The creeping dictatorship of the Left...

This document is part of an archive of postings on Political Correctness Watch, a blog hosted by Blogspot who are in turn owned by Google. The index to the archive is available here or here. Indexes to my other blogs can be located here or here. Archives do accompany my original postings but, given the animus towards conservative writing on Google and other internet institutions, their permanence is uncertain. These alternative archives help ensure a more permanent record of what I have written. My Home Page. My Recipes. My alternative Wikipedia. My Blogroll. Email me (John Ray) here. NOTE: The short comments that I have in the side column of the primary site for this blog are now given at the foot of this document.

The picture below is worth more than a 1,000 words ...... Better than long speeches. It shows some Middle-Eastern people walking to reach their final objective,to live in a European country, or migrate to America.

In the photo, there are 7 men and 1 woman.up to this point – nothing special. But in observing a bit closer, you will notice that the woman has bare feet,accompanied by 3 children, and of the 3, she is carrying 2.There is the problem,none of the men are helping her,because in their culture the woman represents nothing.She is only good to be a slave to the men. Do you really believe that these particular individuals could integrate into our societies and countries and respect our customs and traditions ????


30 April, 2020

AG Barr Directs Federal Prosecutors to Protect ‘Civil Liberties’ During COVID-19

Attorney General William Barr on Monday directed U.S. attorneys to “be on the lookout” for state and local governments violating constitutional rights of individuals during the strict COVID-19 restrictions at the state and local level.

“Many policies that would be unthinkable in regular times have become commonplace in recent weeks, and we do not want to unduly interfere with the important efforts of state and local officials to protect the public,” Barr states in a memo to U.S. attorneys.

“But the Constitution is not suspended in times of crisis,” he added. “We must therefore be vigilant to ensure its protections are preserved, at the same time that the public is protected. I thank you for your attention to this important initiative and for your service to our country.”

Barr is directing Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights Eric Dreiband, and U.S. Attorney Matthew Schneider, of the Eastern District of Michigan, to monitor state and local policies and, “if necessary, take action to correct them,” the memo says. 

“These kinds of restrictions have been necessary in order to stop the spread of a deadly disease but there is no denying that they have imposed tremendous burdens on the daily lives of all Americans,” Barr acknowledges in the memo. 

In the memo Barr specifically notes the importance of upholding the rights of religious believers, writing:

As the Department of Justice explained recently in guidance to states and localities taking steps to battle the pandemic, even in times of emergency, when reasonable and temporary restrictions are placed on rights, the First Amendment and federal statutory law prohibit discrimination against religious institutions and religious believers.

“The legal restrictions on state and local authority are not limited to discrimination against religious institutions and religious believers,” the Monday memorandum adds.

“For example, the Constitution also forbids, in certain circumstances, discrimination against disfavored speech and undue interference with the national economy,” Barr continues.

“If a state or local ordinance crosses the line from an appropriate exercise of authority to stop the spread of COVID19 into an overbearing infringement of constitutional and statutory protections, the Department of Justice may have an obligation to address that overreach in federal court.”

Barr previously directed federal prosecutors to prioritize cases against price gauging from the pandemic, from either hoarding scarce medical resources to sell them for extortionate prices or committing fraud against the ill.


Widespread Antibodies Raise Questions About State Shutdowns

The fourth and most recent COVID-19 antibody study — this one conducted in Miami-Dade County, Florida — appears to corroborate three previous studies from California and New York. In short, the virus infection has spread much more widely than has been reported. University of Miami researchers determined that an estimated 6% (or 165,000) of the county’s population has been infected by the virus. The current official number of those having tested positive for COVID-19 in the county is roughly 10,600 and the virus’s death toll in the county sits at 287.

If the findings of the University of Miami’s antibody testing are accurate, it would indicate that the death rate from the virus is around 0.17% — well below the official estimates. Clearly seeking to counter the criticism leveled at the earlier tests, The Miami Herald noted, “UM researchers used statistical methods to account for the limitations of the antibody test, which is known to generate some false positive results. The researchers say they are 95% certain that the true amount of infection lies between 4.4% and 7.9% of the population, with 6% representing the best estimate.” Furthermore, “UM researchers say their findings are more robust than most because they used Florida Power & Light to generate phone numbers in targeted demographic areas, leading to a more randomized selection of participants.”

The more these antibody studies are conducted, the more it appears to corroborate the Stanford University study in Santa Clara, California, which found that the COVID-19 infection rate is vastly higher than reported. In fact, the results of these tests lend more support to those arguing that the state governments’ mandated shutdown and shelter-in-place orders may have been an unnecessary overreaction. Expect these voices to only grow louder, as the damage to the economy is more fully realized over the coming weeks.

Veteran journalist Brit Hume added this perspective: “We were trying to flatten the curve of the growth of the spread of the virus to protect our hospital systems … from getting overwhelmed. Now as it turns out, as a result of these measures … hospitals all across the country … are becoming collateral damage. We may end up doing more damage to our hospital systems because of under-crowding than … overcrowding. … The people who are overwhelmingly vulnerable to this are the elderly and those with underlying health conditions, and if you’re not in that category … it’s not clear we really needed to close everything down.”


US gives go-ahead to Israel takeover of West Bank

The US says it is ready to recognise Israel’s ­annexation of much of the West Bank but wants the new unity government to negotiate with the Palestinians.

Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who last week reached a power-sharing deal to remain in office after three inconclusive elections, has vowed to press ahead with annexations that the Palestinians say will shut the door to a two-state solution.

A Middle East “vision” unveiled in January by US President Donald Trump gave a green light to annexations, but Mr Netan­yahu’s coalition deal with centrist Benny Gantz means the ­cabinet will consult Washington before moving forward.

“As we have made consistently clear, we are prepared to recognise Israeli actions to extend ­Israeli sovereignty and the applic­ation of Israeli law to areas of the West Bank that the vision foresees as being part of the state of Israel,” a US State Department spokeswoman said on Tuesday (AEST).

The step would be “in the context­ of the government of Israel­ agreeing to negotiate with the Palestinians along the lines set forth in President Trump’s ­vision,” she said.

Mr Trump, whose evangelical Christian base is staunchly pro-Israel, has granted a wish list to Mr Netanyahu over the past three years.

His Middle East plan would let Israel annex Jewish settlements in the West Bank — which the rest of the world considers illegal — and exert sovereignty all the way to Jordan.

The Palestinians would be granted a sovereign but demilit­ar­ised state, along with promises of major investment.

The Palestinian state’s capital would be on the outskirts of Jerusalem, the contested holy city which would remain fully under Israeli sovereignty.

“This is an unprecedented and highly beneficial opportunity for the Palestinians,” the State ­Department spokeswoman said.

The comments expand on ­remarks last week by US Secret­ary of State Mike Pompeo, who said annexation was ultimately “an Israeli decision”.

The Palestinians have refused to negotiate with the Trump administr­ation, considering it biased, and the EU has also critic­ised Mr Trump’s plan as failing to achieve a two-state solution.

The Arab League plans to hold a virtual meeting this week to discus­s the annexation plan, which under the Israeli coalition deal could happen as soon as July.

Earlier, an Israeli court ­ordered the Palestinian Author­ity to pay nearly $US150m ($233m) in damages to the families of people killed in militant ­attacks. The decision comes after a lawsuit brought by Shurat Hadin, an Israeli legal advocacy group, on behalf of relatives of victims of several attacks, mostly carrie­d out during the second Palestini­an uprising in the early 2000s. A previous court ruling from last year found the Palestinian Authority to be liable for those attacks, along with other actors.

The Jerusalem court ruled that the funds would come from tax money that Israel collects on behalf of Palestinians. Shurat Hadin had asked that more than $2bn be paid in compensation.

The court gave Israel until next month to request that the order be annulled. Israel might consider appealing against the ruling if it fears that freezing the funds could destabilise the cash-strapped Palestinian government.

“We continue to fight even 20 years later and we will not rest until we achieve justice for terror victims,” said Nitsana Darshan-Leitner, the head of Shurat Hadin.

Palestinian Authority spokesman Hussein al-Sheikh called the decision “piracy and theft of Palestinia­n money”.

Under interim peace deals, ­Israel collects customs duties and other taxes on behalf of the Western­-backed authority, and transfers the funds to the Palestinians each month. These transfers cover a sizeable chunk of the Palestinian government’s budget.

Israel has in the past frozen the transfers to penalise the Palestinians for certain policies or actions.


Price-gouging idiocy

It’s an emergency and, therefore, it’s once again time for price-gouging idiocy and the further destruction of liberty in America.

The New York Times reports that two brothers, Matt Colvin and Noah Colvin, who stockpiled 17,700 bottles of hand sanitizer have entered into a settlement with state officials in Tennessee that enable them to avoid criminal prosecution. Since the brothers have donated their supplies to people, state officials decided that that constituted sufficient punishment.

Why, isn’t that nice of them?

The brothers had sold 300 bottles of hand sanitizer on Amazon for at a much higher price than what they had paid. In other words, they were making a big profit on the items.

A profit! OMG! How terrible is that! Where are Mao, Stalin, Fidel Castro, and other socialists when we need them?

The Tennessee price-gouging law prohibits people from setting “unreasonable” prices for essential items in an emergency. Of course, “unreasonable” is whatever state officials say it is.

It’s probably worth mentioning that the Colvin brothers have been made to promise that they will be good little boys and not do it again. Expressing sorrow and repentance is always an important aspect of any price-gouging settlement.

A free society — a genuinely free society (as compared to a society that falsely purports to be a free society) — is based on the principle of private ownership of property. In a society based on private property, people are free to sell whatever they own for whatever they want, regardless of emergency or crisis.

After all, it’s their property. They own it. Not the state. Not society. Not others. The owner owns it. Given that he owns it, he has to right to do whatever he wants with it — hoard it, sell it, or even destroy it. No one has the right to force anyone to give up what he rightfully owns.

By the same token, people have the right not to buy whatever a person is selling. If someone doesn’t like the price at which an item is selling, he is free to walk away. The owner has no right to force anyone to buy the item he is selling and at the price at which he is selling it.

It’s no different in an emergency or crisis. What a person owns is his.

Speculators — or “price gougers as state officials call them — are people who risk their money to buy and stockpile items that they think are going to be in scarce supply. Speculators seem to have a special talent in recognizing profit opportunities in markets, a talent that most people lack.

I highly recommend reading one of the best essays ever written on speculators — “The Speculator as Hero” by libertarian Victor Niederhoffer, which appeared in the February 10, 1989, issue of the Wall Street Journal. You can read it here on FFF’s website.

Oftentimes, speculators will buy large quantities of items with the expectation that market conditions are going to be such that they will be able to sell their stockpiled items at an enormous profit.

They have every right to do that. Everyone has the right to buy whatever he wants to buy and then sell it for whatever he wants. But keep in mind an important caveat: You might lose your shirt doing this. If a crisis or emergency doesn’t materialize, you might be stuck with thousands of bottles of hand sanitizer or N95 masks that you have to sell at a loss.

That’s the nature of market speculation. it’s not a risk-free endeavor. It’s not for everyone. In fact, it’s not for most people. Speculators have been known to lose their entire fortune in just a few speculative trades.

A speculator performs an invaluable service for society. When the emergency or crisis hits, he immediately raises the price of his item — maybe, say, by 1800 percent. That tremendous increase in price immediately sends a signal to consumers that says: “Time to conserve this item. It’s scarce. Don’t waste it.” At the same time, it sends a message to producers: “Time to produce this item if you want to make money.”

That message is what brings things back into balance. People conserve while the item is in scarce supply and producers begin producing with the aim of flooding the market with additional items.

State officials and their price-gouging laws destroy this critically important information-sending aspect of a market economy. By keeping prices of essential items artificially low, they send the following message to consumers: “No need to conserve. Just keep doing what you were doing before. Supplies are plentiful.” At the same time, they send the following message to sellers: “No need to produce additional items. There is no profit in it.”

It’s a shame that state officials have still not learned economic principles that were set forth as far back as 1776 in Adam Smith’s book The Wealth of Nations. Instead of going after price-gougers, they should be suing their college economics professors for educational malpractice.



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


29 April, 2020

Herd Immunity Might Be the Answer

Last week, CDC Director Robert Redfield warned of a second wave of coronavirus emerging in the fall. Dr. Anthony Fauci concurred, but he insisted America will not be as unprepared as it was this time. “In the fall we will be much, much better prepared to do the kind of containment compared to what happened to us this winter,” he stated.

As America has learned, “containment” is a loaded word. “In this current crisis, the longest if not the first complete shutdown in U.S. history, the freedoms of American democracy are being tested in ways we scarcely ever imagined,” writes historian Victor Davis Hanson.

Hanson is somewhat in error. Members of the globalist-minded ruling class have long imagined the “fundamental transformation” of America, and there is little question their corporate media shills have run what is arguably the most successful panic-inducing campaign in the nation’s history. That media-anointed “experts” have been wrong, sometimes by an order of several magnitudes? That millions of Americans have been so traumatized they may never recover?

As far as the media are concerned, it is utter folly to even suggest that locking down the nation might have been the wrong course of action.

Yet context is everything. Americans must never forget that media elitists remain well paid and well fed, even as they deem themselves worthy of lecturing millions of their fellow Americans with no money, no jobs, and virtually no hope about their shortcomings. Their fellow elitists eat ice cream while Americans wait at food banks. They receive concierge medical treatment in the Hamptons while millions can’t get desperately needed medical treatment at all.

Nonetheless, the elites continue to insist that “flattening the curve,” even if it takes 18 months, is the only sensible — and moral — course of action.

Yet what are we to make of such an assessment in light of a possible second wave? America might not endure the current shutdown without massive economic and health consequences. A second shutdown could push the nation into post-apocalyptic territory, possibly precipitating even more death and destruction than the worst coronavirus projections.

Moreover, what does flattening the curve really mean? If the whole idea behind it was to prevent the healthcare system from being overwhelmed, we have certainly accomplished that.

But is it because we self-isolated? A study by the University of Southern California and the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health indicates that between 221,000 and 442,000 adults in that area have previously been infected. Another study in New York indicates as many as 2.7 million New Yorkers could have had the virus. And in Miami, approximately 165,000 people also have virus antibodies. All three totals far exceed the number of confirmed cases. More important, how does one square self-isolation in New York with open mass-transit systems?

Flattening the curve also implies something else. “If all you do is flatten the curve, you don’t prevent deaths or severe cases,” Dr. Katz explains. “You just change the dates.”

Possibly worse? Drs. Dan Erickson and Artin Massihi, whose urgent-care facility has tested over 5,200 patients, assert that lockdowns diminish peoples’ immune systems, increasing their vulnerability to the virus.

Dr. Scott Atlas, the former neuroradiology chief at Stanford University Medical Center concurs, writing, “Vital population immunity is prevented by total isolation policies, prolonging the problem.”

Unfortunately our policy-makers, most of whom have seemingly bought into the media’s moral absolutes, remain steadfast, even as they studiously avoid an uncomfortable question: Why are future deaths precipitated by the virus less immoral than present ones? Dead is dead, and the idea that we must consider any policy sacrosanct, even when it is one likely to precipitate a second wave of infections — and another shutdown — is astounding.

Which brings us to herd immunity. As Dr. Katz explains, herd immunity is accomplished by those at low risk of getting a serious infection moving about, getting coronavirus, and recovering, and thus developing antibodies that inhibit further spreading of the virus among the general population.

The problem with that approach? As columnist Steve Berman aptly notes in reference to Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp’s decision to begin opening up that state, no one wants to be a “beta tester.” Yet he acknowledges the current reality. “The problem here isn’t one of clinical fact, or statistical trends,” he adds. “It’s a problem of perception.”

No doubt. But at some point, the perception relentlessly drummed by the media into the American psyche will give way to what is likely to be a tsunami of emotional desperation, as in the realization that the cure is indeed far, far worse than the disease, and that life in isolation with no end in sight is no life at all.

Thus it is seemingly inevitable that Sweden, which has walked the walk of herd immunity, will become impossible to ignore. “In major parts of Sweden, around Stockholm, we have reached a plateau and we’re already seeing the effect of herd immunity and in a few weeks’ time we’ll see even more of the effects of that,” asserts Dr. Anders Tegnell, chief epidemiologist at Sweden’s Public Health Agency.

Tegnell also notes the rest of the country “is stable,” and while he acknowledges Sweden’s mortality rate is relatively high, he attributes it to “the introduction [of the virus] in elderly care homes.”

Regardless, the avalanche of moral reprobation directed at that nation has been fierce. While some of it is driven by genuine concern, much of it is the vilest form of political cynicism — perpetrated by those who see America’s failure as a political opportunity and any risk assessment about opening our own country that does not conform to the current narrative as heresy.

Heresy producing “blood on one’s hands.”

Yet tellingly, criticism has been far more muted regarding New York, despite a number of deaths precipitated by state health commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker’s decision requiring nursing homes to accept residents who tested positive for coronavirus — and Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s assertion that “it’s not our job” to ensure the safety of those facilities.

That’s the same Andrew Cuomo excoriated Trump for making a similar assertions regarding state versus federal responsibilities.

Apparently, some hands are “less bloody” than others.

If a second wave is inevitable, discussions of herd immunity must not be taboo, just as deaths caused by the policies associated with coronavirus cannot be deemed less important or less relevant than deaths caused by the virus itself.

Far more important, it’s also worth considering that the number of people with antibodies in New York, Los Angeles, and Miami doesn’t just indicate self-isolation might not be working. It may actually indicate herd immunity is already underway.

Whether our political leaders like it or not.


The contenders – and challenges – in the race to cure Covid

There are reasons to be optimistic about the therapies being tested

A striking feature of Covid-19 is how medieval our response has had to be. Quarantine was the way people fought plagues in the distant past. We know by now that it will take many months to get a vaccine, whose job is to prevent you getting the disease. But what about a cure once you have caught it: why is there no pill to take? The truth is that, advanced as medical science is, we are mostly defenceless against viruses. There is no antiviral therapy to compare with antibiotics for treating bacteria.

Arguably, virology in 2020 is where bacteriology was in the 1920s. At the time, most of the experts in that field — including Alexander Fleming and his mentor, the formidable Sir Almroth Wright (nicknamed Sir Always Wrong by his foes) — thought a chemical therapy that killed bacteria without harming the patient was a wild goose chase. Instead, they argued, theway to fight bacteria was to encourage the body’s immune system. ‘Stimulate the phagocytes!’ was the cry of Wright’s semi-fictional avatar Sir Colenso Ridgeon in George Bernard Shaw’s play The Doctor’s Dilemma (referring to white blood cells). Vaccines should be used to treat as well as prevent infections, thought Wright and Fleming. Fleming then turned this theory upside down with his discovery of penicillin in 1928.

There are two reasons for this failure to have anything on the shelf that can be used to treat viruses: one biological, the other economic. The biological problem, as Amesh Adalja of Johns Hopkins University argued in a prescient call to arms just before the pandemic struck, is that viruses do not have their own biochemistry, because they borrow ours.

So unlike, say, tuberculosis, there is not much to attack. As any doctor will tell you, antibiotics are no use in fighting a virus. They interfere with machinery found only in bacteria, but there is no equivalent machinery in viruses — which are just a bunch of genes (15 of them in the case of Sars-CoV-2) that borrow our body’s machinery to replicate themselves.

The problem is that viruses differ from each other, so treatments that work for one seldom work for another. The drugs that work against HIV-1, the main cause of Aids, sometimes do not even work against HIV-2,a milder version of the virus. Those that work against herpes don’t kill the very similar cytomegalovirus. One influenza drug works only against influenza A and not B. One antiviral kills just one genotype of hepatitis C. It is no coincidence that the antiviral treatments capable of attacking more kinds of virus, such as ribavirin, are also the most toxic to the patient, because they tend to attack the machinery of the host as well.

This is where the economic argument comes in. Highly specific drugs do not repay the vast sums necessary to get them through clinical trials to prove their efficacy. Many viruses lay out patients for only a short time — perhaps a matter of days. So patients do not come back for repeat prescriptions, further denting the incentive to develop the drug. Aids and herpes are long-lasting exceptions — sexually transmitted diseases need to lie low inside your genes to give you time to move on to a new partner — which is why they have attracted attention from pharmaceutical firms. By the time some drugs were ready to be tried against ebola in the 2014-15 epidemic in West Africa, it was over.

Protease inhibitors

None the less, the battles against HIV, ebola and Sars have left us with many more candidates for curing Covid-19 than we would otherwise have. The long search for Aids cures was eventually won with the help of drugs called protease inhibitors, which work by preventing the ‘cleavage’ (precise breaking) of a protein molecule, essential to the manoeuvre by which the virus gets into a cell.

Protease inhibitors tend to be highly specific, so the HIV ones are not necessarily useful against Sars-CoV-2. A different protease inhibitor, however, called camostat mesylate, already approved for use in Japan as a treatment for pancreatitis, is showing promise. It was found in 2012 to work against Sars in the laboratory. If successful, camostat mesylate will be useless against most other viruses, making it unprofitable in normal times, but in a pandemic of this size, Japan’s Ono Pharmaceutical won’t be out of pocket.


Invented by Gilead Sciences, the California firm that developed several HIV therapies, this compound fools the cell into using a fake version of a particular molecule when copying the virus’s genes, which are made of an alternative version of DNA called RNA. In theory such a trick should work against any virus that uses RNA for its genes and should not hurt patients because their genes are made of DNA. In 2015 remdesivir worked against ebola in monkeys, but in the 2018 epidemic in Congo it failed to make sufficient difference to ebola patients compared with other treatments.

In the lab, remdesivir kills a variety of coronaviruses and a recent report found that it cured cats of a coronavirus infection. During the current epidemic, it has been rushed into treatment on a compassionate-use basis in America for people who are dying. Preliminary results are promising and have caused a flurry of recent optimism, and the results of larger, controlled trials are eagerly awaited. However, remdesivir is unlikely to be the silver bullet because it is probably best if taken early in the infection, but you would not want to take it if you had a mild bout. It’s administered intravenously and has some nasty side effects.


There is more hope for favipiravir, sold as Avigan, one of the few antiviral treatments showing promise against more than one kind of virus. Bizarrely, it’s made by a subsidiary of Fujifilm, which diversified into chemicals and pharmaceuticals to avoid the fate of Kodak. Invented during the search for a herpes cure, it has since shown promise against influenza. Though good in the laboratory, it was only partially effective against ebola in Guinea in 2014, but initial trials on 80 coronavirus patients in China this year have suggested that it can speed up the recovery time for Covid patients, perhaps cutting it in half. So Fujifilm is now rushing to increase production and the drug has been cleared for use against coronavirus in Japan. The good news is it’s a pill, not an injection, and has few side effects except in pregnant women, where it is not safe.

The urgency surrounding a viral pandemic is fertile soil for exaggeration. Tamiflu, for influenza, is one of the world’s best-selling drugs, and governments spent billions acquiring stockpiles of it during the 2009 swine flu panic, to the benefit of Roche in particular. A lengthy campaign by the British Medical Journal has challenged the effectiveness of Tamiflu, pointing out that it has not been shown to work in randomised controlled trials. The drug’s defenders say this is unfair, as the medication’s partial effectiveness is so well established that it is now unethical deliberately to give half the patients in the trial no drug. In any case Tamiflu will not work against coronavirus: it targets an enzyme only used by influenza.

Monoclonal antibodies

If chemical treatments do not work, so-called monoclonal antibodies might. If someone recovers, their own body produces antibodies that smother the virus. These days it’s possible to mass-produce exact copies of the antibodies that work, using genetic engineering. Known as monoclonal antibodies, they proved to be the best way to treat ebola patients in Congo in 2018, when the US biotech firm Regeneron came up with a cocktail of human antibodies using genetically engineered mice. Regeneron has rushed a new cocktail of Covid-19 antibodies through the same procedure and hopes to have it ready to test in early summer. Scaling it up for mass production will not, however, be as easy as it would for a chemical pill.


French studies suggest that hydroxychloroquine, the malaria medication championed by Donald Trump, may well be at least a partial cure, especially if used in conjunction with the antibiotic azithromycin. But clinical trials are still awaited. It is not yet clear how it works: after all, malaria is neither a virus nor a bacterium, but a parasite. But hydroxychloroquine is used against rheumatoid arthritis and the autoimmune disease lupus. In the laboratory, it does seem to slow and inhibit the infection of cells by this coronavirus.

Hydroxychloroquine also tends to team up with the metal zinc and there are persistent and reliable reports that zinc either stops viruses replicating or helps the immune response to them. A gold-standard review of clinical trials found that zinc lozenges do shorten the duration of a cold by somehow interfering with virus replication. This does not just seem to be a diminishing-returns effect whereby having too little zinc, like having too little vitamin D, is bad, but once you have enough, having even more is no better. But if it is, up to a quarter of people in developing countries are deficient in zinc, and zinc deficiency is not uncommon among the elderly in western countries, so this may be part of the explanation why some elderly people are more seriously affected. In short, zinc supplements as a cheap medication, unrewarding to big pharma and therefore neglected, cannot be ruled out as a useful thing to try. Intriguingly, too much zinc kills your sense of taste, as does Covid-19 in many cases.

Altogether, I am now optimistic that within a month or two, one of the 30 or more therapies currently being tested is likely to prove effective and safe. Primed by Aids and ebola, we know where to look for chemicals that inhibit viruses, or prevent viruses replicating, in a way that we did not 20 years ago. If people can take a pill that drastically reduces their chances of dying, and clears up their symptoms before they need to be admitted to hospital, then we may not have to wait for a vaccine to end the lockdown and achieve herd immunity.


'Cinderella' abuse cases increase as sisters and stepsisters attack family

Number of domestic offences by females has soared as Priti Patel launches victim support campaign

"Cinderella" abuse by sisters and stepsisters has risen dramatically, as agencies warn that an increasing proportion of domestic abuse is perpetrated by women.

Figures from the Metropolitan Police show that domestic abuse offences committed by sisters have doubled from 641 in 2010 to 1,325 in 2018, while they have quadrupled for stepsisters and half-sisters from 33 to 142.

The police are investigating a rise in the number of domestic abuse offences committed by female family members, although the predominant violence remains that committed by ex-boyfriends, boyfriends and husbands.

Nationwide, attacks by women on family members have risen twice as fast as those by men. Female perpetrators now account for 28 per cent of cases - compared with 19 per cent a decade ago, although men were still identified in the majority of domestic violence incidents....


Top medical authority says Australia in ‘the same position as New Zealand’

Although Australia has been less strict

Australia’s top medical official has claimed Australia was seeing similar results to New Zealand despite not pursuing the country’s “elimination” strategy.

Australia’s chief medical officer Brendan Murphy said Australia was in a similar place to New Zealand where PM Jacinda Ardern says they’ve made significant strides towards eliminating coronavirus.

“There’s not a great difference between the aggressive suppression we are seeking, and elimination,” Prof Murphy told ABC’s 7.30 on Monday night.

Ms Ardern yesterday declared the country had “won the battle” against widespread community transmission of coronavirus, as the country eased some of its lockdown measures.

The country’s elimination strategy was enacted through lockdowns, with only essential services operating for more than four weeks and residents urged not to leave home.

But Prof Murphy said he was pleased with the results Australia were getting and said there was very little difference in the outcomes between Australia and New Zealand.

“The sort of numbers we’re getting at the moment … are pretty good, and if we can continue them as we expand our testing … that’s as good as elimination in many respects,” Prof Murphy said. “Elimination just means you’re not detecting any cases. It doesn’t mean you can relax.”

In New Zealand, a country with a population of five million, they’ve recorded a total 1122 cases of coronavirus. Of those infected, 19 have died.

Australia has recorded more than 6700 cases of coronavirus and 83 people have died from a population of 25 million.

Prof Murphy explained there could still be undetected coronavirus cases in the community, or asymptomatic carriers transmitting the virus.

“There’s not a great difference between the aggressive suppression we are seeking, and elimination.

“In fact we’re in pretty much the same position as New Zealand who have stated their claim to be one of elimination.” “We’re in a very similar place.”



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


28 April, 2020

Some US manufacturers reopening amid fierce political heat

Boeing and a small number of other manufacturers around the U.S. geared up Monday to resume production this week amid pressure from President Donald Trump to reopen the economy and resistance from governors who warn there is not enough testing yet to keep the coronavirus in check.

Boeing, one of the Pacific Northwest’s biggest employers, said it will put about 27,000 people back to work building passenger jets at its Seattle-area plants, with virus-slowing precautions in place, including face masks and staggered shift times.

Bobcat, a farm equipment manufacturer, announced it will resume production with about 600 employees in Bismarck, North Dakota.

Elsewhere around the world, step-by-step reopenings were underway in Europe, where the crisis has begun to ebb in places like Italy, Spain and Germany. Parts of the continent are perhaps weeks ahead of the U.S. in the trajectory of the disease, which has killed over 160,000 people worldwide.

The reopenings of certain industries is the U.S. are barely a drop in the bucket compared with the more than 22 million Americans thrown out of work by the crisis.

Businesses that start operating again are likely to engender good will with the Trump administration at at time when it is doling out billions to companies for economic relief. The president has been agitating to restart the economy, egging on protesters who feel governors are moving too slowly.

But reopening carries major risks, especially since people can spread the virus without even knowing they are infected. Many governors say they lack the testing supplies they need and warn that if they reopen their economies too soon, they could get hit by a second wave of infections.

The death toll in the U.S., the worst-hit country by far, was more than 40,000 with over 750,000 confirmed infections, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University of government reports. The true figures are believed to be much higher, in part because of limited testing and difficulties in counting the dead.

Protesters have taken to the streets in places such as Michigan, Ohio and Virginia, complaining that the shutdowns are destroying their livelihoods and trampling their rights. Defying the social-distancing rules and, in some cases, wearing no masks, demonstrators have berated their governors and demanded the firing of Dr. Anthony Fauci, the government’s top infectious-disease expert.

But on Monday, Fauci warned: “Unless we get the virus under control, the real recovery economically is not going to happen.”

“If you jump the gun and go into a situation where you have a big spike, you’re going to set yourself back. So, as painful as it is to go by the careful guidelines of gradually phasing into a reopening, it’s going to backfire,” he said on ABC’s “Good Morning America.”

In the past few days, Florida gave the OK for beaches to reopen, and Texas on Monday began a week of slow reopenings, starting off with state parks. Later, stores will be allowed to offer curbside service.

Washington state was the first in the nation to see a spike in COVID-19 cases and enacted strict shutdown orders that helped tamp the virus down. Europe was likewise well ahead of the U.S. on the curve.

The global game plan is to open up but maintain enough social distancing to prevent new flareups of the virus.


Why the travel ban did not work

On January 31st, the US imposed a travel ban of flights from China. At the time, I didn’t have strong views either way, but it seemed like a reasonable response given the uncertainty associated with the coronavirus epidemic. Today, we know that the travel ban failed completely. (As did the Italian travel ban on China, imposed on the same day.)  In this post, I’d like to explain why.

By the time the US imposed a Chinese travel ban, China had already imposed a quarantine on the entire province of Hubei, and had tightly locked down the entire country. As a result, there would have been no flights from Wuhan to the US even without the travel ban, and only a tiny number of infected passengers would have arrived here from other parts of China—probably less than ten.

In contrast, we received many infected people from Europe during the month of February, and this is one reason why the pandemic is so much worse on the East Coast than the West Coast (albeit not the only reason—density, climate, and a slightly later lockdown may also play a role.)

It’s possible that the travel ban created a false sense of security in February, which made the problem in the US even worse. But even if the travel ban did not create a false sense of security, and even if it did prevent a few infected people from reaching the US, it did not end up helping at all. Rather, at best, it delayed the epidemic by a few days.

With a few exceptions such as Taiwan, in most countries the government and public did not react until the caseload reached a certain threshold. While a travel ban could be helpful for countries with an effective anti-coronavirus policy, they are of no help at all in places where social distancing does not begin until the epidemic reaches X% of the population, such as the US and Europe. If you think of those famous graphs illustrating “flattening the curve”, it merely shifts the curve slightly to the right, without changing its size at all.

There are some countries, such as New Zealand, that require a 14-day quarantine for all new arrivals, and a ban on travel from most countries.  Unlike the US, however, New Zealand has in place a set of policies likely to completely eradicate the virus in the near future.  In that setting, travel restrictions may be helpful.  But they are basically useless in places such as the US and Europe. Today, new arrivals to the US have about as much impact on our caseload as a small stream has on the water level in the Pacific Ocean.  A drop in the bucket.

If the Chinese travel ban was justified in January, it is completely useless today. A random visitor from Canada is probably 1000 times more likely to infect an American as a random visitor from China.  (And if the Chinese data is off by a factor of 10, then 100 times more likely.)  So why do we allow visitors from Canada but not China?  I’m not certain, but I’d guess that an honest account would include the word “spite”.


Democrats Ignore Lockdown Protests At Their Peril

In addition to killing thousands of Americans and robbing millions more of their livelihoods, the COVID-19 outbreak has evidently deprived the Democrats of their political judgment. At the national and state levels they have disregarded voter lockdown protests with the same disdain with which they ignored the Tea Party movement 10 years ago. The Democrats have clearly forgotten the price they paid for that blunder. Between 2010 and 2016 they lost Congress, 13 governorships, 816 state legislative seats, and finally the presidency. They regained some ground in 2018, but they won’t retain it if they don’t recognize the protests as the foreshock of an electoral earthquake.

The voters have been extraordinarily patient with stay-at-home orders imposed by their governors and willingly incurred enormous financial risk for the greater public good. Likewise, they have shown remarkable self-control as their lives have been upended by wildly inaccurate projections by overcautious Beltway bureaucrats. Now, they have had enough and and are hitting the street. Lockdown protests have expanded to at least 20 states, but Democratic governors have been encouraged to ignore them by cynical partisans like House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.). When asked by Chris Wallace on “Fox News Sunday” if she could sympathize with the protesters, Madam Speaker answered in the negative:

No, not really, because what we have to do is shelter-in-place. That is really the answer.… I do think that it’s unfortunate — but you know people will do what they do. The fact is we’re all impatient. We all want out but what they’re doing is really unfortunate.… And so, does it serve as a distraction? Yes.

It’s absurd if not outright obscene for Pelosi to claim that “we’re all impatient,” as if everyone is suffering equally from the lockdowns. Few laid-off employees of retail clothing chains, coffee shops, and fitness centers can ameliorate their financial anxieties with an $11.60 pint of ice cream retrieved from a freezer that costs more than their cars. Nor can they put up with power-drunk decrees from Democratic governors like Gretchen Whitmer (D-Mich.), who has not only banned travel, boating, and golf but also sales of garden tools and paint that Michigan residents could use to beautify the homes that have suddenly become their private prisons. This kind of craziness is, of course, what sparked the protests.

Last week, the Trump administration provided state governors with a three-phase “road map” for reopening the country and recovering from the economic damage caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Some GOP states — Arkansas, Iowa, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah, and Wyoming — never issued stay-at-home orders for their residents. Other GOP states have announced plans for phased reopening. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott issued executive orders last Friday outlining the plan to reopen his state. Ohio, Idaho, and North Dakota are also moving toward reopening. But some Democratic states are resisting by forming compacts, which violates Article I, Section 10, Clause 3 of the Constitution:

No State shall, without the Consent of Congress, lay any Duty of Tonnage, keep Troops, or Ships of War in time of Peace, enter into any Agreement or Compact with another State, or with a foreign Power, or engage in War, unless actually invaded, or in such imminent Danger as will not admit of delay.

The catch is that pesky prohibition against entering into “any Agreement or Compact with another state.” Without the consent of Congress, this is unconstitutional. Yet, in the Northeast — Connecticut, Delaware, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, and Rhode Island have entered into an interstate compact. In the Midwest — Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin have also formed such a pact. In the West — California, Oregon, and Washington have entered into yet another compact. In other words, these governors hope to violate the Constitution to avoid reopening their states. This is a forlorn hope, however. All of these states are targets of the lockdown protesters.

As they resist the inevitable, they will be compared to more sensible Democratic governors like Montana Gov. Steve Bullock, who said last Friday that he plans to begin a phased reopening of the state’s economy after April 24. And there will also be those shots of happy people enjoying the sun-drenched beaches of Florida and South Carolina, which Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis and South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster have already reopened in their states. In some ways, this will be the most powerful public statement of all — the sight of “clueless conservatives” frolicking in the sand with our friends and families while the hapless residents of Democratic states watch us while they sit home and shelter in place.

Saturday, after Gov. Ron DeSantis opened up the beaches near Jacksonville, the hashtag #FloridaMoron trended for hours on Twitter. It’s unlikely that anyone on the beach bothered to look at Twitter while they inhaled the fresh air of freedom. Some things are more important than safety. Most Americans get that. This reality is the source of the lockdown protests, and it’s why the Democrats are committing yet another blunder by ignoring them and attempting to prolong the stay-at-home orders. The protests are the foreshocks of an electoral earthquake comparable to 2016 and perhaps even the Reagan landslide of 1984.


Australia: UBI still an unbelievably bad idea

Opportunists across the political spectrum have been emboldened by the current crisis to propose all manner of terrible ideas.

And among the worst is the universal basic income (UBI) —  a payment to all citizens, unconditional on income or wealth, without any obligation to be in work or study.

Supporters have seized on the government’s pandemic JobKeeper scheme as evidence we’re finally ready to embrace a UBI.

Of course, fans see it as panacea in good and bad times alike.

In good times, it’s the supposed solution to virtually all economic, ecological, and social ills. And in the current crisis, they argue a UBI is uniquely suited to deal with the surge of unemployed, the strain on the welfare system, and the apparent fiscal willingness to spend.

But not only are they wrong to equate JobKeeper with a UBI, they’re also mistaken that the coronanomics support their case anyway.

The JobKeeper payment imposes an effective wage floor for those employed in businesses facing an immediate, massive fall in revenue. These extraordinary circumstances are expected to be temporary, and when the crisis eventually ends, so does the payment. The worker is expected to go back to work, or to seek work on Newstart.

That’s a far cry from the UBI, which is not only permanent, but also is designed to remove the obligation to seek work.

Moreover, UBI proponents fundamentally misunderstand the nature of the economic conditions and today’s world of work.

Rather than a permanent reduction in the demand for labour, the present shutdown is a temporary contraction in labour demand due to forced closures and social distancing (with related reductions in short run supply).

Moreover, if economic life under social distancing has taught us anything, it’s that work has been supported, not threatened, by technology (exactly the opposite of what UBI supporters have been claiming). Indeed, technological integration into work — and study for that matter — has been a lifeline, saving jobs and livelihoods for many.

The other claim is that the government’s unprecedented spending allegedly reflects a willingness for meeting a UBI’s exorbitant price tag. But the government’s big-spending economic rescue package has been forced by a temporary crisis; there is no evidence of a commitment to permanently bigger government.

Moreover, when the costs are being counted, there’ll surely be little left in the piggy bank to fund a UBI.

Good policy options in this crisis are hard to come by and there’s no shortage of terrible ones being prosecuted. Despite what the economic illiterates say, a UBI remains an unbelievably bad idea.



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


27 April, 2020

Iowa Candidate Under Fire for Call to Define Islam as 'Militant Cultural Imperialism Seeking World Domination'

The real pandemic today is not the coronavirus, but cowardice. Nonetheless, even in these days of political correctness, wokeness, the cancel culture, and “hate speech,” there are a few public figures with courage. One of them is Rick Phillips, a Republican Congressional candidate from Iowa, who has dared to grasp the third rail of American public life and state that Islam is not actually the cuddly religion of peace that every enlightened American assumes it to be at this point.

The Des Moines Register reported Monday that Phillips’ “platform calls for redefining Islam as ‘militant cultural imperialism seeking world domination,’” and that he “drew fire Monday for saying he doesn’t believe Islam is protected under the First Amendment.”

Phillips stated on Quad Cities TV station WHBF that the Founding Fathers had only Christianity in mind when they wrote the First Amendment. “They were not talking about anti-Christian beliefs,” he explained. “Now, if a person doesn’t want to believe in Christ, that’s their business. But to say that this First Amendment right includes all religions in the world, I think, is erroneous.”

The usual reaction ensued, Robert McCaw of the Hamas-linked Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), demanded that both the Iowa Republican Party and the national Republican Party “repudiate these Islamophobic, unconstitutional views.” McCaw thundered: “The Constitution must protect Americans of all faiths. The kind of hatred and anti-American views promoted by Mr. Phillips places in danger both constitutional protections of religious freedoms and the safety of ordinary American Muslims.”

Responding like the good invertebrate that most Republican Party leaders are, Iowa party spokesman Aaron Britt said that Phillips’ statements “are not reflective of the views of the Republican Party of Iowa.”

Lost in all this predictable intimidation on the one hand and equally predictable pusillanimity on the other was the question of whether or not Phillips was right. Surely everyone can agree, or should agree, that the First Amendment is not and was never intended to be a license to commit all manner of crimes if such activity is mandated by one’s religion. No one, Muslim or non-Muslim, should be considered anything but innocent until proven guilty, but sooner or later the United States and all non-Muslim countries is going to have to have a public conversation about how much to tolerate a belief system that is itself radically intolerant, authoritarian, supremacist, and violent.

Can Muslims in the U.S. repudiate those aspects of Islam? Should they? This discussion needs to take place, but right now it is covered over by claims of “Islamophobia.” In the same way, lost in the shuffle also was the question of whether or not Islam really is “militant cultural imperialism seeking world domination.”

Inconveniently for Robert McCaw and his ilk, there are certainly some Muslims who think it is. I could quote violent passages of the Qur’an, but those might be waved away with the dismissive and erroneous claim that the Bible contains similar exhortations to violence. Let’s focus instead on what Islamic authorities say. One might get the impression that Islam is not a religion of peace from the authoritative sources in Sunni Islam, the schools of Sunni jurisprudence (madhahib):

Shafi’i school: A Shafi’i manual of Islamic law that was certified in 1991 by the clerics at Al-Azhar University, one of the leading authorities in the Islamic world, as a reliable guide to Sunni orthodoxy, stipulates about jihad that “the caliph makes war upon Jews, Christians, and Zoroastrians…until they become Muslim or pay the non-Muslim poll tax.” It adds a comment by Sheikh Nuh Ali Salman, a Jordanian expert on Islamic jurisprudence: the caliph wages this war only “provided that he has first invited [Jews, Christians, and Zoroastrians] to enter Islam in faith and practice, and if they will not, then invited them to enter the social order of Islam by paying the non-Muslim poll tax (jizya)…while remaining in their ancestral religions.” (‘Umdat al-Salik, o9.8).

Of course, there is no caliph today, unless one believes the claims of the Islamic State, and hence the oft-repeated claim that ISIS et al are waging jihad illegitimately, as no state authority has authorized their jihad. But they explain their actions in terms of defensive jihad, which needs no state authority to call it, and becomes “obligatory for everyone” (‘Umdat al-Salik, o9.3) if a Muslim land is attacked. The end of the defensive jihad, however, is not peaceful coexistence with non-Muslims as equals: ‘Umdat al-Salik specifies that the warfare against non-Muslims must continue until “the final descent of Jesus.” After that, “nothing but Islam will be accepted from them, for taking the poll tax is only effective until Jesus’ descent” (o9.8).

Hanafi school: A Hanafi manual of Islamic law repeats the same injunctions. It insists that people must be called to embrace Islam before being fought, “because the Prophet so instructed his commanders, directing them to call the infidels to the faith.” It emphasizes that jihad must not be waged for economic gain, but solely for religious reasons: from the call to Islam “the people will hence perceive that they are attacked for the sake of religion, and not for the sake of taking their property, or making slaves of their children, and on this consideration it is possible that they may be induced to agree to the call, in order to save themselves from the troubles of war.”

However, “if the infidels, upon receiving the call, neither consent to it nor agree to pay capitation tax [jizya], it is then incumbent on the Muslims to call upon God for assistance, and to make war upon them, because God is the assistant of those who serve Him, and the destroyer of His enemies, the infidels, and it is necessary to implore His aid upon every occasion; the Prophet, moreover, commands us so to do.” (Al-Hidayah, II.140)

Maliki school: Ibn Khaldun (1332-1406), a pioneering historian and philosopher, was also a Maliki legal theorist. In his renowned Muqaddimah, the first work of historical theory, he notes that “in the Muslim community, the holy war is a religious duty, because of the universalism of the Muslim mission and (the obligation to) convert everybody to Islam either by persuasion or by force.” In Islam, the person in charge of religious afairs is concerned with “power politics,” because Islam is “under obligation to gain power over other nations.”

Hanbali school: The great medieval theorist of what is commonly known today as radical or fundamentalist Islam, Ibn Taymiyya (Taqi al-Din Ahmad Ibn Taymiyya, 1263-1328), was a Hanbali jurist. He directed that “since lawful warfare is essentially jihad and since its aim is that the religion is God’s entirely and God’s word is uppermost, therefore according to all Muslims, those who stand in the way of this aim must be fought.”

This is also taught by modern-day scholars of Islam. Majid Khadduri was an Iraqi scholar of Islamic law of international renown. In his book War and Peace in the Law of Islam, which was published in 1955 and remains one of the most lucid and illuminating works on the subject, Khadduri says this about jihad:

The state which is regarded as the instrument for universalizing a certain religion must perforce be an ever expanding state. The Islamic state, whose principal function was to put God’s law into practice, sought to establish Islam as the dominant reigning ideology over the entire world….The jihad was therefore employed as an instrument for both the universalization of religion and the establishment of an imperial world state. (P. 51)
Imran Ahsan Khan Nyazee, Assistant Professor on the Faculty of Shari’ah and Law of the International Islamic University in Islamabad. In his 1994 book The Methodology of Ijtihad, he quotes the twelfth century Maliki jurist Ibn Rushd: “Muslim jurists agreed that the purpose of fighting with the People of the Book…is one of two things: it is either their conversion to Islam or the payment of jizyah.” Nyazee concludes: “This leaves no doubt that the primary goal of the Muslim community, in the eyes of its jurists, is to spread the word of Allah through jihad, and the option of poll-tax [jizya] is to be exercised only after subjugation” of non-Muslims.

All this makes it clear that there is abundant reason to believe that Islam is indeed a manifestation of militant cultural imperialism seeking world domination. It would be illuminating if Robert McCaw produced some quotations from Muslim authorities they consider “authentic,” and explained why the authorities I’ve quoted above and others like them are inauthentic. But he won’t. And while in reality there is no single Muslim authority who can proclaim what is “authentic” Islam, and thus it would be prudent not to make sweeping statements about what “authentic Islam” actually is, clearly there are many Muslims who believe that authentic Islam is inherently violent and not a Religion of Peace. Are they all hateful “Islamophobes”?

Robert McCaw and Hamas-linked CAIR would prefer we not know that such Islamic scholars and authorities exist. But that is not going to make them go away. Rick Phillips has raised important questions. We owe it to ourselves, and to our nation’s future, not to allow them to be swept under the rug. But they will be.


