Tuesday, May 22, 2018




The Royal wedding

As a confirmed monarchist I did watch the Royal wedding on TV, mostly on Australia's channel 9.  So I thought I might note here a few desultory impressions of it.

The first thing I liked was all the splendid cars, old and new.  The old Rolls bringing the bride was particularly magnificent.  It was a 1950 Rolls-Royce Phantom-iv.  But there were a lot of impressive vehicles delivering the wedding party.



Then I was pleased to see Prince Philip looking so well -- in remarkable health for age 96

I was pleased to see that both young Princes wore military uniform. They wore the frockcoat uniform of the Blues and Royals  -- which is Harry's old regiment.  Both men were of course fully entitled to wear uniform as both had served in the armed forces in their younger days.  The Royal family is a military family -- as most European monarchies once were. I thought Prince Charles would be in uniform too but he wore a tailsuit in a rather horrible shade of grey.  He obviously didn't want to outshine his sons

It was good too that Harry kept his red beard.  Red-headed kids traditionally got bullied in British schoolyards but with the very popular Prince Harry being a red-head that must have been ameliorated. My father was a redhead so I have sympathy for redheads

It was good to see how Harry and William stopped to greet their Gurkha guards as they entered. Harry did of course work with Gurkhas when he was in the army in Afghanistan. They were the only people the Royal brothers stopped for.  That would have been noted and justly celebrated in Nepal.  The Gurkhas are held in huge respect in England. Here is one reason for that respect.

It was also good to see how the two brothers interacted while they were waiting. They are obviously a great support for one another.

The Dean of Windsor seemed rather tremulous.  He sounded like he might break down.  Since he was running the show, that would not have done.

When it came to the actual marriage service, Cantuar was in good voice -- a most experienced preacher. 

There certainly were a lot of Christian expressions from all who spoke. It went on and on, very repetitiously. God was so frequently invoked that one got the impression that he must be hard of hearing. Harry must have been bored but military men learn patience so he outlasted it without apparent difficulty.

There was a pronounced African presence throughout the proceedings, presumably in deference to Meghan's partial ancestry.  The cellist was good but I was unimpressed by the rest of it.  Episcopalian Bishop Michael Curry was very active and dramatic in his speech but all he did was state some extremely anodyne comments repetitiously and with a lot of noise. 

But you can't expect much more from the Episcopalians. Homosexuality seems to be the only thing Episcopalians care about. Had the bishop quoted Romans 1:24-27 that might have livened things up.  As it was, his  speech was just way too long.  It was supposed to last 6 minutes but in a rather good demonstration of black ego he performed for 17 minutes. Never in the field of human preaching has so little been said for so long. 

The  media generally praised his speech highly but what else could they do with a black bishop from the world's most politically correct church?

Karen Gibson and The Kingdom Choir performed Ben E King's soul classic Stand By Me during the service. It was repetitive but sung with a lot of energy.  I noted that Camilla looked horrified when they came on.  I thought it was just noise.

I noted that St George’s Chapel had a medieval "rude screen", behind which all the "magic" happened -- out of sight of most of the congregation. The chapel was built in the 14th century so it reflects its times.



And I was rather pleased to see beadles in use guiding people.  Is it only Anglicans who have beadles?  I have never seen one on the more Protestant services I am accustomed to.

The departure of the married couple in an Ascot Landau with a big Household Cavalry escort was of course what one expects of a great Royal occasion.  Some of the carriage horses were clearly a bit spooked by the cheering etc but they were well managed. If there is one thing the Royal family and their attendants know about it is horses.  It's an equestrian monarchy.  Even the Queen still rides -- but only ponies these days.

The bride:  I was rather surprised by the strong resemblance between Meghan and her mother, though I suppose I should not have been.  I had supposed that Meghan's fine features would have come from her Caucasian father but clearly she got a bit from both -- JR.






When Social Media Debunk Conspiracy Theories

A few days after the Parkland high school massacre, an aide to a Florida state legislator lost his job for claiming that two survivors were "not students here but actors that travel to various crisis [sic] when they happen." Such "crisis actor" rumors, which have spread after several recent public tragedies, are a reminder that people are capable of believing bizarre stories that are supported by only the thinnest alleged evidence. But some pundits think they represent something more: a breakdown in the media ecosystem.

A February 20 ThinkProgress article, to pick one representative example, announces in its lede that crisis-actor tales "have spread like wildfire across social media platforms—despite the repeated promises of Big Tech to crack down on fake news." The author circles back to that idea at the end, arguing that "the viral spread of the 'crisis actor' theory, along with other recent examples of highly-shared fake content, shows that [Facebook] is still ripe for misinformation and exploitation." One Facebook post touting the theory, he notes, has gotten more than 110,000 shares, and some of the videos promoting the idea have been "viewed tens of thousands of times."

That sounds less impressive when you start thinking about the context. We do not know how many of those 110,000 shares were trolls or bots, those crisis actors of the online world. Nor do we know how many people watch a video because they're inclined to believe it, how many watch because they're inclined to laugh at it, and how many just turn it off after 30 seconds. And what other numbers should we be examining? The day after the ThinkProgress piece appeared, MSNBC posted a video of a Parkland student reacting disdainfully to the idea that he's an imposter; within 24 hours, it had been viewed more than 94,000 times. That is also in the "tens of thousands." (Of course, we don't know how many of those viewers believed what they were hearing either.)

In my Twitter feed, the overwhelming majority of tweets mentioning crisis actors have denounced, debunked, or just made fun of the idea. That could simply reflect who I choose to follow, so shortly after the Florida aide was fired, I did a full Twitter search for "crisis actors" to see what cross-section of opinion would appear. Of the first 30 tweets that came up, two-thirds disdained the idea. When I did the same test on Facebook, I got roughly the same results. Meanwhile, some (though not all) of the Facebook posts promoting the idea were getting pushback in the comments, so this wasn't just a matter of conversations taking place in separate bubbles. Actual arguments were underway.

Obviously, these are not scientific samples. I'm not going to make grand claims about how many people have embraced or rejected the rumor. But what I saw reinforces what common sense would suggest: Widespread discussion of a bizarre belief is not the same as widespread support for a bizarre belief.

That is especially true when you remember three more things. First, many of the people who believe the crisis-actor theory—probably almost all of them—are already predisposed to believe tales like this. In an earlier era, with an earlier urban legend, they may well have whispered the story to each other in person.

Second, social media tend to make marginal ideas more visible. But this increased visibility does not always go hand in hand with increased popularity.

Third, more people still get their news primarily from TV than from social media. And TV coverage of the crisis-actor thesis has been overwhelmingly critical of it. Indeed, just about all the mainstream coverage has been negative.

The idea that the crisis-actor story is replicating unchallenged in some endless cancerous pattern may play to people's anxieties about social media. For anti-gun activists, it may also play to the pleasures of highlighting the most idiotic arguments on the other side. But out there in the actual internet, people were knocking these stories down. The criticisms of the conspiracy theory may well have been more viral than the theory itself.

SOURCE






Iraqi 'Republic': No Christian Converts

The 2017 State Department report on human rights in Iraq, which was released last month, begins by unambiguously declaring: "Iraq is a constitutional parliamentary republic."

It says, "The outcome of the 2014 parliamentary elections generally met international standards of free and fair elections and led to the peaceful transition of power from former prime minister Nuri al-Maliki to Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi."

Sounds like a bastion of freedom and representative government.

When you actually read the report, however, you quickly discover it is not.

"The (Iraqi) penal code stipulates that any person convicted of promoting Zionist principles, association with Zionist organizations, assisting such organizations through material or moral support, or working in any way to realize Zionist objectives, is subject to punishment by death," says the report.

This means that if you are an Iraqi and you join a group that gives "moral support" to the belief that Israel has a right to exist, the government of Iraq's "constitutional parliamentary republic" can arrest you and execute you.

Freedom of conscience in the Iraqi republic is a one-way street.

"The National Identity Card Law automatically registers minor children as Muslims if they are born to at least one Muslim parent or if either parent converts from another religion to Islam," says the human rights report.

"Personal status laws and regulations prohibit the conversion of Muslims to other religions," elaborates the State Department's most recent report on religious freedom in Iraq.

An Iraqi Christian can become a Muslim and automatically bring all their minor children with them, but if one of those minor children, having reached adulthood, decides he believes that the Christian faith he was initially raised in is in fact the true faith, he may not rejoin it.

This is the policy of the Iraqi government the U.S. helped save from the Islamic State — which the State Department correctly declared was committing genocide against Iraqi Christians as well as against Yazidis and Shiite Muslims in the areas it controlled.

President George W. Bush, who in 2003 ordered the U.S. military to overthrow the Iraqi regime of Saddam Hussein, was re-elected in this republic in 2004.

On Jan. 20, 2005, he stood in front of the U.S. Capitol and delivered an inaugural address in which he sought to give this nation a global vocation. "Ending tyranny in our world," he called it.

"So it is the policy of the United States to seek and support the growth of democratic movements and institutions in every nation and culture, with the ultimate goal of ending tyranny in our world," Bush said.

"This is not primarily the task of arms, though we will defend ourselves and our friends by force of arms when necessary," he continued.

"Freedom, by its nature, must be chosen, and defended by citizens, and sustained by the rule of law and the protection of minorities," Bush said. "And when the soul of a nation finally speaks, the institutions that arise may reflect customs and traditions very different from our own. America will not impose our own style of government on the unwilling. Our goal instead is to help others find their own voice, attain their own freedom, and make their own way."

In December, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, who came to power after that 2014 Iraqi election, declared victory over the Islamic State "caliphate."

"Our battle was with the enemy that wanted to kill our civilization, but we have won with our unity and determination," he said.

On Saturday, Iraq held another election, which The New York Times reported was "remarkably peaceful."

"In a country awash with weapons and random violence, Election Day was notably quiet, without any major incidents," the Times reported on Sunday.

The results indicate that a coalition backed by Shiite clergyman Muqtada al-Sadr was the leading vote getter. Sadr, as the Times noted, was formerly "a firebrand militia leader whose forces once battled American troops in Iraq and were implicated in widespread atrocities against civilians."

The lesson: Bush was wrong.

