Friday, December 30, 2016

Political correctness and opioids

On Friday, Dec. 16 the Centers for Disease Control released its annual report of drug overdose deaths. The CDC reported that "rates of other opioids, specifically heroin and synthetic opioids other than methadone (likely driven primarily by illicitly manufactured fentanyl) increased sharply overall and across many states." By "sharply", that includes a one year increase in New York State deaths of 135.7 percent from fentanyl alone.

While the CDC report is certainly worth reading and consulting on the heroin epidemic, it is also seriously deficient. In seven single-spaced pages with academic footnotes, there is precisely zero discussion of the sources of the problem. The words "Mexico," "China" (source of fentanyl), "the border," "cartels" or "trafficking" do not appear. A reader coming to the issue cold would have no idea where this poison came from or how it made its way to "Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Ohio, Rhode Island and West Virginia," among other American states devastated according to the CDC.

On the same Friday, Dec. 16, running well over an hour, President Obama held his final news conference as president. In his opening monologue, the president made a tour de force of the world and the United States during his eight years in office. Although he mentioned some continuing social problems, heroin was not one of them. Five reporters from The Associated Press, Bloomberg and other major media outlets asked him questions. None of them asked about heroin deaths.

Still staying with Friday, Dec. 16, The Wall Street Journal produced an otherwise excellent Page 1 above the fold feature on the effects of the heroin epidemic on children who lose their parents. The story ran 67 precious inches of type and included three large color photos and two charts showing the rise in children placed with relatives or foster care due to the heroin epidemic. Again, the Journal's reporters failed to reference "Mexico," "China," "the border," "cartels" or "trafficking."
So, we're 0 of 3 on Friday the 16th. But maybe that was just an anomaly?

On Sunday, Dec. 18, The Washington Post ran its own feature on children caught up in the heroin epidemic - Page A-1 again but this time the coverage ran to 80 column inches and four color photos, taking up the entirety of two inside pages. It clearly dominated the Sunday edition of the paper and, just like the Journal's feature totally failed to mention the source of the problem. None of the magic words appeared.

It is actually possible to report on the heroin epidemic in a reasonable and professional manner. In mid-November, the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) ran a multipart feature which was shown in the United States and is still on their website. They began in Mexico with a first segment called, "America's Heroin Trail: The Outdoor Factory that Feeds the U.S". Later segments followed the drugs over the border to their users and showed the death and destruction that heroin and fentanyl cause. All or nearly all the magic words appeared.

The BBC's production makes good sense: The problem starts here (Mexico and China). It goes through there (the Border) and it causes harm over there- New Hampshire or some other American State. To my knowledge, no American broadcast or cable network has ever done that, certainly not in recent years as heroin from Mexico and fentanyl from China have exploded on the American scene. To the extent that they have covered the issue at all, the American networks have exclusively focused on the suffering of the users and their relatives, just as the Journal and the Post did in the examples cited above. In one case, ABC did an hour long show, with their evening Anchor, David Muir, in the chair and he mentioned the word "Mexico" in one half of one sentence in Minute 51.

The response of the CDC, the Journal, the Post and the broadcasters is pretty common. The BBC's report is what is uncommon and, to its credit, The Washington Times has also covered the subject professionally.

Why, then did the CDC and the American journalists not live up to normal professional standards? The answer, I would argue, is the border. Once you start asking, "Well, how did this poison get here to kill American citizens?" you are on a slippery slope towards Mexico, China and the border. That then feeds right into the border security arguments of Attorney General-designate Jeff Sessions and President-elect Donald Trump. It's a direct shot with no sidetracks.

So political correctness prevails. If you don't ask the "how" question, you never reach the answer which is, "Without border security, there will be no halting the heroin epidemic." And, if you don't ask the "how" question, that means that political correctness is more important than American lives.


UK: Furious supermarket shopper is ordered to 'go and join another queue' by Muslim cashier who refused to sell him a bottle of wine because it was 'against her religion'

A father-of-three has hit out at Tesco after a Muslim shop assistant refused to sell him a bottle of wine due to her 'religious beliefs'.

Lee Saunders was trying to buy the rosé wine at a superstore in Feltham, Middlesex, when he was told to go to a different till by the worker, who was aged in her 20s and wearing a headscarf.

He was eventually served by a duty manager but criticised the supermarket giant for putting a member of staff in that position.

Mr Saunders, 35, told the Sun he was 'miffed and baffled' by the incident.

He said: 'If you apply for a job surely you've got to be able to do everything within the boundaries of that job.'

Mr Saunders had been at the shop to buy the £4 wine along with LED lights and an Xbox FIFA 17 game for his son, with the total coming to £55.

He added: 'It should have been made clear if they can't serve you certain items. There were no warnings or signs.

'She apologised afterwards, but she's been put in that position. It's not entirely her fault to be fair.'

A Tesco spokesperson apologised for the incident and said staff did all they could to resolve the situation.  The spokesman said: 'We take a pragmatic approach if a colleague raises concerns about a job they have been asked to do. We apologise to our customer for any inconvenience caused on this occasion.'

The store confirmed the member of staff worked on a kiosk where alcohol is 'generally not purchased' and would request another colleague's help if the situation arose again in the future.



Merkel is punished for her open door refugee policy as backing for German chancellor's party crumbles amid surge in support for the far-right

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has been punished for her open door refugee policy as new figures show support for her conservative CDU party continuing to crumble.

With 434,019 members at the end of last month the CDU has now slipped behind the social democrats with 13,000 people tearing up their party cards this year.

Many of them switched to the hard-right anti-immigration Alternative for Germany (AfD).

The news was a little better for the centre left SPD which rules Germany as the junior partner in a coalition led by the CDU.

It has shed 9,000 members this year as a result of underwriting the migrant influx which brought with it terror and death to the country.

But when Donald Trump won the American election, and as support for extremism in the form of the AfD and neo-Nazis continues to rise, the party has been making up ground with 2,000 new members attracted in November alone.

It now boasts more members than Mrs. Merkel's party nine months before Germany goes to the polls in a general election in which she will seek a fourth term in office.

The AfD has capitalised enormously on the problems that the refugee influx has created in the country with nearly 5,000 new members in the past few months.

'Their enormous popularity lies witgh the policy failures of the old parties and the large vacuum that created,' said AfD's executive board member Georg Pazderski.

A new poll taken by the Forsa research group for Stern magazine showed 28 percent of respondents believing Chancellor Merkel's refugee policy was 'jointly responsib le' for the Berlin Christmas market attack on December 19 which killed 12 and injured 48.

And three quarters of all citizens - 76 per cent - assume that the terror threat and the security situation in Germany will play an 'important role' in the general election.

A total of 67 percent of respondents said they believed a debate on the subject of internal security during the election campaign would harm rather than help the chancellor.

The AfD, which trounced the chancellor in several key regional elections in 2016, is looking to gain seats in the national parliament for the first time next year.

But it is unlikely to get into power: the established parties look set to win again and have ruled out doing any deals that would give Germany's first hard-right political parts since 1945 any say in governing the country


Freedom of association isn't just for the Rockettes

Jeff Jacoby

LIKE EVERYTHING ELSE connected to Donald Trump, even the entertainment at his inauguration is generating controversy. The stories have been a godsend to the talk-shows and tabloids. But they have also provided a reminder of something too easily forgotten: Freedom of association is a vital human right.

According to news accounts, Jackie Evancho and the Mormon Tabernacle Choir are slated to sing during the inaugural festivities; Elton John and Andrea Bocelli have let it be known that they're staying away. The Radio City Rockettes will be part of the show — but any dancers who wish to opt out are free to do so.

Critics left and right have been lobbing attacks. Liberals on social media have inundated Evancho with hateful comments for agreeing to perform for Trump, while conservatives have mocked the entertainers steering clear of the Trump revels as "preening peacocks" choosing to "pout" because Hillary Clinton lost the election. Phoebe Pearl, the Rockette who posted on Instagram that she was "embarrassed and disappointed" at the prospect of dancing for Trump — or "#notmypresident," as she described him — was both praised and blasted after her message went viral.

The divisiveness doesn't stop with the inaugural entertainment. Heat Street reported that many Washington-area homeowners who had planned to rent out rooms through Airbnb pulled their listings once they realized that they wouldn't be sharing their homes with Clinton enthusiasts. "I have a visceral reaction to the thought of having a Trump supporter in my house," one owner said. "No amount of money could make me change my mind. It's about moral principles."

Others putting their money where their anti-Trump principles are include fashion gurus Sophie Theallet and André Leon Talley, who announced that they will refuse to dress Melania Trump, a former model, out of revulsion for her husband. "You make the choice to be in Trumpland or you make the choice to eject yourself from the horror of Trumpland," Talley told the New York Times. "I've made my choice not to be part of Trumpland."