More churches protected!

In these challenging times, churches should be free to focus on shepherding their congregations, helping their communities, and serving those in need. Just as they always do.

Sadly, some government officials are using the current crisis to bully churches and threaten the free exercise of religion.

But because of quick and generous actions, more of your brothers and sisters in Christ are getting the help they need. Praise God!

Below are a few highlights

A temporary restraining order has been secured in federal court on behalf of two Kansas churches (First Baptist Church and Calvary Baptist Church) after the state’s mass-gathering order singled out churches for special punishment. That means the churches are temporarily free to hold small services while observing social distancing requirements as the lawsuit continues. The churches filed the lawsuit after one pastor was threatened with criminal penalties for violating the executive order that targeted churches.

Lawsuits were filed in Chattanooga, Tennessee (Metropolitan Tabernacle Church) and Greenville, Mississippi (Temple Baptist Church) because of unconstitutional bans on drive-in church services. In response to the lawsuits, the cities decided to lift the bans—praise God! Churches are now free to resume worshipping from the safety of their own cars.

Demand letters have been sent to multiple state and local governments on behalf of churches. These have helped to ensure that houses of worship are treated no worse than secular organizations and are free to exercise their religious freedom without fear of unjust government punishment.
While many ADF cases spend years in litigation, these churches needed quick and immediate relief. Every day is critical for churches as they work to reach the lost and share the hope of the Gospel during this challenging time.

Via email: info@adflegal.org

'The Evil Called Barack Obama' and the Genocidal Slaughter of Nigerian Christians

Not only is Nigerian president Muhammadu Buhari behind what several international observers are calling a “genocide” of Christians in his nation—but Barack Hussein Obama played a major role in the Muslim president’s rise to power: these two interconnected accusations are increasingly being made—not by “xenophobic” Americans but Nigerians themselves, including several leaders and officials.

Most recently, Femi Fani-Kayode, Nigeria’s former minister of culture and tourism, wrote in a Facebook post:

What Obama, John Kerry and Hilary Clinton did to Nigeria by funding and supporting Buhari in the 2015 presidential election and helping Boko Haram in 2014/2015 was sheer wickedness and the blood of all those killed by the Buhari administration, his Fulani herdsmen and Boko Haram over the last 5 years are on their hands.
Kerry’s and Clinton’s appeasement of Boko Haram—an Islamic terror organization notorious for massacring, enslaving, and raping Christians, and bombing and burning their churches—is apparently what connects them to this “sheer wickedness.”

For example, after a Nigerian military offensive killed 30 Boko Haram terrorists in 2013, then secretary of state Kerry “issued a strongly worded statement” to Buhari’s predecessor, President Goodluck Jonathan (2010-2015), a Christian.  In it, Kerry warned Jonathan that “We are … deeply concerned by credible allegations that Nigerian security forces are committing gross human rights violations” against the terrorists.

Similarly, during her entire tenure as secretary of state, Clinton repeatedly refused to designate Boko Haram as a foreign terrorist organization, despite nonstop pressure from lawmakers, human rights activists, and lobbyists—not to mention Boko Haram’s countless atrocities against Nigerian Christians.

“Those of you that still love the evil called Barack Obama,” Fani-Kayode added in his post, “should listen to this short clip and tell me if you still do.”  He was referring to a recent Al Jazeera video interview of Eeben Barlow, a former lieutenant-colonel of the South African Defence Force and chairman of a private military company hired in 2015 by Jonathan, when still president, to help defeat Boko Haram.

How 'Triggerism' Replaced Facts and Logic on Islam
“In one month,” Barlow said in the interview, “we took back terrain larger than Belgium from Boko Haram. We were not allowed to finish because it came at a time when governments were in the process of changing,” he said in reference to Nigeria’s 2015 presidential elections.  “The incoming president, President Buhari, was heavily supported by a foreign government, and one of the first missions [of Buhari] was to terminate our contract.”

On being asked if he could name the “foreign government,” the former lieutenant-colonel said, “Yes, we were told it was the United States, and they had actually funded President Buhari’s campaign, and the campaign manager for President Buhari came from the US.  And I am not saying the United States is bad—I understand foreign interests—but I would have thought that a threat such as Boko Haram on the integrity of the state of Nigeria ought to be actually a priority. It wasn't.”

Fani-Kayode was quick to add in his Facebook post that it would have been the priority had Obama not been president:  “I just thank God for Donald Trump,” the former minister said in the same post. “Had he been President of America in 2015 things would have been very different, Jonathan would have won, Boko Haram would have been history and the Fulani herdsmen would never have seen the light of day.”

Fani-Kayode and Barlow are not alone in accusing Obama of “heavily supporting” and “actually funding” a presidential candidate who, since becoming president, has increasingly turned a blind eye to the worsening slaughter of Christians at the hands of Muslims—that is, when not actively exacerbating it, including with jet fighters.  In 2018, former president Jonathan revealed that,

On March 23, 2015, President Obama himself took the unusual step of releasing a video message directly to Nigerians all but telling them how to vote… Those who understood subliminal language deciphered that he was prodding the electorate to vote for the [Buhari/Muslim-led] opposition to form a new government…  The message was so condescending, it was as if Nigerians did not know what to do and needed an Obama to direct them.
Between 2011 and 2015, and supposedly because they were angry at having a Christian president, Boko Haram slaughtered thousands of Christians, particularly those living in the Muslim majority north, and destroyed countless churches. In 2015—and thanks to Obama—Nigeria’s Muslims finally got what they want: a Muslim president in the person of Muhammadu Buhari.

Death to 'Dirty' Christians, Love for 'Pure' Muslims During COVID-19
As seen, however, not only did he immediately rescue Boko Haram from imminent defeat, as former lieutenant-colonel Eeben Barlow has now revealed; but atrocities against Christians have gotten significantly worse since Buhari replaced Jonathan—they are now regularly characterized as a “pure genocide”—particularly at the hands of Muslim Fulani herdsmen, the ethnic tribe whence Buhari himself happens to hail.  Thus according to a March 8, 2020 report titled, “Nigeria: A Killing Field of Defenseless Christians,”

Available statistics have shown that between 11,500 and 12,000 Christian deaths were recorded in the past 57 months or since June 2015 when the present central [Buhari-led] government of Nigeria came on board. Out of this figure, Jihadist Fulani herdsmen accounted for 7,400 Christian deaths, Boko Haram 4,000 and the ‘ Highway Bandits’ 150-200.”
How and why Fulani tribesman have managed to kill nearly twice as many Christians as the “professional” terrorists of Boku Haram—and exponentially more Christians than under Jonathan—may be discerned from the following quotes by various Christian leaders and others:

“They [Fulani] want to strike Christians, and the government does nothing to stop them, because President Buhari is also of the Fulani ethnic group.”— Bishop Matthew Ishaya Audu of Lafia, 2018.
“Under President Buhari, the murderous Fulani herdsmen enjoyed unprecedented protection and favoritism... Rather than arrest and prosecute the Fulani herdsmen, security forces usually manned by Muslims from the North offer them protection as they unleash terror with impunity on the Nigerian people.”— Musa Asake, the General Secretary of the Christian Association of Nigeria, 2018.
Buhari “is openly pursuing an anti-Christian agenda that has resulted in countless murders of Christians all over the nation and destruction of vulnerable Christian communities.”— Bosun Emmanuel, the secretary of the National Christian Elders Forum, 2018.
Buhari “is himself from the jihadists’ Fulani tribe, so what can you expect?” — Emmanuel Ogebe, Washington DC-based human rights lawyer, in conversation with me, 2018.
Based on all these developments, statistics and accusations, it seems clear that the Muslim president is behind the unfolding genocide of Christians in Nigeria—and Obama helped.


UK: Leading forensic scientist wins sex discrimination case

Jo Millington, a blood pattern specialist, won the claim after she was asked by her boss whether she disliked him because she was gay

One of Britain's leading forensic scientists was a victim of sexual discrimination after she was asked by her boss whether she disliked him because she was gay, an employment tribunal has ruled.

Jo Millington, 46, has lent her expertise on blood patterns to several police forces over the past 25 years and came to wider public attention in 2018 when she appeared in a BBC crime documentary.

She launched a sex discrimination claim against her former employers ArroGen Forensics after the company's CEO Joe Arend questioned whether her sexuality was the reason behind her apparent dislike of him, an employment tribunal in Reading was told.

The 46-year-old was left “upset and embarrassed” following a meeting in December 2017 in which she raised concerns she wasn't spending enough time with her wife and family.

Mr Arend asked whether Ms Millington had an issue with him “because of her sexuality”, pointing out he was “big” and “used to play rugby”, the tribunal heard. She resigned shortly after the encounter.

The panel was told Ms Millington had previously complained about Mr Arend's behaviour when he referred to the level of her expenses and salary as “crazy”.

Ms Millington launched a sex discrimination claim against the firm, questioning how Mr Arden's “unprofessional” reference to her sexual orientation was relevant to her work.

The employment panel today found the company guilty of sexual orientation discrimination, constructive dismissal and breach contract, meaning Ms Millington is now entitled to compensation.

It concluded: “Miss Millington regarded her sexual orientation as a private matter (as she was entitled to do), and the question to her about it was upsetting and embarrassing. She would have preferred it not to have been asked.”“Her reputation and credibility underpin her career.”

Under cross-examination, Mr Arend admitted he would not have enquired about sexual orientation if a female employee had commented about not having enough time to spend with “my family and my husband”.

Ms Millington rose to public attention when she appeared in the 2018 BBC documentary Conviction: Murder in Suburbia, examining the conviction of Glyn Razzell for the death of his wife Linda in 2002.

She had joined ArroGen Forensics in 2012 as the lead forensic scientist to review forensic evidence in criminal cases and appear in court as an expert witness.



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


26 April, 2020  

Coronavirus peak is past and now lockdown worse than virus, expert insists

The pandemic has peaked and draconian measures are now unnecessary, a leading scientist claimed yesterday.

Carl Heneghan, director of the centre for evidence-based medicine at Oxford University, said that the impact of the lockdown was “going to outweigh the damaging effect of coronavirus”.

His assessment adds to pressure on the government to set out how it will ease the lockdown after the coronavirus death toll fell to its lowest level for a fortnight.

Senior Tory MPs have begun pressing the government to set out its exit strategy and begin lifting restrictions as soon as possible to protect the economy.


Failure to reopen economy causes death and destruction also

Rick Manning today issued the following statement urging states to reopen their economies as soon as possible:

"In nine days, many governors across the nation are making plans on how to reopen all or part of their economies. Predictably, some worry that moving away from strict social distancing policies will have negative health consequences. What these people miss is that these distancing policies bring forth known problems associated with extreme poverty, including increased suicides, depression and substance abuse. On the substance abuse front alone, we know that 70,000 a year were losing their lives to opioid overdoses alone, and that that number has been significantly cut over the past couple of years.

"We also know that there were 40,000 more suicides than expected during the Great Recession, and that the UN just released a report stating that hundreds of thousands of children will die due to the increased poverty created in the economic shutdown. Let's be clear, this is not an easy situation, but when 5.5 million Americans are filing for unemployment claims on average the past four weeks, with no end in sight, the personal and national devastation wrought by the social distancing cure is not sustainable and the President and our nation's governors must act to balance. The President took a great step forward in providing guidance on reopening America state by state, and it is expected he will continue to provide the best ideas available on ways private businesses can meet the needs of their employees and customers in these unique times.

"One relatively undiscussed result of the private sector shutdown is that local, state and federal governments will all see dramatic revenue losses from staying shut down too long at a time when their expenditures are increased. Recognizing this early, if states and local governments are unwilling to lay off non-essential government employees before the situation becomes critical, then aggressively reopening is the only alternative."


Montana County Orders Residents to Wear Mandatory Pink Wristbands in Order to Shop — Or Get Reported to Police

Shades of the pink stars that the Nazis mandated for homosexuals

The Valley County Health Department in Montana sent out a flier to businesses with a scary edict requiring all essential workers from outside the county to wear pink armbands or bracelets signifying their quarantine status in order to shop in the county. The flier demanded that anyone not wearing a pink armband be reported to police.

The flier read in part,

Anyone who is from out of town or out of Valley County who has a PINK wristband has been here 14 days or more and no longer needs to do the strict self-quarantine. They may enter your business. Anyone who is from out of town or out of Valley County, staying here/working here, and has not completed the 14 day quarantine is REQUIRED BY THE VALLEY COUNTY HEALTH OFFICER ORDER to use curbside delivery only. They are not to enter your business to shop.

Not only are the people without the bracelets to be banned from stores but the health department suggested that business owners practice authoritarian speeches for non-conformers. They were told to say, "You are violating our Governor's and Valley County's Health Officer's orders. I am happy to shop for you with curbside delivery...If you don't cooperate, you will force me to call law enforcement."

Someone is enjoying their newfound authority a little too much, don't you think? The imagery of marking people to single them out for special treatment is unbelievably bad, hearkening back to Nazi brownshirts with their armbands and the stars they issued to the Jews. I mean, who are these people and why are they so stupid?

It took a very short time before the county health department issued an apology and retracted the policy.

The Valley County Commissioners would like to apologize, and issue clarification, regarding the current health orders and obligations that apply to visitors from outside Valley County...In a break-down of our internal processes, a flier went out to local business owners seemingly indicating such wrist bands are required for out of county individuals and that local business owners were obligated to report violations of the health orders. That is not the intent of Valley County and that flier has been rescinded."
Are you buying this? The flyer literally used ALL CAPS to get the point across that the wrist bands were REQUIRED. LOL fascists. Stop lying. Just say you screwed up and your health commissioners took some LSD and thought they were Hitler reincarnated when they wrote this. That would be more believable than "we didn't intend the thing we said to be taken the way we wrote it." Spare us.

How much more of this is America going to take? Where do you draw the line?


Exactly How Many Deaths Are Needed to Justify Giving Governments Control of Everything?

The CDC estimates that 61,000 Americans died from the flu during the 2017–18 flu season (with a range of 46,000 to 95,000 deaths). Few of us even remember that event. Stores stayed open, folks met and worked, and everyone lived as normal.

Taking sixty-one thousand deaths as our baseline, how deadly does a virus have to be to justify the destruction of our livelihoods and economy in general?

Half as deadly? No that wouldn’t make sense. But neither would "as deadly," either.

Would twice as deadly cross the panic threshold? But that would be just twice something we didn’t notice while it was happening. So maybe even double is not enough.

No one is ever safe, ever. But we all lived lives in a world of uncertainty. That is, until many panicked and allowed governments to drive us into our own caves, so to speak.

But who incited panic? Media and social media initially sounded the alarm, sparking fear. However, it was government that provided justification for that fear, wrapping dour pronouncements in a veneer of supposed science and truth. Soon the panic threshold was breached. While the various media live off provocative headlines, government lives off fear.

So we end up with this strange symbiotic relationship: with the aid of a friendly media, government justifies the fears it propagandizes; constituents panic and turn to both government for help and the media for information. Certainly, it has to be this way. Why? Because government rules through the consent of the governed.

As Mises noted:

"Only a group that can count on the consent of the governed can establish a lasting regime. Whoever wants to see the world governed according to his own ideas must strive for domination over men’s minds. It is impossible, in the long run, to subject men against their will to a regime that they reject.

So, a government looking to extend its powers, to assume additional rights from its citizens, will need to manufacture consent, else rebellion with ensue. And there is no better opportunity to manufacture consent than during an existential crisis, whether it's enemies massed at the gate or ones concealed within."

Obviously, if those enemies do not exist, they have to be invented. As Schumpeter stated:

"There was no corner of the known world where some interest was not alleged to be in danger or under actual attack. If the interests were not Roman, they were those of Rome's allies; and if Rome had no allies, then allies would be invented. When it was utterly impossible to contrive such an interest—why, then it was the national honor that had been insulted. The fight was always invested with an aura of legality. Rome was always being attacked by evil-minded neighbors, always fighting for a breathing space. The whole world was pervaded by a host of enemies, and it was manifestly Rome's duty to guard against their indubitably aggressive designs. They were enemies who only waited to fall on the Roman people."

Not too long ago, the devised enemy was ISIL—haunting the Levant in Toyota trucks. We were told daily that ISIL was readying a strike against the US some fifty-five hundred miles away. Plausible? Hardly. However, the propaganda machine was able to create some angst, for some time, anyway.

Today the enemy is through the gate unseen, infiltrating bodies and minds. COVID-19 is a government’s dream. Folks who just yesterday, or so it seems, said certain acts of government, such as closing churches, would ignite rebellion, gladly consent to authoritarian edicts. But why?

There is the manufactured fear, the product of the propaganda machine—the good doctors making dire predictions about likely death counts, surrounded by somber officials, all standing near a dais backed by the richly colored, acronymed logo of some official sounding agency. Great video, great propaganda.

But there is more. Government is blaming the virus, not itself. That serves several purposes. It allows government to employ a misdirect, pilfering the public purse and annulling rights while the masses concern themselves with social distancing.

It also provides personal cover to minor agents of the bureaucracy, who do not have to spend sleepless nights fretting about their role in the destruction of our economy.

Hannah Arendt wrote about the Eichmann trial and tried to answer the conscience question:

The trick used by Himmler…was very simple and probably very effective; it consisted in turning these instincts around, as it were, in directing them toward the self. So that instead of saying: What horrible things I did to people!, the murderers would be able to say: What horrible things I had to watch in the pursuance of my duties, how heavily the task weighed upon my shoulders! (Hannah Arendt, Eichmann in Jerusalem)

So you hear statements that twist reality in this manner: “The virus will let us know when we can reopen the country.” As if the virus is dictating policy.

We are told that government officials are only reacting as the virus commands. And the enforcement agents spreading tickets and handcuffs are simply shouldering the horrible tasks that must be pursued.

Is this how we, the people, choose to live? In a world where government foments fear for its own purposes and then stands back, blaming its actions on an enemy of its own creation?

Once more, how deadly does a virus have to be to justify the destruction of our livelihoods and economy in general? Twice the usual? Three times? I can’t decide the issue for all. I simply ask you to consider first what we are allowing (crashed economy, record unemployment growth, exploding government debt, unconstitutional government edicts, well, you get the picture).

And I ask you to consider who, or what entities, are benefiting. It is true that some cui bono (to whom it is a benefit) arguments are fallacious, but not all. However, consider this: besides a shift of rights and power from the people to the state, there is that matter of trillions moving from our wallets to those of the friends and families of the politically connected.

As I wrote above, no one is ever safe, ever. But until a month ago, we all accepted a world of uncertainty and didn’t panic. What was true then is true today—to be free is not to be safe. However, to live free is to live. Period.



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


24 April, 2020

The Left needs Timothy McVeigh

The article from the NYT below is typical of Leftist rhetoric.  They are always trying to find "right-wing" terrorism.  There is very little to find, however.  They have to invent new threats or harp on old ones.  For the one below they had to  go back to the last century.  The actual terrorist threat -- from Muslim Jihadis -- has to be blotted out in the usual Leftist flight from reality

Timothy J. McVeigh slaughtered 168 people, including 19 children, by gutting a federal office building with a massive truck bomb on April 19, 1995, yet he features only fleetingly in the Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum.

“We felt it was important to show his face, not to give him any credit, but to show people how normal he was,” said Kari F. Watkins, the museum’s executive director, “It could be anybody. The terrorist among us.”

Aside from his picture, there is his rusty, yellow 1977 Mercury Marquis getaway car. The curators also included a copy of “The Turner Diaries,” a bigoted novel popular on the far right — he had a copy on the front seat of the Marquis — whose white supremacist hero blows up the F.B.I. headquarters.

The bombing remains something of an anomaly. Between Pearl Harbor and the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, Oklahoma City was the deadliest deliberate attack on the United States, yet it has not been similarly woven into the tapestry of American history.

Sunday marked the bombing’s 25th anniversary, with both historians and those who experienced the attack directly worried that the memory is fading even as the violent ideology that inspired Mr. McVeigh grows ever more prevalent.

“In today’s political environment, I hear echoes of the kind of rhetoric that I think inspired the perpetrators of the bombing,” said David F. Holt, 41, the Republican mayor of Oklahoma City. “I think that we all have an obligation to look at Oklahoma City — to look at that scar we have in our downtown — and remember where this all leads when you call other people your enemy, when you try to foster division and difference.”

Most anniversary events were canceled because of the coronavirus outbreak. The annual reading of the names was prerecorded, along with brief remarks by various political figures. Local television stations broadcast the hourlong remembrance video.

Homegrown terrorism is the main factor setting Oklahoma City apart.

“Americans forgot it pretty fast,” said David Neiwert, whose book “Alt-America” chronicles the spread of far-right extremism. “It is a difficult story to tell. It runs up against the whole narrative of American exceptionalism because that was an American terrorist, and Americans like to think that they don’t do that sort of thing, only guys in turbans do that.


Another lasting ill-effect of the lockdowns

Loneliness is bad for your health—certainly as bad as being obese, and possibly as bad as being a moderate smoker. So, in these days of plague, when enforced solitude is the order of the day in many places, how to stop solitude turning into loneliness is a pressing medical question.

One part of the answer is to try to understand the physiology of the change. And that has, for the past few years, been the objective of Steven Cole of the University of California, Los Angeles. Dr Cole began his work with a study he published in 2015, in collaboration with John Cacioppo of the University of Chicago. The pair led a team of psychologists, neuroscientists and immunologists who found that the pattern in people’s blood of immune cells called myeloid cells is notably different in those who score as “very lonely” on loneliness tests compared with those who do not.

Lonely people have unusually low numbers of a type of myeloid cell that generates what are known as interferon responses, which hamper viral replication. This makes them particularly vulnerable to viral infections. They also have an abundance of a second type of myeloid cell, one that promotes the activity of genes which drive inflammation—and it has been known for years that those who feel lonely experience more inflammation than those who do not.

These correlations are intriguing, but do not explain which comes first, the loneliness or the myeloid response. Dr Cole and Dr Cacioppo addressed that question by repeatedly measuring perceptions of social isolation in individual volunteers, while simultaneously tracking, from blood samples, their gene-expression patterns and other changes in their physiology. They found that, initially, volunteers’ feelings of isolation coincided with an increase in their inflammation genes’ activity and a concomitant increase in the circulation of immature immune cells, called monocytes, that are involved in inflammation— and which are also known to travel into the brain and promote anxiety. They noted, too, increased levels in the brain of signalling molecules associated with both inflammation and behaviours such as social withdrawal, feelings of suspicion towards the outside world and a tendency to act more defensively by making decisions that involve few risks. That, of course, promotes further feelings of loneliness. Which, in turn, trigger a further myeloid response. And so on.

It seems, therefore, that though loneliness starts with solitude, it can quickly take on a physiological life of its own. Dr Cole thus worries that the enforced isolation, brought about by current circumstances, of those who are already living alone may create in many people a state of chronic loneliness that is difficult to escape from when things start returning to normal.

Dealing with this will not be a simple matter of allowing people to socialise once again. Because the myeloid feedback loop makes those affected more defensive and suspicious, the mere presence of others is not enough to restore the status quo.


Quillette: ‘The Rise of Jordan Peterson’— A Review

Given today’s downward cultural spiral, it’s disturbing but not surprising that the makers of a thoughtful new documentary about Jordan Peterson are having a hard time finding somewhere to show their film. Many mainstream and independent cinemas have refused to screen it because they’re “fearful of controversy” or “morally concerned.” One theater in Toronto cancelled a week-long showing after some of the staff “took issue with it.” A theater in Brooklyn cancelled a second screening, despite the fact that the first sold out and received good reviews, “because some staff were offended . . . and felt uncomfortable.”

Jordan Peterson. Jordan Peterson. Jordan Peterson! That name, that man, that swirling storm of impassioned controversies—again? After the flood of protests, podcasts, profiles, social media storms, hit pieces, and heartfelt testimonials that saturated the English-speaking world after Peterson posted his “Professor Against Political Correctness” video in Fall 2016, some might assume that squelching a new film about him is no big deal. After all, is there really anything worthwhile left to say about the man and the cultural maelstrom he provoked?

As it turns out, the answer is “yes.” Having watched the recently released 90-minute documentary, The Rise of Jordan Peterson, I can say this with confidence. The documentary follows Peterson’s unexpected skyrocket to fame by cross-cutting previously unseen and pre-existing footage in ways that are original, empathetic, and thought provoking. Clips of lectures, protests, and newscasts familiar to those who followed Peterson’s rise are expertly interwoven with fresh footage of past events, as well as exclusive interviews with him and a wide array of family members, friends, colleagues, and, importantly, critics (categories which, in some cases, overlap). There are also intimate scenes of Peterson in his home—strangely and rather disturbingly decorated with giant agitprop paintings—and his hometown of Toronto, Canada (which looks oddly bucolic, by comparison).

What makes The Rise of Jordan Peterson particularly notable is that it neither shies away from the political controversies surrounding Peterson, nor allows itself to be defined or limited by them. Peterson, of course, became an intensely polarizing figure immediately after posting his video critique of then-pending Bill C-16, which added gender identity and expression to the categories protected under the Canadian Human Rights Act and Criminal Code in 2017. (Peterson’s core objection to the legislation, as I understand it, is that this constitutes a dangerous expansion of the state’s power to control and even compel speech.) Consequent commentary tended to follow predictable lines: Progressives condemned him; conservatives praised him; and his more apolitical fans tried to stay out of the fray.

Rather than conforming to any one of these positions, The Rise of Jordan Peterson weaves the political debates into a richer tapestry of human issues, concerns, and relationships. The psychological and mythological realms, which are central to Peterson’s primary body of work (a fact since overshadowed by ugly disputes over his real and imagined politics), are invoked in ways that communicate their irreducible mystery and complexity. This is not easy to do, particularly when navigating such intensely contested ideological terrain. The result is a refreshingly original take on the Peterson phenomenon, with the vision and skill to transcend the intellectually and emotionally suffocating boxes with which it has typically been framed.

A Kaleidoscopic Narrative

The film (and its trailer) opens with an image of an unusual stained glass window that I found so arresting, I paused the video to look at it more closely. There’s a horseshoe studded with faceted jewels, a circle of roses, two green clovers, blue-green ivy garlands, classical columns. The images feel symbolically resonant, but impossible to place. The window looks like it might be part of an old university, or perhaps a church.

In fact, it’s located just outside Peterson’s front door. The camera follows him as he walks toward the window, opens the door beside it, and turns to go down the hallway and up the stairs. Virtually all of the available wall space in his house is filled with paintings. There’s a gigantic image of a triumphant Lenin pontificating before an attentive crowd, peppered with men brandishing rifles and red Soviet flags. All this flashes by in less than half a minute, accompanied by foreboding music.

A barrage of film clips and voiceovers then roll by in rapid succession—shots of Peterson’s lectures, newscasts, and podcasts; protesters; theater marques announcing his appearances; newspaper headlines denouncing him. A fan testifies: “He is the ultimate father figure.” An anti-Peterson activist sneers: “So, you’re anti-justice. Are you a Batman villain?” We see Peterson lecturing in front of enormous crowds. “Man does not live by bread alone,” he says. “Spiritual bread, that’s the story.”

Open-minded viewers may wonder: Why has there been such tremendous cultural and political churning around Peterson? Why did he so suddenly become such a famous (or, for many, infamous) public figure? What’s the best way to understand the significance not only of the man and his work, but also the tsunami of positive and negative attention he has generated?

The Rise of Jordan Peterson offers no simple answers to questions like these. It isn’t a conventional talking heads-style documentary. It doesn’t seek to hammer an agenda into its audience. Instead, the film honors the complexity of both of Peterson, his supporters, and his critics. It recognizes that the issues involved are enormous, complicated, and in many ways much bigger than the particular individuals, groups, and causes involved. Following Peterson’s sudden rise to fame in real time with an attentive ear, the story it shares is not reducible to a hashtag.

To appreciate the profound complexity of individuals and events is to recognize that both are embedded in larger patterns of social and historical relationships. Some of these patterns are so big that they are extremely difficult, if not impossible, to grasp. While it’s never explicitly stated, The Rise of Jordan Peterson feels like it’s exploring terrain that includes more than the understandings of reality and fact many of us take for granted. The many symbolic images that flash by—the stained glass, the paintings, a crucifix, and what look like several indigenous masks—evoke the extra-rational power of art, myth, ritual, ideology, and religion. These are powerful themes, central to Peterson’s primary body of work.

The Rise of Jordan Peterson constructs a kaleidoscopic narrative that enables the viewer to look at the same sequence of events in several different ways. Engaging with the film fully demands a willingness to listen to a wide and often conflicting range of perspectives. Those who insist on placing Peterson in an airtight box, and seeing him solely as either a holy prophet or a demonic villain, will almost certainly neither like nor understand this film. After all, it’s designed to raise questions that, if acknowledged, would devastate such one-dimensional caricatures.

On the other hand, those open to considering the man, his work, and the controversies swirling around him in a new light should value and enjoy the film. It’s an exceptional accomplishment that this should be true regardless of whether they’re fans, critics, or simply curious to know what all the fuss has been about. Weaving a multiplicity of narratives together into a powerful, if complex storyline, The Rise of Jordan Peterson inspires the viewer to think, feel, question, and reflect.

The Backstory

After watching the preview screener, I contacted the director and producer, Patricia Marcoccia, to learn more about how it came to be made, and the distribution problems she’s now facing. Having spoken to Marcoccia and her husband and co-producer, Maziar Ghaderi, for over an hour on the phone, I have a better understanding of how and why they came to make such an unusual film.

Given Peterson’s political divisiveness, one might assume that anyone deciding to make a film about him would be motivated by pre-existing views on the controversies that have engulfed him (in particular, hot button issues of sex and gender). By extension, one might think that any film about Peterson would want to show his social impact as either redemptive or destructive. But that wasn’t the genesis of this film, and it’s not what it communicates.


What If the Lockdown Was All A Big Mistake?

by Ron Paul

From California to New Jersey, Americans are protesting in the streets. They are demanding an end to house arrest orders given by government officials over a virus outbreak that even according to the latest US government numbers will claim fewer lives than the seasonal flu outbreak of 2017-2018.

Across the US, millions of businesses have been shut down by “executive order” and the unemployment rate has skyrocketed to levels not seen since the Great Depression. Americans, who have seen their real wages decline thanks to Federal Reserve monetary malpractice, are finding themselves thrust into poverty and standing in breadlines. It is like a horror movie, but it’s real.

Last week the UN Secretary General warned that a global recession resulting from the worldwide coronavirus lockdown could cause “hundreds of thousands of additional child deaths per year.” As of this writing, less than 170,000 have been reported to have died from the coronavirus worldwide.

Many Americans have also died this past month because they were not able to get the medical care they needed. Cancer treatments have been indefinitely postponed. Life-saving surgeries have been put off to make room for coronavirus cases. Meanwhile hospitals are laying off thousands because the expected coronavirus cases have not come and the hospitals are partially empty.

What if the “cure” is worse than the disease?

Countries like Sweden that did not lock down their economy and place the population under house arrest are faring no worse than countries that did. Sweden’s deaths-per-million from coronavirus is lower than in many lockdown countries.

Likewise, US states that did not arrest citizens for merely walking on the beach are not doing worse than those that did. South Dakota governor Kristi Noem said last week, “we've been able to keep our businesses open and allow people to take on some personal responsibility." South Dakota has recorded a total of seven coronavirus deaths.

Kentucky, a strict lockdown state, is five times more populated than South Dakota, yet it has some 20 times more coronavirus deaths. If lockdown and house arrest are the answer, shouldn’t those numbers be reversed, with South Dakota seeing mass death while Kentucky dodges the coronavirus bullet?

When Anthony Fauci first warned that two million would die, there was a race among federal, state, and local officials to see who could rip up the Constitution fastest. Then Fauci told us if we do what he says only a quarter of a million would die. They locked America down even harder. Then, with little more than a shrug of the shoulders, they announced that a maximum of 60,000 would die, but maybe less. That is certainly terrible, but it’s just a high-average flu season.

Imagine if we had used even a fraction of the resources spent to lock down the entire population and focused on providing assistance and protection to the most vulnerable – the elderly and those with serious medical conditions. We could have protected these people and still had an economy to go back to when the virus had run its course. And it wouldn’t have cost us six trillion dollars either.

Governments have no right or authority to tell us what business or other activity is “essential.” Only in totalitarian states does the government claim this authority. We should encourage all those who are standing up peacefully and demanding an accounting from their elected leaders. They should not be able to get away with this.



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


23 April, 2020

Trump to Announce Big Deregulation Moves to Speed Economic Recovery

President Donald Trump will "slash" regulations in a bid to jumpstart the economy as COVID-19 restrictions begin to loosen around the country. The Washington Post's Jeff Stein and Robert Costa reported earlier today that "senior administration officials are planning effort to relax rules" perhaps as soon as late April, which is just days away. The reporters spoke to two people "familiar with the internal planning" who told them that the "initiative is expected to center on suspending federal regulations for small businesses," as well as "expanding an existing administration program that requires agencies to revoke two regulations for every new one they issue." The changes could affect "environmental policy, labor policy, workplace safety and health care," among others.

I say, "Bring it on."

Or as I wrote for our PJMedia VIP members in March: "Deregulation: It'll Cure What Ails Ya."

Today, the Democratic Congress and the Republican Trump administration are looking at various bailout and stimulus packages because sadly, that's the kind of government we have now -- and have had for a long time. As [Lee E.] Ohanian, vice chair of UCLA’s Department of Economics, warned, "We found that a relapse isn’t likely unless lawmakers gum up a recovery with ill-conceived stimulus policies." But it isn't often anymore that I mount my mighty steed to go crusading against bigly government spending, because frankly, almost no one cares.

But there is good news coming out of the crisis caused by the Chinese coronavirus from Wuhan, a city in China ruled by Chinese Communists where the Chinese-sourced Sino-virus came from. There's even good news coming out of Washington.

In our proper haste in fighting the virus, Washington is eliminating a lot of red tape.

Deregulation got put on hold in Washington, as there were more urgent measures to take care of, like injecting the economy with enough liquidity to keep things from going completely Tango Uniform. But now that various states are preparing to loosen up on business closures and the like, the Trump Administration is getting serious about getting "the hell out of my way," as John Galt would put it.

Rather than exploit Coronavirus to seize more power, this administration is responding with deregulation and decentralization.

Trump's really bad at this whole authoritarian thing, isn't he?

Also under consideration are a payroll tax cut, more infrastructure spending, and more aid to state and local governments. But those, unlike eliminating prohibitive regulations, would be temporary stimulants instead of permanent ones. We learned during 2009-2010 that brief payroll tax cuts don't provide much stimulus and that sending state governments metric craptons of cash is usually just an invitation to state governments to indulge in pet projects.

Not everyone is excited by that as I am, of course. The WaPo report I linked above felt the need to frame it this way:

Still, the Trump initiative will probably be fiercely criticized by congressional Democrats and other economic experts, who say the administration’s attempts to repeal business regulations reflect long-standing conservative priorities rather than a measure that will help Americans survive the current public health and economic emergency. Trump has for years celebrated a massive deregulatory push under his administration as an economic boost, but opponents say the efforts have created more environmental and labor hazards for workers and consumers.

Business Insider's Joseph Zeballos-Roig didn't even wait for the actual announcement from the White House before leading with "Republicans Pounce!" The headline to his story reads: "The Trump administration is seizing on the coronavirus pandemic to roll back business regulations as it pushes to reopen the economy." Yes, shame on that nasty Trump White House for trying to help during a crisis.

There hasn't been much pushback -- yet -- but only because the White House hasn't announced anything officially or specific. That will change quickly, probably by the end of the week or early next week at the latest, if the administration sticks to its leaked timeline for late April/early May.

So stay tuned, because the howls of outrage will be beautiful music to our ears.


UK: Desperate dad,  33,  resorts to pulling out his own tooth in an excruciating hour-long ordeal - as dentists warn of 'critical' PPE shortage

Another shocking penalty of a lockdown

A desperate father resorted to pulling out his own tooth in an excruciating hour-long ordeal after he couldn't get an emergency appointment with a dentist.

Billy Taylor, 33, from Devon, decided to take the tooth out as he couldn't handle the pain. He had been told by NHS 111 that unless he was struggling to breathe, there was nothing they could do to help.

Dentists have today warned that patients are being left untreated as urgent treatment centres face a shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE).

Patients with urgent matters such as infections are being forced to take matters into their own hands, as dentists are unable to see them as they do not have the adequate supplies.

The British Dental Association said that 54 per cent of dentists in England have been unable to treat patients at urgent dental care (UDC) hubs, that have been set up across the country after surgeries closed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The 33-year-old this morning told BBC's Radio 4: ‘I phoned my dentist and they said they were closed and would put me on an emergency waiting list but I didn’t know how long that would take so I phoned 111 and they basically said that unless it was stopping me from breathing they couldn’t do anything.

'This wasn’t the case but the pain was excruciating, so I got an ice pack put it on my face until I couldn’t feel it anymore and the final tug,  me and my son just went for it and it came out, it was quite tricky, I thought maybe 20 minutes but it took an hour and a half.'

Billy had to take drastic measure due to the shortage of urgent care centres open, and even some centres that are open are unable to perform some treatments due to a lack of PPE.

Dr Mike Urlish from West Yorkshire said he is working at the Brighouse surgery but is unable to treat anyone.  ‘I have all the equipment to treat people but I’m not doing it, all I’m allowed to do is give prescriptions out because we have no PPE.

What should you do if you are experiencing dental issues?

Vice Chair of Dental Association Eddie Crouch today said that it's still important to seek help for dental issues.

He said that if a patient has swelling that is impacting the airway or the eyes, then you should attend A&E.  'But if they are not that severe they should phone their local dental practice where the dentist will give then some advice, some antibiotics and if that doesn’t work then that dentist can refer them on to a dental care centre when they are operating.'

'Some dental infections can be life threatening, we know people are keeping away from hospitals but if you have something that severe you ought to be turning up at A&E.'

'We haven’t seen anyone for three weeks because a face to face without the appropriate PPE is not advised and not possible.  I’ve advised people to get temporary filling kits, to take pain killers and if necessary we can prescribe anti biotics but that’s all we can do’.

Dr Urlish said he ordered visors from a school technology department but can’t get hold of the right masks.

‘There aren’t enough in the country and I understand that, they need to go to A&Es and hospitals obviously but we can’t do anything without them because using the dental drill creates an aerosol spray which can spread virus particles.

'It’s not just a case of getting these masks they need to be professionally fitted as well’.

Despite the shortages chief dental officer Sara Hurley, says PPE is on its ways and that a network of more than 200 urgent care centres is up and running.

But Dr Urlish said there are no urgent dental centres in his region and said his surgery has applied to be one but has not heard back.

‘The urgent dental centres still have not been set up and that’s because they haven’t got the PPE, I’m frustrated, I think that is the only word, frustrated I can’t do what I know I should be able to do’.

Vice Chair of Dental Association Eddie Crouch said there is a back log in of patients that are in pain, he said dentists want to help them but added that they need the support to do so.

‘Some PPE is acceptable for doing non-aerosol procedures but that limits what the dentist can do for his patient. Many of our techniques and treatments involve aerosol and wearing the proper respirator type masks and gowns and we know that this is a real problem across the health service.

'We know dentistry is low priority in comparison to saving lives but we do want to help patients and it’s ridiculous that patients are taking their own teeth out in a country'.

With pressure already mounting on the struggling NHS due to the amount of coronavirus cases and a shortage of PPE, Mr Crouch said further dental problems could put even more of a strain on the NHS.

'Many of the countries, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales have been delivering urgent care centres for much longer than we have in England and the real problem is the organisation within NHS England.

'The command structure that is there means things are done a lot slower and it means that we have had to wait in England a lot longer for policy and distribution and in other countries it seems to have been much slicker and patients are being seen quicker’.


A shocking penalty for love

Six people were flogged for violating Islamic law in an arch-conservative province of Indonesia today, in a ceremony which was scaled down because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The public canings in Aceh province sometimes attract large crowds of eager spectators taking pictures on their phones, but today's punishments were carried out indoors with just a handful of people there.

One unmarried couple were punished after they were caught together in a hotel room, while another four were flogged 40 times each for drinking alcohol.

Many of those watching were wearing masks, while the cane-wielding enforcer wears a hood in any case - but not all of the victims themselves had their faces covered. 

Flogging is common for a range of offences in the region at the tip of Sumatra island, including gambling, drinking alcohol and having gay sex.

Today's six victims were convicted before the coronavirus outbreak and officials decided to continue with the canings on a scaled-back basis, local media says.

'To comply with current conditions, we're trying to cut unnecessary procedures like the usual opening speech,' said Safriadi, the official responsible for Sharia punishments in provincial capital Banda Aceh.

'We just carried out the flogging directly to make it simpler. Whipping will still go on, but we're limiting the number of people involved,' added Safriadi, who goes by one name.

Despite the painful punishment, one man whipped for drinking alcohol - who also served a three-month jail term for the offence - said he was relieved to be free to join his family for the fasting month of Ramadan.  'I got bored in prison and now I'm finally a free man,' he said. 'Ramadan is coming and I couldn't imagine fasting in prison.' 

Aceh is the only region in the world's biggest Muslim-majority country that imposes Islamic law. About 98 per cent of Aceh's five million residents are Muslims and therefore subject to the law, known locally as Qanun.

A 100-stroke punishment is reserved for the most severe crimes and offenders may also be sentenced to prison time.

Rights groups have slammed public caning as cruel, and Indonesia's President Joko Widodo has called for it to end, but the practice has wide support among Aceh's population.

Aceh adopted sharia after it was granted special autonomy in 2001, an attempt by the central government to quell a long-running separatist insurgency


Rule of law meets Covid-19

In the space of just a few weeks, the rule of law in Australia has both triumphed in the High Court’s judgement in Pell v The Queen and taken a battering from state governments’ social distancing rules under emergency powers invoked in the name of fighting Covid-19.

The rule of law does not mean imposing the iron fist of a police state, shades of which are to be found in the states’ restrictions. It means, among other things, transparency and lack of ambiguity in the law and the absence of arbitrary action in its application and enforcement.

Most of us accept the need for some social distancing rules to apply for a short period, but the current restrictions go to absurd lengths, lack clarity, leave too much leeway for arbitrary action by officials – and for all those reasons offend against the rule of law.

The relevant NSW ministerial order, for example, includes a list of acceptable reasons for people to leave their place of residence and puts all other reasons – a very large and unspecified residual – as in the unlawful category. This approach offends against the very idea of a free society in that it is a law defining what we CAN do, not what we CANNOT do. Free societies don’t need to be told what they can do.

The inconsistencies, ambiguities and potential for misinterpretation in the NSW order abound. Little wonder that people don’t know what they can and can’t legally do and police and bureaucrats are making up their own interpretations as they go.

The rule of law isn’t like a decoration to be taken down when it becomes inconvenient to the exercise of state power. It is there to protect our freedoms from abuses of state power. The Berejiklian government should immediately rescind this repugnant ministerial order and replace it with something that is less restrictive, unambiguous and defines what residents of NSW cannot do, not what they can do.

In the meantime, it would not be a bad thing if everyone in possession of one of those on-the-spot police fines exercises their right not to pay it and to have their case heard by a court.



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


22 April, 2020

‘Trust the Experts on Coronavirus’. Sure. Which Experts?

James Delingpole

Britain could suffer more than 60,000 coronavirus death by July, warns the Daily Mail. But there’s a massive tell in the first sentence of the report: “…leading scientists say.”

And there’s an even bigger warning in the second paragraph:  “Modelling by researchers at the University of Washington predicted 151,680 people would succumb to the virus across the continent.”

Well maybe they will, maybe they won’t. No offence to the University of Washington but when I read the phrase “modelling by researchers” I know we are operating in the realms of purest fantasy.

That’s because I’m a climate sceptic and I’ve seen it all before.

The fact that computer models are unreliable — often based on the junkiest of junk data inputs; programmed with the shonkiest and most politically motivated algorithms, put together by people you wouldn’t trust to run a bath let alone dictate government policy — is the single most important thing you need to know about the entire global warming/climate change scam. This was the basis of the 2009 Climategate scandal: that the scientists were pushing a radical, disruptive, economically damaging agenda without any solid supporting evidence.

Everyone on the climate sceptical side of the argument knows this: the models are deeply suspect; the people behind them third rate; the scientific establishment pushing them arrogant,  intellectually and morally corrupt, driven by politics, money and power not by honest science.

That’s why climate sceptics like myself have often been much quicker to understand what the rest of the world is only slowly starting to grasp: that our governments’ response to coronavirus has been a wild overreaction; that the cure is in danger of causing much, much more damage than the disease itself.

Typical of this problem is Dr Anthony Fauci, the medic largely informing President Trump’s lockdown policy. Fauci often likes to say in the frequent interviews he gives that he wants to ‘overreact’ to the crisis.

For example, he told ‘Meet the Press’ last month:  “I think we should really be overly aggressive and get criticized for overreacting.”

This may sound forthright, proactive but hints at a toxic abuse of power and a misguided approach to policy. If you’re ‘overly’ aggressive, that means you are being unnecessarily aggressive.

If you’re ‘overreacting’ then, by definition, you are making the wrong reaction.  The correct reaction — again, by definition — is one that is neither under, nor over, but just right.

So what is the correct policy response to the global coronavirus pandemic? The answer depends, of course, on which experts you ask. And therein lies the problem. If so many serious, respected, credentialed figures are coming up with such wildly different judgements and policy prescriptions we should all be very worried.

What if the experts our governments are relying on to give them policy advice are the wrong experts?

If what I’ve seen in my years observing the climate science establishment is anything to go by, I’d say the experts currently dictating your life and my life probably are the wrong experts.

Take Professor Neil Ferguson of Imperial College, London — arguably the single most influential person in the world right now: it was on the basis of his doomsday report that both Prime Minister Boris Johnson and President Trump were frightened, against their liberty-leaning instincts, into instituting the lockdowns which are killing jobs, businesses and the economy.

Ferguson’s predictions of mass deaths — 500,000 in Britain alone — would be huge if they came true.

But it has since emerged that Ferguson has a track record of getting things spectacularly wrong. For example, his recommended response to the UK’s 2001 Foot and Mouth epidemic is now widely recognised as having led to the needless slaughter of millions of animals. (What’s the word for such an unnecessarily zealous response? Oh yes. ‘Overreaction’)

His modelling has been described by critics as ‘not fit for purpose.’ Worse — a breach of the most basic scientific etiquette — he has been reluctant to share the code which he used to model his doomsday conclusions.