America's foreign policy should aim at advancing the liberty, security and prosperity of the American people, and our leaders must put aside any idea that they can use American power to rearrange the world to fit some Utopian ideal.

SOURCE






Scandinavian Approach to Counterterrorism, Islamist Ideology Is Flawed

How Western democracies should respond to terrorist attacks is an ongoing concern. One such dilemma is whether the state should just focus on preventing attacks or whether it has an obligation to challenge the ideology that spurs those attacks in the first place.

Two countries currently grappling with that are Sweden and Finland. Individuals inspired by ISIS, the Islamic State terrorist group, attacked both countries last year.

In April 2017, Rakhmat Akilov committed a vehicular attack in the center of Stockholm, using a truck to kill five and injure 10.

Four months later, in August, Abderrahman Bouanane killed two people and injured eight in a series of stabbings in the southwestern Finnish city of Turku.

Bouanane, currently on trial in Helsinki, told the court, “I honestly felt like I was controlled remotely … The idea was to keep attacking as long as a head falls.”

Akilov and Bouanane were both asylum-seekers who either had no right to be in the country or were in the process of being deported.

Recently, I visited both Sweden and Finland, speaking to dozens of government officials, police officers, and academics to gain insights into how the countries have responded.

Threat Assessment

Sweden suffered its first Islamist terrorism attack in December 2010. Taimour Abdulwahab al-Abdaly, an Iraqi, packed explosives into a car in the heart of Stockholm and then detonated his suicide vest in a busy shopping center nearby.

Abdulwahab died, but fortunately, nobody else did. The plot had clear links to a precursor group to ISIS, the Islamic State of Iraq (ISI).

There were only 200 Islamists on Stockholm’s intelligence radar at the time of Abdulwahab’s plot. Now, according to Anders Thornberg, the head of Sweden’s security police, that number is 2,000.

An additional reason for concern is that Sweden has seen about 300 foreign fighters head to Syria and Iraq (although nongovernmental sources speculate the actual number is higher, between 400 and 500). A Swedish Defence University study states that about 150 of them have returned, 100 are still fighting overseas, and about 50 have been killed.

Thankfully, the numbers leaving Sweden have dried up—with only about 10 last year, and 2018 is presumably unlikely to see an increase.

Finland, meanwhile, has about 370 people connected to international terrorism on its intelligence radar, with about 80 going to join the conflict in Syria (about one-fifth of them women).

With a population of between 75,000 and 100,000 Muslims, that’s an unusually high number. About 20 foreign fighters have returned to Finland, and a similar number were killed in the fighting.

Prevention of Violent Extremism

Sweden has placed special emphasis on the “prevention of violent extremism” in its counterterrorism strategy, with the intent to “counter and reduce the intent to commit or support terrorist attacks.”

Responsibility for the prevention of violent extremism lies with the Ministry of Justice. Yet responsibility for implementation often lies within Sweden’s 290 municipalities, which have great autonomy over local governance.

There’s concern in Stockholm that while these municipalities are familiar with warning signs for far-right movements, they are much less familiar with radical Islamists.

Finland is also focused on prevention. Integral to that are two complementary government-backed initiatives, Anchor and Radinet.

Anchor, which operates throughout Finland, deals with young offenders by allowing arms of the state that deal with troubled youth—police and social workers, for example—to share data about those individuals.

Radinet is a voluntary program, led by nongovernmental organizations, that seeks to integrate far-right and Islamist extremists into Finnish society.

While these NGOs can get financial assistance from the government, they surprisingly have no obligation to report to the state on the progress of their work with the extremists.

Finland is only interested in preventing acts of violence, not dealing with ideology. As a result, its work on the prevention of violent extremism stresses the importance of dialogue and a willingness to discuss foreign policy, stigmatization, and marginalization—but not Islam or theology.

This focus on grievance over ideas is a mistake. Islamist groups have an endless supply of grievances to work through, and the notion that Finnish foreign policy is causing radicalization is a stretch, to put it politely.

By only focusing on grievances and downplaying the power of ideas, Finland is doomed to misunderstand the nature of the threat.

Integration of Asylum-Seekers

Finland and Sweden face a challenge of integrating the almost 200,000 asylum-seekers they took in between them in 2015 alone.

Sweden, a country of under 10 million people, took in 163,000 of them. (As a proportion of the population, that is like the U.S. taking in about 5.3 million.)

The government acknowledges that about 50,000 have no legal right to be in the country, and yet it is resigned to them staying anyway and is attempting to provide housing for these new arrivals. It has also launched job creation and youth education initiatives.

Finland took in 32,000 asylum-seekers in 2015, many of whom are Shia Muslim Iraqis. That has had an unsettling effect on some within the pre-existing Sunni Muslim population in Finland, who fear an effort to shift the ethnic composition of the Muslim community there.

That in turn has led to some levels of hostility toward new asylum-seekers among Finland’s Muslims.

That is just one of the difficulties. Another example cited was that there are also those who were tortured in Iraq living in refugee centers with those who tortured them.

Full Speed Ahead

The most striking thing about the Swedish and Finnish responses to the terrorist attacks last year was how little response there was.

There appears to be few regrets within those governments at taking in so many asylum-seekers, which is seen as a global obligation. Perhaps they are right, and they can painlessly integrate so many newcomers into such small populations.

However, there is scarce precedent suggesting such a radical policy can work.

One noticeable consequence of the terrorist plotting is cities’ physical transformation in an attempt to prevent future vehicular attacks.

The area of central Stockholm attacked last year is incredibly well-fortified with barriers. Meanwhile, barriers placed around a Helsinki church last summer after authorities received a tip-off that a vehicular attack was being planned remain in place.

An attack takes place, and barriers go up. Or it’s thwarted and the result is the same. Yet until the policies that led to Sweden and Finland being imperiled in the first place are addressed—excessive levels of immigration and an unwillingness to deal with Islamist ideology—they are destined to require such defenses for many years to come.

SOURCE

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Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the  incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of  other countries.  The only real difference, however, is how much power they have.  In America, their power is limited by democracy.  To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already  very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges.  They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did:  None.  So look to the colleges to see  what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way.  It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH,   EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS and  DISSECTING LEFTISM.   My Home Pages are here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here.  Email me (John Ray) here

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Monday, May 21, 2018



THE RELIGION OF RACISM

Only believing in white evil can save you now

Obama once called slavery, “America’s original sin”. Jim Wallis, a member of Obama’s White House Faith Council, has a book out titled, "America's Original Sin: Racism, White Privilege".

Accusations of sinfulness usually tell us more about the values of the accuser than the accused.

If racism is America’s original sin, then its redemption lies in anti-racism. For liberal theologians, Christian and Jewish, who no longer believe in the traditional biblical sins, racism is a godsend. It provides the moral drama of damnation and redemption, confession and absolution, in a way that is compatible with the larger secular culture and their own political ambitions.

Fighting racism isn’t just a cause, it’s a religion. And all that remains of major religious denominations.

The most resonantly dramatic events for Christian and Jewish liberal denominations remain the fight against slavery and the struggles of the civil rights movement. They revisit and recreate them ceaselessly. And each protest movement, whether it’s Muslim migrants at airports, illegal aliens from El Salvador at the border or Black Lives Matter racists at coffee shops, is a religious revival experience.

The trouble is that the hunt for this particular sin has come to pervade our legal system, taint workplaces, terrorize campuses and unleash social media mobs on random offenders. We are not in a libertine age just because sexual morality is as dead as disco and drugs are on the verge of being legalized. The sins of traditional morality have been replaced by an even more ruthless moral code.

Employees, employers, students and businessmen still fear being fired, expelled and hounded out of society for offending the sensibilities of a fanatical sect and its zealous enforcers. They hide behind hypocrisy, denouncing others while living in terror that their own private offenses will be outed.

A drunken tweet, an indiscreet joke or a mere implication can end even the most respected career.

The religion of racism has become a twisted creed that has perverted its own origins. What began as a unitary effort to bring together different races around religion has instead become a cult that uses its beliefs to divide us with white people as perpetual sinners and black people as unstained saints.

Its fetishization of black victimhood is bad for black people and its conviction that white people are inherently sinful is bad for everyone. As real racism has diminished, its conviction in the ubiquity of this particular sin has not. Fighting the overt discrimination of segregation turned into hunting for covert bigotry by working backward through disparate impact creating a guilt through lack of association.

If black people weren’t visiting national parks or living in sufficient numbers in Utah, it was evidence that national parks and Utah were racist. Racism was no longer something to be discovered by witnessing its presence, but by noting the absence of some ideal multicultural diversity statistic. Civil rights shifted from lifting state sanctions that mandated discrimination against black people to imposing state sanctions that mandated discrimination on behalf of black people. Like the segregationists, they were abusing government power to impose the version of the ideal racial balance that they wanted to see.

The absence of the realization of this vision became its own evidence of racial sinfulness.

One fundamental difference between a free society and an oppressive society is that the former punishes bad behavior while the latter punishes the absence of good behavior. A free society, such as America, punishes theft. An oppressive society, such as the Soviet Union, punished the failure to work.

When civil rights shifted from punishing mandatory segregation to punishing the lack of integration, it ceased to be a movement pursuing freedom and instead became a totalitarian movement.

Racism diminished, but the religious, emotional and financial need for its existence on the part of the religion of racism did not. Their mission became manufacturing racism. The most mundane interactions were reinterpreted through the discriminating eye of the microaggression. Otherwise neutral institutions were accused of pervasive whiteness. Racism ceased to be an observable interaction between individuals and became the unseen gluonic binding block of all social matter in America.

The religion of racism had reached its logical conclusion. It was no longer the absence of black people, but the presence of white people that was racist. Racism was America’s original sin. White people carried it everywhere with them like radiation. To be white was to have your body and your mind, your thoughts, your writings and even the inanimate objects around you be infected by racial radioactivity.

Racism was no longer an objectively measurable phenomenon. It had taken on all the characteristics of metaphysics. It was everywhere and yet undetectable. It was transmitted by the immutable nature of race, a phenomenon that was paradoxically a construct and yet inflexibly inescapable.

Every tragedy, grievance and outrage was ultimately attributed to this primal evil and original sin.