There are also the artists who have publicly asked Ivanka Trump to remove their artwork from her walls, and celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain, who says he will boycott any restaurant in Trump's hotels.

I support them all — the singers who refuse to sing for Trump, the fashion designers who refuse to design, the landlords who refuse to rent, the dancers who refuse to dance. No one should be forced to play a role in a celebration they want nothing to do with, or to hire themselves out to clients they would prefer not to serve.

And if a caterer turns down a request to prepare the meals for Trump's inauguration? Or a florist declines to provide the floral arrangements? Or a calligrapher says "thanks but no thanks" to addressing the invitations? I'd back them, too, and for reasons having nothing to do with Trump or Republicans or inaugurations — and everything to do with freedom of association.

The right to discriminate — to choose with whom we will and won't associate — is vital to human liberty. A dressmaker who can't say no to a commission to design a gown isn't free, and it doesn't matter whether the gown is for a First Lady or for the brides in a lesbian wedding. A liberal baker who declines to create a lavish cake decorated with the words "Congratulations, President Trump" is entitled to as much deference as a black baker who declines to decorate a cake with the Confederate flag, or a Muslim baker who declines to decorate a cake with the message "No Muslim Immigrants."

Freedom of association, like all freedoms, isn't absolute. Common carriers, innkeepers, and vendors open to the public are barred by law from refusing to serve customers because of their race, religion, or sex, for example. But when it comes to providing personal services to others — whether the service is cleaning homes or singing the national anthem or taking photos — coercion is anathema. It would be ludicrous for the Trump committee to sue Andrea Bocelli or Phoebe Pearl to compel their involvement in the inaugural. It is just as ludicrous, or ought to be, to sue florists and bakers to compel their involvement in weddings they prefer to avoid.

Tolerance and pluralism are important values in a free society. So are choice and association. Your choices may not be mine; my preferred associations may not be yours. In a diverse, live-and-let-live culture, our differences are manageable — as long as government doesn't interfere. The state can't force Elton John to take a gig he doesn't want. It shouldn't be able to force anyone else to, either.



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, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS and  DISSECTING LEFTISM.   My Home Pages are here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here


Thursday, December 29, 2016

Why the vitriol about race?

A conservative colleague wrote to me as follows:

"I have written much of late on Quora and have noticed that leftists reserve their most hate filled tropes for issues concerning Black White relations. I recently posted an article arguing that the Democratic Party has consistently failed Black Americans and that the GOP should work at targeting the fallout from such failure.

Needless to say the kickback was harsh. The usual unsubstantiated racist accusations came flying out of the woodwork with a venom that I rarely see on posts reserved for other issues.

But here is the kicker - the worst insults by far came from Whites. Is this a function of virtue signalling or something else as the responses from seemingly reasonable people seemed more visceral than normal?

I think I know EXACTLY why Leftist whites get so heated about race. It is because racial realities are so far away from Leftist beliefs about them. Leftists are cut to the heart when you remind them how exceptionally badly behaved many blacks are -- because they KNOW you are right but cannot afford to admit it.  So they get angry instead.

They know as well as you or I that many blacks are dangerous predators that they need to avoid.  And they do avoid them.  But to admit it would cause their belief structure to come tumbling down. 

It is a cause of pride to them that they are better than conservatives -- in being kind, tolerant etc -- so admitting that conservatives are simply realists about race undermines their entire self worth -- JR

How excluding!

'Born This Way'? New Study Debunks LGBT Claims

Correcting the record on the homosexual agenda's junk science.

Among leftists, it is at convenient times an accepted fact (“settled science,” you might say) that homosexuals and transgendered people are “born that way” — that their sexual attractions or gender identities are not the product of choice, but a matter of genetics. (When that’s not convenient, of course, it’s a perfectly acceptable “life choice.”) A new report, instantly controversial, torpedoes that understanding of homosexuality and gender dysphoria, the medical term for transgenderism.

The report, entitled “Sexuality and Gender: Findings from the Biological, Psychological, and Social Sciences,” is co-authored by two of the most well respected experts on mental health and human sexuality. Dr. Paul McHugh, described as “arguably the most important American psychiatrist of the last half century,” is a professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the prestigious Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, and served for 25 years as psychiatrist in chief for Johns Hopkins Hospital. And Dr. Lawrence Mayer, Psychiatry Department scholar-in-residence at Johns Hopkins University, is a professor of statistics and biostatistics at Arizona State University.

While, not surprisingly, many on the Left and in the LGBT “community” immediately raged against the report as anti-LGBT, it should be noted that Johns Hopkins was the first medical facility in the U.S. to perform sex-reassignment surgery, and did so for decades until a growing body of peer-reviewed studies, including an analysis of how Hopkins' own transgendered patients fared over time, led the hospital to end those types of surgeries. Furthermore, McHugh is no far right-wing ideologue or Bible-thumper; he’s a self-described “politically liberal” Democrat.

Yet it was his long-term experience with patients who suffer from gender dysphoria that led him to his conclusions, summarized in a report that analyzed more than 200 peer reviewed studies. McHugh and Mayer are also very up front about what the science does and does not show. They freely admit the gaps in the available research, which they argue underscores the need for more research before establishing medical standards, public policy guidelines, and laws, based on “settled science” that is not at all settled.

So what did the study find? A few excerpts:

“The belief that sexual orientation is an innate, biologically fixed human property — that people are ‘born that way’ — is not supported by scientific evidence.

Likewise, the belief that gender identity is an innate, fixed human property independent of biological sex — so that a person might be a ‘man trapped in a woman’s body’ or ‘a woman trapped in a man’s body’ — is not supported by scientific evidence.

Only a minority of children who express gender-atypical thoughts or behavior will continue to do so into adolescence or adulthood. There is no evidence that all such children should be encouraged to become transgender, much less subjected to hormone treatments or surgery.

Non-heterosexual and transgender people have higher rates of mental health problems (anxiety, depression, suicide), as well as behavioral and social problems (substance abuse, intimate partner violence), than the general population. Discrimination alone does not account for the entire disparity.”
One of the most shocking findings in the report is that not only do people who suffer from gender dysphoria experience far higher rates of social pathologies (depression, substance abuse, suicide) than the general population, but sex-reassignment surgery does not offer the relief those on the Left claim. One study finds that “compared to [the general population], sex-reassigned individuals were about five times more likely to attempt suicide and about 19 times more likely to die by suicide.” The study finds a staggering 41% of transgendered individuals will attempt suicide in their lifetime.

The duo investigated the underlying causes of these tragic statistics, and found that while “stressors like stigma and prejudice account for much of the additional suffering observed in these subpopulations … [this theory] does not seem to offer a complete explanation for the disparities in the outcomes.” Even in social environments where transgendered people are accepted, they still suffer from above-normal rates of these social pathologies. McHugh and Mayer encourage additional research be done to study the correlation between childhood sexual abuse and sexual orientation (studies have shown non-heterosexuals to be two to three times more likely to have experienced childhood sexual abuse as compared to heterosexuals).

Far from offering condemnation or judgment, they stress the need for greater understanding of the science behind gender dysphoria, and a more thoughtful, science-based approached to treating it. “More research is needed to uncover the causes of the increased rates of mental health problems in the LGBT subpopulations,” McHugh and Mayer say, calling on society to work to “alleviate suffering and promote human health and flourishing.”

All the more reason to base medical treatment and public policy on sound science, which is not currently the case. The authors declare they are “disturbed and alarmed by the severity and irreversibility of some interventions being publicly discussed and employed for children. … We are concerned by the increasing tendency toward encouraging children with gender identity issues to transition to their preferred gender through medical and then surgical procedures.” The pair notes, “There is little scientific evidence for the therapeutic value of interventions that delay puberty or modify the secondary sex characteristics of adolescents.”

The Obama administration has used (and abused) its vast power to dismiss the concerns of parents, policymakers and medical professionals in implementing policy in the furtherance of its ideological goal — forced social acceptance of gender dysphoria as normal, all under the guise of medical science.

Part of that effort was Obama’s announcement earlier this year that schools receiving federal funding were prohibited from requiring students to use the restroom and shower facilities of their birth sex, while threatening a loss of funding for any school that didn’t comply with his imperial decree. Essentially, this meant boys who think they are girls would get to shower with female classmates.

Luckily, U.S. District Judge Reed O'Connor has injected some sanity into the debate, issuing an injunction against implementation of this policy, stating that Obama exceeded his authority in his attempt to reinterpret Title IX. As O'Connor said, “It cannot be disputed that the meaning of the term ‘sex’ [in Title IX] meant the biological and anatomical differences between male and female students as determined by their birth.”

