How we became 'Plastic People': Startling new documentary tracks global spread of toxic microplastics from the bottom of oceans to inside the human brain


"Toxic"?  More scaremongerng that totally misrepresents the fact that these particles are inert.  They have to be in order to be used as freely as they are.  So evidence that they can do anything is what is needed but is very unlikely to be found.  Many of the things that we routinely eat -- such as most meat -- have greater potential for harm


A new film, called 'Plastic People,' has tracked the particle problem to the 1950s when the plastic industry convinced the public to abandon their thrift and frugality in favor of disposable products more beneficial to their bottom line.

The documentary team zeroed in on a 1955 LIFE magazine feature with the oddly euphoric title 'Throwaway Living' that celebrated a 'modern lifestyle' of single-use paper and plastic goods.

The article came with a photo spread of a happy family tossing all their single-use plates, cups and silverware up into the air like confetti.

The LIFE article positioned the plastic revolution as easing the burden on housewives by letting them toss dishes, cups and utensils in the trash and forgo hours of scrubbing and rinsing. 

By the 1960’s, plastic had replaced other materials in the home like wood, metal, and glass. 

Families began stocking cupboards with plastic tableware as companies produced them in an array of colors and at an affordable price. 

The societal shift also saw people begin to furnish their homes with plastic-finished items like tables and couches. 

Advertisements began to fill newspapers and magazines proclaiming plastic as the material of future that lets consumers create any shape with ease. 

Then in the 1970s and 1980s, the world was introduced to bottled water, which was touted as a healthier solution to tap water.

Humans have continued to path of plastics to today - producing over 440 million tons of plastic waste each year.

And as the waste sits in landfills, it breaks down into microplastics, which are smaller than five millimeters in length.

'The first fact about microplastics is that they're everywhere,' said Addelman. 'You're breathing them in right now. There's nowhere on Earth you can avoid them.'

Microplastics enter our bodies through plastic packaging, certain food, tap water and even the air we breathe.

From there they enter our bloodstream and cause untold harm. In just recent years the tiny particles have been found in semen, the heart, breast milk, placentas, kidneys, livers and lungs.

The particles have been linked to the development of cancer, heart disease and dementia, as well as fertility problems.

Addelman noted that making Plastic People posed a unique challenge: how to illustrate a microscopic but pervasive problem.

'As far as a film goes, it's a tough subject,' Addelman said. 'It's an invisible and kind of literally 'hard to grasp' subject.'

Studies have estimated microplastics exposure cost the US healthcare system $289 billion in 2018 alone, in part because plastics do not decay back into natural organic molecules, instead retaining their synthetic chemical make-up as they get smaller.

And worse, thousands of hazardous chemical additives and precursors, including many of the now infamous cancer-causing 'forever chemicals,' come embedded in these microplastics as they seep deeper into humans and other living things.

Co-director Ziya Tong, Addelman and their film team traveled across the world — from Adana, Turkey to Portland, Texas; from Rome in Italy to Rochester, New York — interviewing scientists who investigate microplastics and shadowing their field work. 

One researcher, Dr. Sedat Gündoğdu at Cukurova University in Turkey, walked filmmakers across beaches were fine grains of microplastics intermingle with Mediterranean sand and farmland where plastics absorb into crops as they grow.

Dr. Gündoğdu, whose work as a marine ecologist studying fisheries got him into tracking microplastics, showed Tong some of the first-ever evidence of microplastics crossing the blood-brain barrier in humans.

Tiny blue pigment from PVC piping had gotten past the barrier, a membrane that ordinarily helps keep any toxins in the blood from entering or harming the brain.   

'If plastic can transfer from blood to brain, it can transfer from everywhere to everywhere,' Dr. Gündoğdu told Tong. 'It's really scary, but it's not surprising.'

While animal studies have previously shown that microplastics have been able to migrate into the brains of mice, the 15 samples obtained by Dr. Gündoğdu and his colleague, neurosurgeon Dr. Emrah Çeltikçi, appear to be the first in humans.

Tong said that more micoplastics were actually found in the brain samples than scientists could identify.  'It's one of the things that we don't talk about in the film,' Tong said. 

'Because of the lack of transparency [from the plastics industry], there's a whole bunch where we don't know what the chemical cocktail actually is.'

'So he [Dr. Gündoğdu] was able to find these particles, but he's not able to identify them,' she explained, 'because they're not in the database.' 

This week, the international Scientists' Coalition for an Effective Plastic Treaty will attempt to persuade UN member states convening in Ottawa, Canada to compel the plastics industry into reporting on what they produce for these public databases.

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-13329269/How-Plastic-People-Startling-new-documentary-tracks-global-spread-toxic-microplastics-bottom-oceans-inside-human-brain-started-1950s-throwaway-living-idea.html

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Looking for Flynn effects in a recent online U.S. adult sample: Examining shifts within the SAPA Project


This is an heroic study. It tackles a very difficult question: Are average IQ levels rising or falling?

IQ is under heavy genetic influence so, given the slow rate of human evolution, we should not expect to see much change over the last 100 years or so. And for a long time that was assumed. WHEN scores were collected was not much attended to. Jim Flynn, however upset the applecart by noting that average IQ levels seemed to be rising. So: Are we really getting smarter on average?

There has now been a lot of research and discussion on that question, ably summarized in the article below. It is a strongly held view among many researchers that the gains are artifactual -- i.e. not real. In particular it is well accepted that performance on paper and pencil tests is influenced to some extent by non-genetic influences -- education in particulr.

IQ scores increase markedly in line with better educational performance so improved education might be what is showing up in improved IQ scores. Levels of education have increased markedly over the years. Jobs that once needed an apprenticeship only now need an university degree -- e.g. primary school teaching.

I must say that I have noted that in my own family. My grandfather never went to school; my father got only as far as 6th grade while I have a doctorate. So generational differences in education are certainly available as an explanation of education-linked effects.

So the rises in average IQ scores observed by Flynn need no complex explanation. And their recent levelling off could well indicate that the maximum effect of education on IQ scores has now been reached

The article below does however put the cat amomng the pigeons. It says that average levels of IQ are now FALLING

I don't find that surprising. The Leftist influence on education is now strong. And it is in many cases a very negative influence. So we now have the politics of mathematics for example, which is as nutty as you get. And university graduates who can barely read and write are now a thing. And there is even suggestion that learning or not learning cursive handwriting has an effect on IQ

So the Leftist destruction of traditional education could well be reflectd in recent IQ scores. Education giveth and education taketh away.

We have to restrain our enthusiasm about the study below, however. It is a study of responses from internet volunteers. And it is perfectly clear that the sample is not a representative one. Just the gender imbalance noted shows that.

Such samples are now widely used in survey reseach and the imbalances in them can theoretically be corrected for statistically -- but how do you correct for enthuiasm/boredom and the many other influences that motivate the answering of internet questionnaires? It cannot be done. There is no substitute for actual random sampling of a specified population.

There is in fact no completely randown sample of any human population. I have tried many methods so the failings are well-known to me. Even compelled responding -- as with army recruits -- is imperfect. Some respondents will resent the task and not give useful answers. I have looked with sorrow at patterns of zig-ag and all-agree responses to my questionnaires from military recruits.

So the best we can hope for is COMPARABLE sampling and it is clear that internet sampling is not comparable to the pencil and paper responses in school-rooms that is most of the data on IQ scores from the past



Elizabeth M. Dworak et al.

Abstract

Compared to European countries, research is limited regarding if the Flynn effect, or its reversal, is a current phenomenon in the United States. Though recent research on the United States suggests that a Flynn effect could still be present, or partially present, among child and adolescent samples, few studies have explored differences of cognitive ability scores among US adults. Thirteen years of cross-sectional data from a subsample of adults (n = 394,378) were obtained from the Synthetic Aperture Personality Assessment Project (SAPA Project) to examine if cognitive ability scores changed within the United States from 2006 to 2018. Responses to an overlapping set of 35 (collected 2006–2018) and 60 (collected 2011–2018) items from the open-source multiple choice intelligence assessment International Cognitive Ability Resource (ICAR) were used to examine the trends in standardized average composite cognitive ability scores and domain scores of matrix reasoning, letter and number series, verbal reasoning, and three-dimensional rotation. Composite ability scores from 35 items and domain scores (matrix reasoning; letter and number series) showed a pattern consistent with a reversed Flynn effect from 2006 to 2018 when stratified across age, education, or gender. Slopes for verbal reasoning scores, however, failed to meet or exceed an annual threshold of |0.02| SD. A reversed Flynn effect was also present from 2011 to 2018 for composite ability scores from 60 items across age, education, and gender. Despite declining scores across age and demographics in other domains of cognitive ability, three-dimensional rotation scores showed evidence of a Flynn effect with the largest slopes occurring across age stratified regressions.

