Friday, January 29, 2021

Prominent black Accused of Killing 3-Year-Old Adopted White Daughter

Victoria Smith

Given the propensity to violence among blacks, this surely calls into question any practice of putting young white children into the care of blacks. I think the story below makes the case for a hanging

Ariel Robinson -- a former teacher, stand-up comedian, and winner on the Food Network show "Worst Cooks in America -- is accused of killing her three-year-old, white adopted daughter.

Robinson and her husband are facing homicide charges following the death of their adopted three-year-old daughter, Victoria Smith. According to reports, the black couple allegedly inflicted a "series of blunt force injuries" upon the child.

The Simpsonville Police Department in South Carolina said in a statement, reported by the Los Angeles Times, that Victoria Smith was admitted to Prisma Health Richland Hospital earlier this month after authorities found the three-year-old child unresponsive. A subsequent investigation concluded the victim’s death had been "the direct result of physical abuse." The couple is currently being held without bond and, if convicted, face prison sentences of 20 years up to life.

Journalist Andy Ngo described Ariel Robinson as a BLM advocate and found a tweet by Robinson published earlier this month in which the accused mother claimed her "white children get treated the same as my black children." Let's hope that isn't true.

Recalibrating the Use of Race in Medical Research

Ioannidis is a distinguished medical commentator so his article (with colleagues) below carries some weight. But he is working against a lot of bias so his conclusuion that race does have some role in medical research is very cautiously stated

Race was originally introduced in US medical curricula in 1790 by Benjamin Rush, who asserted that blackness was a particular kind of leprosy. In 1857 Josh Nott characterized slaves as a biologically appropriate phenotype for hard labor under trying conditions. In the 1870s, the Jim Crow era of race exclusion from most societal venues reinforced medical segregation. This sordid history, although painful to recite, is the underpinnings of race in medicine, including its use in medical research.

Race as a variable in medical research has long been a contentious issue.1 It is widely accepted that race is an indistinct construct that is not always measured accurately and standardized. In 1999, the Human Genome Project emphasized race as nonbiological with no basis in the genetic code. What, then, does race define?

Race is a poor surrogate of social constructs and even more so, if not abjectly, of biology. Differences observed in research studies between “races” may result from the multifarious consequences of long-entrenched and continuously transformed racism. As the crisis of coronavirus disease 2019 has revealed once again, long-standing effects of racism have tremendous effects on the propagation of inequalities and injustice at all levels, including health and health care. Racism, tragically, remains a chronic and acute problem of modern societies, and the use of race in medical research and practice is now being brandished as a surrogate for racism. Eradicating racism should be a moral imperative in medicine.

However, is any progress addressing inequities possible if race as a measure is banned? Is there still some room for using race variables? How much would be lost if these variables were eliminated? Is there a better tool in research and policy efforts? Are there some situations in which race variables remain valuable? What strategy would generate research that diminishes rather than increases inequalities and injustice? The time has come to recalibrate the use of race in medical research.

The call to entirely abandon race from medical research endeavors began several decades ago but is a simplistic solution to a complex set of concerns.2,3 Dislodgement of race from research may hide still-evident and often egregious episodes of health disparities. If for no other reason than the further exposition of health inequities and systemic racism, the use of race should for now persist in medical research. But the imperfectness of race as a tool is problematic.

One school of thought asserts that because race (and ethnicity) is so weakly measured and even more poorly analyzed and reported, efforts should focus on trying to strengthen measurement, analysis, and reporting. A series of initiatives, including self-identification, especially in clinical trials and registries and in specifications of requirements for publicly funded research, ensured that more attention would be given toward obtaining more data on racial minority populations. However, empirical evaluations show that race information can be fragmented, inconsistent, and eventually not very usable.

The medical literature that uses or discusses race is vast, but is it really informative? On December 21, 2020, a search of PubMed with “race OR ethnicity” yielded 518 842 items, whereas one with focused terms such as “African American” and “Hispanic OR Latino” yielded 44 674 and 61 933 items, respectively. However, a recent evaluation4 of a random sample of 1000 Cochrane systematic reviews on various medical interventions showed that only 14 (1.4%) had proposed to perform race- or ethnicity-based subgroup analyses for treatment effects. Only 1 of those 14 analyses was completed but yielded noninformative results.4 Despite the poor performance of race as a measure, numerous passionate, burgeoning health professionals, many of whom are underrepresented in medicine, have been attracted to biomedical research, lured by life experiences to study with enthusiasm the interrelation of race and ethnicity with social and biological factors. Their work should go forward.

A second school of thought argues that race is a painful historical relic and lost cause. With this approach, race as a measure should be abandoned, and efforts should be diverted toward finding variables that are more robust and informative, both for the biological constructs (eg, genetic ancestry) and the sociologic ones (eg, discrimination, deprivation, socioeconomic status) for which race has failed to provide useful, reproducible insights. Does scientific theory support this approach?

On the frontiers of biology, the rapid advent of genetics has transformed the concept of ancestry. A spectrum of genetic granularity through whole-genome sequencing makes the surrogate of traditional races potentially obsolete. However, genetics, despite its tremendous accuracy of measurement and massive information, has been sluggish in making much progress in yielding useful medical tools for everyday practice and for improving patient and population outcomes that matter to many. If anything, genetics may be contributing to worsening inequalities, especially when most genetic architecture databases overrepresent people of European ancestry (88% of genome-wide data had European ancestry as of 2018),5 when genomic tools are too expensive to use for race-based research, and when both biological scientists and social scientists default to White as a reference standard to which others are normalized.6

Race may well be a surrogate, albeit imperfect, for sociologic constructs. However, the most important sociologic variables (eg, social determinants of health) and, in particular, differential opportunities (eg, good access to and quality of care) fail to associate with sufficient precision when race is used as the placeholder. A long list of variables has emerged that try to capture socioeconomic aspects, access to care, health insurance, discrimination, deprivation, geography and place, perceived identity, opportunities, social interactions, financial mobility, health behaviors, and more. Although many of these variables probably come closer to causal relationships than race, they too are still largely nonstandardized, are often crudely measured, and unfortunately do not fully explain differences by race. Limited translational potential and transferability ensue.

Perhaps it is possible to find a middle ground between these 2 schools of thought, improvement vs elimination, in navigating this conundrum. The research corpus can be separated into 2 components: past research investigations in which race has been incorporated in medical textbooks, clinical algorithms, guidelines, recommendations, and other evidence that may or may not be applied in practice; and future research investigations.

For past investigations, a large amount of research involving race variables has been, in hindsight, pedestrian and arguably lies among the greater waste of spurious, nonusable biomedical evidence. However, there are examples for which race variables have become part of the norm of accepted medical knowledge and practice. This applies to both therapeutics (incorporation of race to identify clinically meaningful treatment effect modification for various interventions, as in hypertension or heart failure)7-9 and other clinical tools (incorporation of race to improve diagnosis or prognosis in, for example, calculation of kidney function or pulmonary function).10 Expert specialty medical societies and methodologists should jointly systematically reexamine evidence involving race that is already accepted as core knowledge. For some applications, race may continue to be the best variable to capture the influence on health; quick dismissal or normalization of values to the majority group may worsen outcomes, especially for the most disadvantaged populations. For other situations, it may be realized that these race variables have become obsolete: what they were supposed to presage when they were first proposed may no longer be relevant in the current social and biological science landscape. Alternatively, perhaps some race variables continue to offer incremental, useful information, including the further elucidation of health disparities. However, other, better variables should be developed to replace race per se. Such replacements need to proceed with rigorous validation practices, ensuring the generalizability of the results and solidifying that whatever changes are made will help reduce, rather than exacerbate, existing inequalities.

For future investigations, it is important to think carefully about the fundamental question. Why should race variables be used, if at all? Consider 4 steps: (1) execute a systematic review of prior research because race may have been exhausted as a tool and is futile to study again, or may offer insight for how a new study may best leverage past work, or create novel hypotheses; (2) if race measurements are deemed appropriate, carefully consider collateral, explanatory biological and sociologic variables appropriate to include in the same investigation, and how standardization, accuracy, and relevance may be enhanced in explaining race-based signals; (3) in any comparative analyses, investigators should consider whether White race should be the reference standard because normative values are reasonable, but normal designations that characterize some humans as aberrant are problematic; and (4) carefully consider the potency of any race-related research and gauge a holistic portfolio of clinical and social consequences, including the amelioration or aggravation of existing inequalities.

In a volatile social landscape, it may not be possible to determine exactly how race-specific research efforts may lead to a better, more fair world. At a minimum, however, medical research should not aggravate already embedded gaps between the privileged and the disadvantaged. Just as the lens of science was used to establish a flawed premise of biological race-based differences, so should science now focus on illuminating that which is represented by race and become a trailblazer toward better health equity.

Why Biden’s Immigration Policy Will Harm Americans and Migrants Alike

Joe Biden says he’ll “advance racial equity” by making “bold investments” in “Affordable Housing,” aiding “businesses owned by Black and Brown people,” establishing an “Equity Commission,” etc.

Gosh, that’ll do it.

Others demand reparations for slavery, more social programs, and defunding the police.

Yet, economist Thomas Sowell says, “I haven’t been able to find a single country in the world where policies advocated for Blacks in the United States lifted any people out of poverty.”

Sowell’s a black man who grew up in poverty. His father died before he was born, and his mother died soon after.

