Thursday, April 30, 2020

AG Barr Directs Federal Prosecutors to Protect ‘Civil Liberties’ During COVID-19

Attorney General William Barr on Monday directed U.S. attorneys to “be on the lookout” for state and local governments violating constitutional rights of individuals during the strict COVID-19 restrictions at the state and local level.

“Many policies that would be unthinkable in regular times have become commonplace in recent weeks, and we do not want to unduly interfere with the important efforts of state and local officials to protect the public,” Barr states in a memo to U.S. attorneys.

“But the Constitution is not suspended in times of crisis,” he added. “We must therefore be vigilant to ensure its protections are preserved, at the same time that the public is protected. I thank you for your attention to this important initiative and for your service to our country.”

Barr is directing Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights Eric Dreiband, and U.S. Attorney Matthew Schneider, of the Eastern District of Michigan, to monitor state and local policies and, “if necessary, take action to correct them,” the memo says. 

“These kinds of restrictions have been necessary in order to stop the spread of a deadly disease but there is no denying that they have imposed tremendous burdens on the daily lives of all Americans,” Barr acknowledges in the memo. 

In the memo Barr specifically notes the importance of upholding the rights of religious believers, writing:

As the Department of Justice explained recently in guidance to states and localities taking steps to battle the pandemic, even in times of emergency, when reasonable and temporary restrictions are placed on rights, the First Amendment and federal statutory law prohibit discrimination against religious institutions and religious believers.

“The legal restrictions on state and local authority are not limited to discrimination against religious institutions and religious believers,” the Monday memorandum adds.

“For example, the Constitution also forbids, in certain circumstances, discrimination against disfavored speech and undue interference with the national economy,” Barr continues.

“If a state or local ordinance crosses the line from an appropriate exercise of authority to stop the spread of COVID19 into an overbearing infringement of constitutional and statutory protections, the Department of Justice may have an obligation to address that overreach in federal court.”

Barr previously directed federal prosecutors to prioritize cases against price gauging from the pandemic, from either hoarding scarce medical resources to sell them for extortionate prices or committing fraud against the ill.


Widespread Antibodies Raise Questions About State Shutdowns

The fourth and most recent COVID-19 antibody study — this one conducted in Miami-Dade County, Florida — appears to corroborate three previous studies from California and New York. In short, the virus infection has spread much more widely than has been reported. University of Miami researchers determined that an estimated 6% (or 165,000) of the county’s population has been infected by the virus. The current official number of those having tested positive for COVID-19 in the county is roughly 10,600 and the virus’s death toll in the county sits at 287.

If the findings of the University of Miami’s antibody testing are accurate, it would indicate that the death rate from the virus is around 0.17% — well below the official estimates. Clearly seeking to counter the criticism leveled at the earlier tests, The Miami Herald noted, “UM researchers used statistical methods to account for the limitations of the antibody test, which is known to generate some false positive results. The researchers say they are 95% certain that the true amount of infection lies between 4.4% and 7.9% of the population, with 6% representing the best estimate.” Furthermore, “UM researchers say their findings are more robust than most because they used Florida Power & Light to generate phone numbers in targeted demographic areas, leading to a more randomized selection of participants.”

The more these antibody studies are conducted, the more it appears to corroborate the Stanford University study in Santa Clara, California, which found that the COVID-19 infection rate is vastly higher than reported. In fact, the results of these tests lend more support to those arguing that the state governments’ mandated shutdown and shelter-in-place orders may have been an unnecessary overreaction. Expect these voices to only grow louder, as the damage to the economy is more fully realized over the coming weeks.

Veteran journalist Brit Hume added this perspective: “We were trying to flatten the curve of the growth of the spread of the virus to protect our hospital systems … from getting overwhelmed. Now as it turns out, as a result of these measures … hospitals all across the country … are becoming collateral damage. We may end up doing more damage to our hospital systems because of under-crowding than … overcrowding. … The people who are overwhelmingly vulnerable to this are the elderly and those with underlying health conditions, and if you’re not in that category … it’s not clear we really needed to close everything down.”


US gives go-ahead to Israel takeover of West Bank

The US says it is ready to recognise Israel’s ­annexation of much of the West Bank but wants the new unity government to negotiate with the Palestinians.

Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who last week reached a power-sharing deal to remain in office after three inconclusive elections, has vowed to press ahead with annexations that the Palestinians say will shut the door to a two-state solution.

A Middle East “vision” unveiled in January by US President Donald Trump gave a green light to annexations, but Mr Netan­yahu’s coalition deal with centrist Benny Gantz means the ­cabinet will consult Washington before moving forward.

“As we have made consistently clear, we are prepared to recognise Israeli actions to extend ­Israeli sovereignty and the applic­ation of Israeli law to areas of the West Bank that the vision foresees as being part of the state of Israel,” a US State Department spokeswoman said on Tuesday (AEST).

The step would be “in the context­ of the government of Israel­ agreeing to negotiate with the Palestinians along the lines set forth in President Trump’s ­vision,” she said.

Mr Trump, whose evangelical Christian base is staunchly pro-Israel, has granted a wish list to Mr Netanyahu over the past three years.

His Middle East plan would let Israel annex Jewish settlements in the West Bank — which the rest of the world considers illegal — and exert sovereignty all the way to Jordan.

The Palestinians would be granted a sovereign but demilit­ar­ised state, along with promises of major investment.

The Palestinian state’s capital would be on the outskirts of Jerusalem, the contested holy city which would remain fully under Israeli sovereignty.

“This is an unprecedented and highly beneficial opportunity for the Palestinians,” the State ­Department spokeswoman said.

The comments expand on ­remarks last week by US Secret­ary of State Mike Pompeo, who said annexation was ultimately “an Israeli decision”.

The Palestinians have refused to negotiate with the Trump administr­ation, considering it biased, and the EU has also critic­ised Mr Trump’s plan as failing to achieve a two-state solution.

The Arab League plans to hold a virtual meeting this week to discus­s the annexation plan, which under the Israeli coalition deal could happen as soon as July.

Earlier, an Israeli court ­ordered the Palestinian Author­ity to pay nearly $US150m ($233m) in damages to the families of people killed in militant ­attacks. The decision comes after a lawsuit brought by Shurat Hadin, an Israeli legal advocacy group, on behalf of relatives of victims of several attacks, mostly carrie­d out during the second Palestini­an uprising in the early 2000s. A previous court ruling from last year found the Palestinian Authority to be liable for those attacks, along with other actors.

The Jerusalem court ruled that the funds would come from tax money that Israel collects on behalf of Palestinians. Shurat Hadin had asked that more than $2bn be paid in compensation.

The court gave Israel until next month to request that the order be annulled. Israel might consider appealing against the ruling if it fears that freezing the funds could destabilise the cash-strapped Palestinian government.

“We continue to fight even 20 years later and we will not rest until we achieve justice for terror victims,” said Nitsana Darshan-Leitner, the head of Shurat Hadin.

Palestinian Authority spokesman Hussein al-Sheikh called the decision “piracy and theft of Palestinia­n money”.

Under interim peace deals, ­Israel collects customs duties and other taxes on behalf of the Western­-backed authority, and transfers the funds to the Palestinians each month. These transfers cover a sizeable chunk of the Palestinian government’s budget.

Israel has in the past frozen the transfers to penalise the Palestinians for certain policies or actions.


Price-gouging idiocy

It’s an emergency and, therefore, it’s once again time for price-gouging idiocy and the further destruction of liberty in America.

The New York Times reports that two brothers, Matt Colvin and Noah Colvin, who stockpiled 17,700 bottles of hand sanitizer have entered into a settlement with state officials in Tennessee that enable them to avoid criminal prosecution. Since the brothers have donated their supplies to people, state officials decided that that constituted sufficient punishment.

Why, isn’t that nice of them?

The brothers had sold 300 bottles of hand sanitizer on Amazon for at a much higher price than what they had paid. In other words, they were making a big profit on the items.

A profit! OMG! How terrible is that! Where are Mao, Stalin, Fidel Castro, and other socialists when we need them?

The Tennessee price-gouging law prohibits people from setting “unreasonable” prices for essential items in an emergency. Of course, “unreasonable” is whatever state officials say it is.

It’s probably worth mentioning that the Colvin brothers have been made to promise that they will be good little boys and not do it again. Expressing sorrow and repentance is always an important aspect of any price-gouging settlement.

A free society — a genuinely free society (as compared to a society that falsely purports to be a free society) — is based on the principle of private ownership of property. In a society based on private property, people are free to sell whatever they own for whatever they want, regardless of emergency or crisis.

After all, it’s their property. They own it. Not the state. Not society. Not others. The owner owns it. Given that he owns it, he has to right to do whatever he wants with it — hoard it, sell it, or even destroy it. No one has the right to force anyone to give up what he rightfully owns.

By the same token, people have the right not to buy whatever a person is selling. If someone doesn’t like the price at which an item is selling, he is free to walk away. The owner has no right to force anyone to buy the item he is selling and at the price at which he is selling it.

It’s no different in an emergency or crisis. What a person owns is his.

Speculators — or “price gougers as state officials call them — are people who risk their money to buy and stockpile items that they think are going to be in scarce supply. Speculators seem to have a special talent in recognizing profit opportunities in markets, a talent that most people lack.

I highly recommend reading one of the best essays ever written on speculators — “The Speculator as Hero” by libertarian Victor Niederhoffer, which appeared in the February 10, 1989, issue of the Wall Street Journal. You can read it here on FFF’s website.

Oftentimes, speculators will buy large quantities of items with the expectation that market conditions are going to be such that they will be able to sell their stockpiled items at an enormous profit.

They have every right to do that. Everyone has the right to buy whatever he wants to buy and then sell it for whatever he wants. But keep in mind an important caveat: You might lose your shirt doing this. If a crisis or emergency doesn’t materialize, you might be stuck with thousands of bottles of hand sanitizer or N95 masks that you have to sell at a loss.