Political opposition to Obama, poor water management decisions, infant mortality rates, environmental shifts, the vagaries of entertainment industry casting, gun violence and a thousand others could be put down to racism. The religion of racism, like all religion, had found something that explained everything.

To understand America, all you had to do was understand racism. And then you would know that we were a country perpetually divided between privileged white people and powerless minorities.

Implicit bias is the final catechism of a faith in racism. It is a pseudo-religious ritual whose purpose is to force its victims to confess their sins and assert its doctrinal belief in the innate racism of white people. Like all cults, it does this through the familiar brainwashing process of challenging and breaking down identity, through twisted reasoning and emotional abuse, and then reconstructing it in its own image.

To its believers, implicit bias is the truth that we are all racist. But that we can be saved from our racism by confessing it. Activism is penance. Denounce others and you too can make it to multicultural heaven.

The religion of racism has the right to believe in its hateful creed. What it does not have the right to do is enforce it on others. And yet the left has made a mockery of the separation of church and state by making its own secular religion, obsessed with planetary and racial damnation, into a national creed.

And, like all efforts at imposing a religion, it has led to a religious war which some call a culture war.

The religion of racism is less concerned with actual racists, than with racial unbelievers. The ultimate heresy, the one it’s rooting out with implicit bias and extreme prejudice, is that racism isn’t everywhere. And it’s not a burning national crisis that requires handing out unlimited witch hunting powers.

The theocrats of social justice prefer opposing views to skepticism. The existence of racists reaffirms their belief in the defining power of racism. It’s the skeptics of racism who are the real threat.

If you don’t believe that racism is significant, you challenge their entire reason for being.

And the religion of racism meets these challenges by manufacturing a racial crisis as it strings together anecdotal incidents from a Waffle House to a New York City apartment to a student dorm to a coffee shop, to support its unified field theory of universal bigotry and suppress skepticism about its powers.

The puritanical panic has less to do with fear of racism than the emotional needs of the witch hunters. Informing on your neighbors, denouncing fellow students and becoming the center of attention is emotionally fulfilling for the same psychological reasons that it was for the Salem accusers, the Parisian mobs of the French Revolution and the rampaging Communist students of the Cultural Revolution.

But beyond the twisted psychology of the activist accusers, the judges of kangaroo courts and the town criers of the media eager for scalps, the human sacrifice of the purge releases social tensions. This was the social function of human sacrifice. The shocking spectacle of bloodletting, the mob psychology and adrenaline release, relieved the fears and anxieties bedeviling society and left them feeling cleansed.

The constant hunt for scapegoats is a feature of an anxious society fearful for the future. Social justice scapegoating gives a generation on the edge of history a temporary sense of control by abusing others.

The left likes to believe that it’s a positive movement, defined by its utopian aspirations, not its brutal tactics. But it is a movement built on fear and hate, on a historical inevitability that is premised not on human progress, but on human collapse, on inescapable problems and necessarily ruthless solutions.

The religion of racism isn’t unique to America. But there is something special about it in this country. It stinks of the soured beliefs of liberal religious denominations, their loss of faith in God and man, and their growing conviction that salvation lies only in wielding the unlimited power of their governments.

SOURCE





MIT professor Eric Lander apologizes for praising controversial Nobel winner James Watson

Watson's statements on IQ were well-grounded in psychometrics

Eric Lander, the founding director of the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, has apologized for toasting 90-year-old Nobel Prize winner James Watson over the weekend.

In a contrite e-mail to colleagues, first reported Monday by Stat, Lander said he was aware of Watson’s racist and misogynist views, and had even been present when the celebrated scientist made anti-Semitic statements, but ultimately agreed to praise Watson for his role in the Human Genome Project.

In his tribute to Watson at a Biology of Genomes meeting at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Saturday, Lander credited Watson for “inspiring all of us to push the frontiers of science to benefit humankind.” He neglected to mention that the man who helped discover the double helix also has suggested there’s a link between exposure to sunlight and sexual urges, and argued that there is racial disparity in intelligence based in biology.

In his e-mail Monday, Lander said he should not have toasted Watson. Though he did make an oblique reference to Watson’s past statements when he called him “flawed,” that wasn’t enough, Lander said.

“I’d like to do that now: I reject his views as despicable,” Lander wrote, according to Stat. “They have no place in science, which must welcome everyone. In retrospect, I should have followed my first instinct, which was to decline the invitation. As someone who has been on the receiving end of his abhorrent remarks, I should have been sensitive to the damage caused by recognizing him in any way.”

Before the apology, social media reacted angrily to Lander’s remarks.

“By toasting Jim Watson, Eric Lander is saying that sexism, racism, anti-semitism, and all sorts of forms of harassment and vile behavior by someone in power in science is A-OK — disgusting,” tweeted University of California-Davis professor Jonathan Eisen, who also posted a video of Lander’s tribute, calling it “a horrific action.”

“I hope we can all pause and think deeply about which scientists we choose to honor & why,” tweeted Michael Eisen, a biologist at UC Berkeley. “How it is that someone everyone knows to be racist, sexist & anti-semitic is still among us, let alone toasted. And how many lives and careers have been & are being ruined by our silence?”

SOURCE





Rev. Graham Slams Episcopal Church on 'Marriage' Change: 'Caving to the Gay Agenda'

Commenting on the Episcopal Church's decision to change marriage terminology from "husband and wife" to "union of two people," evangelical leader Rev. Franklin Graham said that to "change what God has defined" is "disobedience," sin, and added that "all of this is caving to the gay agenda."

In a May 18 post on Facebook, Rev. Graham said, "I have many friends in the Episcopal Church and I was saddened when I recently learned that the church wants to remove the terms 'husband' and 'wife' from their standardized marital vows. They want to replace the phrase the 'union of husband and wife' with the 'union of two people.'"

"I’ve got news for them -- just changing their words in their ceremony won’t make it right," said Graham. "You cannot change what God has defined."

"Through the centuries, people have tried to reinterpret, repackage, or rewrite God’s laws to suit themselves and their own evil desires," he said.  "It’s nothing new; but the end result is always the same. It’s called disobedience—it’s called sin. And sin brings God’s judgment."

"All of this is caving to the gay agenda," said Rev. Graham.

He continued,  "I read that the Church of England’s Secretary-General William Nye has been an outspoken critic of this change—good for him. More Christians and more people in church leadership should speak up about the sins that are within the church and stand against things that would not be aligned with the authority of God’s Word.

He ended his post with the passage from 1 Peter 1:25:  "the word of the Lord remains forever."

SOURCE





Against hate-speech laws

Nadine Strossen’s new book makes an important case for the importance of free speech without limits.

Hate speech is the thorniest of issues for defenders of free speech. When asked where those who champion freedom of expression would draw the line on ‘acceptable’ speech, many of even the usually most stalwart proponents of free speech draw it here.

In particular, attitudes towards hate speech are what divides a European approach to free speech from a US, First Amendment-based approach. In Europe in recent decades the net on what speech is permitted has been drawn ever tighter as governments seek to rein in speech they say harms individuals based on a variety of their characteristics: from race and religion, to sexual orientation. In the US, backed by a First Amendment that places far more protection on speech, courts have traditionally firmly resisted temptations to place limitations on speech, even when it is deemed hateful.

Nevertheless, with the rise of nationalist rhetoric in the US, and in particular following a number of protests against speakers on university campuses that have in some instances turned violent, there has been a renewed interest in the US in potentially introducing some kind of hate-speech measures.

It is this that has spurred veteran free-speech campaigner, Nadine Strossen, president of the American Civil Liberties Union from 1991 to 2008, to revisit the question of hate speech in her new book Hate: Why We Should Resist It With Free Speech, Not Censorship.

Hate considers the way in which the First Amendment has been interpreted in the US over the past century, examines the use of hate-speech laws in developed democracies elsewhere, and explores some of the arguments used to defend hate-speech legislation – and why they do not stand up to scrutiny.

Strossen provides an excellent overview of the ‘neutrality’ and ‘emergency’ principles. The former guarantees that speech will be protected no matter the viewpoint of the speaker. This is essential in a democracy because it ensures that the government does not become the arbiter of the acceptable viewpoint at any given time. Strossen points out how vital this principle has been in defending not just what society might now classify as ‘hate speech’ such as racism but also pro-civil-rights messages. Proponents of hate-speech laws would do well to study the 1972 Chicago v Mosley case Strossen cites, in which an African-American postal employee was only allowed to protest outside a high school, with a sign that read ‘Jones High School practices black discrimination’, on the basis of the First Amendment.

The cases covered by Strossen demonstrate time and again how freedom-of-expression protections – as opposed to limitations offered by hate-speech laws – protect minority and persecuted groups, citing US Civil Rights leader, Congressman John Lewis’s observation: ‘Without freedom of speech and the right to dissent, the Civil Rights movement would have been a bird without wings.’ And she goes on to show how hate-speech laws can often have the opposite effect – that they end up targeting the very minority groups such laws purport to protect. Examples include that of a prominent journalist and member of the Uzbek minority in Kyrgyzstan who was charged with ‘inciting ethnic hatred’ for reporting on conflicts between Uzbeks and the majority Kygryz.

Too often free-speech advocates seem to want to have it both ways: arguing that speech is so vital to a democratic society that it needs to be protected and yet not powerful enough to cause hurt

Strossen also lays out clearly the ‘emergency’ principle in which the government may suppress speech only when it directly causes specific, imminent and serious harm, citing an opinion from a 1927 case in which Justice Louis Brandeis wrote: ‘Fear of serious injury cannot alone justify suppression of speech… Men feared witches and burned women.’

Strossen is a lawyer and the book is strong on legislation and the court rulings that have interpreted such laws, both in the United States and Europe. She also does not shy away from the notion that words can harm. This is refreshing. Too often free-speech advocates seem to want to have it both ways: arguing that speech is so vital to a democratic society that it needs to be protected and yet not powerful enough to cause hurt.

‘[W]e cherish speech precisely because of its unique capacity to influence us, both positively and negatively’, she writes. ‘But even though speech can contribute to potential harms, it would be more harmful to both individuals and society to empower the government to suppress speech for that reason.’