“We were much poorer than the people in Harlem and most anywhere else today,” he reflects. “But in the sense of things you need to get ahead, I was enormously more fortunate than most Black kids today.”

That’s because he discovered the public library. “When you start getting in the habit of reading when you’re 8 years old, it’s a different ballgame.”

Exploring Manhattan, he saw disparities in wealth. “Nothing in the schools or most of the books seemed to deal with that. Marx dealt with that,” says Sowell. He then became a Marxist.

What began to change his beliefs was his first job at the U.S. Department of Labor. He was told to focus on the minimum wage.

At first, he thought the minimum wage was good: “All these people are poor, and they’ll get a little higher income. That’ll be helpful,” he reasoned. But then he realized: “There’s a downside. They may lose their jobs.”

His colleagues at the Labor Department didn’t want to think about that. “I came up with how we might test this. I was waiting to hear ‘congratulations!’ [but] I could see these people were stunned. They’d say, ‘Oh, this idiot has stumbled on something that would ruin us all.'”

Once he saw how government workers often cared more about preserving their turf than actually solving problems, Sowell rethought his assumptions.

He turned away from Marxism and became a free market economist, writing great books like “Basic Economics,” “Race and Culture,” and my favorite title, “The Vision of the Anointed: Self-Congratulation as a Basis for Social Policy.”

Today’s self-anointed leaders talk constantly about how America’s “systemic racism” holds black people back.

“Propaganda,” Sowell calls it. “If you go back into the ’20s, you find that married-couple families were much more prevalent among Blacks. As late as 1930, Blacks have lower unemployment rates than whites.”

But if systemic racism was the cause of inequality, he says, “All these things that we complain about, and attribute to the era of slavery, should’ve been worse in the past than in the present.”

Sowell says the bigger cause of black Americans’ problems today is government welfare initiated in the 1960s. The programs encouraged people to become dependent on handouts. “You began to have the mindset that goes with the welfare state,” Sowell says. “No stigma any longer attached to being on relief.”

Sowell concludes that government programs that are supposed to help minorities do more harm than good. Affirmative action, for example.

In 1965, he took a teaching position at Cornell. The college, he said, had lowered admission standards to diversify the student body, and most students admitted under affirmative action did not do well.

“Half of the Black students were on academic probation,” he wrote, later adding, “Something like one-fourth of all the Black students going to MIT do not graduate. [There is] a pool of people whom you are artificially turning into failures by mismatching them with the school.”

Saying such things makes Sowell an outcast in academia, and now most everywhere.

Sowell writes, “If you have always believed that everyone should play by the same rules … that would have gotten you labeled a radical 50 years ago, a liberal 25 years ago, and a racist today.”

Federal Court Upholds Conscience Protections for Doctors

Amid a flurry of activity and controversy with the incoming Biden administration, there was still a major victory for religious freedom and conscience protection last week.

On Jan. 19, a federal court, citing the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, upheld conscience protections for physicians and struck down the transgender mandate that ordered doctors to perform transgender interventions when doing so violated the provider’s sincerely held religious beliefs.

The case, Sisters of Mercy v. Azar, is hardly well-known, but no less newsworthy. The plaintiffs are an order of Catholic nuns, a Catholic university, and Catholic health care organizations. They sued the government, challenging Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act, which forced doctors to perform transgender interventions against their sincerely held religious beliefs or even sound, medical advice.

The U.S. District Court for the District of North Dakota ruled that: “Absent an injunction, [the religious plaintiffs] will either be ‘forced to violate their sincerely held religious beliefs’ by performing and covering gender-transition procedures ‘or to incur severe monetary penalties for refusing to comply.’”

The court also said: “An injunction will also advance the public interest because the protection of constitutional rights is ‘always in the public interest.’”

The legal organization Becket represented the plaintiffs and successfully argued, according to its press release, “that sensitive medical decisions should be kept between patients and their doctors without government interference, and that no one should be required by law to disregard their conscience or their professional medical judgment.”

In a statement, Luke Goodrich, senior counsel at Becket, underscored the importance of religious freedom within the medical community: “The court’s decision recognizes our medical heroes’ right to practice medicine in line with their conscience and without politically motivated interference from government bureaucrats.”

While this ruling should be applauded, this lawsuit should not have been necessary in the first place. Under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act and the First Amendment, religious providers should not have to give care in a way that violates their beliefs, but lawsuits suggesting otherwise challenged that concept.

In 2017, for example, Evan Minton sued Dignity Health, which operates dozens of Catholic hospitals. These include the one that refused to perform a hysterectomy sought by Minton after learning that Minton scheduled the treatment as a transgender intervention, not for health purposes. Minton is a biological female who now lives as a transgender male.

“I was denied health care because I am transgender. The justification, according to the hospital, was that religious doctrine permits them to refuse transgender patients, just because of who we are,” Minton says on the American Civil Liberties Union’s website.

Minton, the ACLU, and other similar organizations often argue that conservatives perpetuate LGBTQ discrimination under the guise of religious liberty.

Minton’s case, and the Sisters of Mercy v. Azar decision, demonstrate this is not exactly the case. In fact, it’s often the opposite.

The plaintiffs in the case are “devoted to works of mercy and purposely work at religious-based hospitals whose missions are to help the underserved,” according to the court’s ruling. Yet they are told that despite beliefs that motivate them to serve others, they must also provide care that violates those very mores.

This issue—discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity—will be one of the most controversial and important issues with which the Biden administration and conservatives will tangle. It is now present in every major sphere of public life: from schools and bathrooms to sports and hospitals.

While the Trump administration issued the “refusal of care” rule through the Department of Health and Human Services to aid religious people in abiding by their conscience, the Biden administration has already started to unravel such measures.

Given this federal court’s ruling in Sisters of Mercy, it’s clear the new administration and the judiciary will be addressing discrimination and religious liberty.

For now, doctors in at least one district court jurisdiction can continue to lawfully practice medicine while maintaining their beliefs.




Thursday, January 28, 2021

Caller on a prime time NZ radio show claimed Maori men are 'genetically predisposed to crime' and naturally do badly in school

Nobody seems to care whether the comments were true or not. The fact that Maori are greatly over-represented in NZ jails, the fact that most Maori carry the violence gene monoamine oxidase (specifically the AGCCG haplotype, coupled with the 3-repeat allele of MAO-A30bp-rpt) and that the average Maori IQ is 94, are all ignored. But not offending people is the overarching aim these days.

That such an aim is a disastrous dead-end is shown by the American experience. Mention of the low average African IQ has long been verboten there. So what is the outcome? Has the expected racial harmony happened? Far from it. It has just left lots of angry blacks wondering why they do so badly in all sorts of ways. Because they are not told the truth of the matter they believe false explanations which say that their disadvantage is all due to invisible white racism. And they express their anger about that by repeated rioting and widespread destruction in major American cities. Avoiding the truth is a recipe for long-term disaster, nothing else

A major radio network is facing a huge backlash after broadcasting profoundly racist views during a live talk-back show.

A Magic Talk Radio caller in New Zealand described Maori people as 'genetically predisposed to crime, alcohol and under performance educationally' as well as being 'stone-age people' in a highly offensive on-air rant.

Magic Talk presenter John Banks, a former Auckland mayor and MP, didn't stop the rant on Tuesday.

Instead, Banks thanked the man for his call, before saying 'if their (Maori) stone-age culture doesn't change, these people will come through your bathroom window'.

The exchange was posted on social media site TikTok by a horrified listener, before quickly spreading to other social media platforms.

By Wednesday, outraged social media users were petitioning Magic Talk advertisers to pull their support of the station.

Telecommunications giant Vodafone and TradeMe, a major online sales website, responded by saying they would boycott the station.

Magic Talk holds the rights to broadcast Black Caps matches, and New Zealand Cricket also said they were 'disgusted and appalled by an indefensibly racist' exchange.

NZC suggested it could walk away from its ongoing broadcast deal, saying 'should strong action not be taken NZC reserves its right to review its relationship with Magic Talk'.

A third major sponsor, Kiwibank, said it was 'removing our ads from the Magic Talk website and we'll be talking directly with (station owner) MediaWorks on how they could better encourage a diverse and inclusive NZ'.

Following a 30-year political career including two stints as a cabinet minister, Banks is well known in New Zealand for his right-wing views.

Banks, 74, later said he 'wasn't racist' in a grovelling on-air apology, before admitting his views 'could have been misconstrued as racist'.

'I didn't pick it up at the time, here when you're broadcasting, you're talking to producers, you're talking to bosses,' Banks said.

'I spoke to people later in the show who disagreed with the man and I picked it up then, however this wasn't enough to demonstrate that his comments were wrong and racist.'

Magic Talk announced on Wednesday they had since dumped Banks as an on-air presenter.

The show had been discussing Orange Tamariki, New Zealand's Ministry for Children, and its new all-Maori board of advisors.

'The talkback environment can be robust and opinionated, however we recognise comments broadcast yesterday during a call discussing the departure of Oranga Tamariki’s CEO were hurtful,' Magic Talk wrote on Twitter.

Bridgerton’s woke vanity whitewashes the struggle

Once again moviemakers cast blacks in roles that they did not occupy or rarely occupy in real life. It prioritizes propaganda over reality. That must surely limit its appeal. And people will undoubtedly see through the propaganda so it's not even good propaganda. It's just tedious

At best it’s extravagant virtue signalling. At worst it’s the cinematic love child of agitprop and cancel culture. There can be no argument, however, that Bridgerton trivialises the political history of race and colour.