That’s the nature of market speculation. it’s not a risk-free endeavor. It’s not for everyone. In fact, it’s not for most people. Speculators have been known to lose their entire fortune in just a few speculative trades.

A speculator performs an invaluable service for society. When the emergency or crisis hits, he immediately raises the price of his item — maybe, say, by 1800 percent. That tremendous increase in price immediately sends a signal to consumers that says: “Time to conserve this item. It’s scarce. Don’t waste it.” At the same time, it sends a message to producers: “Time to produce this item if you want to make money.”

That message is what brings things back into balance. People conserve while the item is in scarce supply and producers begin producing with the aim of flooding the market with additional items.

State officials and their price-gouging laws destroy this critically important information-sending aspect of a market economy. By keeping prices of essential items artificially low, they send the following message to consumers: “No need to conserve. Just keep doing what you were doing before. Supplies are plentiful.” At the same time, they send the following message to sellers: “No need to produce additional items. There is no profit in it.”

It’s a shame that state officials have still not learned economic principles that were set forth as far back as 1776 in Adam Smith’s book The Wealth of Nations. Instead of going after price-gougers, they should be suing their college economics professors for educational malpractice.



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


Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Herd Immunity Might Be the Answer

Last week, CDC Director Robert Redfield warned of a second wave of coronavirus emerging in the fall. Dr. Anthony Fauci concurred, but he insisted America will not be as unprepared as it was this time. “In the fall we will be much, much better prepared to do the kind of containment compared to what happened to us this winter,” he stated.

As America has learned, “containment” is a loaded word. “In this current crisis, the longest if not the first complete shutdown in U.S. history, the freedoms of American democracy are being tested in ways we scarcely ever imagined,” writes historian Victor Davis Hanson.

Hanson is somewhat in error. Members of the globalist-minded ruling class have long imagined the “fundamental transformation” of America, and there is little question their corporate media shills have run what is arguably the most successful panic-inducing campaign in the nation’s history. That media-anointed “experts” have been wrong, sometimes by an order of several magnitudes? That millions of Americans have been so traumatized they may never recover?

As far as the media are concerned, it is utter folly to even suggest that locking down the nation might have been the wrong course of action.

Yet context is everything. Americans must never forget that media elitists remain well paid and well fed, even as they deem themselves worthy of lecturing millions of their fellow Americans with no money, no jobs, and virtually no hope about their shortcomings. Their fellow elitists eat ice cream while Americans wait at food banks. They receive concierge medical treatment in the Hamptons while millions can’t get desperately needed medical treatment at all.

Nonetheless, the elites continue to insist that “flattening the curve,” even if it takes 18 months, is the only sensible — and moral — course of action.

Yet what are we to make of such an assessment in light of a possible second wave? America might not endure the current shutdown without massive economic and health consequences. A second shutdown could push the nation into post-apocalyptic territory, possibly precipitating even more death and destruction than the worst coronavirus projections.

Moreover, what does flattening the curve really mean? If the whole idea behind it was to prevent the healthcare system from being overwhelmed, we have certainly accomplished that.

But is it because we self-isolated? A study by the University of Southern California and the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health indicates that between 221,000 and 442,000 adults in that area have previously been infected. Another study in New York indicates as many as 2.7 million New Yorkers could have had the virus. And in Miami, approximately 165,000 people also have virus antibodies. All three totals far exceed the number of confirmed cases. More important, how does one square self-isolation in New York with open mass-transit systems?

Flattening the curve also implies something else. “If all you do is flatten the curve, you don’t prevent deaths or severe cases,” Dr. Katz explains. “You just change the dates.”

Possibly worse? Drs. Dan Erickson and Artin Massihi, whose urgent-care facility has tested over 5,200 patients, assert that lockdowns diminish peoples’ immune systems, increasing their vulnerability to the virus.

Dr. Scott Atlas, the former neuroradiology chief at Stanford University Medical Center concurs, writing, “Vital population immunity is prevented by total isolation policies, prolonging the problem.”

Unfortunately our policy-makers, most of whom have seemingly bought into the media’s moral absolutes, remain steadfast, even as they studiously avoid an uncomfortable question: Why are future deaths precipitated by the virus less immoral than present ones? Dead is dead, and the idea that we must consider any policy sacrosanct, even when it is one likely to precipitate a second wave of infections — and another shutdown — is astounding.

Which brings us to herd immunity. As Dr. Katz explains, herd immunity is accomplished by those at low risk of getting a serious infection moving about, getting coronavirus, and recovering, and thus developing antibodies that inhibit further spreading of the virus among the general population.

The problem with that approach? As columnist Steve Berman aptly notes in reference to Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp’s decision to begin opening up that state, no one wants to be a “beta tester.” Yet he acknowledges the current reality. “The problem here isn’t one of clinical fact, or statistical trends,” he adds. “It’s a problem of perception.”

No doubt. But at some point, the perception relentlessly drummed by the media into the American psyche will give way to what is likely to be a tsunami of emotional desperation, as in the realization that the cure is indeed far, far worse than the disease, and that life in isolation with no end in sight is no life at all.

Thus it is seemingly inevitable that Sweden, which has walked the walk of herd immunity, will become impossible to ignore. “In major parts of Sweden, around Stockholm, we have reached a plateau and we’re already seeing the effect of herd immunity and in a few weeks’ time we’ll see even more of the effects of that,” asserts Dr. Anders Tegnell, chief epidemiologist at Sweden’s Public Health Agency.

Tegnell also notes the rest of the country “is stable,” and while he acknowledges Sweden’s mortality rate is relatively high, he attributes it to “the introduction [of the virus] in elderly care homes.”

Regardless, the avalanche of moral reprobation directed at that nation has been fierce. While some of it is driven by genuine concern, much of it is the vilest form of political cynicism — perpetrated by those who see America’s failure as a political opportunity and any risk assessment about opening our own country that does not conform to the current narrative as heresy.

Heresy producing “blood on one’s hands.”

Yet tellingly, criticism has been far more muted regarding New York, despite a number of deaths precipitated by state health commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker’s decision requiring nursing homes to accept residents who tested positive for coronavirus — and Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s assertion that “it’s not our job” to ensure the safety of those facilities.

That’s the same Andrew Cuomo excoriated Trump for making a similar assertions regarding state versus federal responsibilities.

Apparently, some hands are “less bloody” than others.

If a second wave is inevitable, discussions of herd immunity must not be taboo, just as deaths caused by the policies associated with coronavirus cannot be deemed less important or less relevant than deaths caused by the virus itself.

Far more important, it’s also worth considering that the number of people with antibodies in New York, Los Angeles, and Miami doesn’t just indicate self-isolation might not be working. It may actually indicate herd immunity is already underway.

Whether our political leaders like it or not.


The contenders – and challenges – in the race to cure Covid

There are reasons to be optimistic about the therapies being tested

A striking feature of Covid-19 is how medieval our response has had to be. Quarantine was the way people fought plagues in the distant past. We know by now that it will take many months to get a vaccine, whose job is to prevent you getting the disease. But what about a cure once you have caught it: why is there no pill to take? The truth is that, advanced as medical science is, we are mostly defenceless against viruses. There is no antiviral therapy to compare with antibiotics for treating bacteria.

Arguably, virology in 2020 is where bacteriology was in the 1920s. At the time, most of the experts in that field — including Alexander Fleming and his mentor, the formidable Sir Almroth Wright (nicknamed Sir Always Wrong by his foes) — thought a chemical therapy that killed bacteria without harming the patient was a wild goose chase. Instead, they argued, theway to fight bacteria was to encourage the body’s immune system. ‘Stimulate the phagocytes!’ was the cry of Wright’s semi-fictional avatar Sir Colenso Ridgeon in George Bernard Shaw’s play The Doctor’s Dilemma (referring to white blood cells). Vaccines should be used to treat as well as prevent infections, thought Wright and Fleming. Fleming then turned this theory upside down with his discovery of penicillin in 1928.

There are two reasons for this failure to have anything on the shelf that can be used to treat viruses: one biological, the other economic. The biological problem, as Amesh Adalja of Johns Hopkins University argued in a prescient call to arms just before the pandemic struck, is that viruses do not have their own biochemistry, because they borrow ours.

So unlike, say, tuberculosis, there is not much to attack. As any doctor will tell you, antibiotics are no use in fighting a virus. They interfere with machinery found only in bacteria, but there is no equivalent machinery in viruses — which are just a bunch of genes (15 of them in the case of Sars-CoV-2) that borrow our body’s machinery to replicate themselves.

The problem is that viruses differ from each other, so treatments that work for one seldom work for another. The drugs that work against HIV-1, the main cause of Aids, sometimes do not even work against HIV-2,a milder version of the virus. Those that work against herpes don’t kill the very similar cytomegalovirus. One influenza drug works only against influenza A and not B. One antiviral kills just one genotype of hepatitis C. It is no coincidence that the antiviral treatments capable of attacking more kinds of virus, such as ribavirin, are also the most toxic to the patient, because they tend to attack the machinery of the host as well.

This is where the economic argument comes in. Highly specific drugs do not repay the vast sums necessary to get them through clinical trials to prove their efficacy. Many viruses lay out patients for only a short time — perhaps a matter of days. So patients do not come back for repeat prescriptions, further denting the incentive to develop the drug. Aids and herpes are long-lasting exceptions — sexually transmitted diseases need to lie low inside your genes to give you time to move on to a new partner — which is why they have attracted attention from pharmaceutical firms. By the time some drugs were ready to be tried against ebola in the 2014-15 epidemic in West Africa, it was over.

Protease inhibitors

None the less, the battles against HIV, ebola and Sars have left us with many more candidates for curing Covid-19 than we would otherwise have. The long search for Aids cures was eventually won with the help of drugs called protease inhibitors, which work by preventing the ‘cleavage’ (precise breaking) of a protein molecule, essential to the manoeuvre by which the virus gets into a cell.

