Friday, December 09, 2022

India to make Russia its number 1 oil supplier in move that could scupper impact of price cap

Russia is on its way to becoming India’s top oil supplier this month, with Moscow making huge inroads into the Asian giant’s energy sector in a move that will likely undermine the impact of a price cap imposed by G7 countries and their Western allies.

India’s imports of Russian crude oil climbed to the highest level ever in November as refiners purchased more than 1.03 million barrels per day (bpd), according to data provided to The Independent by commodities tracking firm Kpler.

The Narendra Modi-led government has been snapping up crude at discounted rates from Russia since the Ukraine invasion, as Western nations looked to pivot away from their reliance on Moscow for energy supplies.

From almost nothing in January and February this year, Russia’s oil exports climbed to 902,000 bpd by October and rose to a record high of a little more than 1 million bpd in November, according to preliminary data.

“This will likely result in Russia being India’s number 1 supplier in December,” Matt Smith, lead oil analyst at Kpler, told The Independent, overtaking its traditional Middle Eastern partners – Saudi Arabia and current top supplier Iraq – for the first time.

Delhi has not committed to the $60 per barrel price cap on Russian oil set by the G7 countries, including the European Union and Australia, in a bid to squeeze the Kremlin’s earnings from oil exports and stymie the money flowing to Vladimir Putin’s war chest.

It also comes as the European Union’s own partial embargo on Russian seaborne crude oil announced in May came into force on Monday, the same day the G7 enforced its price cap. The EU ban covers more than two-thirds of Russian oil imports coming into European countries.

India and China have become the two largest growing economies to buy Russian oil as Western democracies devised ways to squeeze the Russian economy and deepen its isolation. Delhi has repeatedly defended its imports from Russia, saying it has a responsibility to Indian citizens to get the best deal and that it will not be “pressured” by the West.

Rajeev Jain, additional director-general at India’s petroleum ministry, told The Independent that India’s ranking in Russia’s energy trade is “not a matter for our calculations” as Delhi’s only interest is in buying the cheapest oil.

“We will buy from wherever we get the cheapest oil. We are not concerned about becoming the number one or number two country [as] our interest lies in buying [wherever] we get the cheapest oil,” Mr Jain said.

He added that the G7 price cap will not affect Indian imports as the refiners buy through the best route and what is best available to them.

“We don’t negotiate on the route aspect. They buy as per their requirements and they negotiate as per the best rate available,” he said, referring to the entities involved in the trade.


Brittney Griner release shows what real privilege is

Americans for LimitedGovernment President Rick Manning today issued the following statement inresponse to the Russian release of Brittney Griner:

“The Biden administration showed theworld what privilege really looks like when they agreed to exchange a WNBAbasketball player for a Russian arms dealer known as the Merchant of Death.

“Every American knows that if you,your son or daughter were caught carrying drugs in Russia, tried, convicted andsentenced, you would be doing everything you could to survive the next decadein a Russian gulag. LeBron James would not be advocating for you,sportswriters like theinsufferable Bill Plaschke would not be writing columns on your behalf,various interest groups wouldn't mobilize on your behalf, and needless to say,the president would have no idea who you were.

“But Brittney Griner is aprofessional athlete. An athlete who a vast majority of Americans had noidea who she was until she decided to go through Russian security with a vapingpen and hashish oil, which is a serious crime in Russia. Griner was notkidnapped, she was arrested, caught dead to rights. No allegations have beenmade that she was not guilty, or that her confession was coerced. Yet, she,unlike you, is worth the release of someone who was responsible for thousands,if not tens of thousands of black deaths in Africa due to his trade.

“As you are fed the celebration ofGriner's release today, just remember the cost of that release. The message hasbeen sent about what the Biden administration values. As for me, I am glad thatI am not a high-profile US athlete travelling the world, after all, if you can getthe Merchant of Death for Griner imagine what any run of the mill kidnapper canget out of the US government for a celebrity someone the American publicactually knows.”


The Pleasures — and Pitfalls — of Paranoia

A couple in New Zealand have demanded that surgeons use only non-vaccinated blood to perform a life-saving heart operation on their baby.

Since the New Zealand blood transfusion service does not categorize blood into vaccinated and unvaccinated groups, and it would be futile even to try, this amounts to the parents refusing to allow the surgeons to operate.

Not surprisingly, the hospital has gone to court to have the parents replaced, at least temporarily, as legal guardians of the child.

Man is supposed to be the rational animal, and so he is — in part. After all, only the prolonged exercise of rationality could have resulted in even the possibility of a life-saving operation on the heart of a baby.

On the other hand, there is a strong strain of irrationality in humanity as well. Humankind, said T.S. Eliot, cannot bear very much reality: to which he might have added, or long remain entirely rational.

The parents of the baby are more concerned with a completely conjectural and notional danger, that has probably emerged from a paranoid mindset fed or even created by too assiduous a frequentation of certain websites on the internet, than with an immediate and serious hazard to the life of the child.

This is interesting from the psychological point of view. It is an extreme example of something that affects us all, namely a failure to understand, assess, and fear risks according to their objective likelihood of eventuating.

I am sure that more people experience a frisson of fear when the plane takes off than when they get into their car, though the likelihood of being involved in a fatal accident in the latter is many times as great.

It stands to a certain kind of reason that sitting in a metal tube that leaves the ground at high speed must be more dangerous than going at a relatively low speed on four terrestrial wheels, but such reason is wrong by orders of magnitude.

In the early days of railways, passengers were terrified of accidents, and it is true that by the standards of later railways they were frequent. But the passengers of the time were not to know this. By contrast, they could have known that traveling by horse-drawn carriage was many times more dangerous than traveling by train, yet it was the latter of which they were deeply afraid.

People vary in their ability to assess the statistical likelihood of dangers and their ability to conform their behavior to that likelihood, and the parents of the baby are obviously at one extreme of the spectrum.

Then there is the paranoid aspect of the parents’ mentality. I hesitate to refer to the pleasures of paranoia: perhaps the rewards of paranoia would be a better way of putting it.

The paranoid person is assured that he is at least worth persecuting: it lends him an importance of a kind that he would not otherwise have. I remember a patient who lived in the most terrible squalor, having been separated by madness from his family for several years.

He believed himself to have been followed, tracked, traced, and sometimes even poisoned by the KGB, though to all outward appearances he was of the utmost insignificance. Being the object of the KGB’s attention, however, lent meaning to his life, and purpose, too, since he spent his time thinking about how to evade the murderous attentions of that omnipresent organisation.

It would have been cruel to deprive him of his delusions, for then he would have had to face up to the reality of his madness and the irreparable wreckage of his life that it had wrought.

Paranoia lends meaning and importance to a life that is otherwise without one, but also to the world of events that seem so various, trivial, arbitrary, and incomprehensible that they have no overall meaning. Paranoia is like giving a shake to the pieces of a jigsaw puzzle in a box and tipping them out so that they form a perfect picture.

There is another psychological advantage of paranoia, too: the paranoid think that they have an insight into the workings of the world that is not given to others. It gives them a certain sense of superiority, therefore. The refusal of others to accept their delusions only reinforces them and goes to show how right they are.

The paranoia of the couple who would rather see their baby dead than given the blood of those who have been vaccinated is of a milder kind, probably more a mood of mistrust than a fully-fledged delusion, and therefore (paradoxically) all the harder to treat.

They probably have sheaves of evidence, or pseudo-evidence, at their disposal. It is also entirely possible that they are, in their own way, quite learned, like those who maintain that Shakespeare (the author of the plays, that is, not the ignorant hick from Stratford) was really the Earl of Oxford.

This mentality, I suspect, is more and more common, as trust declines and mistrust grows, and egoism combines with the explosion of undigested information that is available to all.


True Diversity Is Viewpoint Diversity, and It Allows All of Us to Show Up

Patrice Onwuka

Diversity emphases are popping up everywhere from business to academia. One of the top business schools in the country, Wharton, is going to offer a diversity major for students. The Wall Street Journal is reporting more companies are trying new tactics to add greater diversity to their supply chains. As a black woman who immigrated to America, while I celebrate the vast array of backgrounds that can add to our culture and economy, I wonder if we are really focusing on true diversity.

On paper, I might fit a gender and race diversity goal that some are seeking to emphasize, but in reality, I don’t fit neatly into anyone’s boxes.

I’m a former subject of the British monarchy and have been a proud naturalized U.S. citizen since I was a teenager. I am also a wife of six years, a mother of three boys, and a Christian who attends a nondenominational church each week. I was elected the Republican committeewoman for my ward in Boston several years ago. I am now a dot of red in my very blue Maryland county. Those identities hardly scratch the surface of who I am.

Each person brings a kaleidoscope of experiences and characteristics that inform who they are, what they believe and value, and how they live their life. We are all unique individuals, and there is so much more to us than what can be seen on the outside or defined by the demographic boxes of gender and race that we so often fill out on forms for work, school, or government agencies.

One would expect that any effort to promote diversity would take this complexity into consideration.