Strossen gives a brief overview of various research that shows both that hate-speech laws do little to limit the hateful views they seek to suppress, and that by limiting the exposure individuals have to hateful views, the less resilient they become to a whole raft of potentially distasteful and intolerant viewpoints.

However, at 208 pages, this element of Hate felt a little light, and while overall it provides an excellent overview of the legal frameworks of hate speech and their impacts, I would have liked more examples and personal stories exploring the sociological and psychological arguments against hate-speech laws. Given that the psychological and social effects of hate speech is are a key element in the demands of various groups for increased restrictions on speech, it seems to me this is a vital part of the polemic on hate-speech legislation.

One of Strossen’s challenges is that she lays out the direction of her argument – and her conclusions – from the outset, meaning that the conclusion (hate-speech laws do not protect us from harm or promote greater tolerance in societies) often comes before the evidence that supports this argument. This is particularly true of the overview, which meant that at times I felt Strossen failed to bring me along with the thread of her arguments. I agree wholeheartedly with Strossen’s views on hate speech – 45 years of evidence from the work of Index on Censorship chimes entirely with her conclusions. But I did wonder whether Hate would be as convincing to a reader who currently either sits on the fence or is firmly in favour of hate-speech law.

However, in these times of censure by the mob, and of major corporations with the power of governments to limit speech, it is welcome to hear voices like Strossen’s making themselves heard and reminding us why the urge to limit speech in the name of protection ultimately offers no protection at all.

SOURCE

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Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the  incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of  other countries.  The only real difference, however, is how much power they have.  In America, their power is limited by democracy.  To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already  very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges.  They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did:  None.  So look to the colleges to see  what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way.  It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH,   EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS and  DISSECTING LEFTISM.   My Home Pages are here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here.  Email me (John Ray) here

***************************


Sunday, May 20, 2018




Sex-crazed Muslims again

Their religion consigns many men to celibacy.  Under polygamy, rich old guys get most of the women. Celibacy works about as well for them as it does for Catholic priests

A brave woman has revealed how she was gang raped as a teenager after being drugged at a party that her friend had lured her to.

Philippa Briggs, now 21, from Buckinghamshire, has described how she was raped by a group of older men at the age of just 14.

Two of her attackers Kashif Amjad, 31, and Sakib Ali Sadiq, 35, were jailed for ten years following the horrific incident, but her other attackers remain free.

Philippa explained how her friend, who was 16 at the time, had persuaded her to go to the house party - but put the blame on her when she told her she'd been attacked.

The friend, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was later given a two year detention training order for causing a child to engage in sexual activity, for her role in the attack.

Philippa, who was adopted at the age of six but placed into a children's home after difficulties at home, described how her friend, who had managed to persuade her to go to the party in 2009.

She explained how she had been desperate to 'fit in', having met the older friend at the children's home she was living in.

At the party, she said her 'head started to spin' after having a drink a man gave her, despite asking for just an orange juice.

She remembers another man asking her whether she was 'okay', before 'everything went black'.

Philippa recalled: 'When I opened my eyes, I was on a cold bathroom floor and my vision was blurry.

'I tried to get up, but to my horror I realised I was being pinned down by something extremely heavy. Terror ran through me as I realised there was a man on top of me.

'I couldn't make out his face, and when I opened my mouth to try to scream no sound came out. I drifted in and out of consciousness as he raped me, too weak and woozy to fight him off.'

Philippa described the intense pain she felt the next time she woke up, this time alone.  'Pain tore through me as I tried to get up and I looked down to see my legs were covered in blood,' she said.

'I felt sick, but I knew I had to get help - and fast. I was distraught when I realised the door was locked. I was completely trapped. As I desperately tried to figure out how to escape, I passed out again.

'When I woke some time later, my trousers were round by my ankles again. My stomach knotted with fear as I realised I must have been raped for a second time.'

Philippa described how she had 'screamed and banged' on the door, until her friend came to get her. However, even though she told her that she'd been attacked, she was dismissed by her friend, who she says gave her 'a look of disgust'. Her friend told her that she was staying at the party, saying: 'It's not my problem if you're too drunk to enjoy yourself. You're a disgrace, you look a total mess.'

Philippa said the friend then took her outside, before telling her to find her own way home, despite the freezing conditions.

Eventually, she was found by the police, who had been contacted by her children's home when she missed her curfew.

Philippa was taken to a rape centre, where medics told her she had been drugged and that her injuries suggested she had been attacked by as many as five men.

She was also given the morning after pill, and told to take a pregnancy test after a few weeks.

Police managed to track down two of her attackers through DNA, with the pair jailed in 2011.

However, the other men involved in the attack were never caught.

Describing the impact that the attack has had on her life, Philippa said: 'I'll never forget the horrifying evening my entire life changed.

'Justice had been done for two of my attackers, but knowing that there was at least three others out there was difficult.

'I suffered with post-traumatic stress after the attack and doctors put me on antidepressants.'

However, Philippa says she feels a lot stronger now, explaining: 'I won't let those monsters steal a second more of my future.'  

SOURCE






UK Proposes Six Year Prison Sentences for Online Posts Against Religion, Transgender

People promoting “hostility” towards a religion or the transgendered online could get much harsher sentences, of up to six years in jail, especial if they have a large online audience according to new proposals.

The Sentencing Council for England and Wales has drafted changes to public order offences, including anyone perceived as targeting online a “protected characteristics” including “race; sex; disability; age; sexual orientation; religion or belief; pregnancy and maternity; and gender reassignment.”

The most severe punishments will be handed to those “in a position of trust, authority or influence and abuses their position to stir up hatred,” such as political leaders or figureheads and anyone whose offences are “persistent.”

If an “offender was a member of, or was associated with, a group promoting hostility based on race or religion,” their sentence will also be harsher.

The Sentencing Council believes that the use of social media, YouTube, and other “websites” to stir hatred is a growing problem – despite the number of prosecutions remain relatively low.

“Volumes of these offences are extremely low and there have been no offenders sentenced for some offences,” the Sentencing Council said.

“However, given the recent social climate and an enhanced focus on this type of offending, the council considers it would be useful for sentencers to be equipped with guidance on sentencing these offences,” they continue.

“Other cases involved publication on YouTube of content inciting serious violence towards particular racial or religious groups, websites being published including abusive and insulting content, with some activity continuing over a long period of time and intended to reach global audiences.”

The proposals will now be subject to a three-month public consultation ending in August.

The launch comes nine months after the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) promised to peruse online “hate crime” as vigorously as those taking place face-to-face, saying they hope to see more prosecutions, with longer sentences for those convicted of “hate” online.

Separate “hate crime” guidelines from the CPS released in January last year reaffirmed that no evidence is needed to report a “hate crime”, and they only need to be “perceived” by the alleged victim or someone else.

An investigation by Breitbart London last year also confirmed that many UK Police forces consider “unfriendliness” and “dislike” as signs of “hostility” and “hate,” with the CPS admitting there is “no legal definition” of “hostility.”

Germany recently went further than any Western democracy in efforts to control online speech, legally requiring social media companies like Facebook and Twitter to quickly remove “hate speech” from their sites.

However, the law is set to be revised following evidence that too much online content is being blocked, and critics claiming there was a widespread “chilling effect” on speech.

The legislation has led to satirical posts being removed and a leader of the populists AfD party being censored for criticizing police policy and Islam.

SOURCE





Compromise in Transgender Debate Demands Rejection of Reality

Conservatism is rooted in the pursuit of objective truth, and the truth is there are only two genders.

By its very nature, truth exists independent of our beliefs, opinions, prejudices and superstitions. It does not bend to our will and is not subject to a majority vote. We may reject truth, we may rage against it, but truth remains, unfazed. “Facts don’t care about your feelings,” as Ben Shapiro put it.

It is curious, then, that the conservative National Review would publish an article calling for a societal rejection of biological truth in the name of compromise. Conservatism, after all, is a philosophy rooted in the pursuit of objective truth.

In “Time for a Compromise on Transgenderism,” NR’s J.J. McCullough calls on conservatives, in the name of compromise, to set aside rational thought and biological reality and embrace the delusion behind transgenderism; namely, that sex/gender is not rooted in our DNA, but in our feelings. Though laudable in its attempt to strengthen social cohesion, it is nevertheless a study in falsehoods and contradictions.

McCullough declares, “Homosexual people are unavoidable and common. … Through education, and especially exposure, homosexuality is no longer regarded as bizarre, threatening, or mysterious.”

First, homosexuals and transgenders are actually only a tiny subset of the population. According to ULCA’s Williams Institute, just 1.7% of the U.S. population identifies as homosexual, and just 0.3% as transgender. Other studies put the number of homosexuals at 3-4%. But fewer Americans identify as transgender than have heterochromia (two different colored eyes). It should also be noted that both homosexuality and transgenderism are behaviors, not biological traits.

Second, social acceptance of a behavior does not convey moral validity. The Communist Chinese implemented the one-child policy, but social acceptance of the policy does not make the tens of millions of abortions it brought about any less murder. Or you could go the Nazi Holocaust route. Enough said.

McCullough declares resistance to the normalization of deviant sexual behavior is an “immature, demagogic phase” of American life, ignoring the fact it is the LGBT proponents who are aggressively trying to overturn thousands of years of social order and proven biological science.

Americans who hold to traditional morality and biological reality are accused of hatred and bigotry, forced by the state to deny reality and violate deeply held religious beliefs, or face hate-crimes charges, public vilification and even the loss of their livelihoods.

McCullough’s “compromise” is for the reality-based population (i.e., “cultural conservatives and traditionalists”) to extend “broad tolerance for the reality that transgender men and women exist, and are entitled to basic human dignity, just like everyone else.” This is a straw man. No conservative calls for mistreating transgenders or denying basic human rights. Just the opposite; Christians proclaim the eternal worth of every soul as a child of God.

However, dignity is a subjective term. It flows outward from dignified people, and cannot be granted. Despite being mocked, cursed and spat upon, Christ could not be robbed of his regal dignity by the offending Jews. On the other hand, those engaged in the most flamboyant displays of sexual deviancy during LGBT parades cannot obtain dignity, regardless of the coercive power of the state.