Protease inhibitors tend to be highly specific, so the HIV ones are not necessarily useful against Sars-CoV-2. A different protease inhibitor, however, called camostat mesylate, already approved for use in Japan as a treatment for pancreatitis, is showing promise. It was found in 2012 to work against Sars in the laboratory. If successful, camostat mesylate will be useless against most other viruses, making it unprofitable in normal times, but in a pandemic of this size, Japan’s Ono Pharmaceutical won’t be out of pocket.


Invented by Gilead Sciences, the California firm that developed several HIV therapies, this compound fools the cell into using a fake version of a particular molecule when copying the virus’s genes, which are made of an alternative version of DNA called RNA. In theory such a trick should work against any virus that uses RNA for its genes and should not hurt patients because their genes are made of DNA. In 2015 remdesivir worked against ebola in monkeys, but in the 2018 epidemic in Congo it failed to make sufficient difference to ebola patients compared with other treatments.

In the lab, remdesivir kills a variety of coronaviruses and a recent report found that it cured cats of a coronavirus infection. During the current epidemic, it has been rushed into treatment on a compassionate-use basis in America for people who are dying. Preliminary results are promising and have caused a flurry of recent optimism, and the results of larger, controlled trials are eagerly awaited. However, remdesivir is unlikely to be the silver bullet because it is probably best if taken early in the infection, but you would not want to take it if you had a mild bout. It’s administered intravenously and has some nasty side effects.


There is more hope for favipiravir, sold as Avigan, one of the few antiviral treatments showing promise against more than one kind of virus. Bizarrely, it’s made by a subsidiary of Fujifilm, which diversified into chemicals and pharmaceuticals to avoid the fate of Kodak. Invented during the search for a herpes cure, it has since shown promise against influenza. Though good in the laboratory, it was only partially effective against ebola in Guinea in 2014, but initial trials on 80 coronavirus patients in China this year have suggested that it can speed up the recovery time for Covid patients, perhaps cutting it in half. So Fujifilm is now rushing to increase production and the drug has been cleared for use against coronavirus in Japan. The good news is it’s a pill, not an injection, and has few side effects except in pregnant women, where it is not safe.

The urgency surrounding a viral pandemic is fertile soil for exaggeration. Tamiflu, for influenza, is one of the world’s best-selling drugs, and governments spent billions acquiring stockpiles of it during the 2009 swine flu panic, to the benefit of Roche in particular. A lengthy campaign by the British Medical Journal has challenged the effectiveness of Tamiflu, pointing out that it has not been shown to work in randomised controlled trials. The drug’s defenders say this is unfair, as the medication’s partial effectiveness is so well established that it is now unethical deliberately to give half the patients in the trial no drug. In any case Tamiflu will not work against coronavirus: it targets an enzyme only used by influenza.

Monoclonal antibodies

If chemical treatments do not work, so-called monoclonal antibodies might. If someone recovers, their own body produces antibodies that smother the virus. These days it’s possible to mass-produce exact copies of the antibodies that work, using genetic engineering. Known as monoclonal antibodies, they proved to be the best way to treat ebola patients in Congo in 2018, when the US biotech firm Regeneron came up with a cocktail of human antibodies using genetically engineered mice. Regeneron has rushed a new cocktail of Covid-19 antibodies through the same procedure and hopes to have it ready to test in early summer. Scaling it up for mass production will not, however, be as easy as it would for a chemical pill.


French studies suggest that hydroxychloroquine, the malaria medication championed by Donald Trump, may well be at least a partial cure, especially if used in conjunction with the antibiotic azithromycin. But clinical trials are still awaited. It is not yet clear how it works: after all, malaria is neither a virus nor a bacterium, but a parasite. But hydroxychloroquine is used against rheumatoid arthritis and the autoimmune disease lupus. In the laboratory, it does seem to slow and inhibit the infection of cells by this coronavirus.

Hydroxychloroquine also tends to team up with the metal zinc and there are persistent and reliable reports that zinc either stops viruses replicating or helps the immune response to them. A gold-standard review of clinical trials found that zinc lozenges do shorten the duration of a cold by somehow interfering with virus replication. This does not just seem to be a diminishing-returns effect whereby having too little zinc, like having too little vitamin D, is bad, but once you have enough, having even more is no better. But if it is, up to a quarter of people in developing countries are deficient in zinc, and zinc deficiency is not uncommon among the elderly in western countries, so this may be part of the explanation why some elderly people are more seriously affected. In short, zinc supplements as a cheap medication, unrewarding to big pharma and therefore neglected, cannot be ruled out as a useful thing to try. Intriguingly, too much zinc kills your sense of taste, as does Covid-19 in many cases.

Altogether, I am now optimistic that within a month or two, one of the 30 or more therapies currently being tested is likely to prove effective and safe. Primed by Aids and ebola, we know where to look for chemicals that inhibit viruses, or prevent viruses replicating, in a way that we did not 20 years ago. If people can take a pill that drastically reduces their chances of dying, and clears up their symptoms before they need to be admitted to hospital, then we may not have to wait for a vaccine to end the lockdown and achieve herd immunity.


'Cinderella' abuse cases increase as sisters and stepsisters attack family

Number of domestic offences by females has soared as Priti Patel launches victim support campaign

"Cinderella" abuse by sisters and stepsisters has risen dramatically, as agencies warn that an increasing proportion of domestic abuse is perpetrated by women.

Figures from the Metropolitan Police show that domestic abuse offences committed by sisters have doubled from 641 in 2010 to 1,325 in 2018, while they have quadrupled for stepsisters and half-sisters from 33 to 142.

The police are investigating a rise in the number of domestic abuse offences committed by female family members, although the predominant violence remains that committed by ex-boyfriends, boyfriends and husbands.

Nationwide, attacks by women on family members have risen twice as fast as those by men. Female perpetrators now account for 28 per cent of cases - compared with 19 per cent a decade ago, although men were still identified in the majority of domestic violence incidents....


Top medical authority says Australia in ‘the same position as New Zealand’

Although Australia has been less strict

Australia’s top medical official has claimed Australia was seeing similar results to New Zealand despite not pursuing the country’s “elimination” strategy.

Australia’s chief medical officer Brendan Murphy said Australia was in a similar place to New Zealand where PM Jacinda Ardern says they’ve made significant strides towards eliminating coronavirus.

“There’s not a great difference between the aggressive suppression we are seeking, and elimination,” Prof Murphy told ABC’s 7.30 on Monday night.

Ms Ardern yesterday declared the country had “won the battle” against widespread community transmission of coronavirus, as the country eased some of its lockdown measures.

The country’s elimination strategy was enacted through lockdowns, with only essential services operating for more than four weeks and residents urged not to leave home.

But Prof Murphy said he was pleased with the results Australia were getting and said there was very little difference in the outcomes between Australia and New Zealand.

“The sort of numbers we’re getting at the moment … are pretty good, and if we can continue them as we expand our testing … that’s as good as elimination in many respects,” Prof Murphy said. “Elimination just means you’re not detecting any cases. It doesn’t mean you can relax.”

In New Zealand, a country with a population of five million, they’ve recorded a total 1122 cases of coronavirus. Of those infected, 19 have died.

Australia has recorded more than 6700 cases of coronavirus and 83 people have died from a population of 25 million.

Prof Murphy explained there could still be undetected coronavirus cases in the community, or asymptomatic carriers transmitting the virus.

“There’s not a great difference between the aggressive suppression we are seeking, and elimination.

“In fact we’re in pretty much the same position as New Zealand who have stated their claim to be one of elimination.” “We’re in a very similar place.”



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


Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Some US manufacturers reopening amid fierce political heat

Boeing and a small number of other manufacturers around the U.S. geared up Monday to resume production this week amid pressure from President Donald Trump to reopen the economy and resistance from governors who warn there is not enough testing yet to keep the coronavirus in check.

Boeing, one of the Pacific Northwest’s biggest employers, said it will put about 27,000 people back to work building passenger jets at its Seattle-area plants, with virus-slowing precautions in place, including face masks and staggered shift times.

Bobcat, a farm equipment manufacturer, announced it will resume production with about 600 employees in Bismarck, North Dakota.

Elsewhere around the world, step-by-step reopenings were underway in Europe, where the crisis has begun to ebb in places like Italy, Spain and Germany. Parts of the continent are perhaps weeks ahead of the U.S. in the trajectory of the disease, which has killed over 160,000 people worldwide.

The reopenings of certain industries is the U.S. are barely a drop in the bucket compared with the more than 22 million Americans thrown out of work by the crisis.

Businesses that start operating again are likely to engender good will with the Trump administration at at time when it is doling out billions to companies for economic relief. The president has been agitating to restart the economy, egging on protesters who feel governors are moving too slowly.

But reopening carries major risks, especially since people can spread the virus without even knowing they are infected. Many governors say they lack the testing supplies they need and warn that if they reopen their economies too soon, they could get hit by a second wave of infections.

The death toll in the U.S., the worst-hit country by far, was more than 40,000 with over 750,000 confirmed infections, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University of government reports. The true figures are believed to be much higher, in part because of limited testing and difficulties in counting the dead.

Protesters have taken to the streets in places such as Michigan, Ohio and Virginia, complaining that the shutdowns are destroying their livelihoods and trampling their rights. Defying the social-distancing rules and, in some cases, wearing no masks, demonstrators have berated their governors and demanded the firing of Dr. Anthony Fauci, the government’s top infectious-disease expert.

But on Monday, Fauci warned: “Unless we get the virus under control, the real recovery economically is not going to happen.”

“If you jump the gun and go into a situation where you have a big spike, you’re going to set yourself back. So, as painful as it is to go by the careful guidelines of gradually phasing into a reopening, it’s going to backfire,” he said on ABC’s “Good Morning America.”

In the past few days, Florida gave the OK for beaches to reopen, and Texas on Monday began a week of slow reopenings, starting off with state parks. Later, stores will be allowed to offer curbside service.

Washington state was the first in the nation to see a spike in COVID-19 cases and enacted strict shutdown orders that helped tamp the virus down. Europe was likewise well ahead of the U.S. on the curve.