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Christian Bishop Wants Video of His Stabbing to Remain Online


This will put the cat among the pigeons. It will make the authoritarians of Left and Right who want to censor us explain WHY they want to ban this video. To my simple mind I cannot see any intelligent rationale for the ban. It happened so let us show it. People need to know what is going on, Not have it covered up. Bravo for the bishop The Assyrian Christian bishop who was attacked during a live-streamed sermon has said he does not want footage of the incident removed from the internet. The video of the multiple stabbing attack, is at the heart of an ongoing war of words and a legal battle between Australian authorities and X owner Elon Musk. On April 22, lawyers for the eSafety Commission applied to the Federal Court for an injunction to compel the social media platform to block all videos of the incident across IPs globally—a request, X says, extends far beyond the jurisdiction of local authorities. On April 24, during a case management hearing, X representative, Marcus Hoyne, provided an affidavit from injured Bishop Mar Mari Emmanuel who said the video should not be censored. “There’s recently been an affidavit … from the bishop, the victim of the attack, stating that he’s strongly of the view that the material should be available,” Mr. Hoyne said. Mr. Hoyne also said the attempts by Australia’s eSafety Commissioner Julie Inman Grant to implement a global ban on the spread of the video was “exorbitant.” He further said the footage was now subject to the “Streisand effect”—the unintended consequence of attempting to hide, remove, or censor information—and instead, resulting in even more publicity. Any move to remove the video would now be pointless because it had spread beyond the few dozen URLs initially identified by the eSafety commissioner. The judge ordered the matter to be heard again on May 10 when X could supply more detailed arguments. The attack occurred in the Western Sydney suburb of Wakeley with footage showing a 16-year-old walking up to the bishop during a live-streamed sermon, before the young man began repeatedly striking the church leader with a flick knife, which appeared to malfunction. The incident occurred barely two days after a knife attack spree in the east of Sydney, at the sprawling Westfield Bondi Junction shopping centre, that resulted in six deaths. Both incidents have spurred authorities to crackdown on “misinformation” and related videos on social media. https://www.theepochtimes.com/world/christian-bishop-wants-video-of-his-stabbing-to-remain-online-5636050 ***********************************************

ANZAC DAY


ANZAC DAY is the High Holy Day for the entire Australian people. The Left try to portray it as a celebration of militarism. All the troops marching through the streets can give that impression. But they overlook that on this day we actually celebrate a military DEFEAT. Pretty poor militarism. Two typical ANZAC day scenes below. Note the big crowd turnout.

image from https://www.theepochtimes.com/_next/image?url=https%3A%2F%2Fimg.theepochtimes.com%2Fassets%2Fuploads%2F2024%2F04%2F22%2Fid5634357-GettyImages-1484996594.jpg&w=1200&q=100

image from https://i.dailymail.co.uk/1s/2024/04/25/02/84062399-0-image-m-1_1714007779782.jpg

ANZAC commemorations are stlll widely embraced in Australia. To the undoubted chagrin of the Left, there are marches in most of our cities and crowds turn out to watch them and applaud.

What we are really doing on ANZAC day is remembering and thanking our war dead. And as demographer Berard Salt rightly notes, No family was untouched by the two world wars. Some of my relatives were among the dead.
The deaths among the ANZACS at Gallipoli were among the more insane of the military engagements of that war so we rightly praise the grit and endurance of those who participated.

I personally see war as the greatest of human follies. To have men marching into gunfire seems barely sane. Yet it happened and still is happening in Ukraine. Chapter 1 of the Bhagavad Gita makes most sense to me of any writing on the matter.

Yet I am not a pacifist I volunteered for service in tha Australian Army and reached the rank of Sergeant. I served in both the CMF and the ARA back in the 60s. I can see why some wars probably have to be fought, WWII, particularly. But WWI can be understood in the context of its times

http://jonjayray.com/short/ww1.html

I exist, however because both my grandfather and father never went to war. My grandfather was excused because he provided a highly skilled essential service. He was a bullocky. And transport is in huge demand during a war. My father volunteered but was rejected on medical grounds. He had a slight limp. I volunteered for the Vietnam war but failed to get a posting there. So here I am still kicking at age 80.

I think it is worth noting that the Gallipoli engagement was greatly marred by the cowardice of the British generals involved. The first landings were unopposed. The Turks were taken by surprise. But instead of charging to take advantage of surprise as any German general would gave done, they decided to wait in place for reinforcements to arrive. The Turks used that warning well. If only the British generals had studied Vom Kriege in their staff colleges
JR

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A study found that chemicals produced when eating junk food raised cancer risk


See below for a less sensationalist report of the research

https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/poor-diet-increases-cancer-risk-scientists-uncover-missing-link#Breast-cancer-gene-increases-effect-of-methylglyoxal

Bah! Humbug! The researchers have NO data on junk food consumption.  Their apparent link to food seems to be that levels of harm are linked to high glucose intake in some people.  But glucose is not specific to junk food.  Common table sugar is a compound of glucose and fructose.  So if the results mean anything they mean that eating a lot of sweet things of any kind is bad for you if you have certain rare genetic predispositons.  That is the sum total of what they apparently show.  It tells you NOTHING about junk foods, whatever they may be. If you take it all seriously, people with certain rare genetics should avoid putting sugar in their coffee! Big problem!


Scientists believe they have uncovered a missing link between how eating junk food increases the risk of cancer. 

A study in Singapore looked at the effect of methylglyoxal, a compound released when the body breaks down sugary and fatty foods, on a gene that helps fight off tumors.

In a first, the academics found that methylglyoxal was able to temporarily shut off the BRCA2 gene's ability to protect against cancer forming and growing.

Doctors have known for decades that eating junk food is linked to a much higher risk of cancer, even if the person is not obese, but the exact mechanism is still being understood.

It could, at least in part, explain why cancers among young, ostensibly healthy Americans are becoming so prevalent, particularly tumors in the colon.

The team also noted that the study contradicts a longstanding theory called the knudson's 'two-hit' paradigm, which said that genes like BRCA2 must be completely inactive in the body to raise cancer risk.

These genes are meant to help protect the body against cancer, though patients who inherit faulty copies from their parents have been shown to have an increased risk of certain cancers, such as breast and pancreatic. 

Dr Ashok Venkitaraman, study author and director of the National University of Singapore's Centre for Cancer Research, told Medical News Today: '[M]ethylglyoxal triggers the destruction of BRCA2 protein, reducing its levels in cells.'

'This effect is temporary, but can last long enough to inhibit the tumor-preventing function of BRCA2.'

Is THIS what's causing mystery rise in colon cancers among young people? Study points to bacteria in the gut linked to processed food and lack of fiber 

Scientists say they may be one step closer to understanding what's driving a mystery rise in colon cancer in young people. 

He noted that repeated exposure, such as through eating processed foods and red meat, among others, would increase the amount of damage to genes like BRCA2.'

The team looked at the effect of methylglyoxal on cells from people who had inherited a faulty copy of BRCA2 and were therefore more likely to develop cancer.

They found that methylglyoxal exposure disabled tumor suppression. 

'It is well documented that some individuals are at a high risk of developing breast, ovarian, pancreatic or other cancers because they inherit a faulty copy of the cancer-preventing gene — BRCA2 — from their parents,' Dr Venkitaraman said. 

'Our recent findings show that cells from such individuals are particularly sensitive to the effects of methylglyoxal, which is a chemical produced when our cells break down glucose to create energy.

'We find that methylglyoxal inhibits the tumor-preventing function of BRCA2, eventually causing faults in our DNA that are early warning signs of cancer development.' 

Additionally, Dr Venkitaraman noted that high levels of methylglyoxal are common in people with diabetes and prediabetes. 

'Our latest findings show that methylglyoxal can temporarily inactivate such cancer-preventing genes, suggesting that repeated episodes of poor diet or uncontrolled diabetes can "add up" over time to increase cancer risk,' he said. 

However, the team cautioned that since the study was carried out in cells rather than people, more research is needed on the topic. 

The research adds to a long list of studies suggesting that diet could have an impact on cancer risk, particularly colorectal cancer. 

Research from the Cleveland Clinic, for example, found that people under 50 who ate diets rich in red meat and sugar had lower levels of the compound citrate, which is created when the body converts food into energy and has been shown to inhibit tumor growth. 

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-13325199/poor-diet-increases-cancer-risk-young-people-scientists.html

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The 20 questions every woman MUST ask to see if she's compatible with a man - by a woman who says she's found the perfect formula for love


There are a lot of articles online of this kind and Julie Silver's list (below) is pretty idosyncratic. I would meet a lot of her criteria but my liking for hamburgers would rule me out. It would rule a lot of men out. So she is good at reducing her options, which is rarely wise. She actually seems rather nutty to me. No wonder she is single

But the whole assumption underlying her ideas is false. You can find many tales of people who have large incompatibilities but who nonetheless get on well. "Shopping-lists" for a partner are simply foolish. I am a psychologist and I know well the broad outlines of successfil matches but broad outlines are all that you can reliably find. I am sorry to be corny but Cupid's arrow strikes where it will. "Good" matches will often not work and "bad" matches sometimes will.

