Massachusetts declares early victory in taxing the rich, saying $1.8 billion take from millionaires tax was double expectations

This celebrating is a bit premature.  Few peope can up-sticks immediately but there will be a gradual and cumulative drip of departures that will mostly leave only the elderly rich in place. Elderly people are not good at handling change so will in many cases opt to pay the tax for the sake of peace. 

But elderly people are prone to die. So who will replace them?  Just about nobody in all probability.  So the "rich" population is likely to shrink to nothing over time  -- with a huge loss to Massachustts tax receipts.  The Left elite will eventually realise that they have shot themselves in the foot but by then the damage is likely to be irrevesible. "Taxachusetts"  will once again be a byword for economic stupidity

Taxing millionaires is a contentious issue—but Massachusetts is declaring early victory, with an announcement this week that the state’s tax on its highest earners has yielded $1.8 billion in additional income. With three more months left in the state’s fiscal year, the take is already $800 million more than what officials, including Gov. Maura Healey, planned to spend in additional revenue from the tax, according to the State House News Service.

The money from the so-called fair-share tax has been earmarked to boost transportation and education, including giving every public-school child in the state free lunch, Healey’s office told Fortune last fall, and while the fate of the surplus funds isn’t yet clear, it’s likely to be designated for capital projects related to education and infrastructure. “Those are two areas of immense need,” senate budget chief Michael Rodrigues said on the senate floor, according to the State House News Service. 

The tax imposes an additional 4% charge on any income over $1 million a year and was approved by voters in 2022, but immediately drew criticism from opponents who warned it would drive out high earners. Florida and New Hampshire—two states that don’t tax income— have long been favored destinations for Massachusetts residents looking to escape the state’s tax regime, Bloomberg Tax noted. Now, progressive proponents are claiming victory in the wake of the Massachusetts haul. 

“Opponents of the Fair Share Amendment claimed that multimillionaires would flee Massachusetts rather than pay the new tax, and they are being proven wrong every day,” Andrew Farnitano, a spokesperson for Raise Up Massachusetts, a group that pushed for the initiative, told the Boston Globe. 

“With this money from the ultrarich, we can do even more to improve our public schools and colleges, invest in roads, bridges, and public transit, and start building an economy that works for everyone,” Farnitano continued. 

The right-leaning Massachusetts Fiscal Alliance denounced the tax. “Whatever short-term financial benefit the state will receive from the income surtax will be outweighed by the long-term negative effect this tax is having on the state,” spokesperson Paul Craney told the State House News Service. “It’s chasing out high-income earners and making the decision very easy for taxpayers who are regularly impacted by this tax to domicile in more tax-friendly states.”

The Tufts University Center for State Policy Analysis, in January 2022, released a report that found the tax would apply to less than 1% of Massachusetts households in any given year—and that while some high-income residents might move to other states, the number of movers would likely be small.

The news of the first-year success of Massachusetts’s tax is giving fuel to progressives in other states. In neighboring New York, the group Invest in Our New York called for a similar tax, writing that the Massachusetts experience “underscores that taxes on the ultra-wealthy are not only politically feasible, they are a fiscal imperative.”


How junk food causes cancer - as Morgan Spurlock, maker of "Super Size Me", dies from disease aged 53

Ho Hum! Just the usual elitist scorn for anything popular, regardless of the evidence. They make a nod to the evidence but it is a pathetic nod. The Singapore study they mention was in vitro (cells in glass dishes) and the European study of mainly middle class ladies "excluded participants with extreme energy intake", failed to control for income and found only marginal hazard ratios. See below for links to the original studies:
Studies of cells in glass dishes notoriously fail to predict effects in actual human beings and income is the most pervasive predictor of poor health and is hence a serious potential confounder

And the study is moreover a correlational one -- to which the old dictum "correlation is not proof of causation" applies.

Perhaps the most amusing thing about the European study is that it was based on questionnaires -- self reports of food intake. I have recently noted a case where food questionnaires predicted ill health while a more direct measure of the same food intake by the same peope did not. In other words, self reports are a poor predictor of actual behaviour. Psychologists have known that since the 1930s but it has yet to dent the faith of medical researchers, apparently

But it is a paradox of logic that while correlations are no proof of causation, their absence can be an excellent DISPROOF of causation. And I have recently noted a case where a correlational study produced strong evidence that ultra-processed food is NOT bad for you. Too bad about that bit of evidence, I guess
And I will not waste words on the Spurlock stunt

To give hope to those who tend to eat whatever they like I will mention my own experience. I have always been a keen eater of "incorrect" food -- including many visits to McDonald's. Yet recent scans and tests of my splanchnic organs (liver, kidneys etc) have revealed them to be now in just about as a good a shape as they were when I was 18 -- and I am now 80. Don't let the panic-merchants get you down. It's your genes, not your food that dictate how healthy you are and will be

The link between junk food and cancer was put back into focus today after the death of Super Size Me documentary maker Morgan Spurlock - who died from the disease.

His family said Spurlock, 53, succumbed to 'complications' of cancer but did not reveal which type he had or how long he'd been battling it.

There is no indication his condition was linked to the 2004 movie, which saw him consume nothing but McDonald's meals for a month as a health experiment - even though he suffered a number of health issues in the immediate aftermath.

Piles of research in recent decades have shown that eating lots of processed foods is linked to at least 34 different types of cancers - even in people who are not obese.

Even though the link between ultra-processed foods - including fast food, soda, chips, ice-cream, sugary cereals and deli meats - and cancer is well established, the exact mechanism is still being understood.

One of the ways UPFs may cause cancer is due to their makeup. These foods often contain high levels of saturated fat, added sugars and sodium and are low in nutrients such as vitamins and minerals, and fiber.

If we eat too many ultra-processed foods, we may not eat enough of the foods in the diet that we know boost the immune system and help prevent cancer from forming, such as wholegrains, fruit and vegetables.

Secondly, consuming these foods regularly can lead to weight gain. Being above a healthy weight increases your risk of developing 13 different cancers, including cancers of the bowel, kidney, pancreas, esophagus, endometrium, liver and breast (after menopause).

Excess weight can trigger a host of hormonal changes that can cause tumors to grow.

A study earlier this year also uncovered a potential missing link between how eating junk food increases the risk of cancer.

The research out of Singapore found that a compound released when the body breaks down sugary and fatty foods switches off a gene that fights off cancer.

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

The academics 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.

They found that methylglyoxal was able to temporarily shut off the BRCA2 gene's ability to protect against cancer forming and growing.

Repeated exposure, such as through eating processed foods, would increase the amount of damage to genes like BRCA2.

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.

Red and processed meat also contain compounds such as heme and nitrates, which, when broken down in the body, form compounds that can damage the cells lining the bowel, increasing the likelihood of cancer developing.

UPFs refers to items which contain ingredients people would not usually add when they were cooking homemade food.

These additions might include chemicals, colorings, sweeteners and preservatives that extend shelf life.

One example is phthalates - a group of chemicals used to make plastics more durable.

The chemicals get into food mainly through packaging and food handling equipment such as cellophane and plastic in contact with food. Exposure to phthalates has been linked to breast cancer.

Other research, including the biggest analysis of evidence to date involving 10million people, found that eating a lot of foods such as ready meals, sugary cereals and mass-produced bread is linked to an increased risk of 32 health problems, including cancer.

A 2023 study published in the European Journal of Nutrition found cancer risk shot up when people ate just 350g of ultra-processed food per day over the course of a decade - the equivalent of a large packet of chips or half a sharing bag of Skittles.

This amount was linked to a 20 percent higher risk of head and neck cancer and a 25 percent higher risk of esophageal adenocarcinoma, a type of cancer that grows in the lining of the food pipe.

The study said the disease could result from detrimental changes in gut flora, as well as potential hormonal effects.

Dr David Katz, a specialist in preventive and lifestyle medicine who was not involved in the study, previously told CNN: 'If UPFs contribute to cancer risk, they do it to a small extent by contributing to obesity, and to a much larger extent by other mechanisms.'

'What might those be? Diet-induced inflammation; disruption of the microbiome; adverse epigenetic effects; and many other possibilities come to mind.'


Does Montague William lll exist?

Neither Wikipedia nor Snopes appear to have heard of him yet there is a video by him that has multiple appearances on the web so he has not in any way been censored.  And it is a beautiful performance. It is totally opposite in style to Hitler but probably outdoes Hitler in asserting convincingly that bankers rule the world.  That belief is still common on the Left.