The global game plan is to open up but maintain enough social distancing to prevent new flareups of the virus.


Why the travel ban did not work

On January 31st, the US imposed a travel ban of flights from China. At the time, I didn’t have strong views either way, but it seemed like a reasonable response given the uncertainty associated with the coronavirus epidemic. Today, we know that the travel ban failed completely. (As did the Italian travel ban on China, imposed on the same day.)  In this post, I’d like to explain why.

By the time the US imposed a Chinese travel ban, China had already imposed a quarantine on the entire province of Hubei, and had tightly locked down the entire country. As a result, there would have been no flights from Wuhan to the US even without the travel ban, and only a tiny number of infected passengers would have arrived here from other parts of China—probably less than ten.

In contrast, we received many infected people from Europe during the month of February, and this is one reason why the pandemic is so much worse on the East Coast than the West Coast (albeit not the only reason—density, climate, and a slightly later lockdown may also play a role.)

It’s possible that the travel ban created a false sense of security in February, which made the problem in the US even worse. But even if the travel ban did not create a false sense of security, and even if it did prevent a few infected people from reaching the US, it did not end up helping at all. Rather, at best, it delayed the epidemic by a few days.

With a few exceptions such as Taiwan, in most countries the government and public did not react until the caseload reached a certain threshold. While a travel ban could be helpful for countries with an effective anti-coronavirus policy, they are of no help at all in places where social distancing does not begin until the epidemic reaches X% of the population, such as the US and Europe. If you think of those famous graphs illustrating “flattening the curve”, it merely shifts the curve slightly to the right, without changing its size at all.

There are some countries, such as New Zealand, that require a 14-day quarantine for all new arrivals, and a ban on travel from most countries.  Unlike the US, however, New Zealand has in place a set of policies likely to completely eradicate the virus in the near future.  In that setting, travel restrictions may be helpful.  But they are basically useless in places such as the US and Europe. Today, new arrivals to the US have about as much impact on our caseload as a small stream has on the water level in the Pacific Ocean.  A drop in the bucket.

If the Chinese travel ban was justified in January, it is completely useless today. A random visitor from Canada is probably 1000 times more likely to infect an American as a random visitor from China.  (And if the Chinese data is off by a factor of 10, then 100 times more likely.)  So why do we allow visitors from Canada but not China?  I’m not certain, but I’d guess that an honest account would include the word “spite”.


Democrats Ignore Lockdown Protests At Their Peril

In addition to killing thousands of Americans and robbing millions more of their livelihoods, the COVID-19 outbreak has evidently deprived the Democrats of their political judgment. At the national and state levels they have disregarded voter lockdown protests with the same disdain with which they ignored the Tea Party movement 10 years ago. The Democrats have clearly forgotten the price they paid for that blunder. Between 2010 and 2016 they lost Congress, 13 governorships, 816 state legislative seats, and finally the presidency. They regained some ground in 2018, but they won’t retain it if they don’t recognize the protests as the foreshock of an electoral earthquake.

The voters have been extraordinarily patient with stay-at-home orders imposed by their governors and willingly incurred enormous financial risk for the greater public good. Likewise, they have shown remarkable self-control as their lives have been upended by wildly inaccurate projections by overcautious Beltway bureaucrats. Now, they have had enough and and are hitting the street. Lockdown protests have expanded to at least 20 states, but Democratic governors have been encouraged to ignore them by cynical partisans like House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.). When asked by Chris Wallace on “Fox News Sunday” if she could sympathize with the protesters, Madam Speaker answered in the negative:

No, not really, because what we have to do is shelter-in-place. That is really the answer.… I do think that it’s unfortunate — but you know people will do what they do. The fact is we’re all impatient. We all want out but what they’re doing is really unfortunate.… And so, does it serve as a distraction? Yes.

It’s absurd if not outright obscene for Pelosi to claim that “we’re all impatient,” as if everyone is suffering equally from the lockdowns. Few laid-off employees of retail clothing chains, coffee shops, and fitness centers can ameliorate their financial anxieties with an $11.60 pint of ice cream retrieved from a freezer that costs more than their cars. Nor can they put up with power-drunk decrees from Democratic governors like Gretchen Whitmer (D-Mich.), who has not only banned travel, boating, and golf but also sales of garden tools and paint that Michigan residents could use to beautify the homes that have suddenly become their private prisons. This kind of craziness is, of course, what sparked the protests.

Last week, the Trump administration provided state governors with a three-phase “road map” for reopening the country and recovering from the economic damage caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Some GOP states — Arkansas, Iowa, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah, and Wyoming — never issued stay-at-home orders for their residents. Other GOP states have announced plans for phased reopening. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott issued executive orders last Friday outlining the plan to reopen his state. Ohio, Idaho, and North Dakota are also moving toward reopening. But some Democratic states are resisting by forming compacts, which violates Article I, Section 10, Clause 3 of the Constitution:

No State shall, without the Consent of Congress, lay any Duty of Tonnage, keep Troops, or Ships of War in time of Peace, enter into any Agreement or Compact with another State, or with a foreign Power, or engage in War, unless actually invaded, or in such imminent Danger as will not admit of delay.

The catch is that pesky prohibition against entering into “any Agreement or Compact with another state.” Without the consent of Congress, this is unconstitutional. Yet, in the Northeast — Connecticut, Delaware, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, and Rhode Island have entered into an interstate compact. In the Midwest — Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin have also formed such a pact. In the West — California, Oregon, and Washington have entered into yet another compact. In other words, these governors hope to violate the Constitution to avoid reopening their states. This is a forlorn hope, however. All of these states are targets of the lockdown protesters.

As they resist the inevitable, they will be compared to more sensible Democratic governors like Montana Gov. Steve Bullock, who said last Friday that he plans to begin a phased reopening of the state’s economy after April 24. And there will also be those shots of happy people enjoying the sun-drenched beaches of Florida and South Carolina, which Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis and South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster have already reopened in their states. In some ways, this will be the most powerful public statement of all — the sight of “clueless conservatives” frolicking in the sand with our friends and families while the hapless residents of Democratic states watch us while they sit home and shelter in place.

Saturday, after Gov. Ron DeSantis opened up the beaches near Jacksonville, the hashtag #FloridaMoron trended for hours on Twitter. It’s unlikely that anyone on the beach bothered to look at Twitter while they inhaled the fresh air of freedom. Some things are more important than safety. Most Americans get that. This reality is the source of the lockdown protests, and it’s why the Democrats are committing yet another blunder by ignoring them and attempting to prolong the stay-at-home orders. The protests are the foreshocks of an electoral earthquake comparable to 2016 and perhaps even the Reagan landslide of 1984.


Australia: UBI still an unbelievably bad idea

Opportunists across the political spectrum have been emboldened by the current crisis to propose all manner of terrible ideas.

And among the worst is the universal basic income (UBI) —  a payment to all citizens, unconditional on income or wealth, without any obligation to be in work or study.

Supporters have seized on the government’s pandemic JobKeeper scheme as evidence we’re finally ready to embrace a UBI.

Of course, fans see it as panacea in good and bad times alike.

In good times, it’s the supposed solution to virtually all economic, ecological, and social ills. And in the current crisis, they argue a UBI is uniquely suited to deal with the surge of unemployed, the strain on the welfare system, and the apparent fiscal willingness to spend.

But not only are they wrong to equate JobKeeper with a UBI, they’re also mistaken that the coronanomics support their case anyway.

The JobKeeper payment imposes an effective wage floor for those employed in businesses facing an immediate, massive fall in revenue. These extraordinary circumstances are expected to be temporary, and when the crisis eventually ends, so does the payment. The worker is expected to go back to work, or to seek work on Newstart.

That’s a far cry from the UBI, which is not only permanent, but also is designed to remove the obligation to seek work.

Moreover, UBI proponents fundamentally misunderstand the nature of the economic conditions and today’s world of work.

Rather than a permanent reduction in the demand for labour, the present shutdown is a temporary contraction in labour demand due to forced closures and social distancing (with related reductions in short run supply).

Moreover, if economic life under social distancing has taught us anything, it’s that work has been supported, not threatened, by technology (exactly the opposite of what UBI supporters have been claiming). Indeed, technological integration into work — and study for that matter — has been a lifeline, saving jobs and livelihoods for many.

The other claim is that the government’s unprecedented spending allegedly reflects a willingness for meeting a UBI’s exorbitant price tag. But the government’s big-spending economic rescue package has been forced by a temporary crisis; there is no evidence of a commitment to permanently bigger government.

Moreover, when the costs are being counted, there’ll surely be little left in the piggy bank to fund a UBI.

Good policy options in this crisis are hard to come by and there’s no shortage of terrible ones being prosecuted. Despite what the economic illiterates say, a UBI remains an unbelievably bad idea.



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


Monday, April 27, 2020

Iowa Candidate Under Fire for Call to Define Islam as 'Militant Cultural Imperialism Seeking World Domination'

The real pandemic today is not the coronavirus, but cowardice. Nonetheless, even in these days of political correctness, wokeness, the cancel culture, and “hate speech,” there are a few public figures with courage. One of them is Rick Phillips, a Republican Congressional candidate from Iowa, who has dared to grasp the third rail of American public life and state that Islam is not actually the cuddly religion of peace that every enlightened American assumes it to be at this point.

The Des Moines Register reported Monday that Phillips’ “platform calls for redefining Islam as ‘militant cultural imperialism seeking world domination,’” and that he “drew fire Monday for saying he doesn’t believe Islam is protected under the First Amendment.”

Phillips stated on Quad Cities TV station WHBF that the Founding Fathers had only Christianity in mind when they wrote the First Amendment. “They were not talking about anti-Christian beliefs,” he explained. “Now, if a person doesn’t want to believe in Christ, that’s their business. But to say that this First Amendment right includes all religions in the world, I think, is erroneous.”