In my last 60 years I have had many relationships, including 4 marriages, and there have been many differences between the ladies concerned.

And my current relationship is an extreme example of that. She has many autistic characteristics and our incompatibilities are huge. For instance, I am an orthodox scientist but she thinks the earth is flat! And yet the arrow has struck. We have a laughter-filled relationship that gives every signs of being "until death do us part". It is in some ways the worst relationship I have ever had but in other ways the best. But I am very glad of it. We are in our third year together and have certainly had storms between us but there is a glue that keeps us together despite that.

I have always worked on a very simple assumption. If the lady is very intelligent and likes classical music that is enough. My present lady scores on those two things. Beyond that, I think all differences can be negotiated. But that is just me. It is no guide to anyone else.

I am not alone in being skeptical of "red flags" There is an article below by Hannah Vanderheide, a much wiser woman, who is MARRIED and loves her husband despite his imperfections

But on to a lady of the lists:



By Julie Silver

You may imagine the perfect first date should include flowers, candles and perhaps some sultry background music to set the mood.

My first date must-have, however, is something rather different: a list of 20 questions for any potential suitor, enabling me efficiently to weed out any dating duds, and easily identify those precious ‘keepers’.

Among other things, my dating questionnaire allows me to discover whether my potential Mr Right likes quinoa or chips, is in bed by 9.30pm, like myself, and, vitally, whether he speaks kindly of his mother.

On a deeper level, it helps me quickly establish a picture of the heart and soul of the man, whether he is trustworthy and if we might be compatible. Time is of the essence when you get to 54 and are still single, after all!

Clearly, I am very fussy when it comes to dating. But why shouldn’t we women of a certain age be fussy? After all, I’ve been dating for nearly half my life, now, and simply haven’t the time or patience to leave much to chance any more. That’s why I wholly agree with TV presenter Trisha Goddard who — with two divorces, and 64 years on the clock — said last month that she gave a questionnaire to the man who is now her fiance in order to ‘cut the c***’. She said her questionnaire meant she didn’t waste time dating someone who would ultimately not be the right fit for her.

Some might think this approach is unromantic, or impatient — but to me, it just sounds like good sense.

Because there are some definite romantic red lines for me that instantly rule out potential Romeos. For example, as a nutrition and wellness consultant, it’s important any partner of mine doesn’t mistreat their body or drink too much. I also prefer to sleep with my head on an incline — raised higher than my feet — as studies have shown it can be good for your health. So if a man couldn’t get comfy in my specially adapted bed, that would be something of a deal-breaker for me.

Aside from this, I’d love someone with whom I can enjoy day trips and holidays. Someone to laugh with. Looks? I admit I prefer dark features, but they must have a friendly, smiley disposition. And if a man remembered my favourite flowers are freesias, then that would mean the world to me.

In my 20s, I told my father about the kind of qualities I wanted in a man and he replied, ‘Julie, enjoy spinsterhood!’ But the reality is, like so many middle-aged women, I’m at the stage of life when looks just aren’t enough of a pull any more


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What to do with a queer Iranian illegal immigrant?


He is right to think he would be hanged if he returned to Iran but the "refoulement" regulation says you cannot send him to any other place where he might be persecuted. That rules out the Muslim world and Africa.  So where do you send him?  Who else would want a queer Iranian?

And you cannot give him permission to live in Australia as both major parties have a policy that illegal arrivals will not be resettled.  And any wavering on that policy would restart the flow of parasitical Muslim illegals


An Iranian asylum seeker's indefinite detention is not punitive, Australia's solicitor-general has argued, because he would be freed if he co-operated with attempts to deport him to his home country, despite his fears of the death penalty. 

The detained 37-year-old man, known as ASF17, has taken his legal bid for freedom to the High Court in a case that could determine the fates of hundreds of immigrants and government policy.

Authorities have attempted to deport him to Iran every six months since 2018, when his asylum seeker visa was refused.

But as a bisexual man, ASF17 could face the death penalty upon return.

As a result, he has refused to co-operate and Solicitor-General Stephen Donaghue KC says this means his detention is not punitive.

"Where a person can be removed with their co-operation, that can't be characterised as punitive, whether or not the reason for non-co-operation was a genuine fear of harm," he told the court on Wednesday.

ASF17 had previously urged the government to remove him to any country other than Iran. 

"Take me back to where you picked me up in the high seas, even take me to Gaza," the asylum seeker said during a Federal Court cross-examination, his lawyers recalled on Wednesday.

"I have a better chance there of not being killed than if you take me to Iran."

Dr Donaghue argued refugee applicants can genuinely fear what may happen on return to their home countries, but this may not be "objectively well-founded".

The government had investigated the possibility of deportation to a third country, but this could inflame diplomatic tensions or lead to the risk of refoulement, Dr Donaghue said.

ASF17's barrister Lisa De Ferrari SC said without being offered other deportation options, her client remained indefinitely detained.

"They've straitjacketed themselves and now they're turning the table on my client, saying 'you've been very unreasonable by not helping us get you to Iran'.

"How can it not be punitive (when) there's never any end point?"

His case springs from a November High Court ruling, which found it was unlawful to indefinitely detain people with no prospect of deportation.  About 150 immigration detainees were released as a result.

The appellant wants this expanded to cover people who refuse to co-operate with authorities on their deportation.

The Federal Circuit Court previously ruled the continued immigration detention of a Baha'i man from Iran was unlawful and he was immediately released. 

"This is another case that says, whatever has been happening to people who are vulnerable and have come to Australia for protection, they cannot be indefinitely detained," his lawyer Alison Battisson told AAP.

"It creates a precedent that somebody has non-refoulement obligations owed to them."

Baha'is are a persecuted religious minority in Iran and Australia has signed international human rights treaties which include the principle of non-refoulement, meaning refugees cannot be sent back to countries where they face persecution.

ASF17, who is not Baha'i, first arrived on Australian shores by boat in 2013 and has been in detention for a decade.

There are about 200 other people in a similar situation, and Human Rights Law Centre legal director Sanmati Verma said the government was using indefinite detention as a way to "coerce people into returning to danger".

In an attempt to pre-empt ASF17's hearing, the government tried to ram through laws to prevent a release of people from immigration detention.

Under the proposed laws, which could affect more than 4000 people, those who refuse to co-operate with the government over their deportation could spend up to five years in prison.

The legislation would also give the home affairs minister  power to ban visa classes of relatives of asylum seekers who come from blacklisted countries that do not accept deportees.

But it was blocked in parliament and sent to a senate inquiry.

The High Court has adjourned and is yet to decide when it will hand down its decision.

https://www.afr.com/politics/federal/indefinite-detention-not-punitive-solicitor-general-20240417-p5fkmp 

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Australia's Olympic uniforms were unveiled on Wednesday, with big changes


image from https://i.dailymail.co.uk/1s/2024/04/17/08/83747879-13317977-image-a-1_1713339461703.jpg

The green and gold used previously made sense as a reference to Australia's founding on gold mining and farming but all I see here is blue jackets and white skirts with yellow splotches on them that make it look like the ladies have wee'd themselves. They will be a laughing stock. Some people just don't know when to leave well enough alone. It's supposed to be "creative" but you need talent for that. Just being different is not enough

A number of hopefuls took to Clovelly Beach in Sydney to pose in their new outfits - which a global audience of over one billion people will see - while morning swimmers took to the waves.

The biggest twist of them all is the colouring of the uniform.

The classic green has made way for a trendy teal for the games in France

'We're on the fashion stage and we wanted to make our athletes proud, as well as putting a contemporary feel into the uniforms,' said Elisha Hopkinson, chief executive of APG & Co, owner of official uniform supplier Sportscraft.

'We have to use the green and gold. For us, the priority is making sure that the colours sing and feel contemporary.'

'Over the years, the shades of green have changed, and in Sydney 2000 we had the ochre blazers, but I think the green is beautiful,' added Olympic gold medallist and former senator Nova Peris. 'Just as important is having Indigenous identity and culture embedded in the uniforms.'

'It helps athletes understand that when you represent this country you don't just represent 250 years, you represent 65,000 years.'

The blazers will be worn over tank tops or white T-shirts, while stone chino shorts also feature teal and gold details.

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Only one man can stop the world plunging into full-scale war


The article below from just two days ago by Geraldine Brooks is an amusing example of journalistic "wisdom". She forgot that there were two sides to the conflict so was proved wrong when the "other" side backed down.

