

At a previous referendum event held in Adelaide in June, Ms White rationalised the policy of removing Aboriginal children from their families - known as the Stolen Generation - as sometimes necessary.

'Back in the early 1950s and 1960s, mixed race children were being removed and placed in institutions for their own safety,' she said.  'Mixed race children were not accepted by blacks or white, and were being abused.

'The problem is in rural and remote communities we are so far away from mainstream that a lot of things go unnoticed.'

Ms White is a board member for Recognise A Better Way, one of two prominent No campaigns rallying against the Voice.

Former Labor MP Gary Johns is another prominent member of the group, who was recently criticised for advocating for genetic testing to determine whether someone can be regarded as Aboriginal and be eligible for services and positions reserved for Indigenous people.

Dr Johns' comments sparked outrage from politicians and officials committed to the Yes vote.

Ms White has previously said things must change if Australia seeks to 'improve outcomes for Aboriginal people in rural and remote Australia' - but she does not think the Voice is the solution.

'What is clear is we need transparency, productivity and accountability for all the taxpayer dollars spent by organisations and the government.

'What we don't need is more of the same BS that for generations ... has been built on untruths, half-truths and fiction.'


Perth low-sensory nightclubbing experience a hit for people with a disability

 I am delighted to hear of this.  Fortunately, I am a high-functioning autistic but I still  did from an early age experience basic autism problems.  I have never been able to tolerate nightclubs or big party scenes.  I would have been glad of an alternative when I was young

Consider a packed, dimly lit nightclub full of loud raucous conversations and music.

It can cause sensory overload for neurodiverse people, prompting them to wonder if they should have stayed home because they find it incredibly difficult to acclimatise to an unaccommodating reality.

It is far more difficult to meet new people and form friendships when pubs, bars, and nightclubs do not accommodate disabled patrons.

But in Perth, there is a dedicated group working with young people to break that barrier.  Community Access Squad (CAS) is specifically aimed at supporting people with a range of disabilities to build confidence through socialising, including in the local nightclub scene.

Tarkin Barker loves the group's low-sensory Dance Ability club nights in Fremantle.  The 20-year-old, with autism and an intellectual disability, said he wouldn't have gone to a nightclub by himself without his support worker.

"At night I feel more vulnerable and do not go out without family or formal support," Mr Barker said.  "In noisy and busy places, I require assistance, and I feel overwhelmed when faced with aggression."

Kelly Buckle, who organises the event, said it's a welcoming environment for people of all disabilities.  "Lights are used but no strobes due to seizures, with the music starting low, but it does build," she said.

"We provide ear plugs and a quiet area to desensitise, there is also a garden bar which we also have access to.

"We have photo cards on the bar for those that are minimally verbal to show the bar staff what they would like to drink."  Ms Buckle said she hires the whole of the nightclub and it's a private event.

Mr Barker said it's one of his favourite events on his social calendar.  "It is a friendly environment and there is staff to make sure everything is safe," he said.

"Going to this nightclub event has allowed me to be part of the community and be independent from my family."

Michael Gray attended the one of the club nights last week and said it was a fun environment for everyone.  "[I enjoyed the] music and dancing with all my friends and just being able to let loose and let my hair down and I don't get to do that often," he said.  "So, it's just fun."

Mr Gray said it's a great way to get people together.  "Kelly [Ms Buckle] has always been very open and allowed anyone with disabilities, anyone to come and express themselves and have fun," he said.

Professor Andrew Whitehouse from the Telethon Kids Institute said there were a range of challenges autistic people face in social situations.

"[These] can include difficulties in reading non-verbal cues and body language, sensory differences that can lead to overwhelming situations environments, and a preference for routine," he said.


Blackwashing: False stories about black prominence

Threre is a good summary of past blackwashing episodes below:

If you listen to some historians there have been blacks in Britain since prehistoric times. How you tell skin colour from a skeleton is unclear. But a new example of blackwashing has emerged in the form of a book called "Brilliant Black British History". It says; "the very first Britons were black” -- with not a shred of good evidence for most of the claims. Even Stonehenge was built by blacks, allegedly.

The one bit of real evidence offered is that the Roman historian Tacitus reported that the Silures people in Wales were “dark-skinned and curly-haired”. In Tacitus’ full account, he theorised that they may have been from Spain.

The account by Tacitus is confirmed by Jordanes in his "Origins and Deeds of the Goths , where he says, “The Silures have swarthy features and are usually born with curly black hair ... They are like the Gauls or the Spaniards.” So both ancient authors saw the Silures as having a Mediterranean appearance, not an African appearance.

A fuller critique of the book below:

Such appropriations have been rather common from American black authors -- again as mere evidence free assertions. Blacks built the pyramids, of course. I have written on that before. See:

One instance of blackwashing stands out, however: A BBC program in 2017 that describes black and mixed-race families in Britain during the Roman era. It has the distinction that a couple of British historians have defended it. A graphic from the BBC program.

I have commented on the claims of British hisorian Mary Beard elsewhere so will not repeat that. Link below:

A much more sustained defence of Africans in Roman Britain comes from Mike Stuchbery so I partly reproduce it below. Stuchbery's argument is mainly in a long series of tweets, which would be rather tedious to reproduce but the opening of the article concerned is as follows:
Alt-right commentator gets 'schooled' by historian over diversity in Roman Britain

An alt-right commentator who complained about the BBC portraying Roman Britain as ethnically diverse has sparked a row with a historian on Twitter.

Paul Joseph Watson (PJW), editor of alt-right website InfoWars, shared a screengrab of a BBC educational video on life in Britain, suggesting it was inaccurate. “Thank God the BBC is portraying Roman Britain as ethnically diverse,” he tweeted. “I mean, who cares about historical accuracy, right?”

Step forward writer and historian Mike Stuchbery, who gave PJW a quick history lesson on ethnic diversity in Roman Britain.

“Roman Britain was ethnically diverse, almost by design. To begin, occupying legions were drawn from other parts of the Empire,” Stuchbery responded.

“Every year we dig up new remains that suggest that Roman Britain, anywhere larger than a military outpost, was an ethnically diverse place.”

All the examples he gives of Africans in Britain are of Mediterranean people, not sub-Saharan Africans. North Africans were and are white, of course. To this day, telling a Berber he is black will get you a dusty response. He will think you are blind or mad.

Berber woman in ethnic dress. It seems likely that the Berbers are in part descendants of the ancient Carthaginians. They are at any event the native people of most of North Africa -- JR


Rooftop solar 'cannibalising' power prices as Australian generators pay to stay online

"Ecological" power generation is basically nuts.  It tries to get something stable out of power sources with wildly fluctuating outputs.  Basically, everybody loses.  For much of the day both the ecological generators AND the conventional generators lose  -- as a big daytime electicity suplus plunges power prices so low that ALL generators get nothing or near nothing for their output

Daytime power prices are plunging into negative territory – meaning generators have to pay to produce – as renewable energy increasingly cannibalises the market, according to experts.

As the share of green energy in Australia's biggest electricity system momentarily reached a record high of 70 per cent this week, energy software company Gridcog said "price cannibalisation" was becoming an increasingly common phenomenon.

Wholesale power prices in the national electricity market across the eastern states dropped to as low as -$64 per megawatt hour last Saturday, when soaring output from millions of rooftop solar panels flooded into the system.

The phenomenon is particularly pronounced in mild, sunny conditions and especially on weekends, when solar output is at its highest but demand for electricity is relatively low.

In a post to its social media followers, Gridcog said large-scale solar farms were, perversely, being hit hardest by the trend because rooftop solar was generally beyond the control of the market operator.

It noted utility-scale solar plants were having to pare back generation or switch off entirely during such periods to avoid having to pay to maintain production.