Gender dysphoria is a real and debilitating problem for a tiny minority of the population, and we should treat those who suffer from it compassionately. At the same time, we do not show true compassion by pretending it is not an illness, or by encouraging those who suffer from it to embrace and celebrate it.


Fmr. Archbishop of Canterbury: England Needs Citizenship Tests on Christianity For Immigrants

Commenting on the British government's review of communal integration in England, particularly involving Muslim communities, Lord George Carey, the former archbishop of Canterbury, said Britain is forgetting its Christian heritage, suffers from a "creeping culture of religious illiteracy," and added that Christianity should be included in citizenship tests for all immigrants.

"It is a preposterous yet dangerous state of affairs when Christmas cards are considered offensive, or the Cross is banned because it is thought divisive. Yet this is the world we live in," said Lord Carey in a Dec. 17 commentary for The Mail On Sunday. "We should rejoice in our Christian identity as a nation and celebrate it."

"I believe we should include Christianity in citizenship tests for all those who want to come to this country," said Lord Carey, who was the archbishop of Canterbury 1991-2002.  "There are many questions asked of migrants about the Royal Family and Parliament, but little about the Church of England or Britain’s Christian history."

"And it is vital that the Government itself does its homework better," he said.  "Politicians and advisers would do well to remember the contribution of Christianity to our life, and not just our ‘holy-days’ and celebrations."

"In co-ordination with religious leaders, some thought should be given to special training in religious literacy for at least some judges, Ministers and senior civil servants who deal directly with religious communities – their freedom and equalities," said Lord Carey.

The archbishop also noted that the Christian population in the Middle East has fallen from 7% in 1996 to 1.5% today. "[T]he Middle East, the region that gave birth to our faith, could soon see the virtual extinction of Christianity," said the archbishop.

As for Muslim communities in England, Lord Carey, referencing the government's recent review, said the facts show "public authorities have been ignoring harmful social practices in some of our Muslim communities, such as the exclusion of women, domestic violence, forced marriage and female genital mutilation."  People do not speak out about these problems, as the review documents, because they fear being labeled "Islamaphobic."

However, the review, by Dame Louise Casey, who heads the Social Welfare office in England, "equated conservative religious views with intolerance, even extremism," said Lord Carey.  "By condemning all those with conservative religious views – and not just an Islamist minority – she is imposing a new form of intolerance."

"In civil life as a whole, we are choosing to forget the Christian heritage which has contributed so greatly to our laws, rituals, language, our traditions and even our landscape," said the 81-year-old archbishop. "It has built our civil society and sustained charity and social movements and has been the fabric of our daily existence for a millennium and more."

"The glue which tied us together used to be the institutions of our civil society," he said, "including the Church of England...."


Heathrow mayhem gang walks free: NO punishment for protestors who obstructed highway

TWELVE protesters who caused mayhem for passengers at Heathrow by blockading major roads walked free from court today.

The campaigners against airport expansion were given conditional discharges after running on to the M4 and A4 and laying down in front of traffic last month.

Fifteen people aged between 21 and 67 were charged with causing willful obstruction of the highway on November 19.

At Ealing magistrates court yesterday 12 pleaded guilty.

12 out of 15 Heathrow protesters walked free after pleading guilty to their charges

They were also told to pay a victim surcharge and court costs of £105.

The remaining three, who pleaded not guilty, will face trial in February.

Prosecutor Richard Doolan said protesters were joined together by plastic tubing and some of the defendants had to be cut away.

The third runway at Heathrow Airport could involve planes taking off from a "ramp" over the M25 motorway, the transport secretary says.
The protestors will continue their fight against the runway plans
Madeleine EllisPetersen, 24, of Ealing, one of those who pleaded guilty, said: “It’s a great result within the realms of what we were expecting.

“This is not the end. We will continue to fight until the Government takes meaningful action to tackle climate change and that includes not building a third runway.”



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, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS and  DISSECTING LEFTISM.   My Home Pages are here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here


Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Trump and Jerusalem

The media has been abuzz with reports that President-elect Donald Trump intends to honor his pre-election promise to act on the 1995 Jerusalem Embassy Act – whose implementation has been deferred by six monthly waivers invoked by successive presidents, most recently last week by President Obama – and move the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

Why has the Embassy Act, passed by massive majorities in the Senate (93-5) and House (374-37), remained a dead letter for 21 years? Fear of enraging the Arab street and the Muslim world, most of which has neither reconciled itself to Israel’s existence nor even the peoplehood of the Jews and thus the Jewish immemorial association and claim to the city, is the short answer.

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This clamor and fixation on Jerusalem, quite recent in Muslim history, has led many to conclude that Jerusalem is holy to Islam; therefore any US move ahead of a peace settlement is premature.

As it happens, however, it is a propaganda lie that Jerusalem is holy to Islam or central to Palestinian Arab life. Though possessing Muslim shrines, including the Dome of the Rock and al-Aksa mosques, the city itself holds no great significance for Islam, as history shows.

Jerusalem is not mentioned even once in the Koran, nor is it the direction in which Muslims turn to pray. References in the Koran and hadith to the ‘farthest mosque,’ an allusion to which al-Aksa Mosque is named, and which has sometimes been invoked to connect Islam to Jerusalem since its earliest days, clearly doesn’t refer to a mosque which didn’t exist in Muhammad’s day.

Indeed, the site of the biblical temples is called Temple Mount, not the Mosque Mount, and – in contrast to innumerable Palestinian Authority statements today – was acknowledged as such for decades in the Jerusalem Muslim Supreme Council’s publication, A Brief Guide to the Haram Al-Sharif,’ which states on p. 4 that ‘Its identity with the site of Solomon’s Temple is beyond dispute.”

(After 1954, all such references to the biblical temples disappeared from this publication.) During the illegal annexation and rule of the historic eastern half of Jerusalem by Jordan (1948-67), Amman remained the country’s capital, not Jerusalem.

Under Jordanian rule, Jews were entirely driven out, the Old City’s 58 synagogues destroyed, and Jewish gravestones used to pave roads and latrines. Jewish access to the Western Wall was forbidden, in contravention of Article 8 of the 1949 Israeli/Jordanian armistice.

Indeed, the eastern half of the city became a backwater town, with infrastructure like water and sewerage scanty or non-existent, and its Christian population, denied the right to purchase church property in the city, also declined. No Arab ruler, other than Jordan’s King Hussein, ever visited. As Israeli elder statesman Abba Eban put it, “the secular delights of Beirut held more attraction.”

Significantly, neither the PLO’s National Charter nor the Fatah Covenant, drafted during Jordanian rule, even mention Jerusalem, let alone call for its establishment as a Palestinian capital.

This would never be obvious from the tenor and content of Palestinian, Arab and Muslim pronouncements on the city today, which are as emphatic as to the Arab, Muslim and Palestinian primacy of the city as they are in denying its Jewish provenance.

Conversely, Jerusalem, the capital of the biblical Jewish kingdoms, is the site of three millennia of Jewish habitation — hence the ‘Jerusalem 3000’ celebrations initiated by the government of Yitzhak Rabin.

The holiest of Judaism’s four holy cities, Jerusalem is mentioned 669 times in the Bible, and alluded to in countless prayers.

Major Jewish rituals, including the conclusion of the Passover Seder and Yom Kippur service, end with the age-old affirmation, “Next year in Jerusalem.”

Jerusalem is the only city in the world in which Jews have formed a majority since the 1880s. Today, in addition to being home to Judaism’s greatest sanctuaries, Jerusalem is the seat of Israel’s government, the Knesset, the Supreme Court, the National Library and the Hebrew University. Its population is twothirds Jewish.

It is only under unified Israeli rule since 1967 that the city as a whole has been revitalized, enjoyed stunning growth and also, at last, full freedom of religion for its mosaic of faiths – precisely what would be threatened by its redivision, as is already obvious in the Christian exodus from Palestinian-controlled Gaza and Bethlehem.

Transferring the US Embassy to Jerusalem would acknowledge the reality of the city as Israel’s capital, and ultimately help consign to oblivion the fiction that Israel can be detached from it. Whatever the contours of any future peace settlement, there is no good reason for President-elect Trump to defer implementing the Jerusalem Embassy Act and move the US Embassy to Jerusalem.


Accused = guilty in politically correct Britain

York Minster's bells fell silent on Christmas Day for the first time in more than 600 years after the bell-ringing team was disbanded following a row over the reinstatement of one of their group.

Visitors at the cathedral have been warned to expect a silent Christmas period after the Minster's 30-strong ringing group was sacked in October.