Yet, so many diversity, equity, and inclusion—also known as DEI—efforts in corporate, nonprofit, and government settings today tend to prioritize gender and race in a way that leaves no room for the other facets individuals bring to the table.

While the intent of these efforts is to give an advantage to someone who looks like me, I reject the assumption that I am too weak to compete on merit alone, I oppose being reduced to my immutable characteristics, and I don’t desire to be a victim of tokenism. In addition, some diversity efforts can unintentionally spur racial animosity that undermines the goal of workplace or societal unity.

Like many, I have been frustrated by efforts focused on reducing racial disparities in America that minimize the role of the individual and dismiss the impact of personal choices on an individual’s outcomes.

Remedies meant to correct disparities may be well-intended but are ineffective at best. The real solution comes from an evolution away from box-checking, quotas, and assumptions based on physical traits to a celebration of the wide range of identities and characteristics that make each person special.

For example, some of my friends told me I was the first black female conservative they had ever met. Yet when I describe my views on the importance of charity, a strong family, and educational choices for kids, we quickly find areas of agreement. Optimism for the future and a strong sense of personal agency and responsibility are common values I share not only with these friends but with others I know from poor, white communities and immigrant families alike.

Current DEI efforts are based upon the unfounded belief that demographic diversity is equivalent to diversity of viewpoint—and that demographic diversity is what leads to better outcomes. But what a person believes, how she thinks, and more specifically, how she approaches challenging issues is not dependent on her skin color or sex, but on life experiences.

On a larger scale, one effort to increase diversity that has not had the expected impact is that of increasing female representation on boards of directors. Many rigorous peer-reviewed studies of companies in the U.S. and abroad find no causal link between board gender diversity and corporate performance.

Even if headcounts are the measure of success, the needle has not moved much even after decades of attempts to increase racial diversity in corporations and management. Corporate DEI trainings have, at best, no impact and, at worst, negative impacts if the training is compulsory.

Some propose taking data-driven approaches to combat the lack of minority representation in the workplace. Others would overhaul DEI training to refocus on outcomes rather than focusing on checking boxes when it comes to hiring. Philanthropy Roundtable’s True Diversity initiative is encouraging the charitable sector—donors and nonprofits alike—to move beyond fulfilling quotas as the end goal and instead pursuing a holistic, equality-based approach to diversity as a means of more effectively serving communities and those in need.

True Diversity values each individual for the experiences that shape him or her rather than categorizing a person by physical traits. It challenges organizations to build cultures that embrace viewpoint diversity: Consider a person’s religion, worldview, values, knowledge, and socioeconomic background rather than just membership in a particular demographic group.

True Diversity can also enrich the decision-making process even as it forces tough conversations. It creates space for individuals to bring their varied knowledge and lived experiences to bear. It is the antidote to quotas. Instead of forcing an ideal of diversity based on physical traits, it values differences, whether physical, experiential, or cultural.

In the charitable sector, this is particularly key as local issues need local solutions. When we allow organizations to harness the power of all the facets that make each of us human, they can identify what types of diversity in leadership and staffing will best support their missions and strengthen their communities. Freeing donors and nonprofits from arbitrary standards and expectations to allow them to focus their attention on getting the job done the best way possible helps uplift those being served.

Whatever the approach, the time is now to shift away from those who treat demographic diversity as the Holy Grail. Our lived experiences and values are the true diversity this moment calls for.




Thursday, December 08, 2022

The Indian diaspora has arrived

Rishi Sunak’s ascent to the pinnacle of British politics has sparked celebrations across India.

But while a brown-skinned devout Hindu leading the United Kingdom is certainly remarkable, Sunak’s rise points to a broader, longer-term phenomenon: the growing prominence of the Indian diaspora across the Western world.

This trend has been evident for some time, especially in the private sector, where Indian-born executives have risen to leadership positions at major U.S.-based multinational corporations. Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai and former PepsiCo CEO Indra Nooyi are probably the best-known examples, but there are many others.

According to S&P Global Ratings, no fewer than 58 Fortune 500 companies are currently run by CEOs of Indian descent. This list does not include Nooyi, who stepped down in 2018, and former Twitter chief Parag Agrawal, who was fired last month by new owner Elon Musk. But it is still long and varied, ranging from technology powerhouses like Adobe (Shantanu Narayen) and IBM (Arvind Krishna) to coffee powerhouses like Starbucks (Laxman Narasimhan).

As Sunak’s promotion demonstrates, the phenomenon has crossed over into politics, too. United States Vice President Kamala Harris was born to an Indian mother and Nikki Haley — a former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations and a potential presidential candidate in 2024 — is the daughter of Indian Punjabi Sikh parents. Antonio Costa, whose father was part Indian, has been Portugal’s Prime Minister since 2015. Ireland’s half-Indian former Prime Minister Leo Varadkar is expected to regain the premiership later this year, owing to a rotation agreement. The thorny post-Brexit negotiations between England and Ireland could soon be conducted by two leaders of Indian heritage.

What explains this trend? Why do Indian immigrants and their children often thrive in Western systems designed to benefit Western-born, Western-educated local talent?

One possible explanation is Indians’ familiarity with English, owing to two centuries of British colonial rule. But language alone hardly guarantees success. And in any case, this does not explain Indians’ accomplishments in non-Anglophone European countries. In Germany, for example, 58% of Indian-origin workers hold jobs that require university degrees or equivalent specialist skills.

Another explanation is that Indian immigrants are more motivated. That is true, but Indians seem to outpace other immigrant communities. Of the many nationalities and ethnicities in the U.S., people of Indian descent have long had the enviable record of earning and maintaining the highest per-capita income.

First-generation Indian emigrants have grown up without taking affluence for granted, overcoming adversities such as limited resources, heavy-handed government regulation and bureaucratic inertia. Most have either experienced deprivation or witnessed enough of it to try to escape it. They have the “fire in the belly” that many in the West, raised in freer, more affluent environments, may have lost.

Moreover, India’s history and pluralism have exposed Indians to people of different languages, religions and cultures. Adjusting to the “other” is a deeply ingrained practice. It follows that Indian emigrants would be very comfortable working in multinational corporations. Growing up in a democratic country has equipped Indian-born workers with habits and values such as individual initiative, critical thinking and free expression, which are typically considered assets in the business world. At the same time, respect for hierarchy enables Indians to be seen as original and creative but “safe,” rather than threatening or revolutionary — a combination that facilitates their acceptance in their new societies and their ascent within firms.

Likewise, India’s encouragement of diversity and discouragement of excess make it easier for Indians to adapt to competitive environments. A cultural emphasis on education and learning, close-knit families and a strong work ethic also serve Indians well. Most Indians from middle-class backgrounds probably have grown up seeing merit honored and seeking to earn such praise themselves.

While such characteristics are frequently noted among first-generation immigrants, the success of Sunak, Varadkar and Harris suggest that Indians have passed these traits to their offspring. Sunak, in particular, seems to embody the aspirations and values of many Indians who celebrate him as a poster boy for the “New India.”

Ironically, some of the traits that Indians celebrate when applauding the success of their diaspora are rooted in values and traditions that India’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party is seeking to suppress. In BJP-ruled India, chauvinist Hindutva hypernationalism threatens diversity, and uniformity and obedience to the new national narrative have come to trump individual initiative and freedom of thought. It is sobering that the virtues being hailed in Indians around the world might soon be more apparent in the diaspora than they are at home.


"Growing Pains" actor Kirk Cameron is banned from hosting readings of his children's Christian book at more than 50 publicly funded libraries - despite most hosting 'drag queen story times' for kids

Actor Kirk Cameron has repeatedly been denied the opportunity to share his new Christian children's book at community libraries because the publicly funded institutions have rejected the traditional messaging of the story or opted not to reply to requests on his behalf.

It is common for community libraries to run story-hour programs for kids and parents that correspond with the release of a new book

In recent years, libraries have come under fire for promoting drag queens and other LGBTQ+ centric story hours for young children. It now appears to be the case that those same libraries, which are largely funded by taxpayers, have decided there is no space in their programming lineups for more traditional and faith-based titles.

Cameron's book, As You Grow, 'teaches biblical wisdom and the value of producing the fruit of the spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, self-control,' according to the author.

Cameron is himself a married father of six children, four of whom are adopted. He has recently spoken out about parts of the left-wing establishment attempting to indoctrinate children as early as possible with progressive ideology.

Several months back, he spoke out against the US public school systems, which he said had been taken over by radical progressives who wish to impart lessons about Critical Race Theory and gender ideology to young children.

'It's sad to say they're doing more for grooming, for sexual chaos and the progressive left than any real educating about the things that most of us want to teach our kids,' he said during a promotion for his film, The Homeschool Awakening.

Now, he is working with conservative children's book publisher Brave Books, which produces 'pro-God, pro-America and anti-woke values.'

Brave Books told Fox News that it had been denied a story hour slot at several libraries explicitly due to the ideology of Cameron's book.

In Providence, Rhode Island, the Rochambeau Public Library told the publisher over the phone, 'No, we will pass on having you run a program in our space.'

'We are a very queer-friendly library. Our messaging does not align,' the library employee added.