The usual reaction ensued, Robert McCaw of the Hamas-linked Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), demanded that both the Iowa Republican Party and the national Republican Party “repudiate these Islamophobic, unconstitutional views.” McCaw thundered: “The Constitution must protect Americans of all faiths. The kind of hatred and anti-American views promoted by Mr. Phillips places in danger both constitutional protections of religious freedoms and the safety of ordinary American Muslims.”

Responding like the good invertebrate that most Republican Party leaders are, Iowa party spokesman Aaron Britt said that Phillips’ statements “are not reflective of the views of the Republican Party of Iowa.”

Lost in all this predictable intimidation on the one hand and equally predictable pusillanimity on the other was the question of whether or not Phillips was right. Surely everyone can agree, or should agree, that the First Amendment is not and was never intended to be a license to commit all manner of crimes if such activity is mandated by one’s religion. No one, Muslim or non-Muslim, should be considered anything but innocent until proven guilty, but sooner or later the United States and all non-Muslim countries is going to have to have a public conversation about how much to tolerate a belief system that is itself radically intolerant, authoritarian, supremacist, and violent.

Can Muslims in the U.S. repudiate those aspects of Islam? Should they? This discussion needs to take place, but right now it is covered over by claims of “Islamophobia.” In the same way, lost in the shuffle also was the question of whether or not Islam really is “militant cultural imperialism seeking world domination.”

Inconveniently for Robert McCaw and his ilk, there are certainly some Muslims who think it is. I could quote violent passages of the Qur’an, but those might be waved away with the dismissive and erroneous claim that the Bible contains similar exhortations to violence. Let’s focus instead on what Islamic authorities say. One might get the impression that Islam is not a religion of peace from the authoritative sources in Sunni Islam, the schools of Sunni jurisprudence (madhahib):

Shafi’i school: A Shafi’i manual of Islamic law that was certified in 1991 by the clerics at Al-Azhar University, one of the leading authorities in the Islamic world, as a reliable guide to Sunni orthodoxy, stipulates about jihad that “the caliph makes war upon Jews, Christians, and Zoroastrians…until they become Muslim or pay the non-Muslim poll tax.” It adds a comment by Sheikh Nuh Ali Salman, a Jordanian expert on Islamic jurisprudence: the caliph wages this war only “provided that he has first invited [Jews, Christians, and Zoroastrians] to enter Islam in faith and practice, and if they will not, then invited them to enter the social order of Islam by paying the non-Muslim poll tax (jizya)…while remaining in their ancestral religions.” (‘Umdat al-Salik, o9.8).

Of course, there is no caliph today, unless one believes the claims of the Islamic State, and hence the oft-repeated claim that ISIS et al are waging jihad illegitimately, as no state authority has authorized their jihad. But they explain their actions in terms of defensive jihad, which needs no state authority to call it, and becomes “obligatory for everyone” (‘Umdat al-Salik, o9.3) if a Muslim land is attacked. The end of the defensive jihad, however, is not peaceful coexistence with non-Muslims as equals: ‘Umdat al-Salik specifies that the warfare against non-Muslims must continue until “the final descent of Jesus.” After that, “nothing but Islam will be accepted from them, for taking the poll tax is only effective until Jesus’ descent” (o9.8).

Hanafi school: A Hanafi manual of Islamic law repeats the same injunctions. It insists that people must be called to embrace Islam before being fought, “because the Prophet so instructed his commanders, directing them to call the infidels to the faith.” It emphasizes that jihad must not be waged for economic gain, but solely for religious reasons: from the call to Islam “the people will hence perceive that they are attacked for the sake of religion, and not for the sake of taking their property, or making slaves of their children, and on this consideration it is possible that they may be induced to agree to the call, in order to save themselves from the troubles of war.”

However, “if the infidels, upon receiving the call, neither consent to it nor agree to pay capitation tax [jizya], it is then incumbent on the Muslims to call upon God for assistance, and to make war upon them, because God is the assistant of those who serve Him, and the destroyer of His enemies, the infidels, and it is necessary to implore His aid upon every occasion; the Prophet, moreover, commands us so to do.” (Al-Hidayah, II.140)

Maliki school: Ibn Khaldun (1332-1406), a pioneering historian and philosopher, was also a Maliki legal theorist. In his renowned Muqaddimah, the first work of historical theory, he notes that “in the Muslim community, the holy war is a religious duty, because of the universalism of the Muslim mission and (the obligation to) convert everybody to Islam either by persuasion or by force.” In Islam, the person in charge of religious afairs is concerned with “power politics,” because Islam is “under obligation to gain power over other nations.”

Hanbali school: The great medieval theorist of what is commonly known today as radical or fundamentalist Islam, Ibn Taymiyya (Taqi al-Din Ahmad Ibn Taymiyya, 1263-1328), was a Hanbali jurist. He directed that “since lawful warfare is essentially jihad and since its aim is that the religion is God’s entirely and God’s word is uppermost, therefore according to all Muslims, those who stand in the way of this aim must be fought.”

This is also taught by modern-day scholars of Islam. Majid Khadduri was an Iraqi scholar of Islamic law of international renown. In his book War and Peace in the Law of Islam, which was published in 1955 and remains one of the most lucid and illuminating works on the subject, Khadduri says this about jihad:

The state which is regarded as the instrument for universalizing a certain religion must perforce be an ever expanding state. The Islamic state, whose principal function was to put God’s law into practice, sought to establish Islam as the dominant reigning ideology over the entire world….The jihad was therefore employed as an instrument for both the universalization of religion and the establishment of an imperial world state. (P. 51)
Imran Ahsan Khan Nyazee, Assistant Professor on the Faculty of Shari’ah and Law of the International Islamic University in Islamabad. In his 1994 book The Methodology of Ijtihad, he quotes the twelfth century Maliki jurist Ibn Rushd: “Muslim jurists agreed that the purpose of fighting with the People of the Book…is one of two things: it is either their conversion to Islam or the payment of jizyah.” Nyazee concludes: “This leaves no doubt that the primary goal of the Muslim community, in the eyes of its jurists, is to spread the word of Allah through jihad, and the option of poll-tax [jizya] is to be exercised only after subjugation” of non-Muslims.

All this makes it clear that there is abundant reason to believe that Islam is indeed a manifestation of militant cultural imperialism seeking world domination. It would be illuminating if Robert McCaw produced some quotations from Muslim authorities they consider “authentic,” and explained why the authorities I’ve quoted above and others like them are inauthentic. But he won’t. And while in reality there is no single Muslim authority who can proclaim what is “authentic” Islam, and thus it would be prudent not to make sweeping statements about what “authentic Islam” actually is, clearly there are many Muslims who believe that authentic Islam is inherently violent and not a Religion of Peace. Are they all hateful “Islamophobes”?

Robert McCaw and Hamas-linked CAIR would prefer we not know that such Islamic scholars and authorities exist. But that is not going to make them go away. Rick Phillips has raised important questions. We owe it to ourselves, and to our nation’s future, not to allow them to be swept under the rug. But they will be.


More churches protected!

In these challenging times, churches should be free to focus on shepherding their congregations, helping their communities, and serving those in need. Just as they always do.

Sadly, some government officials are using the current crisis to bully churches and threaten the free exercise of religion.

But because of quick and generous actions, more of your brothers and sisters in Christ are getting the help they need. Praise God!

Below are a few highlights

A temporary restraining order has been secured in federal court on behalf of two Kansas churches (First Baptist Church and Calvary Baptist Church) after the state’s mass-gathering order singled out churches for special punishment. That means the churches are temporarily free to hold small services while observing social distancing requirements as the lawsuit continues. The churches filed the lawsuit after one pastor was threatened with criminal penalties for violating the executive order that targeted churches.

Lawsuits were filed in Chattanooga, Tennessee (Metropolitan Tabernacle Church) and Greenville, Mississippi (Temple Baptist Church) because of unconstitutional bans on drive-in church services. In response to the lawsuits, the cities decided to lift the bans—praise God! Churches are now free to resume worshipping from the safety of their own cars.

Demand letters have been sent to multiple state and local governments on behalf of churches. These have helped to ensure that houses of worship are treated no worse than secular organizations and are free to exercise their religious freedom without fear of unjust government punishment.
While many ADF cases spend years in litigation, these churches needed quick and immediate relief. Every day is critical for churches as they work to reach the lost and share the hope of the Gospel during this challenging time.

Via email:

'The Evil Called Barack Obama' and the Genocidal Slaughter of Nigerian Christians

Not only is Nigerian president Muhammadu Buhari behind what several international observers are calling a “genocide” of Christians in his nation—but Barack Hussein Obama played a major role in the Muslim president’s rise to power: these two interconnected accusations are increasingly being made—not by “xenophobic” Americans but Nigerians themselves, including several leaders and officials.

Most recently, Femi Fani-Kayode, Nigeria’s former minister of culture and tourism, wrote in a Facebook post:

What Obama, John Kerry and Hilary Clinton did to Nigeria by funding and supporting Buhari in the 2015 presidential election and helping Boko Haram in 2014/2015 was sheer wickedness and the blood of all those killed by the Buhari administration, his Fulani herdsmen and Boko Haram over the last 5 years are on their hands.
Kerry’s and Clinton’s appeasement of Boko Haram—an Islamic terror organization notorious for massacring, enslaving, and raping Christians, and bombing and burning their churches—is apparently what connects them to this “sheer wickedness.”

For example, after a Nigerian military offensive killed 30 Boko Haram terrorists in 2013, then secretary of state Kerry “issued a strongly worded statement” to Buhari’s predecessor, President Goodluck Jonathan (2010-2015), a Christian.  In it, Kerry warned Jonathan that “We are … deeply concerned by credible allegations that Nigerian security forces are committing gross human rights violations” against the terrorists.

Similarly, during her entire tenure as secretary of state, Clinton repeatedly refused to designate Boko Haram as a foreign terrorist organization, despite nonstop pressure from lawmakers, human rights activists, and lobbyists—not to mention Boko Haram’s countless atrocities against Nigerian Christians.