Episode four of new Netflix period romp and bodice-ripper Bridgerton begins with a visit to court filmed in the gilded interior of Lancaster House. Lady Violet Bridgerton and her winsome daughter Daphne stroll past flocks of sumptuously dressed multicultural dukes and duchesses — African, Caribbean, Indian. The climax of the scene is an encounter with Queen Charlotte, the putative black monarch.

So much froth and bubble. Let’s consider the facts.

English court society in the early 19th century was a white elite atop a multiracial empire. The hereditary aristocracy was morally censorious and ethnically narrow. It owed its wealth to inherited property and the profits made by slavers, plantation owners and commercial entities such as the British East India Company that were busy ransacking India. Edmund Burke, the father of British conservatism, regarded his campaign against the company’s plunder of India the “cause on which I value myself the most”.

Nor is there any solid evidence that the German-born Queen Charlotte was black. That’s really just a genealogical theory prosecuted by amateur Portuguese historian Mario de Valdes y Cocom. It has been pinballing around the internet and has met with scant scholarly support — but hey, it’s good enough for Netflix.

Bridgerton’s Queen Charlotte appears to be a formidable and manipulative monarch, but in reality she was restricted to the care of her husband, the mad King George III, and her many children, her influence on matters of state being indirect and in the form of recommendations.

From the moment of the king’s incapacitation, the British Empire was ruled by the ostentatious and famously corpulent future George IV as prince regent, and Queen Charlotte’s world — though not her skin colour — manifestly darkened. The Regency era began in 1811. Bridgerton opens in 1813, when it was in full swing.

The costumes are gorgeous, the backdrops magisterial — but Bridgerton offers a weak-headed, saccharine, shallow and partial vision of Regency society. Central to this vision is the notion of a multicultural aristocracy in which the exploited races become not only the beneficiaries of imperial exploitation but members of the exploitative class: the ruling elite. Imagine a World War II film in which a cast of Orthodox Jews plays Hitler’s henchmen. It’s that degree of nuts.

At one point in the series the Duke of Hastings (played by English-Zimbabwean actor Rege-Jean Page) and Lady Danbury (Adjoa Andoh) add some conceptual depth to the largely visual picture of a benign multicultural aristocracy. Remarks Lady Danbury: “Look at our queen, look at our king. Look at their marriage, look at everything it is doing for us, what it is allowing us to become. We were two separate societies, divided by colour until a king fell in love with one of us.”

Nice idea. But the king fell in love with a German princess. The black queen theory, wild as it is, asserts only that Charlotte’s line, five centuries earlier, was linked to a woman of Moorish — though not necessarily African — descent. To put it another way, if Charlotte were African then so, too, was her son, the prince regent. And nobody has ever seen evidence of that.

This seems to be Bridgerton’s logic: by injecting people of colour into the upper echelons of Regency society, we perform an act of historical redress or restitution. Turn the apex of British society in the Regency era into an overdressed version of the crowd you might encounter today at a bar in Kensington or Soho, or maybe Paddo in Sydney, and tolerance is magically normalised. It no longer seems like a historical exception.

However, by denying the reality of racial and social injustice, the series erases historical reality: real people have struggled and died for a more tolerant and equal world. It’s a whitewash.

The writers of the Bridgerton series and the popular novel on which it is based claim these distortions are legitimised because the historical vision is at heart a fantasy. That’s bosh. Game of Thrones is a fantasy; it could never be mistaken for a real time or place. Bridgerton goes to extraordinary lengths to immerse its viewers in the architecture of the Regency period, the dress codes of the period, its hairstyles, social customs, mores, values, mating rituals, even its diction and speech patterns. It is, by and large, historically accurate. Its fantasies are restricted to two contemporary political pieties: race and gender.

I suppose pieties have their place. Colourblind casting worked quite well in the 2019 comedy-drama The Personal History of David Copperfield, based on Charles Dickens’s most autobiographical novel. But that film, with Dev Patel as Copperfield, fixes a sharp eye on the cruel realities of class and the treacherous snakes-and-ladders game of social opportunity that its eponymous hero is forced to play.

Bridgerton, to the contrary, conflates class and race to create a fantastical multicultural gentry that serves only to erase politics, erase history and erase memory.

At best it’s a form of extravagant virtue signalling. At worst it’s the cinematic love child of agitprop and cancel culture. But it trivialises the political history of race and colour. And it’s decidedly off-colour.

How Civil Rights Vernacular Was Hijacked

For centuries black Americans debated how to overcome racism—but they always emphasized human agency and individual responsibility

The civil-rights movement, led by the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. , helped deliver America from the historic sins of slavery and Jim Crow by forcing the nation to confront the full humanity of its black citizens. King’s words and actions glorified America by transfiguring its racial wound and revealing its redemptive promise. Yet today many black leaders have lost sight of King altogether and are aiding and abetting the crucifixion of their own people. Rather than hope, they see despair; rather than the Easter Sunday of true liberation, they offer the bleak Good Friday of never-ending misery.

The history of black American responses to slavery and Jim Crow generally followed three paths. They were hotly debated, but all emphasized human agency, sought liberation, and rejected despair.

First, there were the recolonization or “back to Africa” movements championed by the likes of Marcus Garvey. These movements sought an exit from America.

Second, there were the insurrectionists of the 19th century, who believed that black Americans should engage in armed rebellion or vocal opposition so that they might find a home in this country. Here lie Nat Turner and, later, W.E.B. Du Bois. They wanted to have their resistant voice heard in America.

Third, there were accommodationist movements of the sort undertaken by Booker T. Washington, who thought that loyalty to America was the best course…

Narrative Before Facts

When will the media acknowledge their role in spreading false and inflammatory stories about police shootings?

When officer Rusten Sheskey shot Jacob Blake seven times in the back last year, the media wasted no time establishing the standard narrative: another unarmed African-American shot by racist police.

In a CNN segment on August 25, anchor Jake Tapper said, “Video shows police shoot unarmed black man.” The Washington Post, CNN, PBS, Buzzfeed, Vogue, and several other outlets referred to Blake as “unarmed.” The day after the shooting, David A. Graham, a staff writer at The Atlantic, asserted, “It’s nearly impossible to imagine any way that his shooting was justified.”

Democratic politicians and celebrities jumped on the story, too. Joe Biden tweeted, “Once again, a Black man—Jacob Blake—was shot by the police. In front of his children. It makes me sick. Is this the country we want to be?” Kamala Harris declared that “the life of a black person in America has never been treated as fully human.” Naomi Osaka, the highest-paid female athlete in the world, tweeted to her more than 800,000 followers condemnation of the “continued genocide of Black people at the hand of the police.”

But as Blake himself admitted in a television interview with ABC News last week, he was not unarmed. “I realized I had dropped my knife, I had a little pocketknife, so I picked it up,” Blake told Michael Strahan on Good Morning America. More critically, Blake admitted his actions at the time were wrong: “I shouldn’t have picked it up . . . considering what was going on. . . . At that time I wasn’t thinking clearly.”

Blake’s astonishing admission came days after Kenosha County District Attorney Mike Graveley announced that his office would not charge Officer Sheskey, based on the results of an investigation by former Madison police chief Noble Wray.

During a press conference, Wray emphasized that he, too, had been “emotionally troubled” after seeing the initial video of the police encounter in August, and that it had been a “stressful endeavor” to work in policing for several years as an African-American man. However, his 25-page report definitively concluded that the shooting was “justified” because Blake consistently did not comply with the officer’s orders and motioned toward him with his knife.

Further, according to the report, Officer Sheskey did not retreat for reasonable fear of the children in the car being “harmed, taken hostage, or abducted by Blake.”

For those who deemed the seven shots fired at Blake excessive, Wray’s report clarified that officers are trained to shoot dangerous suspects until the threat to their safety has subsided, according to the Wisconsin Department of Justice’s DAAT standards.

The tragic outcome of Blake’s error in judgment is that he will likely never walk again. But the false story fostered by politicians, media, and celebrities produced tragic outcomes, too. The ensuing riots in Kenosha destroyed several businesses and cost millions of dollars in damage to public property. In a heart-rending interview, the owner of a destroyed car dealership stated, “I’m a minority too. I’m a brown person. I have nothing to do with this. . . . This is not the America I came into.”

All of this pain, damage, and suffering certainly could have been averted had Blake obeyed the officer’s commands when he was first approached. But the irresponsible and ideologically framed coverage of this and other police shootings has also played a part in creating a dangerous feedback loop of mistrust of police, noncompliance with their lawful instructions, tragedy, and public outrage. (Blake also said in his Good Morning America interview, “I didn’t want to be the next George Floyd.”)

The most damning detail in this story, however, is that the victim himself, Blake, has expressed more honesty and remorse for his actions than the media and political elites who pushed an inflammatory, racialized narrative before all the facts were in.




Tuesday, January 26, 2021

UK in danger of becoming 'failed state' if 'massive inequalities' not addressed

What utter tripe. Britain has always had massive inequality, including during the glory days of its empire

The United Kingdom is in danger of becoming a "failed state", Gordon Brown has warned, with people in some parts treated like "second class citizens".

The former prime minister told Sky News the COVID-19 pandemic has brought into sharp focus the "massive inequalities" between the different parts of the union that need to be addressed.

And he hit out at the Scottish National Party's push for a second referendum on Scottish independence, saying now is not the time for a "divisive" vote.