I particularly like his speaking voice. He has a  beautiful "cut glass" accent (well articulaed RP).  My own accent is educated Australian -- "university English" --  which is quite close to RP.  So I find RP to be easily understood.  Being a bit deaf, other accents often cause me to miss some of what is being said

The video is clearly a work of fiction but whoever made it did a very good job

I believe there was a real British playboy named Montague William lll, now deceased. I see that the performer above was British actor Michael Daviot. Actors have to be able to "do" different accents

I gather that the video premiered in 2011. I enjoyed it greatly and watched it several times. I think it is the best monologue I have seen

‘Love or lust’: Travelling chastity preacher at schools sparks parent backlash

I would once long ago have agreed with this and I do at least agree that marriage is the ideal relationship. I have been married 4 times so I do put my money where my mouth is on that matter!

But the times now are definitely ones of of sexual libertarianism, so much so that abstention from sex seems unrealistic. Among young people (and some not so young people) everybody is doing it. To opt out of premarital sex is to opt out of modern life.

I have always been pretty fussy about whom I slept with and I have always looked for long-term relationships but I think that is the most one can hope for today

I note that Catholics have never been very faithful to church teachings on sex anyhow. From what I see and know, Catholic women who do NOT use contraception are rare

And there is a sense in which the church teachings are futile. Nature continues to assert itself -- to the point where even celibate priests often transgress -- often in regrettable circumstances

A planned lecture on the virtues of virginity, chastity and modesty to be delivered to Catholic high school students next week has prompted a backlash from some parents who do not want “outdated” views pushed on their daughters.

The Chastity Project founder Jason Evert is set to deliver his talk entitled “love or lust” next week at St Leo’s in Wahroonga, St Joseph’s in East Gosford as well as MacKillop Catholic College in Warnervale.

Parents were told Evert, who is based in Arizona but travels the world telling teenagers about the dangers and consequences sex before marriage, would also tell stories about the negative effects of pornography.

“Importantly, Jason discusses relationships in a non-judgemental way and encourages young people not to feel pressured into a sexual relationship,” a letter to parents at the three schools said.

But when some parents researched Evert online, they did not like what they found: one of his books from 2006 said homosexual acts were disordered (Evert has said he removed that quote from the book over a decade ago); online videos show him saying “most women do not want” to take the contraceptive pill.

The Sydney Catholic Diocese’s Centre of Evangelisation last year hosted a talk by Evert with the same title as the one to be delivered next week, in which he cited statistics which said those who abstain from sex before marriage had much lower divorce rates. He also outlined how a lack of modesty can lead to objectification and disrespect. “I didn’t even know how to treat a girl until I dated one in college who dressed modestly,” he said.

In another anecdote, he recounted how a basketball player had asked him: “‘When you’re with a girl and she says she’s ready for sex, how do you say no to that?’ I said: ‘If she thinks she’s ready for sex, and she’s not ready to be a mother, then she has no clue what she’s talking about.’”

St Joseph’s mother Alison Read said: “I sent my daughter to the school to help her become a strong, independent and capable woman, not to have her taught out-of-date views about keeping herself ‘pure’.”

In response to questions from the Herald, Evert said parents have the right to choose what kind of information their children receive on the topic of sexuality, and that was one reason why many choose a Catholic education for their children.

“To any concerned parents, I would say that I have spoken to tens of thousands of young people in Australia, and the only reason why I am being invited back now for the seventh time is because the presentation is not about hate, bigotry, or medical misinformation,” he said.

“It’s a positive message that focuses on chastity as a virtue that frees us to love, regardless of what has happened in the past.

“And in terms of the subject of modesty, I think it’s a virtue that men as well as women would do well to rediscover. ”

Another parent at St Joseph’s, Sarah Greenaway, said she believed Evert’s views did not “align with many of the teachings of modern Catholicism”.

“He has also described homosexuality as ‘disordered’. These perspectives can be harmful and alienating to students, particularly those who may already feel marginalised,” Greenaway said in a letter to the Catholic Diocese of Broken Bay.

A group of year 10 students have also written to the school to voice their concerns.

“We are concerned about the topics he is passionate about and therefore may present to us,” they wrote.

“Healthy and respectful relationships are obviously very important in our lives as young women. We strongly believe that to bring in a speaker who encourages this is a great way to motivate us to value positive relationships,” the students said. “We believe that Jason Evert’s specific messages, approaches and morals, are backwards.”

A spokeswoman for Catholic Schools Broken Bay said it had multiple initiatives in place including opportunities to invite guest speakers, especially those aligned with Catholic Church teachings.

“Given the many mixed messages our young people are faced with today, we are seeking to provide some reassurance and certainty in a challenging and complex world about relationships and sexuality,” she said.

She said they were conscious of ensuring the safety and wellbeing of all. “For this reason, while
students are encouraged to participate, the session will not be compulsory,” she said.


Wow! Google are getting very sharp in censoring my blog posts

They normally wait a week or more before deleting my posts but they have now deleted what I posted on "Dissecting Leftism" on 20th the day after I posted it. The post was one I downloaded from Trialsite -- a VERY academic site. It was one that explored very fully the issues involved in prosecuting doctors over their prescribing Ivermectin.

Ivermectin must be a red-hot topic at the moment. I can guess why. The source for the deleted post is as under:


PETRONELLA WYATT: I'm single, childless and alone. Feminism has failed me and my generation

She has had a most privileged life so if she feels she has missed out it is a lesson on what an important part of life relationships are. She once had a pregnancy to which Boris Johnson was the father. Had she had saner values then and not aborted it, that baby would now be a undoubtedly talented adult who would be the joy of her life.

I cannot talk. In my youth (late '60s) I too was betrayed by the values of my life in an academic environment and arranged an abortion attributed to me by a very bright and blonde girl. That may have been the daughter I have always wanted and never had. I have had better luck than Petronella with relationships, however and I do have a high-achieving son

Every Monday I meet with a group of female friends in a London restaurant. We sit at a table near the window and discuss our lives.

We have many things in common. We are all in our mid-50s and highly educated career women. But there is a vacuum in our lives. We are all single and childless.

I increasingly feel, as do many of my intimates, that feminism has failed our generation. I grew up with its beliefs. No, strike that. I was force-fed them.

By the age of 13, Christmas presents from my Women's Lib aunt were books by Gloria Steinem and Simone de Beauvoir, considered the mother of modern feminism. (My aunt was one of those militants who had famously disrupted the 1970 Miss World contest).

My peers and I watched Mary Poppins, idolising the determinedly single nanny (never noticing the occasional sadness behind her eyes), and sympathising with suffragette Mrs Banks, while wondering why she didn't leave her dullard of a husband.

Our heroine was Margaret Thatcher, who, though she would have denied it, was a feminist de facto. In one of those encounters that make life instructive, I met Lady Thatcher at my late father's house (my father was the politician Woodrow Wyatt) when I was 15. She was our first woman prime minister and, after our introduction, she began to address me on the subject of life.

The gist of her address would have been greeted with hosannas by every feminist of the age: in summation, a woman's career superseded by far her relations with the opposite sex. (Her own union might well have been to a cipher as opposed to a husband. Indeed, when the Thatchers dined with us, Denis withdrew to the drawing room with the women).

At my private school, St Paul's, we children of Thatcher were similarly educated out of marriage and femininity.

One of my unmarried school friends recalls: 'My teachers made me feel as if marriage was shameful. My English mistress once teased me for looking at a bridal magazine, but then she was an arch feminist who demonised men.'

We both recall being told that 'Paulinas do not cook, they think'. This is all very well when you are young and aspire to greatness, but not all girls grow up to be executives or high court judges, something that feminism perilously forgot to tell us.

Historically, the feminist argument had its points. In the old days, when members of my sex were bound first to their fathers and then to their husbands, they led unenviable lives. If a woman had a good education, however, she could make a comfortable living and remain independent of male approbation. When the desire for marriage and children overwhelmed her, she would almost certainly lose her job.

The world has now changed in a way the early feminists would find incomprehensible. I sometimes think, and so do my friends, that the West has outgrown the feminist philosophy, and that it has become pernicious.

Where, for instance, does it leave women like us, when we have reached our mid-50s, and find ourselves alone?

One of the chief causes of unhappiness is the feeling that one is unloved, whereas companionship and the feeling of being loved promotes happiness more than anything else.

One in ten British women in their 50s has never married and lives alone, which is neither pleasant nor healthy.

My friend Sally, a lovely 55-year-old with eyes the colour of Eau de Nil, once said to me: 'I constantly feel unwanted as a woman because feminism taught us that the traditional female was a stereotype invented by men to keep us down. Accordingly, I was anti-men to the point of driving them away. Now, I'm paying for this.'

According to a recent study by an American medical institute, loneliness is the leading cause of depression among middle-aged females. I should know, as I recently fell prey to the unforgiving maw of mental illness.