"Price cannibalisation is a major emerging feature of the energy transition," the company wrote on LinkedIn.

"It occurs when increased volumes of renewables with the same generation profile produce at the same time.

"This depresses prices in the market, often to the point that prices turn negative, and it presents a serious challenge for investors, particularly of utility-scale projects."

The firm said the trend was likely to accelerate as ever-more solar was added to household and business rooftops across the country.

More than 3.3 million Australian homes have solar panels – almost one in three – and there are forecasts this will almost double by 2032.

"These systems compete directly with large utility-scale assets connected to the transmission system," Gridcog wrote.

"As an aside, it also demonstrates the dominance that distributed [rooftop] solar has in Australia compared to utility-scale, something we expect to see more of in other markets in coming years."

Dylan McConnell, a senior research associate from the University of New South Wales, said rooftop solar was no longer a marginal player but central to the running of the grid.

He said the technology was reshaping the power system in sometimes unexpected ways.  "It's very significant in some jurisdictions," Dr McConnell said. "It varies across the country, but in places like South Australia there are periods where production from rooftop solar actually exceeds the demand of the entire state. "It's huge."

Dr McConnell said SA was an extreme example of a different, though related, phenomenon known as minimum operational demand.

The term referred to the minimum level of demand for power from the grid.

Crucially, it stripped out the demand that customers were meeting themselves through resources that sat behind the meter — principally, rooftop solar.

Dr McConnell said generation from rooftop solar panels was so great at times that it was not only meeting owners' demands, but also those of most other customers as well.

He said this was pushing demand for power from the grid ever lower and squeezing out conventional generators such as coal- and gas-fired plants.

But Dr McConnell said the electricity system was not ready to run without those generators, which were increasingly having to ramp up and down to cope with the intermittency of solar supply.

"The other day in NSW, [coal generation] was just above two gigawatts in the middle of the day, and then that evening it was above 9GW," he said.

"So we had a 7GW ramp in the space of a few hours — they're capable of doing it.

But then, I guess more importantly, is the impact on economic viability."  That, says Dr McConnell, represents the challenge.

"When you have low prices in the middle of the day and low volumes, is the increase in prices in the evening and the higher volumes there enough to offset that? The answer to that seems to be no."

Alex Wonhas, a former electricity system planner, noted that record lows for demand for power from the grid were being broken routinely as more and more rooftop solar was added to the system.

"At times when the renewable resources are high they will replace the conventional generators," Dr Wonhas said.

"But then at other times when the wind isn't blowing and the sun isn't shining we need either storage or conventional generators to step in.

"So it's a much more dynamic and much orchestrated system that we're facing in the future."

For Dr McConnell, the growth of rooftop solar in Australia would continue to test other generators and the power system more broadly.


A police raid of a Kansas newsroom raises alarms about violations of press freedom

Small town officials seemed to think that could make the law up as they went along.  The fact that the raid appears to have killed an old lady makes it all the more reprehensible

The judge who signed off on a search warrant authorizing the raid is facing a complaint about her decision and has been asked by a judicial body to respond. Kansas resident Keri Strahler filed the complaint against Judge Laura Viar

Law enforcement officers in Kansas raided the office of a local newspaper and a journalist's home on Friday, prompting outrage over what First Amendment experts are calling a likely violation of federal law.

The police department in Marion, Kansas — a town of about 2,000 — raided the Marion County Record under a search warrant signed by a county judge. Officers confiscated computers, cellphones, reporting materials and other items essential to the weekly paper's operations.

"It took them several hours," Eric Meyer, the Marion County Record's co-owner and publisher, told NPR. "They forbid our staff to come into the newspaper office during that time."

Local authorities said they were investigating the newsroom for "identity theft," according to the warrant. The raid was linked to alleged violations of a local restaurant owner's privacy, when journalists obtained information about her driving record.

Publisher says raid contributed to his mother's death
Meyer's mother, Joan Meyer, collapsed and died one day after police raided her home, the Record reported in an update. She was the newspaper's co-owner.

Joan Meyer was 98 and was "otherwise in good health for her age," the newspaper said. But, it added, she had been unable to eat or sleep after police entered her home Friday under a search warrant.

Joan Meyer "tearfully watched during the raid as police not only carted away her computer and a router used by an Alexa smart speaker but also dug through her son Eric's personal bank and investments statements to photograph them," according to the Record.

Without the devices, she was left unable to stream shows onto her TV or use devices if she needed help, the newspaper said. It also alleged that during the police operation, officers seized a number of devices that went beyond the search warrant's scope and were unrelated to their apparent investigation.

Officers came to Meyer's home around the same time police seized computers, cellphones and other equipment during a search of the Record's offices.

Another injury occurred, the newspaper said, when police chief Gideon Cody "forcibly grabbed" a cellphone from reporter Deb Gruver, alleging that the act injured Gruver's finger that had previously been dislocated.

Newsroom raids are rare in the United States, said Lynn Oberlander, a First Amendment attorney. "It's very rare because it's illegal," Oberlander said. "It doesn't happen very often because most organizations understand that it's illegal."

Several media law experts told NPR the raid appears to be a violation of federal law, which protects journalists from this type of action. The Privacy Protection Act of 1980 broadly prohibits law enforcement officials from searching for or seizing information from reporters.

Oberlander said exceptions to the Privacy Protection Act are "important but very limited."

One such exception allows authorities to raid a newsroom if the journalists themselves are suspected to be involved in the crime at hand. In a statement sent to NPR, Marion Police Chief Gideon Cody cited this exception to justify his department's raid of the Marion County Record.

"It is true that in most cases, [the Privacy Protection Act] requires police to use subpoenas, rather than search warrants, to search the premises of journalists unless they themselves are suspects in the offense that is the subject of the search," Cody said.

But Oberlander said that exception doesn't apply when the alleged crime is connected to newsgathering — which appears to be the case in Marion.

"It raises concern for me," Oberlander said. "It normalizes something that shouldn't be happening — that Congress has said should not happen, that the First Amendment says should not happen."

Ken White, a First Amendment litigator, said police raids of newsrooms used to be more common in the U.S., which led Congress to bolster federal protections against such searches.

White said the police raid of the Marion County Record could also be a violation of the Fourth Amendment, which protects people from "unreasonable" searches and seizures by the government. The search warrant in Marion, signed by county magistrate judge Laura Viar on Friday morning, allowed officers to confiscate a wide range of items, from computers and hardware to reporting documents.

"It's an abuse of power by the police and it's a serious dereliction of duty by the judge who signed off on it," White said.

"I'm a traditional wife who doesn't work or pay bills - I think all women should care for the home while their husbands work because equal marriages are unnatural and unhappy"

The woman below is of Arab origin and Arab societies are very traditional so her decisions are not so surprising in that context.

It does however happen elsewhere also. When I married my third wife I was already well-off so told her she could give up work and become a full-time wife and mother. She leapt at it. She is a very confident and capable person but had always thought that the traditional female role was a good one. She now looks after me in my old age

A woman who believes that equal relationships are 'not natural' has revealed that her husband gives her a percentage of his earnings every month so she doesn't have to work.

Linda Andrade, from California, appeared on a recent episode of Truly's Love Don't Judge to explain her lifestyle.

The 23-year-old proudly stated how she has 'never paid a bill in her life' before declaring that bills are 'irrelevant to her.'

Linda, who once dreamed of being a doctor, explained that while partner Ricky, 27, is raking in a six-figure salary she stays home to cook and clean.

The couple, who first met after Linda joined a gym where Ricky worked as a health coach, have been together for nearly eight years.

They tied the knot when Linda was just 19 and she quickly fell into the role of being a stay-at-home wife.