"I want a reformed state, not a failed state," Mr Brown said, explaining his call for reform.

He continued: "There is dissatisfaction, not just in Scotland, but right round the regions and in Wales and Northern Ireland.

"People don't feel that over the virus, over the lockdown, over the quarantines, over the business support...people in the regions don't feel they're being properly consulted or listened to.

Mr Brown, who was PM from 2007 to 2010, said "trust is breaking down in Boris Johnson" and there should be a review of the UK's constitutional settlement to see what is working and what is not.

He said the goal should be to "repair relations between all the different parts of the United Kingdom and have a more inclusive United Kingdom in future".

"There are massive inequalities between the regions - they've got to be addressed," Mr Brown added.

"The government admits it when they talk about levelling up. But that will need new powers of economic initiative - in Manchester, Liverpool, Newcastle, Bristol and so on.

"I think we've got to consider this, as well as considering the future of Scotland and Wales."

But he added that simply devolving more powers away from Westminster would not be enough.

Urging the government to "rebuild the relationships between the centre and the outlying communities", Mr Brown said the House of Lords should be reformed to offer representation for the UK's nations and regions.

And he urged the PM to forcefully make the case for the Union.

"We've got to show that what we provide as a United Kingdom is to the benefit of all parts of the United Kingdom and I don't think the government is doing that at the moment."

Twitter launches fact-checking program called Birdwatch where ANY member can flag a tweet they think is misleading or inaccurate

Twitter has unveiled a feature aimed at bolstering its efforts to combat misinformation by permitting users to add fact-check notes to tweets they believe are false in - but critics say it will target legitimate commentary and enable users 'to take down anything they don't agree with'.

The pilot program unveiled Monday, called Birdwatch, adopts a Wikipedia-like ‘community-driven’ approach to fact-checking, and will first be rolled out as a standalone section of Twitter, for a small, pre-selected set of US-based users.

It will allow regular users, called ‘Birdwatchers’, to identify tweets they think contain inaccuracies or false information and write notes on those tweets to provide ‘informative context’.

Under Birdwatch, no account or tweet is exempt from annotation, meaning users will be able to add ‘context’ to tweets posted by news outlets, reporters and elected officials.

In a press release Monday, Twitter Vice President of Product Keith Coleman said: ‘We believe this approach has the potential to respond quickly when misleading information spreads, adding context that people trust and find valuable.’

However, critics of the new feature have been quick to point out the risk that such a system could be abused to target legitimate commentary.

‘So basically a group of ideologically aligned people can get on here [and] take down anything they don’t agree with,’ Twitter user wrote Ryan Ashe.

Twitter did not specify whether users would face any disciplinary measures - such as posts being removed or accounts being banned - for either those whose tweets are frequently annotated, or those who repeatedly annotate posts in bad faith.

It did say, however, that it wants both experts and non-experts to write Birdwatch notes. It cited Wikipedia as a site that thrives with non-expert contributions.

Birdwatch will allow users, called 'Birdwatchers,' to identify tweets they think have misinformation and write notes to provide 'informational context', which is similar to Wikipedia.

Anyone can apply to be a Birdwatcher, and the only requirements are a valid phone number, email and no recent violations of Twitter’s rules. Birdwatch notes will appear beneath a tweet.

No account or tweet is exempt from annotation, meaning users will be able to add ‘context’ to tweets posted by news outlets, reporters and elected officials.

To prevent people using the service in bad faith, Birdwatcher will be able to rate the effectiveness of each note, impacting its ranking.

The program is currently a pilot, and is only available via a separate website to a select number of users.

During the pilot, Twitter said it wants to focus on making Birdwatch ‘resistant to manipulation attempts and ensure 'it isn’t dominated by a simple majority or biased based on its distribution of contributors.’

Twitter did not specify whether users would face any disciplinary measures for either those whose tweets are frequently annotated, or those who repeatedly annotate posts in bad faith.

‘In concept testing, we’ve seen non-experts write concise, helpful and easy-to-understand notes, often citing valuable expert sources,’ the company wrote in a blog post.

Twitter, along with other social media companies, has been grappling how best to combat misinformation on its service. Despite tightened rules and enforcement, falsehoods about the 2020 election and the coronavirus continue to spread.

During Birdwatch's piloting stage, the San Francisco-based company said it want to focus on making the service ‘resistant to manipulation attempts and ensure it isn’t dominated by a simple majority or biased based on its distribution of contributors.’

To help weed out unhelpful or troll-created notes, for instance, Twitter said it plans to attach a ‘helpfulness score’ to each one and will label helpful ones ‘currently rated helpful.’

The company said Birdwatch will not replace other labels and fact checks Twitter currently uses — primarily for election and COVID-19-related misinformation and misleading posts.

The program will start with 1,000 users and eventually expand beyond the US.

‘If we have more applicants than pilot slots, we will randomly admit accounts, prioritizing accounts that tend to follow and engage with different audiences and content than those of existing participants,’ Twitter wrote.

The program is currently only available via separate website, but Twitter says it hopes to eventually expand Birdwatch to appear for all users on its native site.

‘These notes are being intentionally kept separate from Twitter for now, while we build Birdwatch and gain confidence that it produces context people find helpful and appropriate,’ Coleman said.

‘Additionally, notes will not have an effect on the way people see Tweets or our system recommendations.

‘Eventually we aim to make notes visible directly on Tweets for the global Twitter audience, when there is consensus from a broad and diverse set of contributors.’

Speaking to Fox News, Twitter said that Birdwatch is not a ‘true or false tool’, or a ‘fact checking’ feature, but instead a way of adding context to posts.

Participants will be able to annotate any tweet once. They will have the option to cite source material in their annotation, including from news outlets.

This means users can annotate one news outlet’s tweets by citing other news outlet’s tweets.

The company said while it acknowledges the pilot might be ‘messy and have problems at times’, they believe ‘this is a model worth trying.’

‘We know there are a number of challenges toward building a community-driven system like this,’ Coleman said, referencing any potential bad actors. ‘We will be focusing on these things throughout the pilot.’

Twitter's staff software engineer Jonah Grant said Birdwatchers, upon signing up will learn of the tool’s ‘values’, which are to ‘contribute to build understanding, act in good faith, and to be helpful, even to those who disagree.’

‘We want people to write for a different audience than they do on Twitter,’ Grant clarified. ‘We want people to be helpful, even for those who disagree.’

Coleman concurred, adding that on a Twitter, a user’s audience is their followers, which are ‘typically people who agree with you’.

‘Birdwatch is a different mindset,’ he told Fox, adding that a user is ‘contributing to everyone … [including those] who may not share the same perspective.’

Twitter has taken a more aggressive approach to misinformation on its platform in recent months. Aside from removal, it has relied on labeling, or adding context below tweets that spread misinformation.

In March, amid a spread of misinformation at the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, Twitter began removing ‘misleading and potentially harmful content’ about COVID.

Two months later, it introduced labels to attach to tweets containing unfounded conspiracies about the origins of the virus and fake cures.

In the final two weeks before the election, Twitter said it labelled some 300,000 tweets for ‘disputed and potentially misleading’ content.

It then took the unprecedented step to permanently suspend former President Donald Trump from the platform, after the company said he violated their policies in relations to the Capitol riots.

The move provoked the ire of some who claimed conservative speech was being censored by the tech giant.

Similar criticisms were reignited on Monday, amid concerns Birdwatch could be abused to target legitimate commentary from a minority view.

Talk show host Dana Loesch was among those voicing such a concern. ‘Let’s be real: Birdwatch will be mainly progressives gaslighting center and right-of-center stores,’ she tweeted Monday afternoon.

One follower agreed, writing of Twitter: ‘Today we’re introducing @Birdwatch, a community-driven approach to censoring anything that doesn't support the left woke narrative.’

Others came out to push back against the concerns, with one user writing: ‘Fact-checking isn't taking something down. I don't understand why people are actually opposed to facts.’

In response, a user hit-back: ‘If they appointed Sean Hannity to pick the gatekeepers, you'd see the problem. The leftist editors who already infest Twitter, Facebook, Wikipedia etc. constantly censor facts, including some they admitted were true after the election. That's the point, in fact.’

Denmark sets a target of ZERO asylum seeker applications to protect 'social cohesion'

A more effective policy would be to ban all Muslims from applying. With their supremacist religion, they are largely unassimilable.

Denmark's prime minister today set a target to drive down the country's asylum seeker applications to zero to protect 'social cohesion'.

The country is already seeing the lowest number of asylum seekers since 1998, with 1,547 people applying in 2020. By comparison, applications in the UK were 32,423 last year.

'We cannot promise zero asylum seekers, but we can set up that vision,' Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen said in parliament.

'We need to be careful that not too many people come to our country, otherwise our social cohesion cannot exist.'

The low number of applications last year can be partly explained by the Covid-19 pandemic but it is less than a tenth of the figure in 2015, at the height of the refugee crisis in Europe.

Denmark's figure of 21,300 applications in 2015 was only about an eighth of the number in neighbouring Sweden.

Denmark, a country of 5.8 million inhabitants, makes no secret of its desire to discourage people from seeking refuge.

Immigration Minister Mattias Tesfaye said yesterday the country's strict immigration policies were to be thanked for the low number of applications.

'Very many of those who come here have no need at all for protection,' he also claimed in the statement.

Among the country's strict policies was the planned deportations of Syrian refugees announced in 2019.

