Wednesday, October 04, 2023

UK Report: Over One-Third of Children on Puberty Blockers Experienced Worsened Mental Health

New research from the United Kingdom is showing that over a third of children placed on puberty blockers and hormone drugs suffered severe mental health deterioration afterward.

A 2011 study conducted at the Tavistock Gender Identity Development Service clinic for children reported that children who were put on puberty blockers suffered no adverse mental health effects. However, new analysis conducted by Susan McPherson, a professor of psychology and sociology at the University of Essex, and retired social scientist David Freedman found that the majority of children put on puberty blockers and hormone drugs experienced erratic and fluctuating mental health, including over a third whose mental health “reliably deteriorated.”

The original study, conducted on 44 children between the ages of 12 and 15, was reportedly based on group averages, while the new analysis relied on individual results, which McPherson and Freedman explained “allows us to look at how a treatment is performing in terms of the percentage of patients improving, deteriorating, and showing clinically significant change. … It is possible, using this approach, to look at patterns, such as who is benefitting and who is not.”

Last year, Britain’s National Health Service opted to close down the Tavistock Gender Identity Develop clinic after a government report found that the staff rushed and even pressured minors into taking puberty blockers and hormone drugs with almost no psychological or medical oversight.

A reported 96% of child patients were placed on puberty blockers by Tavistock staffers, and concerns were raised over a tendentious focus on “gender dysphoria,” instead of considering other psychological factors in recommending drugs or surgeries for minors, which were summarily dismissed.

In fact, the situation was so concerning that Dr. Hilary Cass, the pediatrician tasked by the government with investigating the claims against Tavistock, offered her recommendation to shut down the clinic several months early, saying she had enough information already to justify closing Tavistock.

Cass particularly stressed concerns she had over the use of puberty blockers and other hormone drugs, which the Tavistock clinic had been prescribing to children as young as 10 years old, many of whom were already on the autism spectrum or suffering various mental health issues like depression or eating disorders.

In her interim report to the NHS, Cass noted, “There is lack of consensus and open discussion about the nature of gender dysphoria and therefore about the appropriate clinical response.” She added, “There has not been routine and consistent data collection, which means it is not possible to accurately track the outcomes and pathways that children and young people take through the service.”

Over the years, numerous whistleblowers—former staff governor Dr. David Bell, consultants and nurses like Marcus and Sue Evans, child safeguarding officer Sonia Appleby, and countless former patients who now, as adults, regret being put on puberty blockers and hormone drugs—have sounded the alarm over the Tavistock clinic’s practices. Most have pointed out that children and their parents were often denied informed consent as staffers rushed children onto puberty blockers after only three or four meetings.

Some whistleblowers even explained that topics like “sexual orientation” were effectively off-limits and that a transgender identity and a battery of hormone drugs were the only options explored by clinicians. Others pointed out that the drastic rise in children going through Tavistock (from about 250 “patients” in 2011 to over 5,000 in 2021) and linked it to the growing puberty blocker and hormone drug industry.

The findings of the new analysis of the Tavistock study are in line with research conducted and published by Family Research Council. Jennifer Bauwens, director of Family Research Council’s Center for Family Studies, explained earlier this year:

At one time, gender dysphoria was considered a mental disorder, but now, due to the increasing prevalence of a worldview shaped by gender identity ideology, it has morphed into a human rights issue. The ideology borrows from the mental health aspects of gender dysphoria in order to justify medical ‘intervention.’

She continued, “Advocates of gender-affirming care insist it is both lifesaving and evidence-based health care for those who identify as transgender. But the research used to make such a claim is full of methodological errors and can be easily disputed as a research body that is incomplete.” Notably, the original Tavistock study from 2011 focused on group studies instead of on individual situations and results.

Bauwens added, “Not only are the currently published studies problematic, but there is a lack of ongoing and long-term follow-up reports that address the impact of cross-sex hormones and surgeries.”

In June, the NHS banned the use of puberty blockers and hormone drugs on minors, following a growing swath of European medical experts who have backed off gender-transition procedures for children. France, Sweden, Finland, and Norway have also put restrictions on the use of puberty blockers and hormone drugs on children. The U.S. still hasn’t.


US Court Upholds Tennessee Ban on Transgender Procedures for Children

An appeals court upheld Tennessee’s ban on transgender procedures for children, ruling that the law does not violate the 14th Amendment as claimed in a lawsuit challenging the ban.

In March, Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee signed into law SB0001, which prohibits transgender treatment for minors. It came into effect in July. The bill requires children who started such treatments before July 1 to end it by March 31, 2024. In April, groups including the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) filed a lawsuit challenging the law on behalf of families with “trans-identifying” children.

On Sept. 28, the Sixth Circuit Court of the U.S. Court of Appeals rejected the petitioner’s challenge in a 2–1 ruling, upholding Tennessee’s ban on transgender treatment for children.

In the lawsuit, the families argued that the Tennessee law violated their due process rights under the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. The due process clause of the 14th Amendment states that no state shall “deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”
In the court opinion (pdf), the judges wrote that they have to consider “norms that are ‘deeply rooted in this Nation’s history and tradition’” in order to determine whether a specific law violates the amendment.

“This country does not have a ‘deeply rooted’ tradition of preventing governments from regulating the medical profession in general or certain treatments in particular, whether for adults or their children,” the judges wrote.

“The government has the power to reasonably limit the use of drugs. ... If that’s true for adults, it’s assuredly true for their children. ... This country does not have a custom of permitting parents to obtain banned medical treatments for their children.”

The court said that nobody debates the existence of gender dysphoria or related distress. However, the question is whether the use of puberty blockers, hormone treatments, and surgery should be allowed on those aged 17 and younger.

“This is a relatively new diagnosis with ever-shifting approaches to care over the last decade or two," the court's opinion reads. "Under these circumstances, it is difficult for anyone to be sure about predicting the long-term consequences of abandoning age limits of any sort for these treatments.”


The Washington University Transgender Center at St. Louis Children’s Hospital has stopped providing gender-transition procedures for minors

It announced earlier this month, due to a provision in the Missouri SAFE Act that “creates unsustainable liability” for its operations.

The law was passed earlier this year and became effective on Aug. 28.

In June, an analysis by The College Fix found that 14 youth gender centers were likely to close this year as a result of state legislation protecting minors from gender-transition procedures. This month, two transgender centers at children’s hospitals in Missouri confirmed that they have ceased operations, specifically because of the state’s new SAFE Act.

The Missouri Save Adolescents From Experimentation (SAFE) Act of 2023 (SB 49) forbids a health care provider from “knowingly perform[ing] a gender-transition surgery” or “knowingly prescrib[ing] or administer[ing] cross-sex hormones or puberty-blocking drugs for the purpose of a gender transition” to anyone under the age of 18.

The provision protecting minors from gender-transition hormones exempts anyone who began treatment before the law’s effective date and expires after four years. Any health care provider who violates these provisions would have their license revoked.

Missouri’s SAFE Act also makes prescribing or administering puberty blockers or cross-sex hormones for the purpose of gender transition “a cause of action against the health care provider.” The law offers infertility as an example of the types of harm that could be caused.

A Daily Wire investigation this summer discovered that a transgender center at the University of Virginia Children’s Hospital listed “irreversible infertility” as a possible side effect of cross-sex hormones. Missouri minors harmed by these drugs can bring a malpractice suit until they reach the age of 36 or until 15 years after treatment for their injury has ceased.

In such a suit, the law places a heavy burden of proof on the health care provider, while the person harmed “shall be entitled to a rebuttable presumption that the individual was harmed … and that the harm was a direct result of the hormones or drugs prescribed or administered.”

If a health care provider lost such an unfavorable suit, it would be required to pay a minimum of $500,000.

The Washington University Transgender Center shut down because of this provision, which it said “creates unsustainable liability.”

“If it was real medicine, that wouldn’t be an issue,” the Family Research Council’s senior fellow for biblical worldview and strategic engagement, Joseph Backholm, told The Washington Stand. “Doctors have always faced liability for their work, and if they knew it was the right thing to do, they would continue doing it.”

In February of this year, a whistleblower described the practices at Washington University’s Transgender Center as “morally and medically appalling.” According to the whistleblower, who self-identifies as far-left and pro-trans, the center lacked formal protocols for treatment, placed children on drugs without proper review, and lied to government officials about referring minors for gender-transition surgery.

In 2021, the center encouraged a school to “affirm” a group of fifth grade girls who identified as transgender en masse.

The whistleblower’s explosive account led Missouri Attorney General Andrew Bailey to launch an investigation of the center in February, which was still ongoing in late July. “If even one-tenth of the allegations are true, they’re abusing children,” said Bailey.

