Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Trump cracking down on transgender nonsense

Reality restored.  Some compassions for sexually disturbed people is reasonable but Leftists have pushed the isssue to extremes, making it a source of oppression to anybody who calls it like it is.  Leftist tyranny was bound to cause a pushback and that may now be arriving -- probably depriving trannies of even reasonable accomodations.  As ever, Leftist intervention will have been destructive

President Donald Trump's administration is attempting to strip transgender people of official recognition by creating a narrow definition of gender as being only male or female and unchangeable once it is determined at birth, The New York Times reported on Sunday.

The Department of Health and Human Services has undertaken an effort across several government departments to establish a legal definition of sex under Title IX, the federal civil rights law that bans discrimination on the basis of sex, the Times said, citing a government memo that it obtained.

Such an interpretation would reverse the expansion of transgender rights that took place under the previous administration of President Barack Obama.

It would also set back aspirations for tolerance and equality among the estimated 0.7 percent of the population that identifies as transgender. Most transgender people live with a profound sense that the gender assigned to them at birth was wrong and transition to the opposite sex, while others live a non-binary or gender fluid life.

A spokeswoman for the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) declined to comment on what she called 'allegedly leaked documents' but cited a ruling by a conservative U.S. district judge as a guide to transgender policy.

Ruling on a challenge to one aspect of the Affordable Care Act, U.S. District Judge Reed O'Connor in Texas found in 2016 that there was no protection against discrimination on the basis of gender identity.

A leading transgender advocate called the government's reported action a 'super aggressive, dismissive, dangerous move.' 'They are saying we don't exist,' said Mara Keisling, director of the National Center for Transgender Rights, in an interview.

The Obama administration enacted regulations and followed court rulings that protected transgender people from discrimination, upsetting religious conservatives.

The Trump administration has sought to ban transgender people from military service and rescinded guidance to public schools recommending that transgender students be allowed to use the bathroom of their choice.

A draft of the Trump administration memo says gender should be determined 'on a biological basis that is clear, grounded in science, objective and administrable,' the memo says, according to the Times.

Psychiatrists no longer consider being transgender a disorder and several U.S. courts have found the Obama interpretation of protecting transgender people against discrimination as sound. But the Trump administration has chosen to abide by the ruling of O'Connor, the Times said.

'The court order remains in full force and effect today and HHS is abiding by it as we continue to review the issue,' Roger Severino, the director of the Office for Civil Rights at the Department of Health and Human Services, said in a statement.


'Fantasist' known only as 'Nick' whose claims of VIP child sex abuse sparked Scotland Yard's disastrous £2.5million inquiry appears in court charged with 12 counts of perverting course of justice

At last they are prosecuting the grub.  It's a big blot on them that they took him seriously

A man who claimed he was the victim of a Westminster paedophile ring - sparking a £2.5million inquiry - has appeared in court charged with perverting the course of justice.

The 50-year-old 'fantasist' said he was raped and abused in the 1970s and 1980s by powerful men including former Prime Minister Sir Edward Heath.

He also claimed to have witnessed the murders of three young boys during sex games.

Operation Midland was launched by Scotland Yard in 2014 to investigate his claims, but was closed in 2016 when no evidence was found to support them.

Nick is charged with 12 counts of perverting the course of justice and one count of fraud.

He claims the alleged abuse took place when he was aged between seven and 16.

The fraud charge relates to him being awarded £22,000 compensation from the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority.

Prosecutor Elizabeth Reid told the court he had made allegations of 'sexual and physical abuse by a number of people of public prominence'. 'He also said he witnessed the murders of three young children,' she said

Northumbria Police passed a file to the Crown Prosecution Service in September last year, which led to the charges being brought against Nick.


Have we got King Henry VIII all wrong? Famous womaniser was a 'vulnerable, insecure and loyal' king, says expert

He has been known for centuries as one of England's most fearsome monarchs, a single-minded autocrat, who had no qualms about divorcing two of his wives and beheading another two.

