Thursday, February 01, 2018

Life expectancy increases are slowing around the world due to the AIDs pandemic and a disinterest in public health, study reveals

Rubbish! In the developed world, life expectancy is probably approaching an asymptote.  All the easy fixes to causes of early death are now mostly in place.  Fixes of the remaining  forms of early death will require large medical advances which may take a long time to arrive

Life expectancy increases are slowing around the world, new research suggests.

Although global life expectancies have increased since 1950, the rate of this rise has eased regardless of how developed the nation is, a study found.

Between 1950 and 1959, the average person's life expectancy increased by 9.68 years, compared to just 1.89 years in 2000 to 2009, the research adds.

Life expectancy growth rates are expected to slow in developed countries as people approach the maximum age of human existence, which is generally up to 83 years old.

Yet, this should not occur in less-developed regions that have continuously improving incomes, sanitation and medicine.

The researchers believe the global HIV pandemic, as well as disinterest in public health, has significantly slowed life expectancy progress in less developed countries.

In the US, the life expectancy is around 78 years. 


This Junk-Science Approach to Sexual Assault Cases Would Trample on Rights of the Accused

It throws all conceptions of justice out on their ear.  Lying women are all too common.  Britain jails a few of them every year

A group of bipartisan congressmen have introduced a bill in the House of Representatives that would award monetary grants to law enforcement and related agencies that use so-called “trauma-informed investigation” for handling cases of sexual violence and stalking.

The money distributed under H.R. 4720 would directly fund training programs that instruct relevant personnel on a “trauma-informed” approach to crimes of sexual violence, informed by “the fundamentals of the neurobiology of trauma [and the] impact of trauma on victims.”

H.R. 4720 pursues the admirable goal of promoting justice in the interests of victims. However, despite these good intentions, it fails to achieve that goal and instead promotes a scientifically unsound pseudo-science and a criminal justice theory completely at odds with well-established concepts of procedural due process.

Congress should reject this effort to fundamentally alter the role of the impartial police investigator.

 What is a ‘trauma-informed’ investigation? Trauma-informed investigative practices are an offspring of the “Start by Believing” campaign, launched in 2011 by End Violence Against Women International as part of its goal to “transform the way we respond to sexual assault.”

As the name suggests, the basic premise of the campaign is to dramatically reconstruct the role of law enforcement officers, detectives, and other investigators of sexual assault by training them to focus on how the complainant could be telling the truth despite evidence to the contrary.

Under this approach, investigators should no longer be neutral, third-party fact-gatherers, but agents of the person alleging sexual assault. They should assume all complainants are genuine victims and must find ways of making even inconsistent, inaccurate, and exculpatory evidence support the complainant’s allegations.

“Trauma-informed investigation” theory attempts to cloak “Start by Believing” with an air of scientific credibility, instructing investigators and adjudicators of assault claims to consider the “neurobiology of trauma” and how it affects an alleged victim’s behaviors and ability to recall information.

Proponents of this theory claim that trauma—such as being sexually assaulted—often causes a disabling physiological response that severely inhibits victims’ memories of an event, limits their cognizance of time frames, and results in actions otherwise considered abnormal by a passive observer.

In layman’s terms, “trauma-informed” investigators are told to ignore standard red flags, such as inconsistent accounts, counterintuitive behavioral responses, and even factually wrong statements, because these things are normal from trauma victims.

In fact, because these are the exact type of responses expected of “real victims,” their presence should be interpreted as evidence that the complainant experienced psychological trauma and must be telling the truth.

‘Trauma-informed investigation’: Scientifically and legally problematic

There are two substantial problems with the use of a “trauma-informed” approach to criminal investigations.

First, it is based on “junk science” with no grounding in reality. Second, its use necessarily destroys very important due process safeguards, effectively stacking the deck against any person accused of sexual assault and increasing the risk of erroneous convictions.

It is absolutely true that victims of trauma will respond to the experience in a variety of ways, some of which may be out of step with how even the victim thought he or she would react.

It is also true that people who experience the most severe cases of trauma—such as those who spend time in war zones—may have gaps in their memory of the events. Such gaps can also exist due to the presence of drugs or alcohol, which limit the brain’s ability to form and retain memories.

However, there is no scientific support for claims that victims of trauma store infallible, but “fragmented,” memories, as proponents of the neurobiology of trauma contend.

In fact, many studies seem to indicate an opposite conclusion. As Richard McNally, a Harvard psychology professor and expert on trauma and memory, notes in his book “Remembering Trauma,” extreme stress is known to often enhance the subsequent recall of life-threatening incidents.

This is not to say that this enhanced recall will always be present, but it is certainly not evidence tending to support a theory that victims of trauma suffer from memory-recall problems as a general rule.

Equally disturbing is the apparent lack of concern from proponents about the well-documented malleability of memory, or the very real likelihood that complainants can be vulnerable to post-event suggestions that lead them to label consensual acts as rape.

As one writer from The Atlantic has noted, the neurobiology of trauma theory is eerily reminiscent of the “repressed memory” scare of the 1980s and 1990s, which is now widely regarded as “psychiatric folklore devoid of convincing empirical support.”