It was actually a very common fear that an Israeli attack on Iran would ignite WWIII but Bibi's judgment was proven correct when nothing in fact happened when he retaliated against the Iranians. It is in fact very reassuring that the Prime Minister of Israel was the one with the best judgment.

I was talking to my son about this matter this morning and he made the good point that Trump would have handled the matter better. He suggested that, like Biden, Trump would have supported Israel but that he would have done so in a clearer, more decisive and simpler way. I think that is true. Fortunately only one wise man was needed - Netanyhu. Alarmists are still hollering but the game seems to be basically over for now


With all the blood and terror since last October, it is easy to forget that it took five back-to-back elections to put Bibi Netanyahu in the position he now occupies: the leader whose next decision might plunge his region, and maybe the world, into full-scale war.

This power rests in the hands of a man who, at home, has become widely despised, with only 15 per cent of Israelis now saying they support him.

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The brutal new class division appearing in Australia


This is not a new division at all. There have always been those who inherited significantly and those who did not. And being a "not" is far from a life sentence. Those who pass down wealth often started off poor themselves. I did. Nobody ever gave me a penny -- or even a cent for that matter. I earned it all.

And I remember that. I now provide heavily discounted rental accommodation to five people and give half my disposable income to a charitable education cause. So the rigid class lines described below are a myth. There are such lines but they are not all due to inheritance and are not fixed or permanent. And inherited wealth is often squandered anyway, which makes it very impermanent. It is squandering that I find contemptible


Inheritocracy – a term recently heard. Our lucky country is careering towards a great generational divide; a landed gentry of property owners on one side and renters on the other. A brutal new class division, flippant about educational attainment as the great equaliser. Rules are upended in the new order; degree holders may well be losing out. Indeed, among certain writers it’s now de rigueur to put “renter” in your social media bio. Blazing contempt and coolness, the brazen political stance of the othered. But as a nation we’re heading into uncharted waters, as resentments grow and younger voters cleave to whatever political party can do something about this vexed housing situation. If it can. The challenges are immense, the population restive.

That silky game of inheritocracy is playing out all around me. In one corner, a succession of friends and acquaintances stepping into enormous wealth as their parents pass away and family dwellings are inherited. The talk is of clearing parents’ houses for sale, upsizing into better places, holiday homes on the coast, paying off mortgages, extensive travel. They’re living their best lives, free of the corrosiveness of money worries. That’s a heady liberation. And during a cost-of-living crisis, no less.

In another corner, the dumping of building waste in a local car park. A council man clearing it up tells me people can’t afford the tipping fees anymore, so they drive all over the city to find car parks and secluded roads without CCTV to deposit their waste, which sometimes contains asbestos. A tiny snapshot of the other side. Of despairing Australians forgoing three solid meals a day because they can’t afford it. Of putting off the doctor visit because it’s too expensive. Of holidays as a distant memory. And many younger Australians work within a new order of employment – they’re immersed in all the stresses and indignities of the gig economy; the sheer, craven callousness of a system not on their side.

The stark reality: vast numbers cannot afford to live the life their parents had. For a 34-year-old in 1990, the average mortage in Australia was roughly three times their yearly wage – now it’s eight times. Many have given up on that great Australian dream of home ownership, a situation likely to reverberate through the generations. It’ll never happen for them now, nor, quite possibly, their children. Thus disadvantage rolls down through the years. What is bequeathed is all the uncertainties of the rental market – and a fundamental stress in life is instability. When it comes to property, we want to feel safe, in our own place, in a dwelling no one is going to take away from us. In the lucky country, the Great Australian Dream is now denied to a vast tranche of the unlucky.

NSW Treasurer Daniel Mookhey has warned that if we don’t act sharpish on housing affordability then Sydney may well be heading down the path of San Francisco, where you can see middle-class workers in suits and ties lining up for food banks and living in homeless shelters. The natural order of things, upended. The consequence of an obscene property market. Mookhey believes there’s only a five- to 10-year window to act.

“How one grudges the life and energy and spirit that money steals from one,” writer Katherine Mansfield wrote during a stretch of poverty. “I long to spend and have a horror of spending: money has corrupted me these last years.” The dream, for all of us, is to not be held hostage by a lack of money. To be free of the endless scrabble to obtain it, because how exhausting, stressful, consuming that is. What an extraordinary moment in time in Australia. We’re heading towards a new class order. It’s called a “propertocracy”, and it’s a tragedy for our nation.

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Another limit to Australia's electric vehicle revolution


If you are towing something with an EV, you can't just drive onto a forecourt and fill up as you would with a combustion-powered vehicle. Anybody who ever tows a trailer of any kind would be mad to buy an EV. EVs are just a rich man's toy

I have financed an older couple to travel around Australia towing a long and very well-appointed caravan. A diesel Toyota Prado does an effortless and untroubled job of towing it. They pass through many country areas so would just not be able to do the trip with an EV.


image from https://i.dailymail.co.uk/1s/2024/04/13/02/83576369-13303239-The_image_shared_on_social_media_showed_the_Tesla_was_well_beyon-a-1_1712970612494.jpg

Aussie drivers have scorned a viral image of an electric vehicle mounting the kerb whilst charging, revealing yet another issue with the government's plans to drastically grow the country's EV network.

The photo of a grey Tesla hooked up to a BP Pulse charging station at an undisclosed location was shared in a Facebook group on Thursday, captioned: 'I'm aware they don't have a spare tyre, I wasn't aware that they don't have reverse.'

Clearly well beyond the bay's perimeters, the majority of the car had mounted the kerb in front.

Social media users were quick to criticise the car's position, questioning why the driver didn't reverse into the spot to make it easier for the charging cable to reach the outlet.

But it soon became apparent why the Tesla was across the boundaries of the parking bay when the original image, which had been cropped, resurfaced and revealed the Tesla was towing a trailer.

It highlights yet another glaring issue with the government's plans to drastically grow the country's EV network by 2030.

Of the 3,000 electric vehicle charging stations currently available nationwide, none of them are equipped for cars towing caravans.

The current infrastructure means drivers often have to unhitch the trailer to effectively charge their vehicle or risk blocking other vehicles.

Carola Jonas, CEO and Founder of Everty, said it's something charging station owners and operators must 'pay close attention to'.

As well as having a lot of catching up to do in terms of having ample charging stations both roadside and in buildings, Jonas argued 'a balance' must be found with the types of bays available for drivers.

'If you look at the charging stations in Wilson or Secure car parks in the city CBDs the parking bays there are limited, but you also wouldn't use these ones with a trailer,' she told Yahoo News Australia.

'But then when you look at highway charging or charging in more public open locations, it would definitely be good if the charging networks start implementing a mix [of suitable bays].'

Some charging networks are currently installed in the 'trucking areas' of some petrol stations so trucks and longer EV vehicles can still use them, Jonas continued.

'So even if you come there with a normal passenger car, you can just drive into the trucking parking area and use the charger. The other way around, it wouldn't have been possible.

'So there are solutions, but it's really for the infrastructure providers to make sure they're for the right mix.'

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EU Proposals Could Make Swedish Jam Illegal After More Than a Century on the Market




I am not a big jam-eater but I do like Lingon Sylt and always have some around. It is full of vitamins and minerals so would be a real loss if discontinued. Lingonberries are one of the few sources of vitamin C in the Arctic, where they are grown. They keep people in the very far North healthy almost single-handedly

A new proposal from the European Commission aims to make breakfast foods healthier for Europeans by raising the minimum berry content requirements in jam. The proposed regulations, discussed on April 10 and 11, seek to increase the minimum berry content in jams from 35 to 45 grams per hundred grams of product.

The proposal, which is likely to pass, poses significant implications for the Swedish jam industry, potentially altering over a century of culinary tradition.

Björnekulla, a renowned producer with popular offerings like raspberry jam, queen jam, and strawberry jam, finds itself at a crossroads due to these changes, as all the products would fall below the new permitted limit if the law is enacted.
Björnekulla would then face two options: either change their classic recipes or stop labeling their products as jam.

Pär Berglund, CEO of Björnekulla, expressed concerns about potential impacts on taste and pricing.

"More berries and less sugar tend to make the jam more sour. It's not just about compliance; it's about consumer preference," Berglund explained to Sydsvenskan.

Peter Kullgren, Minister of Rural Affairs, clarified that the intention behind the regulation is not to ban existing products but to standardize what qualifies as jam across Europe.

"This ensures that when you buy jam, whether in Sweden or Spain, you're getting the same quality and content," Kullgren stated.