But Henry VIII also had a side that was 'vulnerable, insecure and loyal', according to a new book about the infamous Tudor monarch. 

Using documents from those who served the king, including his servants, barbers, physicians and jesters, leading historian Tracy Borman has uncovered a wealth of evidence suggesting that Henry VIII was far from the boorish tyrant history has made him out to be.

Speaking to Dalya Alberge for The Observer, Borman, who is joint chief curator for Historic Royal Palaces, said: 'A study of Henry through the eyes of the men, rather than the wives, has never been done before and offers a genuinely new perspective.'

For example, among the household accounts and letters found in the National Archives, British Library and private collections, Borman discovered that Henry looked kindly on his jester, Will Somer, who likely had learning difficulties and gifted him with clothing.

Borman, whose research features in her new book, Henry VIII and the Men Who Made Him, explained: 'Household accounts show he was appointed a 'keeper' to look after him, and Henry lavished unstinting care and attention upon him for the rest of his life.'

Henry, who had six wives, was also found to have bequeathed a generous legacy to Thomas Cawarden, his master of revels, while other letters from courtiers disclose that the king grew close to his physician, William Butts.

This friendship was much to the courtiers' chagrin, as Butts was known to hold radical views on religion and may well have influenced Henry's views on splitting from the Catholic church.

Borman concludes that while Henry was still in many ways deserving of being called autocratic and fearsome, he 'just doesn't deserve the caricature we've come to know and despise'.


The genes of human behaviour

A crucial new book by a pioneer of behaviour genetics

Viscount Ridley: My Review in The Times of Robert Plomin's new book

For a long time there was an uncomfortable paradox in the world of behaviour genetics. The evidence for genes heavily influencing personality, intelligence and almost everything about human behaviour got stronger and stronger as more and more studies of twins and adoption came through. However, the evidence implicating any particular gene in any of these traits stubbornly refused to emerge, and when it did, it failed to replicate.

Ten years ago I recall talking to Robert Plomin about this crisis in the science of which he was and is the doyen. He was as baffled as anybody. The more genes seemed to matter, the more they refused to be identified. Were we missing something about heredity? He came close to giving up research and retiring to a sailing boat.

Fortunately, he did not. With the help of the latest genetic techniques, Plomin has now solved the mystery and this is his book setting out the answer. It is a hugely important book — and the story is very well told. Plomin’s writing combines passion with reason (and passion for reason) so fluently that it is hard to believe this is his first book for popular consumption, after more than 800 scientific publications.

His story is crucial, because in the final chapters he exposes his own genes to readers as a test of the arguments he is making. So we learn that Plomin, a professor of behavioural genetics at King’s College London, “grew up in a one-bedroom flat in inner-city Chicago without books”. Nobody in his family went to university, yet he was an insatiable devourer of books.

An intelligence test identified Plomin’s ability and got him into schools where he could develop his talent. Here lies one of the sources of his passion: he thinks that if children are to be enabled to fulfil their potential, then you cannot believe that they are the product of their upbringing or education. You must understand that they have innate aptitudes that can overcome environmental disadvantages. Nothing, he believes, is bleaker than environmental determinism.

Plomin’s research on twins and adoptees has relentlessly proved the truth of this assertion, so long denied by the dogmatists of the “not in our genes” era. Five key insights emerged, some so counterintuitive as to leave your head spinning.

First, most measures of the “environment” show substantial genetic influence. That is, people adapt their environment better to suit their natures. For example, Plomin discovered that the amount of television adopted children watch correlates twice as well with the amount their biological parents watch rather than with the amount watched by their adoptive parents.

Plomin hesitated before publishing this remarkable finding on the “nature of nurture” in 1989. Knowing what had happened to anybody who discussed genes and behaviour, from EO Wilson to Charles Murray, Plomin realised that telling the world that television watching habits are genetically influenced would be ridiculed by social scientists and the media, however strong his evidence. He feared it would be professional suicide. Yet his insight has since been replicated more than 18 times.