Though McCullough claims transgenderism is a “persistent aspect of humanity,” that is demonstrably false. Examples of effeminate homosexual men, or “butch” lesbians, have long been with us, but the claim that a biological male is an actual woman, or vice versa, is very recent, not to mention delusional.

More important than these battles in the culture wars are the implications for life itself.

According to Johns Hopkins University, the first U.S. institution to perform “sex reassignment” surgery, “The belief that gender identity is an innate, fixed human property independent of biological sex — so that a person might be a ‘man trapped in a woman’s body’ or ‘a woman trapped in a man’s body’ — is not supported by scientific evidence.”

Furthermore, studies show a staggering 41% of transgendered people attempt suicide in their lifetimes, and that suicide rate is relatively constant regardless of other variables, like living in an area where homosexuality/transgenderism is widely accepted. Nurturing their delusion, rather than providing treatment, is cruel and deadly.

Even McCullough admits, “The risk of psychologically and physically damaging children by encouraging or enabling them to embrace transgender identities before pubescence must be acknowledged as a valid concern backed by credible evidence.”

Yet if the first phase of the compromise is for conservatives to accept the delusional altered reality of transgenderism, then on what basis does one then reject allowing a sexually confused child to “transition”?

The problem with McCollough’s entire argument is that the Rainbow Mafia is not interested in compromise; they simply demand our surrender. Prior to the Supreme Court’s Obergefell ruling, LGBT proponents mockingly asked conservatives to tell them how our lives would change if same-sex marriage was legal. As we predicted, so they have done. Christians are being persecuted by the state, ostracized by society and denied their constitutionally protected rights to freedom of religion, speech and association. Their livelihoods are being destroyed.

So while McCullough’s intentions are worthy, his approach is completely wrong. No person should be forced to accept biological falsehoods, nor violate their moral and religious beliefs, to appease a few militant, biologically confused people. We should never, ever allow the compulsive power of the state to silence debate, especially when one side is rooted in delusion.

SOURCE







The PC sickness in Australia

“I’M GOING to miss this,” said the comedian. And for a moment nothing was very funny anymore.

We had been chatting about our respective mongrel ancestries when we realised we were both part Scots-Irish.

“I never understood exactly what Scots-Irish was,” I said. “As far as I can tell some Scots went to Ireland because they didn’t like the Scottish and then when they got there they decided they didn’t like the Irish — or the English for that matter.”

“Yep,” he said. “They basically just rocked up and said to everyone: ‘If you don’t like it then f*** off!’”

“They’re so disagreeable!” I said. And that’s when my friend paused.

“I’m going to miss this,” he said.

For a moment I was scared he was about to tell me he had some terminal disease but then the penny dropped — and like a true Scotsman I noticed it.

“Soon we won’t be able to talk about this anymore,” he said. “We won’t be able to laugh or take the piss out of people for their differences. Everybody will just be exactly the same.”

It was an extremely depressing thought and for a moment I wished he really had told me he had a terminal disease.

Comedians are of course notoriously melancholy creatures but there have been several recent developments that make me more sure than ever that my mate is on the money.

One was a report this month that the NSW Director of Public Prosecutions had ordered his Newcastle office to complete a sexual harassment course after a lawyer “tweaked” a colleague’s nipple.

Sounds fair enough, you might think, until you read on. You see, it wasn’t a lecherous old man groping a young vulnerable clerk. It was a female solicitor mucking around with a male colleague when she gave him a little nipple-cripple over his shirt. Call the prosecutors!

And it gets better. It wasn’t even the bloke who had his nipple tweaked who made the complaint. He wasn’t fussed at all. Instead it was someone in the office who witnessed it and reported it as “inappropriate”.

As a source rather plaintively told The Daily Telegraph: “It was just a joke.”

But as my comedian mate now knows, there are no jokes anymore. There’s just appropriate and inappropriate behaviour.

And so, as a result of a playful exchange between two friendly colleagues who were completely untroubled, dozens of legal experts have to sit through an interminable sexual harassment lecture delivered perhaps by some po-faced bureaucrat or perhaps by a disembodied online portal. It’s hard to know which would be a bigger waste of the taxpayer’s time or money.

Moreover, the female solicitor is said to be “highly embarrassed” by the whole affair. So well done to the #metoo mole who called it in. You’ve just humiliated a woman for having too much fun at work. What a victory for progress that is.

It would be tempting to write this off as just a rogue PC absurdity — even if it did come from the highest prosecutor in the nation’s biggest state. If only this were so.

Recently I learned of colleagues at another government organisation who were forced to undergo cultural awareness training after an eerily similar incident.

In this case, two people, one white and one black, were talking about how absurd it was that a certain derogatory racial term was still allowed to be used in some contexts. Another person in the office overheard the conversation and reported them.

And so it was back to the re-education camps for that happy little workplace. Yes, even a black person discussing a racist word can now be sanctioned for racism.

Again, you could be forgiven for thinking that this is as dumb as society could possibly get but, again, you’d be wrong.

Because just last week an educator infamously suggested that parents should ask their babies for consent babies before changing a nappy [diaper]. Needless to say, in any such exchange it would not just be the nappy that was completely full of it.

I had words about this on Studio 10 and apparently it became a “Twitter Moment”, so I don’t want to add further to the mob frenzy. All I would offer is that anyone who compares changing a nappy to rape needs to seriously consider their world view.

SOURCE 

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Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the  incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of  other countries.  The only real difference, however, is how much power they have.  In America, their power is limited by democracy.  To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already  very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges.  They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did:  None.  So look to the colleges to see  what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way.  It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH,   EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS and  DISSECTING LEFTISM.   My Home Pages are here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here.  Email me (John Ray) here

***************************


Friday, May 18, 2018




Trump administration rolls back rules protecting transgender inmates in federal prisons

President Trump’s Justice Department moved Friday to roll back a series of Obama-era rules applying to transgender inmates in federal prisons.

The Bureau of Prisons released a policy change to its manual, which now says that the department will use “biological sex” as the basis for assigning facilities and bathrooms.

The order strikes a provision in the manual that said officials would “recommend housing by gender identity when appropriate,” and now says that designating inmates to facilities based on their identified gender “would be appropriate only in rare cases.”

The manual also now includes language stating that when considering recommendations to transfer transgender inmates to facilities in line with their identified gender, officials will consider whether such placement would “threaten the management and security of the institution and/or pose a risk to other inmates.”
The changes, which were first reported by BuzzFeed News, also include the addition of the word “necessary” to guidelines about when institutions will facilitate medical treatment.

The move comes after four women in a Texas prison challenged the transgender protection regulations put in place in 2012, arguing that being housed with transgender women ”creates a situation that incessantly violates the privacy of female inmates; endangers the physical and mental health of the female Plaintiffs and others, including prison staff; [and] increases the potential for rape.”

SOURCE





Black Woman Accuses Cop of Racism, But Bodycam Footage Proves She’s a Liar

A South Carolina woman who apparently hoped to gin up some sympathy in Black Lives Matter circles after a routine traffic stop in Virginia is finding out the hard way that when cops wear bodycams, they might end up showing what really happened.

And what really happened in Dawn Hilton-Williams’ case was nothing like what she tried to pretend.

In a 12 minute Facebook video, recorded shortly after an April 27 traffic stop in rural Brunswick County, Virginia, 50-year-old Hilton-Williams painted her roadside interaction in the most dangerous terms.

“I was just bullied by a racist cop who threatened to pull me out of the car,” a sometimes tearful Hilton-Williams said on the Facebook Live video.

“This is where we got lynched. This is where we got lynched, even in today’s (world).”

Hilton-Williams claimed not to have known how fast she was going above the speed limit, and said the deputy was such a “bully” that she was in fear of her life.

Check it out here. (Warning: It’s almost 12 minutes long. It won’t take more than a few minutes to get the gist of it.)

According to WTVR, a CBS affiliate in Richmond, Hilton-Williams’ video was shared more than 800 times, and brought enough attention that Brunswick County Sheriff Brian Roberts decided to release video footage from the bodycam worn by the sheriff’s deputy who pulled Hilton-Williams over.

Let’s just say it doesn’t quite match Hilton-Williams’ story (partial transcript below). In fact, Hilton-Williams story doesn’t even come close to a true recounting of events.

Here’s a partial transcript of the end of the conversation after the deputy returned to Hilton-Williams’ vehicle. Does this cop sound like a “bully”?

Hilton-Williams: “I will not be paying this ticket.”

Deputy: “If you don’t want to prepay it, you’ll have to come to court on June 6th at 10:30.”

Hilton-Williams: “I’ll hire an attorney.”

Deputy: “I need you to sign right here.”

Hilton-Williams: “I’m not going to sign that ticket.”

Deputy: “Uhh ma’am, OK.

Hilton-Williams: I don’t have to sign it.”

Deputy: “So ma’am.”

Hilton-Williams: “But I appreciate it.”

Deputy: “Hold on… So, what you are signing here is a promise to either come to court or promise to prepay. It is not an admission of guilt. It’s only a promise to me that you’re going to get it taken care of by either coming to court or prepaying it.

If you refuse to sign the summons at this point, I’m gonna have to get you out of the side of the police car, place you under arrest and take you in front of a magistrate. I will get your vehicle towed and go from there. So, yes ma’am you do not have a choice…”

Hilton-Williams: “My cousin is on the phone.”

Deputy: “I don’t care about that. I don’t care who’s on the phone. I’m talking to you right now. You do not have a choice but to sign the summons. See thank you. I knew you was gonna sign it. I appreciate it very much and you have a safe day. OK, thank you.”

That wasn’t exactly “Birth of a Nation” was it? If anything, it was a tribute to the kind of professionalism Americans respect in their law enforcement officers.

There’s no way of knowing how sincere Hilton-Williams really was when she recorded that Facebook video. Everyone’s perceptions of a given encounter will be different. But from the evidence, it looks like she has precious little regard for the truth of the situation.

The problem here is that even if she hasn’t been conditioned to think a war exists between American law enforcement and blacks, she certainly thinks her viewers have been. She thought her viewers would believe it.

And if the deputy in this case hadn’t been wearing a body camera that proved what really happened, the country might well have been in another Starbucks-like vortex of he-said/she said.