“And, in fact, parents were coerced into making these decisions,” Bailey added. One mother who took her 13-year-old son to the center said she “felt bullied” by clinic staff who bombarded her with suicide statistics. “I really felt like this is not a meeting for me to get answers to my questions and for everybody to have equal say.”

In March, Bailey filed an emergency regulation to restrict the transgender center’s access to minors, but he withdrew the rule in May after it was blocked by a judge.

Although Washington University’s Transgender Center has been among the most controversial, it is not the only one to close due to recent state laws. A transgender center at the University of Missouri Children’s Hospital also stopped providing gender-transition procedures to minors on Aug. 28, a spokesperson said. “Both blamed a section of the law that increased the liability for providers,” The Associated Press reported.

Also according to The AP, “at least some providers” in North Dakota and “across the South” have stopped providing gender-transition procedures to minors simply due to uncertainty about what the laws prohibit.

“The number of clinics stopping this ghoulish work once liability is firmly established illustrates their own lack of confidence in the long-term benefits for the kids and themselves,” Backholm said. “Clinics do this because they get rich and because they win progressive brownie points for doing so, but this suggests they may be unable to defend the work they do today years from now.”


Australia: Leftist ban thwarted by Christians

The Left are always wanting to ban something. Homosexuals must be prevented from getting help with their unwanted inclinations, apparently. No freedom of choice for them!

Independent MP Alex Greenwich has urged the Minns government to support his bill to outlaw gay conversion amid fears among LGBTIQ+ groups that Labor’s promise to ban the practice has been stalled following a targeted campaign by religious groups.

The NSW government is consulting on legislation to ban so-called gay conversion therapy, after promising before the March election it would follow Victoria in ending the practice.

But the Australian Christian Lobby told its members last week the laws “have been put on pause, no doubt influenced by our phone campaign”.

The ACL has promised to campaign against the bill, and recently appointed a NSW state director, Joshua Rowe, to spearhead its fight against the legislation.

In an email to members seen by the Herald, ACL managing director Michelle Pearse said the group had made more than 8000 calls “explaining their concerns and asking MPs to consider the negative consequences for our children”.

The ACL did not respond to a request for comment.

The government has denied it paused the bill, saying consultation is ongoing and legislation will be finalised “in due course”. But despite not giving any timeline on when it might introduce the bill, there was an expectation it would be finalised before the end of this year.

That is now extremely unlikely, with a bill not expected to surface until the first half of next year at the earliest.

Premier Chris Minns announced Labor would introduce a bill banning gay conversion therapy before the election after Greenwich said he would make it a priority in this term.

Rather than support Greenwich’s bill, which has already been drafted and introduced into the parliament, the government has insisted on drafting its own bill.

But concerns about pushback from religious groups, and the prospect of delays to the reform, have prompted Greenwich and others to urge Labor to drop its bill and support his legislation before the end of 2023.

This week the heads of three peak gay conversion survivor groups wrote to NSW Attorney-General Michael Daley urging the government to support Greenwich’s bill, saying it “strikes the right balance and is sensitive to the needs of all affected stakeholders”.

“The focus of the bill is to protect LGBTQ people from harmful attempts to change who they are and who they love in a way that keeps communities of faith together and allows them to practice their doctrine. The bill takes the least punitive approach to prevent conflict between parties,” the letter stated.

“We are especially concerned that the Australian Christian Lobby has now claimed credit for delaying progress on reforms. Banning conversion practices should be about protecting the health and welfare of LGBTQ people first and foremost, not appeasing those who seek to perpetrate those practices at the expense of the health and welfare of LGBTQ people.”

‘There is no other form of abuse where consultation with the perpetrators of that abuse would lead to a pause in reform.’

Greenwich has worked closely with the government seeking support for his landmark equality bill in the new parliament, but urged Labor to support a bill he said had been drafted in consultation with survivors.

“The bill is ready to go, supported by survivors, and consistent with schemes already adopted in Victoria and New Zealand. There is enough time to debate and pass the reform this year through the parliament,” he said.

“There is no other form of abuse where consultation with the perpetrators of that abuse would lead to a pause in reform, and I urge the government and parliament to make NSW safer for LGBTQ people and prohibit this harmful practice that tragically leads to suicide in too many cases.”

Gay conversion law would ban suppression of gender identity
Victoria, Queensland and the ACT all have bans on gay conversion practices, though they vary in scope. The Victorian model faced a fierce pushback from conservative groups when it passed in 2021.

While the NSW government has not explained why it would not support Greenwich’s legislation, senior Labor sources indicated that their bill was unlikely to go as far as Victoria’s.

However, Greenwich said that while his bill was based on the Victorian model, it made a number of key changes to ensure things such as prayer or parents referring children to psychologists were not captured by the law.

A spokeswoman for the premier’s office said the government had consulted with more than 130 stakeholders on its bill, including LGBTQI+ groups and religious organisations to “develop a model that is right for NSW”.




Tuesday, October 03, 2023

Pat Condell is back

His latest video "OK Groomer" has already been taken down by YouTube but is still available on his own site:

It is a scathing takedown of the transsexual mania


UK: Trans women patients will be banned from female hospital wards under proposals to be announced by the Health Secretary today.

Steve Barclay will unveil the plans to push back against 'wokery' in the health service amid concerns that women's rights are being sidelined.

The move will also see 'sex-specific' language return to the NHS, meaning terms such as breastfeeding will no longer be replaced by 'chestfeeding'.

Mr Barclay said: 'We need a common-sense approach to sex and equality issues in the NHS. That is why I am announcing proposals for clearer rights for patients.

'And I can confirm that sex-specific language has now been fully restored to online health advice pages about cervical and ovarian cancer and the menopause.

It is vital that women's voices are heard in the NHS and the privacy, dignity and safety of all patients are protected.'

The changes will give men and women the right to share wards with people of the same biological sex and have intimate care only from those of the same sex, the Daily Telegraph reported last night.

A source close to Mr Barclay told the newspaper: 'The Secretary of State is fed up with this agenda and the damage it's causing, language like 'chestfeeding', talking about pregnant 'people' rather than women. It exasperates the majority of people, and he is determined to take action.

'He is concerned that women's voices should be heard on healthcare and that too often wokery and ideological dogma is getting in the way of this'.

The proposals follow 2021 NHS guidance that said trans patients could be placed on single-sex wards on the basis of the gender with which they identified.

Mr Barclay will use his speech to the Conservative conference to announce a consultation on changes to the NHS constitution in order to strengthen protection for women.

Under the proposed changes, trans patients could be housed in separate accommodation or their own rooms.

Maya Forstater, executive director of campaign group Sex Matters, praised the plans, telling the Telegraph: 'This is fantastic news – the return of common-sense.'

An NHS Trust is allowing staff to take a year of paid leave for the 'male menopause', The Daily Telegraph reported last night.

East Midlands Ambulance Service managers have been told to give consideration to men experiencing menopausal-like symptoms, despite the condition not being clinically recognised.


Inside Defamation Lawsuit That Could Blow Southern Poverty Law Center Wide Open

The Southern Poverty Law Center is notorious for branding mainstream conservative and Christian organizations, such as the Alliance Defending Freedom and Moms for Liberty “hate groups” or “antigovernment extremist groups,” placing them on a map alongside chapters of the Ku Klux Klan.

Many of the SPLC’s targets have sued for defamation, but almost every lawsuit has failed. Earlier this year, however, a judge allowed one defamation lawsuit against the SPLC to move forward.

D.A. King, founder and president of the Dustin Inman Society, brought a uniquely strong case against the SPLC. King didn’t just argue that the SPLC was lying by branding his organization, which supports the enforcement of immigration law and has legal immigrants on its board, an “anti-immigrant hate group” that “focuses on vilifying all immigrants.”

King argued that the SPLC had reason to doubt the claim that the Dustin Inman Society is an “anti-immigrant hate group” because the SPLC itself had explicitly stated that it did not consider his organization an “anti-immigrant hate group” years before it later did so.

In 2011, Heidi Beirich, then-director of the SPLC’s Intelligence Project (the project behind the “hate map”), told The Associated Press that the SPLC did not consider the society a “hate group.” In 2019, however, the SPLC published its 2018 version of the “hate map,” and it included the Dustin Inman Society. The SPLC has kept the Dustin Inman Society on that map ever since, including this past June, even after a judge ruled that the society is likely to succeed in its lawsuit.

In another interesting twist, most of the quotes the SPLC uses as evidence to brand the society a “hate group” date to before 2011.

I sat down with King recently to discuss his important case. In our interview, he noted, “It’s the SPLC versus the SPLC.”