Ringers had refused to accept the decision not to reinstate a member who had been suspended following a police investigation into allegations of sex offences against children, which did not lead to a prosecution.

Another group of campanologists from Leeds were asked to fill the gap but reportedly refused to help out in solidarity with their sacked colleagues.

The member has not been named by the Minster's Chapter, but is understood to be David Potter - who was awarded an MBE for his services to bell-ringing and has never been convicted of any offence.

Mr Potter was the subject of a police investigation in 1999, which was reviewed again in 2014, but he was never charged.

The Chapter of York Minster ordered a detailed risk assessment of Mr Potter's activities and ruled he "presented an ongoing risk and that the potential severity of the risk meant they could not be reinstated".

It added that the bell ringers refused to accept the decision and so had to be disbanded.

Colin Byrne, a solicitor acting for Mr Potter, said in October: "Mr Potter has no cautions or convictions or any civil findings ever made against him.

"Issues surrounding the bell ringers and the Minster is a private and confidential matter between those two parties but the process that he has been subject to has shown a disregard for due process and equally the treatment of his fellow bell-ringers."

The Dean of York Minster, Vivienne Faull, and the Archbishop of York Dr John Sentamu, who supported the decision, were both in attendance at the service on Christmas Day.


"Islamophobia" versus antisemitism

The Policy Exchange think-tank recently published a report on attitudes among British Muslims called Unsettled Belonging.

Among its many interesting observations, one in particular leapt out at me. No, it wasn’t that 43% of British Muslims support the introduction of some forms of sharia law in Britain. Nor that, despite this aspiration, more than half wanted to “fully integrate” with British society.

Nor that 7 per cent believed the Jews were responsible for 9/11, more than the 4 per cent who pinned it on al Qaeda (described by the authors as “slightly alarming”) but rather fewer that the 31% who thought the US government had perpetrated it (arguably even more alarming).

No, the bit that attracted my particular interest was this:

“There is undoubtedly a perception – expressed often in more anecdotal fashion – that Muslims face challenges posed by anti-Muslim bigotry and racism. It is striking that this issue did not loom as large in the quantitative survey. It is also notable how concerns about these problems were often relayed with reference to stories heard from friends, family, or via the media.”

None of this, it said, denied the reality of anti-Muslim abuse and discrimination. “But it does illustrate that often this is at least as much perceived as experienced. Here, as much as elsewhere, narrative is everything.”

Isn’t it just! Even when it bears scant relation to actual events. Or as we might otherwise call it, fiction.

For probe further and you find that, when asked about harassment on grounds of race, ethnicity or religion, only 6-7 per cent said it was a “big problem”, 14 per cent said it was a “slight problem” and a whopping 77 per cent on race/ethnicity and 79 per cent on religion said it was no problem at all.

The authors found this “somewhat surprising, given that there was a great deal of discussion in our focus groups about fears over personal security linked to anti-Muslim bigotry and harassment.”

This may be less surprising given that the authors also record a much greater concern about anti-Muslim harassment among the general population than among British Muslims.

Might it be, therefore, that British Muslims believe they are under more attack from the general population than they actually are largely because the general population itself tells them so?

Despite the authors’ manifest puzzlement, they hastily insist:

“Campaign groups such as Tell Mama have pointed to a significant increase in attacks and insults levelled against Muslims.”

And yet: “When pushed, focus group participants tended to say that they themselves had not experienced racism or Islamophobia; however, almost everyone had a story to which they could point, as examples of these phenomena.”

Curiouser and curiouser? Things get clearer when you look more carefully at these “hate crime” statistics. In its 2015 annual report, Tell Mama says it documented 437 anti-Muslim crimes or incidents that took place in person, a 200 per cent increase over the previous year.

There is no reason to doubt this rise. However, many of these incidents took place just after the atrocities in Paris in January and November, just as previous spikes in anti-Muslim incidents took place after 9/11 and the near-decapitation of Drummer Lee Rigby.

That doesn’t mean they are any less reprehensible — all unprovoked attacks are wrong, on Muslims or anyone else – just that they mostly occur specifically in response to Islamic terrorism rather than being a routine expression of intrinsic prejudice.

Moreover, the 437 figure has to be seen in the context of the size of Britain’s Muslim population, currently estimated at about 3 million.

Considering the intensity of public rage about Islamist aggression and the refusal by the Muslim world to take any responsibility for it, blaming it instead on “un-Islamic” or “anti-Islamic” forces, the number of hateful incidents against Muslims is thankfully remarkably low.

Now look at the number of attacks on Jews. Excluding social media abuse and threats, the Community Security Trust recorded 765 antisemitic incidents in 2015, with the highest number of violent assaults since 2011. Now put that 765 figure in the context of Britain’s Jewish population, estimated at around 270,000.

In other words, the rate of attacks on Jews proportionate to their population strength is vastly greater than the rate of attacks on Muslims – even though Jews have done nothing at all to provoke the general public.Narrative is not everything. Reality is.


Customer Leaves Restaurant Owner a Nastygram About His Christmas Music

A restaurant owner in Florida was recently shocked to find a nastygram left on a table by a disgruntled customer who didn't like his choice of Christmas music.

The Scrooge-like diner complained last week that the music was "offensive" and suggested that the owner of Michael's Tasting Room in St. Augustine "consider" playing less religiously themed "holiday music."

Pastor Tells Kids at Texas Mall: 'Santa Claus Does Not Exist'
The restaurant's owner, Michael Lugo, posted the note on Facebook commenting, "really, what is wrong with people?"

Via Fox News Insider:

Lugo said that though he is Christian he was not trying to force his religion on anyone, adding that it was "scary" that a note like that would be socially acceptable.
He posted the note on Facebook, a decision he said was to protect his staff.

The vast majority of the 855 comments are completely supportive of the restaurant owner and fed up with the politically correct cry-bully culture that encourages people to speak out so obnoxiously.



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, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS and  DISSECTING LEFTISM.   My Home Pages are here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here


Tuesday, December 27, 2016

The decline and fall of Snopes

Leftists in the truth business was always an oxymoron and a paradox.  Inherently unstable.  I have been critical of Snopes for years so this is validation

One of the websites Facebook is to use to arbitrate on 'fake news' is involved in a bitter legal dispute between its co-founders, with its CEO accused of using company money for prostitutes. will be part of a panel used by Facebook to decide whether stories which users complain about as potentially 'fake' should be considered 'disputed'.

But the website's own troubles and the intriguing choice of who carries out its 'fact checks' are revealed by, as one of its main contributors is disclosed to be a former sex-blogger who called herself 'Vice Vixen'. will benefit from Facebook's decision to allow users to report items in their newsfeed which they believe to be 'fake'.

It is asking a number of organizations to arbitrate on items which are reported or which Facebook staff think may not be genuine, and decide whether they should be marked as 'disputed'.

The others include ABC News, the Associated Press and 'fact-checking' websites including

Now a investigation reveals that's founders, former husband and wife David and Barbara Mikkelson, are embroiled in a lengthy and bitter legal dispute in the wake of their divorce.

He has since remarried, to a former escort and porn actress who is one of the site's staff members.

They are accusing each other of financial impropriety, with Barbara claiming her ex-husband is guilty of 'embezzlement' and suggesting he is attempting a 'boondoggle' to change tax arrangements, while David claims she took millions from their joint accounts and bought property in Las Vegas.

The Mikkelsons founded the site in 1995. The couple had met in the early 1990s on a folklore-themed online message board, and married before setting up the site.

Profiles of the website disclose that for some time before it was set up, the couple had posed as 'The San Fernardo Valley Folklore Society', using its name on letterheads, even though it did not exist.

A profile for the Webby Awards published in October describes it as 'an entity dreamed up to help make the inquiries seem more legit'.

David Mikkeleson told the Los Angeles Times in 1997: 'When I sent letters out to companies, I found I got a much better response with an official-looking organization's stationery.'

In 2015, their marriage ended in divorce - but a bitter legal dispute continues. Both stayed on as co-owners of Snopes - which is registered under its legal name of Bardav, Inc. and were its sole board members.

Legal filings seen by detail a lengthy financial and corporate dispute which stretches long after their divorce, and which one lawyer describes as 'contentious' in court documents.

In the filings, Barbara, 57, has accused her former husband, 56, of 'raiding the corporate business Bardav bank account for his personal use and attorney fees' without consulting her.

She also claimed he embezzled $98,000 from the company over the course of four years 'which he expended upon himself and the prostitutes he hired'.

When contacted by the, David said he was legally prohibited from discussing his ex-wife’s allegations.

'I'd love to respond, but unfortunately the terms of a binding settlement agreement preclude me from publicly discussing the details of our divorce,' he said. Barbara Mikkelson said: 'No comment.'