After an assessment by the Danish Immigration Service, the government ruled that some migrants could be sent back to Damascus. They concluded the capital, and its surrounds, were no longer dangerous enough for asylum to be automatically granted.

Asylum was rescinded for some Syrian refugees. Deportations, however, were limited due to a reluctance on the part of the Danish government to negotiate with the Assad regime.

Tesfaye said that similar repatriation difficulties for refused asylum seekers made it all-the-more important to curb the number of arrivals.

'Fewer asylum seekers means, all other things being equal, lower spending on processing applications, accommodation and deportation of those whose claims for asylum are rejected.

'We can spend that money on more welfare at home and on persecuted people in local regions [near to conflict zones, ed.],' he said.

In 2017, as leader of the Social Democrats Frederiksen presented a plan to send all 'non-Western' migrants back to so-called reception centres in North Africa and the Middle East.

In September, Copenhagen appointed an ambassador for migration to speed up the creation of one or more migrant camps outside the European Union as part a new European asylum system.

The figures announced yesterday aren't a true reflection of the actual number of asylum seekers to arrive in Denmark. They include individuals who travelled without asylum and some who were approved, for reasons including family reunification.

President Biden Signs Executive Order Prioritizing 'Gender Identity' Over Biology

President Biden signed a host of executive orders on Wednesday, including one that takes aim at gender and sex-based discrimination. The newly-minted president said that his administration hopes to ensure that Americans receive “equal treatment under the law” without gender or sexual orientation as a factor.

The order goes hand-in-hand with a Supreme Court ruling from June of 2020 in Bostock v. Clayton County, in which the the high court held that workplace discrimination based on gender identity or sexual orientation is a violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

“All persons should receive equal treatment under the law, no matter their gender identity or sexual orientation,” Biden wrote on Wednesday. “These principles are reflected in the Constitution, which promises equal protection of the laws. These principles are also enshrined in our Nation’s anti-discrimination laws, among them Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended (42 U.S.C. 2000e et seq.). In Bostock v. Clayton County, 590 U.S. ___ (2020), the Supreme Court held that Title VII’s prohibition on discrimination ‘because of . . . sex’ covers discrimination on the basis of gender identity and sexual orientation.”

The president’s order would allow subjective gender identity to take priority in schools, and the administration said that children should not be concerned about “being denied access to the restroom, the locker room, or school sports.” In turn, the order would allow biological males to compete with biological females, for the sake of gender identity.

In his quest for "unity" Biden is expected to sign even more executive orders during the first days of his administration.




Monday, January 25, 2021

Parents can take control of gaming. Screen time isn’t as bad as we fear and there are benefits to children playing online games

School’s almost starting and parents might be looking for strategies for their child to get the most out of their schooling. One thing I’d suggest is to perhaps let them play video games a little. Why, you ask?

Well, there’s been important recent research on the links between screen time and NAPLAN results by Drs Islam, Biswas, and Khanam, at UNSW and USQ.

Their somewhat surprising findings were that a small amount of video gaming on weekdays and weekends for children aged 11- 17 was associated with better reading and numeracy scores than no gaming at all.

Obviously, not endless amounts of time. More than four hours gaming a day was associated with poorer results. But one to two hours a day on school days, and two to four hours Saturday and Sunday, seemed to be the sweet spot.

These results didn’t astonish me. I know that many parents won’t let their child use computers for fun at all through the week, and sometimes weekends too. And I certainly understand the good intentions of these rules. But clinically, I see some benefit in children having access to internet games. Why? Four reasons.

Imagine you were heading to work tomorrow but had already been told that when your official workday is over, you have to come home, do more work, eat, shower and then go to bed. Feeling despondent? I don’t blame you.

It’s understandable that children want to have a bit of down time to look forward to. To have to finish their homework to be able to play games will give them a little bit of an incentive to do it all. Internet games also give them downtime from often busy days.

Computer games have a bad reputation but not all are bad.

Many teach or improve co-ordination, memory, speed, visuo-spatial and multi-tasking skills. Games also typically involve reading and understanding complex rules.

Of course, you have to monitor content. The government and some gaming providers have done the hard work of analysing and rating games, so parents can dictate what age children need to be to get particular rated games.

I know you’d prefer them to have the childhood you had, exploring the neighbourhood with the local kids in the afternoon. But things just aren’t like that anymore. Online gaming is how a lot of children communicate with their friends now. It’s never as good as in person, but it is a good way to stay in contact with peers occasionally.

Playing something for a time-limited period teaches children essential self-regulation skills – by stopping a current pleasure for future gain – which will help them in their studies.

Enabling them to learn this self-control will be better than not allowing them the opportunity. Some parents might be worried that once they let their child on, they will never get off.

I have to say, for these parents, the problem is not necessarily the game but more their child’s compliance skills.

You should be able to give an instruction and your child follow it. In these instances, I’d prefer parents to establish good control through using effective discipline rather than take away things that may cause trouble. Get professional help if this is an issue.

As one of the study’s authors noted, asking if the internet is good or bad is the wrong question, but instead we should consider “when, how, and how much young people are using technology”. Maybe 2021 is the year to do this.

Youths torch Dutch Covid testing centre and an effigy of Danish PM goes up in flames amid fiery anti-lockdown protests across Europe

Youths torched a Dutch Covid testing centre and an effigy of the Danish Prime Minister was set alight in fiery anti-lockdown protests sweeping across Europe.

The testing facility in the village of Urk in the Netherlands went up in flames on Saturday night with its burnt-out shell remaining cordoned off on Sunday.

Meanwhile, in Copenhagen, Denmark, an effigy of Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen was set on fire in as anti-lockdown sentiment erupts across the continent.

The Netherlands appeared to be bearing the brunt of the unrest on Sunday as authorities use water cannons and dogs to quell demonstrations in Amsterdam. Hundreds of protesters gathered to demonstrate against a curfew that began on Saturday.

In Eindhoven in the country's south, police fired tear gas to disperse a crowd of several hundred protesters while a number of vehicles were burned and businesses at the city's central train station looted, local media reports.

Police said there were at least 30 arrests.

It's John Brennan's Authoritarianism That Threatens Democracy

Every time former CIA Director John Brennan appears on cable news to warn America about some new “insidious threat to democracy,” I am reminded again that he deserves to be in federal prison. In this corrupt media environment, however, the official who oversaw an illegal domestic-spying operation on the legislative branch of the United States government, who tried to cover it up and blame innocent Senate staffers when discovered, and who then brazenly lied about it to legislators and the American people — this man is held up as a paragon of civic virtue.

We still don’t even know what role Brennan played in spying on his political opponents during the 2016 campaign. We do know he went on TV for years after, alleging to have insider knowledge of an unprecedented seditious criminal conspiracy against the United States. Never once was he challenged by his hosts. And when an independent multimillion-dollar investigation couldn’t pull together a single indictment related to those claims, Brennan shrugged it off by saying that he may have “received bad information.”

Brennan was back on MSNBC yesterday, contending that American intelligence agencies “are moving in laser-like fashion to try to uncover as much as they can about” the pro-Trump “insurgency” that harbors “religious extremists, authoritarians, fascists, bigots, racists, nativists, even libertarians.”

Even a former Communist such as Brennan surely understands that there is nothing prohibiting Americans from being religious extremists, fascists, bigots, racists, nativists or even libertarians. It’s definitely none of his business, or that of intelligence agencies, to define what those terms mean. (And the idea that libertarians, who can’t get a minyan to agree on anything libertarian, are marshaling forces for a national insurgency is nonsensical.)

As Brennan is a congenital liar, this may well be another one of his convenient fictions. Yet, considering his history of abusing power — Samantha Power, no lightweight on this front herself, once warned that it wasn’t a “good idea to piss off John Brennan” — we shouldn’t entirely dismiss the idea that his allies are ferreting out thoughtcrimes.

Finding those who illegally threaten others with violence is well within the bailiwick of the government. But the Capitol riot has given authoritarians such as Brennan the pretext to advocate the chilling of speech and censorship. It has become normalized, even celebrated. Networks such as CNN employ full-time anti-speech advocates who pump out cynical content meant to shame tech carriers into taking their competition off the air.

“Extremists exploit a loophole in social moderation: Podcasts on Apple, Google,” reports Tali Arbel at the Associated Press. Are Americans who express their political views on the internet really abusing a “loophole,” or are Big Tech companies who censor them at the behest of the powerful abusing a “loophole” in the First Amendment? Only in the kicker of the fearmongering piece does Arbel quote Jillian York of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, who warns that the tide of censorship “is against the speech of right-wing extremists … but tomorrow the tide might be against opposition activists.” The problem is that censors never believe they’ll lose power, and maybe this time they’re right.

Those who rationalize state censorship almost always expand their definition of “extremist” to include their political opponents. The Washington Post’s columnist Max Boot, for instance, welcomed regime change by imploring the Biden administration to regulate those who supposedly incite radicalism, including Fox News.

Yesterday, Nicolle Wallace, Brennan’s MSNBC colleague, called for forcing Republicans to offer “the truth” before they are “allowed” to say anything else. As we protect people from “counterfeit bills,” she explained, we can protect them against “fake news.” What made Wallace’s comment especially surreal — aside from the fact that’s she apparently never read the Constitution — was that her guest was Ben Rhodes, the former Obama administration official who once bragged to The New York Times that he’d duped a bunch of dimwitted reporters into becoming his disinformation operation. Now Rhodes, too, seems interested in importing Iranian-style censorship with a “firm and brutal” “detox” of bad ideas, achieved through the “national security” and “Homeland Security” officials.