Many of my single friends suffer from depression, springing from a solitary existence that would be eschewed by a race of alley cats.

Moreover, there are the economic factors involved. It is a truism that two incomes are better than one, and many of the unattached women I know work in low to middle-paid professions.

A university professor chum bemoans 'as a single woman, it has been increasingly difficult to pay the bills with no assistance from a partner. For every J K Rowling, there are millions of women who get by on a pittance.

'Feminism kept drumming into my head that financial independence was the ideal, but in practice it doesn't happen unless you are managing a hedge fund or are able to write best-selling novels.'

Equally depressingly, many single women feel they have failed at life. Far from empowering us, feminism has made us insecure. 'My career has stalled, I've never married and I feel worthless as a person,' observes my pretty 53-year-old friend Rachel.

General self-confidence comes more than anything else from being accustomed to receiving love, particularly from the opposite sex. The woman with a husband and children accepts their affection as a law of nature, but it is of great importance to her mental health and success.

Yet of all the institutions that have come down to us from the past, none is so derailed by feminism as the family. Many women with feminist ideals feel parenthood is a far heavier burden than their grandmothers did, due to long working hours and the vilification of the housewife. Is it any wonder that the birth rate has declined?

Says another of my Monday group: 'I was conditioned to have no encumbrances, particularly children. Or at least to wait until I was established in my career, but now I'm too old and that boat has sailed.'

Recently, after my depression became debilitating, I had a 20-year-old student living in my home. After a week of acquaintanceship, it dawned on me that the notion of not marrying and giving birth before the age of 30 was anathema to her, and she rejected it completely.

In short, she wanted to conduct her life like a woman.

'Yes, I believe in women's rights,' she ruminated, 'but I don't believe in the militant feminism my mother grew up with. It went too far.' Out of the mouths of babes.

The feminism I was spoon-fed in my youth made the error of telling members of my sex to behave and think like men. This error was a grave one, and women like me are paying for it, like gamblers in a casino that has been fixed.

It's time for a cultural reset. It may be too late for me and my friends, but feminism should not be allowed to ruin the lives of future generations as well.


Cancer-causing microplastics are found in 100% of men's testicles in new study

The appropriate response to this finding is "so what"? The presence of the microparticles seems beyond argument. It is the added term "cancer causing" which is the problem. It is little more than journalistic licence. Evidence for the claim is very thin on the ground.

The main ill effect of the particles pointed to below is its alleged link to lowered sperm counts. Problem: It is doubtful that there has been any lowering of sperm counts
The sperm count furore was a beat-up. One of several problems with the claim is that sperm counts decline with aqe so you need to control for age in your samples and that was often not done. As a population ages, its average sperm counts will decline too. There is no known decline in young men.

I could go on in detail but a basic point is that plastics by the nature of their usage have to be very inert. They very rarely react with anything else. So if they are indeed found in human bodies they can be expected just to sit there, causing no effects of any kind. And that seems very clearly to be the case -- othwerwise we we would have many reports of them causing illess. But it is only when scientists go looking for illness that anything is found -- and even then any effects are very weak. And weak effects are notoriously not replicable so cannot be relied on for any policy response

Microplastics have been found at the top of Mount Everest, deep in the Pacific Ocean's Mariana Trench and now in men's testicles.

Researchers from the University of New Mexico found 12 types of microplastics in all 23 human testes studied.

Data has shown that sperm counts have decreased by 59 percent in the past few decades, with other culprits ranging from cell phones in pants pockets to vape pens.

'We don't want to scare people,' the study's lead author said. 'We want to scientifically provide the data and make people aware.'

The team found that the most prevalent of the 12 microplastics was a polymer material, polyethylene, used in plastic bags and bottles.

The average human concentration was 329.44 micrograms per gram of tissue — vastly more than recent studies of human blood, which came to only tens of micrograms per gram.

Microplastics, smaller than five millimeters in length, enter our bodies through plastic packaging, certain food, tap water and even the air we breathe - and have been linked to cancer and fertility issues.

'There are a lot of microplastics,' the study's lead author Dr. Xiaozhong John Yu, noted. 'We can make our own choices to better avoid exposures, change our lifestyle and change our behavior.'

Dr. Yu was inspired to spearhead the project after a colleague, a professor in the university's pharmacy college named Matthew Campen, found alarming concentrations of microplastics in human placentas.

The presence of this invisible pollution in placentas, so close to unborn children during pregnancy, Dr. Yu noted, led them both to wonder how else microplastics might be impacting reproduction.

Campen, according to Dr. Yu, asked him, 'Have you considered why there is this decline in reproductive potential more recently? There must be something new.'

Dr. Yu and his team found that the concentration of microplastics in the human male testicular tissue was significantly higher than the average Campen found in placental tissue.

For ethical reasons, anonymized human male testicular tissue had been obtained from the New Mexico Office of the Medical Investigator for the new study.

The state's coroners collect these tissue materials during autopsies and then store the material frozen for up to seven years for potential forensic purposes, before being permitted to legally dispose of it.

Preservation methods used to store the human tissue prevented the team from calculating the men's sperm counts.

To fill this gap, the study also looked at tissue from dogs, which showed that the volume of microplastics scaled directly to lower sperm counts in dogs.

'At the beginning, I doubted whether microplastics could penetrate the reproductive system,' Dr. Yu said of his research, published in the journal Toxicological Sciences,

'When I first received the results for dogs I was surprised. I was even more surprised when I received the results for humans.'

Health professionals have been worrying about declining sperm counts in men for years, although the causes appear to be related to multiple environmental factors.

One November 2022 study in the journal Human Reproduction Update, a review that tabulated data from men in 53 countries, found that mean sperm count had plummeted by 51.6 percent between 1973 and 2018 globally.

To analyze their samples, Dr. Yu and his team first chemically dissolved both the human and canine tissue of organic material, fats and proteins, leaving them only with contaminants, like the microplastics, to study.

Spinning the samples in an ultracentrifuge, yielded separated pellets of plastic that could then be identified using traditional lab methods, like mass spectrometry.

Dr. Yu explained that the presence of PVC plastic in particular was quite alarming: 'PVC can release a lot of chemicals that interfere with spermatogenesis [the creation of sperm in the testes] and it contains chemicals that cause endocrine disruption.'

Disruptions to the endocrine system have been known to cause issues with sex and reproductive hormones in humans, fish, and other species.

The health consequence of microplastics in people have gained more attention in recent years, as studies have shown the particles appearing to contribute to inflammatory bowel disease, pancreatic cancer, and Alzheimer's disease.

Amid the growing concerns about microplastics in our bodies and in the environment, 175 UN member countries have agreed to come up with a plan this year to end plastic pollution - a global plastics treaty.

Nevertheless, Dr. Yu expressed caution about jumping to worst case scenario conclusions and said he hopes more scientists will study the connections between microplastics and reproductive health.

'We have a lot of unknowns,' he said.

'We need to really look at what the potential long-term effect [could be]. Are microplastics one of the factors contributing to this decline?'


Latham tweet ‘offensive, crass, vulgar’ but not defamatory, court told

This case turns on the question of whether a plain language description of a homosexual act is defamatory. The person criticized in the comment was openly homosexual so describing what he does in bed was not news.  He had in effect already admitted to what he does. Clearly the use of plain language on the subject was not politically correct but whether it had any element of illegality seems improbable.

I myself have often wondered what there is to be proud about in "gay pride".  Why are they proud about doing what they do in the bedroom?  And if it is cause for pride, why can it not  be openly described?  It seems that the homosexual person described in this matter is rejecting the notion of gay pride.  He thinks describing a "gay" act is defamatory

A tweet by former NSW One Nation leader Mark Latham targeting independent Sydney MP Alex Greenwich over his sexuality was “offensive and crass and vulgar” but it did not defame him, Latham’s barrister has told the Federal Court.

Greenwich filed defamation proceedings against Latham last year after the independent NSW upper house MP posted and later deleted a highly graphic and offensive comment on Twitter, now X, on March 30. Greenwich described the tweet as “defamatory and homophobic”.

Greenwich is also suing Latham over related comments he made to Sydney’s The Daily Telegraph on April 1.

The tweet led One Nation founder Pauline Hanson to remove Latham, a former federal Labor leader, as the party’s parliamentary leader.

On the second day of the defamation trial, which started in Sydney on Wednesday, Latham’s barrister, Kieran Smark, SC, said the tweet was “offensive and crass and vulgar, but we’ll have to grapple with it all”.

Tweet ‘didn’t wound reputation’

“What we say globally is that Mr Latham’s tweet may have wounded Mr Greenwich, but it didn’t wound his reputation,” Smark said.