Many defamation suits against the SPLC fail due to the quirks of Supreme Court jurisprudence on defamation law. The bar for a plaintiff suing for defamation is extremely high, especially if the plaintiff counts as a “public figure.” While the Supreme Court precedent that established this kind of rule—New York Times v. Sullivan (1964)—actually involved an elected official, later precedents expanded the definition of “public figure” to include anyone who puts himself or herself out to the public, and nonprofits such as the Dustin Inman Society fit that definition.

Public figures who seek to restore their good names in court have to prove that those they’re suing acted with “actual malice,” which means proving they published their statements with “reckless disregard for the truth.”

In order to demonstrate that, a plaintiff such as King must prove that the SPLC had reason to doubt the truth or falsehood of its claims, and the 2011 AP article would appear to meet that criteria.

A federal judge rejected the SPLC’s motion to dismiss the lawsuit earlier this year, allowing the case to move to discovery. That means King can request documents from the SPLC that may help prove his case (and the SPLC can also request documents from him).

King is far from alone in facing the SPLC’s “hate group” accusation.

As I explain in my book “Making Hate Pay: The Corruption of the Southern Poverty Law Center,” the SPLC took the program it had used to bankrupt organizations associated with the Ku Klux Klan and weaponized it against conservative groups, partially to scare its donors into ponying up cash and partially to silence ideological opponents.

In 2019, amid a racial discrimination and sexual harassment scandal that led the SPLC to fire its co-founder, a former employee came forward to call the organization’s “hate” accusations a “highly profitable scam.”

In 2012, a terrorist with a gun used the “hate map” to target a Christian nonprofit in Washington, D.C. Although the SPLC condemned the attack, it kept the gunman’s target on its “hate map.”

The FBI used the SPLC’s “hate group” list to target “radical-traditional Catholics” in an infamous memo earlier this year. According to the SPLC’s logic, the entire Roman Catholic Church arguably should be listed as a “hate group,” because the SPLC cited the Catechism of the Catholic Church in branding the small pro-family nonprofit the Ruth Institute a “hate group.”

Yet President Joe Biden—a self-described devout Catholic—and his team have hosted SPLC leaders and staff at the White House at least 11 times since Jan. 20, 2021, and Biden nominated an SPLC attorney, Nancy Abudu, to a federal judgeship.

Earlier this year, the SPLC added Moms for Liberty, along with other parental rights groups, such as Parents Defending Education, to its “hate map.”

King’s lawsuit represents the best chance to date to expose how the SPLC chooses whether to add an organization to its “hate map,” and that information may prove vital to restoring the good names of so many of the SPLC’s targets.


Biden is boosting ‘equality’ in the US — by making everyone poorer

By Arthur Laffer and Stephen Moore

The latest Census Bureau report on income and poverty could hardly have been grimmer.

The US “supplemental poverty rate” (a new measure that takes into account government benefits and expenses related to working) rose over the course of a year.

The child-poverty rate doubled.

Almost every group — old people, young people, males, females and residents of every region of the country — lost ground.

There were virtually no bright spots.

Indeed, the middle class got hammered. Median household income fell by 2.2%.

The average family is roughly $2,000 poorer than when Biden entered office.

This followed a more than $6,000 rise in middle-class incomes under Trump.

Biden’s miserable results during his first two years in office are an entirely predictable consequence of his enacting more than $5 trillion of new debt spending — which sent inflation soaring to nearly 8%.

Very few workers received 8% wage increases to keep up with the cost of living.

Just ask the UAW strikers.

There was one quirky piece of “good news” for White House progressives obsessed with “income inequality.”

The income gap between the rich and poor has narrowed, according to several standard measures of income inequality.

The so-called Gini Coefficient — a standard measure of that spread — showed a reduction in inequality.

The ratio of the total income of the top decile of earners to that of the bottom decile fell — by 10%.

How did that happen? Not by making the poor richer.

We now have an all-time high of 38 million Americans living in poverty.

Instead, the incomes of the rich fell at a faster pace than the incomes of everyone else.

Biden says he’s abandoned “trickle-down” economics. And he has: Now there aren’t higher incomes to trickle down for anyone. Everyone is getting a smaller slice of a smaller pie.

Instead of JFK-style aspirations of a rising tide that lifts all boats, we now have a falling tide that is capsizing all boats — but the big yachts have sunk more than the row boats.

Biden has accomplished this through his radical income-redistribution plan, which puts equality over prosperity.

First, he’s raised taxes on the richest Americans; second, he’s redistributed $1.2 trillion per year of taxpayer money to the poor via anti-poverty programs without any requirements that the recipients work. Free money.

This is a recipe for making a nation poorer.

It’s simple math. First, every dollar that the government takes in taxes from the rich reduces their incentive to produce. The higher the tax penalty, the greater the disincentive to work.

Meanwhile, every dollar that is given to the poor (and not related to working) reduces the incentive to produce for those at the bottom.

So, the overall size of the economic pie keeps shrinking, and the more the politicians try to equalize income through taxes and subsidies, the fewer the number of rich and poor alike who will work.

Just look at the historically low level of the labor-force participation rate.

Biden and the Democrats have responded to the rise in poverty by arguing that we should return to COVID-era federal policies that handed out large cash benefits (such as checks of up to $3,600 per child) to families that are poor.

They seem to think that if we make the checks large enough, there will be no poverty in America.

But wait. If we give every family $30,000 (without requiring work), how many Americans with a wage and salary below or anywhere near that level would stop working in order to receive the freebie benefits?

The Holy Grail of perfect equality leads inevitably to everyone becoming poorer and more miserable.

The latest Census report is a warning that Biden has put us well on that road to ruin.




Monday, October 02, 2023

‘Selfish society’: Tradwife says marriage must be protected ‘at all costs’

The article below tends to portray Tradwives as if they are a rarity totally out of step with modern society. I doubt that they are actually rare. My impression is that many mothers would gladly embrace a full-time wife and mother role if family finances permitted it.

I am admittedly harking back 40 years but I once had a Tradwife -- long before it was called that. When I met my third wife she was a working mother with three small kids. And I was already affluent. So I told her to ditch her job and I would support her to be a full-time mother. She jumped at it. The traditional female role had always seemed a good one to her.

She was not housebound. I gave her a small car so when the kids were at school, she would shop, visit friends and explore her other interests. She still buzzes around at a great rate to this day but always has time to look after me in my frail old age

I think that adds up to a good recommendation for tradwifery. Any man who can afford it should have one. Many single mothers would volunteer. It sure beats spending your money on boats, planes and other toys

Tradwife and influencer Estee Williams says being a traditional homemaker doesn’t necessarily have to be associated with the 1950s and 60s. Ms Williams said traditionalism is putting “family before yourself”. “I think it is having those traditional values that were once definitely more in place in God, family and love,” she told Sky News Australia host Piers Morgan.

Ms Williams said we now live in a “very selfish” society. “You see self-love promoted everywhere – women are leaving marriage far more easily than men and are doing it because they think there is something better out there for them," she said. “Marriage is a bond and it’s a sacred bond – you have to protect that at all costs, and I think part of that is putting your partner’s needs before your own every single day.”

“I think it is having those traditional values that were once definitely more in place in God, family and love,” she told Sky News Australia host Piers Morgan.

Ms Williams said we now live in a “very selfish” society.

“You see self-love promoted everywhere – women are leaving marriage far more easily than men and are doing it because they think there is something better out there for them," she said.

“Marriage is a bond and it’s a sacred bond – you have to protect that at all costs, and I think part of that is putting your partner’s needs before your own every single day.”


Career-Driven Feminist Abandons Liberal ‘Fantasy’ for Family, Tells How Lies Target Young Women

She had been climbing the career ladder of science her entire adult life, but as 33-year-old Rachel Bock neared her goal of getting her Ph.D., her once confident strides began to buckle. The hairline fractures in her worldview really started to show.

“One more year,” her then-roommate said to her, looking up from her laptop as they sat at the kitchen table, both students working over breakfast. “I can't wait to start trying to have a baby, I can't wait to be done with this. I hate this.”

Ms. Bock had indeed heard correctly. The younger woman let it slip out, saying what many of her peers were thinking.

It wasn’t the first time Ms. Bock had heard the sequestered longings of her female cohorts—which, to some degree, she felt herself.

In private, hanging out together, the young women confided to each other, “I don't want to keep doing this, this is crazy!” or “I'll get my degree, but then I'm staying home.”

Ms. Bock distinctly remembers a friend telling her point blank, “I can't wait to leave so I can get on with my life and have a baby already!”

Nor had Ms. Bock failed to spot the sequestered tears of her female fellows who were new mothers, painfully separated from their babies at daycare.

All the young ladies at this level of university had something in common, Ms. Bock, now 39, told The Epoch Times. (Rachel Bock is a pseudonym, used for privacy.) They were all 30-somethings working for their Ph.Ds., as she was.