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Keith McNally strikes again! Razor-tongued restaurant owner goes after Lauren Sanchez



Artificial boobs often deliver a good return on investment.  Most Hollywood ladies seem to have them.  But this pair must set some sort of record for that.  She is also very deferenial to Bezos so I can see what her critic sees. She "crawls" to him, which is a bit sickening.  But he seems happy with his artificial lady so who are we to criticize?  She obviously likes the deal too.  She obviously thinks a billionaire is worth a bit of deference

In my past adventures I have myself been to bed with artificial DD boobs but did not find them very satisfying.  My present girlfriend's natural 12Cs suit me just fine

Note: I gather that bra sizes are not described the same in Australia and America. "12" above indicates a slender body

 
Celebrity restaurateur Keith McNally has taken aim at Lauren Sanchez in a late-night Instagram rant, branding Jeff Bezos' fiancée 'revolting.'

McNally, who famously feuded with James Corden over an omelet dispute, shared a carousel of recent pictures of Sanchez and Bezos, and proceeded to skewer the pair in a post that went up late Monday night.

'Does anybody else find Jeff Bezos' New wife - Lauren Sanchez - ABSOLUTELY REVOLTING?' he wrote.

'What an ugly and F***ing SMUG - LOOKING couple they make. Is this what having 1000 Billion dollars does to people?'

McNally's seemingly unprovoked roast comes a week after Sanchez and Bezos made several public appearances together in Washington, DC at the White House's state dinner for the Prime Minister of Japan and to present the Courage and Civility Award - an annual grant of $100million that Bezos distributes.

Keith McNally shared a carousel of pictures of Lauren Sanchez and her fiancé, Jeff Bezos, and proceeded to skewer the pair on Monday night

It is not clear why McNally targeted Sanchez and Bezos specifically. 

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-13314425/restaurateur-keith-mcnally-rips-lauren-sanchez-instagram.html

Duck hunting season begins in Victoria despite inquiry recommending it be outlawed


This is of course an emotional issue rather than a logical one.  If you kill animals for food what does it matter which animal you kill?  And  poultry are a very widespread source of food.  The KFC and Nando's chains would not exist otherwise.  

Hunting any animal is not for me but we have in fact evolved to kill animals for food.  So hunters are doing a very human thing.  One can only hope that the people "rescuing" ducks are also kind to their fellow human beings.  

I do myself rather like ducks  both in the environment and on my plate but  they are a very capable creature so there is never going to be any scarcity of them.  Quacking creatures in ponds are very common


In wetlands across Victoria, camouflaged hunters waded into the water on Wednesday, turned their shotguns to the sky and began to bring down ducks.

At Lake Lyndger, near the wheat-growing town of Boort, Danny Ryan is waiting waist-deep in water at 8am — the moment Victoria's 2024 duck hunting season commenced.

Mr Ryan, a longtime hunter and spokesperson for the Victorian Duck Hunters Association, points to several dead tree stumps and marks an imaginary line.

This is the distance within which he will shoot ducks, he says, as it is more likely to lead to an accurate shot and an ethical kill.

Under mounting pressure and increased regulations, duck hunters like Mr Ryan are keen to stress their efforts to hunt humanely.

In a little over an hour, Mr Ryan kills three grey teal, one black duck and one wood duck. His haul is one short of the daily limit of six ducks.

It takes skill to identify from the silhouette, size and movement of the duck whether it's a species that can legally be hunted, and as birds come and go, frenzied gunfire gives way to the natural sounds of the wetlands and moments of peace.

"You get to be at one with nature, but at the same time you're interacting with nature and you're harvesting wild game birds," Mr Ryan says.

Some of the ducks the hunter shoots are killed instantly and some fall to the water injured and need to be shot again.

Some he will he eat, he says, and some will be shared with family.

Is it crueller than eating an animal raised in captivity?

"I think the majority of people if they sat down and had a really good think about that, I think that they would come on the side of 'No, the duck's had a better life'," Mr Ryan says.

Last year, a parliamentary inquiry recommended outlawing duck hunting, and many thought the 2023 season would be Victoria's last.

The inquiry cited long-term decline of native birds, animal welfare concerns regarding wounding rates, the unacceptable wounding and death rates of threatened species, and the inability to enforce compliance, as the major factors leading to its recommendation.

But the hunters are back for another season this year, after the Labor state government declined to implement the ban.

And a polarised debate continues over whether the pursuit is a noble way to stay connected to where our food comes from, or the sport of bloodthirsty killers.

The duck rescuers

On the shores of a lake near Charlton, a dozen or so Coalition Against Duck Shooting (CADS) volunteers wait to retrieve injured birds from the water.

Without a hunting license they risk a fine if they enter the water before 10am or get within 10 metres of a hunter.

Some members do enter the water, dressed in high-vis vests, and paddle kayaks with flags and whistles to shepherd ducks away from hunters.

Leading the team is David Evans, who darts around the other volunteers, his head slightly bowed and a walkie-talkie in hand, perpetually in motion.

For 28 years he has spent his autumns scouting wetlands, plucking injured birds from the water, documenting illegal killings and antagonising hunters..

Gone are the days of 8,000 shooters with pump action shotguns, standing shoulder-to-shoulder, he says.

"I think we're lucky to have 50 here in this wetland [today]," he says.

The decline in hunters gives him hope, and he believes public opinion is on his side.

This year, on the opening day of the season, interactions between hunters and those who oppose them are relatively calm, and Mr Evans says it has been that way ever since the proliferation of digital cameras.

But the rescuers say they are often verbally abused and threatened by the hunters, while shooters complain of CADS volunteers rescuing injured birds from the water before they can be killed and collected.

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2024-04-13/victoria-duck-hunting-season-begins-despite-inquiry/103699988

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The Lord's Prayer and the Holy Name


In Matthews 6:9 we read:

Ἁγιασθήτω ὄνομά σου 
 
Hagiasthētō onoma sou

hallowed be name of You

They are simple Greek words but how should we translate them?   How to translate "Hagiasthētō"? It is a form of the normal Greek word for "holy".  "Hallowed" is not a bad translation but it is an old-fashioned form of English.  "Reverenced" or "revered" would be better.  Perhaps "treated as Holy" would be best.  

And what is the name being referred to? God the father is normally referred to in the Greek NT as "theos".  But pagan gods are referred to in Greek as "theos" too.  So the prayer is not referring to that.  It is clearly referring to the distinctive name for the Hebrew god,  as used thousands of times in the OT: "Yahveh", or "Jehovah" in English.

So Jesus was explicitly telling his disciples to not to follow the priestly practice of substituting other words for "Yahveh". It seems a pity that Christians have chanted those words  so often while not heeding them.  Most Christians follow the  practice of the  Pharisees despite Christ telling his followers not to.  Rather amazing.

I am not here arguing for the rightness of the Jehovah's Witness denomination but they have clearly got one thing right.  They are one of the very few who obey the instructions  in the Lord's Prayer

JR

Love thy neighbour? What to do when you can’t stand who’s next door


It's generally good advice below but having a dog in a small unit is generally unfortunate, including for the dog.

When it comes to loud music I have a better idea than any mentioned below.  I once had some young people move in next door and they liked their music loud.  I called on them and asked them to tone it down.  I also mentioned smilingly that we both had equal rights about playing music. 

When nothing changed, I dealt with it promptly.  I put my HiFi speakers on the window sill nearest to them and promptly played Janacek's Sinfonietta through them  -- loudly.  Within minutes the kids came streaming out of the house and into their cars.  They couldn't stand it.  

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9aFTv50AoEQ&t=31s

The Sinformietta is brass-heavy </i>avant garde<i> classical music which to most people sounds like scratching your finger-nails on a blackboard . Even some classical music fans don't like it.  But I do.  It was a very simple lesson in human diversity that some young people needed to learn.

I must mention some day how  I dealt kindly with an incessantly-barking dog.  I am a psychologist and ever since Ivan Petrovich Pavlov, psychologists have modified animal behaviour


When Sabrina Damiano bought her first home – a one-bedroom apartment in Sydney’s eastern suburbs – the possibility of not getting along with her neighbours didn’t cross her mind.

“I’ve rented for the last 10 years and never had any issues,” she says. “When I moved in, I even went around and introduced myself with cupcakes and cookies.”

But just over a month later, Damiano received a breach notice saying her dog, Rufus – a 15-year-old pug-cross-maltese with dementia – was disturbing the peace by "occasionally" barking.

Damiano says she took every measure to improve the situation. She got Rufus new medication, worked from home more frequently, and hired a dog-sitter when she had to leave the house. But the breach notices kept coming. Now, the case may go to the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal.

“Things got really nasty,” she says. “They stuck the rude finger up at me. They threatened to call the RSPCA … They took my washing off the [communal] line.”

After less than a year Damiano’s situation became so toxic that she decided to sell her apartment.

Whether faced with seemingly unreasonable complaints, or suffering at the hands of someone who blasts music at 4am every weeknight, neighbour disputes have arguably become part and parcel of community living.

According to a Relationships Australia survey conducted in 2019, over 60 per cent of women and 68 per cent of men said they had experienced conflict with neighbours.

“I’m seeing a rise in noise complaints in strata [including apartments],” says strata lawyer Amanda Farmer.

