Wednesday, July 26, 2017

German free market forces warn against EU militancy on Brexit

At last someone in Europe realizes that the EU bureaucrats are skating on thin ice in their hardball negotiations with Britain. In the event of Britain leaving with no agreement in place, the EU would have a lot to lose. With no agreement, the EU would be obliged to put tariffs on incoming British goods.  Britain would then retaliate and it would be a trade war. And Britain always wins its wars with Europe.  Britain could even put a complete embargo on imports from the continent. And Britain buys far more from Europe than it sells so Europe would be the biggest loser.

German car manufacturers and French farmers in particular would be badly hit.  French agriculture is in a perennial state of crisis so losing the British market would have French farmers marching on Paris -- with predictable results.  Paris always caves in to their farmers.

And in Germany, VW has recently taken some huge knocks due to their own arrogance.  Losing the British market could push them over.  Germany exports 800,000 cars to Britain annually so the whole German motor industry would be in trouble.

Britain, by contrast is itself a big motor vehicle manufacturer -- courtesy of Honda, Toyota and Nissan -- so Brits would have no shortage of excellent cars to buy.  And farm products are in permanent glut worldwide so the range of fresh foods in British supermarkets would be undiminished.

So the EU honchos are very foolish with their present aggressive stance.  Frau Dr. Merkel and M. Macron might soon have to rein them in.  A simple declaration from both of them saying that they would not put trade restrictions on Britain and it would be game over -- with a huge but well-deserved loss of face for the EU bureaucrats.

Germany’s Free Democrats have demanded a special “Brexit cabinet” in Berlin to safeguard the vital interests of the country, citing growing alarm among industrial and manufacturing companies over the disastrous implications of a failed deal with the UK.

The fast-rising party says it will push for an amicable compromise in Brexit talks if it joins the ruling coalition this autumn - as now looks increasingly likely - warning that it would be a fatal error for Europe to humiliate Britain.

“We are hearing an uttering of concerns from German companies and trade unions about what could happen if there is a crash-Brexit and no deal in place. Criticism is growing,” said Michael Theurer, MEP, the party’s economics chief.


Why we should oppose the ASA’s gender jihad

The moral crusade against ‘gender stereotypes’ is profoundly illiberal

The most shocking thing about the Advertising Standards Authority’s announcement that it will censor ‘gender-stereotypical’ images in ads is that there has been so little shock in response to it. Censorship once stirred up passion and opposition. People bristled at being told what they could see or hear. Not this time. The ASA, which regulates the content of ads in UK newspapers, on TV and radio and online, bullishly declared yesterday that it will take a ‘tougher line’ on ‘ads that feature stereotypical gender roles’ and ensure they are expunged from public life. And there was barely a flicker of fuss. It is terrifying how normalised censorship has become.

What the ASA is proposing should alarm everyone who believes in the free exchange of ideas and information. It is effectively instituting a vast, sinister programme of social engineering via the control of the images we see. In a report published yesterday, it boasted about its longstanding clampdown on ads that contain sexualised imagery — Mary Whitehouse lives! — and said it will now go further down the road of policing gender imagery.

It will wage a gender jihad against any ad that shows ‘stereotypical gender roles’ that might ‘cause harm’ and ‘reinforce assumptions that adversely limit how people see themselves and how others see them’. For example, if an ad shows a woman having ‘sole responsibility’ for cleaning up a family’s mess or a man ‘trying and failing to undertake simple parental or household tasks’, it will be declared verboten and wiped out. In order to shape society’s ‘assumptions’ — that is, how the masses think about gender —  the ASA has taken it upon itself to exterminate certain images. It will seek to reshape the throng’s mind through dictating what pictures and ideas we can see in ads. As I say, social engineering.

The ASA’s embrace of gender censorship has already led it to make some deeply paternalistic decisions. In March this year it banned an advert for Black Cow, a brand of vodka, because it showed a couple walking through a field, ‘flirtatiously’, and then there was a cut-away to a depression in the grass. And in the ASA’s hysterically prudish words, viewers were ‘likely to understand from the combination of the couple’s body language [and] the depression in the grass… that they had just had sex’. Fetch my smelling salts! When you’re extinguishing an image of a depression in a field of grass then you’ve truly entered the realm of the puritan. You’re seeking to save the nation from any hint — and it really was just a hint — that there is fun in drink and sex.