When asked about filling out paper work to apply for a story hour, the employee said, 'You can fill out the form to reserve space, to run the program in our space — but we won’t run your program.'

The Rochambeau Public Library regularly hosts a program it calls 'Queer Umbrella,' which is a 'club and safe space where teens can learn, discuss and connect over queer history, art, community resources, and more,' according to its website. It is available to all members of the LGBTQ+ community who are aged 12 and up.

The San Diego public library told Brave that the As You Grow story hour likely isn't 'something we would do.' 'Because of how diverse our community is, I don’t know how many people you would get,' said the library representative. The library, however, does host a teen queer book club and a range of other 'LGBTQIA events.'

The San Lorenzo public library in Alameda County, California is yet another venue that told Brave they were 'not interested' in his book.

That library recently hosted a legal clinic for individuals interested in 'completing name and gender marker change court paperwork and updating identity documents such as CA birth certificates, driver’s licenses/IDs, passports and Social Security cards.'

The event was part of its 'Every Month Is Pride Month Series.'

The San Lorenzo Public Library made headlines over the summer when its Drag Queen Story Hour was disrupted by five men who were described as members of the far-right Proud Boy organization.

The Indianapolis Public Library said Cameron's book did not comport with its 'strategic plan' to promote 'diverse' authors.

'Generally when we have author visits, those are coordinated through our departments. We really have a push. We have a strategic plan in place, so we are really looking at authors who are diverse. Authors of color. That’s really been our focus,' is what an employee told Brave Books.

When the Texas-based publishing house pointed out that Cameron's book contributes to a diversity of ideas, they were told the library is 'focusing on racial equity.'

In response to his inability to be booked at more than 50 libraries that Brave reached out to, Kirk said, 'This is proof that more than ever, we are getting destroyed in the battle for the hearts and minds of our children.'

'Publicly funded libraries are green-lighting ‘gender marker and name change clinics’ while denying a story time that would involve the reading of a book that teaches biblical wisdom. How much more clear can it get?

'We have to start fighting back, or we will lose our kids and this country,' he said.

Brent Talbot, Brave's CEO, said it is 'devastating to discover that many of our publicly funded libraries have now become indoctrination centers that refuse to allow biblical wisdom to be taught to our children.'

'The woke left understands that morality is instilled by the age of 10, and they want their morality to win, not the morality that the Bible teaches,' he added.

Though Cameron and Brave say they will continue pushing the title among America's roughly 9,000 public libraries, the start of their effort has been a series of disappointments.

Public libraries are primarily funded by local governments. A very small portion of library funds come from the federal government, grants and donations.

In general, public funding is dolled out by the local government and is generated by tax dollars, library fines, parking tickets and other ways the city or municipality generates revenue.


While No One Was Looking, FCC Quietly Gave Soros-Linked Group Major Win Over Conservatives

In a rather alarming development, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has handed a major victory to a liberal group trying to buy out a conservative radio station.

On November 22, Fox News reported that the FCC cleared the Latino Media Network to purchase Miami’s Spanish-language conservative radio station, Radio Mambi, from Televisa Univision for $60 million.

Radio Mambi is associated with Miami’s large population of Cuban exiles and is known for bringing anti-communist and conservative viewpoints to Miami’s large Latino audience.

But now, it will be under the control of the Latino Media Network, a liberal group run by Jess Morales Rocketto and Stephenie Valencia, a former employee of Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign and a former President Barack Obama staffer respectively. Effectively, a conservative media outlet is being bought out by liberals and now Miami’s Latino population will be deprived of a prominent local conservative voice.

But here’s the kicker — Latino Media Network is in part financed by an investment group associated with financier George Soros!

Yes, this is the same Soros who famously donated millions in order to help Stacey Abrams in her 2018 and 2022 campaigns to become governor of Georgia.

Yes, this is the same Soros who this past summer used the Fourth of July as an occasion to talk about how American democracy was under attack by former President Donald Trump, the Republicans, and the judges he appointed to the Supreme Court.

Yes, this is the same Soros who has helped back extreme leftist candidates in key battleground elections.

Now, a conservative news network is under the control of a group associated with this radical leftist billionaire.

Unsurprisingly, many staffers at Radio Mambi are unhappy that their network is now being bought out by a Soros-affiliated group. According to Fox News, one host, Lourdes Ubieta, quit in July saying she would never accept any paycheck from Soros.

“America is a free country. Even an avowed global socialist with a clear radical political agenda can buy our media outlets to silence their opposition,” she said.

This is a development that should alarm conservatives for many reasons. First, there is the obvious fact that a radical leftist billionaire is buying media outlets seemingly with the intention of silencing any opposing voices.

But perhaps more importantly, this will make it harder for Republicans to win over one key demographic that could very well swing in their favor: Hispanics.

Hispanics, especially in Florida, have been trending right for the past few years. They played a major role in Gov. Ron De Santis’ landslide re-election victory a few weeks ago, in which he won many historically liberal counties thanks in no small part to the Hispanic vote.

Joe Biden’s approval rating among Hispanic voters has plummeted, with many Hispanics saying that they favored Trump’s border policy as opposed to the open-border policy of the current administration.

All this has been a sign of hope for the Republicans. Democrats, with their support for open borders, historically held a firm grasp on the Hispanic vote, but that all seems to be slipping away.

Yet the left will not give up so easily. They will go so far as to enlist the help of a radical leftist, foreign financier to use his deep pockets to crush Hispanic voices who dare dissent from the Democratic orthodoxy.

America is a free country where everyone has a right to voice their opinion without the fear of reprisal, but now it seems that the left is willing to use billionaire elites to crush the freedom of speech that we hold so dear.


Virginia Restaurant Kicks Out Family Foundation Over Abortion, Traditional Marriage

A Virginia restaurant told the Family Foundation that it was no longer welcome to dine at the establishment because of the organization’s views on abortion and traditional marriage.

The Daily Signal spoke with Family Foundation President Victoria Cobb on Monday morning outside the Supreme Court as the justices heard oral arguments in 303 Creative v. Elenis, a case examining “whether applying a public-accommodation law to compel an artist to speak or stay silent violates the free speech clause of the First Amendment.”

Cobb shared that about an hour and a half before the Family Foundation party was scheduled to take place in a private dining room at Metzger Bar and Butchery located in Richmond, Virginia, the restaurant announced that was “unwilling to serve” the organization.

“They did a little research, found out who we are. We are unapologetically pro-life and stand for traditional marriage,” she explained.

Cobb said the owner of the restaurant then called and informed the Family Foundation that it was no longer welcome to hold an event at the establishment.

“They seem more than willing to defend their ability to deny access to food. That’s, I think, the stunning part about it, we’d like to think that in America, even though we have political differences, even though we don’t see the world the same day, we’d like to believe that we can all dine in the same places,” Cobb said.

“Metzger Bar and Butchery has always prided itself on being an inclusive environment for people to dine in. In eight years of service we have very rarely refused service to anyone who wished to dine with us,” the restaurant said in a statement provided to The Daily Signal.

“Recently we refused service to a group that had booked an event with us after the owners of Metzger found out it was a group of donors to a political organization that seeks to deprive women and LGBTQ+ persons of their basic human rights in Virginia,” the statement continued. “We have always refused service to anyone for making our staff uncomfortable or unsafe and this was the driving force behind our decision. “

Many of the restaurant’s staff are women or “members of the LGBTQ+ community,” the restaurant said.

“All of our staff are people with rights who deserve dignity and a safe work environment,” the statement continued. “We respect our staff’s established rights as humans and strive to create a work environment where they can do their jobs with dignity, comfort and safety. We hope you will understand our decision as we understand it is your choice to dine with us or not.”

Cobb said Americans should be shocked at such behavior.

“We all need to [have a] heightened sense of awareness that that is the polarized environment that is now created,” said Cobb. “We really need to simply be willing to be brave and still hold our views and not let this chilling effort take place for those who believe things that maybe aren’t mainstream in some secular circles.”

“Most Virginians are happy to sit down and have meals with people they disagree with. This just doesn’t reflect the heart of the freedom that we want to see in our culture and our society,” she added.




Wednesday, December 07, 2022

The Verdict against the Trump Organization

The conviction today of the Trump Organization in a tax-fraud scheme certainly represents a remarkable moment in the epic legal campaign against the former president. Mr. Trump himself was not convicted, or even charged, in the case, but the prosecution argued at trial that he was “explicitly sanctioning tax fraud,” the AP reported, and accused the company of having a “culture of fraud and deception.”

The conviction, brought in by a jury in state Supreme Court at Manhattan, was of the corporate entity, which could end up being hit with as much as $1.6 million in penalties. That may not be much for a company as large as the Trump Organization, but it underlines the seriousness of the criminal activities and could whet the appetite of investigators to wheel on the former president himself. It’s not our intention to make light of any of it.

At the same time, the pursuit of the Trump organization and its chief financial officer, Allen Weisselberg, leaves us with an uneasy sense. It is that none of this would be in criminal court in the ordinary course of criminal justice had Democratic prosecutors not been out for the former president himself. That speaks to the danger of politicized prosecution laid out by FDR’s attorney general, and, later, a Supreme Court justice, Robert Jackson.