“That's when reality kind of hits,” she said. “It's not like in undergrad where everybody's 18 and 19 and you can just pretend that, like, ‘I'm going to have this crazy career, it's going to be great!’”

Ms. Bock had bought into the promises, as they had.

“The way they describe it to you your whole life is like, you'll slip on a banana peel and a baby will come out,” she said. “It just didn't seem like [a family] needed the planning that a career needed.”

By they she meant her parents, friends, extended relatives—basically the entire, very liberal eastern seaboard state where she was raised.

“I don't feel like I was ever not a feminist,” she said. “Everybody seemed to be a feminist. It didn't have any bad connotation.”

She followed the feminist mantras faithfully: Don't get distracted by a man. School comes first.

“I had boyfriends, but they always came second to everything I was doing,” she said.

As she moved around the country pursuing her career, her actions spoke volumes: she was leaving and it was assumed that if he was supportive, he would come too.

Doubtlessly, over the course of her education Ms. Bock has garnered many stellar accomplishments. Her 12-page CV would wobble the knees of any freshman—and many graduates.

A top-rate scientist, she had been a team lead in professional lab settings; had garnered multiple publications; partook in a prestigious fellowship program at an R1 institution; and was awarded Most Outstanding Graduate Student in her class.

Until, in the second year of her Ph.D. program, her then-fiancé—the one she placed on the backburner—fell by the wayside, for good.

Ms. Bock came to grasp that a family also takes much planning: You have to meet somebody you want to have a family with. You must plan it out. Decide to get married. Then actually get pregnant.

Now, that ship had sailed, or so it seemed to Ms. Bock at that time.

As she checked her experiments at 3 a.m. in the lab during Christmas, she realized, “I don't have anything that's real. I don't have a family.

“It was heartbreaking.”

All but having completed her Ph.D., lacking only her dissertation, she left academia for good after the third and final year.

Pondering where things went wrong, Ms. Bock recalled hearing words as a young girl—the seeds of feminism being planted in her very early on, shaping a comprehensive worldview, guiding her decisions.

Those words targeted little girls holding their dolls:

You don't have to have a baby; you can do whatever you want one day. You're just as smart as the boys, and don't let them tell you you're not.

“Everything that I did was to prove I was better than [men] or beat them in something,” Ms. Bock told the newspaper, adding that she was always being “measured against them.”

It's fine for girls to pursue stereotypical boy things, she said, if it’s “because they find interest in it” or if they “think it's fun or want to pursue it.”

In her drive to climb the ladder—and shatter glass ceilings for all women—this constant competition with men became a complex.

She never asked: What if, in the end, you never really shatter any glass ceilings? What if that far distant shore is just a feminist fantasy?

“A career is a never-ending climb,” she told us, revealing her newfound wisdom. “You don't ever reach the top, it's just a never-ending list of goals.”

What many women are seeking is settledness, she adds. And “family is really the only place that I feel that happens.”

It seemed late in the game for Ms. Bock to have an epiphany. Yet the once career-driven feminist had a profound change of heart, and would come to call it “all part of God's plan.”

All of her woes and worldviews collided in 2017, after leaving the bubble of academia, the echo chamber where only feminist viewpoints dominated, and after she met her now-husband.

They met in her home state, at a grocery store, and hit it off. Now outside the narrow university perspective, they had conversations.

“I was really angry for a while, and then it turned into sadness,” she said. “It was just a painful breaking of my worldview.”

They shared their wants in life, their beliefs, and what they felt was missing.

“I was finally able for the first time to just talk about all the ways I had been misled,” she told us, adding that her disillusionment with feminism led her to explore alternative viewpoints, including those of Jordan Peterson and Christina Hoff Sommers, a.k.a. the "Factual Feminist."

Setting her considerable research skills to seeking the truth, she found out scientifically how males and females have distinctly and inherently different traits.

Women are more nurturing, and it’s natural for them to desire a family to nurture.

Little girls look at their mother's faces for longer than little boys, she learned.

“Girls will draw more things related to people,” she said. “Boys draw projectiles, or things moving, or objects.”

The sexes are different, and that’s okay.

With this sensible new revelation, everything suddenly made sense and, moreover, it lifted off the maddening pressure. Girls don't have to compete to be like boys. It's all just a misnomer.

But it is actually much darker, she learned.

Amid her soul-searching, Ms. Bock attended a feminist march in 2017. Seeing how angry all of the women were with signs saying, “The future is female” and “A woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle,” it was nonsensical, she said. “I didn't feel like I was even part of the march even though I was there.”

In her quest to understand this disconnect and reconstruct her own worldview, Ms. Bock uncovered the cultural Marxist roots of feminism, that it was something more deliberate to begin with.

It was “designed to frame women against men and fracture the institution of the family,” she said. “They've been making me into a victim my whole life. … It's so handicapping.”

For her whole life, “everything was sexism, and you had to … convolute what was happening in order for it to be sexism,” she said. When she realized “there's just these inherent differences between men and women, everything just became so much simpler.”

After marrying her now-husband and moving to his home state of Colorado to pursue their shared dream of having a family, she had another, more spiritual, revelation.

Before their entire belief systems had been dashed into a million pieces, Ms. Bock and her husband had both been atheists.

But their deeply humbling experience of being duped had opened their minds to new spiritual possibilities, in addition to scientific, and one day she picked up the Bible to see what was inside.

That’s where she saw a passage, inquiring whether someone had been around when the rivers and mountains were built.

“Essentially, God's saying, ‘You don't know everything,’” she told The Epoch Times. “You weren't there when the world was created.”

Today, Ms. Bock and her husband are Orthodox Christians living rurally in the Centennial State. Now with their 1-year-old firstborn and “one on the way,” she said, “God willing, we’ll have two, at least.”


Black teens who killed white youth found not guilty

The family of Ethan Liming, the 17-year-old who was brutally beaten and killed near LeBron James’ I Promise school in Akron, Ohio, said they are “completely devastated” after two of the men involved in their son’s death were found not guilty of involuntary manslaughter on Monday.

Jurors on Monday handed up their verdicts in the involuntary manslaughter trial of two brothers for a fight that ended in the death of 17-year-old Ethan Liming.

Deshawn and Tyler Stafford were acquitted of involuntary manslaughter charges. Deshawn was found guilty of felony aggravated assault as well as a misdemeanor count of assault. Tyler was also found guilty on a misdemeanor count of assault.

A third, first-degree felony count of involuntary manslaughter against Deshawn was dismissed as jurors failed to reach a verdict. Summit County Common Pleas Judge Tammy O’Brien declared it a mistrial. (Fox 8)

On June 2, 2022, Liming and some friends were “joy riding in a car” when they shot at three males on a basketball court with a toy Splatrball Water Bead Blaster, prompting the confrontation that led to his death.

The teen, who died of blunt force trauma to the head, was beaten so severely there were footprints on his chest wall, according to a preliminary autopsy.

"The Liming Family is completely devastated by the outcome of this trial and cannot understand how three young men can get away with viciously beating their son, Ethan, to death," the family's attorney James A. Gutierrez said in a statement.

"Ethan didn’t get a fair shot that night when three men brutally attacked him and now again Ethan did not get a fair shot in court," the statement continued.

"They feel like Ethan has been killed again and now the Liming Family is victimized by the system and the media for publishing articles that were not only hurtful to the Liming Family, but were also simply not true.

"This case had nothing to do with race when it happened," he added. "The community picked sides and in a symptom of our society, lost sight of what is simply a matter of right or wrong. Clearly the jury lost its way and the Liming Family cannot understand that if they convicted the defendants of assault and aggravated assault then what killed Ethan, the concrete? That is like saying I just happened to be holding the gun that killed someone. The Liming Family yet again was victimized by jury nullification where the jury ignored proven facts to come back with an inconsistent verdict. As their attorney, to witness the injustice, to witness the grief, the harassment, the cruel and unimaginable things said on social media reflects how broken we are as a community, as a city, and as a nation. Nothing will bring back Ethan. His death goes without justice. The people who killed Ethan go without consequence and our community remains crippled in its failure to recognize the simple concepts of fairness and compassion."


How Washington’s $7.5 Trillion Deficit Spending Spree is Bankrupting America

If you are an American with money saved in a bank, a significant slice of that money has already been stolen from you by the government and you will never get it back. And they plan to keep stealing. Your greenbacks will one day be worth dimes only

Polls show that Americans are pessimistic about the economy, with inflation as the top concern. That’s understandable, but do they understand where this inflationary surge came from and why Washington’s addiction to government spending threatens the future prosperity of the country?