Last year the ASA banned an ad for the British clothing brand Jack Wills, which featured young adults (18 to 24) partying in their pants. The ASA admitted the underwear in the ad ‘did not accentuate part of the models’ bodies in a sexualised manner’ — imagine having the nun-like job of examining the tumescence of the bulges in ads for pants! — but it said the ad could influence younger teens to think that partying like this is ‘a lifestyle to which they might aspire’. The horror of a 14-year-old thinking he might one day have scantily-clad larks with attractive members of the opposite (or same) sex. This year the ASA banned an ad for Femfresh’s bikini-line shaving products on the basis that it ‘objectified women’. The ad-makers pointed out that the dancing in the ad was choreographed by a woman and the ad was aimed at women. But its plea for clemency from censorship fell on deaf ears: the sex-phobic Stalinists at the ASA forbade the ad.

Somehow, without people even noticing, Britain has developed a severe, Victorian-era system of censorship that controls images of sex, fun and partying in a significant area of public life: advertising. That these bans are justified in the name of clamping down on the ‘objectification’ of women only shows how much modern media feminism has in common with the stiff old Christian censorship of the past. Both fear the ‘harm’ that might be caused to society if people clap eyes on a picture of a woman wearing not very much or a man being flirtatious after a swig of Black Cow vodka.

But, if anything, the ASA’s correction of heretical ad-makers is even worse than the blue-rinse, Bible-influenced censorship that held during much of the 20th century. It’s more thorough, more insidious. Its latest campaign represents an attempt to control not simply sexual images but the entire way in which gender is depicted and discussed. Its war on ‘portrayals which reinforce outdated and stereotypical views on gender roles’ means that virtually anything could be blacklisted. A Persil ad showing a woman picking up the families’ socks; a DIY ad showing the dad doing all the hammering and sawing; an ad showing boys playing football while a girl stares lovingly at one of them from the sidelines… all of these could be judged ‘gender-stereotypical’ and extinguished. This is a profoundly illiberal attempt to dictate how the culture and consumer sector may communicate with the masses, and how the masses should think about gender.

And it’s all done in the name of massaging the masses’ apparently flimsy self-esteem. It’s about making sure we have the right attitudes and the right amount of self-belief. The ASA report says gender stereotypes in ads can ‘contribute to harm for adults and children’. They can ‘limit how people see themselves… and limit the life decisions they take’. This is disturbingly patronising. The notion that a young woman who sees a washing-liquid ad featuring a stressed-out mum will feel morally crushed is more insulting than any ad could ever be. It cuts to the heart of the rot that is censorship. Whether it’s justified as a means of protecting men’s souls from Satan, the public from ‘degenerate’ art or impressionable young men and women from gender stereotypes in ads, censorship is always, but always, fuelled by a sinister indifference to the value of open debate and an authoritarian view of ordinary people as pathetic creatures in need of saving.


Avoiding white bread is just snobbery

I always buy the basic 85c white loaf from my local supermarket

Did you think white bread was toast? If you consider yourself a healthy eater and have been consuming bread at all, it probably has been anything but the soft, white supermarket variety and instead something as far removed from the polythene-packed and bleached sliced loaf as you can find. Our daily bread has become more aspirational in recent years — market analyst Kantar Worldpanel reported that sales of all ready-wrapped loaves were down by 50 million units in the 12 months to May last year.

Even those who refuse to spend $10 or more at an artisan bakery for a slow-proved sourdough loaf fermented with a live starter of wild yeasts have been eschewing the once mighty white. Surveys show white bread sales in Britain have fallen 75 per cent since 1974 while brown and wholemeal have risen by 85 per cent, understandable given how often we have been warned that white bread is the enemy of our waistlines and causes bloating.

Yet in a study published recently in the journal Cell Metabolism, researchers from the Weiz­mann Institute of Science in Israel suggest that white bread may not be as bad for us as we think. For their trial, the researchers examined how quickly blood sugar levels rose when for a week habitual bread eaters ate whole-wheat sourdough, beloved of foodies for purportedly being less of a digestive burden because of the natural culture of beneficial bacteria it contains, or plain white bread.

What the scientists expected to see were uniformly undesirable spikes in blood sugar levels after the more refined and highly processed white bread was eaten. Bizarrely, they witnessed nothing of the sort. While blood sugar levels shot up in some people who ate the white bread, in others it spiked more drastically when they had eaten sourdough. About half of the people had a better blood sugar response to the processed white bread while the other half reacted more favourably to the sourdough.