'He was making so much money that I didn't need to work and it was making more sense for me to stay home,' she said,

Ricky claimed that he makes more than $150,000 each month working as a real estate investor who also has investments in stocks and cryptocurrency.

He revealed that the couple 'have a traditional marriage' where he makes the money and Linda 'takes care of the home.'

The jet-setting couple has three homes - an apartment in Dubai, a condo in Orange County and a house in Las Vegas.

Linda, who was originally born in Jordan but relocated to the US when she was just two years old, said: 'I believe that modern relationships that do 50-50 are unhappy. It's not natural.

'I have never paid a bill in my life. I don't even know how to pay the mortgage... Bills are so irrelevant. Honestly, they're irrelevant to me.'

She continued: 'I personally love doing household chores because I love taking care of my husband...

'I spoil him, I cook him his favorite meals and I make sure the house is clean. I hire a maid for the cleaning for the most part.'

Linda said it had once been her dream to be a doctor 'but as of right now my focus is on my marriage.'

She continued: 'It does take a lot of trust in a relationship for you to give up your dreams and give up everything to take care of a man but I don't have any fears about that.'

In return, Ricky gives Linda a percentage of his earnings each month.

The social media star now regularly flaunts her wealth online where she has faced fierce criticism over the relationship dynamic and has been branded as a 'gold digger' and 'spoiled brat' who 'brings nothing to the table.'

The couple have faced a slew of hate including claims her husband is going to leave, cheat and abuse her.

She has also received questions about when she is going to 'stop spending her husband's money.'

But Linda insists that the pair met before Ricky had money and is 'not taking him for all he is worth.'

Linda has regularly hit back at the claims via her TikTok account - with one particular video asserting: 'When people say I'm dumb for relying on a man for my livelihood but they rely on a job for theirs?'


Covid breakthrough Infections and the elderly

A breakthrough infection is when a vaccinated person still gets the disease. Study suggests that the elderly are LESS affected by breakthrough infections. The study authors were Chinese but their data was international, not Chinese

Published in the journal of Infectious Disease by Jing et al., “SARS-CoV-2 vaccine breakthrough infection in the older adults: a meta-analysis and systematic review,” as the durability challenges of the COVID-19 vaccines lead to waning vaccine effectiveness, associated breakthrough infections tend to rise.

The study authors, affiliated with the Tianjin University of Traditional Chinese Medicine in the northern coastal metropolis of about 14 million people, come to the bombshell conclusion contrary to popular understanding: elderly persons face far less risk for breakthrough infection than is popularly understood, and that the risk of severe COVID-19, hospitalization and death due to breakthrough infection remains perhaps even lower risk than for breakthrough infection alone.

Do these findings alter the risk-benefit calculus for vaccination? Could these results be because of vaccination or natural Immunity? These are important questions. While TrialSite doesn’t anticipate that this important meta-analysis will be picked up by mainstream press in the West the outcomes, limitations aside, are important for further consideration.

The study, published in BMC infectious Diseases and represented by corresponding author Xiaohui Jing with the Tianjin University of Traditional Chinese Medicine in Tianjin, China raises significant questions. Much of the data generated by U.S. public health sources points to far more COVID-19 risk associated with older individuals. Yet this study out of China points to an opposite conclusion.

The Study

Designed as a systematic review or meta-analysis, from November 2, 2022, the study team reviewed 30 studies published across English language journal platforms from PubMed and Embase to Cochrane Library and Web of Science. Employing the use of a random-effects model the team calculated pooled estimates of the prevalence and occurrences of COVID-19 breakthrough infections in elderly persons.

Mindful of the influence of bias, the study team employed use of funnel plots, Egger’s regression test, as well as sensitivity analyses while following standard guidelines for this class of study-- Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA).

The Results

The study authors report across 30 publications reveals a pool prevalence of COVID-19 breakthrough infection among the elderly at 7.7 per 1,000 individuals (95% CI, 4.0-15.0), with pooled incidence equaling 29.1 per 1000 person-years (95%CI 15.2–55.7).

The China-based researchers take away from their meta-analysis that the prevalence and incidence of SARS-CoV-19 breakthrough infection in older adults was low. But more eye opening was the finding associated with the risk of hospitalization, severe disease and death associated with the elderly and breakthrough infections, which was even lower than the risk of breakthrough infection.

Study Limitations

Jing and colleagues disclosure a handful of limitations including 1) study data restricted to publications in English, 2) the inclusion of studies with a sample size greater than 500 may result in the loss of small eligible studies; 3) Lots of heterogeneity was observed in the included studies; 4) most of the studies included in this study were observed within six months of vaccination; 5) some studies provided little information about the potential influencing factors such as vaccine type, vaccine dose, gender, prior infection, time from vaccination to breakthrough infection, comorbidity, and lifestyle of the included older adults on the prevalence and incidence of COVID-19 breakthrough infection and finally 6) It was also impossible to conduct meta-analyses among some groups due to the less information from studies assessing those factors. Clearly more research is required.


Left-Right divide no longer relevant in modern politics?

A very good essay below which sets out how policy preferences change over time. The changes can indeed seem rather surprising.

What the author overlooks is that changing times require changing policies. A policy that seems right in one context may seem wrong in another. Change is always ongoing so policies have to cope with that and may need to change too

Because policies change so much, the author sees no continuity. He says a policy simply cannot reliably be described as Right or Left. There is no consistency over time in the policies of our major political groups.

He is however looking in the wrong place for consistency. Consistency can be found only at the psychological level -- at the level of basic motivations. The "Right" will always be cautious and the "Left" will always favour feelgood ideas. And those two can very easily be in conflict.

Feelgood policies are ones that make their supporter look good and kind and virtuous, regardless of what their long term-consequences may be. Because of their weak egos, Leftists in particular have a great need to be seen as supporters of such policies. Any long term ill results of the policy are simply ignored

The author gives as an example of change Donald Trump's support for import tariffs. When he did implement some tariffs, that did indeed make some conservatives' head spin. It was a major departure from something dear to the hearts of most conservatives: free trade.

But Trump's respose to free trade arrangements was a cautious one. And caution is the essence of conservatism. He was was acutely aware that by the time of his Presidency, free trade had become socially disruptive -- with vast swathes of American industry having been exported to China -- and he wanted to stop that disruption. He was cautious about how the loss of American industry was impacting the lives of many Americans and wanted to call a halt to the disruptions concerned. He felt that free trade had gone too far.

He was precisely NOT subservient to prevailing conservative policies. He saw the need to call a halt to something that had got out of hand. He saw that the prevailing circumstances in the world called for a new approach if Americans were to be looked after.

So he put forward a new policy that had very old and basic underpinnings. His cautious values had not changed, only the application of them to changing times. Trump was perfectly consistent in his love of America and its people

You’ve probably heard Donald Trump described as “right-wing” or “far-right” even. But what does this actually mean?

It turns out very little, given the former US president advocates policies that only a few years ago were considered “left-wing”, making a mockery of the idea that some timeless unidimensional spectrum informs how we should understand politics.

It’s really all just name-calling nonsense, as US politics demonstrates. Trump is in favour of higher tariffs on imports and a foreign policy anchored in isolationism, which were considered left-wing positions during the presidency of Republican George W. Bush less than two decades ago.

On the other side of the divide, President Joe Biden’s administration is in favour of empowering government agencies to censor “misinformation”, a position diametrically opposed to the anti-censorship stance of Democrats a generation or two ago.

For most of the 20th century it was “the right” in favour of political censorship.

In the US, as in Australia and throughout the world, the left-right dichotomy has become a divisive delusion, a legacy going back to who sat where in the National Assembly during the 18th-century French Revolution that has no relevance to the complexity of modern political life.

Modern political parties promote a hodgepodge of policies that bear little relationship to each other. Why, for example, should someone who supports the voice or abortion necessarily be in favour of higher taxes or using the military to “spread democracy” abroad?