In court records, Barbara alleged that her ex-husband removed thousands from their business accounts between April and June of 2016 to pay for trips for him and his 'girlfriend'.

She claimed he spent nearly $10,000 on a 24-day 'personal vacation' in India this year and expensed his girlfriend's plane ticket to Buenos Aires.

'He’s been depleting the corporate account by spending monies from it on his personal expenses,' said Barbara in a filing last June.

She added that he needed to be suspended from using the company checkbook and debit card 'right away before there are no funds left in the corporate account'.

David and his attorneys countered that the India visit was a legitimate business trip, and that he only expensed a fraction - 22.5 per cent - of the total cost of the excursion.

He said he was considering setting up a fact-checking website in India, and wanted to get a sense of the culture. He also said he went to Buenos Aires to attend an international fact-checking conference.

Meanwhile, his attorneys blasted Barbara as 'a "loose cannon" who simply must have her way'.

One major point of contention was David’s 2016 salary – which Barbara was responsible for approving.

David wanted his salary raised from $240,000 to $360,000 – arguing that this would still put him below the 'industry standards' and that he should be paid up to $720,000 a year.

'As I said, based on industry standards and our revenues, my salary should be about 2x to 3x what it is now,' he wrote in an email to Barbara in April 2016. 'I'll settle for $360K with the understanding that it’s to be retroactive to the start of the year.'

Barbara responded that his request was 'not even in the galaxy of reasonable'.

So bitter was the dispute, that they even fell out over the arbiter they had appointed to settle disputes, meaning that Facebook's arbiter cannot even agree on its own arbiter.

The court papers also detail the substantial financial rewards 'fact-checking' brought the former couple - and how they have even fallen out over remuneration.

The divorce settlement stipulated that David Mikkelson receive a salary of $240,000 a year in 2015, while both of the former couple were due to receive $20,000 a month as a draw against profits, as well as a share of any net profit the company made after those payments.

The settlement also noted: 'Each party waives his or her claim upon Bardav's revenues received by Husband into his PayPal account and spent by him, accountant's fees for restating tax returns to reflect previously unreported income...'

The nature of those revenues and fees, and of the unreported income is not disclosed.

The settlement saw savings, IRAS and stockholdings of well over $1.5 million given to Barbara, while she renounced claim on their marital home in Calabasas, California, in return for a payment of $660,000.

David kept their joint baseball card collection, a savings account with $1.59 million balance, and other savings worth more than $300,000. They also agreed to split the company checking account's $240,000 balance at the end of 2015 after his salary had been paid and a $50,000 float left.


Much more on Snopes bias and inaccuracy here

Academic: ISIS 'as Islamic as Anything'

"These things come and go," declared University of Toledo Islamic Studies professor Ovamir Anjum of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), a phenomenon he demonstrated is not an aberration in Islamic history.  His December 1 presentation, "ISIS & the Future of Islam," at Georgetown University's Saudi-funded Prince Alwaleed bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding (ACMCU) indicated that ISIS has far more Islamic legitimacy than many will admit.

Speaking in ACMCU's small conference room to about thirty-five listeners, including Georgetown Islamic Studies professor Emad Shahin, Anjum stated that "Islam is a discursive tradition; there are many different interpretations on any issue."  In Islam, "to say that something is wrong and I disagree with it - that is easy.  To say that something is beyond the pale of any possible legitimate interpretation is very, very, very, very difficult."  Regarding ISIS, "misinterpretations like this in a free-floating enterprise like Islamic law happen all the time."

As Anjum noted, ISIS consistently seeks justification in "Islamic texts, which they seem to know more or less," although members "use the hadith and the Quran in a way that is not resonant with the scholarly tradition and with the scholarly consensus."  Nonetheless, the condemnation of ISIS from many Muslim organizations, including the terrorist group al-Qaeda, "does not demonstrate that ISIS does not represent one plausible interpretation of Wahhabi or Salafi doctrine."

Explaining that ISIS is not unique in Islam's past, Anjum described the historical example of a "charismatic figure on the margins of the Islamic world agonized by the depraved condition of the community."  He "unites tribes under his leadership to wage war against existing regimes and peoples for their loose practices, [and] sternly and violently imposes moral norms."  "Most crucially, [he] calls his Muslim opponents disbelievers and uses that to declare jihad against them."  "Ultimately, his successors succeed in establishing a powerful dynasty over a large and prosperous stretch of territory."

Anjum suggested that this description could bring to mind eighteenth-century Saudi Arabian theological founding father Muhammad Ibn Abd al-Wahhab.  Yet Anjum actually wanted to examine the twelfth-century North African Almohad leader Ibn Tumart.  He also thought his statements had applicability to the Shiite Safavids in Iran.

Anjum's main criticism of ISIS was that it "excludes other Muslims from being part of Islam" similar to the "super-pietists, fanatics, zealots" of the Khawarij sect (modern-day Ibadis) from Islam's founding era in the seventh century.  "You have checked out of the discursive community; you have excommunicated other Muslims; you are killing other Muslims," he stated about ISIS members who violate Islamic norms demanding communal review of behavior.  "It is kind of like the academic process of academic review and other people holding you to account, and you act in accordance with the respect for the academic community."  Yet ISIS "is a group that draws on a very legitimate set of grievances and the rejection of these people as Khawarij comes from the mouths of people that serve up...the tyrants who create the conditions," giving ISIS "their major rebuttal."

Even these qualified theological criticisms of ISIS, which Anjum denounced as an "abomination by any standard," have flaws.  He condemned ISIS's slaughtering of civilians, claiming that in Islam's "legal, juristic tradition, you do not kill noncombatants" and that "in Islamic law, taking a life is the biggest crime" and must be "meticulously justified."  Yet these assessments are otherworldly in light of the brutal history of Islamic subjugation of non-Muslims under the dhimmi pact, which ISIS has newly implemented.  Additionally, a bearded Muslim audience member noted that historically, numerous Muslim scholars have issued religious opinions or fatwas contradicting an Islamic legal consensus or ijma: "giving fatwa against ijma is not something rare."

Anjum did not strengthen his argument with jabs at non-Muslims.  He opposed "ignoring the direct immediate role of Western imperialism, the two Gulf Wars, and the intervening sanctions on Iraq, and so on, on giving rise to ISIS."  He relativized ISIS in relation to other atrocities, such as Pol Pot's murder of millions in Cambodia, stating that the "secular Middle East regimes, many U.S.-backed, have for decades killed and imprisoned a far greater number of people."  The former argument disregards that ISIS arose in Syria, not just in Iraq, while the latter argument disregards that secular dictators have kept groups like ISIS in check, as Saddam Hussein's overthrow indicated.

Anjum's presentation belied his previously articulated thesis that ISIS is no more Islamic than the Ku Klux Klan is Christian.  Glossing over the non-Muslims outside Islam's "discursive community" who are subject to ISIS's genocidal rage, he could only conclude that ISIS jihadists are errant Islamic black sheep, no more misguided than others in Islamic history.  Given his concession to the historical controversy over such judgments, Anjum's paraphrase of Princeton University Near Eastern Studies professor Bernard Haykel is far more realistic: "ISIS is as Islamic as anything else."


The triumph of Chanukah

Jeff Jacoby

BECAUSE CHANUKAH usually occurs in December, it is sometimes thought of as the "Jewish Christmas." It isn't, of course. And yet it is fair to say that the reason for Chanukah's popularity — especially in America, where it is the most widely observed Jewish holiday after Passover and Yom Kippur — is precisely its proximity to Christmas.

Chanukah used to be regarded as a minor half-holiday, cheerful but low-key. It has become something bigger and brighter in response to Christmas, which transforms each December into a brilliant winter festival of parties, decorations, and music. Attracted by the joy of the season, not wanting their children to feel left out of all the merriment and gift-giving, American Jews in the 20th century began to make much more of Chanukah than their grandparents ever had. Today Chanukah is well established as part of the annual "holiday season," complete with parties, decorations, and music of its own. Its enhanced status is a tribute both to the assimilating tug of America's majority culture and to the remarkable openness of that culture to Jewish customs and belief.

Ironically, Chanukah was established to commemorate the very opposite of cultural assimilation. It dates back nearly 22 centuries, to the successful Jewish revolt against Antiochus IV, one of the line of Syrian-Greek monarchs who ruled the northern branch of Alexander the Great's collapsed empire. Alexander had been respectful of the Jews' monotheistic religion, but Antiochus was determined to impose Hellenism, with its pagan gods and its cult of the body, throughout his domains. When he met resistance in Judea, he made Judaism illegal.