Our personalities are also influenced by the environment, but Plomin’s second key insight is that we are more influenced by accidental events of short duration than by family. Incredibly, children growing up in the same family are no more similar than children growing up in different families, if you correct for their genetic similarities. Parents matter, but they do not make a difference.

Plomin says these chance events can be big and traumatic things such as war or bereavement, but are mostly small but random things, like Charles Darwin being selected for HMS Beagle because Captain Robert Fitzroy believed in “phrenology” and thought he could read Darwin’s character from the shape of his nose. Environmental influences turn out to be “unsystematic, idiosyncratic, serendipitous events without lasting effects”, says Plomin.

Moreover, surprisingly, heritability increases as we get older. The longer we live, the more we come to express our own natures, rather than the influences of others on us. We “grow into our genes”, as Plomin puts it. An obvious example is male-pattern baldness, which shows low heritability at 20 and very high heritability at 60.

Two other findings are that normal and abnormal behaviour are influenced by the same genes, and that genetic effects are general across traits; there are not specific genes for intelligence, schizophrenia or personality — they all share sets of genes.

This last point leads to the breakthrough in identifying which genes make the difference. The first attempt at finding genes that influence behaviour and psychology made use of the “candidate-gene” approach. Find a gene that might be involved and see if it matters. With few exceptions, such as the APOE gene and Alzheimer’s, this approach was a dismal failure. The results were sparse and failed to replicate.

Along came the genome-wide array technique: to search for lots of different mutations at the same time in a large sample of people, hoping to pick up subtler effects. Again, nothing: Plomin’s first try yielded no genes associated with intelligence. Then came the first gene-chips in the early 2000s and he was able to look for 10,000 mutations at the same time. Still nothing. “I was beginning to think my luck had run out — after a decade of work, this was the third false start.”

The problem was that everybody thought they were hunting big game — genes with hefty influence on particular traits. It turns out they should have been looking for much smaller quarry: genes with very slight influence, but many more of them. We now know that you need a sample size of 80,000 people before you can detect the very slight changes that each genetic mutation causes, but when you get to such a scale, you find thousands of relevant genes, each adding only a small percentage to the chance of having a particular trait. It’s gold dust, not nuggets.

However, the effects are additive, and once you have lots of genes, you can start to explain significant portions of the variance among individuals. Plomin illustrates this with height. Being, like me, 6ft 5in tall, he is not surprised to find that his polygenic score, based on thousands of genes, puts him at the 90th percentile for height. The genes in the sample so far only explain 15 per cent of the variance in height of individuals, which may not sound like much, given that height is 80 per cent heritable in western societies. But get this: it’s a better predictor than any other factor — such as the height of the parents, or the height of the person as a child, let alone medical history or socio-economic status — and it works from birth, or even conception.

Plomin is very interested in the possibilities of polygenic scores, which will make it possible partly to predict psychological traits such as depression, schizophrenia and educational achievement. The score is the result of passing a sample of your blood over a silicon chip that tests for thousands of mutations, then adds them together, giving an aggregate score for how many of the thousands of single-letter code changes you have that each very slightly makes you more likely to do well in school, for example.

The predictions such scores give are probabilistic, not certain, but they are improving. Plomin argues that genes can probabilistically predict things about an individual, distinguishing her from her siblings, and can do so from the start of life. School attainment is now better forecast by a polygenic score than any other way of predicting it — it is better than knowing how the parents did at school, better than socio-economic status, better than the type of school (which turns out to have little effect once you control for the fact that selective schools choose innately more talented children).

Plomin thinks parents who give a newborn child such a test and find out that no matter how hard the child is helicopter-parented he is unlikely to be a genius would probably be doing that child a favour. “Parents should relax and enjoy their relationship with their children without feeling a need to mould them,” he argues.

It’s far fairer, Plomin says, to find out what children will be good at and bring that out than to be able to create inequality based on income or opportunity. And, in a point he does not emphasise enough, the fact that intelligence or personality are caused by many thousands of genes, each of minuscule effect, means that it will be impossibly difficult to create a super-intelligent designer baby.



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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