What individual political leaders advocate at any given time and place determine the left and right, far more than any underlying ideology.

Lockdowns during the pandemic, for instance, became identified with left-wing politics in the US purely because Trump at one point opposed them – even though socialist governments in Mexico and Sweden roundly rejected them. “Ideologies do not define tribes, tribes define ideologies; ideology is not about what (worldviews), it is about who (groups); there is no liberalism and conservatism, but liberals and conservatives,” write Hyrum and Verlam Lewis, two American politician science academics (and brothers), in a provocative new book, The Myth of Left and Right.

We are social creatures who tend to feel strongly about one particular aspect of a political party’s platform, and then feel obliged to support the rest of it. Yet there is far more disagreement within political parties than between them.

“Why do we refer to Milton Friedman (a Jewish, pro-capitalist pacifist) and Adolf Hitler (an anti-Semitic, anti-capitalist, militarist) as right-wing when they had opposite policy views on everything?” the authors ask.

Of course, tribalism is often determined by social background and governs most political interaction. Julian Assange is widely perceived as left-wing in Australia, but right-wing in the US, simply because he infuriated the Democratic Party in the US by releasing its embarrassing private emails before the 2016 election.

Members of the two warring tribes like to tell themselves stories to justify their positions: leftists advocate for “change” and “progress”, while those on the right apparently “conserve”.

So why, then, do conservatives support capitalism, the most intrinsically revolutionary economic system ever devised?

Meanwhile, the supposedly pro-change left has for decades fought globalisation to maintain national and indigenous cultures.

The “left” is also for bigger government (except in the US for issues relating to policing and illicit drug regulation).

Why were Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton – Democrats allegedly in favour of bigger government – the most fiscally conservative presidents in half a century? Meanwhile, Ronald Reagan, a champion of limited government, increased US debt and deficits more than any other administration outside war time.

As for religion, for much of the 19th and 20th centuries, Christian socialism was the predominant combination; the somewhat bizarre relationship between faith and free-market ideology developing much later.

Private banking, once the enemy of left-wing parties everywhere for a multitude of philosophical reasons, is now far more comfortable with parties of the left. Democrats in the US get far more donations from Wall Street, while the Labor Party has been the best friend to Australia’s funds management industry.

Italy’s “far-right” Prime Minister, Giorgia Meloni, was recently attacked by mainstream media outlets for proposing a tax on bank super profits, something Ben Chifley (one of Australia’s most left-wing leaders) would have been proud of.

Cynicism about mandatory vaccination was more common among those who considered themselves left-wing until Covid-19, when it became a “right-wing issue” across much of the West.

Left-wing China, meanwhile, was one of the few nations not to mandate Covid vaccines. Maybe Xi Jinping is right-wing?

The left-right dichotomy serves two purposes. First, it enables many of us to feel righteous and principled – even though the vast bulk of political participants are really tribal lemmings without any real beliefs except, perhaps, for personal career advancement.

Second, it provides a simplistic framework to dismiss people we don’t like. Because the bulk of those in the media and academia now consider themselves “left-wing”, one almost never sees individuals described that way. By contrast, the pool of alleged “right-wingers” has exploded.

Elon Musk, who openly supported the Democrats, is now “right-wing” because he wasn’t enthusiastic about the war in Ukraine, which is currently a “left-wing” cause. The top US podcaster, Joe Rogan, who openly supported Bernie Sanders, is now regarded as “right-wing” because he questions compulsory Covid-19 vaccination.

Germaine Greer has also been called “right-wing” for suggesting trans women aren’t real women. In a similar vein, a powerful essay by John Pilger, published last month about Western propaganda, could just as easily have been written by Tucker Carlson.

But Pilger remains firmly associated with the “left wing” because he’s in the “right” tribe, while Carlson is “right-wing” because he’s in the “wrong” tribe.

If the term “right-winger” has any meaning at all, it appears to be one that dissents from whatever official orthodoxy prevails at the time for any given policy.

Whatever, the terms are highly divisive and it’s time to move on from this meaningless division. Individuals have complex views and they should be treated on their merit.


Binary Australia campaigner Kirralie Smith has AVO against her withdrawn

How absurd can you get? This pleasant country lady was held to be a physical threat because she spoke out about transgenders in sport. The only thing she would be likely to threaten anybodyn with would be an offering of pumpkin scones. "apprehended violence" indeed. Another case where the law is an ass

A high-profile campaigner against transgender women competing in female sports is claiming victory after a restraining order against her was withdrawn in court.

Police had taken out an apprehended violence order out against Kirralie Smith, 52, to protect an amateur NSW soccer player at the centre of a transgender row.

The player, who towered over most players, was the league's leading goal scorer and a clip of them sending a rival player flying in a tackle went viral earlier this year. 

The director of Binary Australia led a protest campaign which bombarded soccer bosses with more than 12,000 emails demanding Football NSW take action.

Ms Smith's campaign also included a petition entitled: 'Keep blokes out of women’s sport!' 

Police initially applied for the AVO in April and served it to Ms Smith at her home in Mt George, 200km north-east of Newcastle, NSW.

It prevented her from discussing or approaching the player, and also covered electronic harassment of the trans activist player, who lives more than 300km away.

But when the case returned to Burwood Local Court in Sydney on Monday, police withdrew their application and the AVO was dismissed.

'We won!!!!!!' Ms Smith posted on X, formerly known as Twitter. 'The AVO was withdrawn!!!!  'It is not violence to defend women’s spaces or sport.'

The mother-of-three added: 'The police prosecutor simply withdrew the application - after wasting a lot of time and $.'

Ms Smith currently has one other AVO application against her, which is due back in Taree Local Court on October 10, and another previous AVO was withdrawn in April.

She added on Tuesday: 'The first win in this series of law fare against me is greatly encouraging.  'I still have an AVO application by another male player in a female team and two vilification complaints. I will stand firm and not shrink back. 'I will have this week off to celebrate and recover and be back soon!'

The decision comes as Ms Smith celebrated her birthday on Tuesday.  'I can’t stop smiling,' she said. 'What a gift for my birthday today. A win for female sport and freedom of speech.'

Ms Smith has been highly vocal around the participation of transwomen in women's sports and the risk of injury to female players.

She was backed by failed federal Liberal candidate Katherine Deves who has been a high profile critic of transgender athletes in women's sport.

Ms Smith angrily denied she was a threat to the player after the AVO was imposed and told Daily Mail Australia in May: 'I've never been violent in my life.  'I have a very long-standing knee injury. I'm not violent and not capable of violence.'

She added: 'It's important for women to be able to draw boundaries and speak freely about how males impact their spaces and services.'  'I will continue to speak truthfully about matters of biology and how they affect women and children in Australia.'


Pitting modern secular beliefs against the entire Bible

That   faith leadership should be by men only is made clear in both the Old and New Testaments.  It's not a view common  to all religions.  Many pagan religions actually worshipped women. But it is a marker of the Judeo-Christan faith as recorded in the Bible.  

So you either believe the Bible is right or not.  If not, you are just a modern pagan, not a Christian.  Christ himself was most energetic in preaching from the Old Testament so there is no doubt where the loyalties of his followers should lie

There is no doubt that women can and do good works both within and outside the church and a division of labour between men and women is very common.  Why must a faith-based division be condemned?  The opposition is in fact religious: Pitting a Leftist equality religion against the religion of the Bible

The claim below that Bible-based Anglicans are obsolescent is the big joke.  The Sydney diocese hosts around a third  of the nation's Anglicans.  They are thriving.  It is the secularists who are obsolescent.  As ever, the faith of the Bible is powerfully attractive to people.  The secularists have nothing compared to it.  The Sydney diocese is having the last laugh

One of the oddest, little-known contradictions in this country will be occurring in Christchurch St Laurence, on the fringes of the Sydney CBD, this weekend, quietly and with little fanfare.

