Thursday, February 29, 2024

Ultraprocessed foods are 'harmful to EVERY part of the body'

The academic journal article behind this report is

Its title is:

"Ultra-processed food exposure and adverse health outcomes: umbrella review of epidemiological meta-analyses"

The BMJ tends to be rather opinionated

I suppose I should see this report as a brave endeavour but I am instead inclined to find it hilarious. It is a meta-analysis of meta-analyses. The big flaw with meta analyses is what is excluded. In one analysis of a topic that I had often written on, only two of about 100 of relevant papers by me were included in the analysis. Which two? The only ones that had something favourable to say about the conclusions the authors drew! Huge bias towards confirmatory research is well known. I am glad that I have survived to age 80 so that I can continue to point that out

And the present report quite properly admits that they gave more weight to some reports than others. But to which reports did they give most weight? Ones that they found most "convincing". So the selection of what to rely on had a clear and admitted subjective element. And since their conclusions are very congenial to the conventional wisdom about diet, we can be pretty sure that they were more easily convinced by reports that were congenial to the conventional wisdom about diet. They simply joined the crusade about the evils of highly processed food. Their article probably tells us more about what they believed than what is the case.

For many years I have had the pernicious habit of reading journal articles right through rather than adopting the academic vice of relying only on the abstract. And it is amazing how often the conclusions correspond much more closely to the initial hypothesis than to what was actually found as reported in the "Results" section. Reports relying on extreme quintiles for their analysis are almost all suspect of that.

So a wagon of sodium chloride could well accompany any reading of this report

Diets high in ultra-processed food may be harmful to every part of the body, a major review of research found.

Eating a lot of foods such as ready meals, sugary cereals and mass-produced bread is linked to an increased risk of 32 health problems including cancer, type 2 diabetes and mental health disorders.

Often high in fat, salt and sugar and low in vitamins and fibre, researchers found 'convincing' evidence higher consumption was associated with a 50 per cent greater risk of dying from a heart attack or stroke.

In the biggest analysis of evidence to date involving 10million people, researchers found those eating the most had between a 40 and 66 per cent increased risk of dying from heart disease.

They were also significantly more likely to be diagnosed with obesity, lung conditions and sleep problems.

Likening it to tobacco, they said 'public policies and actions are essential' to curb intake and called on public health officials to urgently develop guidelines and 'best practice' for ultra processed foods.

In a linked editorial, they suggest foods are clearly labelled when 'ultra-processed'.

UPFs refers to items which contain ingredients people would not usually add when they were cooking homemade food.

These additions might include chemicals, colourings, sweeteners and preservatives that extend shelf life.

Restrictions should be placed on advertising and sales 'prohibited in or near schools and hospitals,' they say.

Governments need to adopt national dietary guidelines recommending varieties of minimally processed foods, they say, while taking steps to make freshly prepared meals cheaper and more accessible to all.

The UK is the worst in Europe for eating ultra-processed foods, making up an estimated 57 per cent of the national diet.

They are thought to be a key driver of obesity, which costs the NHS around £6.5billion a year.

Often containing colours, emulsifiers, flavours, and other additives, they typically undergo multiple industrial processes which research has found degrades the physical structure of foods, making it rapid to absorb.

This in turn increases blood sugar, reduces satiety and damages the microbiome - the community of 'friendly' bacteria that live inside us and which we depend for good health.

Food additives like non-nutritive sweeteners, modified starches, gums and emulsifiers also seem to affect the microbiome, levels of gut inflammation and metabolic responses to food which may also increase risk of heart attack and stroke.

An umbrella review conducted by academics in Australia analysed 14 review articles published in the last three years which associated consumption with poor health outcomes.

Evidence was graded as convincing, highly suggestive, suggestive, weak or no evidence.

There was convincing evidence higher intake was linked to a 50 per cent greater risk of death from cardiovascular disease, a 12 per cent greater risk of type 2 diabetes, and a 48-53per cent greater risk of developing anxiety.

There was 'highly suggestive' evidence that eating more ultra-processed foods can increase chances of dying from any cause by a fifth, according to findings published in the BMJ.

This was also the case for when it came to obesity, type 2 diabetes, sleep problems and dying from heart disease, which all showed between a 40 to 66 per cent heightened risk.

Researchers from Deakin University, Australia, also found a 22 per cent greater risk of developing depression and a 21 per cent greater risk of death from any cause.

The evidence between UPF intake and asthma, gastrointestinal health, some cancers, and intermediate cardiometabolic risk factors remains limited, they said.

In an accompanying editorial, academics from Sao Paolo, Brazil said: 'Overall, the authors found that diets high in ultra-processed food may be harmful to most—perhaps all—body systems.'

They wrote: 'No reason exists to believe that humans can fully adapt to these products.

'The body may react to them as useless or harmful, so its systems may become impaired or damaged, depending on their vulnerability and the amount of ultra-processed food consumed.'

They added: 'It is now time for United Nations agencies, with member states, to develop and implement a framework convention on ultra-processed foods analogous to the framework on tobacco.'