What’s more, the team found “no significant differences between the two breads” when they examined the effect on gut health and the number of good bacteria in the participant’s microbiome.

Eran Segal, a computational biologist who led the investigation, says: “The initial finding, and this was very much contrary to our expectation, was that there were no clinically significant differences between the effects of these two types of bread on the parameters that we measured. We looked at a number of markers and there was no measurable difference that this type of dietary intervention had.”

Far from being an outright enemy to health, white bread was apparently a better all-round choice for some people.

Slowly, it seems, white bread is rising against the tide and some high-profile advocates are adding to its popularity. In his recent book, The Plant Paradox, renowned American heart surgeon and cardiologist Steven Gundry recommends white bread over seemingly healthier varieties because it contains fewer lectins, so-called anti-nutrients that he says can cause headaches, gastrointestinal symptoms and weight gain.

“If you must eat bread, make it white bread over wholegrain, seedy or wheat germ varieties, which are lectin-loaded,” Gundry has said.

It’s even beloved of the truly body beautiful. Joe Wicks, the hard-bodied trainer whose catchphrase is “lean in 15”, says white bread can be “a great post-workout option as it’s rapidly absorbed into the bloodstream to refuel the body”. Athletes swear by it as an easily digestible energy boost before and after training.

Will Usher, the triathlon coach who got Gordon Ramsay into shape for the 2013 Hawaii Ironman Triathlon, says white bread is fine for people who exercise a lot. “Refined carbs are really useful when consumed to best effect for fuel such as before hard exercise,” he says.

It’s all a far cry from the mes­sages put forward during the past decade by the anti-white-bread movement, sparked not just by fashionable diets such as the Atkins or glossy, gluten-fearing bloggers but also by studies that suggested it was ingrained in the dietary downfall that has resulted in such high levels of obesity. Three years ago researchers in Spain found that young subjects who ate three slices of white bread a day were 40 per cent likelier to be obese or overweight five years later when compared with people who ate it once a week. They found no such link with weight gain in people who ate wholemeal bread.

And in January this year two studies published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition suggested that substituting refined grains with whole grains in the diet — which included switching from white to wholemeal bread — could increase calorie burning by speeding up metabolism.

Little wonder we dumped white bread in our droves, despite the British Dietetic Association maintaining that sliced white bread was often fortified with vitamins and minerals and was a particularly good source of calcium: four slices provide one-third of your daily needs. And while bread remains the largest contributor to salt in the British diet, it is not only white bread that is responsible. According to campaigning group Consensus Action on Salt & Health, manufacturers of sliced white bread have reduced salt levels by 17 per cent in recent years, yet some artisan varieties provide as much salt per slice as you would find in a packet of ready-salted chips.

“It’s not white bread in itself that should be demonised,” says Dimple Thakrar, a BDA spokeswoman. “Too high a consumption of any refined and overly processed carbohydrates is not a good thing, but white bread has its virtues and is a perfectly acceptable addition to your meals in moderation. I often eat it myself because it tastes good.”

Scientists are beginning to agree. Although the latest study from Israel was small (it involved 20 people), it is not the first to suggest that white bread has redeeming features.

In 2014 Spanish scientists reporting in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry found that white bread was better at boosting levels of beneficial gut bacteria than citrus fruits including oranges. According to University of Oviedo biologist Sonia Gonzalez, who led that pilot trial, the presence of resistant starch in white bread was one of the factors that increased levels of the good bacteria lactobacillus in the gut. And in 2010, research at Lund University in Sweden revealed that bread baked with white rye flour, made from the inner, white part of the rye kernel, produced better insulin and blood sugar levels compared with whole-wheat bread containing rye bran.

Such is the food snobbery surrounding white bread that it remains a guilty secret for many. Yet, hands up, I keep a loaf of it in my freezer for moments when a freshly baked, multigrain loaf just won’t satisfy my carb cravings. And, of course, children love it. Could we really be facing the unthinkable, that on our shopping lists white bread will be replacing loaves made with spelt, sprouted grains and German rye?