“With the law books filled with a great assortment of crimes,” Jackson said in remarks to prosecutors, “a prosecutor stands a fair chance of finding at least a technical violation of some act on the part of almost anyone.” This raises the danger of a prosecutor with an ulterior motive “picking the man and then searching the law books, or putting investigators to work, to pin some offense on him.”

That, Jackson warned, is where “the greatest danger of abuse of prosecuting power lies,” when “law enforcement becomes personal.” The insight resonates following today’s conviction. The outcome of the case is likely to fuel the pursuit of Mr. Trump by others, including Manhattan’s district attorney, Alvin Bragg, who just hired an ex-Justice department prosecutor to “ramp up” his office’s “investigation into the former president,” the Times says.

The fact that the new hire, Matthew Colangelo, was an Obama administration official and had also worked on the New York Attorney General’s civil investigation of Mr. Trump made it likely to “set off protest from the former president,” the Times reported, especially since the former president has already characterized the civil and criminal investigations against him as “a unified ‘witch hunt.’”

Mr. Bragg had expressed doubts about the merits of the fraud case against Mr. Trump, prompting two senior prosecutors in his office to step down. One of them was so enraged by Mr. Bragg’s decision to hold off on the case until his team of prosecutors could nail down the charges that he leaked his retirement letter to the Times. “I believe that Donald Trump is guilty of numerous felony violations,” Mark Pomerantz wrote.

Conceding the case may have had flaws — among them the finding that the purported “victims” of Mr. Trump’s alleged fraud had profited by their dealings with him — Mr. Pomerantz said: “No case is perfect,” and averred that “a failure to prosecute” would endanger “public confidence in the fair administration of justice.” Such prosecutorial overzealousness is precisely what Jackson sought, some seven decades ago, to warn against.

Which brings us back to the case against the Trump organization and the general sense that these charges wouldn’t have been brought against a mere citizen. We’ve just seen federal fraud and bribery charges against a former Democratic lieutenant governor, Brian Benjamin, get thrown out by a district judge. It’s a reminder that prosecutorial overreach against public officials is a problem that crosses party lines. ?


Hungary takes on the EU again

Tit for tat

A rift between the European Union and member state Hungary deepened Tuesday when Budapest vetoed an 18-billion euro ($18.93 billion) financial aid package to Kyiv, exacerbating a dispute over the rule of law in the country and Prime Minister Viktor Orban's outlook over Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

EU finance ministers also postponed any decision to punish Hungary by withholding billions of euros for failing to implement solid rule-of-law reforms.

Instead of ensuring unanimous support for aid to Ukraine, Hungary's veto made sure that the EU's other 26 member states would need work out a more complicated technical plan to make sure aid can keep flowing to Kyiv in the new year.

"In the end agreement was found on formulations that allow a flexible and quick way to deploy funds to Ukraine without fundamentally changing the way the EU manages its funds. I say agreement, but in the reality that agreement was minus one,” said Tuomas Saarenheimo, the chairman of the EU Council Economic and Financial Committee.

Many nations see Orban's evasive tactics as a thinly veiled attempt to blackmail the EU into releasing billions in regular funding and pandemic recovery cash that has been held up.

The EU’s 27 nations have until Dec. 19 to make a decision, and EU leaders meet for a two-day summit next week, increasing chances that the issues would still need to be grappled with at a later date.

EU nations have been mulling for years now whether to punish Orban for what he calls his brand of “illiberal democracy” but what is seen by many others as unfit for the EU's traditional sense of Western democratic liberalism.

On top of that, Orban has also angered the bloc’s officials with his repeated criticism of EU sanctions targeting Russia for its war in Ukraine.

The EU’s executive branch proposed that the bloc suspend around 7.5 billion euros ($7.5 billion) in regular funding to Hungary over concerns about democratic backsliding and the possible mismanagement of EU money. The Commission also wants to put conditions on Hungary’s pandemic recovery plan worth 5.8 billion euros and insists Budapest implement 27 “super milestones” on democratic reforms to unlock the funding.

Hungary already agreed on 17 anti-corruption measures, including the creation of an anti-corruption task force and changes to its public procurement rules, but the Commission wants to see more action. The money can be frozen under a recently introduced conditionality mechanism that allows the EU to take measures to protect its budget.

Any action to suspend the funds must be approved by the EU member countries, and this requires a “qualified majority" — at least 15 countries representing at least 65% of the total EU population.


Sorry, Zelensky, Americans see a STALEMATE

Americans by wide margins support continued arms and economic aid for Ukraine, but increasingly see the war as a stalemate and want Washington to push Kyiv to cut a peace deal with Russia soonest, a poll shows.

A survey by the Chicago Council on Global Affairs think tank found that, despite recent military gains by Ukrainian forces against their Russian foes, US support for Kyiv appears to be waning — especially among Republican voters.

This is worrisome for Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky's government, which has depended on multi-billion dollar US support and military equipment to counter Russia's invasion, which began on February 24.

Crucially, Americans do not appear to see Ukraine's recent military wins in Kherson and elsewhere in the east as a military game-changer, with polling suggesting the war is ultimately viewed as a stalemate.

'As the fighting drags into winter, the overall US public is now divided on whether the US should support Ukraine as long as it takes or if it should urge Kyiv to settle for peace as soon as possible,' researchers said.

Nearly half of respondents said neither country had an advantage in the conflict, while an equal percentage held the view that Russia (26 percent) and Ukraine (26 percent) had an upper hand in the fight.

The survey of 1,030 adults last month nevertheless found solid support for continuing to supply Ukraine with weapons (65 percent) and economic aid (66 percent), accepting Ukrainian refugees (73 percent), and sanctioning Russia (75 percent).

But public opinion is qualified — only 40 percent of respondents say US support should be indefinite, and 29 percent say Washington should gradually reduce the amount of weapons and cash Kyiv receives.

Likewise, 47 percent of respondents say the US should push Ukraine to cut a peace deal with Russia, even if that involves Kyiv ceding territory, so that US householders don't shoulder higher gas and food prices — up from 38 percent in July.

Another 48 percent of Americans say Washington should support Ukraine 'as long as it takes,' down from 58 percent in July

Support for Ukraine's fight has fallen sharply among Republican supporters.

Only 55 percent of GOP voters support US giving military aid to Ukraine currently, down from 80 percent in March, even as support among Democrats and independents has held high.

House GOP leader Kevin McCarthy warned before the midterm elections that Republicans will not write a 'blank check' for Ukraine, reflecting his party's growing skepticism about financial support for Kyiv as it prepares to take control of the chamber next year.

Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia and other House Republicans critical of US assistance to Ukraine took steps last month to audit the funds allocated to the nation by Congress.

President Joe Biden's administration announced its latest tranche of military aid to Ukraine in November — a $400 million package of gear, including the ammunition for air defenses and long-range artillery needed to repel Russian forces.

The US is also giving Ukraine more than $53 million to help repair electrical infrastructure damaged by Russian attacks in recent weeks as Kyiv seeks to restore power to homes as winter sets in.

Ukraine launched a major counteroffensive this autumn, recapturing the northeastern Kharkiv region and forcing Russia to pull out from the southern city of Kherson.

Kyiv has vowed to press on and recapture all territory seized by Russia — including eastern Ukraine and Crimea, which Russia captured in 2014 — and return those lands to Ukrainian control.

NATO allies are currently in talks to supply advanced air defenses, including Patriot missiles, to Kyiv in order to protect its power plants and water pumping stations after they were hit by Russia in a bid to freeze people out of their homes.


‘War on Christian Culture’: UK Prosecutor Called Bible Passage ‘No Longer Appropriate in Modern Society’

A Christian street preacher faced charges of violating the Public Order Act by engaging in “threatening,” “abusive,” and “insulting” speech in telling a lesbian couple that homosexuals will not “inherit the kingdom of heaven,” citing the Bible. In defending the case against him, a prosecutor wrote that “there are references in the bible [sic] which are simply no longer appropriate in modern society and which would be offensive if stated in public”

The court dismissed the case against the preacher, John Dunn, because the lesbian couple declined to testify, but a prosecutor with the Crown Prosecution Service, the office of England’s government prosecutors, claimed before the trial that some Bible passages are “no longer appropriate in modern society.”

When reached by The Daily Signal, a CPS spokesperson declined to address the claim.

“On the day of the trial the complainants could not be located to provide vital evidence for the prosecution, which resulted in us offering no evidence,” a CPS spokesperson told The Daily Signal. “It is not the function of the CPS to decide whether a person is guilty of a criminal offence, but to make fair, independent and objective assessments of the evidence to put our case before the court.”

The spokesperson did not respond to multiple questions about whether England’s official government prosecution office endorses the claim that some Bible passages are “no longer appropriate in modern society.” Prosecutors made the claim in a document sent to the defense, not stated in court, but the office did not disavow the claim, nor apologize for making it.