Further research to determine the different mechanisms by which these foods impact health is also vital, they said, but should not delay policymakers from making urgent changes.

Scientists said there were limitations to the study, including inconsistent data collection methods in the original research.

Commenting on the findings, Gunter Kuhnle, Professor of Nutrition and Food Science, University of Reading, said: 'Many studies also show that people who consume a lot of ultra-processed foods also have an unhealthy lifestyle and therefore a higher risk of disease.

'Although many studies attempt to adjust for this, it is virtually impossible to do so completely.'

A government spokesperson said: ‘We are taking strong action to encourage healthier food choices and to tackle obesity – recognising that it is the second biggest cause of cancer and costs the NHS around £6.5billion a year – while respecting the importance of individual choice.

‘We have introduced calorie labelling on food sold in restaurants, cafes and takeaways to empower people to make informed personal choices about their lifestyle, and thanks to our salt reduction programme, the amount of salt in food has fallen by around 20 per cent.

‘Pre-packed foods are required to set out a variety of information to aid shoppers – including a list of ingredients and nutritional data.’


Why is the BBC not telling the full truth about a trans cat-killing murderer?

Given that the BBC places great store in having a ‘Verify’ unit to root out fake news emanating from other outlets, one might expect the corporation to be merciless on itself when it comes to sticking to the facts. Yet the roughly two million viewers who tuned into BBC1’s flagship lunchtime news yesterday were at risk of being deceived by misinformation every bit as disturbing as any of the stuff that Marianna Spring and colleagues unearth on far-right websites.

The item involved the story of what experienced BBC news anchor Ben Brown introduced as a ‘woman who livestreamed herself’ killing and dissecting a cat ‘before fatally attacking a man and leaving him to drown’.

She was called Scarlet Blake, he informed us. Brown then handed over to the equally experienced Duncan Kennedy outside Oxford Crown Court, where Blake was due to be sentenced. Kennedy regaled viewers with more details of the terrible things that ‘she’ had done. He reported that the prosecution had outlined how ‘she was obsessed with murder and sexual gratification’. Kennedy added that ‘she thought she’d got away with it’ but that a former partner had dobbed her in to police two years later. And that was that. A not insubstantial report lasting a minute and thirty-eight seconds came to an end.

On initial hearing, I thought I remembered the case as having involved a transwoman, i.e. a biological male, but figured this could not be the case because even the BBC would have clearly included that fact at some point in their broadcast report. They couldn’t possibly have left viewers believing that an adult human female had committed foul crimes when in fact a biological male had done so.

Yet a few seconds of online searching was sufficient to reveal that is exactly what the BBC had done. And remember, this was not on a fringe offshoot or late-night regional outlet staffed by young novices who might be at heightened vulnerability to falling into the grip of extreme ID politics. This was prime BBC1 lunchtime news staffed by some of the best editors, producers and reporters on the corporation’s books.

For the record, Scarlet Blake was born a male in China

For the record, Scarlet Blake was born a male in China, and went by the name Fangze Wang earlier in life. Perhaps given the depravity of the crimes committed it would have been reasonable to withdraw any presumption of good faith when reporting this person’s pronouns post-conviction and simply use male ones.

In any event, it beggars belief that at no point did either Brown or Kennedy flag up to their viewers the basic biological facts relating to Blake. A woman did this, they told us. But a woman did not murder Jorge Carreno or livestream the dissection of a cat. A biological male in the grip of typically male forms of violent criminal deviancy did all that.

For a broadcaster which seems more and more to be locked into an unwarranted messiah complex these days the lesson should simply be: BBC Verify, go and verify yourselves.


The Church of England should stop distracting itself with ‘racial justice’

When they've got archbishops who don't believe in God, why should they waste time on that fuddy-duddy "salvation" stuff?

Churches are emptier than ever since Covid. Fewer clergy have more and more parishes to look after; the buildings themselves are falling down, with little money available to repair them. In the face of these existential problems, what high-profile subject was discussed over the weekend by the General Synod of the Church of England? Encouraging more worshippers, perhaps, or possibly improving finances? Not quite. You’ve probably guessed the answer: racial justice.

The Synod ran what can best be described as a consciousness-raising session to cheer on the work of the Archbishops’ racial justice commission. It’s aim, it seems, is to push race towards the top of the ecclesiastical agenda.

St Paul would have had little time for identity politics

After the Archbishop of York started proceedings by describing the promotion of racial justice as ‘how we are the body of Christ’ and demanding a ‘compelling agenda for racial justice and racial change in the Church,’ it was the turn of the Bishop of Dover, Rose Hudson-Wilkin. She was uncompromising. On race, she said, being ‘woke’ was not only acceptable but necessary:

‘The racial justice mandate flows not from identity politics, but from our primary identity in Christ. The gospel calls us to prophetically address head-on the evils in our society, indeed in our world, which leave some parts of humanity dehumanised.’

Others spoke in similar vein. Synod members nodded sagely and approved the proceedings. Parishes will now be encouraged to draw up ‘race action plans’.