“Those of you that still love the evil called Barack Obama,” Fani-Kayode added in his post, “should listen to this short clip and tell me if you still do.”  He was referring to a recent Al Jazeera video interview of Eeben Barlow, a former lieutenant-colonel of the South African Defence Force and chairman of a private military company hired in 2015 by Jonathan, when still president, to help defeat Boko Haram.

How 'Triggerism' Replaced Facts and Logic on Islam
“In one month,” Barlow said in the interview, “we took back terrain larger than Belgium from Boko Haram. We were not allowed to finish because it came at a time when governments were in the process of changing,” he said in reference to Nigeria’s 2015 presidential elections.  “The incoming president, President Buhari, was heavily supported by a foreign government, and one of the first missions [of Buhari] was to terminate our contract.”

On being asked if he could name the “foreign government,” the former lieutenant-colonel said, “Yes, we were told it was the United States, and they had actually funded President Buhari’s campaign, and the campaign manager for President Buhari came from the US.  And I am not saying the United States is bad—I understand foreign interests—but I would have thought that a threat such as Boko Haram on the integrity of the state of Nigeria ought to be actually a priority. It wasn't.”

Fani-Kayode was quick to add in his Facebook post that it would have been the priority had Obama not been president:  “I just thank God for Donald Trump,” the former minister said in the same post. “Had he been President of America in 2015 things would have been very different, Jonathan would have won, Boko Haram would have been history and the Fulani herdsmen would never have seen the light of day.”

Fani-Kayode and Barlow are not alone in accusing Obama of “heavily supporting” and “actually funding” a presidential candidate who, since becoming president, has increasingly turned a blind eye to the worsening slaughter of Christians at the hands of Muslims—that is, when not actively exacerbating it, including with jet fighters.  In 2018, former president Jonathan revealed that,

On March 23, 2015, President Obama himself took the unusual step of releasing a video message directly to Nigerians all but telling them how to vote… Those who understood subliminal language deciphered that he was prodding the electorate to vote for the [Buhari/Muslim-led] opposition to form a new government…  The message was so condescending, it was as if Nigerians did not know what to do and needed an Obama to direct them.
Between 2011 and 2015, and supposedly because they were angry at having a Christian president, Boko Haram slaughtered thousands of Christians, particularly those living in the Muslim majority north, and destroyed countless churches. In 2015—and thanks to Obama—Nigeria’s Muslims finally got what they want: a Muslim president in the person of Muhammadu Buhari.

Death to 'Dirty' Christians, Love for 'Pure' Muslims During COVID-19
As seen, however, not only did he immediately rescue Boko Haram from imminent defeat, as former lieutenant-colonel Eeben Barlow has now revealed; but atrocities against Christians have gotten significantly worse since Buhari replaced Jonathan—they are now regularly characterized as a “pure genocide”—particularly at the hands of Muslim Fulani herdsmen, the ethnic tribe whence Buhari himself happens to hail.  Thus according to a March 8, 2020 report titled, “Nigeria: A Killing Field of Defenseless Christians,”

Available statistics have shown that between 11,500 and 12,000 Christian deaths were recorded in the past 57 months or since June 2015 when the present central [Buhari-led] government of Nigeria came on board. Out of this figure, Jihadist Fulani herdsmen accounted for 7,400 Christian deaths, Boko Haram 4,000 and the ‘ Highway Bandits’ 150-200.”
How and why Fulani tribesman have managed to kill nearly twice as many Christians as the “professional” terrorists of Boku Haram—and exponentially more Christians than under Jonathan—may be discerned from the following quotes by various Christian leaders and others:

“They [Fulani] want to strike Christians, and the government does nothing to stop them, because President Buhari is also of the Fulani ethnic group.”— Bishop Matthew Ishaya Audu of Lafia, 2018.
“Under President Buhari, the murderous Fulani herdsmen enjoyed unprecedented protection and favoritism... Rather than arrest and prosecute the Fulani herdsmen, security forces usually manned by Muslims from the North offer them protection as they unleash terror with impunity on the Nigerian people.”— Musa Asake, the General Secretary of the Christian Association of Nigeria, 2018.
Buhari “is openly pursuing an anti-Christian agenda that has resulted in countless murders of Christians all over the nation and destruction of vulnerable Christian communities.”— Bosun Emmanuel, the secretary of the National Christian Elders Forum, 2018.
Buhari “is himself from the jihadists’ Fulani tribe, so what can you expect?” — Emmanuel Ogebe, Washington DC-based human rights lawyer, in conversation with me, 2018.
Based on all these developments, statistics and accusations, it seems clear that the Muslim president is behind the unfolding genocide of Christians in Nigeria—and Obama helped.


UK: Leading forensic scientist wins sex discrimination case

Jo Millington, a blood pattern specialist, won the claim after she was asked by her boss whether she disliked him because she was gay

One of Britain's leading forensic scientists was a victim of sexual discrimination after she was asked by her boss whether she disliked him because she was gay, an employment tribunal has ruled.

Jo Millington, 46, has lent her expertise on blood patterns to several police forces over the past 25 years and came to wider public attention in 2018 when she appeared in a BBC crime documentary.

She launched a sex discrimination claim against her former employers ArroGen Forensics after the company's CEO Joe Arend questioned whether her sexuality was the reason behind her apparent dislike of him, an employment tribunal in Reading was told.

The 46-year-old was left “upset and embarrassed” following a meeting in December 2017 in which she raised concerns she wasn't spending enough time with her wife and family.

Mr Arend asked whether Ms Millington had an issue with him “because of her sexuality”, pointing out he was “big” and “used to play rugby”, the tribunal heard. She resigned shortly after the encounter.

The panel was told Ms Millington had previously complained about Mr Arend's behaviour when he referred to the level of her expenses and salary as “crazy”.

Ms Millington launched a sex discrimination claim against the firm, questioning how Mr Arden's “unprofessional” reference to her sexual orientation was relevant to her work.

The employment panel today found the company guilty of sexual orientation discrimination, constructive dismissal and breach contract, meaning Ms Millington is now entitled to compensation.

It concluded: “Miss Millington regarded her sexual orientation as a private matter (as she was entitled to do), and the question to her about it was upsetting and embarrassing. She would have preferred it not to have been asked.”“Her reputation and credibility underpin her career.”

Under cross-examination, Mr Arend admitted he would not have enquired about sexual orientation if a female employee had commented about not having enough time to spend with “my family and my husband”.

Ms Millington rose to public attention when she appeared in the 2018 BBC documentary Conviction: Murder in Suburbia, examining the conviction of Glyn Razzell for the death of his wife Linda in 2002.

She had joined ArroGen Forensics in 2012 as the lead forensic scientist to review forensic evidence in criminal cases and appear in court as an expert witness.



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


Sunday, April 26, 2020

Coronavirus peak is past and now lockdown worse than virus, expert insists

The pandemic has peaked and draconian measures are now unnecessary, a leading scientist claimed yesterday.

Carl Heneghan, director of the centre for evidence-based medicine at Oxford University, said that the impact of the lockdown was “going to outweigh the damaging effect of coronavirus”.

His assessment adds to pressure on the government to set out how it will ease the lockdown after the coronavirus death toll fell to its lowest level for a fortnight.

Senior Tory MPs have begun pressing the government to set out its exit strategy and begin lifting restrictions as soon as possible to protect the economy.


Failure to reopen economy causes death and destruction also

Rick Manning today issued the following statement urging states to reopen their economies as soon as possible:

"In nine days, many governors across the nation are making plans on how to reopen all or part of their economies. Predictably, some worry that moving away from strict social distancing policies will have negative health consequences. What these people miss is that these distancing policies bring forth known problems associated with extreme poverty, including increased suicides, depression and substance abuse. On the substance abuse front alone, we know that 70,000 a year were losing their lives to opioid overdoses alone, and that that number has been significantly cut over the past couple of years.

"We also know that there were 40,000 more suicides than expected during the Great Recession, and that the UN just released a report stating that hundreds of thousands of children will die due to the increased poverty created in the economic shutdown. Let's be clear, this is not an easy situation, but when 5.5 million Americans are filing for unemployment claims on average the past four weeks, with no end in sight, the personal and national devastation wrought by the social distancing cure is not sustainable and the President and our nation's governors must act to balance. The President took a great step forward in providing guidance on reopening America state by state, and it is expected he will continue to provide the best ideas available on ways private businesses can meet the needs of their employees and customers in these unique times.

"One relatively undiscussed result of the private sector shutdown is that local, state and federal governments will all see dramatic revenue losses from staying shut down too long at a time when their expenditures are increased. Recognizing this early, if states and local governments are unwilling to lay off non-essential government employees before the situation becomes critical, then aggressively reopening is the only alternative."


Montana County Orders Residents to Wear Mandatory Pink Wristbands in Order to Shop — Or Get Reported to Police

Shades of the pink stars that the Nazis mandated for homosexuals

The Valley County Health Department in Montana sent out a flier to businesses with a scary edict requiring all essential workers from outside the county to wear pink armbands or bracelets signifying their quarantine status in order to shop in the county. The flier demanded that anyone not wearing a pink armband be reported to police.

The flier read in part,

Anyone who is from out of town or out of Valley County who has a PINK wristband has been here 14 days or more and no longer needs to do the strict self-quarantine. They may enter your business. Anyone who is from out of town or out of Valley County, staying here/working here, and has not completed the 14 day quarantine is REQUIRED BY THE VALLEY COUNTY HEALTH OFFICER ORDER to use curbside delivery only. They are not to enter your business to shop.

Not only are the people without the bracelets to be banned from stores but the health department suggested that business owners practice authoritarian speeches for non-conformers. They were told to say, "You are violating our Governor's and Valley County's Health Officer's orders. I am happy to shop for you with curbside delivery...If you don't cooperate, you will force me to call law enforcement."

Someone is enjoying their newfound authority a little too much, don't you think? The imagery of marking people to single them out for special treatment is unbelievably bad, hearkening back to Nazi brownshirts with their armbands and the stars they issued to the Jews. I mean, who are these people and why are they so stupid?