That may sound hyperbolic, but consider the numbers. The sum of new spending authorizations between 2020 and 2022 was a staggering $7.5 trillion—over $57,400 per household.

According to the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, roughly $700 billion (less than 10% of the total) was directed toward public health in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Instead, the spending spree focused on welfare expansions, cash handouts, and opportunistic subsidies for a variety of special interests.

Badly flawed, Keynesian “stimulus” spending escalated even after the economy had stabilized in the summer of 2020.

Legislative packages passed in December 2020 and March 2021 combined to dump trillions of dollars into the economy. Such reckless, unrestrained spending was the definition of inflationary.

The Federal Reserve’s role is often overlooked. The Fed purchased a massive volume of Treasury securities from 2020 through 2021, covering almost all above-baseline spending during the period. This not only created money out of thin air, but also served to provide artificial demand for federal debt at low interest rates.

Without the Fed’s intervention, global markets would have struggled to absorb the historic volume of debt that Washington issued, triggering demand for higher interest rates. Since Congress did not face immediate discipline from debt markets, the spending spree continued long after it was remotely justified.

American families have paid and continue to pay a steep price for the greedy indulgence of politicians. Inflation spiked in 2021 and 2022 with sky-high deficit spending as one of the primary drivers.

Households have lost thousands of dollars in purchasing power as a result. While the rate of inflation is now lower than it was a year ago, prices are still rising faster than before the pandemic. Families are struggling to catch up to the 17% price hike that has already been baked into the system.

The Fed eventually responded with a dramatic increase in interest rates and a reduction of the monetary supply. While that did help to bring the rate of inflation down, it also had serious consequences for financial markets.

This was especially the case for mortgages, as the combination of high list prices and higher interest rates pushed the dream of home ownership even further away for millions of Americans. Over this period, mortgage rates have increased almost 2.5-fold and total interest on a new mortgage on a median home is over $300,000 higher than before.

In turn, higher interest rates have increased the cost of servicing the now mountainous federal debt. This will mean hundreds of billions of dollars per year of deadweight drag on the economy for decades to come.

As the Fitch credit agency explained when it downgraded U.S. creditworthiness in August, there is no light at the end of this tunnel. Driven by the unchecked growth of Social Security and Medicare spending, annual deficits could soon exceed $2 trillion per year indefinitely, further compounding the cost of debt service.

Incredibly, Washington still refuses to act with a modicum of responsibility.

The so-called Fiscal Responsibility Act highlighted this reality. The package was loaded with tens of billions of dollars in budget gimmicks so that Congress could pretend that there would be spending reductions without the political inconvenience of actually reducing spending.

The Biden administration’s supplemental spending request is another way for Congress to dodge the slightest amount of budgeting.

By claiming that spending on Ukraine and natural disasters shouldn’t count toward spending caps, the administration and many congressional leaders are demonstrating that they have no problem with tens of billions in additional deficit spending regardless of the cost to the American people.

It seems increasingly unlikely that the legislators will choose the path of fiscal sanity on their own. Fortunately, there is a somewhat recent example of turning things around.

The tea party movement, which began as a reaction to bailouts and overspending, led to spending restraint and deficit reduction in Washington. While the pandemic-era spending spree undid this progress, the fact remains that public pressure can push Congress in the right direction.

It is crucial for Congress and taxpayers to take federal budgeting seriously as soon as possible. The alternative is the destruction of the growth and prosperity that are at the core of the American dream.




Sunday, October 01, 2023

Outrage in Germany after video shows revellers 'performing the Nazi salute while listening to song linked to Third Reich' at Oktoberfest event

This story is rather over-egged. "Erika" is simply a rather pretty love song for a woman. German soldiers sang it out of nostalgia for the times before they went into the "Heer" (army). It is a very good and innocent song and I would conclude that the salutes were for the song, nothing else. It is a very catchy song and the German "Oom-Pah-Pah" bass is mesmeric. American evangelical Christians often raise their hands high to indicate enthusiasm for the preaching and associated hymns

I am putting up a video of one performance. It has subtitles so if you understand German you can confirm what I say of the song. Note that the flag in the song is the flag of the present German Federal Republic. The Maltese cross also in the video is the "Balkenkreuz" dating from before Hitler's rise

German revellers have sparked fury after a video emerged showing them performing the Nazi salute while listening to a song linked to the Third Reich at an Oktoberfest event.

Video reportedly shows three men and a woman dressed in traditional Bavarian costumes repeatedly raising their arms in a Nazi salute while singing along to the song 'Erika' by composer Herms Niel.

The tune is a German marching band song published in 1938 and was associated with the Wehrmacht, the armed forces of the Third Reich.

One man is accused of making the Nazi salute, which is a crime in Germany, as many as 14 times in 16 seconds while the woman raises her arm seven times.

The video was filmed by a shocked onlooker at an Oktoberfest event in the small town of Zieschützen near Dresden, Germany, on Saturday night.

Police are now investigating the incident, with a spokesman telling local media: 'We are investigating the initial suspicion that unconstitutional symbols were used. State security is also participating in the investigation.'

One of the event's organisers, Matthias Braune, also distanced himself from the revellers' actions.

He told Bild: 'We clearly distance ourselves from these types of visitors. We just want to celebrate a normal Oktoberfest.' He added that the song 'Erika', which is not banned, will not be played at future events.

According to German law, performing a Nazi salute or using any Nazi-related symbols is considered 'unconstitutional', and offenders can be sent behind bars for up to three years.

One local commented on the video: 'It's not too late to reinstate the Nuremberg Trials with harsher penalties yet.'

Another said: 'This gives the same energy as southern Americans still rocking confederate flags because of heritage and nothing else.'

Someone else wrote: 'In fairness, a good number of Germans would be outraged too!'

Another responded: 'Herms Niel wrote Erika in 1938. Niel was definitely a Nazi through and through. The song Erika was incredibly popular in both the Wehrmacht and the Waffen-SS. Like the song or not, it is a song by a Nazi for Nazis.'


Leaked Messages From UAW Official Reveal a Big Cause of Unions’ Decline

“If we can keep them wounded for months, they don’t know what to do … this is recurring reputations damage and operation chaos.”

That leaked statement, first reported by The Detroit News, is not a military tactic nor a hostile takeover plan. Rather, it’s a strategy for wounding and weakening American companies, with collateral damage that includes the American economy.

And it’s the strategy—expressed in a private group chat on X (formerly Twitter) by United Auto Workers communications director Jonah Furman—of an organization whose foremost mission statement is to “improve and protect” the compensation and work environment of UAW members.

The utter disconnect between the UAW’s strategy of wounding, damaging, and inflicting chaos on the companies upon which its members’ jobs and compensation prospects depend is astounding.

Big Labor’s increasingly distorted understanding of unions’ role in America—and of free enterprise and democracy—are a cause of their decline.

At their heyday, unions represented about 35% of workers in the U.S. Today, they represent 10% of workers, and only 6% of private sector workers.

Workers realize that the viability of their jobs and the compensation they receive are interwoven with the success of their employers. In science, this is referred to as a symbiotic relationship: two groups working together toward a common goal.

(There will, of course, always be some bad employers who take advantage of workers or deny them a voice in the workplace. And when that happens, the best remedies are for workers to either seek better job opportunities or for those who want to band together collectively to do so.)

But despite surveys that show that teamwork and good relationships with managers are primary components of employees’ engagement and satisfaction, Big Labor seems intent on convincing workers that they must be at war with their employers.

When critiquing the suggestion that unions would do better to abandon their focus on politics and adversarial tactics, two Teamsters union attorneys essentially admitted that creating conflict is how they survive, saying, “It is no secret that such a ‘non-adversarial’ approach would gravely weaken organized labor.”

That’s where unions have gone astray, thinking that “it’s us or them.”

Even in 1950, when the only cars Americans could buy were those made by the Big Three automakers, that flawed interpretation of labor unions’ roles was short-sighted. Yes, the UAW was able to drive up compensation above market wages to the benefit of its members, but the result of higher car prices meant fewer families could afford cars and, thus, fewer cars were produced and fewer workers were needed to produce them.

Now, in the globally competitive 21st century, unions inflicting damage and chaos are at odds with unions’ short- and long-term goals. How can companies whose reputations have been crippled and who’ve suffered financial losses somehow pay workers 40% more for 20% less work?

That’s like eliminating 11 players from the Arizona Cardinals roster, not allowing players to access to their practice stadium, and expecting them to win the Super Bowl.

Understandably, the Big Three automakers are frustrated.

A Stellantis spokesperson said that the reported comments “are incredibly disturbing and strongly indicate that the UAW’s approach to these talks is not in the best interest of the workforce. We are disappointed that it appears our employees are being used as pawns in an agenda that is not intended to meet their needs.”