“The non-response from the CPS speaks volumes,” Andrea Williams, chief executive of the Christian Legal Centre, which represented Dunn in the case, told The Daily Signal. “The CPS should be offering a full explanation and apology, not ducking the seriousness of what they have wanted to argue against the Christian faith in court.”

“This would not happen to another sacred text, such as the Quran,” Williams added. “This is a war on Christian culture, with the aim of removing it from the public square. If the CPS had won, this would have set a precedent that put Christians on the wrong side of the U.K. law.”

The United Kingdom does not have a First Amendment to protect free speech, although the Christian Legal Centre cited the Human Rights Act and the European Convention on Human Rights in defending Dunn’s free speech and religious freedom. The prosecution argued that Dunn impinged on “the similarly protected rights of the aggrieved parties.”

According to Christian Concern, an organization connected to the Christian Legal Centre, the case traces back to Nov. 1, 2020, when two women walked past Dunn, holding hands. Dunn told them, “I hope you are sisters,” at which point they replied that they were in a same-sex marriage.

According to Dunn, he replied out of “genuine concern for the women” that “It says in the Bible that homosexuals will not inherit the kingdom of God” (see 1 Corinthians 6:9-10). He insisted that he intended to declare God’s truth out of love and compassion for the couple.

The women reported Dunn to the police, describing his comments as “biblical speak.” They alleged that Dunn had shouted at them, “You are going to burn in hell,” referring to one of them as “devil woman.” Dunn categorically denied making either comment. Christian Concern noted that Dunn “lost his voice box following throat cancer,” so he would not have been able to shout at the women.

“Defendant denies saying to the women that ‘they will burn in hell’ or to one of them ‘you are a devil woman’ – presumably because this would be ‘crossing a line’ into unacceptable behaviour,” Hoyle wrote. “It is precisely these phrases which form the crux of the prosecution case.”

“The Crown does contend that ‘you will burn in hell’ is intrinsically threatening, as well as abusive and intimidating,” Hoyle added. “Targeting comments through a megaphone at specific members of the public is similarly behaviour which the court can legitimately conclude is disorderly. The complainants are clear that the behaviour was ‘offensive’ and ‘upsetting’ – clearly consistent with an interpretation of ‘Harassed, alarmed or distressed.'”

“Whether a statement of Christian belief or not, the Court is being asked to consider whether the language has the potential to cause harassment, alarm or distress,” Hoyle added. “This document is not the forum for religious debate, but the bible contains other material recognising slavery (Exodus 21:7), the death sentence (Exodus 35:2 and Leviticus 24:16) and cannibalism (Deuteronomy 28:27). There are references in the bible which are simply no longer appropriate in modern society and which would be deemed offensive if stated in public.”

Hoyle did not explain why passages “recognising” various practices are supposedly inappropriate in modern society. While passages in the Bible allowed slavery, the Bible also set down principles that encouraged the abolition of slavery.

Hoyle’s Bible passages suggest a level of biblical illiteracy. His slavery passage—Exodus 21:7—stipulates that a Jewish man may sell his daughter as a servant, but the passage adds that he cannot sell her to foreigners (differentiating the practice from modern views of slavery). One of his passages on capital punishment involves Moses saying that anyone who works on the Sabbath should be put to death, something Christians consider to have been superseded by Jesus’ teaching in the Gospels.

Deuteronomy 28:27 does not mention cannibalism, but rather God punishing the Israelites with tumors if they disobey His commandments. The passage goes on to mention cannibalism (Deut. 28:53-57), but not as an endorsement of the practice. Rather, the passage prophesies that if the Jews disobey God, a foreign army will besiege them and they will resort to cannibalism “because of the suffering your enemy will inflict on you.”

Hoyle did not explain why any passages noting the existence of now-defunct slavery laws or death sentences, or predicting the horrors of cannibalism are “no longer appropriate in modern society.” He did not put forth a standard for endorsing or condemning Bible passages, but his decision to include this statement suggests that he considers 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 to be inappropriate in English society.

CPS did not respond to The Daily Signal’s question about the prospect that other street preachers may face similar prosecution if they cite certain Bible passages that CPS considers inappropriate for modern society.

Williams, the Christian Legal Centre CEO, argued that “The view from the CPS was that the Bible is offensive and contains illegal speech which should not be shared in public.”

England’s government prosecution office had the opportunity to disavow the statement and clarify that it does not consider the Bible offensive and illegal, but it declined to do so. ?




Tuesday, December 06, 2022

The bedside manner of Elon Musk

An amusing article below. One of many. It attempts to "psychoanalyse" Musk on the basis of woefully insufficient information. Musk was obviously provoking commentary by putting up the picture so is probably by now reading the comments with amusement. He is too sophisticated to have been unaware of what he was doing. He probably saw the assemblage as confusing and quietly laughed at the maundering it would provoke.

I wonder what Jo Ellison would make of what is on my small bedside table: Three doilies, a handkerchief, a decanter of water and a drinking glass. Those three doilies would be very suspicious. My mother would undoubtably get a mention

Ellison may have revealed more about herself than she intended. What does it mean that she attributes 1 Corinthians 13:11 to Shakespeare?

Jo Ellison

A long, long time ago, I went out with a man who packed a piece. By which I mean, I went out with a man who wore a toy gun. By which I mean, he strapped a replica gun that fired blanks into a cross-body “gun holster” which he would wear underneath his coat.

As red flags go, this was a pretty big one. Quite apart from the fact that he was basically inviting armed police to shoot him dead in the street — and who would have blamed them? The whole look was deeply unsexy. His relationship with the toy long outlasted our relationship.

I recalled this dark moment in my junior history with a shudder this week while examining the inventory displayed on Elon Musk’s nightstand, a subject presented in a Twitter post earlier this week with the caption “My bedside table”. The tableau revealed four open cans of caffeine-free Diet Coke, an unfinished bottle of water, a Buddhist amulet apparently used as an aid for meditation, a replica Revolutionary war-era pistol in a box decorated with the Emanuel Leutze painting “Washington Crossing the Delaware” (1851) and a handgun, understood to be a copy of one from the video game Deus Ex: Human Revolution.

Now, I’m no Luke Edward Hall, but when it comes to the art of projecting taste and personality into my decorative surroundings, I would argue that abandoning a few unfinished cans beside my pistol of an evening is probably not what interior design gurus have in mind. Commentators were quick to point out that his bedside table featured what seemed to be an even greater offence than the presence of a Diamond Back .357 handgun beside his pillow: the surfacetop was covered in unsightly water stains. Even Musk seemed a little shamefaced about the whole arrangement: “There is no excuse for my lack of coasters,” he wrote in the comments field.

Nevertheless, as a glimpse into the mind of one of the great technological provocateurs of recent times, the tweet offered an unexpected portal. Musk’s nightstand immediately conjured the image of a lonely, very thirsty man-child, suspended in the forever fantasy that he might one day rule the world. Furthermore, for a man who has been three times married and sired 10 children, the table gives off a ferocious smack of “single”. The internet has since been occupied with making tragic nightstand memes.

Rather like the power desk, the bedside table offers its own story for psychological evaluation. But where the power desk is a public tool on which to project status among one’s peer group, the bedside table is more intimate, a tiny vestibule of quiet neuroses, thwarted ambitions and psychic ills. My own, for example, features a towering pile of highly curated books still awaiting my attention, a small porcelain dish in which I collect discarded hairclips, an inhaler, a vat of gummy, full-strength melatonin (for the “jet lag”) and an assortment of adapter plugs.

Unlike other bits of status furnishings — our bookshelves, desk tops or kitchen cabinets — the nightstand exposes our frailer, older, more decrepit selves. My husband stores a lifetime’s supply of ear plugs, as though he were living through the Blitz on our no-through road, while I remember my father’s bedside table featuring a buffet of indigestion tablets which he monitored as closely as those Beefeaters mind the crown jewels.

Musk’s bedside table offers fresh insight into his public image in the world. But does he identify with Washington, championing freedom and democracy with his flintlock pistol, or Page, the villainous protagonist of Deus Ex, in search of immortality and willing to sacrifice the lives of billions in order to achieve that goal? According to Wikipedia, Deus Ex is a role-playing franchise about “the conflict between secretive factions who wish to control the world by proxy, and the effects of transhumanistic attitudes and technologies in a dystopian near-future”. No wonder Musk must guzzle golden cans of Coca-Cola if he’s going to bed with two such extreme totems of progress on his mind. At least both factions can be clearly represented through their choice of weaponry. Nothing helps an American sleep more soundly than the knowledge he’s got a pistol by his head.

“When I became a man, I put away childish things”, says Shakespeare’s Prince Hal as he recognises the weight of responsibility that must come with taking on the crown. But maybe he also had a nightstand where he could pile discarded cans of soda and secrete his treasured toys?

However superhuman we tell ourselves we are, the bedside table is the last repository for all our very human sorrows, our loneliness, addictions, our shifty sinuses, our bloated guts. That they reveal the detritus of human failing turns out to be quite reassuring. Even when that failing is forgetting to put a coaster underneath one’s drinks cans or pretending to be Elon Musket while waving a toy gun.