According to Benny Peiser and Andrew Montford of the Global Warming Policy Foundation, writing in the Wall Street Journal:

"Several researchers have apparently asked to see Imperial’s calculations, but Prof. Neil Ferguson, the man leading the team, has said that the computer code is 13 years old and thousands of lines of it “undocumented,” making it hard for anyone to work with, let alone take it apart to identify potential errors. He has promised that it will be published in a week or so, but in the meantime reasonable people might wonder whether something made with 13-year-old, undocumented computer code should be used to justify shutting down the economy. Meanwhile, the authors of the Oxford model have promised that their code will be published “as soon as possible.”

Are we really sure that this is the ‘expert’ on whose advice we ought to be basing the future of the U.S. and the UK economies?

And even supposing for a moment that Ferguson’s modelling isn’t bunk, we still have another major problem: Ferguson is a scientist with a very particular set of priorities and areas of understanding which may have only passing relevance to broader public policy.

One of the stupid things you often hear people say these days is: “We should trust the epidemiologists. We should trust the virologists.”

Oh, sure. But which epidemiologists and which virologists?

What about Professor Dr Sucharit Bhakdi — an infectious medicine specialist and one of the most highly cited medical research scientists in German, formerly head of the Institute for Medical Microbiology at the Johannes Gutenberg University of Mainz. Should we trust him?

If so then we are currently moving in the completely wrong direction with our lockdown policies which he has described as “grotesque, absurd, and very dangerous.”

In the unlikely event we can make up our minds which epidemiologists and virologists and other science experts to back, another problem arises: single objective function bias.

I recently discussed this with Professor Don Siegel, of the public policy department at Arizona State University. (You can listen to the podcast here, here or here).

Prof Siegel describes the coronavirus lockdown policy as ‘the grandest social experiment in history’ which has been ‘designed by public health officials’ in which we are all ‘unwilling subjects.’ This social experiment has been conducted without consent or proper ethical oversight — and all on the say-so of public health officials like Dr Fauci whose judgements are skewed by his ‘single objective function’ bias.

That is, he thinks like a scientist whose sole concern is to reduce coronavirus deaths to the barest minimum. What he does not consider, because it’s not his job, are the broader effects on the economy.

The history of science is littered with examples of vested interests, intransigent or dishonest Establishment shills (such as Stalin’s pet liar Trofim Lysenko), false assumptions, Appeals to Authority, and whopping errors. This is in the nature of science: an ongoing process of trial and error, conducted by flawed human beings who have got to eat and pay the rent.

That’s why, usually, few governments have ever been so stupid as to entrust vital policy decisions to such people. That way madness lies. Yet madness, currently, seems to have been the course most of the world’s great economies have adopted.

Trust the experts, the politicians tell us. But we don’t know these experts. We have no idea whether or not we can trust them or their models. And we certainly never voted for any of them — nor, unfortunately, do we have the ability to boot them out of office when they fail us.

That’s why we should all be concerned, very concerned about what’s being done to our countries in the name of dispassionate ‘expert’ advice.

President Trump’s first instincts — as they so often are — were right. ‘We can’t have the cure be worse than the problem,’ he said.

Amen, Mr President. So, sooner rather than later, please can we have our countries back?


The Coronavirus has exposed the British health service's inflexibility and over-centralisation

The coronavirus pandemic has had two effects on British perceptions of the NHS. On the one hand, it has reinforced admiration of the staff. Nurses, doctors and other personnel have been like soldiers going into battle. They have got close to patients infected with the deadly virus and knowingly accepted a high risk of catching it themselves. The Government acknowledged last week that 19 NHS staff have died and that number is undoubtedly higher by now. Our clapping of NHS employees has been heartfelt and is well-deserved.

At the same time, another perception has been brought home to us. For many years, public debate about the NHS has been conducted as if there were only two healthcare systems in the world: the NHS and the American one. The American system has been depicted as heartlessly demanding to see your credit card on arrival in hospital and, in the absence of one, turning you away. Not surprisingly, the NHS emerged in these debates as a preferable system.

But the pandemic has been a vivid reminder that there are hundreds of other healthcare systems around the world and that many – or even most – have performed better than our own. Of course, it is early days and it will be a long time before a final reckoning is possible, taking into account the age-profiles of different populations, the density of how they live and such factors. But on the latest figures, the bald fact is that Britain ranks fifth worst in the world in deaths per million, coming after Spain, Belgium, Italy and France. We have become painfully aware that we have been behind the world in testing, too. Britain is struggling to build up to 100,000 tests a day by the end of this month whereas Germany was conducting 116,000 tests a day two weeks ago.

We entered the crisis with a lower proportion of intensive care units per capita than other countries and fewer ventilators. The more we admire and want to protect the NHS staff, the more we should be disturbed by the way that the NHS has not always managed to provide protective equipment for them. It is embarrassing to hear the Government resort to the excuse of “logistical problems” for this failing when other countries have overcome such problems. We find ourselves a charity case, being given a million masks by Taiwan.

Taiwan, along with South Korea, Singapore and Hong Kong were all much closer to the source of the virus in China. To begin with, South Korea was one of the countries worst affected. But all these countries have managed to contain the spread of the virus to a remarkable degree. British deaths per million have been 190 so far. In these countries the figures have been 0.3, 4, 2 and 0.5 respectively. In due course, their figures may rise. But they have, at the least, bought time in which the researchers of the world may be able to develop an anti-body test, find treatments and, eventually, create a vaccine.

In the short term, admiration for NHS staff understandably overwhelms all else and we have to face the crisis as best we can. But when things have settled, we owe it to those staff as well as ourselves and those we love to look more closely at other systems. A truly independent inquiry with experts from around the world should be established to see where the NHS did well and where it fell short.

The most notable characteristic of the British system is that it is the most top-down, centralised one of any advanced country. In contrast, in Germany, 132 different laboratories – publicly-owned and private – got testing quickly. Their system is based on compulsory, individual health insurance which everyone has. It is diverse in its organisation and ownership. This diversity has endowed it with a flexibility and readiness to innovate that is not so easy in our command and control system.

I have just emerged from having 10 days of Covid-19 symptoms. It was, to be honest, scary: the first time in my life that I have thought it possible that I might imminently die. Believe me, that kind of experience makes one want Britain to have the best possible healthcare system, regardless of all prior tradition or prejudice.


Just 19 patients treated over Easter weekend at 4,000-bed NHS Nightingale hospital in London

Bed shortage?  What bed shortage?  This removes one of the major rationales for the lockdown

The new 4,000-bed temporary NHS Nightingale hospital in East London treated just 19 patients over the Easter weekend, it has emerged.

Leaked data shows the tiny handful of patients were treated at the massive overflow facility as intensive care capacity at existing London hospitals never went above 80 per cent.

It comes as an NHS chief in the North East of England predicted the Nightingale hospital under construction there is unlikely to be needed.

Occupying London’s Excel conference and events centre, NHS Nightingale London was built in just nine days after a massive operation involving military planners.

Including 2,900 intensive care beds, it is principally intended to be a critical care facility for seriously ill but stable Covid-19 patients who have transferred from permanent London hospitals....


Cardinal Pell and the Ladies of the Left

The next time you hear some strident feminist sounding off about glass ceilings and the supposed exclusion of women from decision-making, think of the case of George Pell. No connection? Oh yes there is. Gender quotas were not only filled but arguably exceeded by the volume of female participation in the long and sorry saga of Pell’s persecution.

All that blather you still hear on places like Radio National about men being in charge of everything and women chained to the sink is no longer true, if ever it was. Very powerful, high-achieving women had a big say in cooking up the case against Pell and in putting him away. Their involvement shows that the notion of male domination in the professions is a straw – I suppose we should say – person, set up by feminists to foster the myth that women are “oppressed” (by white conservatives males like Pell, presumably; as paid-up members of the Left, feminists would naturally believe that).

Let’s see, who shall we start with? Well, Louise Milligan of the ABC hurled herself into the fray very early on. As a reporter, she has more opportunity than most people to air her views, courtesy of your tax dollars. But not content with that, she wrote a book as well (on the taxpayer’s time?) telling the world how guilty Pell was, or more accurately, how guilty she had decided he was, since her literary effort appeared some time before any accusations against Pell had been made in court.

Then there was the woman who published the book, Louise Adler. She used the once respected imprint of Melbourne University Press to disseminate Louise’s anthology of vicious tittle-tattle, which conceivably did its bit to prejudice the minds of any potential jurors who read it. It might be noted that Adler’s other name is Mrs Max Gillies. She is married to the comedian emeritus of the elderly Dismissal-fixated Left, once a virtual fixture on the ABC – where else? – for his unflattering impersonations of Sir John Kerr and John Howard, two of the most noir of the elderly Left’s bêtes noires. Perhaps he has added George Pell to his repertoire, using Louise’s book as a source, if Mrs Gillies brought him home a copy.

Next in line chronologically is Belinda Wallington. She is the magistrate (indeed, the Supervising Magistrate for Sexual Offences at the Magistrates Court of Victoria) who sorted out the original charges against Pell, chucking out the flimsiest and sending him for trial on the others, which it now turns out were not much less flimsy. There is a photograph (below) of Belinda and Louise together in May 2017, when they took part in a cosy ABC natter-in called The Conversation Hour, with the topic “George Pell allegations and Law Week”. There is, of course, no known photograph of the Wallington with Pell.

As we know, the first trial was a washout and a second trial was held, which led to Pell’s conviction. This gave another of our ABC ladies, Leigh Sales, a thrill of joy. Introducing her programme she announced in ringing tones, categorically and as though she was the bearer of great good news (which indeed it was to people like her), “George Pell is a convicted paedophile.” Leigh was clearly untroubled by any of the doubts as to the justice of the conviction, doubts that more than a year later would lead the High Court to overturn it.

Our fifth influential female is Chief Justice of Victoria Anne Ferguson. She it was who presided over the Appeal Court that turned down Pell’s appeal against his conviction, an action for which the Victorian court was reproached by the High Court in no uncertain terms. Ferguson and a male judge were two-to-one in this against a third judge (male) whose dissenting judgment anticipated much that the High Court had to say.

Ferguson was appointed to her post as Chief Justice of Victoria by the Labor government of Daniel Andrews, which seems to have decided that substantial experience of the criminal law was not necessary for the post and that a former commercial solicitor would do as well. Andrews, one imagines, is not been best pleased by Pell’s acquittal, given that he thought it was “shameful” for Tony Abbott even to visit Pell in prison. Has he never read Matthew 25:36?

Andrews issued a statement after the acquittal that pointedly ignored the judgment and assured all “victims” of child abuse, and by implication Pell’s accuser, that he “believed” them. Apart from the fact that you can’t believe Pell, as the High Court does, and believe his accuser at the same time, Andrews hasn’t heard, and probably never will, what most of those other “survivors” have to say, so how can he “believe” it?

It is this perverse willingness to accept any and every abuse allegation made by anyone, anywhere, whether motivated by truth, vindictiveness or vengeance, that has led not only to the legal shambles deplored by the High Court, but to the growth, aided and abetted by sinister lawyers posing as compassionate champions of the “hurt” and the “damaged”, of a bloated child-abuse industry which has yielded a harvest of destroyed careers among the wrongfully accused to set against the numbers of genuinely abused for whom it has obtained justice and compensation.

Although supposedly a Roman Catholic, Andrews comes across as viscerally anti-Pell – the two positions seem not to be irreconcilable, such is the power of Pell’s conservatism, religious and secular, to excite hysteria and loathing in the ranks of the Left. Only Tony Abbott seems to possess this weird, almost shamanic, capacity to the same degree.

Back to our catalogue of inquisitorial females, so let’s not overlook eminent jurist Kerri Judd, Victoria’s Director of Public Prosecutions and another Andrews appointment. Kerri was resolutely opposed to Pell’s appeal being upheld by the High Court and informed the bench that the best thing to do was to send him back to Victoria for another of those trials they do so well there. The court declined to accept this sage advice, which it described as “specious”.

Our national broadcaster seemed to delude itself that it constituted an alternative branch of the law vis-à-vis Pell, one that could influence the mind of the High Court through one of its mendacious “investigations” of the sort it made a fool of itself with when it tried to convict President Trump of colluding with Russia. The reporter behind that, Sarah Ferguson (“I’ve spent my professional life understanding power and trying to give succour to the weak when abused by power,” as she sanctimoniously informed an ABC in-house puff) presented three programs on child abuse by Catholic clergy, full of recycled “revelations”. It is perfectly possible that the ABC calculated that this would persuade the court to weigh very carefully the consequences in adverse public opinion, whipped up partly by itself, of any decision to acquit Pell. If so, it would only show how hubristic the ABC is. Certainly, Sarah’s programs were timed to coincide with the High Court’s deliberations, and either rain on the parade if Pell were cleared or give one last slam to the prison door if he were not.

The ABC is always crying poor but spent vast sums sending Sarah around the world to put her nasty snipes together, a vindictive squandering of taxpayers’ money that makes reform of the ABC even more urgent.

I haven’t touched on the female lawyers and “victims’ advocates” who gathered around the scaffold in the hope of seeing Pell’s head roll. Consider instead some of the many women who took his part – three female justices among the unanimous seven-to-zero of the High Court bench, the nuns who gave him hospitality on his first night of freedom, the female journalists such as Rita Panahi, Janet Albrechtsen and Miranda Devine who stood up for him and maintained his innocence when the pack was baying for his blood. It’s non-feminists who’ll be proud of them.



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


21 April, 2020  

Oxygen therapy not Ventilator?

Another whistleblower, a doctor treating Coronavirus patients himself has come out with a startling disclosure saying COVID-19 patients need Oxygen therapy not Ventilator and that we may be treating the wrong disease. He says the patients symptoms resemble High Altitude Sickness and not Pneumonia.

Dr. Cameron Kyle-Sidell is a doctor treating COVID-19 patients in New York City’s Maimonides Medical Center. Nine days ago Dr. Cameron opened an Intensive Care Unit to care for COVID-19 patients in New York City. Here is what he learned in his own words:

“I am a physician who has been working at the bedside of COVID+ patients in NYC. I believe we are treating the wrong disease and that we must change what we are doing if we want to save as many lives as possible.”

“In February, South Korean physicians reported that critical Covid-19 patients responded well to oxygen therapy without a ventilator. Patients are getting multiple organ damage from hypoxia. It’s not the pneumonia that’s the killer, it’s the cellular oxygen deprivation. And we are hurting these patients with ventilators.”

The past 48 hours or so have seen a huge revelation: COVID-19 causes prolonged and progressive hypoxia (starving your body of oxygen) by binding to the heme groups in hemoglobin in your red blood cells. People are simply desaturating (losing o2 in their blood), and that’s what eventually leads to organ failures that kill them, not any form of ARDS or pneumonia. All the damage to the lungs you see in CT scans are from the release of oxidative iron from the hemes, this overwhelms the natural defenses against pulmonary oxidative stress and causes that nice, always-bilateral ground glass opacity in the lungs.

Patients returning for re-hospitalization days or weeks after recovery suffering from apparent delayed post-hypoxic leukoencephalopathy strengthen the notion COVID-19 patients are suffering from hypoxia despite no signs of respiratory ‘tire out’ or fatigue.


A new normal awaits us

"The Moving Finger writes; and, having writ, Moves on: nor all thy Piety nor Wit Shall lure it back to cancel half a Line, Nor all thy Tears wash out a Word of it" -- Fitzgerald

The experts on TV have tackled a question occupying the minds of many anxious Americans worrying about their jobs: when will things get back to normal? If that means returning to the carefree days of just two months ago before the shutdown, the short answer is: hopefully never.

The coronavirus isn’t going anywhere; it’s just going to mutate, which it may be doing even now. We haven’t been able to eradicate other coronaviruses, like the one responsible for the common cold, nor have we been able to eradicate the seasonal flu, which constantly mutates, requiring new vaccines. It then follows that it’s folly to think about life without the virus, there’s only life with the virus and its future mutations and all the countless other microbes and their mutations.

So we shouldn’t hope for a return to “normalcy.” The old normalcy is what necessitated shutting down the world economy because of some pesky new bug. We don’t want to return to that normalcy, do we? Instead, there’ll be a “new normal” to live with. We had to adapt to a new normal after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, and we’re still being inconvenienced at airports by its new protocols. Another fairly recent new normal was that imposed by the AIDS epidemic, when we all learned that unprotected sex with strangers isn’t very bright (who knew?). The question should be: what will our newest new normal be like?

One sector of the economy that must adopt the new protocols of a new normal is aviation, especially international flights. Remember that Ebola, which makes our novel coronavirus look like the sniffles, was introduced into the U.S. via an international flight. “Patient Zero” in the AIDS epidemic was a flight attendant. And let’s not forget Richard Reid, the “Shoe Bomber,” who attempted to blow up an American Airlines jetliner en route from Paris to Miami.

On March 31, National Review ran “Coronavirus: The California Herd” by Victor Davis Hanson, whose must-read article addresses the considerable number of flights into California from China:

California… hosts dozens of daily direct flights from China in general to San Diego, SFO, LAX, and San Jose, and in particular, since 2014, several weekly nonstop flights from Wuhan. Of the nearly 15,000 passengers who were estimated to be arriving every day in the U.S. on flights from China in 2019 and 2020, the majority flew into California…

So given the state’s unprecedented direct air access to China, and given its large expatriate and tourist Chinese communities, especially in its huge denser metropolitan corridors in Los Angeles and the Bay Area, it could be that what thousands of Californians experienced as an unusually “early” and “bad” flu season might have also reflected an early coronavirus epidemic.

Hanson’s article advances the theory that because of the huge daily influx into California of Chinese nationals (all arriving by jet plane) that COVID-19 may have come to America earlier than thought, which allowed the residents of California to develop a herd immunity not seen in the rest of the country. If true, then the experts have misidentified the Patient Zero in this crisis.

On April 13, Hanson responded to critiques of his article, including one that ran at Slate. Hanson’s defense of his article may be even more interesting than the article itself, and it proves an object lesson in the need to do your homework before going after someone like VDH. (I don’t believe VDH provided a link to the Slate piece, so here it is.)

Whether this theory proves true or not, President Trump was right to halt flights from China back in January, and his ban should continue. Whether it’s international flights, like the 2017 travel ban, or foot traffic along the southern border, as in the 2018 caravans from Central America, Trump’s instincts seem pretty prescient. There were considerable cases of disease in the caravans, including tuberculosis, chickenpox, more exotic contagions, and possibly bubonic plague. Because Democrats wanted the caravans to be allowed into the country regardless of the diseases they carried, we’re lucky to have a president who is known germaphobe.

Time was when incoming peoples had to demonstrate their health with a sojourn at Ellis Island. But nowadays it’s easy to hop on a plane and fly all around the globe all the while infecting others. Just as new travel restrictions were imposed because of terrorism, we need to do the same for disease. And not only that, but terrorists can use airlines to deliberately spread disease and start pandemics. (That sobering idea, by the way, was treated in the flick 12 Monkeys.)

Since the genesis of COVID-19 seems to be interspecies infection, i.e. animal to human, the airlines need to end their abominable practice of allowing non-humans on flights, i.e. the so-called emotional support animals, like the “80-pound support pig [that] defecated in the aisle” of an American Airlines jet. It should be noted that pigs are cloven-hoofed creatures and susceptible to foot-and-mouth disease (FMD), which, although rare, can infect humans. Ranchers can be financially wiped out when entire herds must be destroyed due to FMD. Wouldn’t it be pathetic if unsuspecting ranchers introduced FMD to their livestock by tracking through pig feces on commercial jetliners?

For youngsters who may not know, Howard Hughes (1905-1976) back in his day was one of the world’s richest men and the head of TWA, the defunct Trans World Airlines. Hughes was an interesting dude, despite being a major germaphobe with raging OCD. Anyway, in the 2004 biopic The Aviator, actress Ava Gardner is helping Howard get presentable. After she shaves him, Howard looks down with pain and revulsion at his bathroom basin as his shaving foam and whiskers swirl down the drain, and he asks, “Does that look clean to you?” Gardner answers, “Nothing’s clean, Howard. But we do our best, right.”

Ava was right, everything is dirty. And not only that, it’s going to remain dirty. And things may get worse if we think we can return to the same normalcy that gave us this pandemic. It was a normalcy of carelessness, oblivious of the armies of invisible enemies all around us. We need to leave that normalcy behind. And we need to end this shutdown now and get back to work while we still have an economy to come back to.


Identity Politics Lied. New Yorkers Died

How identity politics pseudoscience left New York exposed to the Coronavirus.

Last year, New York City Health Commissioner Oxiris Barbot was warning that “even brief contact with the police or indirect exposure is associated with lasting harm to people’s physical and mental health”.

“We as a public health department have really been trying to frame criminal justice system involvement as an exposure,” Barbot’s epidemiologist, Kimberly Zweig, claimed.

Zweig had a degree in epidemiology, but her focus was entirely on PTSD and stress. Not on disease.

Why was New York City so badly unprepared for the arrival of the coronavirus? The answer was radical politics. And Barbot and Zweig embodied the public health mismanagement of a radical administration.

Commissioner Oxiris Barbot, the disgraced figure at the center of the city’s coronavirus meltdown, had graduated from the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey in 1991. She had worked as a pediatrician, before being selected as the Medical Director for the Office of School Health in New York in 2003. Her qualification for the job was unclear and her bio doesn’t list any administrative degrees.

In 2010, Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake chose Barbot as Baltimore's health commissioner. Blake would later become infamous for announcing that she had given the city's race rioters "space to destroy".

The city's murder rate has continued hitting new highs since.

A few years later, Barbot came back to New York City and began working her way up through the Department of Health. When she was named Health Commissioner last year, the big news was that the city had its “first Latina commissioner” who had come out the Bronx housing projects.

Barbot succeeded Mary T. Bassett: a 17-year veteran of the University of Zimbabwe. Bassett had launched the Center for Health Equity and spent her time warning of the public health threat from racism in talks, "Why Your Doctor Should Care About Social Justice", articles, “How Does Racism Affect Your Health”, and research papers, “Uprooting Institutionalized Racism as Public Health Practice.”

As Health Commissioner, Barbot's bio boasted that "she uses a racial equity lens" and credited her with "spearheading the creation of the Center for Health Equity which operationalizes the Department’s commitment to racial justice."

As the coronavirus bore down on New York City, Barbot and the Health Department were busy operationalizing social justice while remaining oblivious to the scientific realities of the pandemic. The department’s focus on health equity required it to discourage recent arrivals from Wuhan from going into self-quarantine or avoiding large public gatherings like the Lunar New Year celebrations.

“We are very clear: We wish New Yorkers a Happy Lunar New Year and we encourage people to spend time with their families and go about their celebration,” Barbot insisted.

A week later, Barbot appeared at a press event promoting Lunar New Year celebrations in Chinatown.

"As we gear up to celebrate the #LunarNewYear in NYC, I want to assure New Yorkers that there is no reason for anyone to change their holiday plans, avoid the subway, or certain parts of the city because of #coronavirus," she insisted.

By then there had already been over 17,000 cases of the Wuhan Virus in China with nearly 3,000 new cases in one day. For the first time, someone outside Mainland China had died of the disease.

Manhattan’s Chinatown, where Barbot had appeared, is one of the densest parts of the city. The old core community where the Lunar New Year celebration is based is a maze of cramped tenements, narrow streets, tiny stores whose counters extend far into the street, and other unsafe conditions

Barbot went on urging people to participate in the parade while spreading misinformation about the risk. “You won’t get it merely from riding the subways – you get it from secretions,” she even claimed.

The commissioner went on with the happy talk in March.

After the first coronavirus case in the city, she claimed that "disease detectives" would prevent the spread of the coronavirus and that New Yorkers were "at low risk".

"As we confront this emerging outbreak, we need to separate facts from fear, and guard against stigma and panic," Commissioner Barbot signed off: warning that the real enemy was prejudice.

“There’s no indication that being in a car, being in the subways with someone who’s potentially sick is a risk factor,” she told New Yorkers.

Four days later, she finally admitted, “It’s not just prolonged household contact as we initially thought. We have evidence that there are other types of interactions that can occur that can transmit the virus.”

Barbot and her boss, Mayor Bill de Blasio, had been spreading dangerous nonsense with no scientific basis. When asked about some of her claims at a press conference, she said, “This is a novel virus that we’re still learning a lot about.”

That was better than Bill de Blasio who, when asked how Barbot's Department of Health had decided that the virus dies quickly in the air, rambled, "All information is valuable, but the information that we’re gleaning from our own direct experience is the most valuable to us.”

Had New York City’s health authorities lost their minds? Not exactly. They had enveloped their medical decisions in a fog of identity politics pseudoscience which had redefined medicine around equity.

That was Barbot’s real job. The obsession with equity in everything had been the signature of the entire De Blasio administration. Just as Marxists had used class as the master theory explaining all the problems of human history, radicals in this country had redefined racism as the explanation for all ills.

To Barbot and De Blasio, the coronavirus wasn’t the real threat, racism was. Their job was to suppress overreaction to the coronavirus by persuading New Yorkers that there was no real risk of contagion.

The actual science, objective research, was irrelevant compared to the city’s own truths about racism.

In the midst of the pandemic, this may seem inconceivable, but all that happened was that New York City’s leaders applied the same approach to the coronavirus that they had used for crime and terrorism.

When it came to terrorism and crime, the policy had been to minimize the risk, cover up actual cases and to warn against prejudice toward communities likely to engage in crime or terrorism. This approach had failed miserably in preventing crime or terrorism, but the actual scale of the damage had not been so devastating as to actually make a major dent in daily life in New York City.

New York City’s Health Department had already medicalized this approach with HIV. Last year, the Health Department was back to running ads encouraging sex with HIV positive people.

"This new U = U campaign underscores the fact that people living with HIV have more choices than ever before,” Health Commissioner Dr. Oxiris Barbot boasted. “With a sexual health plan that includes taking HIV medication, regular medical care, and using condoms, New Yorkers with HIV can live long, fulfilling, and healthy lives with the options they have now.”

“People living with HIV are lovable, touchable, and should feel confident that, with effective treatment, they can live free of the concern of transmitting the virus," Dr. Demetre Daskalakis, Deputy Commissioner for the Health Department’s Division of Disease Control added.

The difference with coronavirus was how quickly the risk of a disease outbreak turned into the reality.

New York City’s politicized government had inhabited its own bubble in which filling the streets with criminals, protecting terrorists and illegal aliens, or encouraging unsafe sex, was ideologically correct. And the casualties of this ideological destruction, whether bicycling tourists in Manhattan, young gay men, or young women in Central Park, were easy enough to bury in press releases full of Newspeak.

But the coronavirus crisis did not work that way. And Barbot and De Blasio were behind the curve. The radicals running the city were not only out of step with science, but with the rest of the country.

By the time reality, in the form of angry editorials, state action, local protests, intruded, it was too late.

The coronavirus outbreak has exploded in New York City. And everyone has gone all in on the cover-up. The inept De Blasio administration, which didn’t bother ordering protective equipment until March, when it was still assuring New Yorkers that there was nothing to worry about, has been blaming Trump.

But that’s a mistake.

The coronavirus pandemic contains important lessons. Trying to suppress those lessons will carry an even heavier price. The price can be postponed, but the interest rate on it will be even higher.

New York City’s dense grid, its cramped public transportation, and large foreign population put it at risk, but it was an ideological contempt for objective science by identity politics radicals that left it naked.

The Chinese Communist leadership had refused to believe that a virus could take off in their perfect system. Ideology blinded them to the outbreak the same way it did their leftist counterparts in New York City who were obsessed with making sure that the Lunar New Year celebrations went forward in their perfect utopia to prove that science doesn’t matter and that the only real virus is racism.

Mayor Bill de Blasio had dismantled the city’s Department of Health, replacing its personnel with unqualified hacks whose job was to medicalize social justice, and warn of the public health threats of the police, or hair discrimination, while assuring city residents that they had nothing to fear from COVID-19.

New York City Health Commissioner Oxiris Barbot warned New Yorkers that brief contact with the police was dangerous, but that brief contact with people infected with the coronavirus wasn’t.

Identity politics lied. New Yorkers died.


More insane Coronavirus policy in Australia

On 31 March, Australians in New South Wales awoke to the discovery that, overnight, they had been put under house arrest. For some at least, the shock could not have been greater if, like Kafka’s Gregor Samsa, they had found themselves transformed into an enormous insect. For the last fortnight, Australians have discovered that almost everything other than sitting at home has been criminalised, with neighbourhood snitches just waiting to dob them in.

It reached a nadir at Easter when Tasmanian premier Peter Gutwein announced that police would use helicopters to spot ‘unnecessary’ travel. ‘Today the gloves come off’, he snarled. ‘We are going to police this. The period of education is over.’ Tasmanian police questioned the occupants of 89 vehicles about why they had the temerity to be on the road. It brought to mind Captain Yossarian in Catch-22. ‘Morale was deteriorating, and it was all Yossarian’s fault. The country was in peril and here he was jeopardising his traditional rights of freedom and independence by daring to exercise them.’

Meanwhile, an ‘explosion’, at least by Tasmanian standards, of 66 new coronavirus infections was traced not to people reading books on park benches, or jogging on the beach, or even driving their cars, but to two hospitals in northwest Tasmania, which inexplicably proved to be incapable of undertaking basic infection control while treating a passenger from the ill-fated Ruby Princess, and may or may not have had an ‘illegal’ dinner party.

General Gutwein is only the latest officer in the army of clowns running Australia to come a cropper. His woes directly stem from the mess made by his mess mate, the NSW minister for health, the aptly named Mr Hazzard, who, if he were a packet of cigarettes, would have a sign across his forehead warning: ‘This minister is a health hazard.’ Alas, Australia’s medical authorities match the minister when it comes to incompetence.

Hazzard and his hapless officials learned nothing from the fiasco of the Diamond Princess, in which 712 of 3,711 passengers and crew were infected by Covid-19 during a month-long onboard quarantine and 12 people died, including our first virus victim. When the passengers and crew finally disembarked, US health officials allowed their nationals to fly back even though it was clear that many were probably infected, jeopardising the health of everyone on the plane.

When its sister, the Ruby Princess, sailed into Circular Quay, NSW health officials made exactly the same mistake, allowing the ship’s 2,647 passengers to disembark because they assessed them as ‘low risk’, even though the ship’s physician had requested an ambulance for two patients and said that 15 others were sick and had tested negative for influenza. Was Hazzard apologetic? Of course not. He angrily defended his advisers who consulted ‘to the WHO in communicable diseases,’ no less. Someone needs to tell him Taiwan are the experts.

If that weren’t bad enough, on 14 April it was revealed that the company overseeing the management of the Ruby Princess had allowed meals for its 1,000 crew members to be prepared in the ship’s galley until last weekend, despite warning signs it was the epicentre of the vessel’s infections just as had happened on the Diamond Princess a month earlier.

It’s as if The Three Stooges were running the country, and it might be funny if people weren’t dying as a result. Three-quarters of all deaths in Australia are linked to just three sources of infection – the Ruby Princess and three other returning cruise ships in NSW, NSW aged-care facilities, and the cancer treatment ward of a major public hospital in Melbourne.

Instead of putting the entire population of Australia under house arrest, state health departments should be putting in place stringent measures to protect vulnerable people – older Australians, particularly those in aged-care facilities, and Australians with underlying health problems. The government did warn Australians not to take cruises on 10 March, but it did nothing to assist elderly people trying to self-isolate at home.

One of the saddest coronavirus deaths was that of Labor MP Ged Kearney’s father-in-law, an 82-year-old who caught the disease just shopping for groceries. That shouldn’t have happened. When supermarkets stopped providing online shopping, the government should have funded shopping services. Likewise, staff in aged-care facilities should all be regularly tested for the virus, as should anyone else providing services to the vulnerable.

The state governments locked down the country, justifying their actions by referring to headlines that warned, ‘We’re going to run out of ICU beds’. On 18 March it was claimed Australia would need 650,000 ICU beds over the course of a year. On 31 March, the day NSW went into lockdown, there were 2,378 beds in 191 ICUs across the country and there was the capacity to surge to 4,261 if necessary. Even that was deemed insufficient, with a government taskforce ‘working around the clock’ to procure ventilators to increase capacity to 7,500.

Did the tidal wave of deaths arrive? At the time of writing there are 79 people in ICU beds around the country and there have been only 63 deaths – two deaths per million. Even so, this week we were urged by the Grattan Institute to join New Zealand and shoot for zero infections before unlocking the economy. This is absurd. We don’t aim for zero road or flu deaths. The cost is not just economic; as unemployment rises so do suicides.

Rather than relying on rubbery figures, our model should be the real-world success of Taiwan. They had no lockdown, like Wuhan. Cafés, restaurants, businesses, museums and schools have to put in place social distancing, people use face masks, there is quarantine for overseas arrivals, and testing, treating and isolating for the infected while tracing their contacts. The result? Only 395 cases and six deaths. Yet the Australian PM Scott Morrison shows no signs of doing this.

On Wednesday, GetUp!’s national director sent an email to his troops praising the PM delivering beyond their wildest dreams, spending $320 billion in a few weeks. It makes the Rudd Labor government look almost modest in comparison. While some businesses go broke, others can’t find workers, who’d rather get the JobKeeper subsidy. More than 80,000 businesses have registered for the $130 billion payment, which is so poorly designed that everyone from barristers to baristas is in on the lurk, attempting to qualify.

Tenants, too, have been incentivised to stop paying their rent to the chagrin of mum and dad investors. When one reads on the front page of the Australian that the PM has won plaudits from the Australia Institute, a progressive think-tank, one thinks not of Kafka but the sci-fi horror flick, The Fly, and its memorable tagline: ‘Be afraid. Be very afraid.’



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


20 April, 2020

‘There’s no direct evidence that the lockdowns are working’

The UK government has extended its lockdown for another three weeks. But could the shutdown of society be doing more harm than good? In fact, is there any evidence it is doing any good at all? Dr John A Lee, a recently retired professor of pathology and NHS consultant pathologist, has repeatedly called for a critical and dispassionate examination of the evidence in relation to Covid-19, raising questions about the government and its advisers’ interpretation of the data. spiked caught up with him to find out more.

spiked: You have been a relatively lone voice in questioning mainstream assumptions about coronavirus. Why have you found it important to speak out?

Dr John A Lee: As a doctor and a scientist my entire career, I believe that medicine and science have improved life immeasurably over the past 200 years, and especially over the last 50 years. But in the particular mix of science, medicine and politics that we are seeing now, I am not absolutely sure that is the case. I think it is more important than ever to try and look at this issue in a clear way in order to make sure that we are really doing the right thing on the basis of the right ideas. And it isn’t clear to me at the moment that we are.

spiked: What problems do you see in the way figures are currently being recorded and reported?

Lee: The figures are just so unreliable. It’s very difficult to understand when you are looking at figures from different countries, and figures in isolation about things like death, what they really mean. And obviously, if we can’t understand what the figures mean, it is quite difficult to then know what we should do about them.

These figures are then fed into models of the disease and the epidemic which are being used to influence and inform public policy. But those models are only as good as their input data and the assumptions they make. And there are so many unknowns which means the models’ outputs are really quite questionable. And given that we have now got ourselves into this situation, for a variety of reasons, getting ourselves out of it using the same models and predictions is even more questionable. So we are in a very difficult situation.

For example, we are currently in lockdown for two reasons. One is that the initial figures suggested that we were dealing with a very highly virulent disease. The World Health Organisation initially suggested that the case-fatality rate – the proportion of people diagnosed with the disease who die – would be 3.4 per cent. This is a very high number which would have caused a huge number of deaths. But as we have had gradually more and more data coming in, those percentages have been falling. In many examples, more complete data are now suggesting case-fatality rates of 0.4 per cent. My guess is that it will end up between 0.5 and 0.1 per cent, and probably nearer to the lower end of that. So if the disease isn’t as virulent as was originally thought, the number of deaths will be correspondingly lower.

The second reason that we were then put into lockdown is that it was assumed that this new virus was going to rip through the population, and a very high percentage of people were going to be infected quickly. This would cause a big surge or peak of cases which healthcare systems wouldn’t be able to deal with. The lockdown is supposed to reduce that peak, to enable health systems to cope with it. We had various pictures from Italy, Spain, New York and other places showing that health systems weren’t able to cope. But of course, in lots of other places, health systems have been able to cope with it.

The real point is that there isn’t any direct evidence that what we are doing is actually affecting the peak. It is possible to make arguments that sound reasonable that a lockdown should affect the peak. And yet other places which are doing different things seem to have similarly shaped graphs. It is only an assumption that the lockdown is having a big effect on the virus spread, but this is not a known scientific fact.

As far as I can see, Sweden, despite not having anywhere near as severe a lockdown as we have had, actually has a very similar curve to ours. And Sweden’s death rate per hundred thousand people is roughly half of ours at the moment. So it is not a given that what we are doing is either working or is having all the right effects.

spiked: Has the media given us an accurate picture of what might be going on?

Lee: I suppose that depends on what media you are looking at. It seems to me that there are two types of media: there is the investigative-journalism type media that tries to find out whether the facts and the interpretations of stories are really true. And then there is the less critical type of media which essentially illustrates a story that it thinks it already knows. And I think in the case of Covid-19, because of what originally came out of China and the pictures that were beamed around the world, people felt that they already knew that this was a highly virulent and dangerous disease. So pretty much the entire media coverage has illustrated this as a very dangerous disease.

Don’t get me wrong, it is clearly a nasty disease, but it is not as nasty as it was originally thought. Unfortunately, the media have tended to reinforce the initial ideas about what this disease was like which have not necessarily been borne out by the numbers since then.

I think that there has not been enough questioning of the story that has been placed out there by governments. Governments were placed in a difficult position. Because of the amount of fear and panic and apparent severity of this disease, they felt they had to do something. But of course, having done something, they are now in a position of having to justify their actions.

We can reasonably question the assumptions of the models, for example. The accuracy of the models, and their predictions of how many people will be infected and die, depend on things like the transmissibility of the virus. But that isn’t something we know very accurately at the moment. It also depends on population susceptibility. The UK models, as I understand it, said that 60 to 80 per cent of the population would be infected by the virus in a short period of time. Whereas in fact some of the evidence from enclosed populations, such as the Diamond Princess cruise ship, suggests that only 15 per cent of the population may be susceptible. Maybe that is because the virus spreads in a different way than we thought. Maybe some people actually have immunity based on other coronaviruses that are already out there in the population.

If you change those numbers, it makes a huge difference in the number of cases you would expect in a given time. Really, the case for lockdown depends on the number of cases coming through, which is very important for people to distinguish from the number of people who are going to die of this virus. The fact is, Pandora’s Box is now open. This virus is spreading in the population. There is no evidence whatsoever that we are going to be able to put it back in its box. So it is going to spread through the population at a certain speed. And after a year or two, the number of people who are going to have died from it is probably going to be similar either way – it is just a question of the speed at which those people are dying.

The real question, therefore, is what are the downsides of the treatment that we have chosen for this virus? Do lockdowns actually have side effects that could be even more severe than the virus we are trying to suppress? And I think there is clearly a serious worry that they could have.

spiked: Is the lockdown sustainable?

Lee: If you still believe that this virus is incredibly virulent and therefore is killing a high percentage of people that it infects, it might be reasonable to stay locked down. For example, in the plague that spread through Europe in the 14th century, it is reckoned that maybe one in three people died. Obviously, if we were facing something like that, it would be reasonable to take very extreme measures. But this is a disease that is maybe going to kill 0.3, 0.2 or 0.1 per cent of people that it infects. And it may only infect a relatively small proportion of the population. We just don’t know.

So we do have to ask what are the side effects of this treatment. And the fact is, they are clearly huge, but they have been largely unassessed. It seems incredible to me that we are not equally as interested in the effects of the lockdown on lives and livelihoods as we are in the actual virus itself. I think we are guilty at the moment of being a bit monomaniacal and focusing only on one thing, and really not focusing enough on the consequences that are coming out of what we have done to face this one thing.

spiked: Will governments find viable exit strategies?

Lee: I think it’s difficult because governments, having gone down this route, are stuck between two rather difficult places. One is the worry that any relaxation of the lockdown which causes an increase in the scorecard number of deaths will be criticised.

But also, the very fact that the lockdown was put in place, despite the huge set of side effects, means that the government has to justify having done it. In a way, that actually makes it harder to come out of a lockdown. If it subsequently becomes apparent that the lockdown – or at least the severity of the lockdown (I do agree with temporary, limited social distancing for vulnerable groups) – was overdone, then the government is going to come in for criticism from that angle, too.

I think personally that we should aim to relax the lockdown faster than some commentators are suggesting. The government’s reticence to talk about this is based on modelling assumptions of numbers which we know are fraught with uncertainty. It is equally possible to make a case that relaxing the lockdown more quickly than is currently being suggested will have beneficial effects overall, even if the number of viral deaths ticks up again. Time will tell, but they are going to have to try to do the right thing soon, which means not prolonging this unnecessarily.

Dr John A Lee was talking to Fraser Myers.


Believe All Women - Unless They Accuse Joe Biden

Over two weeks after Tara Reade, a former Biden Senate staffer, accused him of sexually assaulting her, the media finally got around to tackling her and the threat she poses to Biden by calling her a liar.

The New York Times' article dryly titled, "Examining Tara Reade's Sexual Assault Allegation Against Joe Biden" by Lisa Lerer and Sydney Ember seeks to discredit Reade's claims.

"No other allegation about sexual assault surfaced in the course of reporting, nor did any former Biden staff members corroborate any details of Ms. Reade's allegation," the article insisted. "The Times found no pattern of sexual misconduct by Mr. Biden, beyond the hugs, kisses, and touching that women previously said made them uncomfortable."

Then that awkward paragraph with its mix of admissions and denials went down the memory hole.

The same Lisa Lerer who tackled Reade's allegations had sat on a PBS panel which had previously discussed Biden's misbehavior with women, including the allegation by Lucy Flores. At the time, Biden hadn't yet entered the race, and Lerer opined that the Democrat positions on "standards around gender and consent" had shifted and that Biden had to "get right on those issues with where the party is now."

But now that Biden is the nominee, Lerer suddenly has never heard of a pattern of misconduct.

Last year, Sydney Ember had co-written a New York Times article titled, “Biden’s Tactile Politics Threaten His Return in the #MeToo Era.”

Biden had not yet announced that he was running and the story mentioned that, “two more women told The New York Times that the former vice president’s touches made them uncomfortable.”

The pattern of misconduct that Ember and the New York Times had reported on in 2019, had somehow vanished in 2020.

In 2019, Ember had written that, "the list of women coming forward is growing." Now they’re all gone.

Back then, Ember had told the story of "Caitlyn Caruso, a former college student and sexual assault survivor" who described how "Mr. Biden rested his hand on her thigh — even as she squirmed in her seat to show her discomfort" at an  "event on sexual assault at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas."

Ember and Lerer were not only aware of Biden’s “pattern of misconduct”, but they had discussed it in their line of work before Biden had entered the race. Now that he’s the nominee, there’s no pattern.

Before Biden entered the race, he was a fossil who might weigh the field down. Now that he’s the nominee, the New York Times, Ember, and Lerer have to bury his accusers out on West 41st Street.

But the Reade story and the response to it showcases the larger hypocrisy of the #MeToo movement.

Reade was first interviewed by Katie Halper, a writer for Jacobin magazine, and then was followed up by an article at The Intercept. Both are fanatical pro-Bernie outfits. Halper had previously written a Jacobin article attacking Ember as an anti-Bernie shill for Biden. Of course, Halper is an anti-Biden shill for Bernie. The tawdry state of the #MeToo movement has reduced it to three women trading accusations and denials of sexual assault on behalf of two old men and their respective male bosses, A.G. Sulzberger, the publisher of the family business that is the New York Times, and Bhaskar Sunkara, the publisher of the Jacobin, and the former vice-chair of the Democratic Socialists of America.

The #MeToo movement exhausted its obvious targets, known predators like Harvey Weinstein and Bill Cosby, and after taking down a string of media second bananas, became a purely partisan weapon to be wielded against Republicans. At the New Yorker, Jane Mayer and Ronan Farrow pushed Deborah Ramirez's smears of Justice Kavanaugh, before Mayer turned around and tried to rehabilitate Al Franken by smearing his accusers in the same publication. The hashtags of the #MeToo movement were a farce.

The central defense of Franken supporters had been that his first and most famous accuser had become a conservative. The feminist choir member who had also accused Franken was carefully overlooked.

#BelieveAllWomen had become “Believe all Democrat women when they accuse Republicans.” Not all women. Not all Democrat women. Just Democrat women who accuse Republicans.

The #MeToo movement had begun as a revolution against abuse and ended in the same partisan weaponization of sexual harassment in the nineties that embraced Anita Hill, while dismissing Kathleen Willey, Juanita Broaddrick, and Paula Jones, not based on the facts, but out of pure political cynicism.

The media killed #MeToo just as it kills everything that it touches.

We don’t need to believe Reade to dismiss the New York Times hit piece on her as an inevitable political attack . Ember and Lerer could acknowledge that Biden had touchy problems before he ran, or even before he became the nominee, but not now when he’s on the verge of his coronavirus coronation.

We shouldn’t believe all women or all men. And we should never believe the media.

Individual men and women can have a presumption of honesty, but the media staggers along under an impossible presumption of dishonesty. There is a reason why the #MeToo scandal burned hottest and brightest in the media, taking out chunks of 60 Minutes, NPR, and network news operatives. It’s also why the media can’t be trusted when it deploys its dueling #MeToo hit pieces and coverups.

The media is a deeply corrupt institution. Its external fake news mirrors its internal abuses.

The #MeToo movement brought down actual villains, but it was still a lynch mob. A witch hunt doesn’t stop being a witch hunt just because there are actual witches. The #MeToo movement insisted that the problem was more important than the process. And somehow the media, whose ranks and bosses included some of the worst #MeToo abusers, became the arbiter of whatever process there was.

That’s how we ended up with the Kavanaugh lynch mob and the Biden whitewash.

Is Joe Biden a predator?

His creepy misbehavior has been documented in countless photos and videos. But that doesn’t mean that Reade’s claims are true. There is probably no way to know what really happened between Biden and his former Senate staffer. Reade filed a criminal complaint against Biden a few days before the New York Times story went live. It’s hard not to believe that she joggled the Old Gray Lady’s wrinkled hand.

It’s in the hands of the authorities now.

As Americans, we don’t want our political system governed by media lynch mobs and witch hunts, by accusations that cannot be challenged and by accusers whom we are obligated to believe.

Biden’s political future, what there is of it, won’t be determined by what really happened in the basement of a Capitol Hill office building some 27 years ago, but by what he does and says now.

And that’s the way it should be.

Rep. Clyburn, the top Dem whose endorsement handed Biden a victory in South Carolina and the nomination, who had previously defended Rep. Conyers when he thought his accusers were white, complained that Biden had “become a victim of the #MeToo movement.”