Sabbath observance, circumcision, and the study of Torah were banned on pain of death. A statue of Zeus was installed in the Temple in Jerusalem, and swine were sacrificed before it. Some Jews embraced the new order and willingly abandoned the God and faith of their ancestors. Those who wouldn't were cruelly punished. Ancient writings tell the story of Hannah and her seven sons, who were captured by Antiochus's troops and commanded to bow to an idol. One by one, each boy refused — and was tortured to death before his mother's eyes.

The fight to reclaim Jewish religious autonomy began in 167 BCE. In the town of Modi'in, an elderly priest named Mattathias refused a Syrian order to sacrifice to an idol. When an apostate Jew stepped forward to comply, Mattathias killed the man and tore down the altar. Then he and his five sons took to the hills and launched a guerrilla war against the armies of the empire.

When Mattathias died, his third son, Judah Maccabee, took command. He and his band of fighters were impossibly outnumbered, yet they won one miraculous victory after another. In 164 BCE, they recaptured the desecrated Temple, which they cleansed and purified and rededicated to God. On the 25th day of the Jewish month of Kislev, the menorah — the candelabra symbolizing the divine presence — was rekindled. For eight days, throngs of Jews celebrated the Temple's restoration. "All the people prostrated themselves," records the book of Maccabees, "worshipping and praising Heaven that their cause had prospered."

In truth, though, their cause hadn't prospered — not yet. The fighting went on for years. It was not until 142 BCE — more than two decades later — that the Jews finally regained control of their land. Geopolitically, that was the moment of real triumph.

But Chanukah isn't about political power. It isn't about military victory. It isn't even about freedom of worship, notwithstanding the fact that the revolt of the Maccabees marks the first time in history that a people rose up to fight religious persecution.

What Chanukah commemorates at heart is the Jewish yearning for God, for the concentrated holiness of the Temple and its service. The defeat of the Syrian-Greeks was a wonder, but the spiritual climax of the Maccabees' rebellion occurred when the menorah was rekindled and God's presence among His people could be felt once again.

Chanukah is the only Jewish holiday not found in the Hebrew Bible and the only one rooted in a military campaign. And yet its focus is almost entirely spiritual, not physical. For example, there is no feast associated with Chanukah, the way there is with Passover and Purim, the two other Jewish festivals of deliverance. Its religious observance is concentrated on flame, nothing more. And the menorah's lights may only be gazed at; it is forbidden to use them for any physical purpose — not even to read by.

The lack of a physical side to Chanukah is unusual but appropriate. For the Maccabees' war against the Hellenists was ultimately a war against a worldview that elevated the physical above all, that venerated beauty, not holiness; the body, not the soul. The Jews fought to preserve a different view of the world — one with God, not man, at its center.

Had they failed, Judaism would have died. Because they triumphed, the Jewish religion survived. And from it, two centuries later, Christianity was born.


Standing up to the new school of anti‑Semitism

Hatred for Jews is now expressed in underhand ways

The British government’s announcement that it has agreed to adopt an international definition of anti-Semitism looks like another pointless exercise in ‘sending out a message’. Borrowed from the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance, the definition says anti-Semitism is ‘a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred towards Jews’. If you’re still confused as to what anti-Semitism is, the definition helpfully explains that ‘rhetorical and physical manifestations of anti-Semitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities’.

The stated aim of adopting this definition is to help tackle hatred towards Jewish people. But it’s far from evident how a mere definition could be used to curb hatred of any sort. Worse, this definition of anti-Semitism bears little relation to the context and situations in which such prejudice is expressed today, and to how anti-Semitism has changed.

The newly adopted definition fails to engage with the fact that, in 2016, anti-Jewish sentiment is rarely expressed explicitly. Consider this example. Recently, following one of my public lectures, a member of the audience came up to me to rail against ‘the Goldman Sachs of this world and the people who control all the banks’. In the old days, someone like this would probably have expressed his prejudices about Jewish world domination in unambiguously anti-Semitic language. Today, however, a wink and a nod and a reference to Goldman Sachs come to serve the same purpose. How can a new definition of anti-Semitism deal with the new culture of wink-and-nod prejudice?

The current culture of anti-Semitism bears only a passing resemblance to its old-school predecessor. Yes, this new-school anti-Semitism that has emerged in recent decades draws upon the conspiratorial imagination of old-school anti-Semitism, but otherwise it expresses itself in a very different way. In Western Europe, people, especially those on the left, who have a problem with Jews rarely use the vocabulary of anti-Semitism. Instead they use the language of bad faith. People express bad faith when they feel under pressure to adopt values that go against their own inclinations. So when people say something like ‘I don’t hate the Jews, but these cliquey people are far too powerful’, they are opting to self-censor, to express their prejudices in a somewhat disguised, guarded way.

New-school anti-Semitism often expresses its distrust of ‘those people’ through the language of anti-Zionism. Anti-Zionism is not anti-Semitism; it is perfectly legitimate to criticise Israel and to call into question every aspect of its history and its current political and military approaches. The problem is not attitudes to Zionism as such, but the way that some express their hostility to Jews through a hostility to Zionism. In recent years, hatred of Israel has come, among certain groups, to embody a venom towards Jews. So when British Labour Party councillors post images on Facebook calling on Israelis, or even Jews, to ‘stop drinking Gaza blood’, it is pretty clear that their target is not really Zionism. No, through resurrecting the infamous blood libel of the medieval anti-Semites, they have adopted the old outlook of the pogrom in what appears to be a new, politicised way.

The former Labour mayor of London, Ken Livingstone, shows us how anti-Zionist rhetoric can casually mutate into hatred towards a group of people. He tried to explain the difference between a ‘real anti-Semite’ and a mere critic of Israel in the following way: ‘A real anti-Semite doesn’t just hate the Jews of Israel; they hate their Jewish neighbour in Golders Green or in Stoke Newington.’ This attempt to explain what kind of Jews it is okay to hate, and which ones we might spare from our hostility, actually demonstrated how easily discussions of Israel can tip over into animosity towards Jews.

It is likely that Livingstone and his allies on the British Labour left do not perceive of themselves as anti-Semitic. However, they must be aware of the growing tendency for anti-Israeli views to serve as a vehicle for anti-Jewish views. A few years ago, one of my friends, who is from a Labour family, told me to ‘look out for the word “they”’. She had been caught off-guard when, during a family row about Palestine, her father kept repeating the word ‘they’. She was shocked and surprised. ‘In the recent past, it would have been unthinkable for him to describe Jews as “they”’, she said. How can a government definition of anti-Semitism deal with the word ‘they’?

The International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) tries to deal with the problem of Israel being used as a proxy for Jews by providing guidelines on what constitutes legitimate, as opposed to anti-Semitic, criticism of this nation. Its guidelines say that ‘criticism of Israel similar to that levelled against any other country cannot be regarded as anti-Semitic’. Its examples of anti-Semitic attacks on Israel include the now often stated accusation that Jews around the world are more loyal to Israel than they are to their own nations, or that the existence of Israel is intrinsically racist.

Fortunately, the UK government has not yet adopted the IHRA’s views on what should and should not be said about Israel. It is not the business of government to determine what is a legitimate way to criticise Israel. Not every radical criticism of Israel is inherently anti-Semitic. There is no reason why someone who accuses the state of Israel of being inherently racist is necessarily an anti-Semite. It all depends on the context in which such statements are made. And in an open society, critics of Israel ought to have the right to decide for themselves what points they want to make.

Unfortunately, the official codification of anti-Semitism distracts us from actively engaging with this evil. This definition will not defend Jewish people from hatred and prejudice. Doing that requires an active commitment to challenging the climate in which references to ‘those people’ have become tragically commonplace.



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, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS and  DISSECTING LEFTISM.   My Home Pages are here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here


Monday, December 26, 2016

The rich live longer

Life isn't fair. With a difference of up to 14 years between rich and poor.  And it's not as mysterious as they make out. This is just the old trilogy of IQ, wealth and health.  IQ is the key variable. Smart people are better at getting rich and  going far in education. High IQ also appears to be in most cases just one indication of general biological fitness.  The brain is just another organ of the body, after all.  So the fitter live longer

The correlation with immigration and life expectancy among the poor presumably stems from immigrants having social disadvantages (language skills etc.).  They were poorer than their genetics would explain.  Had they been native-born they would have been richer

The Association Between Income and Life Expectancy in the United States, 2001-2014

Raj Chetty et al.


Importance:  The relationship between income and life expectancy is well established
but remains poorly understood.

Objectives:  To measure the level, time trend, and geographic variability in the association between income and life expectancy and to identify factors related to small area variation.