The most powerful woman in the Australian Anglican Church, the Archbishop of Perth Kay Goldsworthy, will be preaching in the Sydney Diocese – a place where women are not allowed to be priests or lead congregations that contain men. Here, Goldsworthy can’t be an archbishop, a bishop or even just a priest once her plane’s wheels hit the tarmac in Sydney – she can only operate on the lowest rung of the clergy, as a deacon.

If she were to fly here when a bloke was being consecrated as bishop or inaugurated as archbishop, she could not take her rightful part alongside her male colleagues, but would sit in the pews. She can’t wear her funky purple episcopal robes, either.

It’s so weird, and wildly offensive to female clergy around the country. You are less, you are different, you must step back, here, you must submit to men.

A private protocol – of which I have obtained a copy - was drawn up to manage this situation after all bishops, including the females, were accidentally invited to the consecration of a male bishop in St Andrew’s Cathedral, Sydney, in 2014. Awkwardly, then Archbishop Glenn Davies needed to uninvite all the women.

Davies pointed out that these bishops must operate as deacons in Sydney, with an important caveat: they cannot contravene Sydney Diocese’s “understanding of the restrictions of the apostle in 1 Timothy 2:12.” This verse, reflective of the patriarchal culture of its time, reads: “I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she must be silent.” 

Sydney Diocese is now operating under a kind of gender apartheid, where women operate under a different set of rules, and need to submit to men, and male authority, or be ostracised. Some have gone to be ordained elsewhere, and very many have left. It’s pure geographical absurdity.

A spokesman for Sydney Diocese advises me this protocol is still in place.

The Sydney diocese has fought long and hard, at great expense, in synods, courts and commissions for more than half a century, to stop women becoming priests. It has come to define it, and been their symbol of doctrinal purity, a source of internal pride if occasional public embarrassment. 

When he was archbishop, Glenn Davies continued to hold the line against women priests. Like Peter Jensen before him, and Raffel after, he has been a leader in GAFCON – the Global Anglican Future Conference, which aims to counter the liberalising tendencies of church leaders who have accepted women as priests, same-sex marriage and been relaxed about divorce. 

The Sydney diocese has actively promoted and supported “church planting” in other Anglican dioceses for nearly two decades – setting up churches in other parts of the country that are theoretically independent but closely aligned with their conservative ethos, thumbing their noses at the geographical differences they enforce for women, ignoring the protocols of the local bishop.

In those four decades, a lot of women, especially those of a modern, feminist bent, have left the church over this nonsense. Yes, I know there are women who comply with this doctrine of headship, who claim to thrive under its hierarchy, but most just think the whole thing is nuts.

Some church leaders try to shove it under the rug when visitors come by. But it matters; the Anglican church runs schools, aged care homes, counts three million odd Australians as members. There are many fine people there doing important work. As Keith Mason, KC, a retired judge who has struggled for the equality of men and women in the Diocese for many years told me: “The idea that you can be ‘separate but equal’ was a terrible and deceiving lie in South Africa. It doesn’t work for an Australian Church claiming to be modelled on the teachings of Jesus either.”

Did you know the Sydney synod – the parliament of the church – was sitting this week? No, nor did most people. Once it was front page news, now it’s barely reported on, barely discussed outside the church. Many people have, quite simply, forgotten that this is going on, that women are treated this way. This pure, distilled sexism once provoked outrage, now it is seen as absurd, archaic and inexplicable. Surely undervaluing and silencing women for decades, in both flamboyant and secretive ways, simply underwrites your own obsolescence.


The Feelgood versus the rational

I have set out at some length here why Leftists tend to have ego problems. They have a great need for praise and admiration. So if an opportunity comes up for a Leftist to say or do something that will win him/her congratulations for being caring (etc.), he/she will grab that opportunity. There is nothing intrinsically wrong with that. The problem arises when the feelgood policy has consequences that are destructive or dangerous. What if some action that at first seems praiseworthy turns out to do a lot of harm if you take that action?

A Leftists will not normally be deterred by that. His/her need for praise will cause him to close his eyes to the bad consequences down the track and keep advocating anything that sounds good. He needs the praise too much to give up the feelgood policy

But conservatives are not like that. They are cautious and want to avoid doing anything that will hurt people. So they will point to the future harms of the feelgood policy and will oppose it because of those harms. The conservative does not allow the feelgood nature of some policy to swamp all other considerations.

And Australia is at the mmoment gripped by a debate over a policy that feels good to most people but which could do real harm if implemented: The "Voice" debate.

Leftist feel all warm and righteous at advocating a special voice in Federal parliament for Aborigines. Aborigines as a group are in a hell of a mess in many ways so "doing something" for them has great appeal. It shows how much heart you have for their problems and may lead to better treatment of them by future governments.

But conservatives know their history and are quite appalled by the prospect of racial privileges for one particular group. If the 20th century taught us anything, it taught us the evils of racial favoritism. There can be no doubt that racial preferences are simply evil and provoke disharmony.

So conservatives are against the Voice on that and other grounds. And that makes them the enemies of the Leftist feelgood policy. So what do the Left do when thretened with the loss of their feelgood policy? Do they simply concede the point and desist from advocating something that could be very harmful? No way. They like ther feelgood policy too much to abandon it.

So what do they do? In good Leftist style they resort to abuse and lies. They go "ad hominem". They cannot answer the conservative arguents so they impugn the motives of conservatives who oppose the polcy. In the oldest bit of Leftist abuse in the book, they accuse conservatives of racism. They say that it is racism that lies behind opposition to the "voice". That they are are the one who are advocating something racist seems quite lost on them.

So they pretend tat it is white supremacists who are their opposition while they are the good and noble guys. It's a sad commentary on the ego needs that drive such irrationality but it is a classic bit of Leftist argumentation.

The toon below describes the mythical world that the Left have created around the "Voice". One of the many things that the Left are sedulously ignoring is that it is not only white conservatives in opposition but many Aborigines too. Around half of Aborigines seem to be opposed to the Voice and say so. How come they oppose something that is supposed to help them?

The only way the Left have of dealing with that puzzle is by ignoring the Aborigines concerned. The toon features some well-known Aborigines who oppose the Voice and shows them as canvassing for a "No" vote


Earth is outside its ‘safe operating space for humanity’ on most key measurements, study says

LOL the old Potsdam (Potsdam-Institut für Klimafolgenforschung) alarmists are on deck again with more prophecies to replace their old failed ones. They've got around 400 employees so they have to come up with something. In 2017, Potsdam eminence Schellnhuber said that unless climate action is taken by 2020, the world "may be fatally wounded.". I must say I haven't noticed that. We've just had a very mild winter in Australia. I could take more fatal wounds like that

Earth is exceeding its “safe operating space for humanity” in six of nine key measurements of its health, and two of the remaining three are headed in the wrong direction, a new study said.

Earth’s climate, biodiversity, land, freshwater, nutrient pollution and “novel” chemicals (human-made compounds like microplastics and nuclear waste) are all out of whack, a group of international scientists said in Wednesday’s journal Science Advances. Only the acidity of the oceans, the health of the air and the ozone layer are within the boundaries considered safe, and both ocean and air pollution are heading in the wrong direction, the study said.

“We are in very bad shape,” said study co-author Johan Rockstrom, director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research in Germany. “We show in this analysis that the planet is losing resilience and the patient is sick.”