FULL INTERVIEW: Dr Jordan Peterson on COVID hysteria and the culture wars

Clinical psychologist, author and public intellectual Dr Jordan Peterson sits down with Sky News Australia host Rita Panahi for a wide-ranging exclusive interview which covers toxic femininity, climate change activism, Islam, Elon Musk's takeover of Twitter, COVID hysteria, the culture wars and how conservatives can fight back.


Elizabeth Warren Believes She's Got Perfect Rebuke of Musk, Doesn't Realize She Just Made His Case

Leftists’ collective meltdown over Elon Musk’s purchase of Twitter has made them careless, and their unchecked reactions have exposed their undeniable hypocrisy to the world.

Perhaps no Democrat’s remarks were more revealing than those of Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren on Wednesday.

When questioned about Musk’s leadership of the social media platform by Fox News reporter Hillary Vaughn, she replied: “I think that one human being should not decide how millions of people communicate with each other.

“One human being should not be able to go into a dark room by himself and decide, ‘Oh, that person gets heard from, that person doesn’t.’ That’s not how it should work.”

The irony is rich.

Warren was employing that time-honored and frequently used tactic of accusing one’s enemies of what you are doing, a strategy handed down to liberals decades ago from the late community organizer and communist Saul Alinsky.

Prior to Musk’s takeover of the company, one human being — namely, former Twitter chief legal officer Vijaya Gadde — had been doing just that for years.

In fact, Gadde was behind the decision to permanently suspend the president of the United States from the platform. She also reportedly spearheaded the banning of the bombshell Hunter Biden laptop story to shield her preferred presidential candidate from scandal less than three weeks ahead of the 2020 election.

Rather than censoring content, Musk is doing the opposite. He is opening up free speech and allowing those who were wrongly suspended back on the platform regardless of beliefs.

And rather than going into a dark room and making decisions, Musk is being extremely transparent about it.

The left has lost control of a tool it had counted on for years to do its dirty work, and now it is reeling. The ability to manipulate which content voters were and weren’t allowed to see gave leftists tremendous power to influence political opinion in the U.S. and thus shape the national conversation. Understandably, they are grieving their loss and haven’t quite come around to the stage of acceptance.

Twitter may lack the size of Big Tech giants such as Apple and Google, but the company is the go-to platform for politicos and plays an outsize role in controlling the flow of information to the public. No wonder they’re incensed.

But this will be the song they sing now. Democrats will use another one of their favorite tools, the Department of Justice — which has made a sport out of pursuing those who disagree with left-wing ideology — to crack down on Twitter. They will investigate Elon Musk because he won’t bow down to them.

But in doing so, they risk running afoul of another Alinsky rule: “A tactic that drags on too long becomes a drag. ‘Don’t become old news.


Junko Takase’s Akutagawa Prize-winning novel is a feminist’s nightmare

Traditional female traits are the winners

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Junko Takase’s “Oishii Gohan ga Taberaremasu Yoni” is a rare work that makes good food seem rather unsavory.

The novel that won the Akutagawa Prize this July is a deceptively mundane story depicting the everyday work life of three co-workers. It seems at first like a typical Japanese work place drama, poking fun at various office stereotypes. But the book also takes to task a “given” of urbane society (not just in Japan, although it’s certainly a mainstay of Japanese pop culture): the exaltation of foodie culture and the pursuit of deliciousness. The title, which roughly translates to “I wish to be able to eat delicious food,” suggests a story filled with loving depictions of gourmet scenes and smells — but the reality is much less appetizing. (At time of writing an English translation hasn’t been announced.)

The story is told through the alternating points of view of a woman named Oshio and a man named Nitani. The plot revolves around their shared disgust and fascination toward a third co-worker, a woman named Ashikawa. All three are around 30 years old and go by their surnames.

Oshio comes across as a whip-smart, hard-working, physically tough woman whose inner life is dominated by resigned observations about social hypocrisies. In Ashikawa, she sees a sweeter, more feminine counterpart, something of a rival who she nonetheless feels compelled to protect without really understanding why. Nitani is another familiar type fully realized by Takase: a smart man with the potential for an intellectually rich inner life, but who routinely shuns challenging people and conversations in favor of helpless girls who bore him.

Nitani’s most interesting trait is that he despises food and, more than that, he’s irked by the expectation that he should enjoy it. He prefers to pour garbage into his body, subsisting on a diet of mostly convenience store food and instant meals.

“Do you like good food?” he asks Oshio at one point. She gives him a look and says, “Are there people who dislike good food?” Nitani smiles darkly and responds, “I dislike people who chose a lifestyle based around eating good food.” The performance of being “into” food, he thinks ruefully throughout the book, is a waste of time.

Nitani is so convincing that readers may find themselves disgusted by breathless scenes of beautiful cakes, and instead mysteriously craving cup ramen. Layered underneath the themes about food and office politics, though, is a more sinister commentary on feminism and social currency.

Ashikawa is physically weak, prone to headaches if she does overtime, makes mistakes in her work and generally can’t be relied on by the people around her. At one point, Oshio meets Ashikawa’s brother and notices he won’t even trust her to look after his dog when he’s out of town. Oshio and Nitani, by contrast, work late hours and are diligent, highly competent go-getters.

And yet it’s Ashikawa who is the unlikely company favorite. No one protests when she leaves at 6 p.m. on the dot, though everyone else stays behind to pick up her slack. She also has an endearing out-of-office talent: She makes painstakingly detailed desserts and baked goods, which she brings into the office as an apology for the fact that she can’t (or won’t) work overtime. To the reader, Ashikawa is the only character who seems to have a healthy work-life balance. Yet, the subtext is obvious: If she has so much energy to travel all over town for cooking classes and to spend the weekend baking, why can’t she use that for work?

Oshio and Nitani bond over the mix of revulsion, jealousy, pity and resentment they feel toward her. Even after Nitani and Ashikawa grow closer in secret, his confused feelings of attraction and disgust toward her don’t seem to abate.

Ashikawa is an amusingly portrayed “cute” girl stereotype, down to her concerted effort to always be smiling, even when she’s alone, and her habit of saying “That’s good” and “I’m glad to hear that” for no apparent reason. The more helpless Ashikawa acts, the more likable she becomes to those around her. The reader, like Oshio and Nitani, is drawn into the mysterious force of this otherwise unremarkable dead-weight co-worker. Though we never hear her inner thoughts, this doesn’t act to disempower Ashikawa; rather, she gains more of a mythical status, an impressive untouchability.

Takase’s book is written in simple, straightforward language, compared to the more typically literary Akutagawa winners. (As such, it also makes useful reading practice for Japanese learners.) It’s sometimes funny and feels true to life, but that’s what makes the story all the bleaker. Ashikawa represents a nightmarish yet entirely real version of female social Darwinism, one in which intellect and diligence are found low on the food chain, and high up are naivete and the ability to curry sympathy.

In the view of this book, it’s surely better to be loved than to be feared, and even better to be loved for making fancy shortcakes. But readers, be warned: The ending may leave you with a feeling of queasy discomfort, as if you ate too many sweets.




Monday, December 05, 2022

Elon Musk slams NY Times for ignoring his exposé of how Twitter censored Hunter Biden laptop - as woke outlets including Washington Post, CBS News and ABC all avoid the story too

Elon Musk attacked The New York Times on Saturday for not covering his exposé of how Twitter executives were urged by Biden staff to delete tweets relating to the damaging contents of Hunter Biden's laptop.

Other left-leaning outlets including CBS News, ABC and The Washington Post are also yet to cover the 'Twitter Files', despite their contents causing a sensation among American conservatives and free-speech advocates.

In response to the alleged lack of coverage from the Times, Musk described the newspaper as an 'unregistered lobbying firm for far left politicians'.

The comment came in response to a tweet from conservative radio host Clay Travis, who said, 'There is not one single article about @elonmusk or the @twitter email release last night on @nytimes app this morning.'

Musk responded: 'That is because The New York Times has become, for all intents and purposes, an unregistered lobbying firm for far left politicians'.

On Friday Musk promoted a Twitter thread by journalist Matt Taibbi in which, among other things, he published correspondence between Twitter staff in 2020.

In it they discuss censoring a New York Post story about Hunter Biden's laptop and allude to requests from Biden's team to do so - something Twitter went on to do.

'Twitter took extraordinary steps to suppress the story, removing links and posting warnings that it may be 'unsafe.'

'They even blocked its transmission via direct message, a tool hitherto reserved for extreme cases, e.g. child pornography,' Taibbi said in one tweet that was part of the thread.

Notably, in one exchange one Twitter executive emailed another a list of tweets with the instruction, 'More to review from the Biden team.'

The other executive responded: 'handled these'.

Publications that have covered the story include POLITICO, NBC and CNN. The latter dampened the news by suggesting the leaked emails 'corroborated what was already known about the incident'.

The Daily Beast echoed that sentiment but discussed the Twitter Files in a story headlined: ''Deeply Underwhelmed': Right-Wingers on Musk's Overhyped 'Twitter Files''

Although the New York Times is yet to write about the thread, it did publish two different stories relating to Musk and Twitter on Saturday, the day after it was posted.