GM said that it’s “now clear that the UAW leadership has always intended to cause months-long disruption, regardless of the harm it causes to its members and their communities.” GM also said this “calls into question who is actually in charge of UAW strategy and shows a callous disregard for the seriousness of what is at stake. UAW leadership needs to put the interests of its members and the country over their own ideological and personal agendas.”

And a Ford spokesperson said, “It’s disappointing, to say the least, given what is at stake for our employees, the companies, and this region,” and noted, “For our part, we will continue to work day and night, bargaining in good faith, to reach an agreement that rewards our workforce and allows Ford to invest in a vibrant and growing future.”

If union officials actually want to protect UAW jobs and improve workers’ compensation, then they have to want the Big Three American automakers to succeed and to grow. Considering that U.S. auto production is less than half of what it was two decades ago, success is likely going to require that the UAW work alongside—rather than against—U.S. automakers to help them become more competitive.

To the extent that involves lobbying policymakers, the focus should be on getting the government out of the business of picking winners and losers by its subsidizing of more expensive electric vehicles that require 40% less labor while also seeking to ban gas-powered vehicles that Americans still overwhelmingly desire.

And if unions across America want to increase their membership, they should appeal directly to workers by offering things they value instead of using their dues to get politicians to go against their interests by doing things like attacking secret ballot union elections, restricting employers’ ability to share important information with workers before union elections, and establishing a pathway to force an employer to bargain with a union even if workers don’t want to be represented by it.


As Ibram X. Kendi’s ‘Anti-Racism’ Center Implodes, Let’s Make Sure to Stop His Noxious Ideology

Kendi is a very third rate intellectual but that suits the Left. They are haters, not thinkers

Much like the crooked Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation before it, author and agitator Ibram X. Kendi’s noxious “anti-racism” grift has imploded at Boston University.

After three years of existence and tens of millions of dollars in funding, Kendi’s organization reportedly is falling apart.

Kendi’s Center for Antiracist Research received, at minimum, $43 million in grants and donations since it went into operation in 2020, according to the Boston University’s student newspaper, The Daily Free Press.

“The $43 million, according to 2021 budget records obtained by The Daily Free Press, includes general support, such as the $10 million from Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey, as well as donations for specific projects,” the student newspaper reported.

Kendi’s center had the budget of a small market sports franchise, which is a lot of money for an ambiguous research institute. The production that Boston University got for this massive investment ended up to be about the same as my beloved but hapless Oakland A’s.

Kendi’s organization is now laying off staff en masse.

“There’s a mismatch between the amount of money that [the Center for Antiracist Research] has received from these grants and what they’ve actually produced,” an anonymous source told The Daily Free Press. “You can juxtapose that with other research centers either at BU or other universities that have received a tiny fraction of what CAR has received and has produced a lot more.”

It appears that, for all its money, Kendi’s anti-racism center produced next to nothing. Former employees are publicly burying it.

“It’s not that Kendi tried and failed to generate meaningful scholarly output; he seems to have had no interest in doing so to begin with—and no concept of what would have been involved if he tried,” writes Spencer Klavan at the Spectator.

Really, what did Kendi’s backers expect?

At no point has he ever been expected to prove his thesis with data or information. Academia never questioned the fundamental premise of Kendi’s ideology, especially after the “racial reckoning” of 2020. Any who did within the official institutions of approved thought would have found themselves quickly banished for thought crimes.

The legacy media praised Kendi breathlessly. In the few cases in which he’s been called on to defend his more ridiculous ideas—like how lowering capital gains taxes is a racist policy—his unsatisfactory answers never got a follow-up.

He was treated not as a scholar or researcher but as the Rasputin of anti-racism. Even at that, he’s been woefully deficient. He got tens of thousands of dollars for short speaking engagements and a huge contract from Netflix.

Still, there was nothing to show for it.

At an extremely friendly Aspen Ideas festival event, Kendi was asked to define “racism.” The venerated swami of our woke elite answered: “I would define it as a collection of racist policies that lead to racial inequity that are substantiated by racist ideas.”

According to Kendi racism is defined as doing a racism, leading to racism, the result being racism and inequity, which is racism. Got it?

I will give Kendi his due in one sense. His ideas have become akin to official orthodoxy in our country’s public and private institutions. That’s more a product of our institutions looking for someone to say what Kendi would say rather than his unique and insightful brilliance.

He just took advantage of the situation and sold them the snake oil they’d been yearning for.

For a refresher on Kendi’s worldview, I’ll point to my review of his book, “How to Be an Antiracist.” This book, alongside “White Fragility” by Robin DiAngelo, became a kind of foundational tract for college-educated liberals burning with the fire of the Great Awokening.

Kendi’s work revolved around three main concepts: First, that racism had to be redefined. It was no longer good enough to simply not be racist. There are only two modes of thought, Kendi wrote: racist and anti-racist. Denying you are a racist can actually make you a racist—the classic Kafka trap.

Second, anti-racists such as Kendi have posited that “colorblindness” in dealing with race is itself racism. You must see race all the time, recognize it, then address it. Under the anti-racist rubric, race becomes the defining feature of human existence.

Third, Kendi wrote that the way to deal with past discrimination is present discrimination. In addition, literally any racial discrepancies in society, according to Kendi, are a product of racism. To be a good anti-racist, you really must be the right kind of racist.

Here’s what Kendi wrote in his book:

If discrimination is creating equity, then it is anti-racist. If discrimination is creating inequity, then it is racist. Someone reproducing inequity through permanently assisting an overrepresented racial group into wealth and power is entirely different than someone challenging that inequity by temporarily assisting an underrepresented racial group into relative wealth and power until equity is reached. The only remedy to racist discrimination is anti-racist discrimination. The only remedy to past discrimination is present discrimination.

To think that one can tinker with society to ensure perfect racial equity in all situations makes traditional Marxism seem downright pragmatic.

Did it matter that Kendi’s project was philosophically absurd, in practice discriminatory and tyrannical? Not at all.

Big money and big institutions went all in on this project.

Millions of Kendi’s books have flooded American bookstores and libraries, most of them now gathering dust.


Why Are Gun Companies Losing Payroll Services? Cruz Investigation Finds Underlying Culprit

JPMorgan Chase admitted to pressuring the financial software company Intuit into preventing gun sellers from using the company’s payment processing services, according to a letter Sen. Ted Cruz sent Monday after looking into the policy. Bank of America, meanwhile, denied pressuring Intuit into banning gun manufacturers from using its famous QuickBooks software.

“Woke big banks are increasingly weaponizing their power to cut off law-abiding businesses from accessing banking services,” Cruz, R-Texas, told The Daily Signal in an email statement Monday.

“The American people and small businesses must be protected from this discriminatory overreach,” Cruz added. “We cannot allow giant corporations to get away with punishing customers who do not fall in line with the Left’s political whims and leanings.”

Intuit, the financial software company best known for producing QuickBooks, had adopted an acceptable use policy previously listing “guns and firearm manufacturing” as one of the business types prohibited from using payroll services. Intuit also listed “firearms and weapons sales” as a business type prohibited from using payment processing services.

Intuit removed its prohibitions on payroll and payment processing for gun manufacturers and firearm sellers Aug. 1, following Cruz’s investigation of the company. The Texas Republican thanked Inuit in his letter Monday.

Cruz learned about the issue after Intuit withdrew its services from Dawson Precision, a Texas company that manufactures firearm parts. Intuit gave Dawson Precision no warning and simply refused to process payroll. Intuit later notified Dawson Precision that the software company had canceled the manufacturer’s account because Intuit’s acceptable use policy excluded firearm manufacturers.

When Dawson Precision explained that it manufactures only parts for firearms, not firearms themselves, Intuit directed the company to lodge a complaint with a third party that had flagged it. The third party didn’t respond to Dawson Precision’s attempts to appeal the decision.

Intuit also stopped processing credit card payments for the Arizona company Gunsite Academy, citing Intuit’s ban on companies that engage in gun sales that aren’t face to face. After Gunsite Academy explained that it legally shipped firearms to local dealers rather than directly to consumers, Intuit refused to reverse the decision.

When Cruz’s staff approached Intuit about its firearm policies, the company said its banking partners, JPMorgan Chase and Bank of America, demanded the policies. Specifically, Intuit said Bank of America required it to prohibit gun manufacturers from using QuickBooks and JPMorgan required Intuit to prohibit gun sellers from doing so.

JPMorgan admitted its role in the policy, but Bank of America denied that it ever gave Intuit any instructions about firearm companies.

This doesn’t mark JPMorgan’s first foray into cracking down on bank accounts associated with conservative causes.