“More people are living in strata, many different types of people, like families with kids, multi-generational families, those with pets, people who are adding value by renovating … But then you also have more people working from home, so it’s the perfect storm.”

Talk it out

Let’s say your neighbour blasts the trombone at 2am every Wednesday. If this interferes with your household’s sleep (and you feel safe enough to do so), etiquette expert Amanda King recommends calmly and respectfully approaching them to communicate how the issue affects you.

“If you begin with an aggressive reaction, you may only be met with more aggression, and the issue escalates,” Sydney-based King says. “Make sure to treat your neighbour with courtesy and respect and listen to what they have to say. Keep a record of all contact you have regarding the problem.”

Face-to-face is always preferable as it comes across as more sincere, King says. However, if this isn’t possible, a carefully worded letter would suffice.

It’s possible to get ahead of any issues by establishing a positive dynamic with your neighbours from the beginning, says Sydney-based social etiquette expert Anna Musson.

“Getting along with neighbours is a thermostat for your life. We should get to know who lives near us and build a community, whether for our own loneliness, neighbourhood security or to build that sense of belonging. When we know who’s crying, whose dog is barking, who’s building a deck, it reduces how annoying we find that sound.”

Mediate

If tension persists, it’s often possible to resolve the dispute by inviting a knowledgeable and impartial third party to the conversation, says strata and community titles lawyer Allison Benson.

However, official mediation is the next step. “Owning a property in a strata or community title scheme is like a marriage, a long-term relationship with the other lot owners. It’s generally to everyone’s benefit to try to resolve the matter before it gets to the litigation stage.”

Most mediation services are free, such as via NSW Fair Trading and Community Justice Centres. Elsewhere, the Dispute Settlement Centre of Victoria also offers free mediation; however, matters referred by VCAT are generally prioritised due to high demand.

Tribunal: a worst-case scenario?

Legal action is generally considered a last resort, Benson says, as it’s time-consuming, expensive and stressful. If your case does end up before a tribunal or court, she strongly recommends seeking legal advice.

“You need to understand not just your legal rights and obligations but what’s required during the litigation process. I’ve seen many people with good claims fail because they didn’t understand what they needed to prove or the time limits that may apply to their claim.”

During a tribunal, it will be up to the complainant to prove their peace was unfairly disturbed, Farmer says. This is a rather subjective process, which largely depends on the amount of verifiable evidence each neighbour recorded throughout the dispute.

The Protection of the Environment Operations (Noise Control) Regulation will govern most neighbourhood noise, including the use of air conditioners and musical instruments. It sets out timeframes for noisy activities and their duration.

Defining “unreasonable noise”

This will depend on it’s volume and intensity, what type of noise it is, time and place, its duration and its frequency.

When to let it go

Not every grievance is worth the battle. As the Australian population grows and apartment living booms, noise and other minor annoyances are almost inevitable.

“People are all around you,” Farmer says. “You have to come to terms with this if you’re going to live in these spaces. Noise also travels in older buildings in Australia. So, you must temper expectations.”

If something is only mildly annoying and relatively infrequent, such as a Saturday night party or someone leaving their bin in the parking bay, Benson says it’s probably best to ignore it and preserve the relationship.

President of the Australian Psychological Society, Dr Catriona Davis-McCabe, says though you can’t control how you feel about something, you can control your response.

“Not letting go and moving on from small things that annoy you compounds over time, making your life harder and less enjoyable than it needs to be. Remember that you only have a finite amount of mental capacity to deal with stress each day, so it’s better to save it for the most important issues you’re facing.”

https://www.smh.com.au/lifestyle/life-and-relationships/love-thy-neighbour-what-to-do-when-you-can-t-stand-who-s-next-door-20240408-p5fi62.html

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EPA sets new regulations on ‘forever chemicals’ in US drinking water


So global warming is not the only myth the EPA subscribes to. Note the weasel wording: "Has been linked to". Yes, a lot of people have linked PFAS to illness and have done so for many years. But nobody has produced good evidence for the link. Below is the most recent attempt to "link" PFAS to something. Pathetic
See also:

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has finalized rules on PFAS (Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances) also known as “forever chemicals” in drinking water systems across the US.

EPA Administrator Michael Regan who previously served as head of North Carolina’s Department of Environmental Quality from 2017 until early 2021, announced the regulations at the P.O. Hoffer Water Plant in Fayetteville on Wednesday.

The new rules require public water utilities to monitor for six types of PFAS and limit maximum contaminant levels (MCL).

Exposure to PFAS has been linked to serious health risks, including certain cancers, liver and heart damage in adults, and immune and developmental effects for infants and children.

“Today I’m proud to return to North Carolina to announce the first ever, nationwide, legally enforceable drinking water standard for PFAS,” Regan said, “this is the most significant action EPA has ever taken on PFAS.”

Regan noted the importance of these chemicals, but also the risks.

“These chemicals have a place and are important for certain industries and certain practices. There’s also no doubt that these chemicals entering our environment in an uncontrolled manner are harmful to our families, harmful to our communities, and harmful to our economy,” Regan said.

PFAS are a category of chemicals used since the 1940s to repel oil and water and resist heat, which makes them useful in everyday products such as nonstick cookware, stain resistant clothing, and firefighting foam.

13 months ago, Regan was in Wilmington at the campus of UNCW to announce the start of the rule-making process.

Southeastern North Carolina has been on the forefront of contaminated drinking water, since 2017 when it was reported that chemical company Chemours had been dumping GenX into the Cape Fear River for decades.

The Biden administration has allocated $1 billion to assist states in funding infrastructure upgrades to adhere to the new regulations. North Carolina is set to receive $29 million in grant funding to aid utilities in implementing testing and upgrading water treatment technology.

“You are going to hear a lot of talk about cost and it can’t be done and we shouldn’t do this,” Regan said, “Let me just tell you it can be done. It can be achieved using a range of technologies and approaches that many water systems are using today.”

The Cape Fear Public Utility Authority, which provides water to customers in New Hanover County, has already invested more than $40 million to install granular activated carbon filters to address PFAS.

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The Cut Flowers Civilization


Ben Shapiro is probably correct below. But there may be a middle way. I follow Carnap in thinking that metaphysical statements are not even meaningful, let alone right or wrong. Yet I sometimes call myself a Christian. Why? Because I try to live a Christian life. I think that is not incoherent and could be adopted by others. I do get rewards when I do the Christian thing in a situation. It's rather wonderful how often and sometimes how promptly kind, forgiving and generous behavior is rewarded

I will mention just one small and rather amusing example of such an occasion.

I was working in a Real Estate office when one of the salesmen began abusing me for something I had said. In reply I said: "Mea culpa, mea maxima culpa". I accepted blame in accordance with Matthew chapter 5 but I did it in Latin.

He was however an older Catholic who remembered the Latin mass so understood what I said and was amused by it. So he instantly went from condemning to laughing. Others nearby said frantically, "What did he say? , What did he say?" They thought I had used some sort of magic spell to get such an abrupt change in him, which, in a way, I had


This week, famed British atheist Richard Dawkins explained that he was a “cultural Christian.”

Praising civilization in the United Kingdom, Dawkins stated:

I do think that we are culturally a Christian country. I call myself a cultural Christian. I’m not a believer. But there is a distinction between being a believing Christian and being a cultural Christian. And so, you know, I love hymns and Christmas carols, and I sort of feel at home in the Christian ethos. I feel that we are a Christian country in that sense.

Dawkins went on to praise Christianity as a “fundamentally decent religion in a way that I think Islam is not.”

Dawkins’ case for Christianity—a case made on the basis of utility—is nothing new. It was made long ago by Voltaire, an acidic critic of the church who famously averred, “If God did not exist, it would be necessary to invent him.”

But the problem with the utilitarian case for religious belief is that it doesn’t animate religious believers. It is simply impossible to build a civilization on the basis of Judeo-Christian foundations while making the active case as to why those foundations ought to be dissolved.

In fact, Western civilization has doomed itself so long as it fails to reconnect to its religious roots. Philosopher Will Herberg wrote:

The moral principles of Western civilization are, in fact, all derived from the tradition rooted in Scripture and have vital meaning only in the context of that tradition. … Cut flowers retain their original beauty and fragrance, but only so long as they retain the vitality that they have drawn from their now severed roots; after that is exhausted, they wither and die. So with freedom, brotherhood, justice and personal dignity—the values that form the moral foundation of our civilization. Without the life-giving power of the faith out of which they have sprung, they possess neither meaning nor vitality.

We are a cut flowers civilization.

And eventually, cut flowers die.

That has never been more obvious than this week, when the Biden administration decided to honor the newly invented Transgender Day of Visibility on Easter Sunday. Gender ideology is a symptom of our society’s reversion to gnostic paganism, in which unseen, chaotic forces buffet us about, and in which nature is directly opposed to the freedom of our disembodied essences.