Design and Setting:  Income data for the US population were obtained from 1.4 billion deidentified tax records between 1999 and 2014. Mortality data were obtained from Social Security Administration death records. These data were used to estimate race- and ethnicity-adjusted life expectancy at 40 years of age by household income percentile, sex, and geographic area, and to evaluate factors associated with differences in life expectancy.

Exposure:  Pretax household earnings as a measure of income.

Main Outcomes and Measures:  Relationship between income and life expectancy; trends in life expectancy by income group; geographic variation in life expectancy levels and trends by income group; and factors associated with differences in life expectancy across areas.

Results:  The sample consisted of 1 408 287 218 person-year observations for individuals aged 40 to 76 years (mean age, 53.0 years; median household earnings among working individuals, $61 175 per year). There were 4 114 380 deaths among men (mortality rate, 596.3 per 100 000) and 2 694 808 deaths among women (mortality rate, 375.1 per 100 000). The analysis yielded 4 results.

First, higher income was associated with greater longevity throughout the income distribution. The gap in life expectancy between the richest 1% and poorest 1% of individuals was 14.6 years (95% CI, 14.4 to 14.8 years) for men and 10.1 years (95% CI, 9.9 to 10.3 years) for women.

Second, inequality in life expectancy increased over time. Between 2001 and 2014, life expectancy increased by 2.34 years for men and 2.91 years for women in the top 5% of the income distribution, but by only 0.32 years for men and 0.04 years for women in the bottom 5% (P < .001 for the differences for both sexes).

Third, life expectancy for low-income individuals varied substantially across local areas. In the bottom income quartile, life expectancy differed by approximately 4.5 years between areas with the highest and lowest longevity. Changes in life expectancy between 2001 and 2014 ranged from gains of more than 4 years to losses of more than 2 years across areas.

Fourth, geographic differences in life expectancy for individuals in the lowest income quartile were significantly correlated with health behaviors such as smoking (r = −0.69, P < .001), but were not significantly correlated with access to medical care, physical environmental factors, income inequality, or labor market conditions.

Life expectancy for low-income individuals was positively correlated with the local area fraction of immigrants (r = 0.72, P < .001), fraction of college graduates (r = 0.42, P < .001), and government expenditures (r = 0.57, P < .001).

Conclusions and Relevance:  In the United States between 2001 and 2014, higher income was associated with greater longevity, and differences in life expectancy across income groups increased over time. However, the association between life expectancy and income varied substantially across areas; differences in longevity across income groups decreased in some areas and increased in others. The differences in life expectancy were correlated with health behaviors and local area characteristics.

JAMA. 2016;315(16):1750-1766. doi:10.1001/jama.2016.4226


Teacher asked young Patrick Murphy: "What do you do at Christmas time?" Patrick addressed the class:

"Well Miss Jones, me and my twelve brothers and sisters go to midnight mass and we sing hymns; then we come home very late and we put mince pies by the back door and hang up our stockings. Then all excited, we go to bed and wait for Father Christmas to come with all our toys."

"Very nice Patrick," she said. "Now Jimmy Brown, what do you do at Christmas?"

"Well, Miss Jones, me and my sister also go to church with Mum and Dad and we sing carols and we get home ever so late. We put cookies and milk by the chimney and we hang up our stockings. We hardly sleep, waiting for Santa Claus to bring our presents."

Realising there was a Jewish boy in the class and not wanting to leave him out of the discussion, she asked, "Now, Isaac Cohen, what do you do at Christmas?"

Isaac said, "Well, it's the same thing every year. Dad comes home from the office, we all pile into the Rolls Royce, then we drive to Dad's toy factory. When we get inside, we look at all the empty shelves . . . and begin to sing: 'What A Friend We Have in Jesus'. Then we all go to the Bahamas."

Soft boycott: How the news of a revolutionary new cancer treatment was spun to hide its Israeli origins

The past 24 hours have seen wall-to-wall coverage of an amazing breakthrough on prostate cancer. Newspapers, TV, radio and social media have all carried reports of the research.

According to the BBC report:

“Surgeons have described a new treatment for early stage prostate cancer as ‘truly transformative’. The approach, tested across Europe, uses lasers and a drug made from deep sea bacteria to eliminate tumours, but without causing severe side effects. Trials on 413 men - published in The Lancet Oncology - showed nearly half of them had no remaining trace of cancer.”

And when I heard the report on the BBC Radio 4 Today programme, I thought it does indeed sound amazing.

But let’s leave the science aside and look at another aspect of the story.

Guess where the breakthrough happened.

I say that not as a figure of speech but as an instruction – because from almost all the coverage, you would indeed have to guess where the research was carried out: the Weizmann Institute of Science, in Israel.

Not once in the Today programme report was it mentioned.

And in this BBC report there is a throwaway line right at the end detailing the originators of the science.

I wish I could believe this is just an honest mistake – that, purely by chance, the Israeli origins of a medical breakthrough had been left out. But I’m afraid I don’t think that – and I don’t think you will, either. It happens too often and too regularly for it to be pure chance. It’s what I call the soft-boycott strategy.

The campaign for BDS is so obviously racist and antisemitic, singling out the Jewish homeland alone in the world for boycott, that some of those who would rather Israel doesn’t exist choose an alternative approach – ignoring anything remotely positive about Israel and focusing only on bad news that fits their anti-Israel agenda.

And it is an unfortunate fact that many of those Israel haters work in the media and have the ability to shape perceptions.

So the huge and entirely disproportionate number of Israeli scientific breakthroughs are reported as if they have simply happened by magic, with their Israeli origins ignored.

The Weizmann Institute itself is in little doubt about this. As they told the JC: "We were naturally disappointed that the media coverage of game-changing treatment for prostate cancer managed to avoid any reference to Israeli scientists' fundamental role in this breakthrough treatment.

The discovery  of this drug called TOOKAD – meaning light in Hebrew - was the result of over fifteen years of painstaking research by Avigdor Scherz and Yoram Salomon at Israel’s Weizmann Insitute of Science. It was disappointing, but not entirely surprising, that the news providers should consider that fact unworthy of a mention."

Not entirely surprising - a classic piece of British understatement from an Israeli. It means, of course, entirely predictable. Which is why this latest egregious example was far from the first, and will certainly not be the last.


Immigration Control or Cultural Suicide

Trump has an opportunity to rectify Obama's disastrous record.

Now that the Left’s quasi-hysterical effort to derail the election results has failed, President-elect Donald Trump will begin getting down to the business of governance. And based on his campaign promises, one of the first items on his to-do list should be immigration, both legal and illegal. On the legal front, a lawsuit filed against Walt Disney Parks and Resorts last week should bring the abuses of the H-1B visa program front and center. On the illegal front, building a wall resonates, but there are far more effective efforts that can be conducted before that wall becomes physical reality.

First up, 30 of the approximately 250 IT workers fired by Disney almost two years ago and replaced with H-1B visa-holders — who they were forced to train as a condition of their severance packages — are taking an unusual tack in their quest for damages. Because the visa-holders are all from India, the fired IT workers are alleging they are victims of racial discrimination. “Between October 2014 and January 31, 2015, Plaintiffs applied for employment in several available positions posted by Defendant,” the filing states. “Plaintiffs were well-qualified for these positions, but were denied further employment with Defendant. On or about January 31, 2015, Defendant terminated the employment of Plaintiffs based solely on their national origin and race, replacing them with Indian nationals.”

Clever, but not likely to succeed. Disney, like many other American companies, almost certainly isn’t using race as a criterion for hiring foreigners to replace Americans. One sentence in UK newspaper The Register says it all: “Companies love H-1B workers because they are cheaper than hiring American staff, and they complain less and generally work longer hours because if their employer sacks them, they have only 14 days to leave the country.”

But not exactly. On the last day of 2015, Barack Obama issued an executive action offering extensions to high-skilled H-1B workers that would give them more time to be approved for a permanent employment-based green card. This would allow these workers to stay in America even if their employment was terminated.

This is a transparent effort to bypass the visa caps established by the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) of 1952. The INA states that no nation may receive more than 7% of the total number of green cards available in a given year. This would bust the system completely and give far greater numbers of foreign college graduates a chance to compete with their American counterparts. “What is going on is he is effectively giving Green Cards to people on H-1B visas who are unable to get Green Cards due to the quotas,” explained immigration lawyer John Miano at the time. “It could be over 100,000.”

With the election of Trump, times have changed. During his campaign he made it clear where he stands on the issue, contending the H-1B program “is neither high-skilled nor immigration: these are temporary foreign workers, imported from abroad, for the explicit purpose of substituting for American workers at lower pay. … I will end forever the use of the H-1B as a cheap labor program, and institute an absolute requirement to hire American workers first for every visa and immigration program. No exceptions.”