It took a very short time before the county health department issued an apology and retracted the policy.

The Valley County Commissioners would like to apologize, and issue clarification, regarding the current health orders and obligations that apply to visitors from outside Valley County...In a break-down of our internal processes, a flier went out to local business owners seemingly indicating such wrist bands are required for out of county individuals and that local business owners were obligated to report violations of the health orders. That is not the intent of Valley County and that flier has been rescinded."
Are you buying this? The flyer literally used ALL CAPS to get the point across that the wrist bands were REQUIRED. LOL fascists. Stop lying. Just say you screwed up and your health commissioners took some LSD and thought they were Hitler reincarnated when they wrote this. That would be more believable than "we didn't intend the thing we said to be taken the way we wrote it." Spare us.

How much more of this is America going to take? Where do you draw the line?


Exactly How Many Deaths Are Needed to Justify Giving Governments Control of Everything?

The CDC estimates that 61,000 Americans died from the flu during the 2017–18 flu season (with a range of 46,000 to 95,000 deaths). Few of us even remember that event. Stores stayed open, folks met and worked, and everyone lived as normal.

Taking sixty-one thousand deaths as our baseline, how deadly does a virus have to be to justify the destruction of our livelihoods and economy in general?

Half as deadly? No that wouldn’t make sense. But neither would "as deadly," either.

Would twice as deadly cross the panic threshold? But that would be just twice something we didn’t notice while it was happening. So maybe even double is not enough.

No one is ever safe, ever. But we all lived lives in a world of uncertainty. That is, until many panicked and allowed governments to drive us into our own caves, so to speak.

But who incited panic? Media and social media initially sounded the alarm, sparking fear. However, it was government that provided justification for that fear, wrapping dour pronouncements in a veneer of supposed science and truth. Soon the panic threshold was breached. While the various media live off provocative headlines, government lives off fear.

So we end up with this strange symbiotic relationship: with the aid of a friendly media, government justifies the fears it propagandizes; constituents panic and turn to both government for help and the media for information. Certainly, it has to be this way. Why? Because government rules through the consent of the governed.

As Mises noted:

"Only a group that can count on the consent of the governed can establish a lasting regime. Whoever wants to see the world governed according to his own ideas must strive for domination over men’s minds. It is impossible, in the long run, to subject men against their will to a regime that they reject.

So, a government looking to extend its powers, to assume additional rights from its citizens, will need to manufacture consent, else rebellion with ensue. And there is no better opportunity to manufacture consent than during an existential crisis, whether it's enemies massed at the gate or ones concealed within."

Obviously, if those enemies do not exist, they have to be invented. As Schumpeter stated:

"There was no corner of the known world where some interest was not alleged to be in danger or under actual attack. If the interests were not Roman, they were those of Rome's allies; and if Rome had no allies, then allies would be invented. When it was utterly impossible to contrive such an interest—why, then it was the national honor that had been insulted. The fight was always invested with an aura of legality. Rome was always being attacked by evil-minded neighbors, always fighting for a breathing space. The whole world was pervaded by a host of enemies, and it was manifestly Rome's duty to guard against their indubitably aggressive designs. They were enemies who only waited to fall on the Roman people."

Not too long ago, the devised enemy was ISIL—haunting the Levant in Toyota trucks. We were told daily that ISIL was readying a strike against the US some fifty-five hundred miles away. Plausible? Hardly. However, the propaganda machine was able to create some angst, for some time, anyway.

Today the enemy is through the gate unseen, infiltrating bodies and minds. COVID-19 is a government’s dream. Folks who just yesterday, or so it seems, said certain acts of government, such as closing churches, would ignite rebellion, gladly consent to authoritarian edicts. But why?

There is the manufactured fear, the product of the propaganda machine—the good doctors making dire predictions about likely death counts, surrounded by somber officials, all standing near a dais backed by the richly colored, acronymed logo of some official sounding agency. Great video, great propaganda.

But there is more. Government is blaming the virus, not itself. That serves several purposes. It allows government to employ a misdirect, pilfering the public purse and annulling rights while the masses concern themselves with social distancing.

It also provides personal cover to minor agents of the bureaucracy, who do not have to spend sleepless nights fretting about their role in the destruction of our economy.

Hannah Arendt wrote about the Eichmann trial and tried to answer the conscience question:

The trick used by Himmler…was very simple and probably very effective; it consisted in turning these instincts around, as it were, in directing them toward the self. So that instead of saying: What horrible things I did to people!, the murderers would be able to say: What horrible things I had to watch in the pursuance of my duties, how heavily the task weighed upon my shoulders! (Hannah Arendt, Eichmann in Jerusalem)

So you hear statements that twist reality in this manner: “The virus will let us know when we can reopen the country.” As if the virus is dictating policy.

We are told that government officials are only reacting as the virus commands. And the enforcement agents spreading tickets and handcuffs are simply shouldering the horrible tasks that must be pursued.

Is this how we, the people, choose to live? In a world where government foments fear for its own purposes and then stands back, blaming its actions on an enemy of its own creation?

Once more, how deadly does a virus have to be to justify the destruction of our livelihoods and economy in general? Twice the usual? Three times? I can’t decide the issue for all. I simply ask you to consider first what we are allowing (crashed economy, record unemployment growth, exploding government debt, unconstitutional government edicts, well, you get the picture).

And I ask you to consider who, or what entities, are benefiting. It is true that some cui bono (to whom it is a benefit) arguments are fallacious, but not all. However, consider this: besides a shift of rights and power from the people to the state, there is that matter of trillions moving from our wallets to those of the friends and families of the politically connected.

As I wrote above, no one is ever safe, ever. But until a month ago, we all accepted a world of uncertainty and didn’t panic. What was true then is true today—to be free is not to be safe. However, to live free is to live. Period.



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


Friday, April 24, 2020

The Left needs Timothy McVeigh

The article from the NYT below is typical of Leftist rhetoric.  They are always trying to find "right-wing" terrorism.  There is very little to find, however.  They have to invent new threats or harp on old ones.  For the one below they had to  go back to the last century.  The actual terrorist threat -- from Muslim Jihadis -- has to be blotted out in the usual Leftist flight from reality

Timothy J. McVeigh slaughtered 168 people, including 19 children, by gutting a federal office building with a massive truck bomb on April 19, 1995, yet he features only fleetingly in the Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum.

“We felt it was important to show his face, not to give him any credit, but to show people how normal he was,” said Kari F. Watkins, the museum’s executive director, “It could be anybody. The terrorist among us.”

Aside from his picture, there is his rusty, yellow 1977 Mercury Marquis getaway car. The curators also included a copy of “The Turner Diaries,” a bigoted novel popular on the far right — he had a copy on the front seat of the Marquis — whose white supremacist hero blows up the F.B.I. headquarters.

The bombing remains something of an anomaly. Between Pearl Harbor and the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, Oklahoma City was the deadliest deliberate attack on the United States, yet it has not been similarly woven into the tapestry of American history.

Sunday marked the bombing’s 25th anniversary, with both historians and those who experienced the attack directly worried that the memory is fading even as the violent ideology that inspired Mr. McVeigh grows ever more prevalent.

“In today’s political environment, I hear echoes of the kind of rhetoric that I think inspired the perpetrators of the bombing,” said David F. Holt, 41, the Republican mayor of Oklahoma City. “I think that we all have an obligation to look at Oklahoma City — to look at that scar we have in our downtown — and remember where this all leads when you call other people your enemy, when you try to foster division and difference.”

Most anniversary events were canceled because of the coronavirus outbreak. The annual reading of the names was prerecorded, along with brief remarks by various political figures. Local television stations broadcast the hourlong remembrance video.

Homegrown terrorism is the main factor setting Oklahoma City apart.

“Americans forgot it pretty fast,” said David Neiwert, whose book “Alt-America” chronicles the spread of far-right extremism. “It is a difficult story to tell. It runs up against the whole narrative of American exceptionalism because that was an American terrorist, and Americans like to think that they don’t do that sort of thing, only guys in turbans do that.


Another lasting ill-effect of the lockdowns

Loneliness is bad for your health—certainly as bad as being obese, and possibly as bad as being a moderate smoker. So, in these days of plague, when enforced solitude is the order of the day in many places, how to stop solitude turning into loneliness is a pressing medical question.

One part of the answer is to try to understand the physiology of the change. And that has, for the past few years, been the objective of Steven Cole of the University of California, Los Angeles. Dr Cole began his work with a study he published in 2015, in collaboration with John Cacioppo of the University of Chicago. The pair led a team of psychologists, neuroscientists and immunologists who found that the pattern in people’s blood of immune cells called myeloid cells is notably different in those who score as “very lonely” on loneliness tests compared with those who do not.

Lonely people have unusually low numbers of a type of myeloid cell that generates what are known as interferon responses, which hamper viral replication. This makes them particularly vulnerable to viral infections. They also have an abundance of a second type of myeloid cell, one that promotes the activity of genes which drive inflammation—and it has been known for years that those who feel lonely experience more inflammation than those who do not.

These correlations are intriguing, but do not explain which comes first, the loneliness or the myeloid response. Dr Cole and Dr Cacioppo addressed that question by repeatedly measuring perceptions of social isolation in individual volunteers, while simultaneously tracking, from blood samples, their gene-expression patterns and other changes in their physiology. They found that, initially, volunteers’ feelings of isolation coincided with an increase in their inflammation genes’ activity and a concomitant increase in the circulation of immature immune cells, called monocytes, that are involved in inflammation— and which are also known to travel into the brain and promote anxiety. They noted, too, increased levels in the brain of signalling molecules associated with both inflammation and behaviours such as social withdrawal, feelings of suspicion towards the outside world and a tendency to act more defensively by making decisions that involve few risks. That, of course, promotes further feelings of loneliness. Which, in turn, trigger a further myeloid response. And so on.