Fortunately, though, the deputy was wearing a bodycam. And in this case, the camera trumped the race card. Hands down.

SOURCE






Say the unsayable about "gender": read the speech Brendan O’Neill gave at Oxford this week

This week, to the horror of student campaigners, Brendan O’Neill was invited to speak at a dinner at The Queen’s College, Oxford. This is what he said

It is my sincerely held belief that a man can never become a woman. That no matter how many hormones he takes, or operations he has, or fabulous outfits he buys, a person who was born male can never become female.

I accept a man can be a trans-woman. I accept the right of every man to claim to be a woman. And to change his name to a woman’s name, if he likes. And these trans-women should of course enjoy the same rights as every other citizen: the right to vote, the right to free speech, the right to work. But to my mind, they are not women. The slogan ‘Trans women are women’ is a lie. This is my sincerely held belief.

Recently, however, this belief has become virtually unutterable in respectable society. It has become tantamount to heresy. To deny that men can become women is the modern equivalent of denying that a wafer of bread and a cup of wine became the flesh and blood of Christ during Mass. If you deny the magic of transgenderism, you will be subjected to a similar wild-eyed fury that was once visited upon those who denied the magic of transubstantiation.

There is a religious-style zeal to the protection of transgenderism from criticism or denial or blasphemy. The word ‘transphobia’ is used to demonise the belief that men cannot become women. Fighting transphobia isn’t about ending discrimination against trans people – it is about silencing moral views that are now considered unacceptable; it is about turning certain beliefs into heresies. ‘Transphobia’ is really a new word for blasphemy. To accuse someone of ‘transphobia’ is to accuse them of having sinned or libelled against the new orthodoxy that says gender is fluid, some men have female brains, binaries are a myth, and so on. Make no mistake: transphobic means heretic.

Witness how feminists who question the magic of transgenderism are hounded off campuses and blacklisted by the NUS. These feminists are referred to by the most awful names online: bitches, cunts, whores. Or TERFs. TERF, meaning trans-exclusionary radical feminist, has become the most common insult hurled at these blasphemous women. TERFs are blacklisted by student officials, most recently at Bristol University. They have been physically prevented by trans activists from holding public meetings. They have been violently attacked: last year trans activists assaulted a 60-year-old grandmother, or TERF, to give her the dehumanising name they gave her as they punched her in the face.

A TERF is a witch. That is really what TERF means: troublesome woman, uppity woman, defiant woman, heretic. Just as the medieval fear and fury with witches was driven by the Church’s urge to root out heresy, to discover and punish unorthodox thinking, so today’s blacklisting and assaulting of TERFs is driven by the establishment’s intolerance of dissent towards the new religiosity of genderfluidity. Especially among women. Religious-style wars on heresy always hate female dissenters even more than male ones. That the TERF-finders, like the witch-finders of old, hate female heretics more than male ones – more than me, for example – is testament both to the trans movement’s intolerance of any view of womanhood that differs to its own elastic, eccentric view of womanhood, and also to its commonalities with earlier movements against witch-like female defiance of religious diktat.

So, recently we had the spectacle of 300 female members of the Labour Party resigning in protest at the party’s decision to include people who were born male on all-women shortlists. And other party members, including male ones, cheered as the women left. ‘Get the TERFs out’, they tweeted. That is, cast the witches out. Expel them. Heretics not welcome. That many left-wing men laugh at these women’s concerns, or approve of the censorship of their ideas, or conspire in the demonisation of them as TERFs, suggests the ideology of transgenderism has a strong streak of misogyny. Indeed, trans activism looks increasingly like misogyny in drag.

Witness, also, how criticism of the trans ideology is written off not only as wrong, but as dangerous, as morally corrupted and morally corrupting. Apparently, these people’s beliefs are a kind of poison, liable to pollute souls and minds and maybe even cause young trans people to kill themselves. A certain point of view, the point of view that says you cannot magically change sex, is imbued with awesome, devastating power, the power to kill.

This, too, is in keeping with earlier crusades against heresy. Then, as now, unorthodox thinking, whether it went against Vatican law or raised questions about Biblical scripture, was treated not only as ill informed but as ill, a sickness, and a sickness that might spread. As one historical account puts it, people and sometimes entire communities were viewed as being ‘infected with heresy’. Today, that profoundly censorious idea finds expression in the war on the blasphemy of transphobia. As one headline put it recently, ‘Transphobia is the mental illness, not transsexuality’. Or as a writer for the Los Angeles Times said, it is the critics of transgenderism who are ‘truly sick’. That is, their ideas are a contagion that cause harm and sometimes death. They are infected with heresy, and they infect others with their heresy.

What we are witnessing is a classic act of demonology: the transformation of an entire group of people, trans-critical people, into demons. Through demonology, censorship and occasionally violence, the belief that you cannot magically change sex – a belief I hold to – has been turned from an acceptable point of view into a heresy you utter at your risk. I find this fast and unforgiving transformation of a moral view into mortal sin fascinating, because it is a modern case study in the making of witches, and in the imposition of orthodoxy. It deserves study, this moral and physical assault on an idea, because it represents a 21st-century version of the diseasing of critical thinking that was more commonplace in darker moments in history.

As I have watched all of this unfold, I started to ask myself a question: what happens when you become a heretic? What happens when, through no fault of your own, your beliefs are deemed to be dangerous? What happens when the parameters of acceptable thinking shrink, suddenly and violently, and you find yourself outside of them, an intellectual leper? What should this newly christened heretic do?

It seems pretty clear to me that he or she has a choice. A difficult choice, but a choice nonetheless. At this point it’s worth noting that heresy actually means choice. The word heresy comes from the Greek for ‘choice’, for ‘the chosen thing’. To be a heretic is to make a choice – the wrong choice, in the view of the guardians of orthodoxy. And the choice faced by today’s accidental heretics, by those who woke one day to find that the thing they have been saying for years is now verboten, is this: you either accept your status as ‘evil’ and silence yourself for the supposed good of social stability; or you reject this status and continue to utter your so-called heresy because you believe, sincerely, that it is true. This is your choice, this is your heresy.

And I expect it will not surprise many of you here tonight that my advice is to do the latter: continue to speak your heresy, and damn the consequences. You should do this for two reasons. First, because it will be good for you as an individual. And secondly, because it will be good for society as a whole.

Of course it isn’t only trans-critical thinking that has been rebranded heresy. The industry of demonology has been working overtime of late, busy discovering new demons, busy delegitimising certain beliefs. The language of demonology is rampant in public life today. The two most common brands imposed on those judged to hold heretical beliefs are ‘phobic‘ and ‘denier’. They are fascinating terms. The first, ‘phobic’, speaks to the treatment of certain views as irrational fears, as forms of mental illness, essentially. And the second, ‘denier’, echoes precisely the terminology used against those who were dragged before the Inquisition. They, too, were deniers: deniers of the light of Christ.

So if you criticise trans thinking, you are transphobic. If you think gay marriage is not a good idea, and that the institution of marriage plays a specific social role best filled by heterosexual couples, you are homophobic. Criticise Islam, and you’re Islamophobic. Indeed, when the Runnymede Trust first popularised the term ‘Islamophobia’,  in the 1990s, it included in its definition any expression that treats Islam as ‘inferior to Western values’. So to make a particular moral judgement, in this case that Western ideals are better than Islamic ones, is to be unstable, diseased. This is a clear example of the language of demonology being used to make a heresy out of a perfectly legitimate moral view.

Worry about mass immigration, and you’re xenophobic. Oppose the EU and maybe you suffer from the mental malaise of Europhobia. One pro-EU observer says Europhobia is a species of racism that is ‘alien to the postwar European culture’. And so a political perspective – opposition to the Brussels oligarchy – is refashioned as irrationalism.

Alongside the phobics, there are the deniers. If phobics are morally ill, deniers are straight-up sinful. The most commonly made accusation of denial is against climate-change deniers. Anyone who questions not only the science of climate change, but also the political proposals put forward for dealing with environmental problems – which usually involve discouraging large-scale development – is likely to be denounced as a ‘denier’. And again, their words are treated not only as wrong but as morally depraved, even as a threat to life on Earth. Their ideas are imbued with a devil-like power to corrupt and harm existence itself. So it was that one environmentalist said there should be ‘international criminal tribunals’ for these deniers, where they might be made to ‘answer for their crimes’. That is, an Inquisition. Their words are crimes, their ideas a kind of moral pollution which might be even more dangerous than industrial pollution itself. They are heretics as surely as ‘Christ deniers’ were heretics.

Those who have conspired in this creation of a scientific orthodoxy that mere mortals question at their peril should reflect on the fact that science itself is heresy. Or it certainly starts as heresy. In the words of Isaac Asimov, ‘Some of the greatest names in science have been… heretics. Startling scientific advances usually begin as heresies.’ That science and its adherents now contribute to the policing and punishment of heresy represents an abandonment of the openness to rebuke and falsification that makes science such an important endeavour in the first place.

Phobics and deniers, everywhere. Heretics, everywhere. Sometimes their heresy is punished by law, as we have seen in Europe in recent years with the arrest and fining of those who have expressed Islamophobic thoughts or homophobic ideas. And sometimes their heresy is controlled through what John Stuart Mill called ‘the tyranny of custom’, where non-state social pressure is used to silence corrupted and corrupting individuals. Student officials at universities like this one excel in the enforcement of this tyranny of custom through their drawing up of blacklists of heretical speakers, their No Platforming of trans-blasphemous women, and their promiscuous use of the brands of phobia, denier, fascist and hater to make demons of anyone who dissents from their narrow, illiberal, identitarian orthodoxy. In both cases, whether the heresies are reprimanded by law or by polite society’s unforgiving demand for moral conformism, the result is the same: people feel they cannot say what they believe to be true.

But they should say it. Regardless of the consequences. First because to censor yourself, to silence your convictions, is to conspire in the diminution of your own autonomy and even humanity. It is to confess to the sin others see in you and to punish yourself for that sin. It is to internalise the Inquisitorial mindset and save the new heresy-hunters the task of punishing you because you are willing to punish yourself. To refuse to express your deeply held belief – or, conversely, to express an idea you don’t believe to be true – is a terrible abdication of the moral responsibilities of the free citizen.