In May 2022, Chase Bank (a division of JPMorgan Chase) closed an account for the National Committee for Religious Freedom, an organization founded by Sam Brownback, a former Kansas governor and President Donald Trump’s ambassador-at-large for international religious freedom.

Brownback, along with conservative organizations, suggested that Chase closed the account for religious or political reasons, which Chase denied. The bank said it closed the account because it needed more information about donors and recipients than the nonprofit provided.

Chase also closed accounts associated with the Arkansas Family Council and Defense of Liberty in 2021.

The threat that conservatives may face blacklisting from banking services extends beyond JPMorgan Chase.

Far-left groups such as the Southern Poverty Law Center have pressured donor-advised funds to cut off charitable donations to conservative organizations that the SPLC brands “hate groups.” The left-leaning group SumOfUs also pressured Mastercard to refuse to process any credit-card transactions for “hate groups.”

As I explain in my book “Making Hate Pay: The Corruption of the Southern Poverty Law Center,” the SPLC took the program it had used to bankrupt organizations associated with the Ku Klux Klan and weaponized it against conservative groups, partially to scare donors into ponying up cash and partially to silence ideological opponents. In 2019, amid a racial discrimination and sexual harassment scandal that led the SPLC to fire its co-founder, a former employee came forward, calling the “hate” accusations a “highly profitable scam.”

In his letter, Cruz wrote that “Intuit did the right thing regarding its payroll and payment services.”

“I encourage other companies to follow your company’s lead and take note that banning customers from using their products due to political differences is not good business,” the senator’s letter concludes.




Friday, September 29, 2023

Tainted love: is it all over for the workplace romance?

I see nothing wrong with it but lying and deceiving about it could obviously be a problem -- destroying trust

Workplace relationships have existed as long as there have been workplaces. Many people find their life partners in the place where they spend most of their waking hours.

But the politics of the office romance have changed. For generations of senior male executives, relationships with more junior staff were commonplace. Now they are a minefield.

BP’s chief executive, Bernard Looney, has become the latest business leader to find this out to his cost.

His shock resignation took the markets off guard. Looney was forced to fall on his sword after admitting that he had failed to be fully transparent with the BP board about the number of colleagues with whom he had engaged in personal relationships. The company’s directors said they expected everyone at BP to behave in accordance with its “strong values”, while requiring its leaders to “act as role models and to exercise good judgment”.

Looney thereby joins the not-so-hallowed halls of executives whose careers have been scuppered by private dalliances.

Just days after Looney’s departure, Edward Tilly, the chair and chief executive of US-based stock market operator Cboe Global Markets, resigned after a company investigation found he had failed to disclose “personal relationships with colleagues” which “violated” company policies.

Steve Easterbrook, the British chief executive of the US group McDonald’s, was fired by the fast-food company in 2019 for violating company policy, which forbids managers from having personal relationships with direct or indirect employees. Easterbrook was this year fined $400,000 (£328,000) and banned as an officer and director for five years by the US stock market regulator for “allegedly concealing the extent of his misconduct” by failing to disclose other relationships with other colleagues.

In April, Jeff Shell departed as boss of NBC Universal, one of the world’s largest media groups, after acknowledging an “inappropriate relationship” with a female colleague.

US companies have traditionally had stricter guidelines than British employers. Some implement so-called “love contracts” – signed by two colleagues confirming they have freely chosen to enter a romantic relationship – which are designed to prevent potential future sexual harassment claims.

Such contracts would not be possible in the UK.

“US corporations do have outright bans on their management having relationships at work. In the UK that would be illegal under our Human Rights Act because of the right to a private life and the right to a family life,” said William Granger, a partner at the law firm Wedlake Bell, who specialises in employment matters.

However, he said UK companies increasingly expect senior leaders to declare relationships with colleagues either on joining, or when they are promoted.

Granger said firms’ HR departments needed to tread carefully to protect employees’ privacy and keep any disclosed romances confidential.

Tina Chander, a partner and head of employment at the law firm Wright Hassall, said that on a basic level, office romances could be challenging for employers, especially at smaller organisations, because they could knock productivity.

“I’ve been practising employment law for about 16 years and I have dealt with issues arising from what we call workplace romances. I think they used to be very, very hidden,” she says.

Warwickshire-based Wright Hassall conducted their own survey about workplace relationships in 2022, finding that almost a quarter of the 2,000 people polled had had a romantic encounter with a colleague.

Chander adds: “They can impact performance because people will be emailing all day or having conversations as opposed to actually getting on with their jobs.

“It can also cause unrest among the wider workforce if that relationship is between two different tiers of staff.”

This is the particular concern for businesses: that romantic relationships – especially those between a boss and a more junior staff member, where there is an imbalance of power – could lead to unfairness, or accusations thereof, if other members of the workforce feel that a boss’s partner could be given preferential treatment, including bonuses or promotions.

Indeed, BP’s own code of conduct for staff makes clear that “a conflict of interest may occur when your interests or activities affect, or appear to affect, your ability to make objective decisions for BP.”

It specifies that this can include “having an intimate relationship with someone whose pay, advancement or management you can influence”.

One way for organisations to prevent conflicts of interest resulting from office romances would be to move one partner to a different department – especially if their liaison was with their line manager – although this would be far easier in larger organisations.

A question for those who embark on a relationship with a colleague may be at what point they decide to report the start of a relationship.

A key moment for organisations comes when appointing, or promoting senior executives, according to Ann Francke, the chief executive of the Chartered Management Institute, something which has once again come into focus as a result of Looney’s departure from BP.

“Boards and senior leaders would be well advised to thoroughly probe not only the competence of senior executives, but also their behaviour, prior to appointing,” she said.

There had been a generational shift, said Francke, with staff “much more likely to put pressure on organisations to deal with these behaviours”. The solution, she said, was to act before the fallout damaged the business.


We're in Trouble: When Teaching American Values Is Considered Problematic

If news anchors and teachers union representatives continue to label pro-American and age-appropriate educational materials as “problematic,” does it mean our schools are in more serious trouble than we thought? YES.

Over the past several weeks, television and online media continues to lose their virtual minds with the news that PragerU Kids is now approved to provide supplemental and optional curricula in Florida, Oklahoma, New Hampshire, and now Montana. Vanity Fair has multiple articles lambasting PragerU’s content. USA Today, Forbes and People all jumped on the groupthink bandwagon too – with talking points nearly identical to Daily Beast’s initial interpretation. MSNBC’s Alex Wagner scoffed that our videos mention Judeo-Christian values on occasion—despite that our Pledge of Allegiance contains the words “under God” and the fact that the official motto of the United States remains (at least, for now) “In God We Trust.” Local news stations have featured countless panicked soundbites from uninformed parents and union reps committing to keep PragerU Kids “out” of their schools. Media Matters for America ranted on X detailing our “lowlights.” And, Yahoo News warned readers that we “lack academic accreditation” despite countless school districts across America currently using non-accredited teaching materials from Black Lives Matter that encourage political activism and that includes videos on pan-sexuality.

While accusations labeling PragerU Kids as “right-wing propaganda in schools” are outright lies (go to our website and judge the videos for yourself), the frenzy started as hilarious but now has turned terrifying for everyone – regardless what side of the aisle you happen to be on. Why does aiming to unite youngsters, despite our differences and historical faults, make people angry? Because much of our school system, government leaders and powerful unions no longer seem to want children to be unified as Americans. Rest In Peace, E Pluribus Unum?

Another tragedy is that the media, school boards, and educators have bought into the anti-American rhetoric. Civil discourse and rational questions from concerned parents and citizens continue to be squashed online and in public forums, in what seems to be an effort to protect a politicized education system that not only embraced the idea that America is a terrible place, but has also downright failed children.

Recent findings from the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) prove reading scores have plummeted to dismal levels, with 30-40% of 4th graders falling below basic standards. The NAEP recently cited “20 years of progress… gone.” Only 13% of America’s 8th graders are capable of explaining significant people, places, and documents in U.S. history. Meanwhile, many state education departments insist on prioritizing gender fluidity activities, systemic racism lessons, and Social Emotional Learning (SEL) surveys that ask young learners if they are “non-binary”—often without parental knowledge or consent.

And, if parents like me question these separatist tactics and realities in a public forum, we are told to shut up for being racist or unkind. For decades, the left has stripped us of having a voice for our own children’s education—scrapping American values and ideas from schools while promoting radical ideology and rewriting history. The result? Timeless American values like hard work, equality, responsibility and tolerance are lambasted as being “problematic.”

This is a major problem.

As a California mom, I sought choice. I pulled my children out of our “high-performing” school district years ago because of age-inappropriate initiatives and lack of transparency. Those of us who begged for a renewed focus on academics that support common cultural literacy to connect us as Americans are labeled “domestic terrorists” or “extremists.” We refuse to be bullied anymore.