This was not to deny evidence of the hurt and offence caused to Greenwich by the tweet, Smark said, but to “reflect upon the function of the law of defamation”.

“The concern, not merely a concern, of the law of defamation, is the protection of reputation,” he said.

“It’s such an unusual case because … in a sense it’s not a defamation case at all, on our contention. It’s a case about offensive conduct.”


Researchers warn climate change is likely to aggravate brain conditions

The source article:

Cripes! I was born and bred in the tropics as were all 4 of my grandparents. I must have been walking around amid a herd of morons!

More seriously, the writers had NO data on global warming and no global data of any kind. All they showed was that some illnesses are heat sensitive to an unspecified degree within an unspecified range on some occasions in some localities.

Their work was in fact a classic example of a Gish gallop. They also showed no awareness of the need for an experiment-wise error-rate approach to significance testing. Under something like a Bonferroni correction, ALL of their findings would be reduced to a nullity

Researchers warn climate change is likely to aggravate brain conditions

Climate change, and its effects on weather patterns and adverse weather events, is likely to negatively affect the health of people with brain conditions, researchers have warned.

The scientists argue that in order to preserve the health of people with neurological conditions, including Alzheimer’s and stroke, there is an urgent need to understand how climate change affects them.

As an example, they say that higher temperatures through the night can disrupt sleep, which could have a negative effect on some brain conditions.

There is clear evidence for an impact of the climate on some brain conditions, especially stroke and infections of the nervous system

Following a review of 332 papers published across the world between 1968 and 2023, the team, led by Professor Sanjay Sisodiya of UCL Queen Square Institute of Neurology, said they expect the scale of the potential effects of climate change on neurological diseases to be substantial.

Professor Sisodiya, who is also director of genomics at the Epilepsy Society and a founding member of Epilepsy Climate Change, said: “There is clear evidence for an impact of the climate on some brain conditions, especially stroke and infections of the nervous system.

“The climatic variation that was shown to have an effect on brain diseases included extremes of temperature (both low and high), and greater temperature variation throughout the course of day – especially when these measures were seasonally unusual.

“Nighttime temperatures may be particularly important, as higher temperatures through the night can disrupt sleep.

“Poor sleep is known to aggravate a number of brain conditions.”

The researchers considered 19 different nervous system conditions, chosen on the basis of the Global Burden of Disease 2016 study, including stroke, migraine, Alzheimer’s, meningitis, epilepsy and multiple sclerosis.

They also analysed the impact of climate change on several serious but common psychiatric disorders including anxiety, depression and schizophrenia.

According to the findings, there was an increase in hospital admissions, disability or death as a result of a stroke in higher ambient temperatures or heatwaves.

The researchers also suggest that people with dementia are susceptible to harm from extremes of temperature and weather events such as flooding or wildfires, as their condition can impact their ability to adapt behaviour to environmental changes.

Writing in The Lancet Neurology, the researchers say: “Reduced awareness of risk is combined with a diminished capacity to seek help or to mitigate potential harm, such as by drinking more in hot weather or by adjusting clothing.

“This susceptibility is compounded by frailty, multimorbidity and psychotropic medications.

“Accordingly, greater temperature variation, hotter days and heatwaves lead to increased dementia-associated hospital admissions and mortality.”

The researchers say it is important to ensure that research is up to date and considers not only the present state of climate change but also the future.

Professor Sisodiya added: “The whole concept of climate anxiety is an added, potentially weighty, influence: many brain conditions are associated with higher risk of psychiatric disorders, including anxiety, and such multimorbidities can further complicate impacts of climate change and the adaptations necessary to preserve health.

“But there are actions we can and should take now.”

Funded by the Epilepsy Society and the National Brain Appeal Innovation Fund, the research is being published ahead of The Hot Brain 2: climate change and brain health event, which is led by Professor Sisodiya and jointly organised by UCL and The Lancet Neurology


More Wikipedia censorship

Wikipedia censorship of conservative information is now well-known. It ranges from being inaccurate to wiping whole topics out. Their latest action is that they have just deleted their page about Michael Darby, who has a long history as an activist in Australian conservative politics. Their grounds for deleting it is that he is not important enough, which is absurd

I have known Michael as a friend for many years and he has never ceased to make waves in politics. He also has an excellent sense of humour. I remember when he used to drive an old Dennis fire engine round Sydney as his personal transport. He has crammed a lot into his life.

Anyway, all is not lost. A biography site has preserved a full copy of his former Wikipedia entry
To be on the safe side, I have also put it up on my Alternative Wikipedia:
Michael's old blog site is still up and has sone historically interesting stuff
Among his many talents, Michael is also quite a good bush poet. I particularly like his poem "The Stranger". It is online here:
You have to click 44 in the sidebar to get to it. I believe it was based on an actual event

I think I first met Michael when he chaired a big meeting of the NSW Liberal party at which I gave a speech on criminology. The speech was very well received at the time. It is still online


I broke an 'unspoken rule' while ordering at a café and now my wife won't speak to me

It is not clear where this happened but I suspect Britain.  I have been eatng out for over 60 years and always order my drink and food together.  And I have never heard of this "rule".  But almost all my dining has been in Australia.  I in fact usually order my food first and as soon as the server  has taken that down, they ask: "and what do you want to drink?"

A husband has revealed the 'innocent' comment that got him in hot water with his wife - and she refused to speak to him for two days afterwards.

The couple went to a café for brunch but he never expected his request to order food and coffee at the same time would see him labelled 'arrogant' and 'selfish'.

'It wasn't an evening meal to sit back and enjoy the experience; it was a place to get some food, hang with my wife and catch up, then go to work. Nothing fancy,' he said on Reddit.

The man and his wife had already discussed what they wanted to eat, so he told the waitress they were ready to order food when she came up to them.

'The waitress hesitated and said that they were supposed to only take food orders after the drinks had been delivered. But I asked to order at the same time because I had to get to work and I knew what I wanted - I didn't even need a menu,' he said.

The waitress eventually took their orders and left, which caused the man to turn to his wife and share his thoughts on the bizarre policy. 

'I always order both at the same time and wait until the food comes to sip my drink. It's also a shorter time from arrival to leaving as I order as soon as I get there rather than being made to wait ten extra minutes.'

However, his wife saw red.

'My wife called me arrogant for [ordering coffee and breakfast at the same time]. She's a waitress and said what I did meant I was jumping the queue and making others wait for their food longer,' he said.

'I said I wasn't jumping any queue as if there were others who hadn't ordered yet, they weren't in line. I didn't demand my food be made before everyone else. I just wanted to be in and out of the café as fast as possible to get to work.

'My wife was furious I didn't see it the same way. I think I'm ordering my food and waiting for it, but saving myself ten unnecessary minutes.'

Still, the couple couldn't see eye-to-eye on the matter.


Fears ‘TeacherQuitTok’ social media trend ‘warping perception’ of profession for young teachers

This is a classic case of blame the messenger. If they want to stop teachers talking about quitting, they have to deal with the problems behind the dissatisfaction. And Leftst limits on what teachers can do to maintain order in the classroom are the biggest problem. There should be high-discipline schools for unruly pupils

Australian teachers are being inundated with videos of burnt-out peers breaking down as hashtags like ‘TeacherQuitTok’ go viral on social media, prompting fears the negative reinforcement could be pushing young educators out the door.

There have been nearly 17,000 contributions to the ‘TeacherQuitTok’ tag on TikTok, racking up four million views on the single most watched video, while similar tags like ‘TeacherBurnout’ have 12,000 posts under them.

In clips with thousands of likes, young Australian ex-teachers cited the “never-ending” juggle of different needs among their 30-student classrooms, including pupils with behavioural issues, and “lack of respect” from higher-ups and the general public as reasons to quit.

“Being a teacher is really emotionally draining,” a former Brisbane teacher said.

“You’re constantly juggling and being responsible for all these different personalities and different situations, and it’s relentless, it’s never-ending.”

“The access to you 24/7 (from parents) … sometimes it’s a lot,” another added.

Other popular videos under hashtags like ‘TeacherBurnout’ and ‘HowToQuitTeaching’ are even more extreme, with teachers in the US and UK filming themselves having emotional breakdowns in the break rooms and crying in their classrooms.

University of Newcastle Associate Professor Rachel Buchanan has been researching the rise of ‘QuitTok’, which predates the more recent, niche version of the trend for teachers, and is concerned about the impact of such videos flooding educators’ social media feeds.

Although social media allows educators who are feeling “powerless and unheard” to have a voice, Professor Buchanan said, the echo-chamber effect can also “normalise quitting”, especially for young teachers lacking support and mentorship.

“On TikTok it feels inescapable that everyone’s quitting, and everyone’s burnt out … and it can warp your perception of what’s really happening,” she said.