In 2009, Rockstrom and other researchers created nine different broad boundary areas and used scientific measurements to judge Earth’s health as a whole. Wednesday’s paper was an update from 2015 and it added a sixth factor to the unsafe category. Water went from barely safe to the out-of-bounds category because of worsening river run-off and better measurements and understanding of the problem, Rockstrom said.

These boundaries “determine the fate of the planet,” said Rockstrom, a climate scientist. The nine factors have been “scientifically well established” by numerous outside studies, he said.

If Earth can manage these nine factors, Earth could be relatively safe. But it’s not, he said.

In most of the cases, the team uses other peer-reviewed science to create measurable thresholds for a safety boundary. For example, they use 350 parts per million of carbon dioxide in the air, instead of the Paris climate agreement’s 1.5 degrees (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) of warming since pre-industrial times. This year carbon in the air peaked at 424 parts per million.

The nine factors are intermingled. When the team used computer simulations, they found that making one factor worse, like the climate or biodiversity, made other Earth environmental issues degrade, while fixing one helped others. Rockstrom said this was like a simulated stress test for the planet.

The simulations showed “that one of the most powerful means that humanity has at its disposal to combat climate change” is cleaning up its land and saving forests, the study said. Returning forests to late 20th century levels would provide substantial natural sinks to store carbon dioxide instead of the air, where it traps heat, the study said.

Biodiversity – the amount and different types of species of life – is in some of the most troubling shape and it doesn’t get as much attention as other issues, like climate change, Rockstrom said.

“Biodiversity is fundamental to keeping the carbon cycle and the water cycle intact,” Rockstrom said. “The biggest headache we have today is the climate crisis and biodiversity crisis.”

University of Michigan environmental studies dean Jonathan Overpeck, who wasn’t part of the study, called the study “deeply troubling in its implications for the planet and people should be worried.”

“The analysis is balanced in that it clearly sounds a flashing red alarm, but it is not overly alarmist,” Overpeck said. “Importantly, there is hope.”

The fact that ozone layer is the sole improving factor shows that when the world and its leaders decide to recognize and act on a problem, it can be fixed and “for the most part there are things that we know how to do” to improve the remaining problems, said Carnegie Mellon chemistry and environment professor Neil Donahue.

Some biodiversity scientists, such as Duke’s Stuart Pimm, have long disputed Rockstrom’s methods and measurements, saying it makes the results not worth much.

But Carnegie Mellon environmental engineering professor Granger Morgan, who wasn’t part of the study, said, “Experts don’t agree on exactly where the limits are, or how much the planet’s different systems may interact, but we are getting dangerously close.”

“I’ve often said if we don’t quickly cut back on how we are stressing the Earth, we’re toast,” Morgan said in an email. “This paper says it’s more likely that we’re burnt toast.”


Defining conservatism

A few years back, I put together a big article designed to look at the history of conservatism and extract from that history a clear picture of what conservatism consistently is. I traced conservatism back as far as 1500 years ago. Yes. There have always been conservatives and they have been consistent in what they say. And they are NOT simply "opposed to change"

And I look at the psychology of conservatism: What makes some people conservative and others not?

I have recently put up a slightly revised version of that article, with the changes principally designed to make it an easier read. You can find it here or here


‘Heat waves are the killer’: Australia's very own false prophet warns of deadly risk over summer

Flannery is well-known for prophecying that Perth would become a ghost city for a lack of water.  Perth of course continues to thrive

His latest prophecy is just as mad.  It is COLD weather, not hot weather, when most deaths occur

The long-range weather forecasts have been worrying. Australia faces a long hot summer with an increased risk of drought.

And while there will always be fears of bushfires, especially after the devastating black summer of 2019-2020, Tim Flannery warns that heat waves might be the biggest concern this season.

“All indications are we’re heading for a very hot summer, but we’re still getting some rain,” the Climate Council’s chief councillor said. “The potential for heat waves to have a big impact on human health is really there.

“You don’t need floods or bushfires to impact human health. Heat waves are the number one killer of people among natural phenomena so that’s a big concern.”

Flannery, a long-time advocate for more action to combat climate change, cited the 2009 heat wave in south-east Australia that health authorities have said contributed to the death of more than 370 people in Victoria alone.

“Melbourne saw it very clearly [then] when there was four days above 40 degrees and very little cooling at night,” he said.

Flannery was speaking before the release of a new documentary, Johan Gabrielsson’s Climate Changers, which has him interviewing leaders of the climate movement around the world. It launches in cinemas with a live Q&A session on Sunday.


<b>Huge cost of Australia’s renewable energy dream, according to industry leaders</b>

The race to connect renewable energy to the grid is challenging and costly, industry leaders say, as they urge a focus on affordable electricity.

Alinta Energy chief executive officer Jeff Dimery said his firm was investing $10bn into renewable power, including offshore wind, battery technology and pumped hydro, but cautioned that affordability must remain a key driver.

He cited the giant Snowy 2.0 pumped-hydro project, the cost of which in August was announced as having blown out to $12bn from an original $2bn.

Mr Dimery said this would deliver $100m of monthly revenue once complete, which translated to a capital cost of more than $60 per megawatt hour.

The market paid less than $15 per megawatt hour for pumped hydro less than three years ago – a more than fourfold cost hike.

“We need to clean up our energy supply..... And I guess what I’m saying is that, ultimately, I agree with the Prime Minister, his vision and how we need to get there. Where we’re differing is at the pace at which we might do that,” Mr Dimery said.

Transgrid executive general manager Craig Stallan, whose firm operates and manages the high-voltage transmission network in NSW and the ACT, said infrastructure needed to be built to create a superhighway across the national power grid.


Australia-Philippines Ties Undergo 'Watershed' Moment Amid Rising Indo-Pacific Tensions

image from

I am very pleased to hear of official friendship between Australia and the Philippines. I have spent some time there, though only in Manila, and like the people.

I have observed many Filipinas married to older Australian men and the marriages do mostly seem to work out. And even in private hospitals, Filipina nurses are ubiquitious. So the people to people links are strong.

I also like that it is a tropical country due North of Australia, though the flight time is about 8 hours. And English is widely used there

So I would favour any assistance that Australia can give to the Philippines

Australia and the Philippines have become strategic partners following a pivotal meeting between the countries' leaders on Sept. 8.

Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said he was honoured to be able to facilitate the ramp-up in ties, which was a historic moment in relations between the two nations and would see both countries work as partners to maintain a stable region.

“Australia and the Philippines enjoy a long-standing relationship based on close cooperation and enriched by the 400,000 Australians with Filipino heritage," he said.

“Today is a watershed moment for relations between Australia and the Philippines. Our Strategic Partnership will facilitate closer cooperation between our countries and contribute to an open, stable and prosperous Indo-Pacific region.”

The strategic partnership follows the announcement in August that Australia would look to work more closely with the Philippines on defence and security-related issues.

"The Philippines is a critical nation for Australia's interest," Mr. Albanese said on Sept. 7.

"We have strong economic relations with the Philippines. We also have strong cooperation when it comes to defence arrangements, and in addition to that, we have a strong diaspora in Australia."

Australia Looking To Elevate Ties

The announcement comes just weeks after Deputy Prime Minister Richard Marles announced both countries would work to elevate diplomatic ties to a strategic partnership level.
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Speaking in Manila on Aug. 25, Mr. Marles said that both countries were very ambitious about "working more closely together, about building our high-end interoperability, about seeing our defence forces become closer."

"We are two countries committed to the global rules-based order. We are committed to an idea of a world in which disputes are determined by reference to international law," the deputy prime minister said.

"Peace is maintained through the protection of deployable rules-based order and its functionality around the world, and in truth, around the world today, we see it under pressure."

Mr. Marles said that he saw Australia's deepening defence ties with the Philippines as a pathway to upholding the rules-based order

"What we will do is bring our military capability to enhance the rules-based order and to provide for its expression," he said.