The use of “trauma-informed investigation” in criminal cases also poses significant, perhaps even irreconcilable, constitutional problems. Under the Fifth and 14th Amendments, no person may be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law.

Procedural due process ensures that a defendant facing criminal charges receives adequate and fair proceedings for the determination of his guilt or innocence. Although what constitutes “fairness” is relative and may depend on the circumstances of the particular defendant (Snyder v. Massachusetts), there are certain safeguards that the Supreme Court has determined are absolutely necessary to the provision of procedural due process.

The presence of an impartial investigator concerned with separating fact from fiction—one who does not take sides, but who gathers and analyzes evidence in a neutral light—is a principle vitally important to the concept of fundamental fairness.

Like the presumption of innocence and the use of a reasonable-doubt standard, the use of neutral investigators is a prime instrument in reducing the risk of convictions based on factual errors.

But this is, in fact, the very purpose of “trauma-informed” investigation. In the words of Janet Halley, a professor at Harvard Law School, the intended effect of “trauma-informed” investigation training is “100 percent aimed to convince [training recipients] to believe complainants, precisely when they seem unreliable and incoherent.”

One poignant illustration of just how devastating “trauma-informed” investigations can be to due process is the case of a male former student at the University of Oregon who is now suing the school and several school officials after finally having his suspension for sexual assault overturned by a judge.

The student, known only as John Doe, was accused of rape by a female student, whose inconsistent—and sometimes blatantly false—testimony was either ignored or, worse, weaponized under the “neurobiology of trauma” theory as proof that she was raped.

The stunning ways school investigators managed to ignore the overwhelming weight of the evidence is detailed in John Doe’s complaint, which was filed in federal district court.

If Congress is truly worried about helping victims of sexual assault, it will not fund training programs designed to obfuscate the due process rights of every person accused of this heinous crime.

Due process safeguards are not obstacles to be overcome or avoided. They are, on the contrary, precious protections of liberty to be cherished in a free society that values justice and equality before the law.

Depriving defendants of due process rights does not make justice easier to obtain, but harder to obtain, because it taints convictions with the most conscience-damning burden known to a just society; namely, doubt.

When the even-handed and fair nature of a society’s justice system sits in doubt, its legitimacy as an institution sits equally in doubt.


Rep. Pete Sessions: No Pathway to Citizenship; Make Dreamers Guest Workers

Rep. Pete Sessions (R-Texas) is among the conservatives who opposes a pathway to citizenship for the 690,000 people who were brought to this country illegally as children but who received temporary legal status under President Barack Obama's DACA program.

Sessions told CNN on Monday it is an issue that needs to be dealt with, but he favors guest worker status, not eventual citizenship:

"I am for them receiving what we've called a long time as guest worker status. That is what (Rep.) Bob Goodlatte has -- that's the bill that we are pushing in the House."

Sessions said he's concerned about adding another million or so dreamers to the already burdened Medicare and Social Security rolls:

"Why would we bring people into our system that would cause it to be a failure? Why would we allow people who are in this country to move ahead of people who lawfully attempting to do that?" he asked.

"So we want to give them a status that they can continue to work in this country, continue to follow the law and continue to work and be a part of what this country does, but we do not think that having a citizenship pathway is the correct way to do it. But addressing them much like what other countries do -- and they are welcome in this country but we should not extend citizenship as part of the DACA plan."

President Trump has outlined a plan that would grant legal status and eventual citizenship not only to DACA enrollees but to all 1.8 million dreamers, many of whom did not sign up for DACA.


Australian senator attacks cultural awareness training as ‘racism’

Liberal Democrat David Leyonhjelm has accused the federal government of racism after the staff of all federal politicians were offered special “cultural awareness” training to help them interact with Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders.

Ministerial and parliamentary services employees were offered two hours’ training designed to provide “a better understanding of indigenous Australians in your workplace, social environments and the community in which you live and work”.

“Whether you are delivering services specifically to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, working with indigenous colleagues, working with the general public or you just want to increase your understanding about the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people you live with, this course is of benefit to you,” an email to staff said.

The course includes an overview of indigenous Australian history; the modern impact; understanding common terms and indigenous culture; protocols, including awareness of sensitive issues affecting indigenous people, and indigenous people in today’s workplace.

Senator Leyonhjelm said although the training was not compulsory, he was opposed to the use of taxpayers’ money to deliver it. “It’s racist because it favours a particular race (indigenous Australians) over another race (all other Australian races),” Senator Leyonhjelm said.

“It infers other Australians require training to become culturally aware of indigenous Australians, whereas we don’t require training to be aware of other cultures (Swedish barons, for example).”

He said such training was “misguided”. “I went to school with Aborigines and we mostly got on fine,” he said. “When people choose to be racists, cultural training won’t help.”

Australian Conservatives senator Cory Bernardi said: “This kind of tokenistic fawning is symptomatic of the growing malaise relentlessly foisted upon us by the politically correct mafia.”

Finance Minister Mathias Cormann said the training was not compulsory.


Not sure whether the Senator referred to a Swedish barony above or whether a journalist inserted it. Leyonhjelm (Lion helmet) is a Swedish baronial title and the senator is of that ilk


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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