“#TeacherQuitTok also reinforces and validates the decision to leave the profession – hearing others’ stories and joining in feels like participation in a movement or a moment.”

Sydney-based after-school care manager Teneal Broccardo knows first-hand how damaging the exposure to the constant negativity can be, citing the viral content with making her reconsider training to be a primary school teacher.

“There’s this massive trend about how stressful is, and when I was studying I found it really disheartening,” she said.

“I saw all these people working themselves to the ground and I thought, do I want to do this to myself too?”

Already having experience working with children and with classroom management alleviated her fears, the 29-year-old said, but for others she imagined “it could be the last straw”.

“TikTok is very influential. If you’re seeing more positive things instead, like teachers decorating the classroom or explaining different techniques they use, you are going to be more motivated.”

A 2022 Monash University study found only three in every 10 teachers surveyed on staying in the profession for the long-term, and their concerns are regularly reflected in ‘TeacherQuitTok’ content, lead author Dr Fiona Longmuir said.

“It’s the conditions that are making it challenging (to stay) more so than what they’re seeing on social media,” she said.

“There’s a big public discourse saying that teaching is tough, but that’s because it is tough.

“We don’t have a teacher shortage in Australia, but we do have a shortage of teachers who want to work in our classrooms.”

NSW Education Minister Prue Car said a pay rise, more permanent contracts and ban on mobile phones are among the ways the state is trying to “turn the tide on the teacher shortage”.

“Teachers do an incredibly important job in our community and they should be proud of their work. They deserve to be respected and valued,” she said.

“We are starting to see positive signs in terms of teacher vacancies, but we know there is more to do and we continue to look at ways to reduce workload and restore morale.”


The post-Yugoslavia wars

Since my girlfriend is a fierce Serb patriot, I have been trying to get a grip on the wars in that general area after Yugoslavia broke up. Below is what I make of it:

The main conflict immediately after the breakup was between the Serbs and the Croats, which exist basically side by side geographically

in 1991 the Serb population in eastern Croatia (Slavonia) tried to secede from Croatia

The Serb army was however mainly aiming at capturing Dalmatia, under Croatian control. So they were busy in the South, trying to capture Dalmatian Dubrovnik from the Croats. But in the end, the Serbs failed to rip anything off Croatia, both in the South and in the North.

The Serbs in Bosnia however set up an independence movement in 1992. With the assistance of the Serb army, they prevailed and two big chunks of Bosnia were split off under Serb rule, to form a new territory called Republika Srpska which was formally recognized by the UN in 1995

Serbs had the best hats

It was part of the Bosnian war when a lot of Muslim civilians were killed at Srebrenitsa, while Dutch troops who were supposed to be there protecting them did nothing

It was also in that war that the long-lasting siege of Sarajevo took place, in which forces of the Republika Srpska blockaded the Bosnian capital. It was primarily to end that siege that the U.N. granted official recognition to the Republika Srpska

A soldier of the Republika Srpska in dress uniform -- holding her Serbian-made Zastava assault rifle. At its peak, the armed forces of the Republika Srpska numbered over 80,000.

My little Cetnik emigrated to N.Z. in 1995, foreseeing future trouble from Kosovo

So Serbs lost out in their wars with Croatia but had a big gain in Bosnia. Serbs now control roughly half of Bosnia. The Bosnian Serbs were not however allowed to unite with Serbia. They remained an independent State. So there are now two Serb political entities: The Republic of Serbia and the Serbian Republic -- not to be confused! Nothing in the Balkans has ever been simple

But just when eveything had settled down, in 1997 the Kosovars (Ethnic Albanian Muslims) in Southern Serbia rebelled, demanding independence

The Serbs however did not want to lose control of their South so tried to suppress the Kosovars militarily. That attracted a lot of international attention and support for Kosovo independence.

So NATO got involved to help the Kosovars, bombing the Serbs to make them retreat from Kosovo. So the USA under Clinton bombed Christian Serbia to help Muslim Kosovars! The Serbs more or less gave up after the bombing and all is mostly peaceful there now.

There were atrocities committed by all sides in the wars of the 1990s, causing most people living as minorities to flee to the heartland of their respective nations. So most Croatians now live in Croatia, most Bosniaks now live in central Bosnia and most Serbs now live in one of the Serbias. That is probably conducive to future peace. There are however some Serbs still living in Northern Kosovo so that has led to some unrest

An odd footnote. Immediately after the U.N. recognition of the Republika Srpska, its first President was a "Mrs Plavšic". Suprisingly feminist.

Although she never killed anyone, Biljana Plavšić was later convicted as a war criminal. She was in fact a distinguished academic. After serving an 11-year prison sentence in Sweden, she returned to Belgrade in 2009 where she has been living ever since. She is now in her 90s, having survived Covid-19

Punishing students because their parents are too successful is unfair and unwise

Leftist discriminatory practices are truly odious and usually futile. An interesting example is preferential admissions of underqualified blacks to medical schools, where they often drop out anyway. But those who stay the distance graduate regardless of any performance criteria. And other blacks know that -- resulting in some blacks refusing to be seen by a black doctor

If you are a strong student at UC San Diego with middle-class college-educated parents and wish to transfer to a “selective major” (engineering, data science, public health), the university isn’t interested in you. A new directive gives one point each for California residency, first-generation college-student status, low income, and a GPA above 3.0—a low bar for “selective” admissions. This is the latest instance of exclusionary practices in the name of “equity.” Merit takes a back seat to socioeconomic status. Your family tree matters more than your academic performance. California has taken a page from the population-classification schemes of now-defunct Marxist regimes.

Proposition 209 bars California universities from explicitly using race as a criterion, but they have spent 30 years engineering their results through holistic admission criteria, the elimination of SATs, and socioeconomic-class proxies.

But California is not alone. Other states and the federal government responded to earlier court challenges by including class in programs that target underrepresented minorities. The federal McNair program offers funding to minority graduate students and non-minority first-generation low-income students. The GPA requirement is as low as 2.50. Low GPA thresholds are needed to reach a significant number of African-American and Hispanic students, whose high–school GPA averages are 2.68 and 2.83, respectively. Asian and white students have GPA averages well above 3.0.

Some observers interpret the addition of class-based preferences as a response to the Supreme Court’s 2023 decision striking down race-based affirmative action. Yet calls for class-based measures date back to the civil-rights era. In 1964 President Lyndon Johnson signed the explicitly color-blind Civil Rights Act into law. That same year Martin Luther King Jr. proposed a “Bill of Rights for the Disadvantaged,“ which included the “forgotten white poor.” This was a path not taken. Federal agencies soon threatened colleges and employers with legal action and denial of federal funding if they did not produce racially proportionate outcomes. Corporations and colleges got the message and introduced racial preferences. With some exceptions, the courts upheld this bias until last year’s decision signaled a sharp turn to colorblind law.

Is class-based affirmative action better than race preferences? “Affirmative action prophet” Richard Kahlenberg has long agitated for class not race criteria in college admissions. After the Supreme Court struck down race-based admissions, he took to the New York Times and other liberal venues to advocate admitting more lower-income students from poor and crime-ridden neighborhoods as exemplars who “overcame obstacles.”

Kahlenberg is right that most minorities admitted to elite colleges—like their white classmates—are well-off. Many are the children of immigrants whose families experienced no history of discrimination in America. Swapping class for race would make elite colleges more economically diverse. He’s also right that class-based affirmative action is safer from legal challenge. The courts have accepted class-based policies for more than a century based, for example, on income or the employer’s size.

Yet class-based affirmative action is an illusion. If America had pursued King’s approach we might have avoided six decades of affirmative-action debate. But current practices and an institutional mindset are ingrained and defended vigorously. There’s a reason why Kahlenberg’s quixotic pleas went unheard.

By prioritizing class over academic performance, the practice is a further assault on the social norm that we ought to treat individuals according to their merit and the “content of their character,” not their skin color or parental status. Kenny Xu makes this case in his passionately argued An Inconvenient Minority: The Harvard Admissions Case and the Attack on Asian American Excellence (2022). The assault on excellence affects all of us and weakens America in its competition with nations that don’t hamper the academically gifted.

The law should protect all individuals regardless of their status. Racial discrimination is odious because we can’t change our skin color and it violates our dignity as individuals. Likewise, we cannot change our parents. It is one thing to tax wealthy Americans more heavily than those with lower incomes, but it is another to exclude their 18-year-old children from high-demand majors because their parents are “too successful.” It is unfair and unwise to disadvantage young people simply because they chose the wrong parents.