"And in that sense, what we are about is peace. And so I think that message is as important now as it’s ever been."

China Tensions Create Impetus for Deepening Ties

The deepening military ties between the two nations come as the Philippines is experiencing an increasing ramp-up in tensions with Beijing over its attempt to claim Filippino territories in the South China Sea.

In August, the Philippino government condemned a Chinese coast guard ship’s “excessive and offensive” use of a water cannon to block a Filipino supply boat from delivering new troops, food, water, and fuel to the Second Thomas Shoal, a Philippine-occupied territory.

Beijing believes it has “indisputable sovereignty” over almost all of the 1.3 million square mile South China Sea, as well as most of the islands within it.

This would include the Spratly Islands, an archipelago consisting of 100 islands and reefs that sit territorially within the waters of the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei, and Taiwan.

The confrontation is the latest flare-up between the two countries, which has seen the Chinese Coastguard vessel use military-grade lasers and other methods to deter Filipino naval ships from the disputed regions.

The Armed Forces of the Philippines said in a Facebook post that the Chinese ship's actions were “in wanton disregard of the safety of the people on board” and violated international law, including the 1982 U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea.

The “excessive and offensive actions against Philippine vessels” near the shoal prevented one of two Filipino boats from unloading supplies needed by its troops guarding the shoal, the Filipino military said in a statement reported by the Associated Press.

It called on the Chinese coast guard and Beijing's Central Military Commission “to act with prudence and be responsible in their actions to prevent miscalculations and accidents that will endanger people’s lives.”


Whence the sudden mania about transsexualism?

Up until quite recently, effeminate men and butch women had mostly found a happy home among homosexuals.  And they had flown quite under the radar.  They were mentioned only in passing.  Suddenly, however, a new rage-filled religion has emerged around such people.  Quite recently they have changed from being ignored by the Left to becoming the great new cause of the Left.  How come?

It's not hard to understand once you realize that the Left are the angry people and angry people need something or someone to be angry about.  They need someone to shout at and tear down and attack.  They need a "cause"

And their old causes  have mostly lost their steam.  The workers now mostly vote for Republicans so there is no longer any joy in patronizing them;  The battle for gay rights has been won and pitying blacks has become too obviously a failure. But more on that:

The Left once thought that the very low average economic success of blacks was the result of them being badly treated by the educational system. The "gap" between black and white success is huge there. But no matter what Leftist educators tried, the "gap" between black and white school results remained quite immovable.

And affirmative action was  not much of a remedy either. Blacks put into jobs for which they were poorly qualified tended not to do those jobs well and their children tended to do no better than other black kids. So equalizing blacks and whites was frustratingly elusive.  All the anger about black disadvantage clearly achieved nothing of substance.  Trying to equalize blacks became simply frustrating and boring.  Leftist anger changed  nothing

But the fact that blacks could not often be lifted up economically still cried out as a gross breach of the fundamental Letist faith that all men are equal.  If the black/white "gap" could not be changed it had at least to be explained.  So critical race theory was born.  It says that hidden white prejudice is responsible for black failure.

But telling whites that they are secretly prejudiced does not do much.  You cannot easily aim your anger at something hidden.  And whites seem generally not too moved  by the charge against them. It is hard to make whites suffer for their invisible evil.  Most whites simply ignore the accusation and that is that.  Some weirdos may self-flagellate but they are too few to be satisfying.

So the left had simply run out of things that they could make into a great cause for their anger.  They needed a new enemy.  And all that pent up anger is now directed at people who think that there  are only two sexes.  It's absurd but absurdity has never held the Left back.  Their core belief that "all men are equal" is absurd.

And policies born out of anger are seldom wise or constructive.  And the latest obsession is no exception. Who would ever have thought that  cutting of a young girl's breasts or a young mans penis would  ever be seen as virtuous and in need of encouragement?  One almost pines for the day when all that Leftist anger required was a mandate to give High School diplomas to illiterate blacks

 But who are these angry people?  What makes the Left seethe with anger?  Have you ever seen anyone seethe with anger the way the Left did when Donald Trump was elected President?  Leftist anger was a great foaming torrent at that time -- completely unrestrained.    We saw then with crystal clarity the anger that was behind the mask of doing good

All the studies of it show that the  Left/Right political polarity is strongly inherited genetically -- so to a large extent the Left are just born in their unhappy state.  The world just looks all wrong to their eyes.  But there may of course also  be life events and circumstances which generate chronic anger.  Failing to get much of the rewards that life offers might well make one an unhappy person.  Black anger is explicable that way.  I go through various other possibilities elsewhere:


Fish oil supplement claims don't necessarily ring true, study finds

The powers of fish oil are a most enduring myth.  I have been taking pot-shots at it for many years e.g.

New research into the apparent health benefits of fish oil supplements has made a splash, warning consumers the supplement's multiple health benefits may indeed be exaggerated.

Marketed to emulate the health rewards that come with a diet full of fatty fish and seafood, fish oil supplements have long been a go-to daily health habit for many people. For decades, people have been told taking a daily tablet (or a spoonful for the fearless) of the golden oil is a tactic guaranteed to improve their heart health, among other benefits. 

But the latest research into the benefits of our favourite golden tablets is a blunt reminder that we shouldn’t always believe what’s written on a label. 

And since they’re not the most pleasant pills to swallow, consumers might be more than relieved to have an excuse to ditch their bottles.

Like most questions regarding our health, different studies surrounding the impact of fish oil supplements on our long-term health have yielded remarkably contradicting results over the years.

However, the latest stream of research seemingly disproves the link between optimised heart health and fish oil supplement consumption. The findings have left experts sceptical that taking the supplements sufficiently prevents heart disease, one of the major reasons consumers swallow the pills.

Essentially, supplement companies have long been copying and pasting the list of cardiovascular benefits associated with seafood onto the labels of their products. 

A deep-dive analysis by JAMA Cardiology has found that despite supplement companies’ claims, the overwhelming majority of cardiovascular improvement is in fact solely derived from diet practices, not supplement use.  

If being rebranded as a heart health fad wasn’t damning enough, other studies have even suggested that fish oil tablets might be directly contributing to some heart conditions.  

The European Society of Cardiology released a study just two years ago that found direct evidence of a link between omega-3 fatty acid supplements and an increased link between developing atrial fibrillation in people with existing heart disease.

“Our study suggests that fish oil supplements are associated with a significantly greater risk of atrial fibrillation in patients at elevated cardiovascular risk,” says study author Dr Salvatore Carbone. 

Dr Alyson Kelley-Hedgepeth, a cardiologist, Published in Harvard Medical School’s publishing arm, cardiologist Dr Alyson Kelley-Hedgepeth describes how the inconsistencies in fish oil supplement studies have encouraged her to instead recommend more proven lifestyle practices to her patients.

“Eat a heart-healthy diet, get regular exercise, and pursue other lifestyle changes that have proven benefits for cardiovascular health,” urges Dr Kelley-Hedgepeth. 

But what about the real thing?

While the advantages of the oils and supplements have largely been discredited, experts still stand by the health benefits linked to eating fatty fish two to three times a week, especially types containing omega-3. 

And while the cost of fresh salmon per kilo is enough to make most people shudder at the moment, there are other, more cost-efficient alternatives. Omega-3 fatty acids can also be found in tinned sardines, mackerel, flaxseeds and chia seeds. 

To put it simply, fish oil tablets and oil should not be considered as a supplement for the real thing, and if you’re still taking the daily tablets, it might be time to find more direct ways to incorporate omega-3 into your diet.