This is why the case of the Northern Ireland bakery, Ashers, is so important. Ashers, which is operated by Christians, is currently appealing against the £500 fine imposed on it for refusing to make a cake with the words ‘Support gay marriage’ on it. We should support Ashers, on the basis that compelling people to say something they don’t believe, to utter what they consider to be a wicked or wrong idea, is entirely antithetical to the free society. Indeed, this, too, echoes the Inquisitorial approach, when people were likewise compelled, though by fire rather than fines, to make public declarations that went against the contents of their soul. You should speak your heresy, and you should refuse to say things others believe but you do not, because that is what it means to be a free, self-respecting individual.

And the second reason you should utter your heretical beliefs is because heresy is good for society. Pretty much every liberty and comfort we enjoy is the gift of heretics. From the religious heretics, including at this university, who suggested the Bible should be published in English, to the scientific heretics who promoted a heliocentric view of our corner of the universe, to the political heretics who proposed that women are just as capable of political thought as men, every idea that has helped to make society a better, freer, more reasoned place started out as a form of heresy whose utterance might earn you death or expulsion from Oxford or media ridicule.

Heresy enlivens society. It expands the parameters of acceptable thought that so many today want to shrink and control and police, and in doing so it creates the space for new and daring thinking, and for new and daring social breakthroughs. We should heed the words of Robert Ingersoll, the 19th-century American lawyer and politician and defender of free thought. He said:

‘Heresy is the eternal dawn, the morning star, the glittering herald of the day. Heresy is the last and best thought. It is the perpetual New World, the unknown sea, toward which the brave all sail. It is the eternal horizon of progress. Heresy extends the hospitalities of the brain to a new thought. Heresy is a cradle; orthodoxy, a coffin.’

Heresy is a cradle. That’s it. Difficult and supposedly dangerous ideas are precisely the ones you should expose yourselves to. That is the New World of thought and debate you should venture into. So stop No Platforming, stop hounding heretics off campus, stop treating ideas as diseases and disagreement as violence and dissenting speech as hate speech. Instead, say what you believe, and let others say what they believe. Express your true thoughts. Give voice even to your heretical beliefs. Here’s mine: bread can never become flesh, and a man can never become a woman.

SOURCE






The word 'Aboriginal' is REMOVED from birth, marriage and death certificates after politically-correct bureaucrats rule the term is offensive

What an insult to Aborigines!

The word 'Aboriginal' is being removed from birth, marriage and death certificates after politically-correct bureaucrats ruled the term offensive.

The practice of eradicating the word was implemented by the Western Australian Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages when it made its records digital between 2007 and 2015, the ABC reported.

The practice came to light when family historians Garry Smith, from Perth, and his cousin John Chandler, from Queensland, discovered the word had been whited out on their ancestors' certificates.

Mr Smith claimed a staff member told him the word Aboriginal was removed because it was deemed offensive. He said it made him feel as if he should be ashamed of his aboriginal heritage.

Mr Smith also slammed the movement as hypocritical. 'If you're Aboriginal, it's offensive and deemed offensive – but the government calls us Aboriginals,' he said.

Mr Smith's cousin, Mr Chandler, said the news brought back painful memories for his family. 'We feel like we have people making decisions on behalf of us, just like in the past,' he told the ABC.

The men called for the registrar to stop whitewashing documents and apologise for any offence caused.

Mr Chandler and Mr Smith have together lodged a claim of racial discrimination against the registrar in the Federal Court, however their claim was unsuccessful.

History Council of Western Australia's Dr Cindy Solonec said the practice repulsed her. She said the movement was 'hogwash' and would undoubtedly offend every Aboriginal person in Australia. 

University of Western Australia history professor Jenny Gregory said she would contact the WA Attorney-General to call for the 'bizarre' practice to be stopped. 'The registrar is tampering with history,' Dr Gregory said.

WA Registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages' Brett Burns told Daily Mail Australia there was no legal requirement to note the race or ethnic background of a person on documents such as birth certificates. 'This applies whether a person is Aboriginal, Greek, Italian, or from any other heritage,' he said.

Mr Burns said the practice was in no way fuelled by racism. 'I completely refute any suggestions that I, or my staff, have acted in a racist way in this matter. That suggestion is ridiculous and hurtful,' he said.

He said the change was made after offensive terms were used by past registrars. Mr Burns said offensive terms such as 'Abo', 'Chinaman', 'native', 'nomad' or 'half-caste' were once used on official documents.

'That has prompted the removal of all references to race, which were never required to be included in the first place, from the Registry's records,' he said.

'This does not just apply to Aboriginal people and any suggestion we are 'white-washing' history is wrong.' 

SOURCE 

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Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the  incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of  other countries.  The only real difference, however, is how much power they have.  In America, their power is limited by democracy.  To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already  very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges.  They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did:  None.  So look to the colleges to see  what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way.  It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH,   EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS and  DISSECTING LEFTISM.   My Home Pages are here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here.  Email me (John Ray) here

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Thursday, May 17, 2018



Will Posting Nutritional Information on Menus Prod Diners to Make Healthier Choices?

Some studies say no effect.  Others say a very small effect. The article comes from a major medical journal so the authors  conclude in favour of providing the dietary information.  But that is more an expression of political correctness than anything else.  A conclusion that the doubtful benefits don't justify the costs would also be warranted.

Note that the authors are also politically correct in demonizing salt (sodium). That is very poorly informed from a medical viewpoint.  There is now much evidence that salt is helpful rather than harmful. See here, here and here


On May 7, all US chain restaurants with 20 or more locations—and that includes coffee shops, bakeries, and movie theaters that sell food—had to start posting the calorie content of their menu items.

The rationale behind the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) mandate, set forth in the Affordable Care Act in 2010, was that it might make customers think twice about ordering a meal that contained more calories than they should consume in an entire day. But whether posting calorie counts will help trim the proportion of US adults and children who are overweight or obese remains to be seen.

“About half of consumers’ annual food dollars are spent on, and a third of total calories come from, foods prepared outside the home,” according to the FDA’s final rule on menu nutrition labeling, published in December 2014 (implementation of the rule has been postponed twice from its original date of December 1, 2015). “Research indicates that many people do not know, or underestimate, the calorie and nutrient content of these foods.”

US consumers have had nearly a quarter of a century to familiarize themselves with nutrition labeling on packaged foods, required by the FDA since 1994. Mandating the posting of calories in restaurants “is a really good start to be more consistent with the way we have labeling on packaged foods in grocery stores,” said Heather Eicher-Miller, PhD, an assistant professor of nutrition science at Purdue University.

A number of jurisdictions already require chain restaurants to post calories, beginning in 2008 with New York City. In addition, some nationwide chains, such as Krispy Kreme and Subway, already post calories.

Evidence Is Thin

Evidence that providing calorie counts on restaurant foods spurs customers to ditch fettuccine alfredo for filet of sole is pretty thin. Even if diners do opt for the lower-calorie items, it’s not known whether they’ll compensate by eating more than they normally would at their next meal.

Eicher-Miller coauthored a meta-analysis in 2017 that concluded that menu labeling in restaurants did not result in a change in quantity or quality of calories consumed by US adults. “But that doesn’t mean it can’t be helpful or important,” she said, explaining that only time and further research will tell whether the FDA’s mandate might eventually have the desired effect.

A recent Cochrane Review found that adding calorie information to menus in restaurants, coffee shops, and cafeterias could reduce calories purchased by about 8%, or by about 50 calories out of a 600-calorie meal. And there was no evidence that posting calories caused unintended harm by increasing the number of calories purchased or consumed.

The authors’ conclusion was not a ringing endorsement of menu nutritional labeling though, due to a dearth of high-quality studies. “We tentatively suggest that nutritional labeling on menus in restaurants could be used as part of a wider set of measures to tackle obesity,” they wrote. “Additional high-quality research in real-world settings is needed to enable more certain conclusions.”

Higher-quality studies are needed to answer 2 key questions, said Theresa Marteau, PhD, director of the Behavior and Health Research Unit at the University of Cambridge Institute of Public Health in the United Kingdom and a coauthor of the Cochrane Review. How should nutrition labeling on menus be designed to optimize the impact on purchasing and consumption, particularly for those in lower socioeconomic groups who might be more likely to benefit? And how effective are menu nutrition labels alongside other efforts to promote healthier diets, such as availability of healthier options and smaller portion sizes?

While these questions have yet to be answered, Marteau said, “we believe that there is sufficient evidence of effectiveness for the FDA to proceed with required nutritional labeling on menus and for the UK, and other jurisdictions, to move toward mandating this.”

Nutritional Illiteracy

One reason the research so far has failed to find much of an effect from posting calories is because relatively few consumers use the information, said Punam Ohri-Vachaspati, PhD, RD, a professor of nutrition at the School of Nutrition and Health Promotion at Arizona State University. At restaurants, Ohri-Vachaspati said, “we are all impulsive eaters, and we are all used to making impulsive decisions.”

In a study published in 2015, Ohri-Vachaspati and her coauthors found that 60% of people interviewed outside of McDonald’s restaurants said they had noticed nutritional information on the menu boards, but only 16% of them said they had considered it when deciding what to order. Higher income and having a bachelor’s degree or higher were independently associated with a greater likelihood of noticing as well as using the menu calorie labels.

Simply slapping calorie totals on a menu isn’t enough, Ohri-Vachaspati said. Diners need to understand what calories mean in the context of their daily diet. The FDA is requiring that menus must say “2000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice, but calorie needs vary.” However, not everyone grasps what that means, Ohri-Vachaspati said.

“I think that the average American consumer does not understand what calories are” or how many they should consume in a day, said Sara Bleich, PhD, professor of public health policy at the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health. “It’s unfortunate that it’s just calories that are being reported.”

Beyond Calories

Besides posting total calories on menus or menu boards, restaurants must have available “on the premises” printed information about 10 other nutrients in their dishes, including grams of fat, carbohydrate, protein, and fiber and milligrams of cholesterol and sodium, according to the FDA.

Whether customers will actually use that information is another matter. “People generally do not ask for nutrition information beyond what’s printed on the menu,” said Karen Byrd, PhD, MBA, a registered dietitian and professor of nutrition, dietetics, and food management at Murray State University in Kentucky.