I’m old-fashioned. I’d rather have a bunch of nuts ranting on podcasts all day than one John Brennan deciding what we can say. To my ears, Rhodes, Brennan, Wallace and Boot are the ones who sound like a threat to “democracy.”

Progressive group riots resume in major cities despite Biden inauguration

Fox News contributors Ari Fleischer and Donna Brazile weigh in on illegal immigration policy in the Biden administration and the National Guard deployment to Washington, D.C. ahead of the inauguration.

President Biden was officially sworn in on Wednesday, but riots of the kind that had been blamed on Trump erupted anyway, damaging property and federal buildings.

Police departments in Portland and Seattle reported damage as a result of gatherings near federal buildings, while anti-fascist protesters burned American flags in Denver.

The riots took place on the same day as Biden’s Inauguration, which bore an "America United" theme.

Trump has been accused of inflaming divisiveness throughout the U.S., a narrative that Biden recognized during his campaign for the presidency.

During the lead-up to the 2020 election, then-candidate Biden released an ad that said he would be looking to "lower the temperature in this country, not raise it" like Trump had.

Biden has previously condemned violence of any kind, whether it is perpetrated by people identifying with the left or the right.

He has suggested that Trump’s unwillingness to do the same put lives in jeopardy.

"Donald Trump has been president for almost four years," Biden said in response to deadly violence in Portland over the summer. "The temperature in the country is higher, tensions run stronger, divisions run deeper. And all of us are less safe because Donald Trump can’t do the job of the American president."

But even after Election Day, violence and protests have continued.

On Jan. 6, a group of pro-Trump extremists stormed Capitol Hill and laid siege on Capitol buildings, an insurrection that resulted in fatalities. It was undertaken in protest of the election results, encouraged by a baseless narrative woven by Trump that the election had been "stolen" from him.

More recently, progressive protesters who appear to be frustrated with the Democratic Party have taken action.

As previously reported by Fox News, about 150 rioters in Portland damaged the Democratic Party headquarters on Wednesday.

Some in the group of about 150 people smashed windows and spray-painted anarchist symbols at the political party building. Police said eight arrests were made in the area. Some demonstrators carried a sign reading, "We don’t want Biden, we want revenge!" in response to "police murders" and "imperialist wars." Others carried a banner declaring "We Are Ungovernable."

Portland has been the site of frequent protests, many involving violent clashes between officers and demonstrators, ever since the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis in May. Over the summer, there were demonstrations for more than 100 straight days.

In Seattle, the local police department posted pictures of a courthouse with shattered doors. People were also reportedly throwing objects at cars and reporters said demonstrators were protesting against President Biden and law enforcement, and carried a sign reading, "Abolish ICE."

A small "anti-fascist" crowd gathered in Denver where American flags were burned and two people were arrested for weapons violations. Those demonstrations were against Trump, Biden, police violence and racial injustice, according to The Denver Post.




Friday, January 22, 2021

Left-Wing Journalists Suddenly Have a Problem With Free Speech

As President Joe Biden took office Jan. 20 with calls for unity, his allies in the mainstream media are beating the drum for squashing political dissent, large or small, and keeping it from being heard by the American people.

It’s amazing how “Resist”—once the proud motto of progressive activists—has instantly been turned on its head with the changing political winds.

It seems that “resistance” is now “insurrection,” to be smashed by any means necessary. And these calls are being led not just by liberal activists, but also by journalists, people who should be expected to be champions of free speech.

MSNBC host Nicolle Wallace suggested, without irony, that perhaps more needs to be done by tech companies to suppress news outlets that peddle content that—and here she was quoting New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman—“divides and enrages” over “more authoritative news sources.”

“If we can protect against counterfeit dollar bills, we should be able to protect against fake news that we now know has the potential to kill people,” Wallace said.

To say that using the government in this way would be a threat to the First Amendment would be an understatement.

Oliver Darcy, a journalist at CNN, wrote in a column that news outlets such as One America News Network, Newsmax, and the Fox News Channel should have their plugs pulled by cable companies for “disseminating disinformation about the November election results to audiences of millions.”

Calls to effectively silence media competitors is seemingly becoming commonplace at CNN.

“We are going to have to figure out the OANN and Newsmax problem,” Alex Stamos, a former chief security officer at Facebook, told CNN’s Brian Stelter on Sunday. “These companies have freedom of speech, but I’m not sure we need Verizon, AT&T, Comcast, and such bringing them into tens of millions of homes.”

Perhaps it shouldn’t be surprising to see a big tech executive call for suppressing speech. After all, a cabal of social media companies effectively erased then-President Donald Trump from their platforms after the Jan. 6 rioting at the Capitol.

Not only that, but they effectively shut down Parler, a Twitter alternative, for what they said was a violation of their terms of service. That may be so, but it’s hard not to see these actions as a heavy-handed attempt to crush even the slightest opposition to their control of the messages the American people can see and hear.

As I wrote at the time, the Jan. 6 violence at the Capitol is being used as an excuse to call for muzzling political opposition and to label all supporters of Trump—and right-leaning Americans in general—as a danger to the republic.

It’s bad enough to see powerful companies use such methods, but it’s even more disconcerting to see journalists cheerleading them on.

And some in the media weren’t just calling for private companies to eradicate conservative speech.

Washington Post columnist Max Boot—another CNN commentator—not only echoed those calls for cable companies to shut down speech he doesn’t like, he floated the idea of using government power to do it.

“CNN (where I’m a global affairs analyst) notes that the United Kingdom doesn’t have its own version of Fox News, because it has a government regulator that metes out hefty fines to broadcasters that violate minimal standards of impartiality and accuracy,” Boot wrote. “The United States hasn’t had that since the Federal Communications Commission stopped enforcing the ‘fairness’ doctrine in the 1980s. As president, Biden needs to reinvigorate the FCC. Or else the terrorism we saw on Jan. 6 may be only the beginning, rather than the end, of the plot against America.”

The so-called “fairness” doctrine that Boot is suggesting is a throwback to the last time Democrats held control of both Congress and the executive branch after the election of President Barack Obama in 2008.

The Reagan administration, as Boot wrote, ended the Fairness Doctrine in the 1980s, paving the way to the explosion of conservative talk radio.

Clearly, there was a huge audience waiting to hear a different message than what the mainstream media were delivering. To the left, that was intolerable.

After Obama’s election, left-wing commentators and political leaders made an aggressive push for the FCC to effectively silence talk radio, a medium that conservatives continue to dominate.

The Fairness Doctrine, a relic of the New Deal era, forced radio stations to give equal airtime to both sides of the political spectrum. There might have been some justification for the law when radio was the primary medium of mass communication, but from the very beginning, the Fairness Doctrine was used as a stealthy way to suppress political dissent.

It was particularly telling that those calling for a return to the Fairness Doctrine wanted it to apply specifically to talk radio, and not, say, the media the left dominated.

And what would giving “equal time” to views even look like in 2021?

The progressive elite’s idea of political balance is giving some airtime to nominal “conservatives” like Boot and his fellow Washington Post columnist Jennifer Rubin, who use most of their time telling their readers why conservatives and Republicans are bad.

When Democrats tried to revive the Fairness Doctrine in 2008, the naked attempt to neuter conservative talk radio was as thinly veiled as the “robe” worn by the fabled emperor with no clothes. The movement fizzled out as conservatives were roused to oppose it, and Democrats were crushed in the 2010 midterm elections, in which they lost 63 House seats and six in the Senate.

That effort to muzzle speech failed more than a decade ago, but would a renewed and more ruthless attempt to silence critics really be a surprise? The media landscape has changed since 2008, with social media and other online platforms becoming even more dominant.

The result of this is that many media gatekeepers feel even more threatened by their loss of control of the “narrative” and their waning credibility in the eyes of many Americans.

This time, it might not just be conservative talk radio on the chopping block, but all other forms of right-leaning or generally anti-establishment media, too.

It’s a disturbing, albeit predictable, trend unlikely to bring more unity to a deeply divided nation.

The Left's Fascist COVID-19 Response

In my last column, I offered a handy, pocket definition of fascism as exhibiting three main traits: extreme nationalism, authoritarianism, and a state-run economy. Basically, I was laying a foundation for this essay, in which I argue that the Left’s response to COVID-19 is literally fascist.

Several readers wrote to suggest additional markers of fascism, like disdain for individual rights, obsession with security, suppression of information, and glorification of the military. Most of those are either subsumed under my original list or else characteristic of all totalitarian regimes, or both. After all, fascists have no monopoly on nationalism or authoritarianism. Just ask the ChiComs.

Perhaps that’s because fascism is close kin to both socialism and communism, the third of Karl Marx’s hideous ideological offspring. Like those other evil –isms, it is based on a collectivist approach to governance that puts the interests of the state ahead of those of the citizen. That, of course, is in direct conflict with the liberal (in the old-fashioned sense of the word) belief in the sanctity and sovereignty of the individual, which is the foundation of Western culture going back at least to ancient Greece.

In a fascist economy, however, rather than owning the means of production (as in communist countries), the state “merely” controls the means of production by dictating to the ostensible “owners” what they can and can’t do. Essentially, under fascism, the government picks economic winners and losers. Authoritarianism then arises naturally from the fact that people don’t like being dictated to, as is historically the case with all forms of leftist state control. Leaders can exercise unchecked power over an economy — which is to say, over people — only, ultimately, by force.