And, PragerU Kids—created by a few moms in California two years ago, who were frustrated with activism in our classrooms (me being one of them)—is now approved to provide a bridge between parents and educators seeking wholesome options for children. What does this mean? Transparency and local control. Schools in Florida, Oklahoma, New Hampshire, and Montana (with more states being added soon) now have the option to use our materials and turnkey lesson plans at their discretion, per needs that differ from district to district—whether that includes our Otto’s Tales books about American holidays for young learners, our Cash Course video about understanding taxes, our Street Smarts episode about the Bill of Rights, or our 5-Minute Video about president Calvin Coolidge’s accomplishments. No secrets. No surprises. You don’t like something? Don’t use it. How does this squash diversity of thought, critical thinking, or freedom of speech?

Yes, PragerU Kids is a firm believer in teaching students life skills, goodness, appreciation for each other, and love for country with wholesome materials—what any reasonable American parent wants. And if learning about how money works, how our government was set up to function, or how America is a great country to live in is now considered “harmful and hateful,” liberals and conservatives should equally be terrified.


The 'Don't Hire Women' Act

Having a baby? There's a new law meant for you: the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act.

America needs this law, say activists, because "pregnant workers, especially those in low-wage and physically demanding jobs, have been forced to choose between their health and a paycheck."

In my new video, Vanessa Brown Calder, director of Family Policy at the Cato Institute, explains why this new law will make life worse for many women.

"These policies are motivated by good intentions," says Calder. "But that doesn't mean that the consequences of these policies will turn out well."

Calder, who is pregnant, thinks the law will lead to fewer women being hired in the first place.

The Americans with Disabilities Act is a good example of that.

Both Democrats and Republicans applauded when President George H.W. Bush signed it. Everyone loves the ADA.

But the law hurt disabled people who want to work.

Before it passed, more disabled people got jobs, year after year. When it passed, almost 30% were in the workforce. But once the ADA passed, employment of disabled workers dropped by half!

It happened because of the job "protection." Employers fear disability lawsuits. They're afraid that if a disabled person doesn't work out, they'll never be able to fire them. Now the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act will make hiring young women risky.

"You may be a lawsuit bomb," I say to Calder, who nods and says: "It does make women more risky and more costly to hire. Employers don't know exactly what accommodation the woman might ask for."

It's safer for the employer to say, "I'm just not going to hire you. There's no way for the government to know why I didn't hire."

"Companies get good at working their way around these regulations," Calder responds.

But government officials assume their laws will do what they're supposed to do. They also are eager to please special interest groups.

The chair of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission went before cameras to brag that this law has support from "businesses, faith, health, women's and civil rights organizations!"

So, what?

"Activists think of the short-term effects of the law," says Calder. "It's pretty easy to get behind a superficial reading of the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act and think that it could be a good idea."

"The momentum is always for more rules," I say.

"Oftentimes there's guidance issued many years after the fact," says Calder. "This is probably just the beginning."

The growing number of rules kills jobs in several ways.

Since the rule applies to companies with 15 or more employees, it's an incentive for companies with 14 employees to stay small.

"You get penalized as you grow," says Calder.

"Without a law like this, who would hire someone like you?" I ask. "You might have more medical problems. You're going to leave, for weeks at least."

"Pregnant workers bring a lot to the table," she responds. "Many employers see that. But when you create a one-size-fits-all policy like this, it starts to raise many employers' concerns."

I ask: "The Cato Institute should have the right to fire you because you got pregnant?"

"I think they should," responds Calder. "Because I want people like me to be able to be hired in the first place."

Exactly. I'm a stutterer. I didn't have my stuttering under control when I applied for my first job. Had the ADA existed then, I could have demanded special accommodation. "Disability lawyers" would have been ready to protect my "rights."

No TV station would have risked hiring me! I would have never gotten a chance.

Now the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act will kill opportunities for women.


Decay: Major Retailers Announce Hundreds of New Store Closures Due to Mounting Crime in Cities

Back in the tumultuous summer of 2020, rioting was shockingly widely excused within Democrat-Left political circles -- to the point that Joe Biden indulged "defund the police" toxicity, and Kamala Harris encouraged her supporters to contribute to a radical bail fund for criminals. A prominent news editor was forced out of his post by a howling mob for allowing a headline that critiqued property destruction. Terrible, lasting, destructive pro-criminal policies were enacted, in the name of "progress" and "equity." We were even lectured by "experts" not to accurately describe the criminal activity exploding across the country. Our society is still grappling with the consequences more than three years later.

One of the fashionable justifications for rioting and looting was that large companies held insurance policies, so such crimes were, essentially, victimless. This was always dangerous ignorance. It fueled lawlessness that has resulted in immense harm and even deaths. Many small businesses could not, and still cannot, weather crime sprees. Blathering about insurance doesn't save a family-owned store teetering on the brink, as neighborhood safety deteriorates. Even large corporations can only withstand so much, hence the exodus of businesses from decaying urban center and the shuttering of franchises by enormous companies like Starbucks (which has faced other woke comeuppance), McDonald's, Whole Foods, and other major chains.

When, say, a Walgreens location is closed down due to crime and deteriorating conditions, "insurance" doesn't fix that. It doesn't magically provide new jobs for the displaced employees. It doesn't suddenly furnish local senior citizens with convenient local options to pick up necessary prescription medication. It doesn't patch up a community that's slowly, or rapidly, circling the drain. These are very real costs, for real people. And the wages of such reckless policies continue to pile up across America's major cities -- the vast majority of which operate under one-party rule. The damage continues:

CVS is set to close hundreds of stores across the country as it undergoes a complete retail overhaul – as more outlets move towards online sellers amid rampant increases in crime. The major drugstore chain is coming to the end of a policy launched in 2021 which will see 300 stores closed each year - meaning 900 will have shuttered by 2024. In the announcement, which has hit headlines again recently amid rampant shoplifting at the chain, bosses they said that they were undergoing a new 'retail footprint strategy.' ...Thousands of stores across the US have been forced to lock up basic products like toothpaste and deodorant following a spike in shoplifting...Stores catch shoplifters roughly 2 percent of the time, with the average shoplifter being arrested once out of every 100 incidents...Rival pharmacies are making similar moves to close their doors, with Rite Aid and Walgreens also closing stores. Rite Aid announced it would close two more stores earlier this month, following the closure of 25 stores earlier this year, amid reports the company is preparing to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

These decisions aren't entirely about crime; other pressure-building trends are also in the mix. But consequence-free lawlessness plunges a dagger into any hopes of keeping many of these brick and mortar stores open. Companies can't make a profit and can't keep employees safe. Another new example:

Target put itself in some consumers' crosshairs by wading into certain controversial culture war matters, reaping negative impacts from resulting boycotts. Throw in "mounting thefts and organized retail crime," and it's literally lights out for multiple locations, and potential unemployment for dozens or hundreds of people -- including those who can't afford to commute to other retail locations further away. The great hollowing out continues:

Target will close nine store in four states, including one in East Harlem, New York and three in the San Francisco Bay Area, saying that theft and organized retail crime have threatened the safety of its workers and customers. The closings, which will be effective Oct. 21, also include three stores in Portland, Oregon, and two in Seattle...Target described the decision as "difficult." "We know that our stores serve an important role in their communities, but we can only be successful if the working and shopping environment is safe for all," Target said in a statement on Tuesday.

New York City, the Bay Area, Portland, and Seattle. What a surprise. We've seen similar movement in Chicago, who's soft-on-crime leaders then have the gall to complain about the "food deserts" being created by their own failed policies (with the mayor now suggesting a guaranteed-to-fail communist "solution" out of desperation). "They have insurance" doesn't cut it, and it can't make up for gaping holes in business models that are this large. The words "only modestly" are doing a lot of work in this report:

Retail executives over the past year have talked a lot about “shrink” — or the losses they take due to theft, fraud or employee error — amid a flood of headlines about sometimes violent organized thefts at stores. But results from a retail-industry survey released Tuesday found the metric rose only modestly last year. The report from the National Retail Federation, a retail industry group, found that the average shrink rate in 2022 crept higher to 1.6% from 1.4% in the prior year, when calculated as a share of sales. The figure from 2022 is in line with those seen in 2020 and 2019. Still, the losses amounted to billions of dollars — $112.1 billion, up from $93.9 billion in 2021 — according to the report. And the report said that retailers were increasingly concerned about the violence of those crimes.

The costs of "shrink" aren't just absorbed. They're passed down to consumers, which is the last thing consumers need in an age of sky-high, inflation-fueled prices. Either that, or stores disappear altogether. Call it a Democratic policy two-fer.