A recent study by Byrd and Eicher-Miller and coauthors suggests that it might be more useful to post sodium content on menus instead of calories, especially considering that US adults get approximately a third of their total daily sodium intake from restaurant foods.

Many US adults consume more than the recommended daily limit of 2300 mg of sodium, according to a recent study in JAMA led by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) researchers. They estimated that the average daily sodium intake of US adults was 3608 mg.

In her study, Byrd examined whether sodium warnings required on chain restaurant menus in New York City since 2015 had any effect. The restaurants are supposed to place a triangular icon with a salt shaker in the middle next to menu items that have 2300 mg of sodium or more.

“Based on my research, that’s not effective,” possibly because only 17% of all menu items contained at least 2300 mg of sodium, making it easy for consumers to overlook the icon, said Byrd, who conducted the study while on the Purdue faculty.

However, posting the number of milligrams of sodium next to each item on the menu did make a difference, although it depended on whether people perceived relatively healthier foods as tasty. Those who liked to eat healthy food selected meals with lower sodium content, Byrd found. On the other hand, 1 in 5 participants in her study said they thought lower-sodium foods weren’t tasty, so posting the sodium content drove them to order higher-sodium menu items.

In contrast, posting calories made no difference in the calorie content of the meals ordered, even among participants who thought healthy foods were tasty, Byrd’s study found.

Restaurants’ Role

Even participants in Byrd’s study who opted for lower-sodium menu items were unable to reduce their sodium intake at one meal to below 2300 mg, the maximum recommended daily intake, because so many dishes came close to or exceeded that level.

“Additional action by the restaurant industry to reduce the sodium content of restaurant foods, as proposed by the FDA, may be necessary to make a significant public health impact,” she and her coauthors wrote.

The problem is that simply eliminating salt added in the preparation of food or at the table might not meaningfully alter sodium intake in the population because it remains high in commercially processed foods, Joachim Ix, MD, MAS, and Cheryl Anderson, PhD, MPH, MS, both of the University of California, San Diego, wrote in an editorial accompanying the CDC study in JAMA. “Because of this, strategies to reduce sodium intake should focus at the population level first and should include the industries that supply processed foods, beverages, and menu items,” Ix and Anderson wrote.

Recent research by Bleich suggests that large US restaurant chains are moving in that direction by cutting calories and sodium in their new menu items.

In one study, she and her coauthors found that the calorie-adjusted sodium content in newly introduced menu items in the 66 top-earning restaurant chains declined by 104 mg from 2012 to 2016. “However,” they wrote, “sodium content of core and new menu items remains high, and reductions are inconsistent across menu categories and restaurant types.”

In another study, Bleich and her coauthors found that items dropped from the chains’ menus during that period contained 71 more calories than the items that remained on the menu. “I think that’s probably a reflection of shifting consumer demands,” Bleich said.

Diners’ behavior is resistant to change, but eliminating higher-calorie menu items might have a “significant and positive impact on population health,” she and her coauthors wrote.

“The overarching point is it’s an overall good trend,” she said of the lowering of sodium and calories in restaurants, although “we want to keep an eye on some red flags.” For example, Bleich said, to cut calories, restaurant chains are often replacing healthy fats with sugar, which could leave customers less sated.

The mandated posting of calories in restaurants will likely motivate them to reformulate more dishes, Bleich predicted. “You don’t want to be known as the restaurant that has the highest-calorie appetizer.”

SOURCE





How Liberal Activists Are Shutting Down Choice for Birth Moms

For birth moms who want to place their children with married moms and dads, that option is now at risk.

Across the country, liberal activists are accusing faith-based adoption and foster care agencies of discrimination because they prefer placing children with married moms and dads. The situation has left faith-based agencies with a difficult choice: violate their religious beliefs about sexuality and marriage, or shut down.

“I would never tell a gay couple, ‘Oh, because you two are in love with each other and you’re not a heterosexual couple, don’t even think about adopting a child.’ That’s not what I’m saying,” Kelly Clemente, a birth mother who placed her son for adoption, told The Daily Signal. “What I’m saying is that birth mothers have the right to choose.”

In at least four states, birth mothers don’t have the right to choose because faith-based agencies were pressured to close. In Illinois, after serving the community for more than 50 years, Catholic Charities was forced to stop its adoption and foster care services. At least 2,000 children were disrupted, and thousands more foster parents were lost as a result.

In all of these states, plenty of agencies exist that will facilitate adoptions to same-sex couples. But still, groups like the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) are moving forward with lawsuits trying to force all adoption providers, including those of faith, to facilitate adoptions to same-sex couples.

As a result, some are turning to the federal government to pass the Child Welfare Provider Inclusion Act, a bill that would protect the rights of birth moms, and the rights of faith-based adoption and foster care agencies to continue operating in accordance to their religious beliefs.

“Birth mothers already sacrifice so much,” said Clemente. “I don’t think that they should have to sacrifice their faith, too.”

SOURCE





Look at What’s Going to Happen to Sweden’s Fabled Welfare State

By 2025, its entire workforce is expected to grow by 207,000 people—yet it needs more than that number just to staff its fabled welfare state. The worker shortfall could crimp services and raise labor costs, especially in a political environment less hospitable to immigration.

The mismatch is one of the biggest headaches facing Sweden’s next government. Past precedents don’t bode well. The workforce rose by 488,000 between 2007 and 2017, with less than a third of that increase absorbed by the public sector.

Local authorities recruiting 208,000 workers is “not a credible scenario,” said Annika Wallenskog, chief economist at the Swedish Association of Local Authorities and Regions. The real risk is that the public and private sectors end up competing for the same workers, she said.

The government is going to have to come up with some seriously big ideas on how to make up for future labor shortages. Immigration has also become an especially sensitive topic since the country re-imposed border controls in the wake of the 2015 refugee crisis.

Sweden needs to accelerate the speed of automation, increase employment and reform its welfare state, Wallenskog said. Otherwise “we won’t have enough people to continue working the way we do.”

Financial Hurdles

There are also financial hurdles. So far, a fast-growing economy has come to the rescue, helping Finance Minister Magdalena Andersson run a budget surplus and slash public debt to its lowest level since 1977.

But with the economy now expanding at a more traditional clip, whoever governs after the Sept. 9 general election will not be able to ignore the conundrum. Andersson has so far promised 5 billion kronor ($580 million) a year to local authorities, which run welfare services such as schools, hospitals and care centers for the elderly.

That is far from enough.

Sweden’s population is forecast to grow by 10 percent over the next decade, reaching about 11 million, due mostly to a recent rise in immigration (the Scandinavian nation accepted more asylum seekers than most of its European partners during the 2015 refugee crisis). An aging population and the growing need to integrate foreigners are also piling pressure on its welfare state, widely regarded as one of the world’s most generous.

Speaking last week at a conference in Gothenburg staged by the opposition Moderate Party, Wallenskog estimated that the central government will need to increase taxes by 0.3 percent of gross domestic product in 2020 (and 0.4 percent in 2021) in order to meet the needs of the welfare state while sticking to the surplus target that governs Swedish budgets.

In the absence of more generous transfers from the central government, “the risk is quite big that municipalities and regions will raise taxes, with the negative consequences that would have,” said Wallenskog.

SOURCE






Cultural Appropriation and Cultural Imperialism

You may have seen the uproar caused by an American student wearing a Chinese-style dress to her prom, bringing her widely publicized criticism that she was guilty of cultural appropriation. What is cultural appropriation?

This commentary says cultural appropriation is “taking intellectual property, traditional knowledge, cultural expressions, or artifacts from someone else’s culture without permission. This can include the unauthorized use of another culture’s dance, dress, music, language, folklore, cuisine, traditional medicine, religious symbols, etc.”

Following that definition, it would seem that American (and perhaps more broadly, Western) culture is the most appropriated culture in the world today. Everywhere in the world, people have adopted Western styles of dress, music, language, and cuisine.

The definition above included the word “unauthorized” and when a McDonalds opens somewhere outside the US, that’s not unauthorized. Maybe that qualifies as cultural imperialism. But people choose Western-style dress, they choose to speak English, they choose to watch American movies, and they choose to eat American-style food. When a Subway restaurant opens in South Korea, is that cultural appropriation or cultural imperialism? When English phrases infiltrate other languages, is that cultural appropriation or cultural imperialism?

Those who use these terms tend to associate both with dominance and power. When a dominant group adopts cultural aspects of a dominated group, that is cultural appropriation. When a dominated group adopts cultural aspects of a dominant group, that is cultural imperialism. For example, when aspects of Mexican culture come into the United States, that is cultural appropriation, but when aspects of US culture migrate into Mexico, that is cultural imperialism.

Following this line of reasoning, as aspects of different cultures diffuse around the world, countries like the United States are guilty of both cultural appropriation and cultural imperialism, whereas countries like Peru (I just chose Peru as an example) are victims of both cultural appropriation and cultural imperialism.

I’m not saying that the United States and Western Europe are dominant nations—those who accuse those countries of cultural appropriation and cultural imperialism are. The whole idea appears demeaning to those countries that are claimed to be victimized. (Note that in the prom dress case, it was not the Chinese who claimed cultural appropriation, but other Americans.)

This is, as I see it, a small issue, but also a symptom of a larger one: the victim mentality that keeps some people and some nations from advancing. The claimed victims of cultural appropriation are saying others are taking what’s theirs without their permission, and the claimed victims of cultural imperialism are saying that they are having the culture of others forced upon them without their permission.

This victim mentality is evident in many economic issues, such as trade policy, the international operations of Western corporations, immigration policy, laws governing intellectual property, and more. There may be real issues there, so I’m not dismissing them. I am saying that victim mentality must be widespread, and is likely pernicious when an issue like the design of a prom dress gets the reaction it has.

SOURCE

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Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the  incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of  other countries.  The only real difference, however, is how much power they have.  In America, their power is limited by democracy.  To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already  very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges.  They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did:  None.  So look to the colleges to see  what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way.  It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH,   EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS and  DISSECTING LEFTISM.   My Home Pages are here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here.  Email me (John Ray) here

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