I’m a climate scientist. Here’s how I’m handling climate grief

How amusing.  It seems that at least one group of climate "scientists"  is seriousy deranged.  How can anyone in good mental health seriously convince themselves that just one degree of warming over the last century or more  is worth concern?  I liked Roy Spencer's comment:  "Everyone knows warming causes snowflakes to melt"

Last September, before the rains came, my field team learnt that it was probably too late for half the blue oaks affected by California’s drought in the region in which we were working. Because of years of ongoing drought, many of the trees would not recover from the long-term water loss and would die. The next morning, I sat outside our science team meeting and cried.

A friend sat with me and explained that she had just recovered from an episode of extreme climate grief brought about by studying rapidly changing terrestrial ecosystems. She had started taking weekends off (many of us work seven days a week) and encouraged me to do so, as well. After we talked, I walked around the parking area for a while, listening to the birds and watching the midday light filter through the diverse trees in downtown Santa Barbara. I breathed the ocean air and grounded myself in the present, where the air was cool and the birds were singing.

Soon after that, I started taking weekends off to kayak near my home in Southern California and hike on the trails above Pasadena, and built a small bird garden on the porch of my apartment. I also started talking frankly to my colleagues about the emotional turmoil that is often sparked by working as a climate scientist today, and many others had similar stories. I am in my mid-thirties, working at NASA as a scientist, and I already have five scientist friends with severe, emergent health challenges. They are all affected by overwork, exhaustion and extreme stress. The only other thing they all have in common is that they study climate change.

Climate scientists have advocated for recognition of the destabilization of Earth’s ecosystems for four decades. Even within my lifetime, the climate system has changed noticeably, with hotter summers, longer dry periods and more frequent and severe storms. Some climate scientists have left the field, some have died and some have retired, but even more are just starting their careers. Early-career climate scientists across a range of fields are faced with comprehensive, esoteric challenges as ecosystems begin to cross tipping points. Knowing how to look at these huge changes and still be able to relax at the end of the day can be an ongoing problem.

Even for the most experienced and well-trained field scientists, changing dynamics can introduce sudden risks to health and safety. Whether in the shape of increased glacier flow rates, rainstorms that become atmospheric rivers, or abrupt permafrost thawing that disrupts sections of highway, these unforeseen risks are emerging increasingly. Scientists with decades of experience in one field location might find themselves confronted with a new atmospheric or hydrologic circulation pattern, an unseasonal storm or freeze, or literally shaky ground. Although we have a responsibility to track how certain sites are changing in a climate that’s getting hotter and more extreme, that can put scientists at considerable risk.

Recently, I spoke to Dave Schimel, one of the scientists who led the work for which the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change was awarded a Nobel prize in 2007, about how we can address climate grief. After decades of working to convince the public that climate change is real, he said that we need to work on solutions. He thinks that the current generation of climate scientists needs to move on from education and advocacy to providing solutions for mitigation, adaptation and resilience. The best treatment for climate grief, he says, is knowing you’ve made a contribution to reducing emissions or building resilience.

For me, healing comes in the form of spending my time outside work enjoying the world around me, rewilding hard-to-access land, writing letters to congresspeople and protecting migrating birds. I’ve spoken to many others who have planted gardens for native pollinators, eaten from local farms and advocated for change with local policymakers. Although small actions might not solve the climate crisis, they remind us that we are intrinsic parts of the world and its ecosystems.

In California, rainstorms started in December and lasted until May. Reservoirs were refilled, and many oaks were saved. The hills glowed with yellow and orange wildflowers, and leaves exploded from branches in rapid growth, a benefit of the winter of moisture. For just this one year, the blossoming hills gave me a breath of relief amid the ongoing struggle, and I rededicated myself to continuing to fight for everything we can still save.


The "extreme events" issue

The very gradual process of global warming that we have seen so far has produced no direct ill-effects that we can see.  Crops are more abundant than ever and some Pacific islands are growing rather than shrinking. So "extreme events" are the last refuge of the warmists.  Bad weather generally is routinely branded as an extreme event and is attributed to global warming without any shred of evidence for the link.

Any causal statement requires controls.  You have to show that the "caused" event would not have happened without the "cause" specified.  But that would require you to show what would have happened WITHOUT global warming -- and that is impossible.

Single events might or might not be due to some influence or other but you have no way of showing what the influence was.  It is known as the "attribution" problem and is in principle unsolvable where the event is a "one-off", a hurricane, for instance. You have to have variations in the causal condition to correlate with the alleged caused condition.  Would this hurricane have happened in the absence of global warming?  We cannot know.  We can only surmise.  And a surmise is no proof.

So the attribution of individual extreme events to global warming is LOGICALLY false.  It CANNOT be shown as be fact.   But science is at ease with hypotheses so it remains a hypothesis that COULD be true even if proving it is currently impossible.

And an hypothesis can be tested in various ways.  It is commonly tested by asking if it generates accurate predictions.  And it could be held as preliminary support for an hypothesis that the incidence of extreme events has systematically increased as the globe has warmed. Is there a correlation? So has it?  There are some claims to that effect but how well-founded are they?  Have extreme events in fact become more frequent?

A recent study has addressed that hypothesis.  They have looked at a big range of reports about extreme events and asked are such events becoming more frequent.  For each of a range or event extremes they have gathered published information about whether such events are increasing in frequency over time.  An abstract of the report concerned is given below.  It finds no evidence that any extreme event has become more frequent.  So the claimed connections are not only logically false but they are empirically false too.

The study was published 18 months ago and various climate skeptics have quoted it approvingly.  That approval has eventually got under the skin of the Warmists so they have tried to discredit the research concerned.  And their antagonism to the paper has borne fruit. The paper was "withdrawn" by its publisher, which counts as evidence that it is faulty.

But is it faulty?  A much  quoted attack on the paper in "The Guardian" lists a whole array of orthodox Warmists who say it is faulty but detailed evidence of the faults is conspicuously missing.  No detailed numbers are quoted and the issue  is entirely a matter of numbers.  The Guardian makes clear that orthodox scientists disagree with the paper but does not give chapter and verse why.  Link to The Guardian below:

Note that some of the attacks from Warmists are of the most intellectually discreditable kind:  "Ad hominem" attacks -- attacking the motives of the authors rather than the evidence they put forward

And that none of the critics quote the detailed numbers is a major scientific fault.  If a scientist disagrees with the conclusions of a particular paper  -- as I have often done -- he goes over the ground covered by the paper and shows where it went wrong.  In this case the paper at issue is a meta-analysis so the data behind it is readily available.  Its conclusions are readily tested by repeating  the meta-analysis in some more cautious way.  Nobody seems to have attempted that.  "Do better" is the obvious retort to the Warmists  but none seem even to have attempted that.

The next link takes you to an extensive discussion of whether the paper deserved withdrawal:

The abstract of the deplored paper follows:

A critical assessment of extreme events trends in times of global warming

Gianluca Alimonti et al.


This article reviews recent bibliography on time series of some extreme weather events and related response indicators in order to understand whether an increase in intensity and/or frequency is detectable. The most robust global changes in climate extremes are found in yearly values of heatwaves (number of days, maximum duration and cumulated heat), while global trends in heatwave intensity are not significant. Daily precipitation intensity and extreme precipitation frequency are stationary in the main part of the weather stations. Trend analysis of the time series of tropical cyclones show a substantial temporal invariance and the same is true for tornadoes in the USA. At the same time, the impact of warming on surface wind speed remains unclear. The analysis is then extended to some global response indicators of extreme meteorological events, namely natural disasters, floods, droughts, ecosystem productivity and yields of the four main crops (maize, rice, soybean and wheat). None of these response indicators show a clear positive trend of extreme events. In conclusion on the basis of observational data, the climate crisis that, according to many sources, we are experiencing today, is not evident yet. It would be nevertheless extremely important to define mitigation and adaptation strategies that take into account current trends.