Clyburn argued that Biden was “just a feeler, toucher kind of guy” and that his candidate was struggling because he was “afraid to touch anyone”. Social distancing has temporarily cured Biden of his conflict about whether to grope or not to grope on the campaign trail. But if social distancing ends before the election, the telltale hands may emerge and reveal exactly the kind of man that Gropin’ Joe really is.


Prohibition coming back?

Many of us have been doing what I call Modified COVID Socialization, which involves spending time with friends, family, and colleagues on Zoom, Google Hangouts, and other 21st-century luxuries that previous plague-suffers didn’t have going for them. Seriously, I don’t know how humanity survived plagues before Zoom or Instagram memes.

An integral part of these online hangouts has been the consumption of an adult beverage or three as we chat away the quarantine hours with each other. Sure, the more puritanical among us are no doubt wishing we’d invite them to one so they can give us the “alcohol isn’t a healthy coping mechanism” lecture but, thankfully, it’s easy to tune them out when we are all stuck at home.

Now the scolds at the World Health Organization are trying to harsh our mellow:

Drinking alcohol can increase the risk of catching Covid-19 and make it worse if you do get it, the World Health Organization said, recommending that government leaders around the world limit access to alcohol during coronavirus lockdowns.
“Alcohol compromises the body’s immune system and increases the risk of adverse health outcomes,” the WHO’s regional office for Europe said on its site late Tuesday, citing heavy alcohol use throughout the continent.

There are any number of reasons to tell the WHO brain trust what to do with their suggestion, chief among them being that they are a bumbling bunch of idiots who really dropped the ball when the virus began to spread. It’s safe to say that their advice is suspect, especially in matters of life, death, and important quarantine recreation matters.

Let us not forget the fact that WHO has been acting like a lap dog for the ChiComs, running interference for them and accepting whatever commie spin on the bat flu saga they offer.

And, as long as we are being honest with each other here, let’s admit that we are already sick of other Americans telling us what we can’t do or can’t have. I’m not at all in the mood to have a bunch of ChiCom water-carrying, UN offshoot Eurotrash getting in between me and my craft beer while I’m Zoom-ing away my stay-at-home time with friends and family.

Other than that I'm pretty reasonable about safety suggestions.


Australia: Fines and freedoms

When a learner driver is fined more than $1,650 for ‘non-essential travel’ by going for a driving lesson despite the general coronavirus lockdown, what lesson should we learn?

That the most important thing is not preventing the spread of coronavirus, it’s following the rules.

Eventually common sense prevailed, and the fine was dropped, but only after media pressure. After all, the driver was enclosed in a car with her mother: the chance of either contracting coronavirus or infecting others is indistinguishable from zero.

And the number of counter-common sense instances of police enforcement is growing.

The level of government intrusion into the lives of ordinary Australians that has occurred in the past three weeks would have been unbelievable just three weeks before that.

At a minimum, this situation should have required three things from government: serious and credible evidence that the limitations were necessary; extraordinary care in drafting legislation and police implementation to avoid overreach (ie not leaving it to individuals discretion); and clear and unambiguous signposts for when the restrictions will be lifted.

Arguably, not a single one of these things have been done. The second and third were clearly ignored in the rush to give power to police. The rate of new infections has now fallen below the level on 18 March, when the restrictions on large gatherings were announced — yet no end is in sight.

Obviously, this is a constantly evolving situation — and government may have more information than they are letting on — but how can we possibly accept a lack of transparency and detail in the face of such extreme measures?

The concern is that such measures are not actually justified at all medically, only politically. The fear, so potent a motivator at times like this, is not the enduring imposition of a police-state (as some seem to be claiming), but the permanent, partial, erosion of the expectation of individual liberty.

In the next crisis, which is unlikely to be a severe pandemic, people will be less resistant to the imposition of serious restrictions on their freedoms. History tells us such powers, once successfully asserted, will be used again.



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


19 April, 2020

Protesters have continued to gather across the United States, ignoring social distancing rules, to demonstrate against lockdown orders they call 'tyrannical' and 'worse than the virus'

Crowds of people - many decked out in MAGA hats and with Donald Trump posters -  have met up in Michigan, North Carolina, Ohio, Utah and Wyoming this week with more crowds in Virginia Thursday.  

The organizer of demonstrations in Michigan, Meshawn Maddock of the Michigan Conservative Coalition Quarantine, called the lifesaving quarantines 'tyranny'.

The group say they are 'Republicans who want our party to stop moving left'. They run associated groups called Michigan Trump Republicans and Women for Trump. Maddock told Fox News: 'Every person has learned a harsh lesson about social distancing. We don't need a nanny state to tell people how to be careful.'

A startling image from Ohio shows a baying crowd at the window of the Statehouse Atrium on Monday. Two protesters wearing Trump hats, other wave American flags and one is in the V for Vendetta mask.

And in Virginia ReOpen Virginia, End The Lockdown VA and Virginians Against Excessive Quarantine organized a protest Thursday against Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam's lockdown.

New York residents also took the streets Thursday despite the Empire State being the epicenter of the virus with more than 12,000 deaths.  A group of protesters gathered in Albany calling for 'communist' Governor Andrew Cuomo to lift the lockdown. The Democrat later extended it to May 15.

Republican Larry Meyers, who organized the grassroots event and ran for Senate, said it was to 'assert our God-given, Constitutionally-protected rights, including freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, religious freedom, the right to contract, and the right to use our property as we see fit so long as we do not harm others'.

And in Kentucky protesters stood outside the window Democratic Governor Andy Beshear as he spoke the state's residents about the ongoing lockdowns.

Hearing their shouts of 'facts over fear' Beshear said: 'Folks, that would kill people. That would absolutely kill people.'

Utah: Protesters gathered in Utah on Wednesday. Gov. Gary Herbert has closed down public schools for the rest of the year and ordered businesses to shutter; protest signs read 'Resist like it's 1776' and 'America will never be a socialist country

Republican Larry Meyers, who organized the grassroots event in Utah has also run for Senate. Meyers describes himself as a 'leading conservative voice' and has 'previously protested Planned Parenthood', and organozed to 'oppose illegal immigration'.

The organizer of demonstrations in Michigan , Meshawn Maddock of the Michigan Conservative Coalition Quarantine, called the lifesaving quarantines 'tyranny'.

The group say they are 'Republicans who want our party to stop moving left'. They run associated groups called Michigan Trump Republicans and Women for Trump.

 A Reopen North Carolina Facebook page has more than 42,000 members. The grassroots group say: 'We are residents of North Carolina that stand for The Constitution.'

ReOpen Virginia, End The Lockdown VA and Virginians Against Excessive Quarantine helped to organize the protest.

Each group has thousands of Facebook followers. One page states: 'We are tired of the misinformation & fear mongering...Time to take our power back!!'

One supporter desrcibes herself as a 'die hard Forever Trumper'.

In Wyoming protesters led calls to 'defend liberty' and urged Gov. Mark Gordon to not 'flatten the economy'. Protester Cathy Ide, from the Natrona County Campaign for Liberty, told The Casper Star-Tribune: 'You drive through Casper, it's like a ghost town compared to what we usually are. 'You don't have the usual hustle and bustle, and it's just sad.'

On Wednesday protesters defied social distancing and gathered outside Michigan's State Capitol to demand Democratic Governor Gretchen Whitmer end her strict stay-at-home orders because it restricts their freedom, and they insisted people are smart enough to make their own decisions.

Many said the closure of home improvement stores, greenhouses, hairdressers, landscaping companies and the banning of boating and fishing was the source of their anger.

The governor criticized the protesters for risking themselves and others taking part in the protest by touching each other, handing out food with their bare hands and blocking an ambulance. She also said it was ironic that a group rallying against her stay-at-home order 'may have just created a reason to lengthen it'.

The gathering was an angry response to Whitmer's executive order last Thursday where she imposed one of the strictest set of lockdown guidelines in the country

She stopped people in Michigan from returning to work, barred residents interacting with neighbors, restricted interstate travel, and prevented constituents from fleeing to their cabins in the country.  

Whitmer also announced that lawn care, construction, fishing, boating with a motor, home improvement and gardening were non-essential activities - while alcohol and lottery tickets were deemed essential.

The activists complained that the rules violated their civil liberties and freedoms, expressed anger over which businesses were allowed to remain open, and frustration over the cancellation of Easter and Passover services.

Most protesters expressed their desire to get back to work as unemployment in the country has skyrocketed by more than 16 million over the past three weeks. 

Whitmer's executive order was met with immediate backlash led by Republican state legislators who found her rules draconian and excessive.

On Tuesday, a group of four Michigan residents filed a lawsuit against her saying her order infringes upon First and Fourth Amendment rights.

President Donald Trump said in March he had a 'big problem' with Whitmer referring to her as 'that young, a woman governor'.

'I love Michigan, one of the reasons we are doing such a GREAT job for them during this horrible Pandemic. Yet your Governor, Gretchen 'Half' Whitmer is way in over her head, she doesn't have a clue. Likes blaming everyone for her own ineptitude! #MAGA,' he tweeted.   


The Time Has Come for Free-to-Choose Medicine

If the COVID-19 crisis has taught us one thing—aside from the need to wash your hands often—it is that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) approval process for much-needed medicine to those with debilitating and terminal diseases is in dire need of imminent reform.

Of course, naysayers will argue that expediting FDA’s drug approval process will result in drugs and therapies hitting the market before they have been adequately tested for safety and efficacy. In short, these people are flat-out wrong.

Moreover, some will say legislation such as the Right to Try Act, which allows patients with terminal illnesses to access potentially life-saving treatments, has already solved this problem. Although Right to Try is a step in the right direction, it does not go nearly far enough in rooting out the decades of rot that has infiltrated and contaminated FDA.

In general, as the COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated, FDA’s drug approval process is so laden with red tape and unnecessary regulations that it takes on average 12 years and almost $3 billion just to bring a single drug from lab to market.

Think about that for a moment. Apparently, FDA’s drug approval process has become so insanely expensive and burdensome that it takes more than a decade and a whopping $3 billion for a single drug to be deemed safe.

Now, if you are one of the millions of Americans with a horrific disease such as Alzheimer’s, cancer, or ALS, would you rather wait for 12 years for a bunch of bureaucrats to allow you to take a medicine that could literally save your life or would you desire the freedom to choose whether or not you would like to voluntarily take a drug that could slow, if not cure, your condition?

Fortunately, for those in favor of the latter option, The Heartland Institute’s Free to Choose Medicine project provides a commonsense outline to rework the hopelessly antiquated FDA drug approval process for those with terminal conditions who have exhausted all FDA-approved treatment options.

In short, Free to Choose Medicine allows patients and doctors, not busybodies employed at the FDA, to determine the best course of treatment after all other “approved” options have been tried and failed. FTCM would also create a Trade-Off Evaluation Database, with rigorous privacy protections, so doctors and patients can track, in real-time, the progress of drugs and therapies to help them make better-informed decisions concerning treatment options.

Now, just imagine that you (or a family member or friend for that matter) has COVID-19. As of now, treatment options for this deadly disease are few and far between. However, there are drugs (such as Hydroxychloroquine) that have helped some patients recover.

Although FDA has not rigorously tested the efficacy of such drugs for use by COVID-19 patients, if you are on death’s door due to COVID-19, shouldn’t you have the ability to try anything (within reason) that could assuage your ailment?

Because there is no vaccine for COVID-19 yet, millions of Americans could potentially experience a situation like the dilemma described above. In America, the land of the free and home of the brave, it is incredible that we remain at the mercy of FDA regulators when it comes to the choice of taking a drug that could prevent needless pain and suffering, let alone death.

By no way whatsoever am I trying to portray FDA officials as cold-hearted apparatchiks who worship rules and regulations over the health and safety of their fellow Americans. Of course, without a doubt, FDA functionaries are simply abiding by agency protocols.

However, that in and of itself is a massive part of the problem. As Americans, we must not let the bureaucratic process take precedence over commonsense. To make this point as vivid as possible, if an American is suffering from a terminal form of cancer, he or she should have every right in the world to try anything that could prevent his or her death, as long as his or her doctor give the go-ahead.

The doctor-patient relationship is sacrosanct. Doctors take a sacred oath that they will do everything in their power to ensure the health and safety of their patients. Last time I checked, FDA officials were not held to the same standard.

Long story short, for those with COVID-19 or any other potentially life-threatening disease, the groundwork and notion within Free to Choose Medicine should be the status quo, not the rare exception.


Is remdesivir the drug that can kill the coronavirus?

AN EFFECTIVE DRUG to treat covid-19 would transform the battle against the pandemic. Without one, whole countries have had to lock themselves down to limit the spread of the novel coronavirus which has infected more than 2m people and killed nearly 150,000, according to official records; the real toll is probably much greater.

An effective treatment would allow countries to loosen some of the restrictions that are strangling their economies. They would be able to risk more people catching the virus in the knowledge that they could be cured.

This hope has energised the hunt for a drug against covid-19 since the early days of the pandemic. President Donald Trump, for one, has touted hydroxychloroquine, an anti-malarial drug. But it is remdesivir, an experimental antiviral drug, that is proving the most exciting. The share price of its maker, Gilead Sciences, shot up by 12% on April 17th after a leak in STAT, an online medical publication, of a discussion suggesting impressive results of a trial with the drug.

Unlike drugs like hydroxychloroquine, which were made to treat other conditions but might have antiviral effects, remdesivir was designed from the outset to kill viruses. It is a molecule known as a “nucleotide analogue”. Its structure mimics the letters that are used to make up the RNA sequences of the virus. The idea is that when viruses try to use these pseudo-letters it gums up their works. Gilead, a drugmaker from California, developed remdesivir to treat Ebola. Although it performed poorly in this, laboratory tests have shown it to be effective against a range of viruses. Thus there is a reasonable hope that it will work against the new coronavirus, called SARS-CoV-2.

Yet science remains equivocal about whether this drug actually works for covid-19 sufferers. Two trials in China have already failed, because of lack of enrolment. (China started its trials relatively late in its epidemic, so it was hard to recruit sufficient numbers of patients.) The recent publication in the New England Journal of Medicine, of a study of remdesivir given to 53 severely afflicted patients, reported that 68% of them improved. However the study has proven divisive among scientists. To begin with, errors can be large given the small number of patients. Moreover, the trial was not “randomised”, so there is no way of knowing whether the sample properly reflects the population of severely afflicted patients. Last, there was no comparison group that was given a placebo, ie, a substance with no therapeutic effect, to establish the real effectiveness of the drug.

For all the excitement it generated, the STAT report was little more than a leaked conversation between doctors. It revolved around a trial at the University of Chicago with 125 patients, mostly severely ill with covid-19. One of the doctors is reported as saying that most of the patients had been discharged and only two had died. But even if this is correct, the lack of a placebo group makes it hard to assess the real worth of the drug. The University of Chicago itself warned that drawing any conclusions was "premature and scientifically unsound".

Stephen Evans, a professor of pharmacoepidemiology at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, warns that medicine is littered with instances where treatments were incorrectly believed to have strong benefits based on non-randomised data. Luckily, there are some gold-standard trials under way. One global effort, under the auspices of the World Health Organisation, began in mid-March but results are not expected until after June. Another by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases in America could come in late May.

Even if the drug proves successful, it is still experimental, and only limited quantities of such drugs are usually available. Gilead has increased production to meet demand for use in trials. On April 5th, it said it had enough to supply more than 140,000 patients. These sorts of numbers are larger than would be required by clinical trials, so suggest that Gilead is ramping up production for clinical use. The firm also said it was hoping to increase output again as raw materials became available. Looking further ahead, at even broader use, the firm has set an “ambitious goal” of producing more than 500,000 treatment courses by October, and 1m by the end of the year, from a geographically diverse group of suppliers.

The best solution to the pandemic is still a vaccine against SARS-CoV-2; it would prevent people from catching it rather than curing them after they fall ill. But an effective medicine, even in small quantities, would make a huge difference—not least because it would speed up the development of a vaccine. The quickest way to test whether a vaccine works is to give it to a group of volunteers (and a placebo to another), and then expose them to the coronavirus. This is ethically dubious for a disease that has no known cure. A good treatment, though, would make such “human challenge” trials much more likely to go ahead.


COVID-19: The Government Practice of Medicine

By now, about half the states’ governors have handed down edicts restricting physicians’ prescribing or pharmacists’ dispensing FDA-approved drugs if they are to be used for treating or preventing COVID-19. The use of drugs for an indication not listed on the label is part of the practice of medicine, and the FDA does not have the authority to regulate that. If off-label use were not possible, you’d have to throw one-fifth of your prescriptions away.

Still more intrusively, government is banning the practice of medicine altogether for “non-essential” needs if it can’t be done by telemedicine. The authorities define “non-essential.” A doctor who dares to repair your painful but not life-threatening injury could be defending his medical license before the state medical board.

The rationale? The doctor might use a mask or a pair of gloves, and there aren’t enough for caring for COVID-19 patients. So, instead of making more, should we find a  way to seize a few boxes stored in private offices for redistribution?

So, while doctors sit idle, your medical conditions remain untreated. Doctors’ revenues are plunging by more than 55%, and expenses continue. Will your doctor’s practice survive?

Once in the hospital, your care will be dictated by corporate guidelines. However brave and dedicated your assigned doctors may be, their use of independent judgment will be constrained. What about your choices for care? There will be no outside second opinions, no visits by family members to assess your care or your condition first-hand, and limited communication with overstressed staff. Automatic “do not resuscitate” orders are being considered.

Once in the hospital, you might or might not be able to get the forbidden hydroxychloroquine, perhaps only on an experimental protocol. It may be too late, or in the wrong dose, or  without the combination of drugs that might make it more effective, such as zinc and azithromycin.

So, who is really in charge? Governors are probably not making up rules all by themselves. If an independent doctor does or does not do something, he can be held accountable. Generally not so for the shadowy entities  advising the politicians.

Who benefits from the crisis? Big Pharma, scenting billions in profits from new drugs  and vaccines, which would be threatened by use of cheap generics? Big insurance/hospital cartels, whose dominance is threatened by independent doctors? Political entities lusting for more power? Medical organizations whose revenue depends on any or all  of the above?

The FDA, the CDC, the AMA, state governors, and others setting the agenda have no answers, as more patients die. But their edicts are paralyzing the people who can help.

Freedom is the most important casualty, and its loss will assure far more  death and destruction than the coronavirus possibly could.

Government needs to stand down. It should be supporting doctors, not blocking  and threatening them. If independent doctors survive, they can help you survive.



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


17 April, 2020

Oxford University to begin tests of its coronavirus vaccine on humans NEXT WEEK in hope of having a jab ready for autumn

Hopes of eliminating the coronavirus were raised today after leading British experts revealed trials of a vaccine would begin on humans next week.

Oxford University scientists are confident they can get jab for the incurable disease rolled out for millions to use by autumn.

Tests of the experimental jab on different animals have shown promise - and the next step is to use it on humans to prove it is safe.

The Oxford team are one of hundreds worldwide racing to develop a COVID-19 jab, which experts fear could take 18 months.

More than 70 vaccines are currently in development, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

Three different groups - one in China and two in the US - have already began trials on humans

Oxford's vaccine programme has already recruited 510 people, aged between 18 and 55, to take part in the first trial.

They will receive either the ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 vaccine - which has been developed in Oxford - or a control injection for comparison.

Professor Adrian Hill, who will lead the research, said: 'We are going into human trials next week. We have tested the vaccine in several different animal species.

'We have taken a fairly cautious approach, but a rapid one to assess the vaccine that we are developing.'

A COVID-19 vaccine would be the safest and most effective way of controlling the outbreak.

There are several vaccines currently in development though they need to be tested which can take many months.

If a vaccine is rushed without proper testing there may be side-effects and complications.

The team's vaccine comes from chimpanzees, who are injected with the coronavirus to produce antibodies that can be used to bolster the immune system of humans.

It is hoped the vaccine, developed by the Jenner Institute and Oxford Vaccine Group clinical teams, will be ready in September.

Speaking to the BBC World Service, Professor Hill explained they're trying to raise money to scale up the manufacturing of the vaccine.

He said: 'We're a university, we have a very small in house manufacturing facility that can do dozens of doses. That's not good enough to supply the world, obviously.

'We are working with manufacturing organisations and paying them to start the process now.

'So by the time July, August, September comes - whenever this is looking good - we should have the vaccine to start deploying under emergency use recommendations.

'That's a different approval process to commercial supply, which often takes many more years.'

Professor Hill added: 'There is no point in making a vaccine that you can't scale up and may only get 100,000 doses for after a huge amount of investment.

'You need a technology that allows you to make not millions but ideally billions of doses over a year.'

The Oxford team last week announced hopes to have the vaccine ready for autumn, saying they were '80 per cent' confident it would work.

Sarah Gilbert, a professor of vaccinology, admitted that this time frame was 'highly ambitious' many things could get in the way of that target.

The drug industry is hoping to shorten the time it takes to get a vaccine to market – usually about 10 to 15 years – to within the next year.

But public health officials say it will still take a year to 18 months to fully validate any potential vaccine – despite human trials beginning. Britain's chief scientific adviser last month said that it would be at least 2021 before a vaccine was ready.

Leading researchers have called for healthy volunteers to be purposely infected with the coronavirus to speed up the race.

Drugs and vaccines tend to be tested in three stages before they get approved for human use. The first phase is a safety run.

Phase two trials involve more people, and scientists will work out the correct dosage. They will also test the vaccine against a placebo.

The final stage of testing is the real deal. It involves hundreds, sometimes thousands, of people across multiple sites for a long period of time. 

Three scientists, including Harvard's Professor Marc Lipsitch, last month suggested bypassing phase three to speed up the process.

Rolling all phases into a controlled study has the potential to slash the wait time for the roll-out of an efficacious vaccine, the trio argued


Experimental coronavirus treatment remsvidir improves the condition of two-thirds of patients hospitalized with severe cases, new US study finds

The effects were however slow to emerge so any improvement might not be due to the drug.  It might have happened anyhow

The first results from an international experimental US antiviral drug are promising, even as a trial of the same drug in China shuts down.

More than half of a group of severely ill coronavirus patients from the US, Canada, Europe and Japan improved after taking remdesivir made by California-based Gilead Sciences.

Originally developed as a treatment for Ebola, the medication has been shown to fight against coronaviruses such as severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), which is a cousin of the new virus.

At the same time, a trial in China testing the drug in those with mild symptoms of the virus was suspended due to a lack of eligible patients.

However, some analysts believe that the trial was suspended because the drug was not proved to be effective

Currently, there are no drugs are approved for treating COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus.

At least five large studies are testing remdesivir, and the company also has given it to more than 1,700 patients on a case-by-case emergency basis.

In the study, whose results were published in the New England Journal of Medicine on Friday, 53 patients between aged 23 to 82 were studied,

All were hospitalized either in the US, Canada, Europe or Japan - and 34 were sick enough to require breathing machines. 

They were given the drug through an IV for 10 days or as long as they tolerated it.  

After an average of 18 days, more than two-thirds of patients, 36 patients, needed less oxygen or breathing machine support.

Nearly half of patients were discharged from the hospital.


Hidebound, overcautious, NHS bureaucracy

The chief medical officer, Professor Chris Whitty, has banned doctors from treating Covid-19 with anything other than paracetamol and in severe cases, oxygen.

Colleagues have rightly condemned this response, which ignores the experience of doctors overseas. Professor Whitty’s position is that British doctors may not use therapies that have not undergone double blind controlled trials here. This could condemn many thousands to avoidable death through a failure to recognise that different rules should apply when patients are dying at such a rate.

The drug hydroxychloroquine is well-known, with a well-understood side-effect profile. It is safe. It also has a recognised mode of action in preventing replication of the virus. Comparison of the death rates in South Korea and Italy strongly suggests that it works to dramatically reduce the death rate. Evidence from India is similarly encouraging.

What the letter appears to indicate is that the hidebound, overcautious, unimaginative approach of the NHS bureaucracy to the coronavirus may actually be jeopardising lives.

It’s true that the jury is still out on hydroxychloroquine’s efficacy in treating Covid-19. But it appears to have fared well in a number of small scale studies and an increasing number of doctors around the world have made it a key part of their treatment protocols.

Hydroxychloroquine — originally designed as an anti-malarial treatment – is often used in conjunction with zinc.

This is because chloroquine is a zinc ionophore – see this 2014 study by Jing Xue et al – which means it enables the body’s cells to absorb zinc. Zinc — as well as being effective in boosting the immune system — is thought to disrupt the most deadly phase of coronavirus, the cytokine storm, when the body’s immune system attacks its own healthy tissue.

An international poll of more than 6,000 doctors released Thursday found that the antimalarial drug hydroxychloroquine was the most highly rated treatment for the novel coronavirus.

I asked a senior NHS consultant if it were really true that only paracetamol and oxygen had been permitted for use in Coronavirus treatment in the UK.

He told me: “No one I know is using chloroquine but at this rate it seems likely that we’ll be trying it on spec, without the trials. Whitty is a good doctor, for sure, and if the anecdotal/cohort study evidence mounts from elsewhere, then it will come on. The Boris situation is a test, if he does deteriorate…”

This isn’t exactly reassuring, is it? In the U.S., when President Trump heard about the potential of chloroquine as a treatment for coronavirus, he successfully called for the drug to be fast-tracked through the regulatory system. (It has been permitted as a treatment for malaria — and other conditions such as lupus — for 75 years, but obviously not for Covid-19, which didn’t exist till last year).

Britain, on the other hand, remains in thrall to its stolid, sclerotic, overcautious, unimaginative, rules-bound public health bureaucracy. In normal times, this bureaucracy was merely inefficient, wasteful, and a massive drain on the taxpayer. But in extraordinary times like these, this public health bureaucracy has become a positive menace.

When all this is over, a serious investigation needs to be conducted into the performance of the National Health Service, Public Health England, and the rest of the public health bureaucracy in this crisis. If it turns out that because of its dogged obsession with procedure and correct form it denied to dying patients basic medicine that could have saved their lives, then I hope that heads will roll and that root and branch form will be instituted.


Protesters flood the streets and block traffic outside Michigan's state Capitol to demand Gov. Gretchen Whitmer end her strict stay-at-home orders and chant 'lock her up'

Furious demonstrators gathered Wednesday at Michigan's state Capitol, creating a massive traffic jam filled with honking cars and flag-waving protesters in defiance of the state's stringent statewide stay-at-home orders - demanding that they are lifted.

The raucous gathering dubbed #OperationGridlock was organized by the Michigan Conservative Coalition (MCC) in Lansing in protest at Democratic governor Gretchen Whitmer’s lockdown rules that will last through April 30. 

Last Thursday she signed a new executive order tightening constraints by closing home-improvement stores, restricting interstate travel, and barring constituents from fleeing the heavily afflicted parts of the state to their cabins in rural Michigan.

Video and photos from the protest show residents wrapped in winter coats and hats carrying signs that say 'Stop the Fear', 'End the Lockdown' and 'Heil Whitmer', comparing the governor to Nazi leader Adolf Hitler. 

Protesters, some bearing guns, waved American flags from the windows of the State Capitol building while others waved MAGA flags and wore matching red hats bearing the Trump slogan.

Those who were there complained that they could not get to the hairdresser or stock up on lawn fertilizer.

The demonstrators notably ignored social distancing measures and most were seen without protective masks or gloves, even though Michigan has the fourth-great outbreak of coronavirus in the country with over 28,000 infections and nearly 2,000 deaths. 

Three lanes of traffic were filled with lines of cars blaring their horns outside of the state building on Capitol Avenue Wednesday afternoon, with locals declaring they’re ready to get back to work and get back to their regular lives. Traffic was backed up for more than a mile in multiple directions in the protest. 

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer imposes one of the strictest lockdowns in the country

Signed an executive order extending Michigan’s stay-at-home order through April and imposed new rules

Some locals were seen shouting and jumping on top of their cars, calling for the Governor to be removed and lockdown restrictions lifted.

Others were heard chanting 'recall Whitmer', 'USA', and 'lock her up', outside the Capitol building.

Neither the Michigan State Police or the Lansing Police Department had reported any arrests by 2pm local time.

Last week Whitmer issued a new executive order. The new policy closed big-box stores that sell gardening and home-improvement goods, limited the use of motorboats, closed public golf courses, restricted interstate travel, and banned constituents from fleeing the areas of the state with concentrated COVID-19 cases to their second homes in more rural areas in Michigan.

She also banned any gatherings of people who are not a part of a single household.

The activists complained that the rules violated their civil liberties and freedoms, expressed anger over which businesses were allowed to remain open, and frustration over the cancellation of Easter and Passover services.

They believe people are smart enough to make their own decisions regarding the coronavirus epidemic.

'I’m a state representative from the 102nd district and I’m here to support my people. I have a lot of constituents down here right now,' State Rep. Michele Hoitenga said in an interview with a local station.

'They want to get back to work. They can’t access the website to get benefits, then they want to get back to work. We’re recommending we adapt to federal guidelines to do it safely,' she explained.

Most protesters expressed their desire to get back to work as unemployment in the country has skyrocketed by over 16million over the past three weeks.

'I'd rather die from the coronavirus than see a generational company be gone,' Justin Heyboer of Alto, Michigan, said to USA Today. His family has owned Wildwood Family Farms for four generations, which is suffering a major financial blow in light of the coronavirus crisis and lockdown. 



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


16 April, 2020

Where are we going in life?  The answer has economic implications but economics alone cannot answer it

Is our economic system struggling on many dimensions? Is the practice of economics responsible for the problems in the economy? Can we identify the major cause of these problems? In a bold and provocative new book, Victor Claar and Greg Forster give a resounding “yes” to these questions, targeting John Maynard Keynes as the major culprit for our modern malaise.

The authors argue that we live in an age of anxiety, with no clear understanding of the people we are becoming. The modern economy excels at producing goods and services, but both the moral framework under which we operate and the discipline of economics have been badly distorted by Keynes’s influence. With such broad pronouncements about our world, one might expect a screed, a moral diatribe with little analysis. Such is not the case. The Keynesian Revolution and Our Empty Economy is a thoughtful, carefully argued intellectual history of modernity and of the generally accepted analytical tools used to describe and critique it. The importance of teleological assumptions, or commitments to that which one believes is intrinsically good, drives the analysis. At the heart of the book is the authors’ argument that all people operate according to either an implicit or an explicit teleology. They also argue that the existing teleology of the modern American economy is warped, having been perverted by John Maynard Keynes’s influence.

Claar and Forster categorize Western systems of thought into three fundamental teleological categories. The classical world of Greece and Rome operated under the nature paradigm, wherein humans were a part of nature and nature was purposeful. Such a perspective implied moral obligations to live a virtuous life, with virtue inherent in the natural order. Not all people were seen as equally capable of conforming to the moral order, however, with women and slaves considered notably different than free males in their moral understanding and moral obligations.

The nature paradigm was followed by the God paradigm, which dominated the Middle Ages. Conformity to God’s purposes was the most important moral obligation. This obligation encompassed all of life, so economic matters were clearly important. Though a conception of the Christian God for the most part drove consideration of moral obligations, it also affected the relative role of political and ecclesiastical institutions. Christianity introduced a more linear view of history, but it did not endorse a completely optimistic perspective of human progress. It did, however, provide a framework for the definition and enforcement of property rights and the rule of law, both of which are crucial for economic growth.

The Enlightenment brought the reason paradigm, where “the proper goal of life is to join in this unfolding enterprise” (p. 259). Economic growth was seen as possible under this paradigm, and the use of reason was an important and valuable source of innovation. There was moral content to the reason paradigm; people were obligated to participate in building a better life for all. Claar and Forster recognize that the Enlightenment brought much that is good, but they also fault it for its incomplete view of humankind.

And so we arrive at the modern world. According to Claar and Forster, our world operates without an encompassing paradigm other than that introduced by Keynes, an end goal that is perverted and leaves out much that is meaningful in life. This paradigm is heavily influenced by the discipline of economics, which struggles with competing visions of what it is about.

The authors see economics as moving away from its moral groundings almost as soon as it became a discipline separate from other academic fields. They see David Ricardo, Nassau Senior, and John Stuart Mill as both clarifying the dimensions of economics (probably a good thing) and changing it to a supposedly completely positive discipline (definitely a bad thing). Those changes were minor, however, compared to the changes made under Keynes’s influence. Claar and Forster see his writing as prominent in introducing new concepts to business-cycle theory and in making a case for consumption as the moral grounding for human endeavors.

Thus, two things were going on simultaneously in economics at the time Keynes was writing in the 1930s and 1940s. It was becoming more widely accepted that the discipline was a completely positive discipline, making no moral claims. At the same time, Keynes’s arguments that the consumption paradigm should be the framework for all analysis were also accepted.

In his arguments for a robust normative framework, one with consumption as the only substantive goal, Keynes relied heavily upon his experience with the Bloomsbury group. Made up of Keynes and his associates in interwar England, the group’s members were explicitly committed to seeking immediate pleasure and saw existing moral concerns as outmoded. Thus, according to this view, there is no need to evaluate our appetites because all human desires are of equal value. The move to substitute consumption for production didn’t mean that production is unnecessary, just that production has no moral value in itself.

In this context, Homo economicus, the idea that humans can be analyzed as rational, narrowly self-interested maximizers, became more than an “empirical model to be investigated” and is instead “a social model to be imposed” (p. 95). Therefore, the idea of people as autonomous consumers became the new normative vision of the discipline as well as the dominant paradigm of the larger economy.

Claar and Forster argue that the consumption paradigm’s new agenda was extremely influential but not recognized as a moral crusade by those who translated Keynes for the masses. Keynesianism, as interpreted by Sir John Hicks, Alvin Hansen, and Paul Samuelson, was simply a technical innovation, a formal creation of the field of macroeconomics, wherein the consumption function and the paradox of thrift are tools for understanding and ameliorating business cycles. Nevertheless, the work of Keynesian economists was driven by a thorough-going commitment to the view of people as bundles of desires and the view of production as valuable only in its service of consumption.

The book also sees the consumption paradigm as a useful tool for those who wanted to expand government and as a dominating worldview for the economy as a whole. Authors such as John Kenneth Galbraith used Keynes’s worldview to argue for an expanded role for government to manage the “animal spirits” that it was claimed determine most of economic life. Both the Chicago and Austrian Schools made attempts to reform these trends, but they failed to deal with the fundamental change in the wider goals of economic activity, and both schools accepted the purpose of economics as finding the means to satisfy hedonistic desires.

In summary, The Keynesian Revolution and Our Empty Economy makes a strong case for the importance of teleology. It also criticizes the present state of the economy and the discipline of economics. But, interestingly enough, Claar and Forster do not close with as strong an agenda for reform as one might expect from the first ten chapters. They recognize pluralism as an important feature of the modern economy and argue that “[w]e must return to transcendence, but we must not impose a single, ultimate world view. We must reject both the hegemonic homogeneity of the older paradigms and also the equally hegemonic paradigm of the Consumption paradigm” (319).

The authors are careful historians and see danger in the use of violence to enforce a particular worldview. Therefore, they argue that the commitment to the concept of human striving for intrinsically good ends can be an adequate grounding for economics and economic society. “So the challenge facing economics is not whether the transcendent can be admitted. It already is. The question is how to admit it in a pluralistic context where people have different views about the transcendent, and we refuse to impose uniformity” (310). The Keynesian Revolution and Our Empty Economy is an important book that provides a fascinating train of logic and evidence about the development of economics and the moral anxiety the authors see as endemic to our modern economy. It is well worth the time to pursue their arguments. Several issues exist, however.

First, where does their analysis leave modern economics? Is it a useable endeavor? Or does its denial of ends and its acceptance of the consumption paradigm in combination mean that it is a dangerous tool? Relatedly, is it possible that some economists use Homo economicus as a tool of analysis, as a starting point for their work, but don’t claim that the model explains ultimate reality? But if that is the case, how does one determine which economic analysis to use and which to disregard? And is Claar and Forster’s analysis of Keynes and his consumption paradigm accurate in terms of the paradigm’s influence on economics? Does the paradigm infect all parts of the discipline? Is microeconomics as much a part of the consumption paradigm as macroeconomics?

Despite these unresolved issues, the book is well worth reading. It offers bold arguments, logic, and evidence for the necessity of moral understandings and moral commitments in economics. It also provides a very useful framework for engaging these issues.


Trump Campaign Slams SPLC's 'Division and Fearmongering' Amid Coronavirus Crisis

Last month, the far-left Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) released its annual list accusing conservative and Christian groups of being "hate groups" on par with the Ku Klux Klan. In that list, the SPLC attacked President Donald Trump no fewer than 66 times. The leftist group later went on to accuse the president of inciting anti-Asian harassment by countering Chinese Communist propaganda and referring to the coronavirus as Chinese. Both the White House and the Trump campaign have responded to the smear group's attacks.

As I recount in my book Making Hate Pay: The Corruption of the Southern Poverty Law Center, the SPLC has weaponized its history as a civil rights group that bankrupted the Ku Klux Klan in order to smear its political opponents and scare donors into writing big checks. Its list of "hate groups" is inflated and politically biased, but it bills that list as the gold standard on hate, encouraging Big Tech, corporate America, and the media to demonize and cut off from polite society whichever organizations end up in its crosshairs.

President Trump has worked with organizations the SPLC unjustly smears as "anti-immigrant hate groups," "anti-Muslim hate groups," and "anti-LGBT hate groups." Both the White House and the Trump campaign powerfully countered this narrative.

"President Trump’s leadership has lifted countless people from minority communities out of poverty, elevated LGBT Americans to the highest ranks of his Administration, and championed religious freedom for all faiths across the nation," Ken Farnaso, deputy press secretary for the Trump campaign, told PJ Media. "The SPLC’s division and fearmongering are counterproductive as the American people are uniting behind the President to defeat the coronavirus and continue to keep America great."

Similarly, White House spokesman Judd Deere, who as an openly gay man is one of the LGBT people Trump has elevated, slammed the SPLC as a "far-left smear organization" and condemned its attacks as "disgusting."

In a statement to NBC News, Deere explained that Trump has "fought for inclusion and repeatedly condemned hate and violence."

"While the radical left has pushed false accusations that LGBTQ Americans are threatened, the president has hired and promoted LGBTQ Americans to the highest levels of government, including positions at the White House, Cabinet agencies and ambassadorships," Deere added. "He launched a global campaign to decriminalize homosexuality. … And the president has made the bold declaration that we are committed to ending HIV transmissions in the United States within 10 years."

Yet the SPLC considers such actions irrelevant so long as Trump works with conservative Christian groups like the Family Research Council (FRC) and Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) or national security groups such as ACT for America or the Center for Security Policy. Any association with these falsely accused "hate groups" is grounds for condemnation in the eyes of this leftist attack dog.

Never mind that liberal activists like former ACLU President Nadine Strossen and Military Religious Freedom Foundation Founder Mikey Weinstein have rebuked the "hate group" label against ADF as false and deceptive. Never mind that an increasing chorus of voices from both the right and the left has exposed the SPLC's hate labeling as a scam. Never mind that the "hate group" accusation actually inspired a man to attempt to carry out a terrorist attack at FRC's Washington, D.C. headquarters.

As President Trump faces the coronavirus crisis, marshaling America's medical experts and partnering with the private sector to battle the twin threats of disease and recession, the SPLC is throwing cheap shots, using fearmongering as a political weapon and a fundraising tool. When Americans are already on edge, the SPLC terrifies them with deceptive reports about "hate groups" that demonize the president in the midst of a crisis.

President Trump has too much on his hands to respond personally to these ridiculous attacks, but his White House and campaign rightly exposed the fearmongering as false. Americans already have more than enough to worry about.


AL: Government cannot block abortions during coronavirus panic, judge rules

A federal judge has ruled that Alabama cannot ban abortions as part of the state’s response to the coronavirus.

US district judge Myron Thompson on Sunday issued a preliminary injunction sought by clinics to prevent the state from forbidding abortions as part of a ban on elective medical procedures during the Covid-19 outbreak. He said abortion providers could decide whether a procedure could wait.

The US Center for Reproductive Rights filed emergency lawsuits in five states to thwart moves by legislators to ban abortion during the pandemic.

In the Alabama court judgement, Thompson said that based on the current record, the defendants’ efforts to combat Covid-19 did not outweigh the lasting harm imposed by the denial of an individual’s right to terminate her pregnancy, by an undue burden or increase in risk on patients imposed by a delayed procedure, or by the cloud of unwarranted prosecution against providers.

The ruling was a victory for abortion rights advocates who are fighting efforts in Texas, Ohio, Alabama and other states to prohibit abortion services during the Covid-19 pandemic. States have argued they need to conserve medical equipment and potential hospital beds during the outbreak.

Abortion clinics in Alabama said they sought the injunction after the state refused to clarify that the clinics could continue to operate.

Alabama had ordered a postponement of medical procedures except in cases of a medical emergency or to avoid serious harm from an underlying condition or disease, or necessary as part of a patient’s ongoing and active treatment.

A lawyer representing clinics praised the decision. Preventing someone from getting an abortion did not do anything to stop Covid-19, it just took the decision on whether to have a child out of their hands, said Alexa Kolbi-Molinas, a senior staff attorney at the American Civil Liberties Union’s reproductive freedom project.

The Alabama attorney general’s office did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment.

The US ruling came as the World Health Organization was being urged to declare abortion an essential health service during the pandemic. It earlier issued guidance notes advising all governments that women’s right to sexual and reproductive healthcare “should be respected irrespective of Covid-19 status, including access to contraception and safe abortion”.

There have been growing calls for governments to protect abortion services during the crisis. Last week, 100 NGOs issued a joint statement imploring European countries to find new ways to help women access services during lockdown, such as through online consultations and, as introduced in the UK last month, by allowing them to take abortion pills at home.


Australia: Pell injustice shows why we need to restore fairness to the law

The unanimous decision of the High Court quashing George Pell’s convictions was the end of the matter for Australia’s most ­famous Catholic priest. But to understand the dreadful state of justice inside our courts, you need to go back to where this courtroom drama started.

The decision by the primary judge preventing Pell’s legal team from using psychological evidence about the credibility of the complainant points to a much deeper dilemma about how the accused can defend themselves from allegations of sexual assault in 2020.

Pell had the wherewithal and the resources to pursue his wrongful conviction to the country’s highest court. But spare a thought for others in jail today who may have faced what Pell did, and are not so well-equipped to appeal to the High Court. It is likely Pell is the tip of the iceberg.

My colleague, Chris Merritt, ­deserves praise for exposing this ­little-known and devastating weakness at the heart of the Pell prosecution. Last September, Merritt revealed for the first time that Pell’s accuser had suffered long periods of psychological problems requiring treatment. But Victoria’s Evidence Act meant that not only were Pell’s lawyers unable to access details of those psychological issues and treatment, but the jury could not be made aware of them, or even the fact Pell’s lawyers asked for them. The public was also in the dark about this until Merritt’s careful reading of Pell’s application for special leave to the High Court.

It is high time that more of us understand how the legal system, not just in Victoria, has become dangerously skewed against defendants in sexual assault cases. It stems from well-intentioned but ill-considered amendments to evidence laws in 2006. In an attempt to ease the undoubted stress and pain caused to complainants of sexual assault from being cross-examined on their past psychological history, section 32D of the Victorian Evidence (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act makes it almost impossible for a defendant to gain access to a complainant’s psychological records or bring evidence of those issues to a jury.

The section sets up an impossible circular threshold: without having access to the relevant evidence, defendants must convince a judge that they cannot properly defend themselves without putting the psychological evidence to the jury.

There is, undoubtedly, a need for sensible, measured steps to ­address the fact sexual assault is under-reported, and the court process is traumatic for its victims. But when these cases are often contests of credibility, it is neither ­sensible nor measured to strip a defendant of the ability to adduce relevant psychological evidence in that contest.

Pell’s legal team had one hand tied behind its back from the start. This was compounded by the flawed judicial method adopted by Chief Justice Anne Ferguson and Court of Appeal president Chris Maxwell. Without the benefit of seeing and listening to the complainant give evidence at trial, the majority decided that he was a truthful witness, that he was not a liar or a fantasist.

The majority’s reliance solely on the complainant’s credibility to uphold the jury’s verdict against Pell delivered a double whammy — it meant Pell faced a reverse onus to prove to the jury that the complainant was lying, but Pell could not satisfy that reverse onus by tendering psychological evidence about the complainant that may have helped to prove that.

The majority’s arrogance was breathtaking because they knew about the complainant’s history of psychological treatment but didn’t mention it in their decision to ­uphold Pell’s conviction. Indeed, their approach was so simplistic as to be reckless: by relying exclusively on the credibility of the ­complainant, they effectively discharged themselves from having to carefully consider all of the other evidence that raised reasonable doubts as to whether the ­alleged sexual assaults could have occurred.

Human nature is fallible. Alleged victims do lie. In the ACT last year, Sarah-Jane Parkinson was sentenced to more than three years’ jail on charges of making a false allegation of rape against her former husband. Studies show that witnesses can also unconsciously lie, genuinely believing something to be true even if it is not. Alleged victims might also be co-opted by others for a cause. Some or all of that may have happened in the Pell case.

Yet ill-considered sections in Victoria’s Evidence Act, that prevent the tendering of psychological evidence, have cemented into law the dangerous tenor of our times. When zealots in the #MeToo movement and Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews say that they believe all victims, they knowingly chip away at a court system that is based on evidence, the presumption of innocence, the burden of proof and due process. Just straight to conviction and jail, then?

Injustice has been legislated into the NSW legal system too. In a recent case, a trial judge was forced, by NSW evidence laws, to exclude a woman’s proven history of making false sexual assault claims. Despite the trial judge pleading for these brutally unfair laws to be reformed, the NSW ­Berejiklian government has done nothing.

While we wait for the outcome of the defendant’s appeal of the trial judge’s decision, which was heard last week, we are left with the dreadful likelihood that other defendants have been wrongly accused, tried and found guilty where alleged victims have told lies about alleged sexual assaults for revenge or simply because they were suffering from delusions or confusion arising from psychological conditions.

This is what happens when, with the best of intentions, we depart from first principles. In his 1760 Commentaries on the Law in England, the great common law scholar William Blackstone stated the principle that our legal system is founded on: “It is better that 10 guilty persons escape than that one innocent person suffer.”

Some misguided souls might say that Blackstone’s ratio is a get-out-of-jail card for rapists; that it needs to be reversed or restrained to deliver victims justice. In other words, the Blackstone 2020 Victorian edition should read “it is better that an innocent man be punished than a complainant have his or her credibility challenged”.

The #MeToo advocates tell us that men have been getting away with sexual assault for years. That is correct. Some say it is about time the tables were turned. That is wrong. While the desire for revenge is understandable — particularly among those who have suffered greatly — it surely cannot become a new organising principle on which society, and our legal system, is based.