The first of those stories, 'Hate Speech's Rise on Twitter Is Unprecedented, Researchers Find' criticized Musk for a rise in hate speech since his takeover of the social media company.

The other, 'Twitter Keeps Missing Its Advertising Targets as Woes Mount', was also critical of Musk's management of the platform and suggested that its current ad revenue in the US is 80 percent below internal expectations.

The Washington Post followed a similar trend. The lead story on its website on Saturday night, 'Surging Twitter antisemitism unites fringe and encourages violence, officials say', similarly cited sources who suggested that anti-Semitic speech on Twitter had been on the rise since the Musk takeover.

POLITICO was a major publication that did address the Twitter Files as early as Friday night. Although it did not delve into Taibbi's specific allegations it did link to his 35-tweet thread.


Left-wing journos attack reporter Matt Taibbi for exposing Musk’s Twitter files

I have always had some time for Taibbi. He always seemed to have an ability to think outside the guardrails -- a rare thing in a Leftist

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Mainstream news reporters — in lockstep with Democratic strategists — rushed to social media to smear journalist Matt Taibbi as a “sad” “fraud” as he released his bombshell report on political censorship at Twitter.

“Matt Taibbi…what sad, disgraceful downfall,” Daily Beast columnist and New York Times contributor Wajahat Ali posted. “Selling your soul for the richest white nationalist on Earth.”

On Friday, billionaire Elon Musk — who vowed to give the social media giant a free-speech overhaul when he bought it last month — released to Taibbi a shocking collection of inside correspondence proving that Democrat insiders leaned on Twitter’s censors to suppress The Post’s coverage of Hunter Biden’s laptop ahead of the 2020 presidential election.

While Ali was hitting send, Dem pollster Matt McDermott tweeted a nearly identical put-down.

“Matt Taibbi always was, and still remains, a fraud,” McDermott wrote. “Doing PR for the richest person in the world should come as no surprise.”

The Democrat’s words appeared to have been cut-and-pasted from a tweet NBC’s Ben Collins had posted moments before.

“Imagine throwing it all away to do PR work for the richest person in the world,” Collins wrote. “Humiliating s–t.”

Conservatives on Twitter pummeled Collins, who has made a specialty of attacking Republicans.

“You have so much bitterness and contempt against other people,” wrote independent journalist Andy Ngo. “I hope you find healing in your life.”

“Please keep tweeting,” GOP rapid response staffer Jake Schneider told Collins. “Your meltdown is hilarious.”

Dozens of journalists — including MSNBC’s Chris Hayes, NBC’s Brandy Zadrozny, and the New Republic’s Jacob Silverman — and Democrat partisans piled on, drawing the scorn of investigative reporter Glenn Greenwald.

“The whole sleazy, in-group liberal gang from NBC, Daily Beast, etc — all the censorship advocates who think censorship advocacy is somehow compatible with journalism — are furious that the the acts of their Dem Party allies in getting the Biden story censored are being exposed,” Greenwald posted.

Meanwhile, Yoel Roth, Twitter’s former head of trust and safety who left the company when Musk completed his takeover, accused the site’s new owner of endangering the censors.

“Publicly posting the names and identities of front-line employees involved in content moderation puts them in harm’s way and is a fundamentally unacceptable thing to do,” Roth posted Friday on Mastodon, the Twitter-like site where many Musk opponents have decamped.

Roth admitted Wednesday that the social media giant “has interfered in elections.”


Olivia Wilde was wrong: Jordan Peterson is not 'insane' and is a hero to many young men from all walks of life because of ONE simple reason

On Saturday night I braved the hordes of 'incels' who flocked to worship their 'hero', the psychology professor turned online superstar Jordan Peterson.

Incel stands for 'involuntary celibate', and according to actress Olivia White the label fits the angry sexually deprived young men who idolise 'this insane man' Peterson, and who regard him as their 'pseudo-intellectual hero'.

The tweeted accusation brought Peterson to tears when he discussed it with Piers Morgan on his talk show Uncensored in September. 'I thought the marginalised were supposed to have a voice?' Peterson said.

'People have been after me for a long time because I have been speaking to young men, what a terrible thing to do.'

For a close up look at who Peterson's audience actually is, I attended his 'Beyond Order: 12 More Rules for Life' national speaking tour in Sydney.

The bulk of his audience were young men but it certainly wasn't exclusively so, there were a substantial number of women plus some distinguished older looking attendees.

After talking to many, the main theme behind their devotion to Peterson was based on his courage ' to say things that are meant to be said'.

Ben, 22, said he was there after reading Peterson's 2019 bestseller '12 Rules for Life'. 'I did think it motivated my own personal life and I think for today’s society he's a good role model. I think he's someone people my age or adolescents should be looking up to,' Ben said.

'Especially for males in our age, he makes us be more accountable for our day-to-day lives in little things and simply just cleaning up your own act, in your own house and then broadening that out to the wider range of society.'

Ben did not think he was an 'incel' or that Peterson's audience was predominantly 'incels'.

'I think there are a lot of different people here, there are a diverse group of people, you just can't put up an umbrella over all these different people because they like Jordan Peterson,' he said.

Connor, 25, said he had been a Peterson fan for a couple of years after discovering him on YouTube, which has been the Canadian academic's springboard to global fame.

'His (Peterson's) first book is a great message – clean yourself up, get your basic variables in order try to maximise them before you go out into the world,' Connor said.

'There's a lot of traps that young men can fall into and I think that’s really great advice to counter those ideas.'


Transgender Surgeries Are No ‘Cure’ for Distressed Youths, Doctor Says

LITTLE ROCK, Ark.—Surgically removing body parts and destroying healthy human function “violates one of the most fundamental principles of plastic surgery,” Dr. Patrick Lappert testified, explaining why he refuses to remove breasts from females who seek to appear male.

Lappert took the stand on Nov. 29 in federal court here as a witness for the state of Arkansas, which is defending a legal attack on a law banning transgender medical procedures for minors.

Those measures include hormones and surgeries, such as double mastectomies that “gender-affirming care” proponents champion as a cure for girls who are distressed over their bodies’ female attributes.

Earlier this year, Lappert testified in favor of a similar bill in Alabama, where he is based.

The Arkansas trial began in October but recessed for a month before resuming with testimony intended to support the Arkansas Save Adolescents from Experimentation (SAFE) Act. That law has been on hold while the legal battle, which started right after its passage in April 2021, continues.

Judge James Moody Jr. will decide the case known as Brandt v. Rutledge; it is the nation’s first legal test of such a law.

Attorneys from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) want the law struck down as unconstitutional. One of their main contentions: it’s discriminatory for the state to prohibit medical procedures for transgender purposes yet allow them for other reasons.

But Lappert testified that in his private surgery practice he refuses to perform certain procedures depending on the intended purpose—a nod to the law that seeks to forbid procedures for gender-transition purposes.

It’s acceptable to enhance breasts for a grown woman who has finished her childbearing years; it’s not appropriate to do that for a teen who isn’t finished growing and may jeopardize her future ability to breastfeed an infant, he said.

Inside the Patient’s Mind

As a plastic and reconstructive surgeon, Lappert said he must dabble in psychology, too. It’s essential to consider the patient’s reasons for wanting the surgery, along with the form and function of the body parts that the patient wants to surgically alter, he said.

For example, there’s a difference between breast augmentation surgery for a woman who just finds that look “aesthetically” pleasing, versus one who thinks having bigger breasts would prevent her from losing her intimate partner, Lappert said.

Likewise, it’s one thing to remove breasts from a cancer patient; it’s another, he said, to do double mastectomies on young patients who believe that body alteration will cure them of distress over their transgender identity.

Yet that is among the procedures labeled “gender-affirming care”—procedures that the SAFE Act seeks to outlaw.

Surgeons are responsible for ferreting out patients who harbor unrealistic beliefs about the benefits of the surgeries they seek, Lappert said. These patients have “an expectation of happiness that is not achievable through plastic surgery,” he said.

They may blame their sorrows on a physical attribute “because they don’t want to look at the actual cause of their sorrow,” Lappert said.

These patients are seeking a surgical solution to an internal conflict, he said.

As Lappert pointedly stated in a written court filing: “You cannot heal a psychological wound with cosmetic surgery.”

Dismissing such concerns and giving patients what they want in the pursuit of happiness is unethical, Lappert said. “You’re abusing the patient.”

Because after an initial period of post-surgery euphoria and novelty wears off, such a patient “is left with the same sorrow and a bill for plastic surgery, and their hopes have not been realized,” Lappert said.


Conservatives who have not moved with the times

What George Will and Karl Rove Get Wrong About Current Conservatism

Are modern conservatives just unthinking rubes who want to be angry?

That was the tenor of a discussion Wednesday on the “future of conservatism” featuring former George W. Bush strategist Karl Rove and columnist George Will, who announced that he’d left the Republican Party in 2016.

The event was sponsored in part by the Lyndon Baines Johnson Foundation, a curious choice to discuss the future of conservative ideas. Johnson was the architect of the Great Society, the largest expansion of the federal government in our history alongside the New Deal.