It is no wonder that gender ideology is opposed by every mainstream traditional religion.

Yet claiming that this magical holiday could not be moved, the White House issued a variety of statements in celebration of radical gender ideology, including a deeply insulting statement from the president of the United States citing the book of Genesis to the effect that transgender people are “made in the image of God”—ignoring the last half of the biblical verse, which reads, “male and female he made them.”

What better time than Easter, the holiest day in the Christian calendar, to pay homage to an entirely new religion?

Richard Dawkins is obviously correct that a civilization rooted in church is better than a civilization rooted in an alternative set of values. But in reality, the churches cannot be empty; they must be full. The cathedrals that mean Britain to Dawkins must ring with the sounds of hymns in order to maintain their holiness and their importance; otherwise, they are merely beautiful examples of old architecture, remnants of a dead civilization preserved in stone.

But our civilization must live. And that means more than cultural Christianity. It means reengaging with the source of our values—the Scriptures that educated our fathers and grandfathers.

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Yes, Donald Trump & Co. SHOULD fight unfair anti-white racism


The inequality between blacks and whites in the USA drives Leftists mad. Equality is a major part of their religion. But it is plain that whites prosper more than blacks do and that East Asians do best of all. And nothing seems to be able to change that. Leftists cannot accept that there are inherent differences between the three groups that will always make them better fitted to prosper in a modern Western economy. So they resort to all sorts of nonsense in order to deny what lies plainly in front of them. They say they are enemies of racism but go on immediately to practice it against whites: Equality at all costs. They are obsessed: Very unpleasant people

Is there anything more poisonous or ridiculous than insisting that corporations and the government treat people fairly regardless of race?

Apparently not.

An Axios report on the Trump team’s intention to use civil-rights laws to target DEI policies discriminating against whites has occasioned sneering and denunciations.

Philip Bump at The Washington Post snarked, as his headline puts it, “Trump aims to be a fearless warrior for White advantage.”

The New Republic commented, sarcastically, “If Donald Trump is elected to a second term in November, his allies plan to end this country’s long-standing oppression of a major marginalized group in America: white people.”

MSNBC warned, “Trumpism is increasingly organized around the reactionary principle that white Americans are not just overlooked, but are victims because of their race. This is a path to unraveling multicultural democracy.”

Much of the commentary reflects the contradictory argument that anti-white racism isn’t really a thing, yet, simultaneously, is absolutely essential to racial progress.

The same twisted reasoning was often used when the CRT controversy was at its height; critical race theory was either a right-wing myth or foundational to the truthful teaching of America’s past, or somehow both.

There should be a long German word for this rhetorical phenomenon.

Regardless, it is axiomatic that in the context of zero-sum hiring, admissions and contracting decisions, favoring one group will disadvantage another.

This has been well established regarding affirmative-action policies at colleges — it’s much harder for white (or Asian) applicants to get into competitive schools than it is for members of favored minority groups with similar credentials.

Progressives might believe that this is cosmic justice, that whites deserve whatever they get. But individuals aren’t racial symbols and shouldn’t be treated as such. A conscientious white college applicant, who has never harmed anyone, shouldn’t be punished for his or her race.

Why are the iniquities of the old Jim Crow regime being taken out on white applicants — who never voted for Lester Maddox and probably never heard of him — for assistant-vice-president jobs at banks and other corporations?

This is unfair, and, more to the point, against the law.

The US Constitution is race neutral, and so are the civil-rights laws enacted after the Civil War and in the 1960s.

As such, they are potentially a powerful weapon against the system of racial preferences that has become a pervasive feature of American life.

We saw that in the Supreme Court’s affirmative-action decision last year, and in the ruling last month against the Minority Business Development Agency by US District Court Judge Mark Pittman in Texas.

Corporations that are setting hiring targets by race and gender face massive exposure.

They haven’t had to worry about it much to this point. The plaintiffs’ bar, out of political cowardice, won’t touch this issue.

On top of that, it’s hard even to find plaintiffs; becoming known as the white person who was chiseled out of a job and sued over it is not the best career move in corporate America.

This is why an ideologically driven group like former Trump aide Stephen Miller’s America First Legal has had to pick up the baton, with some success.

But if a Trump Justice Department decides to make an example of a couple of high-profile corporations engaged in these discriminatory practices, the regime of preferences may well crumble quickly.

Until recently, the incentives have been all the other way — to adopt the fashionable attitudes, spout the familiar DEI lines, empower the apparatchiks of HR and not risk the ire of elite opinion by taking a different path.

Now, there are signs that DEI in corporate America is cresting, or at least becoming less blatant, under political and legal pressure.

If a Trump Justice Department (and Equal Employment Opportunity Commission) pushes these types of policies in business and government into the dustbin, the Left will firmly plant both feet on one side of its current straddle — and say it’s a travesty that anti-white discrimination no longer exists.

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JK Rowling is 'spreading disinformation' about Scotland's new hate crime laws says Scottish First Minister after Harry Potter author slammed his 'bumbling incompetence and illiberal authoritarianism'


As ever, the Devil is in the detail.  What consitutes "stirring up hatred"? Does any criticism count?  Leftists are prone to claim that it does.  So critics of the law have good reason to be suspicious of it.

And the Scottish First Minister is therefore in full damage-control mode, pushing a very narrow definition of "stirring up hatred".  It does seem that his very narrow definition is being adopted by Police Scotland so the actual effect of the law may be small


Harry Potter author JK Rowling and other critics of Scotland's new hate crime laws must stop 'peddling misinformation', Scotland's First Minister has said.

Humza Yousaf strongly defended the Hate Crime and Public Order (Scotland) Act against claims it would hamper freedom of speech after it was introduced earlier this week. 

JK Rowling criticised the Scottish Government's hate laws while posting pictures of 10 high-profile trans people and ridiculed their claims to be women.

Speaking at Glasgow's Prestwick Airport on Saturday, Mr Yousaf said: 'There's deliberate misinformation being peddled by some bad actors across Scotland - it's hardly surprising the Opposition seek to do that.

'What we've got is a piece of legislation that in the actual Act itself, explicitly in black and white, protects freedom of expression, freedom of speech.'

The SNP leader went on: 'At the same time, it makes sure that it protects people from hatred being stirred up against them, and that is really important when we have far too many incidents of hatred that can be because of their age, disability, sexuality or religion.'

'There's no place for that in Scotland, and you have to send a really strong signal that the law will protect you.'

Rowling's comments were reported to Police Scotland as alleged hate crimes. 

The force found she had committed no crime and also said it would not record a 'non-crime hate incident' against her.

She also said that most Scots were 'upset and offended by Yousaf 's bumbling incompetence and illiberal authoritarianism', following the introduction of the legislation on Monday.

Rowling wrote on X/Twitter: 'Most of Scotland is upset and offended by Yousaf's bumbling incompetence and illiberal authoritarianism, but we aren't lobbying to have him locked up for it.'

Asked what his message to critics such as JK Rowling would be, the Nationalist MSP said: 'I would tell them to stop spreading disinformation. It isn't going to help anybody. 

 'This is a piece of legislation that was passed by every single political party in Scotland, minus the Conservatives.'

He said: 'It's a ludicrous suggestion. Actually JK Rowling's tweets are a perfect example of how the law actually works.

'JK Rowling produced some tweets that were offensive, that were insulting - but of course the law does not deal with offensive. 

'The law is dealing with new offences, criminal behaviour that has to be threatening or abusive, intent to stir up hatred. Hence why she was not arrested.

'That's not a surprise. Anybody who actually read the Bill will not be surprised that she did not get arrested. The threshold for criminality is extremely high.

'So anybody suggesting that the Bill deals with simply people having their feelings hurt, being offended, being insulted, I'm afraid that is not what the new offences are concerned with.

'There are very explicit in black and white protections for people's freedom of expression and indeed of freedom of speech. 

'The Bill has got the balance right between protecting people from hatred and protecting people's fundamental freedoms.'

Mr Yousaf also shared his views in an opinion article in The Courier newspaper, urging politicians and public figures to create a debate rooted in 'reality'.

He said false claims the law makes it a criminal offence to make 'derogatory comments' based on the characteristics covered in the Act was 'simply untrue'.

The First Minister wrote: 'As a father of two girls, and blessed with a baby on the way, I feel an even greater obligation to work as First Minister to help make Scotland even better for the next generation.

'Critics of this law shouldn't exaggerate its impact with false fears. Equally, its proponents shouldn't pretend that it can of itself eradicate hatred and prejudice from our society.'

Yousaf was also reported to police about an alleged hate crime over a speech he made at the Scottish Parliament four years ago.

Like Rowling, police confirmed it was not a hate crime and said no 'non-crime hate incident' would be recorded against his name.