Anti-Semitic mobs thrive on old campus hatreds

There is much truth in what Greg Sheridan says below. Where he goes wrong is his attribution of problems to "our society". It is nothing of the sort. "Society" is not uniform or homogeneous. The Left is seriously sick with hatred of everything normal but that does not mean everybody else is.

The Left will eventually mismanage its way out of power, perhaps at the hands of Donald Trump, and the pendulum will swing back, erasing the worst atrocities of Leftism

From Marx onward, the Left have always hated success in others and Israel is a shining example of success -- so hatred of it has long been festering on the left waiting only for even a slight excuse to burst into the open.

The absurdity that the Islamic extremists of Gaza represent "Palestine" has become excuse enough for Leftist hate to burst out. Most Palestinians live at peace with Israel -- in Jordan, in the West Bank and in Israel itself

The widespread intellectual and moral corruption of our universities is one of the most alarming signs of deep sickness in our society.

The universities contribute institutionally to the current madness in several ways. Their leaders are institutionally cowardly. These institutions will throw you on to the street for contesting elements of climate change alarmism, send you on a re-education course if you use the wrong pronoun for someone, get you into mighty trouble if you express the view that a racially segregated study space is not the best way to fight racism.

They will offer students trigger warnings lest they be upset by the prose of Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird or even Jane Austen.

But shouting demonstrators harassing Jewish students; screaming for intifada that has meant murderous campaigns against Jewish people, not only in Israel; declaring that Israel is a terror state; calling for Palestine to be free “from the river to the sea”, which can only mean the destruction of the Jewish state; even staff and students supporting Hamas itself, an outfit proscribed as a terrorist organisation under Australian law – that’s all fine because these lions of campus administration have suddenly discovered that, when faced with a violent enemy, they believe in free speech after all.

The great anti-communist academic Frank Knopfelmacher, a collection of whose writings has just been published, once told me the collective noun for vice-chancellors was “a lack of principles”.

In the US, college administrators have been shamed into requesting police action to end pro-Palestinian encampments with their blatantly anti-Semitic overtones. This may have something to do with how badly these demonstrations are affecting Joe Biden politically and contributing to the possibility of Donald Trump winning the presidency in November. Biden changes his positions entirely according to political convenience. He and Kamala Harris gave a degree of support to the defund the police movement and demonstrations in 2020. They were able to portray much of the civic violence of that period as chaos caused by Trump.

But, combined with his failure on illegal immigration, Biden will suffer tremendously if this campus disorder continues. Middle America hates it. At the same time the hard left, and especially the profoundly ill-educated young people who wouldn’t know which river and which sea they were chanting about but love the idea and romance of faux social revolution, can’t bear Biden’s qualified support for Israel nor his qualified support for law and order.

On this occasion Biden could lose support on both his left and right.

But universities have contributed to this crisis in a much more direct and profound way. And that is through allowing, over decades now, many of their humanities courses to be invaded by critical theory, neo-Marxism and toxic identity politics.

For a long time, Western universities, including Australian universities, have been teaching that our societies are essentially and uniquely evil, that we are colonial, racist, sexist etc.

I was an undergraduate at Sydney University in the mid-1970s and came to the considered conclusion that the courses I was taking were junk. In a human geography class a lecturer informed us that the shining example of “praxis” was China’s Chairman Mao. Even then I knew that Mao Zedong was directly responsible for the deaths of tens of millions of innocent Chinese. How could he be lauded by this lecturer?

In economics, I got to choose between political economy and mainstream economics. Political economy was dominated by pretty crude Marxism. I took classes there because they required no work. As long as in essays you proclaimed how unjust society was, you’d get at least a credit. It was easy but a complete waste of time. Mainstream economics had taken refuge from Marxism in almost pure mathematics. That’s not as objectionable as Marxism but it doesn’t describe reality very well either.

The only possible use of such a university education was to get a credential. Educationally, intellectually, morally, it was utterly worthless.

Many, perhaps most, university humanities and social sciences subjects have been captured by critical theory. Critical theory reduces everything to a shoddy analysis of power structures. It has destroyed much of the joy of studying literature. A friend, a little younger than me, told me he switched from literature, his first love, to philosophy. In literature it didn’t matter whether he was studying Austen or a restaurant menu, it was the same old fifth-rate power analysis, analysis of the allegedly hidden power structure behind the text.

Universities in many cases have thus abandoned the substance and truth of the subjects they allegedly teach. Critical theory is frequently festooned with Marxoid scripturalism and endless self-referential footnoting. But it’s not a complicated intellectual discipline. Really it’s a simplistic conspiracy theory that absolves universities from the hard but rewarding work of exploring human culture in all its richness.

Instead, like all conspiracy theories, it reduces human experience to a simple formula that assigns heroes and villains, in this case on an identity politics basis.

Our moral outrage students and academics are aquiver with hatred of the world’s only Jewish state. Their universities take money from Arab states that outlaw gay relationships, host Confucius Institutes financed by a government that tolerates no dissent at all. But in critical theory, Chinese and Arabs aren’t villains.

Critical theory, this monstrous engine of hatred, is profoundly anti-intellectual, which is perhaps why it thrives at contemporary Western universities, including ours.


MAGA voters are moving to Russia 'because it feels like America during the 1950s and 20% of local women look like supermodels'

I too once had a positive view of Putin but his decision to invade Ukraine was clearly a disastrous overreach and I no longer feel any support for him.

The Americans who commented on the good looks of Russian women are right. I particularly admire Polish women but all Slavic women are at an advantage. My girlfriend is Slavic and I think she is unusually good-looking for her age

MAGA voters have explained why they turned their backs on the US for a new life in Russia, claiming the former communist state is a 'positive vision of 1950s America'.

Conservative men have cited the country's Christian values, beautiful women and stunning scenery as the reasons behind their move.

After losing faith in their hero Donald Trump, some have moved as far east as Siberia, unfazed by the prospect of being led by an autocratic dictator.

They have even expressed admiration for Vladimir Putin, choosing to believe his narrative about his decision to invade Ukraine.

'I think he's a good man,' ex-pat Peter Frohwein, 62, told the Free Press. 'This lie that he's somehow a dictator — just because he was in the KGB doesn't mean he's ever killed anybody.'

Frohwein is divorced with no kids, but has hopes of starting up a family. He moved from Atlanta to Yalta in the Crimea in July 2023.

'Twenty percent of the women could be supermodels,' he said, explaining he anticipates his children would speak three languages: English, Russian and Mandarin.

'I wouldn't seriously consider starting a family in the U.S. today,' he added. 'The U.S. is a political mess. Socially, things are a mess. Spiritually, things are a mess.'

Bernd Ratsch, 56, agrees with this assessment of US politics and moved to Moscow from Texas in 2019.

'Is Trump better than Biden? Of course. But do I want him? Would I vote for him again? No. It's just, "Boy, shut your mouth for a while,"' he explained.

Meanwhile, family man Joseph Rose has managed to carve out a career with his YouTube channel documenting his new life in Moscow.

'I would say that Russia is becoming a bastion of Christianity and that America is becoming the opposite of this,' Rose explained.

'I do think it was God leading me to where I needed to be right now. I was put in a spot where I could be used.'

Rose, 49, relocated to Russia from Tallahassee, Florida, with his wife and children and has not looked back since.

'I often say it feels like our positive vision of 1950s America,' he explained.

One program manager from Texas, who wished to remain anonymous, suggested Russia offered a simpler way of life.

'People are running around in America wondering why we have so many problems with suicide and depression, and they’ll virtue signal and talk about the phones, and it’s this and that, and the reality is children are not allowed to be children,' the father-of-six said.


How your cooking could cause the same lung damage as pollution, study claims

This puts Greenie scares about pollution into perspective. If we want to eliminate air polluion we would have to eliminate cooking too. The fact of the matter is that cooking fires have long ago accustomed us to air pollution. We mostly just spit it up

Breakfasts featuring fried eggs, sausages and bacon aren't just bad for your heart. They could spell serious problems for your lungs too - especially if you're cooking them, a new study suggests.

Researchers have found that frying certain foods triggers the release of similar pollutants that flood the outdoor air in built-up cities, and are known to increase the risk of lung disease.

Previous studies involving chefs have shown exposure to cooking emissions is associated with chronic diseases in chefs.

But the new experiment, by experts at the University of British Columbia, is the first in which researchers revealed certain compounds can form in domestic kitchens.

The study analyzed the emissions and chemicals produced when cooking common meals using a frying pan - including pancakes, pan-fried brussel sprouts and vegetable stir fries.

To measure the amount of of pollutants produced by frying the meals, researchers set out to capture the smoke and emissions let off by cooking using a tool called an impinger, a small bottle mean to collect airborne chemicals.

After analyzing the emissions, scientists found the cooking produced carbon aerosols, small particles or liquid droplets in the air, called BrCOA.