Even for those whose motivating principle is more noble, wanting to bring an end to sexual assault, unbalanced and unfair rules of evidence are not the right way to get there. Substituting one form of injustice for another is not justice, and it is not noble. Once you allow systematic injustice in sexual assault cases, on the ground that Blackstone’s maxim is outdated, where do you stop? Which group of defendants will next be deprived of the means of defending themselves because their alleged crime is under-reported and needs to be reined in?

Who will next be deemed unworthy of basic principles that underpin our legal system? As ­Pell’s case shows, there, but for the grace of God, go I.



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


15 April, 2020  

Trump’s Winning Coronavirus Bet

Donald Trump’s bold gamble on hydroxychloroquine (HC) appears to be paying off. Medical professionals in New York tell Judicial Watch that doctors battling the pandemic are increasingly reporting benefits from the drug. They’re prescribing it for themselves, for patients, and for frontline personnel.

HC is a decades-old drug used in treating malaria, lupus, and rheumatoid arthritis. It’s largely untested against the coronavirus. President Trump has been enthusiastically promoting it for weeks, calling it possibly “one of the biggest game changers in the history of medicine” and “a very special thing.” The president’s embrace of the drug apparently began with a conversation in March with Oracle cofounder Larry Ellison and quickly escalated to exchanges with Dr. Mehmet Oz, Rudy Giuliani, Laura Ingraham, and friends in New York. A small study in France indicated the drug could be effective in fighting the virus, though French authorities later backpedaled.

Critics of the president and much of the health-care community were aghast. A president with a medical opinion! HC had serious side effects, they noted, including possible heart attack. Critics complained that Trump sidelined the cautious approach to the drug recommended by Dr. Anthony Fauci and other top White House medical advisers.

Trump insisted on pushing forward. He pounded the White House bully pulpit and lobbied the conservative media. He leaned on the Centers for Disease Control and the Food and Drug Administration. Result? The CDC issued new guidance on HC and the FDA eased restrictions on the drug, issuing an emergency authorization allowing doctors to broadly prescribe it and ramping up larger clinical reviews. He pressured India, the largest producer of HC, to keep its markets open to the U.S. In March, India approved HC for its own frontline personnel: the order noted that HC was “found to be effective against coronavirus in laboratory studies and in-vivo studies.”

In New York, the epicenter of the pandemic, HC is now in wide circulation and a big clinical trial is underway. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo is a fan, saying anecdotal evidence suggests the drug is “effective.” Others are less enthusiastic. The European Union, American Academy of Clinical Toxicology, American College of Medical Toxicology, and American Association of Poison Control Centers, among others, have issued warnings.

Is Trump right? Is HC an effective drug in the fight against the coronavirus? In some ways, the HC episode perfectly encapsulates the Trump presidency—his preference for outside channels, distrust of experts, deregulatory impulses, use of social and conservative media. We’ll have answers soon enough about HC. But for now, it looks like the president has placed a winning bet.


Hydroxychloroquine latest exclusive interview with Dr Vladimir Zelenko and Gregory Rigano

Hundreds of thousands of Americans are infected, and thousands are dying from Covid-19

Verifiable results from several doctors, acting independently of each other, indicate that a combination of three drugs—Hydroxychloroquine, azithromycin, and zinc sulfate could dramatically cut the need for hospital admissions and ventilators, saving countless lives

Coronavirus: What's the latest with Brexit and other big stories?

Over the past few months, the coronavirus pandemic has absorbed all the energy of the news cycle. There hasn't been an event like it in our lifetimes.

But this isn't to say that it's the only important thing happening in the world right now. So what's going on elsewhere - and what happened to some of the other big news stories of the year?

Remember Brexit?

For about three years you hardly heard about anything else in the UK. Now, of course, the focus is on the coronavirus pandemic. Despite Prime Minister Boris Johnson requiring hospital treatment after contracting Covid-19 and the European Union and UK chief negotiators only recently coming out of coronavirus quarantine, Downing Street insists it will stick to its original timetable.

The UK formally left the European Union on 31 January. But we are now in a transition period up to 31 December, during which the UK is still treated pretty much as an EU member while negotiations continue.

Britain's government says an EU-UK trade deal must be in place by the last day of the year. But even if not, the UK won't prolong the transition period beyond that deadline.

The idea behind the transition period was to minimise disruption caused to business and travel between the UK and the EU. It can be extended by a year or two - which the EU thinks would be a sensible move under the circumstances.

There has only been one round of EU-UK trade negotiations so far. They restart this week via video conference and both sides say they'll do their best to make good and speedy progress. But time is slipping away.

Brussels also asks whether UK and EU businesses - already struggling with the upheaval caused by the coronavirus - need another big change come the end of this year. But whatever they think, EU leaders won't formally ask the UK for an extension. The tight timetable was decided by Boris Johnson, they say. A decision to delay - if there is one - must come from London.


We may be over-reacting to an unremarkable coronavirus

Comment from Australia

Stay safe. Keep well. Perhaps a hysteria has gripped the nation, at extraordinary cost, when we’re telling each other to take special care over a disease that in three months has killed about 60, in the main quite unwell elderly people.

Even in coronavirus hot spots in Europe and the US, there’s greater chance of being killed in a car accident than being harmed by COVID-19, according to research published last week by Stanford scientist John Ioannidis.

“The risk of dying from coronavirus for a person under 65 years old is equivalent to the risk of dying driving a distance of nine to 415 miles by car each day during the COVID-19 fatality season,” he concluded.

Yet many of those under-65s have had their lives pulled apart, including loss of 195 million jobs around the world this quarter, according to the International Labour Organisation.

In Australia at the very least, with so few deaths and infections, the response to the virus is starting to appear to be a damaging over-reaction. Last month’s draconian response by officials — inducing a recession, destroying millions of jobs and businesses, and locking us all up — was at least politically understandable. The hankering for total lockdown, cheered on largely by those who would be relatively unaffected by it, was irresistible.

Yet as more real data rolls in — as opposed to the wildly inaccurate epidemiological forecasts of millions of deaths globally and many thousands locally — justifications for massive interventions, fiscal and civil, are dwindling.

We were told lockdowns were needed; otherwise hospitals would be swamped. But during the first 11 days of the month, the number of people in intensive care in NSW has fallen to 30, of whom 21 were using ventilators. That’s 2 per cent of available ventilators, even before 3000 more arrive.

Fears of a Spanish flu-like pandemic, which killed almost 40 million people a century ago, are looking exaggerated as the global death toll from COVID-19 approaches 120,000, which is 0.2 per cent of the 60 million people who will die this year from all causes (including more than three million from respiratory infections).

Yes, the lockdowns and social distancing in theory must have slowed the spread. But evidence is thin. Sweden and Japan, for instance, have not imposed lockdowns yet have far fewer deaths as a proportion of their populations than Spain, Italy or France, which have.

The Spanish flu killed 1.2 per cent of Italians, according to new research by Harvard economist Robert Barro, equivalent to 720,000 people today. Almost 20,000 Italians have died of (or with) COVID-19 so far, putting the virus more on par with flu pandemics of the late 1950s and 60s, when governments refrained from destroying their economies. The weakness of the virus itself, rather than wise government action, is the likelier reason the death toll is not as grim as first predicted.

“The likelihood of someone dying from coronavirus is much lower than we initially thought,” Ioannidis told Greek media this week, forecasting that “the mortality rate will be slightly — but not spectacularly — higher than the seasonal flu.”

Indeed, almost 80 per cent of the population of Gangelt, a German town highly exposed to COVID-19, was recently tested to see if they had had the virus. About 15 per cent had, without any symptoms, implying an infection death rate of 0.37 per cent — about four times as bad as seasonal flu but much lower than figures of 1 per cent to 3 per cent first feared.

The first officially detected case of COVID-19 in Australia was in January, eight weeks before lockdowns took effect. Does anyone seriously think only 6400, yesterday’s domestic tally, have been infected? It’s the infection fatality rate — not the official rate of infection — that matters: official tallies are meaningless when so many are asymptomatic.

“I am much more concerned about the consequences of blind shutdowns and the possible destruction of a (Greek) economy where 25 per cent of the GDP is based on tourism,” Ioannidis said.

For the Australian economy, the costs of the response to COVID-19 will be profound too, quite aside from the significant additional debt burden. Joblessness soon will likely double, based on a Roy Morgan survey for last month. The costs of loneliness and inactivity are harder to measure.

“Another month of mass isolation will cost the West at least the equivalent of a million deaths in terms of reduced quality of life,” says Paul Frijters, a professor of economics at London School of Economics using his index of wellbeing. That’s too bad for Victoria, where Premier Daniel Andrews has extended the nation’s most severe lockdown for another four weeks.

If Austria and Denmark — each with many more total deaths and more new infections than Australia — can see the sense in beginning to lift restrictions, so should we. Hospitals have plenty of capacity and new infection rates have tumbled.

Everyone has a right to a view on this fundamental question. Disease experts’ forecasts have proved hopelessly wrong anyway.

It’s not certain a vaccine will ever emerge, but we obviously can’t stay locked down for six months. The longer it lasts, the harder it will be to switch the economy back on. The businesses won’t be there. The economy isn’t a machine like the bureaucracy but a complex set of relationships that will atrophy.

Why not let sport occur without crowds, parliaments sit, young people swim at the beach, businesses reopen, provided they observe social distancing principles? No one is saying “let it rip”; clearly insulating the vulnerable from this virus is a high priority. But it appears less likely the virus will wipe out 5 per cent of India, or 3 per cent of Indonesia, as the Spanish flu did.

We urgently need randomised testing to see how widespread the coronavirus already is. The Prime Minister has said COVID-19 is akin to a one-in-100-year event. It’s unlikely that’s true of the virus, but it’s looking true of damage caused by hysteria.



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


14 April, 2020  

Modeling COVID-19 and the Lies of Multiculturalism

Perhaps the best thing that could come out of this entire debacle and turning America into a police state — where people are arrested for going somewhere in their cars and never leaving their cars — should be a total disdain for and disbelief in computer models.

The Imperial College of London model that terrified our largely scientifically illiterate politicos and therefore killed the world economy, like every other model that tries to model human behavior, assumed a spherical cow of uniform density in a frictionless vacuum.

What am I talking about? Exactly what I said.

Computer modeling can be incredibly useful, particularly when you’re modeling physics: an object dropped from such and such a place, which has such and such velocity, will impact on such and such a place with such and such force. However, as the mother and wife of STEM people for whom physics is a game and who create such models for fun, I know that the accuracy of the model depends on how much you put into it and how much of the real factors on that day, in that place, you can put in.

That spherical cow of uniform density in a frictionless vacuum has long been a joke among physicists, because of course cows aren’t spherical, nor do they have a uniform density, and a vacuum, such as we know it, is never frictionless (unless it’s in a small, contained enclosure, usually in a laboratory, a vacuum contains small particles.) And all of those variables mean that your model will be wrong if they’re not included in it. So, at its basis, if you’re designing a computer model for fun, or to settle a bet with your brother (yes, my family is weird), you can ignore all the variables.  When you’re actually modeling a real-life situation, you cannot and should not.

Unfortunately, we have willfully and on purpose, over the course of the last 50 years, blinded ourselves to one of the most important factors when modeling disease in human populations: culture. We have taught our kids in school that culture is food and clothing, and sometimes -- but not always -- language, but that culture is inherently the same underneath those trappings.

That is what's assumed by those models, and it is enough of a lie to be a d*mned lie.

Mind you, the computer modeling of humans in general is always hazardous. This is why no one can give accurate predictions of what will happen with the economy at any given time, and that is why most legislators are completely baffled when the second- and third-order effects of their legislation hit. Because to them we are all spherical cows in a frictionless vacuum.

The Covid-19 Phony War

However, culture is the most important – or should be the most important – in modeling the spread of any disease in a human population. Next and almost equal to it, should be the physical home of that culture: where do the people live? How dense is the population? How much air do they share?

The models for how bad COVID-19 would be, and the measures for mitigating its spread all, without exception, ignore these factors.

I don’t think COVID-19 is a hoax. (Though frankly this news makes me wonder, but that’s another matter.) I do think it has got really bad “in clusters.”

I also think if you go and look at the clusters, you’ll find that there are reasons why it got exceptionally bad there, but not anywhere else. And it was never going to get as bad anywhere else. And the measures should have been taken specifically in those places, without the ruinous cost of crashing the economy.

For instance, my friend in Albany, Georgia, tells me he assumes part of the reason it got so bad in his neighborhood (the worst per capita in the U.S. last I looked) is that “we are the touchiest, most social people I know.” I.e. there is a lot of touching and hugging.

At a guess this is the reason it got so bad in Italy, too, but not nearly as bad in Germany, where frankly people aren’t that touchy/feely/huggy.

New York City — Do I really need to say this? — is not Colorado.

I can go months without using an elevator. I can’t remember the last time I used a subway, and the last time I used public transport was last year while visiting my parents in Portugal – and even then only when I was going downtown Porto because it’s almost impossible to park – and if I keep the curtains closed in the bathroom, I can’t see my closest neighbor (who admittedly is close, but that's on one side). That’s in Denver. I have open space in the front and back of the house, and the only people I share air with are my family.

Now, in NYC, besides the fact they all live in modified closets with shared air, you can’t get anywhere without rubbing elbows with strangers. Subways and elevators are simply parts of daily life for most New Yorkers. And as for social distancing… well! Every time I go East, when I hit the first layover, I want to start singing, “Don’t stand so close to me.”

So, would a complete lockdown of the city, with perhaps distribution of food so the grocery stores could be closed, make sense for NYC? Sure it would. Of course it would.

A grave violation of everyone’s rights? Sure. No doubt about that. But perhaps necessary for a limited time in a limited space.

Does a complete lockdown in places where the culture is completely different make any sense? No. Also no. With a side of no.

Now, there are still differences that don’t make a lot of sense, like the difference in death rates between Portugal and Spain, but that might be entirely because we don’t – frankly – know much of events that take place in other countries.  When I told my mother (yes, still in Portugal, as is all my blood-family other than my sons) that I couldn’t figure it out, she said something about various demonstrations and civil unrest in the lead up to the outbreak. She said it in the off-hand manner that assumes of course I’ve heard of this, but I’m ashamed to know I hadn't since frankly I rarely read European news these days. So I have no idea how significant that is.

The other thing is that I remember – lost in the flurry of early news – that Spain’s first response to this was the nationalizing of its health care system. Which means that before this “emergency” Spain had (as to an extent even we do) parallel public and private health systems. At the onset of the epidemic, the private health care system was folded into the public.

Not only would this have caused the usual difficulty of socialized medicine – that a patient is treated as a figure and that figure is in the debit column – but it would also undoubtedly have caused confusion, disorganization, and general mess as many different hierarchies were folded into an overarching one, and doubly so, because Mediterranean cultures are not really good at organization in general. That alone would explain things like the abandonment of elderly people in old-age homes (in some cases part of the health care system) as well as other horrors we heard of. These problems are not caused by malice, but by utter pants-on-head disorganization to a level Americans can’t even conceptualize.

Our media relays scenes of panic and death without the slightest context that might make the rest of us realize that the factors leading to those are unlikely to obtain in our own neighborhood. This is partly because most of our so-called journalists are incredibly ignorant and glib. And it is partly because they think crashing the economy and blaming it on Trump will get the Democrat Spokeszombie elected. But that's a whole 'nother matter, for another article.

So, yes, COVID-19 got very bad in spots (though the rates of both infection and death surfacing as more studies in Europe are done, as well as the rates of infection and death for the Diamond Princess, still indicate that those “bad spots” are nowhere near as bad as has been advertised).

And we might have been justified in closing down, isolating, and stopping travel to and from those spots.

It would have been economically painful enough since one of those spots is NYC. However, with the rest of the country (or the majority of it) working, we should have been fine.

It wouldn’t have been the disaster that it’s been made by the blithe "multiculturalist" assumption that “culture” is all about clothes and food, and not about how people behave and act in concert, due to cultural assumptions and the physical environment of their daily lives.

I can only pray that in the destroyed hopes of our children and grandchildren, in the scorched landscape of the world economy, in the revolt – dear Lord, I hope it’s a revolt to come otherwise the United States as we knew it is dead – against the police state imposed during this madness, people will see what multiculturalism and inane computer models have wrought.

I hope if no other good comes of this, that people will open their eyes to the insanity of treating humans as equal widgets who all behave the same way and all cultures as essentially the same under their colorful wrappings.

If we learn that lesson, then perhaps greater insanity – like the Green New Deal or ever new and shinier forms of socialism – can be avoided along with even greater mortality, ruin, and blighted lives.


There can never be enough death to satisfy Trump-haters

The left now has a love affair with death.  (All in the name of love, of course.)

So it should come as no surprise that there are Trump-haters out there so deranged that they would prefer millions to die from the coronavirus — even a limitless number — in exchange for Trump losing the election in November.

Ami Horowitz interviewed people in the East Village of New York and posed the following question: "Would you go for this deal, that the coronavirus lasts longer and is more severe, but the president guarantees to lose the election?"

Most people in this leftist stronghold preferred a longer and more severe pandemic if it meant Trump would not be re-elected.  Some were fine with a million people dying from the virus.  Others said there was no limit to the number of deaths they would accept if it meant Trump was out of office.

Meanwhile, a teacher in Rhode Island sent a tweet offering to pay people infected with the coronavirus to cough on the president.  The matter is under investigation by the school district.  I've yet to find any report that the Secret Service is involved.  What is up with that?!

And Jim Acosta is apparently so confused about the difference between death and happiness that he accused the president of engaging in "happy talk" at press conferences.

Happy talk?

The president has been talking about illness, the health care system in some regions of the country stretched beyond capacity, and tens of thousands of Americans dying while he organizes the government and private sector to work at breakneck speed to ease the suffering.  And Acosta thinks that’s "happy talk"?

All in a day's work for the left.  What a sick bunch of folks.


Church Targeted During Holy Week

The Mayor of Greenville, Mississippi issued an executive order that bans drive-in church services, despite the governor’s order that identifies churches as an “essential business.”

It gets worse.

Eight uniformed police officers showed up to a Wednesday night drive-in service at Temple Baptist Church. They issued $500 tickets for each person violating the mayor’s ban!

This was not a large church gathering with people standing shoulder to shoulder. Everyone was in their own car with their windows rolled up listening to their pastor over the radio. No one got out of their cars.

It was a sign of unity. It was coming together. It was worship.

Just yesterday, ADF filed suit on behalf of Temple Baptist Church on the grounds that the mayor’s ban is unconstitutional and unnecessary.

Just down the street, the Sonic restaurant often has more people using the drive-in service than were in the church parking lot.

We continue to encourage churches to follow all legitimate safety rules. But the Constitution draws a line even in emergencies, and Greenville has crossed it.

In a parallel situation in Wilmington, NC, city officials reversed an identical rule after I researched and sent them a legal analysis.

These kinds of cases are increasing and our team is working very long hours—especially as churches want to celebrate Easter in a safe and appropriate fashion.

Via email: info@adflegal.org

Yes, AOC really tried to make coronavirus about ‘environmental racism’ and reparations

There’s a popular parody account on Twitter named Titania McGrath, a self-styled “radical intersectional poet" whose extreme social justice musings — most recently, she’s gone on about how all vaccines are racist and how the term “wet market” is a dog whistle — are often mistaken for earnest arguments.

It’s easy to see why people fall for it: Increasingly, left-wing thought leaders such as Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez have descended so completely into woke madness that it’s hard to tell parody from real life.

The New York socialist’s latest tirade focused on how the novel coronavirus is actually racist and why the ensuing societal crisis the virus has caused somehow makes the case for … slavery reparations.

Yes, really.

“COVID deaths are disproportionately spiking in Black + Brown communities,” the congresswoman tweeted. “Why? Because the chronic toll of redlining, environmental racism, wealth gap, etc. ARE underlying health conditions.”

“Inequality is a comorbidity,” she concluded. “COVID relief should be drafted with a lens of reparations.”

It’s hard to know where even to start dissecting this woke sandwich of intersectional buzzwords. Ocasio-Cortez is not technically wrong that the virus is manifesting itself differently in areas with different demographic makeups — after all, New York City is faring much worse than, say, Iowa. And if we're very generous, we could probably come up with arguments that this is an indirect result of racism or the lingering influence of past racism. But many, many other factors could instead be driving this trend — for example, smoking rates.

Herein lies the fundamental flaw with Ocasio-Cortez’s everything-must-be-about-identity worldview. The coronavirus affects men and women differently, smokers and nonsmokers differently, and elderly and young people differently. But that doesn’t mean that a virus is sexist (against men — a majority of its victims) or ageist. It simply shows that real life is complicated, and different people face different risks. Not everything can be boiled down and blamed on secretive, malicious, systemic action by bigots.

The real problem with Ocasio-Cortez’s racially inflammatory coronavirus rhetoric is that it contributes to the divisive politicization of what ought to be an apolitical, unifying response to a crisis. The congresswoman’s followers are probably tired of their social justice claptrap being ignored in favor of health issues. They have probably been eager to hear coronavirus described with woke buzzwords. But most people, even liberals, see that kind of stuff and know just to roll their eyes. Leaders, especially those in New York, which is suffering the direst coronavirus outbreak in the United States, should be rallying everyone in the country to achieve results — not framing the crisis based on tribalism or using it to promote an unrelated political agenda.

Ocasio-Cortez, in advocating slavery reparations as part of coronavirus relief, has invoked one of the most racially divisive and least popular proposals in America today. Per Gallup, a whopping 70% of the public opposes the idea of slavery reparations, but support cuts deeply along racial lines — 73% of black respondents supported the proposal, and 81% of white respondents opposed it.

Just the sort of thing to bring people together in a moment of crisis.



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


13 April, 2020

PBS Reporter Claims Black Surgeon General 'Offended' Black People by Trying to Save Them

One of the mysteries yet to be solved in the coronavirus pandemic is why African Americans and Hispanics are more susceptible to getting infected and becoming ill.

Surgeon General Jerome Adams had no answers when asked about it. But he implored minorities to heed the directives from the CDC about protecting against becoming infected.

Fox News:

"I want to close by saying while your state and local health departments and those of us in public service are working day and night to help stop the spread of COVID-19 and to protect you regardless of your color, your creed, or your geography, I need you to know that you're not helpless and that it's even more important in communities of color, we adhere to the task force guidelines to slow the spread," Adams said. "Avoid alcohol, tobacco, and drugs. And call your friends and family. Check on your mother, she wants to hear from you right now."
"And speaking of mothers, we need you to do this if not for yourself than for your abuela. Do it for your granddaddy. Do it for your Big Mama. Do it for your Pop-Pop. We need you to understand, especially in communities of [color], we need you to step up and help stop the spread so that we can protect those who are most vulnerable."

Adams, who happens to be black, was immediately attacked by PBS reporter Yamiche Alcindor, who claimed that "there are some people online" already offended by his remarks.

"You said that African Americans and Latinos should avoid alcohol, drugs, and tobacco. You also said do it for your abuela, do it for Big Mama and Pop-Pop. There are some people online who are already offended by that language and the idea that you're saying that behaviors might be leading to these high death rates," Alcindor told Adams. "Do you, I guess, have a response to people who might be offended by the language that you used?"

Just who is it who was "offended"? Alcindor tweeted out right after Adams made his "big mama" remark that "some will find this language offensive" even before anyone had a chance to comment on it. That idea, and the idea that a black surgeon general would use "offensive" language in any context, is absurd.

Adams slapped Alcindor down. Fox News:

"I have a Puerto Rican brother-in-law. I call my Grand Daddy 'Grand Daddy.' I have relatives who call their grandparents 'Big Mama.' So that was not meant to be offensive, that is the language that we use and that I use and we need to continue to target our outreach to those communities," Adams explained. "It is critically important that they understand that it's not just about them and I was very clear about that. It's not just about what you do, but you also are not helpless."

He continued, "We need everyone -- black, brown, white, whatever color you are -- to follow the president's guidelines, the coronavirus guidelines and do their part because when I talked to the NAACP three weeks ago, it's important to note that one of the things that they asked me was will you help dispel the myths in this community that people actually can't get coronavirus if they're black. That was a myth that was out there that's actually very important for us to squash here."

Whenever a reporter or activist begins with "some people are offended," you naturally might wonder "who" would be offended. The reporter or activist will never give actual citations or evidence at all for such a statement. What they mean by claiming offense is that they are instructing people to be offended, not that anyone is really offended at all.

When I use the term "illegal alien," I get at least one person in the comments who scores me for using "offensive" language. I'm sorry but no illegal alien has ever approached me and told me that I'm hurting their feelings or offending them by using that term. So the question I have is, Why shelve a perfectly good description of someone who enters the country illegally because an imaginary offense is given?

Alcindor tried to shame the surgeon general for attempting to reach people of color with the message to stay safe and was mercilessly mocked for her stupidity.


Progressive Destruction: The Pandemic is the Perfect Time to Abolish the Family

Amid lockdowns and “shelter-in-place” orders and social distancing from strangers and even friends, the coronavirus pandemic has been a time, for many of us, of reaffirming the centrality of family in our lives. For utopians of the radical left, though, the pandemic is an opportunity to deconstruct flawed, traditional familial bonds and remake the world along the lines of new-and-improved, collectivist possibilities. As author Sophie Lewis (pictured above) puts it bluntly in a recent opinion piece at Open Democracy: “We deserve better than the family. And the time of corona is an excellent time to practice abolishing it.”

The author of Full Surrogacy Now: Feminism Against Family, Sophie Lewis’ academic work “focuses on eugenic, bioconservative and imperial feminism, queer and trans social reproduction, Black feminist family abolitionism, hydrofeminism, postgenomics, and Marxist-feminist accounts of care,” which seems like a lot to fit on a business card.

Writing in her article titled, “The coronavirus crisis shows it's time to abolish the family,” Lewis addresses what she calls “the unspoken and mostly unquestioned crux of the prescribed response to the pandemic: private homes.” She criticizes the assumption that we should all “stay at home” to contain the spread of the virus, arguing that 1) not everybody has a home, and 2) private property is already a “fundamentally unsafe space.”

“How can a zone defined by the power asymmetries of housework (reproductive labor being so gendered), of renting and mortgage debt, land and deed ownership, of patriarchal parenting and (often) the institution of marriage, benefit health?” she asks. “Such standard homes are where, after all, everyone secretly knows the majority of earthly violence goes down… A quarantine is, in effect, an abuser’s dream – a situation that hands near-infinite power to those with the upper hand over a home.”

Lewis approvingly quotes feminist Madeline Lane-McKinley, who had this to say in a tweet about the shelter-in-place imperative: “Households are capitalism’s pressure cookers. This crisis will see a surge in housework – cleaning, cooking, caretaking, but also child abuse, molestation, intimate partner rape, psychological torture, and more.”

Imagine the warped mind that equates the family home with “a pressure cooker” of child abuse, rape, and psychological torture. Do such things happen in some homes? Tragically, yes; of course they do. But family abolitionists see these horrors as inherent in the ideologically “coercive” institution of the nuclear family. They pay lip service to acknowledging that families can be a source of love, comfort, and safety, and they claim that their goal “is not the destruction of kinship ties” but an “expansion of that protection into broader communities of struggle,” as ME O’Brien writes at Pinko (which describes itself as “a collective for thinking gay communism”). And yet they relentlessly denigrate the nuclear family as an institution poisoned by what O’Brien calls “compulsory heterosexuality, misogynistic subjugation and familial violence.” They sneer at “family householders” as “white property owners, abusive patriarchs, homophobes and others most invested in the normative family” (O’Brien again).

But the domestic violence aspect is just the tip of the iceberg. The family is also apparently a capitalist plot for churning out – gasp – productive individuals. In an interview last year with the far-left The Nation titled “Want to Dismantle Capitalism? Abolish the Family,” Lewis stated, “We know that the nuclear private household is where the overwhelming majority of abuse can happen. And then there’s the whole question of what it is for: training us up to be workers, training us to be inhabitants of a binary-gendered and racially stratified system, training us not to be queer.” In her Open Democracy article, Lewis adds that “even when the private nuclear household poses no direct physical or mental threat to one’s person – no spouse-battering, no child rape, and no queer-bashing – the private family qua mode of social reproduction still, frankly, sucks. It genders, nationalizes and races us. It norms us for productive work. It makes us believe we are ‘individuals.’”

The vision of anti-family theorists like Lewis is to replace the ideological straightjacket of the family with a world of communes of “collective social reproduction,” in which the entire community cares for children and rescues them from “abusive parental relationships.” Apparently communes will be free of spouse beating, child abuse, and all the other dark shadows of human nature. Oh, and no compulsory heterosexuality.

They will also supposedly be free of homelessness. Calling comfortable housing “a basic human birthright,” Lewis recommends that we “open all the hotels and private palaces” for “housing for all,” “[f]ree all prisoners and detainees now, remake the care facilities as spacious self-led villages, and dismiss all the workers with full pay so they can leave their bunks forever, move in with their friends, and pursue laziness for at least the next decade.”

One would be forgiven for thinking that this kind of talk is Swiftian satire, but sadly, Lewis and her ilk are deadly serious – and brutally honest about it. Last year, for example, Lewis dispensed with the left’s usual tortured justifications for abortion and expressed her view that taking the life of the unborn is indeed killing, but “a form of killing that we need to be able to defend. I am not interested in where a human life starts to exist.”

So for Lewis, the current pandemic is not a time “to acquiesce to ‘family values’ ideology”; on the contrary, it’s “an acutely important time to provision, evacuate and generally empower survivors of – and refugees from – the nuclear household.” In addition to hoping “to wrench something better than capitalism from the wreckage of this Plague and the coming Depression,” she looks forward to this crisis ratcheting up “the dialectic of families against the family, of real homes against the home.”

The nuclear family is the most elemental relationship building block of civilization (of course, civilization as we know it is precisely what the left wants to dismantle.)  It is a refuge, a source of strength and support, of identity and history, of love and forgiveness. It is home. Husband, wife, father, mother, son, daughter, brother, sister -- the bonds these incredibly evocative words imply would not be expanded under the system Lewis is proposing; they would be dissolved. Are families perfect? Of course not. None of them is, because human beings aren’t perfect and never can be. We are fallen beings in a fallen world – this is the reality that the far left refuses to accept. There is no insanely totalitarian, collectivist nightmare that the left will not pursue with an evangelical passion to achieve their dream of the perfectibility of mankind, of paradise on earth. But that dream, as has been demonstrated in all places and in all times where it has been put into practice, is a mass-murdering lie.

And yet as extreme as Sophie Lewis’ anti-family, anti-capitalist animus sounds, everything she proposes is simply the end game of mainstream Progressivism: the abolition of capitalism; the abolition of private property; the abolition of traditional kinship; the abolition of literally every single tradition and institution of Western civilization, to be replaced by the enlightened, peaceful, self-regulated structures of communism – just as Karl Marx envisioned. Family abolitionists like Lewis are mainstream Progressives; what makes them seem extreme is simply their unabashed openness about their aims.


UK: Elite bigotry about "Karens"

They are actually projecting.  What they say about Karens is largely true of themselves

‘It is the peculiar quality of a fool to perceive the faults of others and forget his own’, said Cicero. This is so true of the woke bourgeoise who bang on endlessly about ‘Karens’. You know Karens: they’re the busybody, always-complaining, helmet-haired women who stalk the nightmares of sophisticated middle-class people, especially the right-on millennial middle classes.

These people are constantly making memes of Karens, showing culturally and sartorially inferior women asking for the manager and generally making a fuss about everything. Which is hilariously ironic given that ‘Karen’-like behaviour – snitching to management, trying to get people sacked, moaning endlessly about every inconvenience – is the stock-in-trade of woke millennials. These Karen-bashers are the biggest Karens of all.

The feminist Julie Bindel has triggered a discussion about Karens by asking a simple question: ‘Does anyone else think the “Karen” slur is woman-hating and based on class prejudice?’ The furious response to Bindel’s question proves she has a point. Twitter went into meltdown, as is its wont, as PC leftists and black tweeters insisted that actually ‘Karen’ is a perfectly legitimate term to describe a swathe of white women who are shrill, given to complaining, and, of course, racist. As one headline summed up the debate: ‘White women say calling them “Karen” is a slur, black Twitter sounds off.’ That headline is almost too perfect. What people are essentially saying is that it is not a slur to refer to all thirtysomething white, ‘cis’, married women as Karens because that’s what they are: moany, racist, vulgar Karens. Erm… that’s prejudice. To paint an entire section of society as a samey blob is the definition of prejudice. Just because it’s coming from ‘black Twitter’ doesn’t make it okay. It’s still a nasty caricature based on racial, gender and class assumptions.

Where Bindel is most right is when she says the ‘Karen’ slur is classist. In this sense, it is the female equivalent of ‘gammon’, the pig-derived name that Corbynistas in particular use to refer to red-faced men of a certain age and a certain class. Whenever a fiftysomething bloke with a less than polished accent puts his hand up on Question Time and proceeds to slag off Jeremy Corbyn or stand up for Brexit, social media will explode with wails of ‘gammon!’. What they mean is ‘pig’ – subhuman, inferior. What is striking is that these apparently switched-on, uber-aware leftists who refer to middle-aged men as ‘gammon’ and thirtysomething women as ‘Karens’ always insist that they are attacking the middle classes. Even if that were true, it wouldn’t be okay. But it isn’t true. At all. Gammons and Karens are slurs invented by self-satisfied bourgeois elements to demean lower middle-class and working-class people whom they see as lacking grace and style.

The attempts to depict Karens as symbolic of the middle class actually demonstrate that we aren’t really talking about the middle classes here. So, Grazia magazine describes a Karen as being ‘generally from Generation X, so in her late thirties or forties. She is generally a middle-class white woman, with a specific haircut – what is often called a “can I speak to the manager” haircut. The hairstyle is that kind of American soccer-mum haircut…’ Karens can also be ‘racist, homophobic and transphobic’, apparently. The ‘soccer mom’ haircut is a giveaway here. If we really are talking about middle-class people, it’s a very specific form of middle class: the new arrivals into the middle class; the apparently unsophisticated types who, courtesy of their husbands perhaps, have suddenly found themselves in the more middle section of society. But they’re still uncouth, brash, and lacking in the social awareness of the older, better, more enlightened middle classes.

Think of those women who appear in virtually every Mike Leigh film, from Abigail’s Party to Life is Sweet to Secrets and Lies – the sad working-class woman with middle-class airs and graces who gets everything wrong and is always, but always, the villain of the piece. Properly middle-class theatregoers and cinema attendees have been laughing at these women for yonks. Karen-bashing continues this trend of looking down one’s nose at aspiring working-class women who think joining the middle class means having to become an irritating, bossy moaner. Stupid bitches. It’s the same with gammon. Anyone who says this is an attack on middle-class men is lying to themselves, and they know it. It is a classist slur aimed exclusively at lower middle-class men (‘golf bores’) or working-class men done good (the greatest crime in the eyes of certain middle-class leftists) who apparently reveal their foul origins when they bash Corbyn or insult the EU.

Class hatred unquestionably fuels Karen-bashing. There’s a twisted irony: ‘Karens’ are attacked for thinking they are better than everyone else, but Karen-bashing itself is a far more explicit expression of moral superiority and class hierarchy than anything a soccer mom could pull off when she’s complaining to the manager. Indeed, the woke left who loathe Karens are the biggest Karens of all. Invite a controversial speaker to campus, and they’ll go running to the manager (the university authorities): ‘Ban this person!’ Say something they don’t like and they won’t hesitate to tell your boss to sack you or deprive you of work (think of Maya Forstater after she criticised the cult of transgenderism). As for making sweeping racial generalisations: millennial socialists who have built an entire caricature out of white women called Karen are not in a position to complain about racial stereotyping. They’re its main purveyors right now.

These Karen-bashers are no better than the snobs who raged against ‘Sharons’ and ‘Traceys’ from Essex in the Eighties. Then, as now, ‘proper’ middle-class snobs were just spewing disgust at what they viewed as vulgar women lower down the class, morality and decency hierarchy. They’re going nuts over the suggestion that saying ‘Karen’ is a slur because they know it’s true.


WHO Kowtows to China and the World Suffers

Placating Beijing's interests prevented WHO leadership from addressing the pandemic sooner.

The China Virus pandemic has exposed the fact that leadership at the World Health Organization (WHO) has become far more concerned with placating tyrants than advancing healthcare. Organized in 1948 as part of the then-recently formed United Nations, the WHO’s goal was “the attainment by all people of the highest possible level of health.” Right from its start, the WHO’s focus was predominantly epidemiological, addressing infectious diseases that have plagued the world. If only it had remained true to its mission.

Just as the UN has drifted away from the American and European values it was founded upon, the WHO has steadily moved away from its original founding values and has been caught carrying water for dictatorial regimes such as Beijing. But how did this happen? How did the WHO become so beholden to the ChiComs?

The Washington Examiner’s Tiana Lowe answers that question: “The WHO’s dictatorial sycophancy long predates the coronavirus. Beijing’s stranglehold over the organization began in earnest in 2006, when its hand-picked candidate won the election to become the WHO’s director-general. When Margaret Chan, herself a Chinese national, took charge of the organization, so did the interests of the communist party.”

And the response to this current pandemic only further demonstrates just how beholden the WHO has become to Beijing. As Mark Alexander noted, “It is now believed that World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, who was elected to his position with China’s backing, is now running interference for Xi Jinping’s communist government propaganda campaign to deny responsibility for the outbreak. According to analysts Dr. Bradley Thayer and Lianchao Han, ‘Tedros apparently turned a blind eye to what happened in Wuhan and the rest of China and, after meeting with Xi in January, has helped China to play down the severity, prevalence and scope of the COVID-19 outbreak.’”

Meanwhile, it will be left to responsible nations like the U.S. to clean up China’s mess — a mess that could have been avoided if the WHO had followed its founding principles and properly alerted the world rather than concern itself with placating the geopolitical concerns of Chinese communists.



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


12 April, 2020  

Now the Coronavirus Is Racist?

Many folks are worrying that blacks are disproportionately affected by the pandemic.

A noun is a person, place, thing, or idea. A person can be racist. A place can be deemed racist. An idea can totally be racist. However, now a thing is racist. This thing called the COVID-19 virus has now become a staple of racism in America. Yeah, racist. A virus can be racist or, shall I say, it can wreak havoc in African American neighborhoods.

I thought a virus could wreak havoc anywhere people are carrying the virus and not using healthy measures to prevent its spread. But I digress.

Let’s take Chicago, for example. According to Chicago health officials, glaring statistics underscore the heavy toll of coronavirus on black Americans. Chicago has seen a total of 98 deaths from COVID-19, with 72% of them black residents. Black Chicagoans account for half of all coronavirus cases in the city and more than 70% of deaths, despite making up just 30% of the population. According to reports, other cities with large black populations, including Detroit, Milwaukee, New Orleans, and New York, have become coronavirus hotspots.

According to the Chicago Sun Times, there’s nothing sunny about how the virus is impacting the windy city. As 29% of the population is responsible for 70% of the city’s COVID-19 deaths, Leftmedia outlets are blaming black skin again. Even presidential candidate Joe Biden said, “And we have to finally get some data how this coronavirus is really hurting African Americans and minority communities.”

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot reported, “This new data offers a deeply concerning glimpse into the spread of COVID-19 and is a stark reminder of the deep-seated issues which have long created disparate health impacts in communities across Chicago.”

To take it a step further, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law on Monday called for the federal government to release racial and ethnic data relating to the pandemic. The group says it wants to “ensure that communities of color receive equitable health care and treatment during this crisis.”

What? So, what does washing your hands and staying six feet apart from your neighbor have to do with “equitable health care and treatment”?

Does skin color or behavior void of skin color determine these alarming statistics? Does melanin save anyone or place people in a crisis? Why do leftists have to make everything, including an invisible virus, about racial or ethnic undertones?

Could it be that some people of color, in certain areas, have a level of apathy that puts them in higher probability to suffer disproportionately to an alien virus? I often see the behavior of a people before I would ever deem their skin color the problem.

I guess the Left will milk this virus for all it’s worth. The fear of the virus in America is more contagious than the spread of it, though maybe not so much in the black communities of Chicago, New Orleans, or New York. Go figure.


Liberal Nonsense Is Looking Dumber Than Ever Now

Remember the heady days of six weeks ago when the earnest wailing of liberal sissies about some imagined thoughtcrime drew respectful attention? Well, it never did from us, because we always knew these people we idiots deserving only of mockery, but some people – nice, friendly people who could not imagine the malignancy in the hearts of these fascists dipwads – took them seriously and actually cared.

And then a disease came along that is impoverishing the people it isn’t killing. It’s time to put away childish things, folks, and America seems to be doing that. Well, at least the people who aren’t liberal blue checks. The rest of us have no time for such frivolous nonsense. And when we beat this pandemic, which we will, maybe we as a culture will put away childish things for good.

Things like promiscuous racism whining. Ah, those were the days, back when blocking off travel into the US from that festering petri dish of disease that is China was RACIST! and probably SEXIST! and certainly a violation of the Logan Act to boot. Yeah, it turns out that keeping out inhabitants of the Land of the Commie Bat Gobblers wasn’t racist – it was prudent.

If we had listened to Joe Badfinger Biden and the rest of the Democrats, we’d have kept importing Chinese coronavirus cases. The whole silly fit about how telling the truth about the virus is a hate crime just went *poof* the moment Trump said “Chi-nah.”

Sure, AOC is still nitwiting about it on the interwebs, but is anyone listening to her? She’s gone from center stage, revealed as what she always was – a trivial indulgence who was vaguely amusing in a time of safety and prosperity and who is a bad joke in a time where normal people are literally putting themselves at risk to help fellow Americans.

We have no time for her ilk and their sophomore seminar obsessions. We have lives to save and an economy to rebuild.

Other stuff has fallen by the wayside as well, like the phony weather cult. What happened to that? Wait, are you telling me that right now no one has time to be hectored by some creepy Swedish teen? But I thought we were all going to die?

Except now, a bunch of people really are at risk of dying and soon. During this pandemic, we’ve seen our scientists both do some amazing things and also screw up incredibly. You had scientists in China who gave us false information – whoa, you mean sometimes people lie about science in pursuit of a political agenda? Does noticing that make us hate science? And look at how our own scientists’ track record. Does hydroxychloroquine work or not? The science isn’t settled. Why do their infection models change every few hours? Again, unsettled science. We’re not asking for perfection, but we also should not be asked to believe in perfection. These guys can’t accurately predict what is going to happen tomorrow yet a couple months ago we were being told that we hate science because we doubted they could foresee exactly what was going to happen in a century.

Hey, we just wrecked our booming economy for a real threat. Do you think that after this we’re going to be eager to do that again for the fake threat that is the global warming hoax? The best part of this whole thing was when the swells of Scat Francisco backed off on the ultimate limo lib virtue signal, the disposable plastic bag ban, in the face of an actual crisis.

Oh, and maybe after living through an epidemic, people will be less tolerant of living in cities where junkies plop their dung on the sidewalk as our progressive betters instruct us that this is our proper penance for the sin of being Americans. Typhoid and other diseases from the Dark Ages were starting to run rampant on our Skid Rows, and it was only a matter of time until these pathogens spread out to the normals. Perhaps a lesson of the Chinese coronavirus pandemic will be that tolerating this kind of social pathology is not how civilized people live, at least not for long.

We’ve heard a little about illegal aliens lately from some of the most tone-deaf libs, how we’re supposed to let these criminals out of stir because of the Wuhan Flu and how we should be giving them free money just like we are giving to citizens. But in the face of this pestilence, there are some hard realities that our spoiled culture has had to confront. One of them is that it is a very bad thing to have people coming here without us having a look at them first since that they can carry diseases in with them. Walls work. Nations matter. And science is a thing, even when it means excluding illegals.

Yet our garbage establishment, even as millions of Americans have been plunged into unemployment, is still trying to import serfs into the country to do the work that Americans won’t do – at least not for slave wages. When unemployment hits 10% or worse, what do you think the reaction will be when some senator tries to slip into a bill a sweetheart deal to let Silicon Valley import 10,000 Chinese grinds to code for a buck a week? Probably a negative one.

We had a good run for a few years, but our elite got even softer and stupider. They imagined that the world was a safe, secure place where nothing bad ever happened, and that the paradise they inherited – our trash elite has built nothing itself except teetering towers of pronoun protocols – could handle anything, including our elite’s stupidest, most destructive SJW indulgences. And our society, built and maintained by better men and women, could handle it. It was strong enough to carry the burden of childish social justice stupidity, right up until some guy in Wuhan licked a pangolin and, well, you know the rest.

Political correctness and its associated disorders are a luxury we can’t afford in this new, serious, adult world. Good riddance.


Man who regrets having treatment to become a transgender woman for 11 years reveals it made him 'profoundly unhappy'

A man who spent 11 years living as a transgender woman has trained as a counselor to help people accept their gender, after 'detransitioning' back to being male.

Constantly mistaken for a girl, from childhood onwards, Brian Belovitch, now 63, from Brooklyn, decided to transition to a woman when he was 19-years-old, instead of embracing his 'effeminate gay identity' as he does today.

Brian transitioned in the late 1970s, and spend eleven years living as a busty female performer named Tish, after going through hormone therapy and breast implants.

However, he soon realized his transition had not made him happy and reverted back to his old self, and now lives as a gay man again. 

Brian said: 'I was so uncomfortable as an effeminate, chubby gay boy I thought it would be easier just to be female. Looking back now, I realize I never felt like a woman.

'It was more that my gender had always been in question and the idea that something wasn't quite right was forced on me.

'It was like, "Well, if people think I'm a girl, I'll be a girl".'

Brian is speaking out about his extraordinary life, which has seen him battle addiction as he tried to fathom who he really was, just as a British woman has been given the go-ahead to pursue legal action against an NHS gender clinic, saying they should have challenged her more ardently before allowing her to transition from female to male.

Known as a 'detransitioner' - a transgender person who has reverted back to the sex they were assigned at birth - Brian believes we are seeing 'the tip of the iceberg' when it comes to people making the decision to change gender in this way.

He said: 'You'd be shocked by how many people are already coming out in the community to talk about this. 'I think people have this idea that transitioning is a great fix all and end up doing it for the wrong reasons.

'People like myself have a duty to speak out and be vocal - it's the only way to stop the same mistakes being made again.'

Brian certainly enjoyed a colourful existence after transitioning - living as the showgirl Natalia 'Tish' Gervais, through the late 70s and early 80s and performing in legendary New York nightspots like Dancetaria, the Limelight Club and Studio 54, made famous by artist Andy Warhol.

But beneath the glamorous surface was a seedy underbelly that saw Brian, who is now happily married to horticulturist Jim Russell, 61, develop crippling drug and alcohol addictions.

Hitting rock bottom in the 1980s and seeking therapy, in 1986 Brian decided he was fundamentally unhappy in his own skin and decided to transition back to being male.

'It was such a relief,' he said. 'I finally felt at peace in myself for the first time. 'It felt like my world had become a lot simpler by the decision and I could finally live the life I wanted to.'