Using my definition, then, under which the American and European left meet at least two of the three criteria — a lust for state control over the economy and a penchant for authoritarianism — their response to the COVID-19 pandemic has been a textbook example of fascism at work.

First, as implemented by Democrat governors across the nation — and as promised by our newly-installed president — leftist COVID-19 policy has been undeniably authoritarian, with forced lockdowns, mask mandates, church closures, limits on family gatherings, etc. In fact, in many locales (although thankfully not where I live), those measures have crossed the line from merely authoritarian to actually totalitarian. Witness the fines, arrests, and calls for neighbors and family members to rat each other out — all conditions you would expect to find in a communist or fascist dictatorship but not in the United States of America.

But of course, it’s all for our own good, right? Maybe. Personally, I’m not convinced any of those extreme measures actually have much benefit — and the real science appears to bear me out, as the highly-credible, impeccably-credentialed authors of “The Great Barrington Declaration” make clear. Even the leftist media suddenly appears to be at least entertaining the idea that lockdowns might not work. Hmmm. Why the sudden about-face?

But I digress. More to the point, everything dictators do has always been “for the greater good,” at least according to them — although the millions slaughtered as a result of their “benign” policies in Nazi Germany, the USSR, China, Cambodia, and Cuba might disagree.

Beyond that, the left’s COVID-19 policy is demonstrably fascist in that it exerts government control over our economy, decreeing which businesses can stay open and for how long, which ones must close, how many customers they can serve, and when. Essentially, under the guise of protecting us from a disease most of us won’t get, much less die from, left-leaning pols and unelected bureaucrats are gleefully sorting out economic winners and losers.

And who are the big winners in the COVID-19 sweepstakes? Why, those businesses whose leaders have made it clear that they are totally onboard with leftist rule: Facebook, Twitter, Amazon, Walmart. The losers, meanwhile, are small businesses that tend to be more conservative and in any case don’t have the clout to promote favored policies.

Funny how that works, isn’t it?

Free Speech Is Hard. Its Alternative Is Worse

It’s hard to hear ideologues spouting ideas you know are fully wrong, even harder when you know that the implementation of such ideas would hurt people, including you. Hardest is listening to a message full of hate, vitriol, and name-calling, especially when it’s directed against you personally.

It’s therefore natural to declare that there is no place in a civil society for such ideas, and shut them out for our own and others’ protection.

Yet America’s Founders, having just concluded a contentious, violent, and most uncivil revolutionary war, marked by high feelings and powerful propaganda on both sides, recognized the power of their superior ideas in building support for their cause, and concluded that suppression of free association and free speech poses an existential danger for a free society. They thus enshrined protection of both in the First Amendment that was a necessary condition of the ratification of a Constitution conferring powers in government—therein also ranking an armed citizenry as the second-best defense against tyranny.

Yet, as Judge Napolitano observed in his recent column “Trump’s Speech Is Protected Speech,” even these men fell prey, just ten years later, to our natural inclination to silence those by whom we feel threatened. Congress in 1798 passed the Alien and Sedition Acts, among which

made it a crime to utter ‘false, scandalous, or malicious’ speech against the government or the president, or to utter speech in opposition to the government’s efforts to shore up defenses from a war with France that never came about.

Subsequently fearing that their political opponents might use the Acts against them, Congress repealed them before Jefferson took office. (Today’s statesmen might take heed that power granted to your friends remains available for the use of your foes, and think twice before granting sweeping new powers to rulers.)

Fast forward to the midst of World War I, and Congress’ passage of the Espionage Act. It was brought to bear against five Russian anarchists living in New York who had published and distributed anti-capitalist pamphlets—the Facebook and Twitter of the day—exhorting workers in armaments factories to lay down their tools, and for the American public to withdraw their support of the war.

Convicted, the men appealed to the Supreme Court on the basis of Free Speech. The court upheld the conviction in Abrams et al. v. United States, observing

the plain purpose of their propaganda was to excite, at the supreme crisis of the war, disaffection, sedition, riots, and, as they hoped, revolution, in this country for the purpose of embarrassing and if possible defeating the military plans of the government in Europe.

In his dissent, Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes wrote:

the best test of truth is the power of the thought to get itself accepted in the competition of the market, and that truth is the only ground upon which their wishes safely can be carried out.

And therein lies the rub: while we all enjoy the benefits of competition, letting us choose what we like best among many alternatives, we don’t much like it for ourselves. It’s so much nicer not to have to face the threat of someone else being chosen for our job; someone else coming along with a product that people like better than our own; and worst of all, the pain of hearing hateful or dangerous ideas antithetical to ours.

Protecting against each threat means having to work harder: making sure we stay on top of current knowledge and training to perform our jobs as best possible, paying attention to our customers to make sure we continue to meet their needs well, and honing our own thoughts and expression of our ideas in compelling and effective means.

Writing about today’s college “cancel” culture, ACLU Senior Staff Attorney Lee Rowland observes in “We All Need to Defend Speech We Hate“:

Our Constitution protects hateful speech, yes—but on the theory that truly free speech means the best ideas will win out. We need students trained to really listen to ideas they hate—and respond with better ones.

Today’s suppression of social media accounts, and threat of legislation that would censor the expression of ideas deemed “dangerous” and the people who hold them are nothing but the result of decades of Americans too lazy to study and defend—or deprived of a proper educational grounding in—the principles and ideas of a free society.

As Benjamin Franklin observed and has been oft repeated, especially in our 21st century aftermath of the USA PATRIOT Act:

They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.

Glenn Greenwald, among others, is sounding the alarm against today’s calls to deplatform Trump and other “ideologues,” pointing out that in the aftermath of the Capitol incursion, “every War on Terror rhetorical tactic to justify civil liberties erosions is now being invoked in the name of combatting Trumpism.” Further:

That is because the dominant strain of American liberalism is not economic socialism but political authoritarianism. Liberals now want to use the force of corporate power to silence those with different ideologies. They are eager for tech monopolies not just to ban accounts they dislike but to remove entire platforms from the internet. They want to imprison people they believe helped their party lose elections, such as Julian Assange, even if it means creating precedents to criminalize journalism.

Our best defense against such authoritarianism is codified in our very First Amendment. Free speech for all is our most essential liberty. Suppressing it secures only those who feel superior to and thus want to be unaccountable to us: Politicians and their Big Tech bedfellows.

FBI asked to review role of Parler in Capitol attack

Washington: The House Oversight and Reform Committee on Thursday, local time, asked the FBI to investigate the role Parler, a social media website and app popular with the American far right, played a role in the violence at the US Capitol.

Representative Carolyn Maloney, who chairs the panel, cited press reports that detailed violent threats on Parler against state elected officials for their role in certifying the election results before the January 6 attack that left five dead. She also noted numerous Parler users have been arrested and charged with threatening violence against elected officials or for their role in participating in the attack.

Reuters reported this week that Parler partially resumed online operations with the help of a Russian-owned technology company after being shut down by Amazon Web Services, which said it had failed to moderate violent content effectively.

The FBI and Parler did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Maloney asked the FBI to review Parler's role "as a potential facilitator of planning and incitement related to the violence, as a repository of key evidence posted by users on its site, and as a potential conduit for foreign governments who may be financing civil unrest in the United States."

Maloney asked the FBI to review Parler’s financing and its ties to Russia after she noted the company had re-emerged.

Maloney cited Justice Department charges against a Texas man who used a Parler account to post threats regarding the riots that he would return to the Capitol on Jan. 19 "carrying weapons and massing in numbers so large that no army could match them."

The Justice Department said the threats were viewed by other social media users tens of thousands of times.

More than 25,000 National Guard troops and new fencing ringed with razor wire were among the unprecedented security steps put in place ahead of Wednesday's inauguration of President Joe Biden.




Thursday, January 21, 2021

Parler Is Back Online Thanks to Russian Tech Company

Social network Parler has partially returned with the help of a Russian-owned technology company, Reuters reported. The website and app were forced offline last week when host Amazon Web Services (AWS) suspended access.

Popular among right-wing extremists, Parler (not to be confused with "social talking app" Parlor) was also removed from Apple's App Store and the Google Play Store following Donald Trump's recent ban from most major social media platforms. In response to the AWS suspension, Parler CEO John Matze told users the network would be offline for up to a week as the application is "rebuilt from scratch." "We will try our best to move to a new provider right now as we have many competing for our business," he wrote in a tweeted statement.

The social network appears to have found that provider in DDos-Guard, an internet infrastructure services provider known for working with companies hosting controversial content, including 8kun (previously 8chan); it also supports Russian government sites, according to Reuters. DDoS-Guard's web page lists an address in Scotland, under the title Cognitive Cloud LP. But, as infrastructure expert Ronald Guilmette told the news outlet, it's actually owned by two men in Rostov-on-Don, Russia.

Parler's Triumphant Return?

"Hello world, is this thing on?" Matze wrote on Friday, in the first update since the site relaunched. A note at the top of the page promises Parler will "resolve any challenge before us" and hopes to welcome users back "soon"—as early as February, if Matze has his way.

"I'm confident that by the end of the month, we'll be back up," the CEO told Fox News over the weekend. "Every day it changes wildly, but I feel confident now. We're making significant progress."