The team then exposed these aerosols to overhead lighting in typical houses and natural sunlight.

They found all the meals released the same amount of carbon aerosols that then subsequently produced a harmful compound called singlet oxygen when exposed to light.

Singlet oxygen is a highly reactive compound that can cause lung damage and contribute to the development of cancer, diabetes and heart disease, previous studies have shown.

While all the meals produced singlet oxygen at around the same concentration, the highest amounts were detected when the fumes were exposed to sunlight - meaning kitchens with natural sunlight streaming in through windows could have the most compounds in the air.

Not only do these compounds form while cooking, but the scientists said they can linger in the air long after you've eaten, leading to the persistent degradation of your household air quality.

The study found the amount of singlet oxygen produced by cooking was present at similar levels to environmental pollution measured outdoors, but could be more dangerous indoors because it is a confined space with less ventilation.

While singlet oxygen compounds can be useful - sometimes used as a cancer therapy to cause cancer death - they have also been associated with damage to the body's cells.

Research has shown the chemical can also cause DNA and tissue damage, particularly of the skin and eyes and can cause swelling, blistering and scarring.

Because this is the first study of its kind, the scientists said more research is needed to fully understand cooking-related singlet oxygen and other cooking emissions.

Dr Nadine Borduas-Dedekind, UBC chemistry assistant professor and lead author of the study, said: 'Our next steps include determining just how this oxidant might affect humans and how much we’re breathing in when we cook. Could it play a role in some cooking-related diseases?'

In an effort to reduce the amount of this chemical, researchers recommend turning on kitchen venting fans, opening windows for fresh air and using an air filter in the kitchen.

Cooking with an oil with a high smoke point, such as avocado oil, can also help mitigate indoor pollution.

The study was published in the journal Environmental Science: Atmospheres.


Fresh health warning over ultra-processed foods as 30-year study warns they marginally raise your risk of an early death

The academic source of this article is:

Its conclusions are utter rubbish,  reflecting the biases of the authors rather than what their data shows.  It is an extreme quartile study -- meaning that they had to throw away half of their data before they could show any correlations. And even then only very weak associations were shown in only some cases. 

 And given the large number of possible correlations examined, an experiment-wise error-rate approach to significance testing should have been used, as in a Bonferroni correction, which would have reduced ALL relationships in this study to a nullity.  

  The study is good evidence therefore that ultra-processed foods are NOT harmful to you. Pathetic!

Conservatives are used to Leftists ignoring facts in favour of their theories and epidemiologists are much the same. Both groups show a common human tendency to adopt simple generalizations to explain their world. Sadly for us all, reality is complex and unforgiving so simple theories can lead to conclusions that are radically contrary to the truth -- e.g. Affirmative action has not removed black failure and simple foods are not safer than complex ones

Eating too many ultra-processed foods (UPFs) may send you to an early grave, a study suggests.

Ready meals, fizzy drinks and ice creams appear to pose the greatest danger to human health.

Harvard University researchers tracked 115,000 healthy US adults over the course of three decades.

Four per cent more deaths occurred among participants who ate around seven servings of junk a day, compared against a group who ate half as much.

While the risk was only small, the team argued their findings echoed calls to limit certain types of UPFs. 

The umbrella term is used to cover anything edible made with colourings, sweeteners and preservatives that extend shelf life. 

Ready meals, ice cream and tomato ketchup are some of the best-loved examples of products that fall under the umbrella UPF term, now synonymous with foods offering little nutritional value.

They are different to processed foods, which are tinkered to make them last longer or enhance their taste, such as cured meat, cheese and fresh bread.

Yet dietitians argue this sweeping judgement wrongly fingers 'healthy' options like fish fingers and baked beans.

Ultra-processed foods, such as sausages, cereals, biscuits and fizzy drinks, are formulations made mostly or entirely from substances derived from foods and additives.

They contain little or no unprocessed or minimally processed foods, such as fruit, vegetables, seeds and eggs.

The foods are usually packed with sugars, oils, fats and salt, as well as  additives, such as preservatives, antioxidants and stabilisers.

Ultra-processed foods are often presented as ready-to-consume, taste good and are cheap.

The new paper adds to growing evidence illustrating the health risks of UPFs, which have been vilified for decades over their observed links to cancer and dementia.

Over the 34-year follow-up period, the researchers recorded 48,193 deaths, including more than 13,000 due to cancer and just over 11,000 attributed to cardiovascular diseases.

However, no specific relationship between total UPF consumption and cancer or heart disease deaths was observed.

Instead, the elevated risk — amounting to an extra 64 deaths per every 100,000 person-years — was only seen for deaths from all causes.

They also found no link between premature death and condiments, sauces and savoury snacks. 

Even with sugary drinks and ready meals, the risk was less pronounced after researchers factored in the overall diet quality of the participants, who were quizzed about their eating habits every four years.

The risk was up to 13 per cent for some UPFs. 

Writing in the British Medical Journal, the scientists said: 'The findings provide support for limiting consumption of certain types of ultra-processed food for long term health.'

But experts today criticised the research. 

Sir David Spiegelhalter, emeritus professor of statistics at the University of Cambridge, said: 'This study shows weak associations of ultra-processed foods with overall mortality.'

Dietitian Dr Duane Mellor, spokesperson for the British Dietetic Association, said: 'It is also noticeable that those who consumed most ultra-processed foods tended to eat few vegetables, fruit, legumes and wholegrain.

'It might not be as simple as that those who ate more ultra-processed foods are more likely to die earlier — it is quite possible that these foods might displace healthier foods from the diet.'

He added: 'Not all groups of UPFs are associated with the same health risks, with sugar and artificially sweetened drinks and processed meats being most clearly associated with risk of an early death.'

Professor Gunter Kuhnle, an expert in nutrition and food science at the University of Reading, said it was 'impossible to know how reliable the results are' because of how the study was carried out.

He said: 'Results, therefore, should be treated with a lot of caution. 'I don't think this study provides evidence suggesting limiting certain foods just because of their level of processing.

'Public health policy should be informed by evidence, and there is very good evidence about the health effects of foods based on their composition — which is largely confirmed by this study.

'In contrast, there is still virtually no robust evidence for an effect of 'ultra-processing' specifically on health.'

The UK is the worst in Europe for eating UPFs, which make up an estimated 57 per cent of the national diet.

They are thought to be a key driver of obesity, which costs the NHS around £6.5billion a year.

Often containing colours, emulsifiers, flavours, and other additives, they typically undergo multiple industrial processes which research has found degrades the physical structure of foods, making it rapid to absorb.

This in turn increases blood sugar, reduces satiety and damages the microbiome - the community of 'friendly' bacteria that live inside us and which we depend for good health.


Salt may increase risk of stomach cancer by 40%, study suggests

Groan! Another witless attack on salt below. The journal article is here:
I have written previously on the salt phobia here:
And here:
And here:
And for what it is worth, I have always been a keen salt user but I had a gastroscopy recently which showed my stomach to be completely notmal, which is pretty good for an 80-year-old guy.

OK. On to the latest bit of nonsense. Once again it was an extreme-groups analysis in which they had to throw away half of their data to find something to talk about. So it seems probable that there was in fact NO significant linear relationship between illness and salt consupption.

And it's almost amusing that they found the association only with REPORTS of salt usage not with an estimate of actual salt usage. Bleah!

The one undisputable finding of salt research is that LOW salt can kill you. There is even a name for that: Hyponatremia

A new study might make you think twice before reaching for the salt shaker at your next meal.

Nutritionists from the Center for Public Health at the University of Vienna discovered that people from the UK who added salt to most of their meals were 41 percent more likely to develop stomach cancer than those who used the topping sparingly.

Previous studies in China, Japan and Korea have linked a salty diet to stomach cancer - but this is one of the first to show the link in Westerners.

Though the Austrian study was merely observational, older studies have suggested that excess salt might erode the protective coating on the stomach, causing damage to the tissue there and leading to cancerous mutations.

Not in my name or His: The wilful damage all in the name of faith

This is an old, old fallacy:  Judging Christiaity by people who DON'T follow it.  We all "fake good" to some extent and in our society that often takes the form of of a pretense to Christianity.  In Japan alleged followers of the peaceful Buddha committed atrocities during WWII.  And despite the very first  chapter  of the Bhagavad Gita, Hindus often attack Muslims. 

Most people will do what they will regardless of their religion.  The sad  part is that those who do evil are often excused and justified by their priests and elders

In her poem Magdalene on Gethsemane, Marie Howe narrates an imagined interaction between Mary Magdalene and Jesus of Nazareth in the Garden of Gethsemane.