Adam Tomkins, a law professor and a former Scottish Tory MSP who voted against the Hate Crime Act, previously told STV News that 'misgendering' someone was not a crime under the law.

The Hate Crime and Public Order (Scotland) Act consolidates existing hate crime legislation and creating a new offence of stirring up hatred against protected characteristics.

Those characteristics are disability, religion, sexual orientation, age, transgender identity and variations in sex characteristics.

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-13278903/jk-rowling-disinformation-scotland-hate-crime-law-humza-yousaf.html

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Do autism and psychopathy overlap?


Answering that question runs into a lot of difficulties over definition. For reference, I give the Mayo definition of both conditions below

* Autism spectrum disorder is a condition related to brain development that impacts how a person perceives and socializes with others, causing problems in social interaction and communication. The disorder also includes limited and repetitive patterns of behavior.

* Antisocial personality disorder, sometimes called sociopathy, is a mental health condition in which a person consistently shows no regard for right and wrong and ignores the rights and feelings of others. People with antisocial personality disorder tend to purposely make others angry or upset and manipulate or treat others harshly or with cruel indifference. They lack remorse or do not regret their behavior.


As you will see, psychopathy is no longer called that any more. For a while it was renamed "sociopathy" but now it is usually called "antisocial personality disorder'

There would appear to be one clear area of overlap: concern over other people and their feelings. But the causality would appear to be different. The psychopath is aware of other people's feelings but doesn't care while the austistic person is not aware. Both ignore other peoples feeling but for different reasons. Still, that indifference is a central feature of both syndromes so their apparent identity is an important question.

In my case, I am a person with a pretty full set of autistic characteristics, and I am aware of how little other people's sufferings and feelings impact me. I am not a sympathetic person. I do for instance greatly deplore the vicious October 7 attacks on innocent Israelis by a deranged Palestinian minority but I cannot FEEL anything about that event.

But on the other hand I have always been generous to others in some ways. At present I give roughly half of my disposable income to a charitable cause while living a generally frugal personal life. I have long given away a large slice of my income

So there is clearly a possibility of mistaking the two traits and unwinding any confusion depends on looking at other characteristics of the person

Another potential confusion is the way I drive. I am a "demon" driver and that could be mistaken for psychopathic carelessness. But it is an item of pride to me that in 60 years of driving I have never hurt myself or anyone else. I just work with fine margins, that's all. I have been known to give my passengers the shakes however

So again, things that may look the same may in fact be fundamentally different

This very post is an instance of autistic behaviour. It is common for autistics to be unusually self-revealing. Psychopaths, on the other hand, tend to be devious and to "fake good"

Professor Simon Baron-Cohen is an acknowledged authority on autism and he argues that calling it a "disorder" is wrong.
Like some of the people mentioned in the article linked below I am inclined to think it can be a gift, or even a "superpower"
I commented on that article a few days ago
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Greens are always warning that the Earth's overcrowded... In fact, the West's plunging birthrate will usher in a dystopia


I think the scenario pictured  below is a tad alarmist but  lower birthrates will undoubtedly cause adjustment problems.  Overlooked is that birthrates may recover for various reasons.  Straight-line projections of biological phenomena are usually simplistic.  After  non-maternal women have weeded themseves out of the gene pool, The remaining more maternal women might produce a quite high  birthrate

Picture the cities of the future. Do you imagine glittering skyscrapers, bullet trains whizzing past green parklands, flying taxis and limitless clean energy?

I’m afraid you may be disappointed. A century from now, swathes of the world’s cities are more likely to be abandoned, with small numbers of residents clinging to decaying houses set on empty, weed-strewn streets – like modern-day Detroit.

According to a new report from the Lancet medical journal, by the year 2100, just six countries could be having children at ‘replacement rate’ – that is, with enough births to keep their populations stable, let alone growing.

All six nations will be in sub-Saharan Africa. In Europe and across the West and Asia, the birth rate will have collapsed – and the total global population will be plummeting.

Eco-activists have long decried humans as a curse on the planet, greedily gobbling up resources and despoiling the natural world.

The reliably hysterical BBC presenter Chris Packham has claimed that ‘human population growth’ is ‘our greatest worry… There are just too many of us. Because if you run out of resources, it doesn’t matter how well you’re coping: if you’re starving and thirsty, you’ll die.’

Greens like Packham seem to think that if we could only reduce the overall population, the surviving rump of humanity could somehow live in closer harmony with nature. On the contrary, population collapse will presage a terrifying dystopia.

Fewer babies mean older populations – which in turn means fewer young people paying taxes to fund the pensions of the elderly. And that means that everyone has to work ever longer into old age, and in an atmosphere of declining public services and deteriorating quality of life.

So if you worry that it’s hard now to find carers to look after elderly relatives, this will be nothing compared to what your children or grandchildren will face when they are old.

In modern industrialised societies, it is generally accepted that the Total Fertility Rate (TFR) – the average number of children born to each woman during her lifetime – must be at least 2.1 to ensure a stable population.  By 2021, the TFR had fallen below 2.1 in more than half the world’s countries.

In Britain, it now stands at 1.49. In Spain and Japan it is 1.26, in Italy 1.21 and in South Korea a desperate 0.82.

Even in India – which recently overtook China as the world’s most populous nation – the TFR is down to 1.91.

There are now just 94 countries in which the rate exceeds 2.1 – and 44 of them are in sub-Saharan Africa, which suffers far higher rates of infant mortality.

The dramatic fall in Britain’s birthrate has been disguised until now because we are importing hundreds of thousands of migrants per year to do badly paid jobs that the native population increasingly spurns. 

In 2022, net migration here reached more than 700,000. The Office of National Statistics expects the UK population to reach 70million by 2026, almost 74 million by 2036 and almost 77 million by 2046 – largely fed by mass migration.

Unless migration remains high, the UK population is likely to start shrinking soon after that point – especially as the last ‘baby boomer’ (born between 1946 and 1964) reaches their 80th birthday in 2044. This mass importation of migrants to counteract a falling domestic birthrate spells huge consequences for our social fabric.

In years to come, Britain is set to face a pitiless battle with other advanced economies – many of them already much richer than we are – to import millions of overseas workers to staff our hospitals, care homes, factories and everything else.

And once the global population starts to fall in the final decades of this century, it will become ever harder to source such workers from abroad. At that point, we may find hospitals having to cut their services or even close.

So, though medical advancements will likely mean that people will be living even longer, we face a grim future in which elderly people will increasingly die of neglect, or be looked after by robots – an idea that has been trialled in Japan already.

How has this crisis crept up on us so stealthily? It wasn’t so long ago that the United Nations and others were voicing concern at overpopulation.

For decades, self-proclaimed experts have warned – in the manner of early 19th-century economist Thomas Malthus – that global supplies of food and water, as well as natural resources, would run out. 

Graphs confidently showed the world’s population accelerating exponentially, with many claiming that humankind had no choice but to launch interplanetary civilisations as we inevitably outgrew our world.

They could not have been more wrong.

Amid all the Packham-esque hysteria about a ‘population explosion’, many failed to notice that birth rates had actually already started to collapse: first in a few developed countries, such as Italy and South Korea, and then elsewhere.

As societies grow wealthier and the middle classes boom, women start to put off childbearing. This means that they end up having fewer children overall. In Britain especially, there are the added costs of childcare and the often permanent loss of income that results from leaving the workforce, even temporarily.

The striking result of all this is that the number of babies being born around the world has, in fact, already peaked.

The year 2016 is likely to go down in history as the one in which more babies were born than any other: 142million of them. By 2021, the figure was 129million – a fall of more than 9 per cent in just five years.

To be clear, the global population is for the moment still rising because people are living longer thanks to better medical care. We are not dying as quickly as babies are being born.

According to the UN, the global population reached 8billion on November 15, 2022. It should carry on growing before peaking at 10.4 billion in the 2080s – although the world will be feeling the effects of the declining birth rate long before that.

On current trends, the world’s population will start to fall by the 2090s – the first time this will have happened since the Black Death swept Eurasia in the 14th century.

So what, if anything, can we do to stop ourselves hurtling towards this calamity?

For one thing, governments must work tirelessly to encourage people to have families. Generous tax incentives for marriage, lavish child benefit payments and better and cheaper childcare are all a must, so that mothers don’t have to stop their careers in order to start families.

Britain could, if it chose to, lead the way on this.

But that seems highly unlikely with the imminent prospect of a Labour government: the statist Left habitually loathes any measures that could be seen to benefit the nuclear family or that incentivise people to have more children.

Yet in truth, the scale of this problem is so vast – and the issue so widespread – that effectively counteracting it may be next to impossible.

Absent some extraordinary shift, the gradual impoverishment of an ageing and shrinking population seems the planet’s destiny. It is not an attractive thought.

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-13224245/Earth-overcrowded-West-plunging-birthrate-dystopia-ROSS-CLARK.html

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