Describing his 'second time around' at being Brian as the 'the best years of his life,' recently he has become alarmed about the amount of trans people following in his footsteps, by reverting back to the gender they were assigned at birth.

Hoping to shine a light on the issue, Brian released his autobiography, Trans Figured: My Journey from Boy to Girl to Woman to Man, in 2018.

He said: 'I wanted to break the stigma of people who have detransitioned and to provide some insight to anyone struggling with gender confusion. 'I hoped to add my voice to the ever expanding understanding of gender and identity.'

Now, Brian - who met his husband while walking his Jack Russell Terrier, Bricker, 18 years ago and married in 2013 - is hoping to specialize in gender identity counselling, to help other detransitioners with their journey.

He concluded: 'We need to make sure people are definitely happy with the idea of transitioning and properly inform them of the pros and cons.

'I want to help people do that. I'm the perfect man for the job. 'Just look at the life I've lived - I'm a self-proclaimed expert.'


Coronavirus: Charting a way out of this crippling Pollyanna world

Comment from Australia

This week there were big black police cars marked Public Order and Riot Squad cruising around the quiet suburb where I live. It was 10.30 in the morning. There were barely any other cars on the road and no sign of any public disorder, let alone a riot.

There were seven rangers in my park the day before, more than the number of people exercising, or walking, or looking for a ray of sunshine. On the same day, a tiny bay — not a beach, and not far away from me — was locked up with 2m-high fencing so surfers couldn’t find refuge in the waves. Like the riot squad, the rangers and the men putting up fencing were all just doing what they were told to do by superiors.

Which is the same as the Morrison government. They keep telling us they are doing what their superiors, a panel of scientists, are telling them to do. Closing down businesses, large gatherings, sport, church services, culling funerals and weddings, curbing gatherings to two people, unless you are with family or friends you live with.

Two people? It wasn’t so long ago that governments were making room in their ministries for ministers for social isolation. Now, our governments are forcing the country into strict isolation, under threat of jail.

After only two weeks of this, many people are asking whether we are in a corner with no discernible way out. These sentiments are serious. They will get more serious in another week, two weeks, in another month. Talk of putting the country into “hibernation” for six months seems ridiculous. Can it really work?

We are told there is “no magic” to the highly hypothetical modelling released this week. It is guesswork then? If it is not guesswork, please entrust us with meaningful information that we can use to judge whether the cure is worse than the disease.

All we can see so far is an arms race of restrictions on how we live and work by state and federal governments. Let us award Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews first prize in this alarming competition for doing the most to close down an economy and constraining citizens. With that out of the way, it is time for the federal government, using real metrics rather than hypothetical modelling, to start planning how to reopen the country.

To be sure, listen to medical experts. And then add, weigh up and parse other information too. Information such as the economic costs of shutting down businesses, the long-term effects of unemployment, the costs of piling debt on to future generations, the ability of the country to deal with future crises from a position of economic weakness. Other information too, such as the costs of isolating millions of Australians, the mental health costs, the diseases that won’t be treated properly during this pandemic. And share it with us, even the uncertainty.

From chief scientists to premiers to police commissioners and the Prime Minister, they have all talked about the journey we are on together. Journey together? Short of our political leaders mapping an eventual path to recovery for us, and sharing that with us, there is no journey, only confusion.

There is not going to be a “snap back” to normality — that is the stuff of dreams. It is more silly ­language that must stop. But please, Prime Minister, take us into your confidence, trust us by telling us what you are watching to plan for recovery, so we can watch for the same metrics. There is a need for some meaningful light and hope for a country swathed in darkness, uncertainty and fear.

Trust is a two-way street. If you trust us with a way out, we might trust you. We will also have some hope, some light at the end of this tunnel. Not trusting us is surely the road to civil disobedience. It’s only been two weeks and people are getting tetchy, itchy, restless. Has the government factored this in? Have they worked out what might be the tipping point for when we disobey and hop over fences?

There are powerful forces working against a meaningful exit strategy. The first one is human nature, always planning for the worst, avoiding all risk instead of managing it sensibly. That is killing our economy right now. It is leading people to despair. The second equation is that no politician is going to be held responsible for the future suicide of an unemployed young man who has lost hope. But they imagine they will be held responsible for the immediate death of a 94-year old from, or with, COVID-19.

No wonder many feel we are heading on a path more dangerous than a virus. Alas, if we want the government to come clean with us, it is time for us to come clean with ourselves. There is no easy option here. We can’t build walls around the country indefinitely. We can’t keep 25 million people in lockdown without dreadful, deadly consequences. We can’t keep praying for a vaccine. What if there is not a vaccine for a year, two years, five years, ever?

Even building up immunity may not work. What if there is another virus just like this one next year, or the year after? The economy in ruins, how do we support another six million who would be thrown out of the workplace by shutdowns. The shocking truth is we may have to learn to live with a killer virus just as we live, and some die, from other killer, albeit non-contagious, diseases.

Before this pandemic is over, we are all going to have to address some tough ethical questions. Questions of life and death, questions about rationing scarce resources, and questions about who gets priority when there is only one parachute but two aircraft passengers. A virus that disproportionately kills old people raises awful, but unavoidable, questions.

But in today’s society, Pollyannas will claim that all lives are of equal value, and that everyone has an equal claim to our limited ­resources. It is heartwarming. It is also wrong.

How do you answer an 83-year woman who says her life is every bit as valuable as that of a teenager? If there is only one ventilator in the COVID-19 intensive care unit, someone has to choose between giving it to the old woman who may have many health problems and only a few more years to live, or to an otherwise healthy 19-year-old. Do we make them toss a coin? How do we decide, if not by judging which life has more value?

Steve Waterson’s sobering piece last weekend had one particular line that has stuck. Life is precious, but it is not priceless. That is a confronting reality. All sorts of dreadful decisions are frequently made that will save some lives and cause others to die. Who gets the liver transplant, an old man or a young woman? Why aren’t all very expensive lifesaving drugs offered free of charge? Because we do not have infinite resources, so we choose some which we will offer for low or no cost.

Maybe one benefit of the COVID-19 pandemic is that Pollyanna thinking will be put to bed. We can surely never again pretend that hard choices, about life and death, need not be made.



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


11 April, 2020  

More doubts about ventilators

Are doctors HARMING coronavirus patients by putting them on ventilators too early? Doctors warn the gadgets may be overused and could even damage the lungs of the infected

The nationwide shortage of ventilators and Britain's rush to build them has been one of the biggest stories of the coronavirus pandemic

But now doctors have warned putting patients on the machines too early could cause more harm than good.

Figures show two-thirds of COVID-19 sufferers who are hooked up to the potentially life-saving machines in the UK do not survive.

Reports in China, Italy and the US have found that less than half of patients who are intubated recover.  Experts are unsure why the death rates are so high.

 In New York City, at least 80 per cent of coronavirus patients in New York City who have been put on a ventilator have died.

As health officials around the world push to get more ventilators to treat patients, some doctors are moving away from using the breathing machines when they can.

The reason: Some hospitals have reported unusually high death rates for coronavirus patients on ventilators, and some doctors worry that the machines could be harming certain patients.

Mechanical ventilators push oxygen into patients whose lungs are failing. Using the machines involves sedating a patient and sticking a tube into the throat.

Deaths in such sick patients are common, no matter the reason they need the breathing help.

Generally speaking, 40 percent to 50 percent of patients with severe respiratory distress die while on ventilators, experts say.

Higher-than-normal death rates - like those in New York City - also have been reported elsewhere in the US, said Dr Albert Rizzo, the American Lung Association's chief medical officer.

Similar reports have emerged from China and the United Kingdom.

One UK report put the figure at 66 percent. A very small study in Wuhan, the Chinese city where the disease first emerged, said 86 percent died.

The reason is not clear. It may have to do with what kind of shape the patients were in before they were infected.

Or it could be related to how sick they had become by the time they were put on the machines, some experts said.

But some health professionals have wondered whether ventilators might actually make matters worse in certain patients, perhaps by igniting or worsening a harmful immune system reaction.

That's speculation. But experts do say ventilators can be damaging to a patient over time, as high-pressure oxygen is forced into the tiny air sacs in a patient's lungs

Some say it is simply a result of patients being extremely ill when they are put on the machines, which pump oxygen directly into the lungs via a tube down the throat.

But others suggest the ventilators - which can make inflammation in the lungs worse - are being implemented too soon and harming coronavirus patients.

In the most life-threatening cases, COVID-19 can permeate deep into the lungs and cause severe inflammation, making it hard to breathe.

Pumping pressurised oxygen into the lungs can irritate the organs and damage them further.

Dr Paul Marik, chief of pulmonary and critical care medicine at Eastern Virginia Medical School, said this was a 'vicious cycle' for coronavirus patients.

Scott Weingart, a critical care physician in New York, told Stat News coronavirus patients get worse 'as a direct result of intubation'.

He added: 'High levels of force and oxygen levels, both in quest of restoring oxygen saturation levels to normal, can injure the lungs. I would do everything in my power to avoid intubating patients.'

For most people, COVID-19 causes mild or moderate symptoms which clear up in a few weeks.

But roughly 20 per cent, mainly the elderly or those with underlying conditions, fall seriously ill and have trouble breathing.

The killer infection can burrow its way deep into the lungs, causing them to become severely inflamed.


Ventilators pump oxygen under pressure directly into the lungs via a tube inserted down the throat.

Pushing pressurised oxygen into the organs can cause them to become extremely inflamed.

They become irritated which triggers an aggressive immune response, resulting in the inflammation.

Very high levels of oxygen is also harmful because it increases free radical formation, leading to damaged membranes, proteins, and cell structures in the lungs.

Doctors normally circumvent this by making sure to keep pressure levels low and only administer as much oxygen is necessary to keep the organs supplied.

But, in patients who already have severely damaged and inflamed lungs, they can worsen the problem.

Inflammation can cause fluid from nearby blood vessels to leak into the tiny air sacs in the lungs, making breathing and getting oxygen to organs increasingly difficult.

The inflammation causes fluid from nearby blood vessels to leak into the tiny air sacs in the lungs, making breathing harder and cutting the supply of oxygen to the organs.

Intensive care doctors turn to mechanical ventilators as a last resort when patients' oxygen levels plummet and they can't be boosted with drugs or non-invasive techniques.

Ventilators pump oxygen under pressure directly into the lungs via a tube inserted down the throat.

Patients are heavily sedated so they can't fight the sensation of being unable to breathe on their own. 

But doctors are panicking and intubating COVID-19 patients sooner because the new virus is causing their blood-oxygen to fall to critically low levels, Stat News reports. 

'Data from China suggested that early intubation would keep 19 patients' heart, liver, and kidneys from failing due to hypoxia (oxygen deprivation),' a veteran emergency medicine physician told the website.

'This has been the whole thing driving decisions about breathing support: Knock them out and put them on a ventilator.'

There are widespread reports that coronavirus sufferers are being ventilated for far longer than other types of patients.

Patients with non-coronavirus related pneumonia are usually intubated for a day or two, compared to coronavirus patients who have can need a ventilator for up to two weeks.

Pushing pressurised oxygen into the organs can cause them to become extremely inflamed and worsen the condition. Very high levels of oxygen can also be harmful.

Dr Paul Marik, chief of pulmonary and critical care medicine at Eastern Virginia Medical School, said this was a 'vicious cycle'.

He told Yahoo News: 'The ventilator is causing lung injury, which causes them to stay on the ventilator longer, and basically is depleting the supply of ventilators for people who need them. It's becoming a vicious cycle.'

Dr Eddy Fan, an expert on respiratory treatment at Toronto General Hospital, added: 'We know that mechanical ventilation is not benign.

'One of the most important findings in the last few decades is that medical ventilation can worsen lung injury - so we have to be careful how we use it.'    

Dr Marik has called on other clinicians to implement a gentler approach than the high-pressure ventilators.

He said anti-inflammatory drugs, as well as breathing masks used in sleep apnoea, should be used for as long as possible before switching to a ventilator.

Not only would it potentially save more lives, he claims, it would also would help relieve a shortage of the machines.

The UK is projected to need 30,000 ventilators at the peak of the outbreak in the next week. It is thought to be thousands short of this number.

It comes after MailOnline revealed two-thirds of coronavirus patients in the UK who need to be hooked up to a ventilator die from the illness.

A report from the Intensive Care National Audit and Research Center (ICNARC) found ventilated patients succumb to the virus 66.3 per cent of the time.

That is double the mortality rate of non-virus patients who were put on breathing support between 2017 and 2019, before the outbreak.

The ICNARC report looked at the first 775 patients who had fallen critically ill with COVID-19  across 285 intensive care units.

Of the 98 patients who needed advanced respiratory support when their lungs started to fail, just 33 patients lived (34 per cent).

There are several reasons why older people have trouble fighting off the virus.

The likelihood of having chronic conditions increases markedly as people age, with four out of five over-65s living with at least one underlying health condition.

Elderly people also have weaker immune systems, a natural side-effect of the body ageing. This makes them more vulnerable to serious infections of all types.

The ICNARC report showed obese people are at a heightened risk of dying from coronavirus.

Among patients who needed intensive care after catching the infection, people with a BMI over 30 died 61 per cent of the time.

There was little discrepancy between overweight patients and those with a healthy body weight.


Soap-opera science

Here’s a remarkable story that no-one in the media or social media has picked up on (although you can bet that everyone in the field knows).

So we have two epidemiological teams, one at Imperial, and one at Oxford, with differing ideas about Covid-19.

The Imperial team, led by Prof. Neil Ferguson, is the team whose study has led to the UK shutdown (Ferguson is a current member of SAGE, the UK government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies). They’re the current big guns in this world, and have been for years, ever since the 2001 foot and mouth epidemic when they were led by Professor Roy Anderson, and Ferguson was his protege.

Then there’s the Oxford team, led by Sunetra Gupta. They recently brought out a study [HD: text now below] trashing the Imperial’s study, and claiming that half the country may already have had the virus.

“I am surprised that there has been such unqualified acceptance of the Imperial model,” said Prof Gupta.

There was an immediate attempt to trash the Oxford study in the media (clearly orchestrated by Imperial), for example, here.

Now, do you accept the traditional image of scientists as sober, serious, disinterested seekers of truth? Or do you have more of a Biscuit Factory sort of view of them, where quite a lot of them are very flawed human beings, egotistical shits bent on climbing the greasy pole and treading on people to get to the top? Bullshitters and networkers and operators? Actually, I think the former types do exist, there are good, serious scientists out there (including some of my personal friends, and quite a few readers of this blog), but there are an awful lot of the latter types, especially at the top, and it’s rare to hear of a science department that isn’t full of bitter hatreds and jealousies and vendettas, where every Professor turns into an arsehole no matter how nice they seemed when they were a graduate student.

You may think I’m exaggerating, so let’s take a bit of a closer look at the Imperial-Oxford situation. I’m only going to pick out a few details now, because the full story is very large and I don’t know it all, plus a lot of it is very murky and undocumented.

The Imperial team was originally led by Professor Roy Anderson, leading luminary in the 2001 foot-and-mouth disaster, which is a whole other story that I’m just starting to put together now with the help of a brilliant colleague (and any help on that in the form of recollections and inside knowledge or links would be appreciated). It was Anderson who established Imperial, allegedly in an underhand manner, as the government’s go-to team on communicable disease crises. This was a world rife with intense rivalries.

Anderson had recently come to Imperial from Oxford. Why did he leave Oxford? Turns out it was, allegedly, mainly because of two things. One, he had allegedly not declared to the Wellcome Trust the fact that he was receiving income from a scientific firm, even though he was a Trustee of the Wellcome trust, and a director of a Wellcome Trust Centre.

Secondly, he had allegedly publicly claimed that a woman in the Zoology department was only appointed to a Readership (ie. above Senior Lecturer but below Professor), after her five-year Fellowship ended, because she had slept with the head of department, who was on the appointing committee. There were also allegations that he had been a bit of a bully, but his allegation against this lecturer was the main problem, and it got him suspended for two months. In the end he decided to leave for Imperial, which offered him a very good position. He took many of his team with him, including Neil Ferguson.

I should stress that I have no idea whether any of these allegations, on either side, are true, although I note that the woman won her legal case against Anderson. Yes, it actually went to court, and it was a big deal at Oxford, it wasn’t just a little inter-departmental spat. What I am pointing out is the soap-opera nature of the whole thing. This sort of thing is not at all rare in University science departments (and other departments too), and sometimes it’s worse in the more high-powered ones.

The crowning glory in this story, though, is this. Who was the woman who Anderson allegedly accused of sleeping her way into an Oxford Readership? Her name was … Sunetra Gupta. Who is now the head of the Oxford team engaged in the bitter struggle against the Imperial team that Anderson set up, and which is still run by his protege, Neil Ferguson. You couldn’t make it up. At least, even I wouldn’t have made that up for my novel, it’s just too perfect to sound like real life. But it is real life. Real University life, at least.

The question you should now ask is, if I no longer think that these scientists are all unimpeachable examplars of rectitude, shouldn’t I perhaps be at least a little bit more sceptical of their work? If this is an ego-driven world of power politics, with a lot of glory and funding at stake, and feuds galore (and there are many more stories, especially about Anderson and some of his mates, although I stress that everything in these stories are allegations only), perhaps the shining light of truth isn’t always the end result of the research? So perhaps we should reach for a hefty dose of salt whenever some glamorous set of results is revealed? At least, we should be asking questions like, ‘What reason do we have to think this is true’, other than the appeal to authority? Because the appeal to authority isn’t going to cut it.


No, COVID-19 Is Not a ‘Disaster for Feminism’

written by Marilyn Simon

I wasn’t especially surprised to find an essay in the Atlantic calling the COVID-19 pandemic a “disaster for feminism.” But I am disappointed. It seems that the author, Helen Lewis, undervalues “women’s work” simply because it is unpaid labour. But to undervalue unpaid labour is to reaffirm corporate ideas of what constitutes valuable work. The denigration of home economics has always been a blind spot within feminism, which often champions traditionally male markers of professional and corporate success as success itself, rather than celebrating the un-corporatized nature of traditional female work. To repeat, I am not surprised by this anti-female logic at this late date, but I still find it disappointing.

There are, of course, good reasons why feminists fought to emancipate women from the home. Economic independence transformed societies, economies, and the individual lives of many women, and allowed them to pursue intellectual, creative, professional fulfillment they had hitherto been denied. However, the kind of professional and capitalistic contemporary feminism (of which Lewis is apparently an adherent) seems to require the denigration of home economics and child rearing. This is both unnecessary and, in a time of crisis, particularly unhelpful and narrow-minded.

Lewis’s article darkly undermines family interdependency itself, the very thing to which we must turn during times like these. She points out, probably correctly, that women will make career sacrifices in order to look after their families, while men, likely with higher incomes, will continue to forge ahead with their careers comparatively undisturbed. For Lewis, this is regression: “Dual-income couples might suddenly find themselves living like their grandparents, one homemaker and one breadwinner,” she writes. “Well, of course,” I think. It takes me a moment to realize that I’m supposed to find this idea offensive.

Why would anyone find a family unit taking care of its members a “disaster” for feminism? How childish—and frankly un-feminine—has feminism become that it must see childrearing and nurturing a family unit as a step down during a time of crisis? A step down from what? It often seems like it’s mostly feminists who disparage female work and praise so highly the world of corporate and professional success. (It is not men who suffer from our entry into what has traditionally been their world, but rather corporations that benefit.)

After outlining how traditional gender roles might reassert themselves during this crisis, Lewis satirizes the ideal of family life as a whole: “No one should be nostalgic for the ‘1950s ideal’ of Dad returning to a freshly baked dinner and freshly washed children, when so many families were excluded from it, even then.” She then goes on to say that single parents, mostly single mothers, who have no partner to carry the load of breadwinning or childrearing will find life “even harder” during this pandemic. Yes. Well spotted. Single mothers will have a harder time precisely because they have no ideal family to rely on. In other words, maybe we should be just a bit nostalgic for the ideal of family life in the 1950s because it—and I can’t believe this still needs to be said aloud—often works very well.

I am a single mother, and I understand perfectly what Lewis is talking about. There is no part of me that doesn’t appreciate her acknowledgement of the precarious situation in which I now find myself: stuck at home with two energetic daughters, where I’m expected to work for the next few weeks, and then, most likely, find myself unemployed for the next four months. I am a contract university instructor, with a PhD and a healthy teaching CV, but no tenure, and therefore no job security. The campus plans to shut down for the summer term, and if that happens I will have no way to feed my kids. Lewis is apparently in a position to scoff at the idea of a breadwinner walking through her front door to a freshly baked dinner and clean children. I am one of many women who is not.

As I’ve watched civilization as we know it come to a standstill over the last few days, I have thought a great deal about family networks of care and financial support. I have enjoyed seeing the Instagram stories my suburban mom friends have posted where they share creative ways to homeschool their kids and keep their households running (relatively) smoothly. I have seen the pictures of families that have drawn toward each other to weather the crisis together. Perhaps I am seeing these things through the rose-tinted filter of social media. But I haven’t yet seen any Instagram posts from mothers saying, “I’m so happy I still get to do my life-fulfilling job from home.” Rather, it’s “My life keeps getting in the way of ‘working’ from home, and oh well, pass the wine!” From these posts, it strikes me as self-evident that the reversion to more traditional family roles is the very thing helping everyone to get through this crisis. It has become obvious that the foundation of our commonwealth is more than just our capital wealth. Much more. How can family life and the roles we take so that we can rely on each other be disparaged at a time like this, when it is one of the few things we have left to cling to? What kind of petty nihilism wants to tear down the very thing sustaining us?

Lewis raises valid concerns about the likely effect on women’s lives in developing nations. She is no doubt correct to say that during the Ebola epidemic, for instance, more women died in childbirth because energies were focused on fighting the disease. Yet what Lewis fails to notice is that had hospitals not redirected resources towards fighting Ebola, many more mothers and many more children would have died from the disease. I feel her frustration, but I am baffled by her reasoning. The finite nature of our medical resources is the entire reason for a global shutdown now intended to flatten the infection curve.

I also appreciate Lewis’s heartfelt concern for those living with domestic violence. I understand the entrapment of domestic abuse because I have experienced it. But I am not so depressingly myopic that I believe these grave concerns outweigh the refuge that a family commonly provides from fear and uncertainty. I am also quite aware that women will, as we have done for centuries, bear most of the burden of domestic work and nurturing our children and—a not unimportant job—our partners and husbands. Lewis is no doubt correct, again, to say that this reversion to tradition roles will occur.

Yet it is not the reversion to these roles that we should find worrying, as Lewis does, and as do the complaining standard-bearers of contemporary feminism more generally. Rather, we should be troubled by her inexplicable undervaluation of women’s ability to act heroically in times of crisis. Lewis seems to find it somehow intolerable that women are asked to make professional or personal sacrifices in a time of national crisis—that it is unfair to impute to women the heroic ability to put others’ needs before their own self-interest. What a shamefully low expectation she must have of women, of the capacity of mothers especially, to do the noble thing—and to accept this sacrifice without complaint, and without the need for approval in the form of paychecks or professional advancement. A (tolerably) tidy house and happy children will do.

Feminism will always be a victim of social inequality if we continue to define equality with sameness. Certainly our grandmothers understood this, and they would surely have been as confused as I am by the idea that women are precluded from performing heroic acts that are the bedrock of our civilization. The return to domestic work that Lewis calls a “disaster” may be the only treatment we currently have for contingencies of the modern economy and the precarious position we now occupy between nature and the state.

A final point bears mentioning—four paragraphs into Lewis’s complaint is the callous, throwaway admission that, “Purely as a physical illness, the coronavirus appears to affect women less severely.” Interested readers who follow the link will discover that this euphemistic observation hides a sobering statistic: COVID-19 seems to be killing twice as many men as women. And what does Helen Lewis’s feminism have to say about the disaster of that particular gender gap? Not much, apparently.


Jacinda Ardern declares victory over coronavirus and says she could lift strict lockdown measures in just over a week - after number of new cases drops to just 29 a day

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has declared her country's lockdown a success after a stunning drop in daily cases to just 29 on Thursday.

'We are turning a corner, and your commitment means our plan is working,' she said.

The number has declined for the fourth-straight day, giving the best evidence yet that New Zealand has squashed the spread of the deadly virus.

It has suffered just one death from the respiratory disease, with just 992 confirmed cases.

A fortnight ago, the Kiwi government implemented a near society-wide lockdown, with particularly strong restrictions on business, to combat the spread of COVID-19.

On the evidence of the first half of the lockdown, Ms Ardern believes her country is winning the fight.

'At the halfway mark I have no hesitation in saying, that what New Zealanders have done over the last two weeks is huge,' she said.

'In the face of the greatest threat to human health we have seen in over a century, Kiwis have quietly and collectively implemented a nationwide wall of defence.

'You are breaking the chain of transmission. And you did it for each other.'

Ms Ardern has also announced her government will decide on whether to extend or relax the lockdown which is due to expire at midnight on April 22. New Zealand could drop the arrangements on April 20.

One Kiwi has died to date, an elderly South Island woman.

New Zealand will now implement new controls to keep case numbers down. As of Friday, every new arrival will be required to quarantine for a fortnight - similar to a measure in Australia. The government will also turn to tracking applications to assist with contact tracing.

There will also be roadblocks around New Zealand to stop Kiwis travelling to their beach houses or to visit family over Easter.

'As we head in to Easter I say thank you to you and your bubble,' Ms Ardern said, warning against complacency.



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


10 April, 2020

Are ventilators being overused on COVID-19 patients?

Do they do any good at all?

Some physicians caring for COVID-19 patients question whether the threshold for placing someone on a ventilator should be raised, given that the breathing machines are in critically short supply nationwide, Stat News reported.

"I think we may indeed be able to support a subset of these patients" with less invasive breathing support, Dr. Sohan Japa, an internal medicine physician at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston told Stat News.  Ventilators push oxygen into the lungs via a tube placed in the mouth, nose or a hole in the front of the neck; but less invasive devices like the breathing masks for sleep apnea could be used to treat some COVID-19 patients, at least at first.

Indeed, for COVID-19 patients who need breathing assistance, many hospitals are starting them off on sleep apnea devices or nasal cannulas, which deliver air into the nose through a pronged tube, Dr. Greg Martin, a critical care physician at Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta , told Stat News.

These noninvasive devices offer some advantages compared with ventilators. For example, the process of intubating patients — placing a tube into their airway — to  hook them up to a ventilator requires doctors to sedate patients for long periods of time, so the machine can take over the work of breathing, Stat News reported.

In contrast, noninvasive breathing support devices don't "require sedation, and the patient [remains conscious and] can participate in his care," Martin said. If that person's respiratory issues degrade further, then doctors can put them on a mechanical ventilator," he added.

Physicians typically determine who to put on a ventilator by monitoring their levels of blood-oxygen, or the available oxygen circulating in their bloodstream. Normal amounts — called oxygen saturation rates — range between 95% and 100% blood-oxygen, whereas a rate of 93% signals physicians that a patient may soon suffer organ damage due to a lack of oxygen, according to Stat News. If blood-oxygen levels dip and remain at 80% or below, the damage can be fatal.

At the 93% mark, patients with other forms of severe pneumonia or respiratory distress are first placed on noninvasive devices, but if these simpler measures don't help, they are moved onto a ventilator. Some patients with COVID-19 blow quickly past the 93% percent threshold, as their blood-oxygen levels fall below 70%, Stat News reported. Despite their apparent lack of oxygen, however, a subset of these patients don't develop shortness of breath, cognitive impairment, or heart or organ abnormalities, as would be expected.

"The patients in front of me are unlike any I've ever seen. … They looked a lot more like they had altitude sickness than pneumonia," Dr. Cameron Kyle-Sidell, a Brooklyn, New York-based physician trained in emergency medicine and critical care, told Medscape, a website that provides medical information to health professionals. This odd array of symptoms may emerge because the lungs continue to clear carbon dioxide from the blood without absorbing adequate levels of oxygen, Stat News reported. A build-up of carbon dioxide would trigger the hyperventilation, flushed skin, headaches and dizziness often associated with poor lung function, but if levels remain normal, these symptoms may not arise as expected, according to StatPearls, a database of medical reference articles.

Patients with low blood-oxygen levels but few signs of distress or organ damage may not benefit from ventilation, according to researchers from Italy and Germany who submitted a letter published March 30 in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine. In the letter, they described patients with these traits in Italy and Germany, noting that their lungs appeared relatively healthy as compared with COVID-19 patients with acute respiratory distress, a condition where the air sacs in the lungs fill with fluid.

Even if patients do develop acute respiratory distress, they may not benefit from ventilation either. The thick fluid clogging up the lungs "limits oxygen transfer from the lungs to the blood, even when a machine pumps in oxygen," Dr. Muriel Gillick, a geriatric and palliative care physician at Harvard Medical School, told Stat News. In this case, placing a patient on a ventilator could damage their lungs by introducing too much pressure into the organ, she said.

Furthermore, reports from Wuhan, Seattle and cities in Italy now suggest that placing patients on ventilators may not significantly improve their chances of recovery or survival. "Contrary to the impression that if extremely ill patients with COVID-19 are treated with ventilators they will live and if they are not, they will die, the reality is far different," Gillick said.

Given the available data and the unfamiliar nature of COVID-19, "I think we have to be more nuanced about who we intubate," Japa said. Noninvasive breathing devices do pose some threat to health care workers, as they can release aerosolized particles of the virus into the air while in use, Live Science previously reported. But the devices may prove to be the best option for patients who would not benefit from a ventilator.


UK crime agency loses case against ex-Kazakh president's family

Another loss for Britain's corporate cops.  Reminiscent of the big bungles of the SFO.  See below about that. These guys are so full of themselves that they don't know when they are losing

Britain’s National Crime Agency has lost a high court attempt to force the daughter and grandson of a former president of Kazakhstan to explain where they got the money to buy £80m of property in London.

Last year, the NCA froze three of the family’s properties, including a mansion on north London’s so-called Billionaire’s Row with an underground swimming pool and cinema, over claims they were acquired using proceeds from unlawful activity.

The agency used unexplained wealth orders (UWOs), a power introduced in 2018 known as “McMafia” laws after the BBC’s organised crime drama and book that inspired it, to freeze the assets until the owner explains the source of their wealth. This case is only the second time such an order has been used in Britain.

On Wednesday, a high court judge granted an application to discharge the unexplained wealth orders.

The NCA said it would appeal against the decision.

One of the properties, a mansion in Hampstead, is occupied by Nurali Aliyev, the grandson of former Kazakh president Nursultan Nazarbayev, and his wife and children.

The two other properties frozen are an apartment in Chelsea, south-west London, which the campaign group Transparency International says is worth £31m, and a house in Highgate, north London.

The NCA has barred any attempt to sell the properties and argues that the wealth used to buy them was linked to Rakhat Aliyev – Nurali Aliyev’s father and the former president’s son-in-law – who was found hanged in an Austrian jail in 2015 after being charged with the murder of two bankers in 2007.

“UWOs are new legislation and we always expected there would be significant legal challenge over their use,” said Graeme Biggar, the NCA’s director general of the National Economic Crime Centre.

“We disagree with this decision to discharge the UWOs and will be filing an appeal. We have been very clear that we will use all the legislation at our disposal to pursue suspected illicit finance and we will continue to do so.”

The ultimate beneficial owners of the three properties — Rakhat Aliyev’s ex-wife, Dariga Nazarbayeva, the chair of the senate in Kazakhstan and daughter of the former Kazakh president Nursultan Nazarbayev, and her son, Nurali Aliyev — applied to the high court to discharge the UWOs.

Giving judgment remotely on Wednesday, Mrs Justice Lang overturned all three UWOs, ruling that “the NCA’s assumption” that Rakhat Aliyev was the source of the funds to purchase the three properties was unreliable.

The judge said there was “cogent evidence” that Nazarbayeva and Nurali Aliyev had founded the companies that owned the properties and provided the funds to purchase them.

“The court’s powerful judgment demonstrates the NCA obtained the orders on an inaccurate basis as part of a flawed investigation which was entirely without merit,” said Nurali Aliyev.

Britain’s first UWOs were issued against assets belonging to Jahangir Hajiyev, who was in prison in Azerbaijan for embezzlement from the state bank, and his wife, Zamira, who spent £16.3m in the London department store Harrods. She lost her appeal against the order this year.


Barclays acquittals show SFO’s ‘waste and incompetence’.

Defence lawyer calls for top-to-bottom review of UK fraud agency

Last week’s acquittals of my client Richard Boath and two other former Barclays bankers should serve as the starting gun for a top-to-bottom review of the UK Serious Fraud Office for waste and incompetence.

It is a national scandal that as fraud victims up and down the country face ruin due to the under-resourcing of fraud investigations, the SFO flushed millions down the drain on this prosecution.

The case stems from actions taken in 2008, when Royal Bank of Scotland and Lloyds Banking Group were being bailed out by the UK government. Barclays avoided this outcome by attracting £11.4bn from investors, including Qatar. Had Barclays been bailed out, the austerity endured by the British public could well have been longer and deeper.

Qatar insisted on better returns than the other investors and the SFO alleged that in order to meet this demand, Barclays entered into sham advisory agreements with Qatar that saw the bank pay £322 million in fees in exchange for nothing. The SFO further alleged the arrangement allowed the bank to avoid disclosing the payments to the market.

The SFO’s investigation, which did not start until 2012, took almost five years and consumed millions of pounds, including a one-off grant from the Treasury of “blockbuster” funding. In 2017, indictments were handed up against Barclays, John Varley, who was its chief executive in 2008, and the three men acquitted last week.

Mr Boath was cleared of wrongdoing in 2017 by the Financial Conduct Authority in a separate probe of the same matter. But the SFO took no notice.

Then the case against the bank was dismissed before trial. Last summer, Mr Varley was acquitted by the Court of Appeal. Unabashed, the SFO doubled-down and ploughed on.

Despite interviewing board members and the many lawyers involved, the SFO failed to call any live factual witnesses. The SFO also ignored a court ruling that they had failed in their duties by not seeking evidence from Qatar’s 2008 London lawyers that might assist the defence.

In most cases, a jury acquittal should not lead to criticism of the decision to prosecute. But the Barclays case raises serious questions because of the different decisions taken by the FCA and SFO, and the time and money involved.

In addition, this is not a one-off. The Barclays’ acquittal is just the latest in a lengthy list of self-inflicted embarrassments in the SFO’s biggest cases.

In 2014, the SFO apologised to and paid the Tchenguiz brothers £4.5m over dawn raids that grabbed headlines in 2011; in the 2014-16 Libor rate rigging cases, eight out of 13 defendants were acquitted; in 2018, the judge stopped the trial of two senior Tesco executives due to lack of evidence; and last year the defendants in the Guralp corruption cases were acquitted. This string of failures highlights serious flaws at the heart of SFO decision-making and case management.

The SFO was part of the recent £3.6bn deferred prosecution agreement with Airbus to settle a series of corruption probes by the UK, France and the US. But the aerospace company avoided criminal charges despite admitting systemic, wholesale, massive global corruption for years. Negotiating such settlements is not the same as prosecuting criminal cases and risks creating the impression that justice can be bought.

To instil public confidence in the UK’s ability to thwart fraud, the right companies and fraudsters must be brought to court quickly, prosecuted fairly and, if justified on the evidence, convicted.

Britain’s global reputation for the excellence of its policing and the ability and integrity of its legal sector is being undermined by the performance and record of the SFO. It has had long enough to put its house in order. All options should now be on the table


How Australia IGNORED the World Health Organisation and stayed one step ahead on COVID-19 - after the WHO argued against closing the border, refused to call the virus a 'pandemic' and praised China

Australia appears to be finally flattening the infection curve in its battle against COVID-19 after the government decisively chose to ignore the World Health Organisation and respond to the pandemic in its own way.

That's the view of Liberal MP Andrew Hastie, who told Daily Mail Australia the WHO has badly let down Australia down by being 'glacially slow' to respond to the coronavirus crisis.

The UN body - which is paid $8.4million a year by Australian taxpayers for membership and receives tens of millions of dollars more in voluntary contributions - stalled on declaring a pandemic, told countries to keep borders open and heaped praise on China despite the Communist Party's appalling attempt to cover up the outbreak, which erupted in Wuhan in December.

The organisation copped the wrath of US President Donald Trump on Tuesday when he called it 'China-centric' and threatened to withhold funding.

But the Australian government has forged its own path toward stopping the virus, managing to already bring down infection rates and slow the spread of the deadly disease, without following advice from the WHO.

Today Mr Hastie, a former SAS solider who now represents the Western Australian division of Canning in the federal parliament, slammed the organisation for its indecisiveness.

'The WHO has been glacially slow in its decision-making,' the 37-year-old told Daily Mail Australia. 'When Beijing shut down travel from Hubei to the rest of China on January 23 - but strangely not from Hubei to the rest of the world - why didn't the WHO act decisively then?

'It could've prevented the mass global exportation of COVID-19 then by declaring a pandemic and alerting governments around the world of the danger ahead. 'Closing borders then could've saved lives and a lot of economic hardship.'

Fellow Liberal MP Dave Sharma also criticised the WHO on Wednesday. He told the ABC: 'I think the WHO's revealed some serious shortcomings, and I think they've revealed themselves to be a politicised organisation.

'They have been too willing to accept Chinese explanations for this virus and the source and the causes.'

He said it was right for the world to respond to China with 'anger and consternation and demand some sort of transparency and accountability in future.'

Mr Sharma also criticised the WHO for failing to include Taiwan, an island nation claimed by China, which has not been allowed to join the organisation.

Taiwan saw the pandemic coming and implemented strict social distancing and contact tracing measures which have held the virus at bay - but the WHO, pandering to China, kept it cut off from global information networks and refused to learn from Taiwan's success.

Mr Hastie said the WHO's failure to control coronavirus was an example of a global organisation being unable to look out for its member states.

'The reality for Aussies is that only our government will act in our sovereign interest to preserve our prosperity and security,' he said.



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


9 April, 2020

Virginia Clerk Is Locked Up for Shooting at 3 Masked Robbers in His Store. Not a Typo

A Virginia store clerk heard a crash that sounded like a car had crashed into the place at 4:30 a.m. on Sunday. He grabbed a gun and shot at three masked men he found stealing merchandise and cash from the shop.

When it was over, the clerk was the one in handcuffs. He now sits in jail on no bail, charged with crimes for which he could be locked up for 20 years. Those charges include: "Malicious Wounding, Reckless Handling of a Firearm and Violation of a Protective Order."

Police say they'll get around to charging the robbers later.

What's wrong with this picture?

The police incident report says that this is what got 33-year-old Hamzeh Abushariah sent to jail,

The preliminary investigation indicates that three subjects forced entry into a business and began stealing cash and merchandise. An employee inside a secure back room heard the break in, retrieved a firearm, opened the door to the sales floor and discharged the weapon, striking one juvenile subject. The employee retreated to the back room but reentered the sales floor and discharged his weapon again as the subjects were attempting to flee the business.

The Commonwealth's attorney told WJLA-TV that there's more to the story:

“Suffice it to say, there is evidence we are not at liberty to share that support the charges, the decision was not made lightly, and we ask the public not to rush to judgment on what is very much a live investigation.”

The clerk's boss, Jowan Zuber, says they've got the wrong person locked up. He told Fox News's Tucker Carlson that the police asked his employee why he didn't run away:

"When the police came, we thought we were in the right. Three masked men, 4:30 a.m. on a Sunday morning...The cops are treating us like we're the ones who caused the harm! This is a very sad day for America today. As an American citizen, practicing the Second Amendment to protect the store and the lives and, not only that, the people [living] upstairs. Do you know what the police officers told him? Why didn't you run out the back door? And guess what? When we checked the back door, there was a book bag and two rocks and a pole. What were going to do with that? If he would have gone out the back he would have met up with the three masked men and maybe shot them. Then what? He would be doing 60 years in jail?"

Abushariah, who was staying at the shop because his Washington, D.C., apartment complex had several coronavirus cases, apparently shot the suspects (who turned out to be juveniles) as they fled. That's what police say.

The clerk also had a "protective order" against him, which may prevent him from possessing a gun. Are Arlington prosecutors now claiming that a person with a protective order may not defend himself against three masked thugs who crashed their way into a store and began ransacking it?


Evangelicals Are the Real Virus

Samaritan’s Purse has opened up a tent hospital to help New Yorkers deal with Coronavirus by taking overflow from Mount Sinai hospital. But Bill de Blasio and others are concerned. From Gothamist:

Mayor Bill de Blasio said the city will keep a close eye on the Christian fundamentalist group operating a field hospital in Central Park, amid growing fears that some New Yorkers could face discrimination and substandard care from the religious organization.

Gothamist notes that Samaritan’s Purse is run by a “virulently” anti-gay and Islamophobic pastor Franklin Graham. Got that? The real virus is Evangelicalism. Councilmen are promising to “monitor” the situation, fearing the practice of discrimination or substandard care.

The New York Times ran an op-ed earlier this week blaming Evangelicals for inflicting “coronavirus hell” on Americans though they’ve since changed the title.

For decades, progressives have been saying: “Why are Evangelicals so obsessed with sex? Why can’t they just do good works and help the needy?” But with New York in crisis, progressives have apparently decided that death would be better than letting disgusting, presumptively-criminal Evangelicals help them.

It’s interesting that Samaritan’s Purse is named after the Good Samaritan, who, in Christ’s parable, helps the injured man on the side of the road — despite the fact that he, as a Samaritan, is considered unclean and not part of the House of Israel.

At least New York is not the type of medieval society that blames hated religious minorities for plagues.


'This Is Not Nazi Germany or Soviet Russia Where You Are Asked For Your Papers!' Says Maine Sheriff

Maine's Franklin County Sheriff Scott Nichols has a strong message for the Governor of Maine, Janet Mills, who issued "stay-at-home" orders with threats of police punishment if not followed. Sheriff Nichols issued a statement on the Franklin County Facebook page saying in no uncertain terms he will not follow the unconstitutional order.

"We will not be setting up a Police State. PERIOD," he wrote. "The Sheriff’s Office will not purposefully go out and stop vehicles because they are on the road or stop and ask why people are out and about. To do so puts our officers at risk. This is not Nazi Germany or Soviet Russia where you are asked for your papers!"

The sheriff's announcement comes as a welcome sign to Americans who have been arrested for inane things like praying outside, surfing, or trying to drive to work. Someone has to stand up to the unconstitutional directives that are being handed down daily by government officials and it will fall on the sheriffs to uphold what they know to be their legal and lawful duties, none of which involve trampling the rights of citizens.

"Please use common sense during this executive order. We are more interested in the safety and well-being of the public as well as our officers at this time. With that being said, we are sworn to uphold the Constitution and laws of the State - for any unlawful act/situation, arrestees will be taken into custody and transported for fingerprinting and bail."

Nichols made it clear that he only intends to arrest for matters of law-breaking, and nothing else. Executive orders aren't laws. He finished his announcement with words of encouragement for his constituents: "Most of you are doing a fantastic job – we appreciate that! Please look out for one another, especially the elderly and shut-ins. Please be a good neighbor/citizen always showing compassion. Please be kind especially on social media, negativity online only adds to the stress people are currently experiencing."

Nichols signed this brave decree with his name and followed it with "Of the People, For the People."

The sheriffs of America have great power and authority where unconstitutional executive overreach is concerned. All the sheriffs of our nation should start conferencing with Sheriff Nichols immediately to learn more about the limits of their offices. Frankly, I'm surprised it took this long for one to come forward with this common-sense response to unlawful acts by state officials. Perhaps a good exercise for people stuck on lockdown would be to call their local sheriff's office and find out where the local sheriff stands on this very important issue of the people's rights.


Coronavirus crisis has cut our tolerance for the usual spin

By Neil Mitchell, Australian radio Presenter

OPINION: The longer I am in lockdown the more frustrated I become by the parade of experts assessing the virus as anything from an apocalypse to a mild flu. The fact is, they don't where we are headed. Nobody does. It is the nature of what is unfolding. How can anybody predict the unpredictable and intelligently assess the unprecedented?

So, what follows are not the words of an expert, but the thoughts of a person who has professionally observed life and politics for nearly 50 years. These may be perceptive words, or stupid. I don't know. But perhaps they will provoke some discussion behind the locked doors:

In a crisis like this we need direct answers, honest answers, and none of the usual glib self-congratulation we have come to expect and accept

I think and hope that as we emerge from this in a year, or whenever, that Australia will enter a new era of politics.
Because I believe this crisis and focus on our own mortality has cut our tolerance for the usual spin, political salesmanship and self-justification which has previously masqueraded as leadership.

It surfaced in several interviews I did last week. Politicians were dodging and spinning and waffling as is their way. Normally I might tolerate that and then try to bring them to the point. Last week, there was no room for tolerance, and I said so. It was an insult to the audience.

Victorian learner driver fined more than $1600 for "non-essential" travel during COVID-19 shutdown
In a crisis like this we need direct answers, honest answers, and none of the usual glib self-congratulation we have come to expect and accept.

If a politician is not up to that, then get out. If they can't identify that now is the time to treat the public decently and like adults, rather than children to be conned, dump them.

At times, the Prime Minister has struggled with directness. In fairness he is massively tired and must feel almost crushed by the responsibility. He is not only mapping the destiny of the country but his own place in history. He will be remembered kindly or otherwise in the way we view a war time prime minister.

Daniel Andrews, the Victorian premier, has been more direct and blunt in his language. But again, to be fair, he has done that hours after we heard the details of national cabinet decisions from the PM. And he has still found time for a little political one-upmanship.

Perhaps it is lockdown delusion, but I see hope we will emerge with a breed of politicians understanding that the best way to deal with the public is to be yourself, be direct, and don't spin.

Public tolerance for the old methods of political trickery will be very low. And there will be much painful work to be done as we build economic recovery. Budgets will be cut and lobbyists will scream.

I believe the public will require and demand a new political discourse, a new trust and an understanding that they must not be treated as fools.

A politician will eventually identify that and embrace it. And that person may deserve the title "leader"



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


8 April, 2020

Some suspicious thoughts from a reader (A retired medical specialist in Texas)

I haven’t heard in the news what is obvious to me:

1). Trump’s unwillingness to overrule local districts (which is what the constitution supports) has unleashed a terror by local officials (Little Napolean Syndrome).

One case of many: a regulation in Austin to discontinue building (with an exception for building new homes for the homeless).

State of Texas has put medical doctors out of business. (Only allowing “emergency surgery” - which pays almost nothing. (Blacks shooting each other, Rednecks driving unrestrained and drunk).

2). I believe the efforts by the Dems with their branch, the MSM, have been VERY SUCCESSFUL IN GENERATING PANIC, AND ECONOMIC DISTRESS.