Megan Rossi, a research associate in gastrointestinal health at King’s College London who runs a gut health clinic on Harley Street, says white bread has had a bad rap for too long. “It’s not bad for you,” she says. “Broadly speaking, white flour used to make any white bread is less nutritious as it provides 25 per cent less protein and is lower in 15 other key nutrients than wholegrain flour, but that doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy white bread in our diet when we fancy.”


Flood of migration continues all over Western Europe despite rising dangers

The European migration experiment is failing miserably. Self-declared "refugees" and migrants from Africa and the Middle East are importing their violence, chaos and regressive norms of behavior into formerly harmonious countries all over Western Europe. As Seth J. Frantzman wrote in the Jerusalem Post last December, "They hate the very society they have often chosen to migrate to. Their new society tolerated their intolerance and taught them that this new country provided such unfettered freedom that it should be destroyed."

For example, while many French people were busy celebrating Bastille Day – a year after the tragic Islamist massacre in Nice - riots and violence reportedly broke out on the nights of July 13 and 14 in suburbs of Paris heavily populated by migrants. A policeman was badly wounded and 897 cars were burned. Hundreds of individuals were placed in custody.

There was also a riot in the streets of Paris a few days ago by a mob of angry Congolese. They were infuriated by a scheduled concert at Paris's Olympia music hall by a Congolese artist thought to be too close to the government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo they detest. The concert was cancelled as a result of the clashes and threats of more violence. The Congolese living in Paris brought their tribal hatreds to the land that gave them the opportunity to leave such hatreds behind. They abused the freedoms they were afforded, turning on those freedoms by violently preventing an artistic performance from taking place.

These are far from isolated incidents of migrant violence in Western Europe this year. Indeed, all is not well for the Western traditions of pluralism and individual liberties in the multicultural sewer Europe is fast becoming. The number of vehicular killings, stabbings, shootings, sexual assaults, riots and car burnings has risen exponentially in France, the United Kingdom, Germany, Belgium, Sweden, Denmark and Norway, as the tide of migration has intensified. No-go zones have multiplied. Free speech is becoming a casualty of hecklers' veto and misplaced multicultural sensitivities. Yet Europe continues to admit even more migrants without any adequate vetting.

"When people lose hope, they risk crossing the Sahara and the Mediterranean because it is worse to stay at home, where they run enormous risks," Antonio Tajani, president of the European Parliament, said. "If we don't confront this soon, we will find ourselves with millions of people on our doorstep within five years. Today we are trying to solve a problem of a few thousand people, but we need to have a strategy for millions of people."

A majority of Europeans agree that the waves of immigration into their countries have been getting out of hand. However, for the elitist leaders in Europe, spearheaded by German Chancellor Angela Merkel, an open borders policy remains the Holy Grail. Opposing continued mass migration into Europe is tantamount to hate speech, they believe. Thus, Chancellor Merkel was overheard last fall on a hot mic asking Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg what more he planned to do to stop anti-immigrant posts. Facebook is cooperating with actions to remove comments that it claims "promote xenophobia."

In the Netherlands, the police paid visits to people using social media to express their anti-mass migration views. One Dutch man described his encounter with the police. "They asked me to be careful about my Twitter behavior, because if there are riots, then I'm responsible," the Dutch man said. He had tweeted: "The college of Sliedrecht has a proposal to receive 250 refugees in the coming 2 years. What a bad plan! #letusresist." The police told him to watch his tone because his tweets "may seem seditious."

Free speech is the enemy of both elitist governments, which believe they know what is best for their benighted "subjects," and of extremists, who believe only they possess the truth and that the expression of contrary opinions is heresy. Elitist governments use their instruments of power to suppress free speech. The extremists use violence and play the race card against those they consider to be the so-called "oppressors" and their enablers.

Leftists who reject the pluralistic norms of capitalist, democratic Western societies encourage mass migration of unassimilated individuals from conflicting cultures to destabilize and then radically transform such democratic societies. Thus, we see twitter posts such as "We must #EndWhiteness with mass immigration." And rather than express empathy with victims of immigrant violence, leftists have sided with the migrants in opposition to concerns of local citizens about public safety. This happened, for example, in Sweden a couple of years ago after an Algerian and a Syrian living in the same migrant center were jailed for each raping the same Swedish woman on the same night. 

When they are not rioting themselves, such as in Hamburg earlier this month, left wing activists have also stoked immigrant violence for their own ends. The red-green axis of leftists and Islamists is alive and well.



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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