It seems, therefore, that though loneliness starts with solitude, it can quickly take on a physiological life of its own. Dr Cole thus worries that the enforced isolation, brought about by current circumstances, of those who are already living alone may create in many people a state of chronic loneliness that is difficult to escape from when things start returning to normal.

Dealing with this will not be a simple matter of allowing people to socialise once again. Because the myeloid feedback loop makes those affected more defensive and suspicious, the mere presence of others is not enough to restore the status quo.


Quillette: ‘The Rise of Jordan Peterson’— A Review

Given today’s downward cultural spiral, it’s disturbing but not surprising that the makers of a thoughtful new documentary about Jordan Peterson are having a hard time finding somewhere to show their film. Many mainstream and independent cinemas have refused to screen it because they’re “fearful of controversy” or “morally concerned.” One theater in Toronto cancelled a week-long showing after some of the staff “took issue with it.” A theater in Brooklyn cancelled a second screening, despite the fact that the first sold out and received good reviews, “because some staff were offended . . . and felt uncomfortable.”

Jordan Peterson. Jordan Peterson. Jordan Peterson! That name, that man, that swirling storm of impassioned controversies—again? After the flood of protests, podcasts, profiles, social media storms, hit pieces, and heartfelt testimonials that saturated the English-speaking world after Peterson posted his “Professor Against Political Correctness” video in Fall 2016, some might assume that squelching a new film about him is no big deal. After all, is there really anything worthwhile left to say about the man and the cultural maelstrom he provoked?

As it turns out, the answer is “yes.” Having watched the recently released 90-minute documentary, The Rise of Jordan Peterson, I can say this with confidence. The documentary follows Peterson’s unexpected skyrocket to fame by cross-cutting previously unseen and pre-existing footage in ways that are original, empathetic, and thought provoking. Clips of lectures, protests, and newscasts familiar to those who followed Peterson’s rise are expertly interwoven with fresh footage of past events, as well as exclusive interviews with him and a wide array of family members, friends, colleagues, and, importantly, critics (categories which, in some cases, overlap). There are also intimate scenes of Peterson in his home—strangely and rather disturbingly decorated with giant agitprop paintings—and his hometown of Toronto, Canada (which looks oddly bucolic, by comparison).

What makes The Rise of Jordan Peterson particularly notable is that it neither shies away from the political controversies surrounding Peterson, nor allows itself to be defined or limited by them. Peterson, of course, became an intensely polarizing figure immediately after posting his video critique of then-pending Bill C-16, which added gender identity and expression to the categories protected under the Canadian Human Rights Act and Criminal Code in 2017. (Peterson’s core objection to the legislation, as I understand it, is that this constitutes a dangerous expansion of the state’s power to control and even compel speech.) Consequent commentary tended to follow predictable lines: Progressives condemned him; conservatives praised him; and his more apolitical fans tried to stay out of the fray.

Rather than conforming to any one of these positions, The Rise of Jordan Peterson weaves the political debates into a richer tapestry of human issues, concerns, and relationships. The psychological and mythological realms, which are central to Peterson’s primary body of work (a fact since overshadowed by ugly disputes over his real and imagined politics), are invoked in ways that communicate their irreducible mystery and complexity. This is not easy to do, particularly when navigating such intensely contested ideological terrain. The result is a refreshingly original take on the Peterson phenomenon, with the vision and skill to transcend the intellectually and emotionally suffocating boxes with which it has typically been framed.

A Kaleidoscopic Narrative

The film (and its trailer) opens with an image of an unusual stained glass window that I found so arresting, I paused the video to look at it more closely. There’s a horseshoe studded with faceted jewels, a circle of roses, two green clovers, blue-green ivy garlands, classical columns. The images feel symbolically resonant, but impossible to place. The window looks like it might be part of an old university, or perhaps a church.

In fact, it’s located just outside Peterson’s front door. The camera follows him as he walks toward the window, opens the door beside it, and turns to go down the hallway and up the stairs. Virtually all of the available wall space in his house is filled with paintings. There’s a gigantic image of a triumphant Lenin pontificating before an attentive crowd, peppered with men brandishing rifles and red Soviet flags. All this flashes by in less than half a minute, accompanied by foreboding music.

A barrage of film clips and voiceovers then roll by in rapid succession—shots of Peterson’s lectures, newscasts, and podcasts; protesters; theater marques announcing his appearances; newspaper headlines denouncing him. A fan testifies: “He is the ultimate father figure.” An anti-Peterson activist sneers: “So, you’re anti-justice. Are you a Batman villain?” We see Peterson lecturing in front of enormous crowds. “Man does not live by bread alone,” he says. “Spiritual bread, that’s the story.”

Open-minded viewers may wonder: Why has there been such tremendous cultural and political churning around Peterson? Why did he so suddenly become such a famous (or, for many, infamous) public figure? What’s the best way to understand the significance not only of the man and his work, but also the tsunami of positive and negative attention he has generated?

The Rise of Jordan Peterson offers no simple answers to questions like these. It isn’t a conventional talking heads-style documentary. It doesn’t seek to hammer an agenda into its audience. Instead, the film honors the complexity of both of Peterson, his supporters, and his critics. It recognizes that the issues involved are enormous, complicated, and in many ways much bigger than the particular individuals, groups, and causes involved. Following Peterson’s sudden rise to fame in real time with an attentive ear, the story it shares is not reducible to a hashtag.

To appreciate the profound complexity of individuals and events is to recognize that both are embedded in larger patterns of social and historical relationships. Some of these patterns are so big that they are extremely difficult, if not impossible, to grasp. While it’s never explicitly stated, The Rise of Jordan Peterson feels like it’s exploring terrain that includes more than the understandings of reality and fact many of us take for granted. The many symbolic images that flash by—the stained glass, the paintings, a crucifix, and what look like several indigenous masks—evoke the extra-rational power of art, myth, ritual, ideology, and religion. These are powerful themes, central to Peterson’s primary body of work.

The Rise of Jordan Peterson constructs a kaleidoscopic narrative that enables the viewer to look at the same sequence of events in several different ways. Engaging with the film fully demands a willingness to listen to a wide and often conflicting range of perspectives. Those who insist on placing Peterson in an airtight box, and seeing him solely as either a holy prophet or a demonic villain, will almost certainly neither like nor understand this film. After all, it’s designed to raise questions that, if acknowledged, would devastate such one-dimensional caricatures.

On the other hand, those open to considering the man, his work, and the controversies swirling around him in a new light should value and enjoy the film. It’s an exceptional accomplishment that this should be true regardless of whether they’re fans, critics, or simply curious to know what all the fuss has been about. Weaving a multiplicity of narratives together into a powerful, if complex storyline, The Rise of Jordan Peterson inspires the viewer to think, feel, question, and reflect.

The Backstory

After watching the preview screener, I contacted the director and producer, Patricia Marcoccia, to learn more about how it came to be made, and the distribution problems she’s now facing. Having spoken to Marcoccia and her husband and co-producer, Maziar Ghaderi, for over an hour on the phone, I have a better understanding of how and why they came to make such an unusual film.

Given Peterson’s political divisiveness, one might assume that anyone deciding to make a film about him would be motivated by pre-existing views on the controversies that have engulfed him (in particular, hot button issues of sex and gender). By extension, one might think that any film about Peterson would want to show his social impact as either redemptive or destructive. But that wasn’t the genesis of this film, and it’s not what it communicates.


What If the Lockdown Was All A Big Mistake?

by Ron Paul

From California to New Jersey, Americans are protesting in the streets. They are demanding an end to house arrest orders given by government officials over a virus outbreak that even according to the latest US government numbers will claim fewer lives than the seasonal flu outbreak of 2017-2018.

Across the US, millions of businesses have been shut down by “executive order” and the unemployment rate has skyrocketed to levels not seen since the Great Depression. Americans, who have seen their real wages decline thanks to Federal Reserve monetary malpractice, are finding themselves thrust into poverty and standing in breadlines. It is like a horror movie, but it’s real.

Last week the UN Secretary General warned that a global recession resulting from the worldwide coronavirus lockdown could cause “hundreds of thousands of additional child deaths per year.” As of this writing, less than 170,000 have been reported to have died from the coronavirus worldwide.

Many Americans have also died this past month because they were not able to get the medical care they needed. Cancer treatments have been indefinitely postponed. Life-saving surgeries have been put off to make room for coronavirus cases. Meanwhile hospitals are laying off thousands because the expected coronavirus cases have not come and the hospitals are partially empty.

What if the “cure” is worse than the disease?

Countries like Sweden that did not lock down their economy and place the population under house arrest are faring no worse than countries that did. Sweden’s deaths-per-million from coronavirus is lower than in many lockdown countries.

Likewise, US states that did not arrest citizens for merely walking on the beach are not doing worse than those that did. South Dakota governor Kristi Noem said last week, “we've been able to keep our businesses open and allow people to take on some personal responsibility." South Dakota has recorded a total of seven coronavirus deaths.

Kentucky, a strict lockdown state, is five times more populated than South Dakota, yet it has some 20 times more coronavirus deaths. If lockdown and house arrest are the answer, shouldn’t those numbers be reversed, with South Dakota seeing mass death while Kentucky dodges the coronavirus bullet?

When Anthony Fauci first warned that two million would die, there was a race among federal, state, and local officials to see who could rip up the Constitution fastest. Then Fauci told us if we do what he says only a quarter of a million would die. They locked America down even harder. Then, with little more than a shrug of the shoulders, they announced that a maximum of 60,000 would die, but maybe less. That is certainly terrible, but it’s just a high-average flu season.

Imagine if we had used even a fraction of the resources spent to lock down the entire population and focused on providing assistance and protection to the most vulnerable – the elderly and those with serious medical conditions. We could have protected these people and still had an economy to go back to when the virus had run its course. And it wouldn’t have cost us six trillion dollars either.

Governments have no right or authority to tell us what business or other activity is “essential.” Only in totalitarian states does the government claim this authority. We should encourage all those who are standing up peacefully and demanding an accounting from their elected leaders. They should not be able to get away with this.



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.