I believe that the Dems have discovered a new political method to again cause panic, and  public unrest, the next time a “new virus” is “discovered”. I believe the precursor of the present coronavirus has been around a while, and not surprising that the Chicoms saw this as a way to cooperate with the Dems and the MSM to generate panic.

Hooray!  His Eminence has been cleared

Cleared unanimously by seven judges! I said from the beginning that his conviction was a travesty.  It was only hatred of his church that kept him in jail

Cardinal George Pell will walk free from jail today after the High Court quashed his conviction for sexually abusing two choirboys. 

Australia's most senior Catholic was convicted in 2018 of performing sex acts on the boys in Saint Patrick's Cathedral in Melbourne in 1996.

The decision overturns an earlier ruling by the chief justice of the Supreme Court of Victoria, Justice Anne Ferguson, president of the Court of Appeal Justice Chris Maxwell, and Justice Mark Weinberg.

It had taken them nine weeks to come to their decision. It took the High Court a little under four to reverse it.

Cardinal Pell was not in the court room in Brisbane for the hearing and will be told the news over the phone by his lawyer.

The court ruled that the trial's jury 'ought to have entertained a doubt' that Cardinal Pell may not have been guilty.

Much of Cardinal Pell's case centred on whether he had an opportunity to commit the offences at all.

Cardinal Pell's barristers had long argued it was not possible for him to be alone in the sacristies only a few minutes after the end of Mass.

Numerous witnesses took to the witness box at his trial to back the notion the crimes could not have been committed. 

In a summary of the decision handed down by the High Court on Tuesday, it stated the Supreme Court judges' analysis at his original appeal 'failed to engage with the question of whether there remained a reasonable possibility that the offending had not taken place, such that there ought to have been a reasonable doubt as to the applicant's guilt'.

Cardinal Pell's successful appeal is likely to bring an end to the ongoing saga, which has dragged on for years across four court jurisdictions.

A vindicated Cardinal Pell issued a statement to the media shortly after the ruling was made. 'I have consistently maintained my innocence while suffering from a serious injustice,' he said. 'This has been remedied today with the High Court’s unanimous decision. I look forward to reading the Judgment and reasons for the decision in detail.'

Cardinal Pell said he held no ill will to his accuser. 'I do not want my acquittal to add to the hurt and bitterness so many feel; there is certainly hurt and bitterness enough,' he said.

'However, my trial was not a referendum on the Catholic Church; nor a referendum on how Church authorities in Australia dealt with the crime of paedophilia in the Church. 'The point was whether I had committed these awful crimes, and I did not.'

Victoria Police issued a statement on Tuesday declaring it respected the decision of the High Court and praised the the 'tireless work' on the case by its Taskforce Sano, which brought the case against Cardinal Pell.

The jury in the original trial found Cardinal Pell guilty of sexually abusing two boys in the priests' sacristy at Melbourne's St Patrick's Cathedral after presiding over one of his first Sunday masses as archbishop in the 1990s.

The jury further accepted he abused one of the boys a second time in a corridor at the rear of the cathedral after another Sunday mass.

Cardinal Pell was jailed in March last year for six years with a non-parole period of three years and eight months.

Since then, he has been caged predominantly at Melbourne Assessment Prison in the heart of the city, but was recently moved to Barwon Prison, which houses some of the nation's vilest criminals.

There he has spent his days locked in isolation away from the jail population which no doubt would have treated him as a prize scalp.


Peak Buffoonery: Paddleboarder in Ocean Off Malibu Is Arrested for Not Socially Distancing

A couple of weeks ago, thousands of people swarmed the Southern California beaches to get some fresh air and get their minds off the coronavirus for awhile.

In response to some people not socially distancing,  the Commissars of California closed the beaches.

Since then, miles of police tape have been deployed to cut off parking lots, bike paths, hiking trails, and mountain-bike trails to prevent people from going to these places and getting a little exercise for fear they may get too close to each other.

Drones are being sent up to spy on scofflaws.

There's no surfing allowed. Surfing. A sport that requires social distancing is outlawed. Thousands of kids in Southern California who are required to get physical activity to get their virtual school PE credits are not allowed to surf.

And don't even think about standing on the other side of a tennis court and hitting balls.

Forget swimming, the pools are closed.

Which brings us to a paddleboarder in the Malibu area of LA County.  To be clear, he was in the ocean off the coast of Malibu, minding his own business and paddleboarding by himself.

Well, he was alone until the cops and lifeguards came. They corralled the paddleboarder with the use of two lifeguard boats.

KTLA reports the arrested paddleboarder was booked and then released and ordered to appear in court:

Officials did not release any identifying information on the man. He could face a $1,000 fine, up to six months in jail, or both.

So far, the state order has not been widely enforced by police agencies, but this isn't the first time this week a Southern California man has faced consequences for being in the ocean.

According to the Los Angeles Times, a surfer in Manhattan Beach was fined $1,000 last weekend after similarly ignoring repeated orders to exit the ocean.

Some people were baffled.  "Two guys together in a small boat chase down man all by himself to ensure proper social distancing."

But the ocean isn't the only thing being watched for scofflaws. LA Mayor Eric Garcetti has announced plans for a spying program to look for businesses that are open. He announced this week that he has already shut off the water and power to eight businesses that he didn't deem "essential."

The Commissars of California mean well. We all know they're just trying to keep us from getting too close to others in this pandemic, but with these kinds of shenanigans, they run the risk of open rebellion against what are plainly dumb laws. And when the laws become a mockery of themselves, we've reached peak buffoonery.


Oregon Court Affirms Conviction of Journalist Who Pulled Gun to Stop Advancing Antifa Mob

Before Ann Coulter, Ben Shapiro, Milo Yiannopoulos, Andy Ngo, and any number of people were bullied off the stage and silenced by the rampaging antifa mob, there was Mike Strickland.

Before most people had ever heard of the far-left group, the Portland videographer was recording the antics, ridiculous utterances, and violent actions of this mob, writing about them and selling his videos to news outlets, some of which went national. Strickland put the videos on his YouTube channel called "Laughing at Liberals."

He's the first person I'd ever heard utter the name "antifa."

Strickland had been following the far left for years. He started to watch them after the 2010-11 tea party rallies began attracting leftists, such as the International Socialist Organization (ISO), who would show up and attempt to drown out the public (and permitted) rallies.

And the mob was getting bigger and more dangerous.

Since 2003, I have been watching the far-left Portland mob, "Portland Professional Protesters" as I dubbed them, go from a collection of Friday-at-4pm drum circles to a rougher group of Wobblies, anti-war Bush-is-Hitler protesters, Earth Firsters, ISO types, anti-Israel pro-PLO America haters, assorted anarchists, monkey-wrenchers and eco- and animal-terrorist organizations. Many of the usual Portland Professional Protester groups feature fists on their logos and flags like the good communists and socialists they are.

They camped in front of the stores that sold fur and conspired against restaurants selling foie gras – screeching day after day until enough customers were repelled that the legal businesses went under. The city never lifted a finger to help.

They took over Portland City Hall, held illegal protests, closed freeways, halted traffic, and plotted terrorist activities. They firebombed SUV sellers, torched ski lodges, cold-cocked people on the streets, set fires, committed acts of vandalism, and engaged, like the continuing criminal enterprise I believe they are, in the doxxing of, defaming, and lying about people who dared show them on video and talk about their antics.

The City of Portland basically ignored the protesters even when they were under its nose, as was Occupy Portland in 2011 when union-backed "protesters" commandeered and did millions of dollars in damage to a park in front of city hall.

And now they're a black-clad violent mob.

Mike Strickland put a mirror up to those people and showed them who they were. They didn't like it. They called him a "snitch." They admitted in court that they conspired to get him thrown out of "their" public protests. And that's where the problems started.

Conservative Journalist Andy Ngo Beaten Up and Hit With Cement by Antifa in Portland, Says Police Did Nothing
In June 2016, at a rally and candlelight vigil for the Orlando terrorist shooting, Strickland was shooting for a client when he was confronted by a group (some of whom knew him) that took offense that he would dare come to such a solemn occasion. Codswallop. As he tried to record, they sought to ruin his video by crowding in front of his camera, screaming, yelling, and talking. They called Strickland – stop me if you've heard this before – a "racist" and "homophobe."

(The "racist" label came from when Strickland put together a series of videos exposing a series of classes at the local community college demonizing white people. Fox News featured them. The "homophobe" accusation supposedly came from his deigning to attend the Pulse Nightclub observance.)

One month later in July 2016, at a Black Lives Matter - Don't Shoot Portland public rally and protest, a mob of antifa and BLM protesters admitted (in court) that they would get Strickland thrown out of their rally because they didn't want the journalist recording them. Strickland was shooting the event as he usually did with all of his equipment – including his properly concealed pistol, a Glock, for which he had a concealed carry license.

A mob of Antifa members surrounded him, roughed him up, and then told him, "You need to get the f**k out of here!" Even though Strickland backed away from the thugs in the larger protest, he continued to shoot video. As he was leaving, the mob of masked antifa thugs ran toward Strickland and tried to surround him.

This time he pulled his pistol to back them off. No shots were ever fired; Strickland's finger never came close to the trigger. His gambit worked, however. They backed off and Strickland got away from the mob, eventually being arrested by the cops. He was released with a citation.

Charges against him grew from misdemeanors to 21 counts, ten of which were felonies, within hours of Portland politicos getting an earful from one of Strickland's favorite targets, an anti-Second Amendment group called "Ceasefire Oregon." The politicos also seemed to take on faith the word of one of the conspirators who insisted Strickland must be a racist, even though he knew better.

Only a couple of his so-called victims were identified, the rest were unknown and described as having masks over their faces and unidentifiable.

For this act of self-defense in defense of his own First Amendment rights, Strickland was ordered to jail.

Though he could have gone to state prison for decades, in the end, Strickland did 40 days in jail. But he was put on five years' probation, his Second Amendment rights were stripped and he was ordered to surrender some of his First Amendment rights by being forbidden from practicing journalism and recording Portland's leftist protesters. The mob, courts, and allies had silenced him.

Portland-are journalist Andy Ngo, who has followed Strickland in filming antifa, has been assaulted several times by the antifa. But after seeing Strickland arrested for defending himself, Ngo says he won't defend himself against antifa's attacks.

After he made arguments on Strickland's behalf to the Oregon Court of Appeals in October 2018, attorney Robert Barnes told me that if this can happen in Portland it can happen anywhere:

[R]ight now if you’re in the black bloc what do you think? I can harass somebody and get them arrested if they try to defend themselves.

And then they want people not to defend themselves so that they feel terrified, so that the[y] feel scared, so that they feel frightened, so that their behavior can be publicly and privately coerced. And that’s the danger. And that’s why this case is bigger than one person.

If this can happen to him here it can happen to anyone, anywhere, and it means that nobody is safe. And that’s why this case is so significant.

Barnes has always maintained that the Strickland case has never been a strictly Second Amendment case. He believes it's a First Amendment case:

In Portland, if you merely show you are armed, you will be arrested, charged with a felony, and banned from public events for "disturbing" ANTIFA with your presence. Ask Mike Strickland.

He continued about how corrosive ignoring antifa has been to Portland and beyond:

There is a reason the media celebrates ANTIFA, stays mute about the black bloc, and political patrons in Portland imprisoned ANTIFA critics rather than lefty violence. They were always heading in this direction once they lost political power: cultural blackmail & street violence.

Barnes says Strickland's case is bigger than one person because if the conviction against him stands then no one is safe:

This battle will be just the beginning of a long extended battle. If this can happen to him here it can happen to anyone, anywhere, and it means that nobody is safe. And that’s why this case is so significant.

Barnes is right about it being a long battle. The Oregon Appeals Court ruled Wednesday that the lower court ruling convicting Strickland stands.

He made a prediction of what this appeals court ruling really says about the Oregon justice system:

Excuses the @ORDOJ used to justify the jailing of independent reporter, Mike Strickland: that the black bloc violent anarchist group is part of the "protest community" of Portland & that a reporter who is "polarizing" to ANTIFA-types should be banned from filming public events.

Barnes told me he's filing a motion for reconsideration by the court – and will keep going if he has to.



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


7 April, 2020

Ruth Bader Ginsburg: Attaboy Girl!

Rich Kozlovich

Recently there's been a lot of talk about Ruth Bader Ginsburg going to the gym with a trainer present, as outlined in this article by Kristinn Taylor, In Midst of DC's Coronavirus Shutdown, Ruth Bader Ginsburg Meets Trainer for Workouts at Supreme Court Gym, posted on April 1st.  Ruth Bader Ginsberg works out?  You’re kidding me, right?  Is this an April Fool's joke?  Apparently not, and it was followed with hundreds of comments, some of them very unpleasant, which I would expect regarding RBG.

As I've said in the past, I've been privileged to be part of an e-mail group that's educated, intelligent, and polite, even when we disagree, which is regularly since some are very liberal and others are very conservative, yet the discussions remains respectful.  That's why I feel privileged to be a part of this group, and what I admire about our group the most.

Having said that, our group has ventured in on this business with BRG having the nerve to go out of her house, and worse yet, going to a gym with a trainer, declaring she's a bad example and represents a danger to the public as a result.  My initial comment was she was doing this because she wasn't any more taken in by all this pandemic hysteria than I am, and I said something I never in my life thought I could possibly utter - I gave her an Attaboy Girl.

Well, this didn't go away, and led to more discussion over the whole surrounding subject of this China flu and what's happening.

There are pandemics every year, we just don’t call them pandemics because they’ve become a part of our lives.  The World Health Organization, which declares these things, isn’t a true health organization.  It’s like the IPCC, which isn’t a true science group, they’re both part of the UN, and they’re both UN political cat’s paws masquerading as science and health organizations.

So, declaring what’s a pandemic apparently has nothing to do with numbers, otherwise they would declare flu pandemics each and every year based on the numbers of people infected and die.   Yet they don’t!  I say they're all pandemics, others say they're merely epidemics, but this question remains: Have we ever shut down the nation over pandemics or epidemics in the past?  The answer is no!

In days gone by most people went to work unless they were really sick.  That’s been an American societal paradigm for all of my life.  I ran a bread route many years ago, and at times sick as a dog.  Breadmen have to give notice if they’re going to die, and preferably at least three days’ notice so they can get the bread out without interruption.  I’m being factious of course, but that was, and is, the mentality in the bread business.

Prudence versus panic is a matter of definition.  I call what’s going on panic fueled by hyperbolic hysterical politicians and writers with an anti-American and anti-Trump agenda.  Let's put this in perspective. Why in the world are we treating this "pandemic" differently than all the other infectious diseases that were declared as “pandemics” that has stuck this nation over the years?

Is it going to be worse than seasonal flu cases?  Maybe, but so far there no indication it will be that much more, and even then, by how much worse where we decide to shut down the nation, and destroy the world’s economy.  What's the break point for that decision?  Who makes it?  The Constitution doesn't give the President or the Congress the right to do that, and as far as I've been able to tell, there's no State Constitution that gives Governors, or their legislatures, the right to do that.

I've seen figures that state the death toll for seasonal flu is between 20,000 and 36,000 and one writer claimed as many as 60,000.  Whatever the actual numbers are, that’s a lot of darn people dying every year, and we have to ask: Is this any worse?  If so by how much?

And comparing numbers from America and other countries is apparently meaningless because whenever these things strike, they effect different populations differently.  In the past we just sucked it up and went on with our lives.  If we were sick, we stayed home, that is if we were really sick.  Otherwise most were expected to go to work, and they did.

Take these things seriously but we need to stop being panicked by a lunatic media, and a political element that so desires to destroy Trump they actually love this pandemic, in order to once again blame him, and attack him with lies and ridiculous charges.  This flu virus should be taken seriously, but we need to suck it up and recognize this is all being promoted with hyperbole, lies, and politics.  And taking something seriously is different than becoming hysterical.

This was in 2014, and is a good example of the double standard
set by the media and the Democrat party   

Name one of these pandemics where the media attacked the sitting President as they’re doing now. Name one of these lunatic leftist politicians who are attacking Trump that did anything similar when Obama was President. Obama said to suck it up when Swine flu struck and no one said a thing.

I went to the bank last week and they know me and that I write about this kind of thing.  We had some discussion, and of course I said this was all insanity.  They were polite, but I could tell they didn't want to dispute this with a customer.  We could only go in one at a time.  When the guy before me was leaving, I was allowed to go in.  Remember, he passed right beside me, right beside the manager, touched two door handles, going in and going out, and handed the teller paper work.  And this goes on all day long, six days a week.

I forgot to sign the back of my check so the teller handed my check back and a pen to sign it.  After I handed both back to her I snarkerly, with a bit of dramatic air said, Oooooh, I touched the pen, thinking she would see the humor in that statement.   Wrong – she actually had a bit of a shock to her expression.  I’ve known this teller for years, and she’s no wall flower, but it was clear she’s intimidated by all this hyperbole.

We have lost our minds!!!!!!!!

We need to start seeing this clearly.  Flu viruses - yearly – are a part of our lives.  It’s been that way year after year, going back into the 1800’s and probably more, and the only one that was truly a pandemic disaster was the Spanish Influence, killing over 20 million people.   This isn’t the Spanish Influenza – oops is that racist? – and when it’s all said and done, we’re going to look around at the devastation this hysteria caused and ask – it that all there was?

There are probably a lot of asymptomatic people in my area, but I also think that’s true everywhere.  But I believe it always has been so, but we never thought shutting of down the nation, destroying businesses, putting millions out of work, bankrupting millions, ultimately causing untold numbers of foreclosures as time goes by, promoting crime – burglaries have skyrocketed – and when it’s over, what about those disrupted lives, when we say:  Sorry about that, that's all there was, but we had to destroy your lives to save you.

As I said, I never in my life thought I would say this about RBG, especially since saying this almost gives me hives – Ruth Bader Ginsburg:  Attaboy Girl!


Britain is sliding into dystopia

Derbyshire Police have tweeted a menacing video warning the public to stay away from the Peak District during the coronavirus lockdown.

The video shows police drone footage of unsuspecting members of the public hiking, walking their dogs and watching the sunset. All totally harmless behaviour, which is now deemed ‘non-essential’ – and by implication illegal – by the authorities.

The footage gives us a glimpse into the dystopia unfolding before our eyes. In the name of fighting coronavirus, in a matter of days Britain has become something of a police state. Millions of people are effectively under house arrest.

Parliament, meanwhile, before shutting up shop entirely, handed the authorities the most draconian powers ever known during peacetime. Police have been given blanket powers to enforce largely arbitrary rules.

It is abundantly clear that the people being shamed by Derbyshire Police have done nothing wrong. They are walking alone or in small groups. And with so much distance between them and everyone else – the Peak District could hardly be more sparsely populated – they pose no danger of spreading the virus to anyone.

If social distancing must be enforced, it should be enforced with proportion, common sense and empathy. It is not at all clear that the police can be trusted to do this.


No proof coronavirus can be spread while shopping, says leading German virologist

Initial findings suggest virus may be less easily transmitted than thought

Coronavirus has not been spread by shopping or going to the hairdresser, a leading virologist has said after studying a hotspot for the virus.

Prof Hendrik Streeck, leading the response in one of Germany's worst-hit regions, said Covid-19 might not be spread as easily as people believe.

But it came as Boris Johnson warned that lockdown measures in the UK may have to be tightened amid signs they were beginning to meet resistance.

Official figures showed a "concerning" uptick in the number of people using transport, particularly their cars.

Experts warned the Government it needed to have the public's trust to persuade people to follow the measures.

In his research, Prof Streeck said the home of an infected family his team visited "did not have any live virus on any surface" including on phones, door knobs or even the pet cat's fur....


It’s time to stop fake political correctness and artificial harmony

The good intentions of political correctness have today stifled curiosity, understanding and our ability to empathise. It’s also a movement that needs to be curbed, according to Sarah Liu.

Political correctness has been around for half a century and throughout that time the world has witnessed many great changes; the end of apartheid, Australia’s first female Prime Minister and the passing of the same-sex marriage bill.

The term describes an avoidance of actions and language that offends or marginalises groups, particularly those that have historically been discriminated against.

The problem with political correctness.  Yes, political correctness has a powerful place in society, but in our increasingly diverse workplaces, PC culture has stifled curiosity, understanding, and our ability to empathise.

Australia is a proudly multicultural nation. Because of this, many believe our diversity rates and inclusive behaviours are ahead of the pack. In reality, we are not as progressive as we think. Working with global organisations from Shanghai, Japan, Pakistan, Malaysia and Silicon Valley taught me that Australia’s relationship with diversity and inclusion is fraught – and no-one wants to talk about why they’re uncomfortable.

The smile-and-nod mentality is futile; on the surface workplaces are agreeing, while deep-down they’re not buying in. There is an artificial harmony between the politically correct way to embrace diversity and inclusion, and the real feelings, concerns and questions we have about the practical implications of change.

We must do better, and if that means being politically incorrect for the greater good of true progress, then so be it.

Political incorrectness is the real answer

Humans are organically wired to be exclusive creatures; we gravitate towards similarity and comfort, and often we find that in reflections of ourselves. When asked to not only support, but prioritise difference, it’s a common reaction to feel uncomfortable or threatened.

This needs to be acknowledged, and that begins by proactively inviting dissent. Everyone has a bias – be that unconscious or otherwise – that informs their understanding of what diversity and inclusion is.

Of all groups, rarely do we encounter anyone that wants to openly discriminate, rather it’s misinformation that fosters resistance.

Creating psychologically safe spaces to be politically incorrect and ask taboo questions without fear of judgement is the way to having honest and effective conversations.

The ‘one size fits all’ approach – rigid workplace policies or lectures on the issue – only moralises workers, rather than actively engaging them in what they think diversity and inclusion means. This has the potential to create a culture of blind acceptance by suppressing curiosity and real understanding.

Acknowledging resistance is the first step to dropping the false pretence of artificial harmony. We are often told about the benefits of diversity and inclusion; the increased performance results; diversified skill sets; expanded talent pool; increased innovation – the list goes on. But little attention is paid to the myths and challenges associated with implementing change.

Hidden myths of implementing change

A common myth is that women and minority groups are promoted or given special treatment over men, sparking all sorts of heated debate around the role of meritocracy. In reality, diversity and inclusion is not about superiorising women and minorities, it’s about adopting and learning an alternate view of what success, skills, experience and potential looks like when it encompasses a greater portion of society.

Another common misconception is that all people want to be treated equally, that the goal of diversity and inclusion is to see no distinction between men, women, and minority groups. But the dream is not equality; it’s equity.

Focus on the power of equity instead

Treating everyone with equity is part of the reason why diversity and inclusion is challenging, not only to implement but to maintain.

As a leader, it takes more money, time, resources and work to authentically manage individualism. Yet within many organisations, there’s a sense that once the right boxes are ticked, the job is done.

Diversity and inclusion create friction that can proactively encourage dissent, but the belief that creating change is easy discourages the hard work behind progress and the benefits that come with it.

It’s politically incorrect to openly acknowledge the difficulties of diversity and inclusion, but until we start to accept that it’s okay to imperfectly participate in conversation and be honest about the complexities that making real progress brings, we will continue to cultivate artificial harmony by wavering on the precipice of change.



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


6 April, 2020

UK: Ministers are accused of treating Doomsday scientist like demigod: Number 10 has failed to properly challenge the word of coronavirus professor Neil Ferguson whose study sent Britain into lockdown, critics say

Ministers were last night accused of treating the scientist behind the devastating study that sent Britain into lockdown like a ‘demigod’ and failing to properly challenge his work.

Professor Neil Ferguson and his team of academics at Imperial College London last month produced a shocking forecast of 250,000 UK coronavirus deaths without a draconian lockdown, persuading Boris Johnson to abandon his more limited response to the virus.

But now Professor John Ashton, a former regional director of public health for North West England, has accused No 10 of relying on a ‘little clique’ of researchers and failing to consult a wider pool of academics. ‘These guys are being regarded as demigods,’ he said.

‘Here we are talking about science but this research is being given a kind of religious status, like tablets of stone from the mountain.’

His broadside came as a senior Government adviser yesterday warned Britain has ‘painted itself into a corner’ with no clear exit strategy from the epidemic. Chief pandemic modeller Graham Medley said a prolonged lockdown risks causing more suffering than the virus itself.

‘We will have done three weeks of this lockdown, so there’s a big decision coming up,’ he said. ‘In broad terms, are we going to continue to harm children to protect vulnerable people, or not?’

A Mail on Sunday investigation yesterday revealed divisions among scientists about Ferguson’s study and criticism over some of his previous calculations.

It reveals how:

Professor Carl Heneghan and Dr Tom Jefferson at the University of Oxford’s Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine questioned the lockdown policy because the virus may already be more widespread than commonly thought;

They warned the draconian restrictions are ‘going to bankrupt all of us and our descendants’;

Ferguson faced mounting calls to make the computer model he uses public so it can be scrutinised by other scientists;

His modelling of the 2001 foot and mouth epidemic came under fire, with a top scientist claiming it contained a ‘myriad of errors’.

Yesterday, Prof Ferguson said Britain is unlikely to lift lockdown rules until the end of May and warned the infection rate will remain high for ‘weeks and weeks’ if people flout social-distancing rules this weekend.

He was propelled to prominence after his team claimed last month that around 510,000 people in Britain could die if no action was taken to control coronavirus and almost half that number would still perish if the Government stuck to its then limited restrictions.

His landmark paper’s accompanying press release presented what Prof Ferguson described as ‘concrete estimates’ based on a complex computer model.

But experts highlight how the model uses a string of assumptions, including that 0.9 per cent of those infected will die. This figure relies on data collected during the Chinese outbreak but US spy agencies have cast doubt on the accuracy of the regime’s statistics.

Meanwhile, Prof Heneghan and Dr Jefferson’s belief the virus may already be widespread echoes a study by another group of academics at Oxford last month.

‘What the current situation boils down to is this: is economic meltdown a price worth paying to halt or delay what is already amongst us?’ Heneghan and Jefferson said.

Research by Ferguson and his mentor Professor Roy Anderson during the foot and mouth outbreak in 2001 helped persuade Tony Blair’s government to carry out a devastating cull of animals.

But Michael Thrusfield, a professor of veterinary epidemiology at Edinburgh University, last night said that their model contained errors and they ‘generated an Armageddon virus which did not accord with reality’.

Downing Street is being advised by the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies, which includes Ferguson and other scientists and health experts.

But Prof Ashton says Ministers should consult a wider range of disciplines, including anthropologists, psychologists and social scientists, who can predict population responses.

Ferguson last night said there are ten models, including his own, informing the Government and a ‘wide variety of scientists inputting into policy’.

‘I would never try to claim any of the models I produce are an exact prediction of what will happen,’ he said. ‘But they are better than trying to make policy in a vacuum.’

His coronavirus model will be published online this week and he stands by his work during the foot and mouth crisis, he added.

The Government said last night it is receiving advice from more than 20 institutions ‘across a variety of disciplines’.


Coronavirus: UK’s virus adviser calls for way out of COVID-19 lockdown

Britain has “painted itself into a corner” with no clear exit strategy from the coronavirus epidemic and needs to reconsider herd immunity, according to a senior government adviser.

A prolonged lockdown risks causing more suffering than the virus itself, Graham Medley, the government’s chief pandemic modeller, has warned. He said that the country needed to face the trade-off between harming the young versus the old.

Professor Medley, a member of the key scientific body that is guiding the government’s response, told The Times that Britain must consider allowing people to catch the virus in the least deadly way possible rather than letting unemployment, domestic violence and mental ill health mount indefinitely.

His modelling showed that letting people return to work or reopening schools would allow the pandemic to take off again and no way had been found of easing the lockdown while controlling the virus. Only those working outside might be safe to go back to their jobs, he found.

An antibody test, which the government is hoping will prove a “game-changer”, could help but was not working and such a method had never previously been used to manage an epidemic, he said.

His warning came after 684 more people were confirmed yesterday to have died from the virus in Britain’s biggest daily rise, taking the total to 3605.

In other developments:

- Britain’s service industry is collapsing at a “harrowing” pace, according to data pointing to a recession steeper than that of the 1930s.

- Premier League clubs are to ask players to take a 30 per cent pay cut to protect jobs at football clubs.

- The deputy chief medical officer said there was no evidence that the public wearing face masks would slow the spread of the virus.

- Two nurses in their 30s died of coronavirus in the 24 hours up to last night

Boris Johnson, who will continue to self-isolate with coronavirus symptoms including a temperature, used a video message to urge people to stick to the lockdown and not abandon social-distancing rules during what is expected to be a sunny weekend.

“Particularly if you’ve got kids in the household, everybody may be getting a bit stir-crazy, and there may be just a temptation to get out there, hang out and start to break the regulations. I just urge you not to do that,” the prime minister said, adding: “Please, please stick with the guidance now.”

It is understood that work is under way to quantify health harms caused by lockdown, although this has not yet reached ministers. They have said this trade-off has not featured in government decision-making and Downing Street is giving all its attention to social distancing and building NHS capacity.

While declining to comment on Sage discussions, Professor Medley said: “It’s certainly been a concern from the outset and something that is increasingly being considered.”

Nearly a million people have applied for benefits in the past two weeks and millions more have been furloughed.

Professor Medley said: “The measures to control [the disease] cause harm. The principal one is economic, and I don’t mean to the economy generally, I mean to the incomes of people who rely on a continuous stream of money and their children, particularly the school closure aspect . . . There will also be actual harms in terms of mental health in terms of domestic violence and child abuse and in terms of food poverty.”

He added: “If we carry on with lockdown it buys us more time, we can get more thought put into it, but it doesn’t resolve anything - it’s a placeholder.”

The introduction of the lockdown on March 23 is on course to avoid a catastrophic peak, but the virus will start spreading again once it is eased, it is believed. In the absence of a vaccine, viruses only stop spreading when enough people have been infected that they can no longer pass from person to person, a concept known as herd immunity.

Although never a government goal, this was tacitly accepted as inevitable by an initial strategy designed to manage a peak in the summer, when the NHS would be better able to cope. Headlines suggesting that ministers wanted 60 per cent of people to get the disease to protect the economy led to the idea being sidelined. Latest estimates suggest that almost 70 per cent of the population need to contract the virus to ensure herd immunity.


Coronairus restrictions can damage mental health

Traumatic events, from natural disasters to war, can damage people’s mental health. The Covid-19 pandemic is no different. It has brought the fear of contagion and of loved ones falling sick. It has created huge uncertainty about every aspect of life. And with a fifth of the world under lockdown, protracted isolation is also bringing loneliness, anxiety and depression. Quarantines and “social distancing”, policy measures needed to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus that causes Covid-19, are against human nature. Touch and social networks are essential for both people and non-human primates: female baboons who have more grooming partners, or friends, exhibit lower levels of cortisol, a stress hormone.

It has been less than a month since the Italian government imposed a national quarantine, but the strain on people’s mental health is starting to show. More than 13,100 people there have died from Covid-19; at least two nurses who were working in intensive-care units where they were treating patients suffering from the disease have killed themselves. The Italian national nursing federation said that one of the nurses who committed suicide, Daniela Trezzi, had been off work ill and that Ms Trezzi was deeply worried that she had infected patients (though the local health authority said she had not tested positive). In Germany, which imposed restrictions after Italy, the finance minister of the state of Hesse, who was said to be deeply worried about the economic impact of the pandemic, killed himself on March 28th.

Awareness of the strain on people’s mental health is growing. In Britain Public Health England, a government agency, along with the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, released a set of guidelines on “the mental health and well-being aspects of coronavirus” on March 29th. In the same week, 62% of Britons said that they were finding it harder to be positive about the future compared with how they felt before the outbreak, according to Ipsos MORI, a pollster. “People are struggling with the emotions as much as they are struggling with the economics,” said Andrew Cuomo, governor of New York, America’s hardest-hit state, on March 21st. Four days later he set up a free hotline for those whose mental health was suffering.

Some are particularly susceptible to stress during a pandemic. Health-care workers are most exposed to the virus. The sense of camaraderie and of being part of a team that is helping people can buoy their spirits. But many doctors and nurses are being forced to isolate themselves away from their families because they may be infectious, which adds to their strains, points out Dhruv Khullar, a doctor in New York.

The lack of personal protective equipment for medics in many countries will only make that stress worse. Nicholas Christakis, now at Yale, worked as a doctor in the 1990s during the HIV/AIDS epidemic. There was a “lot of fear among health workers that if you looked after an AIDS patient you would contract the disease,” he recalls. But back then they had enough protective equipment. That made the risk of infection, which comes with the job, more bearable. Covid-19 is much easier to catch. “The current situation is like sending a fireman into a building naked,” he says.

Among the population at large, some may be especially worried. Those who have lost their jobs, who now number in the millions, may have lost not just their income, but also their identity, routine and much of their social network, says Jan-Emmanuel De Neve, head of the Wellbeing Research Centre at Oxford University.

Single people who once whiled away their days with friends, or those who live separately from their partners, suddenly find themselves spending most of their time alone. Many who exercise in teams or groups—or simply enjoy spending time outside—have to make do with a cramped living room and online classes. Mike, a 29-year-old Briton who works in finance in Brussels, is relieved that so far he is still allowed out for runs (though police move him along if he sits down to catch his breath): “Otherwise I’d just feel like Robinson Crusoe with Netflix.” Isolation will affect the mental health of even those who appear to be in less danger from the virus: 67% of Britons between the ages of 18 and 34 said they were finding it hard to remain upbeat, compared with 54% of those between the ages of 55 and 75.

If lockdowns stretch on for months, old people will suffer particularly acutely. Even before they were confined to their homes, they were more likely to feel lonely. Elderly women in Europe are more than twice as likely as men to live on their own. They rely on seeing family and friends to keep up their morale, or simply for a routine. Alfredo Rossi, an 80-year-old in Casalpusterlengo, one of the first areas of Italy to be put under lockdown in February, says that what upsets him most about the restrictions is being unable to see his grandchildren who live just 16km (ten miles) away in Piacenza across the River Po.

Domestic violence, already endemic everywhere, rises sharply when people are placed under the strains that come from confined living conditions and worries about their security, health and money, says Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, the head of UN Women, a UN agency. Based on early estimates, she thinks that in some countries under lockdown, domestic violence could be up by about a third.

The scale of the lockdowns is unprecedented. But research into previous traumatic events and other types of isolation offers some clues about the likely mental-health fallout. According to a rapid review of the psychological effects of quarantines, published on March 14th in the Lancet, a British medical journal, some studies suggest that the impact of quarantines can be so severe as to result in a diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The condition, which may include symptoms such as hyper-vigilance, flashbacks and nightmares which can last for years, became a formal psychiatric diagnosis in 1980, when veterans were still experiencing stress from the Vietnam war, which ended in 1975.

One study from 2009 looked at hospital employees in Beijing who in 2003 were exposed to severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), which, like Covid-19, is caused by a coronavirus. The authors found that, three years later, having been quarantined was a predictor of post-traumatic-stress symptoms. Another study, from 2013, used self-reported data to compare post-traumatic-stress symptoms in parents and children who had been quarantined because they lived in areas affected either by SARS or the H1N1outbreak in 2009, with those who had not. It found that the mean post-traumatic-stress scores were four times higher in children who had been isolated. Among the parents who had been quarantined, 28% reported symptoms serious enough to warrant a diagnosis of a trauma-related mental-health disorder. For those who had not been in isolation, the figure was 6%.

The longer a quarantine goes on, the greater the effect on people’s mental health. Another study, which also looked at the impact of SARS, found that those who were quarantined for more than ten days were significantly more likely to display symptoms of PTSD than those confined for fewer than ten days.

Cynthia Dearin, a consultant in Australia who spent four years in Iraq between 2006 and 2010 in various military camps that restricted her movement, said that whenever she returned to Iraq after a “decompression break”, she felt an “instant Baghdad depression”. Living in a war zone is very different from living through a pandemic, but she sees parallels in the loss of freedom and the sense of danger. “We also had the choice to leave the lockdown,” she reflects. “What is different now is that nobody can escape.” In Iraq many of her contemporaries turned to alcohol to numb the boredom and the fear. Increased sales of alcohol suggest that many are doing the same today. In Britain they were up by two-thirds in the week to March 21st compared with 2019, according to Nielsen, a market-research firm.

Those who have willingly isolated themselves in less traumatic circumstances may provide examples of how to ease the current crisis. In addition to the loneliness they experience, astronauts, who spend prolonged periods away from their loved ones or indeed any other human beings, suffer from disturbed sleep, heart palpitations, anxiety and mood swings. Cooped up together, they may also fall out with their fellow crew members.

Couples who suddenly find themselves in enforced proximity may sympathise. There are reports that some cities in China, such as Xi’an and Dazhou, have seen a spike in divorce proceedings since the lockdown was lifted in parts of the country in early March. Writing in the New York Times, Scott Kelly, a former astronaut who spent a year on the International Space Station, suggested that keeping a routine and writing a journal can help ease loneliness. He also encouraged people to get outside, if they could. He found that after “being confined to a small space for months, I actually started to crave nature—the colour green, the smell of fresh dirt, and the feel of warm sun on my face.”

Even under the tightest restrictions, people find ways to cope. “People are rediscovering that they live in roads full of people,” says Robin Dunbar, an anthropologist and evolutionary psychologist at Oxford University. Neighbours can be irritating, but in a crisis they can also be a comfort.

Groups have formed in many places to support local vulnerable people. According to Julianne Holt-Lunstad, an expert in loneliness at Brigham Young University, studies have shown that those who feel they have “supportive people” in their social networks are less likely to react to stressful circumstances than those who do not. Simply knowing you have others on whom you can rely can reduce spikes in blood pressure and heart rate, she says.

Live in fragments no longer

Abigail, a 32-year-old charity worker in Brussels, says that her student neighbours used to get on her nerves because they played loud music. But as she spends the lockdown alone, she has got to know them. She now welcomes their music: “They bring the party.” In Belgium, Britain, Italy and the Netherlands people have started to clap and bang pans from their windows and doors to thank medics and other essential workers.

Talking to friends and family over video calls helps, too—though the clunkiness of much of the software makes them an imperfect substitute for an encounter in person. A pixelated version of spending time with a friend merely slows down the “rate of decay” of that relationship, says Professor Dunbar, but will never be able to replace the experience of seeing someone in the flesh. “You have to see the eyeballs—the whites of the eyes—and be able to physically hold on to them,” he says, in order to maintain a friendship and feel a social bond. For Claudia that moment will come when her football team, which for her is both exercise and a kind of group therapy, can meet up once more, rather than just chat virtually. “It is going to be beautiful,” she says.


Australia: Beautiful One Day, Police State The Next

To control the spread of a dangerous virus that as yet has taken 24 lives in this country, 25 million Australians have been placed under indefinite house arrest, children’s playgrounds are locked and patrolled by security guards, and the police fly drones over beaches and parks.

To control a virus that as yet has infected 5000 Australians, the response of doctors and politicians to this serious health crisis was to create also a humanitarian and an economic crisis. In the years to come Australians will quite rightly question whether there could have been a better way.

Future generations will ask why the public was so quick to accept the opinions of those experts who presented the worst-case scenarios rather than listen to other experts, no less qualified to offer a judgment, but who suggested less draconian solutions than those that came to be implemented.

Those future generations will also ponder how in 2020 it was that so many Australians could have become so completely disengaged and removed from what happens in the economy that they could advocate policies that would have shut down practically all economic activity in the country.

This is the position of the Labor leader, Anthony Albanese, who said: “The government has a responsibility to deal with this health emergency. That is the first priority. Then, it needs to deal with the economic consequences of the health emergency and the appropriate response. It needs to be done in that order.”

Sadly, Albanese seems not to understand that the economic emergency Australia faces involves people’s lives in exactly the same way as does the health emergency.

Australians like to joke about how the country’s second-most populous state has become “The People’s Socialist Republic of Victoria”. But it is no laughing matter that in the space of just a few weeks Victoria became a police state, as its government made laws and then enforced those laws, in ways not very different from how the worst socialist regimes operate. The New South Wales government (‘liberal’ in name only) has been quick to follow Victoria’s lead.

Passed without scrutiny

In Victoria, the most extreme house arrest laws in the country were enacted without parliamentary authority and without any form of public or democratic scrutiny. They were simply made under an enabling act that allows the government do anything it “considers is reasonably necessary to protect public health”. Using this power, Victoria has enacted house arrest laws that are arbitrary, unpredictable, and that are changed, literally, hour by hour at the whim of politicians and bureaucrats.

On Wednesday morning the Victorian Premier declared that it was against the law for anyone to leave their home for any non-essential purpose, including couples who lived apart visiting each other. Just before 5pm that day, following a community backlash, the government announced couples would be exempt from the law.

Meanwhile, in New South Wales, police officers harass people sitting alone on park benches. In 1984, Big Brother at least allowed Winston Smith to go outside.

Jonathan Sumption, a former judge on the UK Supreme Court, gave an interview to the BBC on Monday in which he warned of the consequences of untrammelled power in the hands of politicians and the police. Everything he said applies to Australia. Of police operating in the UK in the same way as they are in Victoria and New South Wales, Sumption said: “That is what a police state is like. It’s a state in which the government can issue orders or express preferences with no legal authority and the police will enforce ministers’ wishes.”

It is significant that despite all the coverage it has devoted to the current crisis, the mainstream media in Australia has made no reference to the interview. It might be that the answer to Sumption’s question is too uncomfortable.

“Yes this is serious and yes it’s understandable that people cry out to the government,’’ Sumption said.

“But the real question is: Is this serious enough to warrant putting most of our population into house imprisonment, wrecking our economy for an indefinite period, destroying businesses that honest and hard-working people have taken years to build up, saddling future generations with debt, depression, stress, heart attacks, suicides and unbelievable distress…”



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


5 April, 2020  

The shutdown will be deadlier than the virus

We are in the midst of the strangest event of our lives. Societies have shut down. Families and whole nations face financial ruin. Walking the streets is now a crime from Paris to Sydney to Mumbai. And all of this has occurred not despite the will of the people but because of it.

The reasons are well known. There is a virus on the loose. It is transmitted by humans and is killing tens of thousands. It is an existential threat at which all resources must be thrown and all energy expended.

This is the popular mantra. And if true it would justify the incredible events we are witnessing. The problem is that it appears not to be true, a fact few are willing to entertain amid the hysteria that prevails. Yet its falsity is indicated on a cursory review of the best available data.

That data is provided by Italy, an early epicentre of the virus with many deaths recorded.

On March 26, the country’s peak health organisation — the National Institute of Health — published a report with details of the 6801 deaths the country had recorded to that point. This is a considerable sample size, and the figures are revealing.

The first statistics of note are those about the average age of casualties, which is 78. The median is 79. A little more than 95 per cent of victims were over 60, and zero deaths were recorded for people under the age of 30.

Then there is the method of designating the virus as the cause of death, which includes anyone who had tested positive for it before dying. In other words, many were said to have died from the virus when in truth they merely died with it.

Third, 98 per cent of casualties of a random sample of patients had a pre-existing chronic illness, or comorbidity, at their time of death. About 21 per cent suffered from a single comorbidity, 26 per cent from two, 51 per cent from three and just 2 per cent with none.

Walter Ricciardi, scientific adviser to Italy’s Health Minister, recent­ly reported: “On re-evalua­tion by the National Institute of Health, only 12 per cent of death certificates have shown a direct causality from coronavirus.”

The overwhelming majority of Italy’s deaths involved chronically ill and elderly patients.

This is not to diminish these tragedies. But the questions arise: why are we surrendering our hard-won civil liberties and committing economic suicide when this virus poses a danger to only a small portion of our society? Why do we not pour all of our resources into protecting the vulnerable?

The answer is that a 24-hour news cycle, with its morbid tallying of deaths, images of corpses and sensationalist reporting of outlier cases has whipped the public into a frenzy that politicians have had to take extreme measures to appease.

And anyone who questions the collective unreason is denounced on social media as a bloodthirsty mercenary who favours the economy over human life.

History shows time and again the reaction to a perceived crisis becomes the true catastrophe. Like the execution of witches until the mid-18th century or the scapegoating of Jews for poisoning wells during the Black Plague, evidence and logic are of no use to us now. There is an existential threat, and anyone who denies it is not just a denier but the cause.

None of this is to say this virus is not dangerous. It is. But the level of threat it poses is being exaggerated, and the response to it exaggerated as a result.

This is especially true in Australia, where infection rates appear to be relatively low and the government containment methods are among the most draconian worldwide.

If the government has compelling data to support this strategy, it should release it. But there seems to be no correlation between the scale of the threat and the economic and social damage we will suffer responding to it.

There is a disaster afoot. But it is not the COVID-19 virus. It is the putative remedy, a fact we will not appreciate until it’s too late.


No ceasefire in feminist attacks on men   

Bettina Arndt

The famous Canadian men’s rights activist and former Ottawa English professor, Janice Fiamengo, has produced a new video, expressing dismay that the world-wide health crisis has not led to a ceasefire in the attacks on men. She says it is obscene that the “poor me” rhetoric still dominates, with article after article appearing suggesting women are most affected by the virus, despite the fact that men comprise up to 70 per cent of COVID-19 deaths.

As Fiamengo points out it has hard to imagine a scenario where a pandemic was causing women to die in much higher numbers than men and have that not be a front-page news item and major focus of investigation.

Here’s Fiamengo spelling out the craziness of what is going on:

“I have yet to read an article on gendered impacts that paused over men's higher mortality rate, lamented it, quoted anybody distressed about it, or suggested that special measures might be taken to protect men.

“I have yet to see a feminist journalist suggesting women could take over most activities involving potential exposure given women's greater immunity.

“I have yet to see a feminist article worrying about the men who face risks in their jobs.

“Instead the articles move with jaw-dropping indifference about men to discuss what are glibly called the ‘secondary impacts’ or the ‘social impacts’ of the virus on women.

“Many of these impacts are speculative and short-term and hardly compare in severity to dying. The most serious is that women comprise the majority of healthcare workers and thus are ‘on the frontlines of the COVID-19 fight’, as one World Economic Forum article put it. The other frequently repeated complaint, far less onerous, is that women are the primary caregivers for children and other relatives, especially elderly relatives and are thus disproportionately burdened by school closures and the pressures of looking after sick parents. These may be true as far as they go but they certainly leave a great deal left unsaid."

Here’s Fiamengo’s excellent video: Coronavirus: More Men Die, Women Most Affected - The Fiamengo File Episode 116


Email from Bettina@bettinaarndt.com.au

The left-wingers who love the police state

Just a few months ago, prominent left-wingers were on the streets protesting against what they saw as Britain’s ‘hard right’ and ‘authoritarian’ Tory government, which had supposedly seized power in a ‘coup’. During the election, they warned voters not to back the ‘extreme Tory right’.

In the words of Guardian columnist Owen Jones, Boris Johnson ‘has appointed the most hard-right government in modern times, an administration which threatens our hard-won rights and freedoms. Don’t underestimate this menace, and prepare to fight.’