Since his election, he has set up an advisory group of prominent CEOs called President’s Strategic and Policy Forum. It’s mission is “drawing on private sector expertise and cutting the government red tape that is holding back our businesses from hiring, innovating, and expanding right here in America,” Trump stated Dec. 2. It will hold its first meeting at the White House in February.

Ironically — or is that tellingly — one of those CEOs is Disney’s Bob Iger. Stay tuned.

On the illegal immigration front, Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) director Mark Krikorian rightly insists that America’s border problem “isn’t so much physical as political.” And there is nothing more political than Obama’s de facto catch-and-release program. “We’re releasing basically everybody as long as you’re not from the country of Mexico,” National Border Patrol Council president Brand Judd told a Senate Judiciary Subcommittee last May. “And even if you’re from the country of Mexico and you claim that you have a credible fear and you’re asking for asylum for one reason or another — we’re still releasing those individuals.”

Judd estimated a whopping 80% of apprehended illegals have been released into America and stanching this flow, Krikorian asserts, “is probably more important than the wall, and quicker to implement.”

The urgency of this cannot be underestimated. During the month of November alone, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CPB) apprehended a staggering 47,214 illegal aliens — as in nearly 1,574 per day — at the U.S.-Mexico border. That total marked the fifth straight month of escalation.

Next up and equally as important (if not more so), is cracking down of those who overstay their visas. Such overstays account for as much as half of the illegal population. As Kirkorian explains, this problem needs to be addressed at both ends of the equation. The State Department has to be far more circumspect in terms of issuing visas to people likely to remain here illegally, while the Department of Homeland Security has to make sure those who are supposed to leave do so at the appropriate time.

Once again, it’s all about political will. A Trump State Department and DHS are far more likely to enforce the same immigration laws an Obama administration was either willing to ignore or undermine. Thus, a wall mandated by the Secure Fence Act of 2006 can be completed and expanded. An exit visa system mandated in 1996 and re-mandated seven times can be instituted. A crackdown on businesses who hire illegals mandated by the 1986 immigration law and gutted by unilateral Obama edicts can be enforced with vigor. Sanctuary cities ignored by the Obama Justice Department can be forcefully challenged.

And a State Department that has routinely refused to pressure countries to take back both legal and illegal criminal alien deportees can apply new pressures.

All of the above upends an odious status quo embraced by both political parties. One aspect of it is galling: Americans are expected to compete economically with non-citizens and those here illegally, even if that competition drives down wages and makes jobs harder to find.

The other aspect of it borders on insanity, and the latest carnage in Germany exemplifies it: as in the EU, Americans are expected to endure a “reasonable” level of general lawlessness, serious crime — and, yes even domestic terror — so the ruling class can maintain their commitment to “diversity” and “multiculturalism.”

A Trump administration must thoroughly reject all of it.

Self-inflicted cultural suicide — or Rule of Law, defensible borders and economic stability. Making America Great Again demands a full embrace of the latter choice. Trump won the presidency in large part based on promises to be proactive on the immigration front. Millions of Americans expect nothing less — the sooner, the better.



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, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS and  DISSECTING LEFTISM.   My Home Pages are here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here



Sunday, December 25, 2016

An alternative Christmas.  Don't you love it?

    The "Christkindlesmarkt" in Nürnberg is the oldest and most famous Christmas markets in Germany and taken place annually since as early as the 16th century. The anchor of the German State TV channel Südwestrundfunk (SWR), however, considers traditional Christmas to be sad, melancholic and weepy.

In the program, that aired on December 6th last year, he said that he would rather have it happy - or, multicultural - and gives the stage to "cabaret artist" Alexandra Gauger, who proceeds to mock lyrics of Children's carols by singing them in an oriental tone.

    The (most likely staged) audience happily claps out of rhythm and provides applause after this arguably cringeworthy freakshow of a television program.

    Close to the end the camera captures a disheartened German man standing behind the beaming smile of a woman - looking at the floor and shaking his head in disbelief. The cameraman quickly realizes the error and switches scenes.

    German State Television is funded by a mandatory broadcasting tax, that every household is forced to pay, regardless of whether they even own a television or radio. Last year, this compulsory charge, averaging at €215 per household, netted the government 8 billion Euros. Their official goal is to 'broadcast the truth and provide citizens with investigative journalism'. If you don't pay, you can end up in jail. This is what they're really using this funding for.


Celebrating Christmas offends the politically correct, not minorities – I should know, I'm Jewish


Last year Colin, my local butcher, sold over 160 turkeys in the three weeks leading up to Christmas.

This year, business has been especially brisk . In fact on current, back-of-an-envelope projections, it looks like he'll be shifting even more birds by the time the big day swings around again. So much so that he is absolutely stiffing the competition.

All of which is great for Colin. Though not so great if you're a turkey.

But while "butcher sells loads of turkeys in time for Christmas" might not exactly make for show-stopping, headline news, there's something else to bear in mind too.

You see Colin only sells kosher meat. And his customers, to paraphrase an enthusiastic X Factor judge, are 1000 per cent Jewish.

Yet, as witnessed by the birds flying – not literally – out of my local kosher butcher's shop, what's clear is that many Jewish people are embracing Christmas.


Christmas BANNED from being mentioned on official menu over fears it would offend Muslims

CHRISTMAS treats have been taken off a menu and replaced with 'winter delicacies' over fears the phrase would offend Muslims.

A function held at the Austrian embassy in Germany still served traditional festive fare such as Lebkuchen but rebranded them as 'winter delicacies'.

The event was a presentation by the Chairman of the Central Council of Muslims in Germany, Aiman Mazyek, who has written the book What Do Muslims Do at Christmas?: Islamic Faith in Everyday Life in Germany.

The invitation to guests, from ambassador Nikolaus Marschik, was described as a “cosy get-together with winter delicacies.”

A reporter attending the event wanted to know exactly what the Austrians suddenly considered "winter delicacies" and asked the embassy for a clarification.

The ambassador then admitted that the traditional Christmas foods had been rebranded out of respect for Islam.

The Austrian embassy said the description was meant to include Lebkuchen, the local name for gingerbread usually served at Christmas, as well as Kipferln, a type of croissant, and beer and wine, and that the term had been chosen out of consideration for Islam.

Journalist Gunnar Schupelius said: "It is advent season, we are on the territory of the Austrian Republic, they invite Christians and Muslims for a talk about Christmas and offer Christmas delicacies that cannot be called Christmas delicacies."

Ambassador Marschik admitted it was "a foolish mistake."  He said: "I have talked to the people in question and made sure that it will not happen again. Of course we adhere to our Christmas traditions. This is why our events include Christmas biscuits and other delicacies."


Number of Brits set to attend Church this Christmas hits RECORD LOW after rocky 2016

THREE quarters of the British public have no plans to go to church over the festive period with just five per cent planning to attend a service on Christmas Day, a YouGov poll has revealed.

The turbulent events of the past year may also have been a factor in the plunging numbers of people who believe in a god, with just 28 per cent claiming to have religious beliefs today compared with 32 per cent in February.

The four per cent difference is a big fall in comparison with previous years, which have generally seen a downward annual trend of around one per cent.

Meanwhile those who claim they actively do not believe in a god or a higher spiritual power has increased from 33 to 38 per cent.

The survey also showed 20 per cent of Britons do not believe in a god but think there is a higher spiritual power, while 14 per cent are unsure.

The results of the YouGov poll have raised questions over whether the events of the past year - including Brexit, global terror attacks and the ongoing refugee crisis - are behind the drop in the British people’s faith in a god.

The nation’s religiousness has in decline for decades, and this recent survey shows 63 per cent of UK residents claim they never go to church.

The 2011 census showed 15 per cent of people claimed to have no religion, yet increasing scepticism over religion saw that percentage increase by 10 points by 2015.

A spokesperson for the Church of England said: “The increase in those identifying as ‘no faith’ reflects a growing plurality in society rather than any increase in secularism or humanism.

"We do not have an increasingly secular society as much as a more agnostic one."

Interestingly, the poll of 1,595 adults which was conducted on Monday and Tuesday this week, showed people who voted Leave in the EU referendum in June are more likely to believe in a god than their Remainer counterparts.

Around 45 per cent of Remainers do not believe in any god, compared with 35 per cent of Brexiteers.

The difference between male and female believers is also remarkable - half of men claim there is not higher power, against 28 per cent of women.

Over the past decade the number of people regularly attending church has dropped by 14 per cent, leading the Church of England to start a ‘renewal and reform’ programme to boost numbers.



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, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS and  DISSECTING LEFTISM.   My Home Pages are here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here