From Jesus’ agony on the night before his crucifixion, in the voice of the Magdalene, Howe writes:

“When he was in the garden the night beforeAnd fell with his face to the groundwhat he imagined was not his torture, not his own deathThat’s what the story says, but that’s not what he told me.”

The three lines that follow burn the reader. They resonate deeply with the un-power and non-violence of Jesus. The poet invokes Jesus’ anguish, claiming:

“He said he saw the others, the countless in his nameraped, burned, lynched, stoned, bombed, beheaded, shot, gassed,gutted and raped again.”

It is hard not to turn away from the ghastly list of verbs. The poet encapsulates the horror of what continues to happen “in his name” and other names by which the Holy One is known.

But in the telling of the poem, there is an implied witness to these atrocities – the suffering is seen. The term “the countless” freights blatant injustices repeated mercilessly. The three words “in his name” carry the weaponising of belief.

Often when I name myself as Christian, I recoil from the wilful damage caused by practitioners of my faith. And not just my faith tradition, others as well. So many things are not OK, are deeply wrong, are horrors in themselves. These violations occur under the watch of religions that espouse values of peace and human dignity in the name of the divine.

Theologian Gordon Kaufman suggested the most ethical thing a person can say is “I might be wrong”. When we are too sure that we are on the side of right, that we know the mind of God, there is a diminishing and hardening of hearts.

In his life and teaching, Jesus was far more interested in how people treated each other than in setting up institutional loyalty. Before his state-sanctioned murder he repeatedly feasted with, and offered healing to, people whom no one else valued. He ticked off the disciples when they tried to become influencers.

In the telling of the poem, there is an implied witness to these atrocities – the suffering is seen.

In Australia, periodically we hear voices of indignation championing Christianity as if defending a brand. This defensiveness is not necessarily a witness to faith, often it looks like posturing.

The life, death and risen life of Jesus of Nazareth were and are subversive. The task of re-imagining and understanding anew how the biblical stories can resonate allows an ongoing dialogue with them.

In Magdalene on Gethsemane, Marie Howe suggests a new possibility, that Jesus’ agony was on account of what would follow, “in his name”.


Yarra Valley Grammar School students suspended over disturbing list rating female classmates

This is hysteria over nothing. We all evalute other people's appearance all the time. Why not discuss it? The behaviour described is not uncommon. It is simply adolescents enlisting their friends in at attempt to get an understanding of females, a common puzzle for males of all ages. And the sense of humour in it has been missed. There is nothing abnormal or dangerous about it.

Four boys from a Melbourne private school have been suspended after a list was posted to social media rating their female classmates.

The shocking list was posted by Year 11 students from Yarra Valley Grammar School in Ringwood onto the platform Discord and was discovered by the school last Wednesday.

It featured photos of female students and ranked them from best to worst as 'wifeys', 'cuties', 'mid', 'object', 'get out' and 'unrapeable'.

The students were suspended on Friday pending further investigation, Nine reports.

Yarra Valley Grammar principal Dr Mark Merry spoke to Nine on Sunday and described the post as 'disgraceful'.

'Respect for each other is in the DNA of this school, and so this was a shock not only to us … but it was a shock to the year level and the boys in the year level that see this as way, way out of line,' he said.

He said he was offended by the final category, and has since reported the matter to police to ensure the list wasn't linked to any criminal offence.

'As a father, I find it absolutely outrageous, disgraceful, offensive. As a principal, I need to make some decisions [about] what we do about all of this,' he said.

'My first impulse and concern is about the wellbeing of the girls concerned. I want to make sure they feel assured and supported by the school.'

'We are going to be consulting the police because the language used could be an inferred threat.'

'I don't think it was, but we need to get further advice on that…I'm hoping it was an appalling lapse in judgment.'

It costs around $30,000 a year to send a student to the elite Ringwood private school, and Dr Merry said the school prides itself on teaching 'respectful relationships'.

'We are well aware of the broader issues in relation to respecting women…we need to really do our best to ensure that young men understand their responsibilities and their boundaries of how they should behave,' he said.


The causes and cures of lethal male domestic violence

Ms Van Badham below recognizes that lethal male domestic violence has increased in recent years but has only vague generalizations and a call for more talking about it to offer as a solution.

She ignores the fact that the broadly feminist value-set that she promotes has never been more widespread and accepted than it is now . To put it crudely, more feminism has been accompanied by more domestic violence. That is the correlation that is being ignored. Correlation is not always causation but correlation is always a feature of causation, as David Hume long ago pointed out.

So it should be a working hypothesis that the increased dominance of feminist values is at least partly to blame for the increase in DV.

And why that night be so is not hard to see. Waleed Aly rightly sees that the major influence on DV is a feeling among men that they are being shamed: "the desire to hurt women actually comes from attackers feeling shamed and humiliated"
Aly is talking about men being shamed and humiliated by their women partners but being shamed by their culture is an obvious extension of that. Being shamed and humiliated in general is likely to be resented.

And there is a huge theme in public discussions to the effect that men and masculinity is "toxic". How are men expected to feel about such a drumbeat of abuse aimed at them? That part of the response might be rage is pretty obvious and that an outlet for that rage might be one of the supposedly superior beings in their presence is hardly surprising

So the supposed remedy for DV -- more feminist values -- might in fact be part of its cause. That possibilty will not be confronted any time soon -- sadly for endangered women. But a broad recognition that extreme feminism is "toxic" would help

In the wake of more, more, more reports of lethal male violence against women in Australia – and the protests demanding actions that have followed them – Michael Salter’s analysis of the problem is refreshingly clear. “Education and public awareness are important but they are not, in themselves, a cure,” the academic wrote last week. “We need a strategic, coordinated, practical approach that integrates many different responses and listens closely to frontline workers and community members.”

Australia’s public conversation about male violence has never been so loud. We’ve arrived at a moment when the community is screaming for action. Even Sky News reports that Australians “want immediate change to combat the domestic violence crisis”.

It’s a long way from 1953’s reader suggestions published in the Adelaide papers: “I’ve found if I take a strap to my wife occasionally, she’s all the better for it. She admits I’ve been a good husband to her.” Back then, papers framed “Can wife beating ever be justified?” as an open question.

That these attitudes remain in the memory of living generations, is, of course, one of the reasons that perpetrators still exist. Research 10 years ago explained that male sex offenders are “more likely to commit sexual violence in communities where sexual violence goes unpunished” and the influence of sexist traditions informs a male rapist’s worldview. Yet decades of public grief, horror and condemnation – as well as feminist activism delivering legal and institutional reform – have upended this traditional majority sanction of male violence and transformed public values. The 30% rise in the rate of Australian women murdered by intimate partners in the last year after three decades of a downwards trend comes, therefore, as a shock.

A bleak national realisation is dawning: while politics does flow downstream from culture, politics still has to solve the problem that culture identifies. Government works most efficiently when reform can be broad-based and structural – and Salter’s point is that the problem is messy and difficult, with unstable patterns, individual cases and no universal solutions. Ending violence against women requires not just sentiment but government, and other institutions, as well every kind of community – from cultural groups to sporting teams to the family – addressing different, variable and changing circumstances and responsibilities.

This week the Albanese government summoned the national cabinet to announce a $925m investment in counter-violence strategies. These include support payments for women fleeing violent relationships, increased funding for services to help those women and resources for action against deepfake pornography and other kinds of online abuse. The prime minister is not making the impossible promise that the policy suite is an immediate end to violence, but “a further step forward”.

The package is couched in terms of pilots and trials and monitoring because what will and won’t work is up against a community of perpetrators relentless in their cruel creativity. The challenges are complex when everything from urban planning to superannuation to care relationship settings can pose risks to women’s safety. I have survived a violent relationship, harassment, stalking and a hospitalisation from sexual assault … yet even I was stunned at the revelation of men using smart fridges to threaten women. Effective responses meet conflicts and contradictions. Note, for example, demands from anti-violence campaigners to revoke reforms to bail laws in Victoria … that were introduced to redress harms imposed by them on Indigenous communities, young people and people with disabilities.

The frustration of handing the policy response over to politicians is, perhaps, that it feels like an admission of powerlessness. But while government pilots start and public resources shift, there remain open fronts for cultural action that we may finally be ready to face.

Incest and other family violence survivors will remind you that the family home remains the most dangerous place for women and children, while 51% of children from abusive homes are abused as adults. In a world that still insists to women and girls that romantic partnership and family should dominate their aspirations and trajectories, the narrative we can, should, must lead is for genuinely empowering alternatives; economic interdependence, sisterhood, friendship, community – especially in the context of a resurgent western far right so active in promoting tradwives and reproductive unfreedom.

Not as culture war for culture war’s sake – but for survival.