So when that ‘hard-right’ government announced a full-scale lockdown of society last night, demolishing those ‘hard-won freedoms’ by effectively placing over 66million Britons under house arrest, you might have expected a flicker of resistance, or at least concern about how these measures might be exploited, from the millennial left.

Clearly, extraordinary times call for extraordinary measures. The Covid-19 crisis is undeniably a major emergency. But, as many of these lefties correctly argued, prior to the lockdown, debate over the government’s handling of the crisis is necessary.

The problem is that these left-wingers, in tandem with the mainstream media, have been at the forefront of demanding ever-more repressive state crackdowns. And so when the lockdown eventually arrived, Jones was ‘relieved’.


'Coronavirus can't be allowed to destroy democracy': Alan Jones slams social distancing rules which threaten Australians  with jail or harsh fines

Radio broadcaster Alan Jones has slammed strict new social distancing laws as undemocratic and un-Australian.  

The recent New South Wales health order tackles the spread of COVID-19 by stopping people from going outside without good reason and enforcing severe penalties.

Speaking on 2GB, Mr Jones argued that the coronavirus measures were too harsh.

The health order dictated that there were now only 16 'reasonable excuses' for a person to leave their home.

These included exercise, shopping for essentials, seeking medical care, providing care or travelling to work.

Any person found breaching these rules could face six months in jail or a fine of up to $11,000.

Mr Jones said that he disagreed with the way the measures were implemented.

'The rules were implemented via regulation in NSW, not legislation, which means they were not debated in parliament and they were not subject to possibly sensible amendments,' he said. 

Mr Jones also argued that the strict measures were confusing and unfair.

'This order in NSW, by a Liberal government, should never have been gazetted. It's badly thought out, it's undemocratic, it's hopelessly un-Australian, it treats us as if we're all either completely stupid or servants of the state,' Mr Jones said.

Gatherings of more than two people, apart from immediate family, are also banned in NSW as are all non-essential activities. 

NSW Police Commissioner Mick Fuller said the new social isolation rules would last for 90 days and hopefully not longer.

'It is 90 days. People will have gotten the message by then, hopefully,' he said on Thursday.

'We won't be talking about the powers, we'll be talking about what does it look like coming out of this.'

The number of confirmed COVID-19 infections in NSW has reached 2,298.

The state's death toll sits at 10 - almost half of the country's tally of 23 deaths.  

Positive coronavirus cases across Australia have risen to 5,103.



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


3 April, 2020

Idaho becomes first state to BAN trans girls and women from competing in female sports and will prohibit sex changes on birth certificates

Idaho Governor Brad Little has signed into law two anti-transgender bills, one of which would prevent transgender girls and women from competing in women's sports. 

The Republican governor also approved legislation that prohibits transgender people from changing the sex listed on their birth certificates.

The birth certificate measure ignores a 2018 federal court ruling that a past law barring transgender people from making the birth certificate changes violated the Equal Protection Clause of the US Constitution. The judge scrapped the ban and warned against new rules. The Idaho attorney general's office, which didn't appeal the ruling, said it could cost $1 million if the state had to defend the ban again and lost.

'There's an injunction that already absolutely forbids this policy, and the government can't enforce this law without violating a court order,' said Peter Renn of Lambda Legal, the law firm that represented two transgender women whose lawsuit led to the court ruling. 'The ramifications of contempt (of court) are quite furious.'

He said the court could impose fines and hold top officials at the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare responsible should the court order be violated.

Backers of the legislation said the federal court was wrong, and the law is needed so Idaho has accurate birth records. It takes effect July 1.

The sports ban applies to all sports teams sponsored by public schools, colleges and universities. A girls' or women's team will not be open to transgender students who identify as female. Backers said the law was needed because transgender female athletes have physical advantages.

Opponents said it discriminated against transgender girls and women, and would subject athletes to invasive tests to prove their gender, likely causing some potential athletes to avoid sports.

Republican Rep. Barbara Ehardt, who sponsored the sports ban, has consistently argued that allowing the practice would negate Title IX, the 1972 law barring sex discrimination in education and is credited with opening up athletic competition for girls and women.

The sports ban applies to all sports teams sponsored by public schools and colleges. A girls' or women's team will not be open to transgender students who identify as female    +6
The sports ban applies to all sports teams sponsored by public schools and colleges. A girls' or women's team will not be open to transgender students who identify as female

She didn't return a call from The Associated Press on Monday.

Both the anti-transgender bills had overwhelming support among Republicans in the House and Senate in numbers great enough to override a veto. Rather than wait out a potential veto, though, both chambers adjourned earlier this month because of coronavirus concerns and would have been powerless to override vetoes.

'We condemn Governor Little's actions and the actions of dozens of Idaho legislators who are so focused on pleasing their bigoted base instead of doing what is right,' said Mistie Tolman, Idaho director for Planned Parenthood Votes Northwest and Hawaii, adding the laws make Idaho one of the 'cruelest states in the country.'

Across the US, more than 40 bills were introduced this year targeting transgender youth. About half, like one of the Idaho bills, sought to ban transgender girls from competing at various levels of girls' sports. Another large batch of bills sought to ban certain types of gender-transition medical treatment for minors.

None of these bills have been enacted, and most have died. In some other states - including Ohio, Alabama, Tennessee, Kansas, Louisiana, South Carolina, Missouri and Arizona - bills of one or both categories remain technically alive, but most are considered unlikely to win final passage. In some cases, the legislatures are in recess and future scheduling is in limbo because of the coronavirus outbreak.

Meanwhile, the families of three female high school runners have filed a lawsuit in federal court seeking to block transgender athletes in Connecticut from participating in girls' sports.

On March 24, the US Justice Department came out in support of the lawsuit, arguing that the state's inclusive policy violates the federal Title IX law allowing girls equal educational and athletic opportunities.

Attorney General William Barr signed what is known as a statement of interest, arguing against the policy of the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference, the board that oversees the state's high school athletic competitions.

The conference allows athletes to compete as the gender with which they identify, arguing it is following a state law that requires high school students be treated according to their gender identity. It also argues the policy is in accordance with Title IX.

The Justice Department, in its filing, disagrees.

'Under CIAC's interpretation of Title IX, however, schools may not account for the real physiological differences between men and women. Instead, schools must have certain biological males - namely, those who publicly identify as female - compete against biological females,' Barr and the other department officials write. 'In so doing, CIAC deprives those women of the single-sex athletic competitions that are one of the marquee accomplishments of Title IX.'

The lawsuit was filed in February by runners Selina Soule, a senior at Glastonbury High School; Chelsea Mitchell, a senior at Canton High School; and Alanna Smith, a sophomore at Danbury High School, against the conference and several local boards of education. (Smith is the daughter of former MLB relief pitcher Lee Smith)

The girls' lawsuit centers on two transgender sprinters, Terry Miller and Andraya Yearwood, who have frequently outperformed their cisgender competitors.

The two seniors have combined to win 15 girls state indoor or outdoor championship races since 2017, according to the lawsuit.

The three plaintiffs have competed directly against them, almost always losing to Miller and usually behind Yearwood. Mitchell finished third in the 2019 state championship in the girls 55-meter indoor track competition behind Miller and Yearwood.

Yearwood, of Cromwell High School, and Miller, of Bloomfield High School, have both defended their participation in girls events.

The plaintiffs are arguing that they have been deprived of wins, state titles and athletic opportunities by being forced to compete against transgender athletes.

'Males will always have inherent physical advantages over comparably talented and trained girls - that's the reason we have girls sports in the first place,' their attorney, Christiana Holcomb said Wednesday. 'And a male's belief about his gender doesn't eliminate those advantages.'   

Messages seeking comment were left Wednesday with the attorneys representing the the athletic conference, other defendants and the American Civil Liberties Union, which represents the two transgender girls who run track in Connecticut.

The spring track season is on hold because of the COVID-19 pandemic, but conference officials have put off a decision on whether to cancel it.

Holcomb has said because the lawsuit also asks for changes to the state record book, the lawsuit will go forward even if it is not resolved before the seniors graduate.


Should the Constitution be amended to prohibit court-packing?

By Richard McCarty

Democrats have been angered and terrified by the progress that President Donald Trump has made in appointing conservative judges to the federal bench, especially to the Supreme Court. As a result, some Democrats are openly advocating for expanding the Court to pack it with liberal justices. Fortunately, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) has introduced a resolution proposing an amendment to the Constitution to cap the size of the Supreme Court at nine justices; he has been joined by 14 other Republican Senators. On the House side, two Republicans have introduced resolutions to do the same thing, and both of those pieces of legislation have several cosponsors. Now Republicans should demand votes on these resolutions.

Liberals have long been able to turn to the courts to get virtually anything that they wanted when they could not win at the ballot box. Of course, the courts have also been very helpful to them in delaying or halting policies, programs, and projects that they opposed. So it should not be surprising that Democrats have resorted to desperate measures to maintain as much of their judicial power as possible.

For over 160 years, there have been nine seats on the Supreme Court. During the first 80 years of our Republic, the size of the Court varied between six and ten seats. That changed in 1869 when the Circuit Judges Act fixed the size of the Court at nine seats. In 1937, Franklin D. Roosevelt tried to expand the court and pack it with liberals who would rubberstamp his New Deal policies, but his scheme failed due to Congressional opposition.

In addition to left-wing commentators and activists, a number of Democrat politicians have either embraced packing the Court or expressed an openness to doing so. For example, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and former Democrat presidential candidate Tom Steyer (D-Calif.) both support court-packing. Ten other former Democrat presidential candidates, including Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), former Mayor Pete Buttigieg (D-South Bend, Ind.), and Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), were open to the idea.

To be sure, Democrats are right to be worried about the courts. Not only has Trump replaced Anthony Kennedy, a moderate swing vote on the Court, with a conservative; but he has also flipped three circuit courts of appeal from having a majority of judges on those circuits appointed by a Democrat president to having a majority of judges appointed by a Republican president. A second term for Trump along with a Republican Senate could mean that Democrats have decisively lost the Supreme Court for a generation; and they could soon be facing a judiciary with very few circuits still dominated by liberal judges.

Of course, Democrats have no one to blame but themselves for the predicament in which they find themselves. Had Democrats been willing to work in a bipartisan fashion on health care reform in the early Obama years, they might not have lost control of the Senate in 2014. Furthermore, had Democrats not eliminated the filibuster for lower court judges while they had the Senate majority and had they not filibustered the nomination of Gorsuch, they might not have lost the ability to filibuster Supreme Court nominees. But at every turn, Democrats made the wrong choice, and now they are paying for it.

For decades, conservatives have labored to gain control of the federal courts, especially the Supreme Court; but Republican leaders never advocated for packing the Court. Instead, they sought to elect Republican presidents and Senators. The most radical thing that Republicans considered —but delayed implementing — was eliminating the filibuster for Supreme Court justices. As we are now on the cusp of a solid constitutionalist majority on the Court, Republicans must act to defend those gains by demanding votes on a Constitutional amendment to prevent Democrats or anyone else from packing the Court.


Activists Riot After NY Police Shoot Armed Man in Self-Defense

One police officer in Newburgh, N.Y. was shot when trying to arrest an armed man wanted for questioning in a shooting. Bodycam footage clearly shows the man armed with a silver handgun violently resisting arrest, drawing his gun, and shooting the officer before getting shot to death by the police.

Cut and dried case of police defending themselves? Not if you're an activist wanting to stoke the fires of racial hatred.

Newburgh residents rioted that evening after a councilman-at-large, Omari Shakur, bitterly complained about police targeting blacks.

Record Online:

The people who gathered near both scenes were visibly emotional.

A man standing on the sidewalk on William Street near the police scene, who said he has lived in the City of Newburgh for 50 years, said loudly, “They’re killing us for nothing.”

Some law enforcement were armed with what looked like assault rifles. Helicopters circled the skies in both areas.

“Look,” Shakur said. “They’re walking through our streets with machine guns; they come in here like we’re criminals. You see, that’s what’s wrong with our community right now.”

It seems unbelievable that the police could be questioned over this incident. City officials tried to dampen the rioting by releasing stills from the bodycam footage of one of the officers.

A review of body-worn camera and street cameras shows that when officers approached the man, he displayed a silver handgun and began fighting with officers, striking one of the officers in the head with a handgun. During the encounter the man discharged the pistol and City of Newburgh Police Officers fired their weapons. One City of Newburgh Police Officer was taken to the hospital and treated for a gunshot wound, as well as injuries to his head. After the armed man was shot, City of Newburgh Police Officers attempted CPR. However, after transport to St. Luke’s Hospital for treatment, the man was subsequently pronounced dead.

To ensure public confidence in the integrity of the investigation stills from a portion of one of the officer’s body-worn camera footage is being released to the media.

“Normally in an investigation of this type of incident we would not be releasing images this early in the investigation,” said District Attorney David Hoovler. “However, to allay community concerns, which quite frankly have been stoked by misinformation coming from a city official, we are releasing these images showing the armed man discharging his gun.”

Those "community concerns" are created out of whole cloth. It's people hearing and seeing what they want to hear and see and then acting out their frustrations by rioting.


Australian State looks set to legalise voluntary assisted dying for terminally ill adults

Queensland should legalise voluntary assisted dying for terminally ill adults, the government's health committee has found.

An investigation to gauge public opinion on voluntary euthanasia has determined most Queenslanders are in favour of it.

Currently, there's no option for terminally ill Queenslanders to get help to die.

The committee found that every four days in Queensland, a terminally-ill person takes their own life.

'This must stop,' committee chair and Labor MP Aaron Harper wrote in a report tabled in parliament on Tuesday.

'Suicide should never be the only option for Queenslanders suffering at end of life.

'This is just one of the many reasons the majority of our committee chose to support a recommendation for more choice for people suffering from an advanced progressive or neurodegenerative condition, through access to a voluntary assisted dying scheme.'

A sample bill has already been draft by Queensland University of Technology Professors Ben White and Lindy Wilmot.

The committee of parliamentarians recommended euthanasia be limited to Australian citizens or permanent residents in Queensland with the capacity to make decisions.

To be eligible, patients must be diagnosed with an advanced or progressively terminal chronic or neurodegenerative condition that cannot be eased.

Those with a mental health illness should not be ruled out, so long as they can make decisions.

Time frames for a person's assisted death should not be proposed, the committee recommended, in recognition of the complex, subjective and unpredictable nature of terminal illnesses.

A sample bill has already been drafted by Queensland University of Technology Professors Ben White and Lindy Wilmot.

'It's an excellent bill,' Dying with Dignity Queensland president Jos Hall said.

Advocates want to see voluntary assisted dying legislated before October's state election, but understand the response to COVID-19 takes priority.

'It needs to be dealt with as a matter of priority at the first available opportunity,' Ms Hall said.

'Knowing that over 80 per cent of Queenslanders support voluntary assisted dying, regardless of who forms the next government, we would like to see this dealt with.

'We would be pleased to work with whichever party forms government if this is not dealt in this parliamentary term.'



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


2 April 2020

Does warm weather inhibit the Coronavirus?

A study suggests the coronavirus outbreak could be stifled by warm English weather in May. Researchers from University College London found infections from three common coronaviruses followed a seasonal pattern in England, with large numbers in winter at the same time as influenza.

The academic study below is a one of a number that suggest that coronaviruses may be destroyed by heat.  And if the mild heat of an English summer destroys them, how much greater must be the effects of a warmer climate?

Heat is in fact the only good explanation of the extraordinarily low coronavirus death toll in Australia.  Australia is an advanced Western society very similar to Britain and the USA but differs in that it is located in the Southern hemisphere.  For that reason, Australia is only now coming out of a very hot summer. And in any case Australia has a hot climate, with around a third of it being in the tropics

So for just about the whole period of the coronavirus outbreak, Australia has been distinctly hot.  And there is no obvious other way in which Australia differs from other advanced countries

It may be noted that Singapore is also an advanced economy in the tropics -- and so far, its infection and death rates have been lower than most other countries, despite schools and universities remaining open.

Seasonality and immunity to laboratory-confirmed seasonal coronaviruses (HCoV-NL63, HCoV-OC43, and HCoV-229E): results from the Flu Watch cohort study

Robert W. Aldridge et al


Background: There is currently a pandemic caused by the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2. The intensity and duration of this first wave in the UK may be dependent on whether SARS-CoV-2 transmits more effectively in the winter than the summer and the UK Government response is partially built upon the assumption that those infected will develop immunity to reinfection in the short term. In this paper we examine evidence for seasonality and immunity to laboratory-confirmed seasonal coronavirus (HCoV) from a prospective cohort study in England.

Methods: In this analysis of the Flu Watch cohort, we examine seasonal trends for PCR-confirmed coronavirus infections (HCoV-NL63, HCoV-OC43, and HCoV-229E) in all participants during winter seasons (2006-2007, 2007-2008, 2008-2009) and during the first wave of the 2009 H1N1 influenza pandemic (May-Sep 2009). We also included data from the pandemic and ‘post-pandemic’ winter seasons (2009-2010 and 2010-2011) to identify individuals with two confirmed HCoV infections and examine evidence for immunity against homologous reinfection.

Results: We tested 1,104 swabs taken during respiratory illness and detected HCoV in 199 during the first four seasons. The rate of confirmed HCoV infection across all seasons was 390 (95% CI 338-448) per 100,000 person-weeks; highest in the Nov-Mar 2008/9 season at 674 (95%CI 537-835). The highest rate was in February at 759 (95% CI 580-975). Data collected during May-Sep 2009 showed there was small amounts of ongoing transmission, with four cases detected during this period. Eight participants had two confirmed infections, of which none had the same strain twice.

Conclusion: Our results provide evidence that HCoV infection in England is most intense in winter, but that there is a small amount of ongoing transmission during summer periods. We found some evidence of immunity against homologous reinfection.


Coronavirus death rate may be less than 1%

The death rate from COVID-19 is likely around 0.66%, if counting the mild or asymptomatic cases, according to a new study

The coronavirus mortality rate might be lower than previously thought, according to a new study.

A group of researchers analyzed data from China and found that the overall mortality rate of COVID-19 was 1.38%. But if they adjusted for cases that likely went unaccounted for due to their mild or asymptomatic nature, the overall mortality rate decreased to around 0.66%, they reported on March 30 in journal The Lancet Infectious Diseases.

Past estimates had placed the mortality rate somewhere between 2% and 3.4% in Wuhan, China where the outbreak first began, according to a previous Live Science report. A recent study published in the journal Nature Medicine had found that the death rate in the city — without including those who were likely asymptomatic — was around 1.4%.

In this new study, to figure out the true "infection fatality ratio" — the mortality rate that includes the people with mild cases who may have not been counted before — the researchers looked to data from people who were flown back to their various countries from Wuhan, China during the outbreak.

Those repatriated people were given PCR tests — tests which detect specific genetic material within the virus, according to a previous Live Science report. They also used data from Diamond Princess cruise ship passengers who also received PCR testing. Since these tests were given to people who didn't necessarily show symptoms, the researchers were able to estimate the prevalence of such cases.

Consistent with previous research, the new study also found that the death rate varied greatly by age. While the death rate was around 0.0016% in 0 to 9-year-olds, it increased to about 7.8% for people who were age 80 and above.

The researchers also found that nearly 1 in 5 people over the age of 80 infected with COVID-19 were likely to require hospitalization whereas only 1% of people under 30 were likely to be hospitalized.

"Estimating the case fatality ratio for COVID-19 in real time during its epidemic is very challenging," Shigui Ruan, a professor in the department of mathematics at The University of Miami wrote in an accompanying commentary. But the infection fatality ratio "is a very important piece of data that will help to guide the response from various government and public health authorities worldwide."

The case fatality ratios will vary slightly from county to country, based on differences in the policies and measures put in place to control the outbreak, he added. In any case, these mortality rate estimates are still much higher than that of the seasonal flu, which kills around 0.1% of people who are infected.

"Even though the fatality rate is low for younger people, it is very clear that any suggestion of COVID-19 being just like influenza is false," he wrote. For those between the ages of 20 to 29, for instance, the chance of dying from SARS-CoV-2 is 33 times higher than the odds of dying from seasonal influenza, he wrote.


Why are small numbers of young, apparently healthy people dying from COVID-19? Genes may reveal the answer

Young, healthy people are dying of COVID-19 infections, even if most serious cases occur in the elderly and those with preexisting conditions. Now, scientists are looking to see if genes may explain why some people fall seriously ill while others show only mild symptoms, Science magazine reported.

Several ongoing projects aim to analyze and compare the DNA of those with severe COVID-19 infection to those with mild or asymptomatic cases. Differences may lie in genes that instruct human cells to build a receptor called ACE2, which the novel coronavirus relies on to enter cells, Science reported. Alternatively, it may be that genes that support the body's immune response to the virus differ between individuals, or that those with particular blood types carry protective genetic traits that shield them from illness, as suggested by a preliminary study from China.

For now, we don't know which genes might render people susceptible to serious COVID-19 infection, but given the pace of the pandemic, researchers could identify likely candidates within a few months, Andrea Ganna, a geneticist at the University of Helsinki’s Institute for Molecular Medicine Finland (FIMM), told Science.

Ganna and FIMM Director Mark Daly are heading an international effort to collect genetic data from COVID-19 patients, known as the COVID-19 Host Genetics Initiative. Several biobanks, including FinnGen in Finland and the 50,000-participant biobank at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York, have "expressed interest" in contributing data to the study, according to Science. Some groups working with the initiative plan to collect DNA samples from willing patients who are currently hospitalized with COVID-19 infections. Alessandra Renieri, a geneticist at the University of Siena in Italy, expects 11 Italian hospitals to participate in such a study with her own research group.

"It is my opinion that [host] genetic differences are a key factor … for susceptibility to severe acute pneumonia," Renieri told Science. Jean-Laurent Casanova, a pediatrics researcher at the Rockefeller University, is organizing a similar effort within a global network of pediatricians. Their aim is to study "previously healthy" patients under age 50 who have developed severe COVID-19 infections, as their vulnerability to the virus likely lies in their genes, Casanova told Science.

As part of their own initiatives, the UK Biobank will also begin curating data from COVID-19 patients, and the Iceland-based company deCODE Genetics will partner with the country's government to do the same. In the U.S., the Personal Genome Project at Harvard University is recruiting volunteers to share their genetic data, tissue samples, health data and COVID-19 status, Science reported.

In the coming weeks and months, these and other projects may reveal why COVID-19 only triggers a transient cough in some people, while endangering the lives of many others.


Coronavirus: ‘Not the time for fun’, but this police state tone is deeply worrying

Comment from Australia

In Sydney’s harbourside Rushcutters Bay Park, police cars with flashing lights dispersed people getting some fresh air and sunshine, in Perth, encouraged by Western Australian Premier Mark McGowan, police flew drones over parks warning people to go home. In Victoria and New South Wales the governments and police forces are warning of $10,000 fines for people who leave home for reasons not covered by prescriptive lists.

In Queensland there are similar threats from police and Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk explained that now is “not the time for fun.”

I don’t think anyone is having fun. But this police state tone is deeply worrying.

On the medical front we are entitled to be encouraged. We have curbed the overall level of new infections because we have cut the number of cases coming in from overseas.

We must listen to the expert medical advice that says there is a long way to go, that community infections are the real concern and they could take a fortnight or more to show up. We understand that the worst is likely yet to come, and that it why rules are tightening rather than relaxing.

But we are entitled to reflect that border closures, compulsory quarantine, an extensive and growing testing regime, shutdowns of travel, tourism and hospitality businesses, and physical distancing rules and practices have enabled this country to make some tangible progress. We have reduced the growth in new infections, despite testing going up.

We have had an activist media, driven by the inanities of social media, pushing state and federal governments for what they like to call a full lockdown. They have paid scant regard to the human toll of even more draconian measures.

Governments are wary about being accused of not doing enough – especially after the often illogical and hysterical criticism of governments over the summer of bushfires. We also have activist academics and medical representatives, many with political agendas, prodding and bullying governments and ministers over their responses.

The strident calls have continued for weeks; shut everything down, shut down society, shut down schools, shut down businesses and shut down the economy. We have had continued high-level medical advice that schools should be a safe option; a place to keep kids organised and focused, coached on hygiene demands, away from vulnerable people and continuing with their education.

Yet our schools are as good as closed, students are actively discouraged from attending and those that do turn up are minded rather than taught.

We have citizens being threatened with heavy fines if they leave home. We have people being abused and threatened with legal action if they go to the beach.

We have police putting drones into the sky to check that no more than two of us are out in public together. Is this proportionate?

Is this reasonable given we live in an educated, sensible, liberal and egalitarian society? Is this the way we should operate when we confront a community challenge?

This is not a government project; this is not a police operation; it is not even a medical task. This is a challenge for society; this is a time when citizens deliver the outcome.

It is citizens who provide the medical care, run the pathology test, make the deliveries, clean the bathrooms, stack the shelves and prepare the food. We are all in this together, for each other.

Governments and other authorities need to make difficult decisions, they need to enforce new laws, provide information so people can take reasonable precautions for their own sake and the sake of others.

But the penalties, policing and political messages run the risk of being over the top and counter-productive. It is no good assuaging the shrill voices of Twitter (not the real world) if you infantilise and antagonise mainstream Australians.

We know there will be idiots and scumbags – we’ve had people allegedly spit at police, and illegally open bars – and we would expect the book to be thrown at them. But threatening all Australians isn’t really on.

Please tone it down.

There is not a citizen in the country who doesn’t understand what is at stake. But fair go – except in the most egregious and obnoxious examples, governments shouldn’t be threatening people about leaving home, or spying on them with police drones at the park.

We all need to play our role to slow the spread and protect the vulnerable; most of us have elderly family and friends, so we are apprehended by the danger. Australian citizens, who are doing the heavy lifting in this crisis, do not deserve to be treated like delinquents.

They are the ones who are suffering from this pandemic, losing their jobs, their businesses, their schooling and their social interactions. They are also the ones who are combating it, running the hospitals, providing the essentials, staying home, schooling their kids, and offering state and federal governments, police and other authorities the appropriate support.

Those authorities should reciprocate by treating people like adults, recognising they are doing this in partnership with us, not against us. We fight the virus with community co-operation, not police sirens.

Whether you are a government minister, medico, teacher or policeman, we appreciate your work, we appreciate the pressure you are under and we support your aims; we are all in this together.

Rather than tackle a horrible health and economic crisis with some version of a police state, our leaders must try to appeal to what Abraham Lincoln called “the better angels of our nature”. Because that is what will work; by maintaining social cohesion and ensuring we don’t lose our national character just when we need it most.



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


1 April, 2020  

Armed Citizen Shoots, Kills Active Shooter At Tulsa Shopping Center

A woman was shot and killed at a Tulsa, Oklahoma shopping center Friday night after she opened fire on customers. While police are still investigating a possible motive and haven’t released the woman’s identify, the Tulsa World reports that the woman’s rampage was apparently stopped by a concealed carry holder before she was able to inflict any injuries.

Video reportedly showed the woman was involved in an earlier altercation in the parking lot. The woman left the shopping center and returned about three minutes later, when she pulled a gun and opened fire, according to the news release.

The concealed carry permit holder reportedly returned fire and was later questioned and released at the department’s detective division.

Who knows how bad this could have been had an armed citizen not been around to stop the shooter before she actually hit anyone? Sadly, because she didn’t actually kill or injure anyone, this story isn’t of nearly as much interest to the media as it would be otherwise, and this story will get virtually no national news coverage because there wasn’t enough carnage inflicted. The media would much rather talk about lives lost than lives saved.

Even locally, the story isn’t really getting a lot of attention. There was a brief writeup in the local paper and a short segment on local news channels, but that’s about it. Granted, this wasn’t a situation that called for hours of live, uninterrupted coverage, but to me this story is just as important as it would be if the suspect had actually taken any innocent lives, and it’s worth far more attention than what its received so far.

In fact, one Tulsa news station managed to report on the story and completely miss the fact that an armed citizen saved lives. From KTUL-TV:

Tulsa police say a woman has died after a shooting in north Tulsa Friday evening.

According to investigators a man shot and killed the woman near East 54th Street North and North Peoria Avenue.

Police say it was all caught on security footage outside a local store in the area and that’s why they now have the suspect in custody.

KTUL’s story makes it sound like this guy just walked up to the woman and shot her, and was then taken into custody. There’s no mention of the fact that the woman was shooting at customers, the man was a concealed carry holder, or that he was questioned and released by police with no expectation of an arrest.

This is journalistic malpractice at best, and an outright deception at worst. From what the Tulsa Police are saying, it sounds like this armed citizen deserves a medal. KTUL’s reporting makes it sound like he deserves to be locked up. Hopefully the station will update their story, but for now their report stands a stark reminder of the media’s failure to treat stories of armed self-defense with the same attention they give stories of murder and mayhem.


Mercedes breathing device to keep coronavirus patients out of intensive care

A non-invasive breathing aid that can help to keep coronavirus patients from needing intensive care has been developed and approved in a matter of a few days.

The device, known as continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP), was created by a partnership between the Mercedes Formula One team, University College London (UCL) and University College London Hospital (UCLH).

CPAP devices work by pushing a mix of oxygen and air into the mouth and nose at a continuous rate, thereby increasing the amount of oxygen that gets into the lungs. They bridge the gap between an oxygen mask and the need for full mechanical ventilation, during which the patient must be sedated.

Fake photo

As countries go into lockdown to stem infection rates, a Facebook post has highlighted Italy to emphasise the importance of staying home, using a photo of multiple coffins to reinforce the message.

The March 22 post from a Queensland-based Facebook user reads: “In case you’re still not convinced to stay home for you & ur beloved ones … Here’s a picture from Italy!”

The post has been viewed more than 21,000 times and shared at least 200 times.

The post urges people to stay home, which is in line with official advice in Australia and New Zealand on minimising social interactions to limit the spread of the coronavirus.

However, the problem is the photograph of an aircraft hangar filled with coffins is unrelated to COVID-19. The picture by news agency AFP was first published on October 5, 2013, following the sinking two days earlier of a boat carrying hundreds of African asylum-seekers off the Italian island of Lampedusa. The boat had left Libya 13 days before, carrying up to 500 people, according to survivors.

A UNHCR report on the tragedy says that when the boat’s engine stopped off the Italian coast, asylum seekers set fire to clothing in their attempts to be seen, but “fishing boats passed without helping”. Only 155 people survived and 366 were killed. The AFP photo shows the coffins of some of the victims in a hangar of Lampedusa airport.


A civil liberties pandemic

by Jeff Jacoby

OUR HEALTH CARE system will eventually recover from the strain of the coronavirus pandemic. Our economy will recover too, notwithstanding the beating it is taking now.

Will our civil liberties recover?

Countless Americans are rightly alarmed by COVID-19 and the threat it poses to public health. Tens of millions are stunned by the abrupt wreckage of their businesses, livelihoods, and financial plans. An important debate is underway about how much economic pain can be justified by the need to suppress the infection. But where is the debate about the toll being taken on Americans' freedom and constitutional liberties by the unprecedented strictures that have been imposed to keep people apart?

Extraordinary threats often call for extraordinary measures. Under the Constitution, government officials, especially at the state and local level, have considerable latitude to protect public health. In the landmark 1905 case of Jacobson v. Massachusetts, the US Supreme Court ruled that states could compel residents to get vaccinated against smallpox, overriding objections from some who resented the temporary infringement on their personal liberty.

But are we sure that all the infringements in the current crisis will remain temporary?

Around the world, rulers are taking advantage of the pandemic to enlarge their authority, warns historian and journalist Anne Applebaum in an essay in The Atlantic. They're not only doing so in authoritarian countries, but even in liberal democracies like Israel, where the government has ordered a round-the-clock curfew and deployed anti-terrorist technology to track down people suspected of violating the coronavirus restrictions. Or like Norway, where anyone caught violating isolation rules can be fined $2,000 or jailed for 15 days. Or like the United Kingdom, where London Mayor Sadiq Khan unabashedly announces that "liberties and human rights need to be changed, curtailed, infringed — use whatever word you want."

The willing self-curtailment of human rights might seem unthinkable in a democratic culture. But in times of panic people "go along with measures that they believe, rightly or wrongly, will save them — even if that means a loss of freedom," writes Applebaum. "Such measures have been popular in the past. . . . They will be popular now too."

I'm not sure I would call the unsettling restrictions that have been imposed on Americans in the last two weeks popular. But they have been vigorously endorsed and defended — in some cases with considerable vehemence. Understandably, most Americans have been far too consumed with the health and economic impacts of the pandemic to be fretting about the civil liberties implications.

Will that change if the government goes even further?

Politico reported last weekend that the Justice Department is asking Congress for the ability to petition judges "to detain people indefinitely without trial during emergencies." That would wipe out the right of habeas corpus — the essential constitutional guarantee that anyone who has been arrested has the right to challenge the legality of his arrest in court. It would mean, explained Norman Reimer of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, that "you could be arrested and never brought before a judge until they decide that the emergency . . . is over." The Justice Department also wants judges to have the authority in an emergency to halt all court proceedings at any point.

These are horrendous proposals, but opposition to them has been muted at best. Nor is the Trump administration alone in believing America should dispense with civil liberties if that's what fighting COVID-19 requires. Law professor Michael Dorf, a noted progressive commentator, has called for a "national lockdown" in the United States, with habeas corpus suspended for the duration.

To repeat: This extraordinary menace may well require an extraordinary response. Yet a month ago, could anyone have imagined that we would see the complete cessation of all church and synagogue worship in the United States? Or a total halt to citizens' First Amendment right "peaceably to assemble and to petition the government"? Or the wholesale shutdown of entire industries and cultural events nationwide by unilateral decree? By and large, Americans have taken these restraints in stride.

Maybe they shouldn't be so sanguine.

It is daunting to realize just how much absolute authority is entrusted to governors and the president once an emergency has been declared. In Massachusetts, Governor Charlie Baker is empowered by state law to "exercise any and all authority over persons and property" in whatever way he deems necessary to cope with the crisis. The law allows him to do virtually anything — from banning weddings to prohibiting travel to commandeering utilities to closing schools to throwing innumerable people out of work by declaring their jobs nonessential. Legislative approval is not required. Nor is a public vote. Nor is there any fixed date on which those godlike powers must be surrendered.

Similarly sweeping emergency powers are available to governors in other states. Many similar powers are available to the president.

To be sure, these laws have been on the books for many years. But never have those powers been invoked so extensively across the entire country. Perhaps the governors and the president can be trusted to relinquish their authority to rule by decree the moment the end of the crisis is in sight. But power can be very addicting. Government officials are not always in a hurry to give it back. Especially when it was surrendered so unquestioningly in the first place.

This epidemic may leave the economy in tatters, but economies grow back. Let us hope it doesn't shred our civil liberties and democratic norms before it runs its course. Those aren't so easy to regrow.



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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(Isaiah 62:1)

A 19th century Democrat political poster below:

Leftist tolerance


JFK knew Leftist dogmatism

-- Geert Wilders

The most beautiful woman in the world? I think she was. Yes: It's Agnetha Fältskog

A beautiful baby is king -- with blue eyes, blond hair and white skin. How incorrect can you get?

Kristina Pimenova, said to be the most beautiful girl in the world. Note blue eyes and blonde hair

Enough said

Islamic terrorism isn’t a perversion of Islam. It’s the implementation of Islam. It is not a religion of the persecuted, but the persecutors. Its theology is violent supremacism.

There really is an actress named Donna Air. She seems a pleasant enough woman, though

What feminism has wrought:

There's actually some wisdom there. The dreamy lady says she is holding out for someone who meets her standards. The other lady reasonably replies "There's nobody there". Standards can be unrealistically high and feminists have laboured mightily to make them so

Some bright spark occasionally decides that Leftism is feminine and conservatism is masculine. That totally misses the point. If true, how come the vote in American presidential elections usually shows something close to a 50/50 split between men and women? And in the 2016 Presidential election, Trump won 53 percent of white women, despite allegations focused on his past treatment of some women.

Political correctness is Fascism pretending to be manners

Political Correctness is as big a threat to free speech as Communism and Fascism. All 3 were/are socialist.

The problem with minorities is not race but culture. For instance, many American black males fit in well with the majority culture. They go to college, work legally for their living, marry and support the mother of their children, go to church, abstain from crime and are considerate towards others. Who could reasonably object to such people? It is people who subscribe to minority cultures -- black, Latino or Muslim -- who can give rise to concern. If antisocial attitudes and/or behaviour become pervasive among a group, however, policies may reasonably devised to deal with that group as a whole

Black lives DON'T matter -- to other blacks. The leading cause of death among young black males is attack by other young black males

Psychological defence mechanisms such as projection play a large part in Leftist thinking and discourse. So their frantic search for evil in the words and deeds of others is easily understandable. The evil is in themselves. Leftist motivations are fundamentally Fascist. They want to "fundamentally transform" the lives of their fellow citizens, which is as authoritarian as you can get. We saw where it led in Russia and China. The "compassion" that Leftists parade is just a cloak for their ghastly real motivations

Occasionally I put up on this blog complaints about the privileged position of homosexuals in today's world. I look forward to the day when the pendulum swings back and homosexuals are treated as equals before the law. To a simple Leftist mind, that makes me "homophobic", even though I have no fear of any kind of homosexuals.

But I thought it might be useful for me to point out a few things. For a start, I am not unwise enough to say that some of my best friends are homosexual. None are, in fact. Though there are two homosexuals in my normal social circle whom I get on well with and whom I think well of.

Of possible relevance: My late sister was a homosexual; I loved Liberace's sense of humour and I thought that Robert Helpmann was marvellous as Don Quixote in the Nureyev ballet of that name.

Bible references on homosexuality: Jude 1:7; 1 Timothy 1:8-11; Mark 10:6-9; 1 Corinthians 6: 9-11; 1 Corinthians 7:2; Leviticus 18:32; Leviticus 20:13

I record on this blog many examples of negligent, inefficient and reprehensible behaviour on the part of British police. After 13 years of Labour party rule they have become highly politicized, with values that reflect the demands made on them by the political Left rather than than what the community expects of them. They have become lazy and cowardly and avoid dealing with real crime wherever possible -- preferring instead to harass normal decent people for minor infractions -- particularly offences against political correctness. They are an excellent example of the destruction that can be brought about by Leftist meddling.

I also record on this blog much social worker evil -- particularly British social worker evil. The evil is neither negligent nor random. It follows exactly the pattern you would expect from the Marxist-oriented indoctrination they get in social work school -- where the middle class is seen as the enemy and the underclass is seen as virtuous. So social workers are lightning fast to take children away from normal decent parents on the basis of of minor or imaginary infractions while turning a blind eye to gross child abuse by the underclass

Racial differences in temperament: Chinese are more passive even as little babies

The genetics of crime: I have been pointing out for some time the evidence that there is a substantial genetic element in criminality. Some people are born bad. See here, here, here, here (DOI: 10.1111/jcpp.12581) and here, for instance"

Gender is a property of words, not of people. Using it otherwise is just another politically correct distortion -- though not as pernicious as calling racial discrimination "Affirmative action"

Postmodernism is fundamentally frivolous. Postmodernists routinely condemn racism and intolerance as wrong but then say that there is no such thing as right and wrong. They are clearly not being serious. Either they do not really believe in moral nihilism or they believe that racism cannot be condemned!

Postmodernism is in fact just a tantrum. Post-Soviet reality in particular suits Leftists so badly that their response is to deny that reality exists. That they can be so dishonest, however, simply shows how psychopathic they are.

So why do Leftists say "There is no such thing as right and wrong" when backed into a rhetorical corner? They say it because that is the predominant conclusion of analytic philosophers. And, as Keynes said: "Madmen in authority, who hear voices in the air, are distilling their frenzy from some academic scribbler of a few years back”

Children are the best thing in life. See also here.

Juergen Habermas, a veteran leftist German philosopher stunned his admirers not long ago by proclaiming, "Christianity, and nothing else, is the ultimate foundation of liberty, conscience, human rights, and democracy, the benchmarks of Western civilization. To this day, we have no other options [than Christianity]. We continue to nourish ourselves from this source. Everything else is postmodern chatter."

Consider two "jokes" below:

Q. "Why are Leftists always standing up for blacks and homosexuals?

A. Because for all three groups their only God is their penis"

Pretty offensive, right? So consider this one:

Q. "Why are evangelical Christians like the Taliban?

A. They are both religious fundamentalists"

The latter "joke" is not a joke at all, of course. It is a comparison routinely touted by Leftists. Both "jokes" are greatly offensive and unfair to the parties targeted but one gets a pass without question while the other would bring great wrath on the head of anyone uttering it. Why? Because political correctness is in fact just Leftist bigotry. Bigotry is unfairly favouring one or more groups of people over others -- usually justified as "truth".

One of my more amusing memories is from the time when the Soviet Union still existed and I was teaching sociology in a major Australian university. On one memorable occasion, we had a representative of the Soviet Womens' organization visit us -- a stout and heavily made-up lady of mature years. When she was ushered into our conference room, she was greeted with something like adulation by the local Marxists. In question time after her talk, however, someone asked her how homosexuals were treated in the USSR. She replied: "We don't have any. That was before the revolution". The consternation and confusion that produced among my Leftist colleagues was hilarious to behold and still lives vividly in my memory. The more things change, the more they remain the same, however. In Sept. 2007 President Ahmadinejad told Columbia university that there are no homosexuals in Iran.

It is widely agreed (with mainly Lesbians dissenting) that boys need their fathers. What needs much wider recognition is that girls need their fathers too. The relationship between a "Daddy's girl" and her father is perhaps the most beautiful human relationship there is. It can help give the girl concerned inner strength for the rest of her life.

A modern feminist complains: "We are so far from “having it all” that “we barely even have a slice of the pie, which we probably baked ourselves while sobbing into the pastry at 4am”."

Patriotism does NOT in general go with hostilty towards others. See e.g. here and here and even here ("Ethnocentrism and Xenophobia: A Cross-Cultural Study" by anthropologist Elizabeth Cashdan. In Current Anthropology Vol. 42, No. 5, December 2001).

The love of bureaucracy is very Leftist and hence "correct". Who said this? "Account must be taken of every single article, every pound of grain, because what socialism implies above all is keeping account of everything". It was V.I. Lenin

"An objection I hear frequently is: ‘Why should we tolerate intolerance?’ The assumption is that tolerating views that you don’t agree with is like a gift, an act of kindness. It suggests we’re doing people a favour by tolerating their view. My argument is that tolerance is vital to us, to you and I, because it’s actually the presupposition of all our freedoms. You cannot be free in any meaningful sense unless there is a recognition that we are free to act on our beliefs, we’re free to think what we want and express ourselves freely. Unless we have that freedom, all those other freedoms that we have on paper mean nothing" -- SOURCE


Although it is a popular traditional chant, the "Kol Nidre" should be abandoned by modern Jewish congregations. It was totally understandable where it originated in the Middle Ages but is morally obnoxious in the modern world and vivid "proof" of all sorts of antisemitic stereotypes

What the Bible says about homosexuality:

"Thou shalt not lie with mankind as with womankind; It is abomination" -- Lev. 18:22

In his great diatribe against the pagan Romans, the apostle Paul included homosexuality among their sins:

"For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature. And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet.... Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them" -- Romans 1:26,27,32.

So churches that condone homosexuality are clearly post-Christian

Although I am an atheist, I have great respect for the wisdom of ancient times as collected in the Bible. And its condemnation of homosexuality makes considerable sense to me. In an era when family values are under constant assault, such a return to the basics could be helpful. Nonetheless, I approve of St. Paul's advice in the second chapter of his epistle to the Romans that it is for God to punish them, not us. In secular terms, homosexuality between consenting adults in private should not be penalized but nor should it be promoted or praised. In Christian terms, "Gay pride" is of the Devil

The homosexuals of Gibeah (Judges 19 & 20) set in train a series of events which brought down great wrath and destruction on their tribe. The tribe of Benjamin was almost wiped out when it would not disown its homosexuals. Are we seeing a related process in the woes presently being experienced by the amoral Western world? Note that there was one Western country that was not affected by the global financial crisis and subsequently had no debt problems: Australia. In September 2012 the Australian federal parliament considered a bill to implement homosexual marriage. It was rejected by a large majority -- including members from both major political parties

Religion is deeply human. The recent discoveries at Gobekli Tepe suggest that it was religion not farming that gave birth to civilization. Early civilizations were at any rate all very religious. Atheism is mainly a very modern development and is even now very much a minority opinion

"Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!" - Isaiah 5:20 (KJV)

I think it's not unreasonable to see Islam as the religion of the Devil. Any religion that loves death or leads to parents rejoicing when their children blow themselves up is surely of the Devil -- however you conceive of the Devil. Whether he is a man in a red suit with horns and a tail, a fallen spirit being, or simply the evil side of human nature hardly matters. In all cases Islam is clearly anti-life and only the Devil or his disciples could rejoice in that.

And there surely could be few lower forms of human behaviour than to give abuse and harm in return for help. The compassionate practices of countries with Christian traditions have led many such countries to give a new home to Muslim refugees and seekers after a better life. It's basic humanity that such kindness should attract gratitude and appreciation. But do Muslims appreciate it? They most commonly show contempt for the countries and societies concerned. That's another sign of Satanic influence.

And how's this for demonic thinking?: "Asian father whose daughter drowned in Dubai sea 'stopped lifeguards from saving her because he didn't want her touched and dishonoured by strange men'

And where Muslims tell us that they love death, the great Christian celebration is of the birth of a baby -- the monogenes theos (only begotten god) as John 1:18 describes it in the original Greek -- Christmas!

No wonder so many Muslims are hostile and angry. They have little companionship from women and not even any companionship from dogs -- which are emotionally important in most other cultures. Dogs are "unclean"

Some advice from Martin Luther: Esto peccator et pecca fortiter, sed fortius fide et gaude in christo qui victor est peccati, mortis et mundi: peccandum est quam diu sic sumus. Vita haec non est habitatio justitiae

On all my blogs, I express my view of what is important primarily by the readings that I select for posting. I do however on occasions add personal comments in italicized form at the beginning of an article.

I am rather pleased to report that I am a lifelong conservative. Out of intellectual curiosity, I did in my youth join organizations from right across the political spectrum so I am certainly not closed-minded and am very familiar with the full spectrum of political thinking. Nonetheless, I did not have to undergo the lurch from Left to Right that so many people undergo. At age 13 I used my pocket-money to subscribe to the "Reader's Digest" -- the main conservative organ available in small town Australia of the 1950s. I have learnt much since but am pleased and amused to note that history has since confirmed most of what I thought at that early age.

I imagine that the the RD is still sending mailouts to my 1950s address!

Germaine Greer is a stupid old Harpy who is notable only for the depth and extent of her hatreds

Even Mahatma Gandhi was profoundly unimpressed by Africans

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