Rove said that many of the conservative “touchstones” of the past, such as federalism and limited government, have been diminished and replaced by populists and European “blood-and-soil-style” conservatism.

Will acknowledged that “the Democratic Party used to be the party of the New Deal, [and] now it’s the party of new genders.” But the veteran columnist saved most of his fire for Republicans and the Right.

Will said the country is crying out for Ronald Reagan’s cheerfulness, patriotism, and economic dynamism.

“If that’s zombie Reaganism, sign me up,” he said.

Will later said that viewers of Fox News “only feel alive when they are angry.”

Will also took a shot at my employer, The Heritage Foundation, saying that it is “taking the think out of think tank” because by urging more scrutiny of Ukraine aid packages, Heritage is leading the U.S. toward “isolationism.” (The Daily Signal is Heritage’s multimedia news organization.)

That “isolationism” charge is just lazy. Being skeptical about money and resources that the U.S. sends abroad—even for causes we Americans believe in—isn’t isolationism, it’s prudence.

‘Dystopian’ Right?
Aside from that shot at Heritage, Will and Rove launched a more serious broadside at the Right.

First, they charged that conservatives have abandoned the principles and character of Reagan. Second, that the Right is now angrier than in Reagan’s day and angry populism isn’t “conservative” at all.

Finally, Will and Rove advocated returning to a type of court conservatism that they attribute to Reagan, but that actually has a lot more in common with the governing philosophy of former President George W. Bush.

Rove said that many on the Right now sound like the Left because they reject the optimism of Reagan and paint a dark, “dystopian” picture of America.

For those who continually harp on the “angry” tenor of our age in relation to Reagan’s cheerfulness, we should consider a few things. In his own day, Reagan often was ridiculed and denounced as an affable but radical right-winger. He certainly was by the Republican establishment of the time.

“This country needs a new administration, with a renewed dedication to the dream of America—an administration that will give that dream new life and make America great again.”

That wasn’t Donald Trump in 2016, that was Reagan in 1980, making his final appeal to American voters as a presidential candidate that year.

“The populism that we have today … is based on a belief that the whole system is rigged, that the elites have rigged the entire system against ordinary Americans,” Rove said.

Perhaps Rove should consider that the populists have a point.

The daily reality of conservatives across the country is that of fighting an onslaught of powerful institutions, both public and private, arrayed against beliefs that even 10 years ago would be considered basic and foundational.

A Distorted ‘Normality’

Today’s citizen has no reason to believe that his news outlets will report the truth, his child’s school will teach anything good about his country, or that any potential legal accusations will be adjudicated without regard to political perspective. He has every reason to be afraid that exercising his constitutional right to freedom of speech by voicing beliefs completely ordinary by the standards of his countrymen—but contrary to the new dogmas of the elite class—will result at least in Big Tech censorship, and if he is unlucky, losing his job or even access to important private services such as banking.

If that’s not a rigged system, what, in Rove’s estimation, qualifies?

Rove said that what the country wants is “what we thought we’d get with [President Joe] Biden—normality.” The hard reality is that “normality” is now dictated by institutions wholly captured by the radical ideology of the hard Left.

So, what would that return to normality even look like now?

The brand of “conservatism” that Rove and Will argue for is one that tacitly concedes that the institutions and levers of power in American society will be free to take the country in an implicitly left-wing and radical direction.

The Left’s long march through the institutions is complete. Defenders of a rote and milquetoast “conservatism” offer no answer to reversing or even slowing down that march into the lives and homes of the American people.

A “conservatism” that has no solution to this crisis other than gauzy appeals to free trade, markets, and the opportunity society is not conserving anything at all.

In Reagan’s day, Super Bowl ads were full of American flags and appeals to patriotism to sell everything from beer to cars. Today, corporate America has become one of the key pillars of institutional wokeness. The most powerful corporations in the world often are in lockstep enforcing left-wing cultural orthodoxy, trusting to the common faculty-lounge politics of most of their competitors’ workforces and c-suites to hold conservative consumers as a captive audience. They often do this in collusion with the federal government, but this isn’t just a government problem.

Confronting the Left

This left-wing, institutional, hybrid, public-private takeover provides a challenge that hadn’t yet reached its crescendo in Reagan’s time. These new cultural values are ruthlessly enforced internally and externally.

As activist-journalist Christopher Rufo has demonstrated time and again, the cult of “diversity, equity, and inclusion” preaches noxious racialism and disturbing, farcical gender ideology behind closed doors at the largest corporate entities in America, and gets paid well to do it.

The Right must confront the power of Google and Amazon while the Left spends its time trying to destroy a small-time Christian baker in Colorado because they worry that somebody, somewhere isn’t going along with the program.

Serious challenges to left-wing control of institutions are taken to be apocalyptic events, worthy of pulling out every stop to counter.

Take, for instance, the current panic about billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk’s taking over Twitter. Musk isn’t an orthodox conservative by any stretch, and really has committed only to making the social media platform more amenable to free speech without censorship. But that’s apparently a bridge too far.

Not only has the corporate media treated Musk’s Twitter deal as the end of the world, but the Biden administration made threatening statements about “keeping an eye” on “misinformation” from the platform. Half of Twitter’s top advertisers immediately pulled their ads.

That’s the kind of overwhelming institutional grip the Left has on corporate America. Musk may survive that onslaught, but he will do so as the richest man on the planet. What are average Americans, those of us who don’t have billions of dollars, teams of lawyers, and a legion of lobbyists at their disposal, to do?

Will and Rove also repeated the usual tiresome litany of complaints that populist conservatives have disappointed them on issues such as immigration, same-sex marriage, and foreign policy.

Will quipped that “if Donald Trump were ever to build his wall, he would have had to do it with immigrant labor.”

Ah yes, the people stink.

Things Have Changed
Maybe instead of just calling for replacing unemployed Americans with foreign workers, conservatives’ goal should be to create the conditions where more Americans will seek and find meaningful work so they can strengthen themselves, their families, and their country too.

Just a little over a decade ago, President Barack Obama said he believed marriage should be between a man and a woman. We are now transitioning to an America in which believing that will provoke an investigation by the Justice Department.

The conservatism that Will and Rove are advocating is effectively a return to the foreign policy of George W. Bush, an abandonment of foundational cultural issues, and policies that foster unrestrained immigration. Worst of all, it doesn’t address the radical transformation of our institutions.

This is no way forward. Their nostalgia for the sunny optimism of the Reagan era is built on the false premise that we are living in the Reagan era. But the country and the world have changed, and we do a disservice to ourselves—especially as conservatives—if we don’t acknowledge that.

In Reagan’s farewell address, he spoke about tax cuts and foreign policy but saved his most important message for the end.

Reagan celebrated the new spirit of patriotism in America and the economic prosperity unleashed during his presidency. However, he warned that what we needed was “informed patriotism,” and that the nation was losing its institutional, cultural support for the kind of love of country he had grown up with. The world was changing.

“Younger parents aren’t sure that an unambivalent appreciation of America is the right thing to teach modern children,” Reagan said. “And as for those who create the popular culture, well-grounded patriotism is no longer the style. Our spirit is back, but we haven’t reinstitutionalized it.”

We still haven’t. That’s not Reagan’s fault, but we must acknowledge that it’s why the country is in crisis and why a healthy dose of populism is a healthy counterweight to institutions and an elite class that not only have lost their way but are actively harming our society.

The Corrupted Elite
Here is Irving Kristol, one of the godfathers of neoconservatism no less, writing in 1985 that “populism” was perhaps the best, commonsense response to the country’s unthinking elites:

To put it simply: The common sense—not the passion, but the common sense—of the American people has been outraged, over the past 20 years, by the persistent un-wisdom of their elected and appointed officials. To the degree that we are witnessing a crisis in our democratic institutions, it is a crisis of our disoriented elites, not of a blindly impassioned populace.

Kristol hit the nail on the head as far as where the corruption and failure is coming from in America and in other Western societies. If anything, the corrupted elite has amassed more power and is even less thoughtful today.

It’s the elites who are our age’s Jacobins. They are the ones overturning and perverting American institutions. They are the ones who’ve accepted that America was built on a legacy of “white supremacy” and justify racialized policies under the false idea that the system is “rigged” by institutional racism.

It’s our elites who say nonsense like “free speech is a danger to democracy,” and suppress the truth because it doesn’t conform with their approved narratives.

It’s our elites who not only stood by while our history was being torn down by mobs, but also often openly embraced and furthered the project. When the National Archives is reorienting itself to portray celebration of the Founding Fathers as “structural racism,” that should be a DEFCON 1 alert that there’s something fundamentally wrong.

To push back against these forces, a daunting task, requires conservatives—if they want anything decent left to conserve at all—to recognize what is arrayed against us and fight back, not to mindlessly pledge loyalty to the exact program that made sense in 1983 while looking contemptuously at voters pointing out the five-alarm fire in our midst.

A little populist anti-elitism and anger at the destruction of the American way of life may be exactly what our ailing republic needs.