Conservative commentator and Parler investor Dan Bongino returned to the social network on Monday, promising that "We will NEVER stop fighting. NEVER. This fight is bigger than me, and it's bigger than Parler. If they're allowed to silence us, they can silence anyone. It stops now. Please stand with us in this fight for liberty, truth, and freedom."

The company's chief policy officer, Amy Peikoff, also took to the site on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, quoting the civil rights leader and suggesting that "this be the year that all of us, regardless of political belief, become extremists for freedom of expression and privacy."

"Our return is inevitable due to hard work, and persistence against all odds," Matze added. "Despite the threats and harassment not one Parler employee has quit. We are becoming closer and stronger as a team."

Biden Pushes Leftist Sexual Ethic With HHS Pick

In an obvious nod to the radical identitarian Left, Joe Biden named Pennsylvania’s Health Secretary “Rachel” Levine as his new assistant secretary of health. Levine, formerly known as Richard, openly identifies as “transgender” and has been a member of the ironically named “Equality Pennsylvania,” an LGBT activist organization. Clearly for conservatives, there are serious problems with putting a demonstrably mentally ill science denier in the nation’s top healthcare position.

Levine, a pediatrician, was appointed as PA’s physician general in 2017 by Democrat Governor Tom Wolf, making him one of the few openly “transgender” individuals in public office.

In announcing his choice, Biden made it clear that he was motivated primarily by an agenda to push the Left’s sexual “ethic” into being accepted and adopted nationally. He stated, “Dr. Rachel Levine will bring the steady leadership and essential expertise we need to get people through this pandemic — no matter their zip code, race, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability — and meet the public health needs of our country in this critical moment and beyond. … She is a historic and deeply qualified choice to help lead our administration’s health efforts.”

This perfectly underscores the Democrats’ radical agenda, which seeks to undercut the very fabric of truth. Levine may be a skilled pediatrician, but he clearly is suffering from serious mental delusions. In the recent past, placing an individual with such a serious mental issue in such a position of authority would have been unthinkable. Yet today it is not only celebrated, but anyone who dares to object is vilified as a bigot.

How long before Democrats further attack Americans’ right to free speech and their religious liberty by proposing legislation to “protect” those demanding that everyone acquiesce to delusional demands for preferred pronouns? How long before those of us who dissent and believe in God-designed science are charged with engaging in “hate speech”? It’s already happened on social media. And it will be coming to the federal government.

As a footnote, The Washington Free Beacon reports that Levine is also a hypocrite: “Levine directed Pennsylvania nursing homes to accept COVID-positive patients — even as she pulled her own mother out of a longterm-care facility over pandemic concerns.”

Black Lives Matter Goes After WHITE Reporter… They Didn’t Know The Camera Was LIVE!

Black Lives Matter is a national disgrace that has demonstrated over and over again that only SOME black lives matter – the ones they deem worthy. The movement’s actions clearly demonstrate that in their opinion some lives are simply more equal than others.

The movement was spawned by the Michael Brown shooting by Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson. Built upon the mantra “Hands up, Don’t Shoot” that was later revealed to be one of the biggest lies of 2015. A Department of Justice investigation into the incident found the “Hands up, don’t Shoot” claim was not supported by the evidence. What the DOJ did find was the physical and forensic evidence supported Wilson’s account of events in that Brown reached into Wilson’s SUV and grabbed and punched the officer, tried to grab Wilson’s gun, and then, in the final moments of his life, charged at Wilson as Wilson shot him.

Yet the Brown family was granted $1.5 million dollars in a wrongful death lawsuit against the city of Ferguson and “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot” has been used to perpetuate the execution of police in New York City, Dallas, Baton Rouge, and other places.

After a grand jury chose not to indict Officer Wilson, Brown’s stepfather incited protesters and rioters to “Burn this motherf—er down” and “Burn this b–ch down.” At least 14 people were injured and twelve buildings set on fire in the ensuing violence. Compensating people for legitimate harm done to them is one thing. Paying them $1.5 million for actions precipitated by Brown and inciting violence on his behalf raises serious questions.

Black Lives Matter continues to perpetuate the ideology that this is a race issue. As evidenced by cases like Kelly Thomas and more recently Justine Damond in Minneapolis this is a people issue, not a race one. It is a clear case of demanding that police and government officials be accountable for their actions at perhaps even a higher level than the average citizen. With great power, comes great responsibility.

Racism is ugly no matter what color does it. To choose to hate someone for their particular shade of melanin without knowing the character of the person you are judging is the height of ignorance. No one chooses their skin color. You do choose whether you will be a person of character and integrity.

Yet members of Black Lives Matter chose to assault a reporter from Fox News. He asked her a simple question, “Why are you protesting police and why are you here?” The woman screams at him at times almost incoherently, “Get the F*ck out of here! We don’t want you here! You are a white supremacist!”

All because he dared ask her what her premise was. It seems that when given a platform and the opportunity to factually present her case as to what the movement represents and WHY she felt so strongly about it? She reacted incoherently with emotion and anger making herself look like the racist individual rather than the person she was so violently flinging accusations at.

It seems she forgot the camera was rolling the entire time.

Racism is ugly no matter what color does it. To choose to hate someone for their particular shade of melanin without knowing the character of the person you are judging is the height of ignorance. No one chooses their skin color. You do choose whether you will be a person of character and integrity.

Why the Left Has to Suppress Free Speech

Let us begin with this fact: The left always suppresses speech. Since Vladimir Lenin and the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia in 1917, there has been no example of the left in control and not crushing dissent.

That is one of the important differences between liberal and left: Liberalism and liberals believe in free speech.

(The present leftist threat to freedom in America, the greatest threat to freedom in American history, is made possible because liberals think they have more to fear from conservatives than from the left. Liberals do not understand that the left regards liberals as their useful idiots.)

The left controls universities. There is little or no dissent allowed at universities.

The left controls nearly every “news” medium. There is little or no dissent in the mainstream media—not in the “news” sections and not in the opinion sections.

The left controls Hollywood. No dissent is allowed in Hollywood.

That is why we have “cancel culture”—the silencing and firing of anyone who publicly dissents from the left, and even “publicly” is no longer necessary.

The National Association of Realtors has just announced that if you express dissenting views (on race, especially) in private, you may be fined and lose your membership in the organization—which effectively ends your career as a realtor.

So, we return to the opening question: Why does the left need to crush all dissent? This is a question made all the more stark because there is no parallel on the right: Conservatives do not shut down dissent or debate.

The answer, though the left will not acknowledge it, is the left fears dissent. And it does so for good reason. Leftism is essentially a giant balloon filled with nothing but hot air. Therefore, no matter how big the balloon—the Democratic Party, The New York Times, Yale University—all it takes is a mere pin to burst it.

Leftism is venerated by intellectuals. But there is little intellectual substance to leftism. It is a combination of doctrine and emotion. The proof? Those with intellectual depth do not stifle dissent; they welcome it.

That is why universities are so opposed to conservatives coming to speak on campus. One articulate conservative can undo years of left-wing indoctrination in a one-hour talk or Q&A. I know this from personal experience on campuses. You can, too.

Watch the speeches given by any conservatives allowed to speak on a campus—many of these talks are still on YouTube—and you will see large halls filled with students yearning to hear something other than left-wing pablum. Look at their faces, filled with rapt attention to ideas they never heard that are clearly having an impact.

Universities are entirely right to fear our coming to speak. We come with the pin that bursts their $50,000-a-year balloon.

That is also why it is so hard to get any of them to debate any of us. In 35 years of radio, I have never mistreated or bullied a guest. I was unfailingly polite to an icon of the left, Howard Zinn, the America-hating author of the America-hating “A People’s History of the United States.”

I even invited a UCLA political science professor and violinist, one of seven members of the Santa Monica Symphony Orchestra who refused to play when I conducted the orchestra in a Joseph Haydn symphony in the Disney Concert Hall—solely because I’m a conservative.

Despite his public letter, in which he accused me of holding “horribly bigoted positions” and wrote, “Please urge your friends to not attend this concert, which helps normalize bigotry in our community,” I nevertheless invited him on my national radio show. He agreed.

I had him in studio for an entire hour and treated him and his wife (who accompanied him) with great respect, despite my contempt for his false accusations and his advocacy of the cancel culture. Every American should hear that hour.

Unfortunately for the emotional and intellectual health of our society, he, Zinn, and a few others were anomalies. Of the 100 or so left-wing authors, professors, and columnists invited to appear on my show, almost none has responded in the affirmative. They prefer NPR, where they are never challenged.

The opposite, however, is not true: Every conservative intellectual I know says yes to every one of the (very few) left-wing invitations we receive. Of course, we are almost never invited. We regularly invite leftists. Leftists almost never invite us.

They claim it’s because we are not up to their intellectual level and they have no desire to waste their time. One would think that the opportunity to publicly show how vapid we conservatives really are would be too good to pass up.

Leftists do not debate us or appear as guests on our shows and prevent us from speaking whenever possible, because they (correctly) fear conservatives.

Race-baiters such as Ibram X. Kendi or Ta-Nehisi Coates or “White Fragility” author Robin DiAngelo would never debate Larry Elder, for example.

Why won’t they? Because they would be shown to be the intellectually shallow purveyors of hate they are. Deep down, they know it. Elder is one of many conservative black intellectuals who left-wing blacks (and whites) refuse to debate.

Now you know why the left suppresses free speech: because it has to. If there is free speech, there is dissent. And if there is dissent, there is no more left.