Neither the vote, nor the speeches that preceded it, have any legal force. Any thinking Anglican, however, has good reason to be depressed about this episode, for both practical and theological reasons. The latest intervention on racial justice isn’t a one-off. The Archbishops’ racial justice commission, set up three years’ ago and headed by ex-Labour minister Lord Boateng, used its latest report in February to call for racial justice to ‘be a regular and compulsory topic in all relevant deliberations and decision making processes on all levels of Church organisation.’

Is this really necessary? After all, distracting from the Church’s primary work of saving souls and ministering to individual spiritual needs is hardly a good way of attracting new worshippers. Nor does this particular focus do much to persuade existing ones not to forsake it, whether in favour of other churches or simple Sunday laziness. When it comes to lectures on political theory or managerialist solutions to problems of inequality, there are plenty of capable organisations already out there. Why the church hierarchy should think that people will sit in chilly pews to hear it done less well by those whose proper business lies elsewhere is a mystery.

The racial justice being promoted in the Synod appears to involve a demand for jobs in the church, whether in parishes or in the organisation’s increasingly top-down management, to reflect the racial make-up of this country. Not only is this idea likely in principle to drive away many of the faithful. It also cuts across the fact that the church is a people (or at least souls’) business. Parish incumbents must be congenial to their congregations, however unenlightened the latter may be in the eyes of church bigwigs; and senior ecclesiastics must be able to attract and inspire the clergy under them. Regarding the appointment of priests and prelates as an exercise in managerialism and the need to correct perceived power imbalances between racial identities may please intellectuals and church administrators: but it is a sure-fire way to remove any lingering affection between the ordinary worshipper and the church they frequent.

There must also be doubt about this as a matter of theology and doctrine. True, deliberately devaluing someone because of their colour or origin is un-Christian: it flatly contradicts the shining Gospel message that Jesus died for all of us, Jews or Gentiles, and that Christ offers grace quite indiscriminately. It also ignores Jesus’ decision to deliberately associate with different people, such as the woman of Samaria described by St John, not to mention assorted publicans and sinners.

But when St Paul wrote to the Galatians that, for him, there was neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, this suggests he would have had little time for identity politics, or for seeing people as anything other than souls to be saved. For that matter, Jesus himself, when asked why he had not addressed head-on the evils in Judaean society (in particular his arrest by the chief priests), had a simple response. ‘My kingdom,’ he said, ‘is not of this world.’

The General Synod, and anyone who wants the Church of England to remain a national institution rather than degenerate into a dwindling sect of activists increasingly irrelevant to anyone other than those administering it, could do worse than ponder these words.


Australia: Why we need more CEOs to speak up for profits

Coles’ Leah Weckert issued an important reminder to corporate Australia: Profit is not a dirty word.

Weckert’s comments have come right at the tail end of a resilient earnings season, and the newish Coles boss has cut through with a reminder about the purpose of her business: To look after shareholders through delivering the sharpest value to her customers.

Supermarkets and Woolworths boss Brad Banducci in particular, have been in the firing line around profits they make.

The big two retailers have become an easy target for claims around price gouging and anti-competitive behaviour while Australia is in the midst of an inflation bubble.

This has now spiralled into a Greens-led Senate inquiry and a year-long Australian Competition and Consumer Commission Review into the supermarkets. These will be highly distracting for management and, like the previous ACCC review into supermarket pricing a decade ago, will probably amount to little.

Everyone else is jumping on board with the ACTU and Queensland’s Steven Miles demanding their own probe. The claims are easy to make and always missing from the barbs is what should be the right level of profit for a business to make. No one is willing to go there and nor should they.

Still the attack on profit from all sides of the political spectrum is a worrying trend. Businesses exist to make profit and reward shareholders. In doing so they invest money into the economy and create jobs. The trick is in the balancing act to make sure the pursuit of profit is sustainable over the long run and businesses keep one eye on their social licence to operate.

Banducci, who this month announced his retirement, has struggled to cut through with a simple message on this point and his trainwreck interview on ABC TV only fanned the flames.

Banducci is the architect of Woolies much-needed cultural transformation and this month conceded to The Australian he was the first to get upset with himself when he doesn’t represent his company accurately.

In the middle of the anger, Woolworths triggered some big non-cash writedowns of its business, tipping the retailer into a heavy bottom-line loss.

Commonwealth Bank boss Matt Comyn is the only other boss who is prepared to issue a spirited defence of profits. Comyn regularly points out his bottom-line returns go to millions of shareholders as well as generate the crucial capital so funds can be lent back out to grow the economy.

Weckert, promoted to the top job in May last year, delivered her numbers on Tuesday which included a 3.9 per cent dip in December half net profit to $594m. The numbers show Coles is selling more, with revenue up nearly 7 per cent, but costs are crimping profit margins. Where Weckert draws the line is criticism of the windfall dollars.

“Profits are an essential thing for any business,” Weckert says. “They enable us to continue to operate and for us that means we get to employ 120,000 people. We get to support thousands of suppliers. We pay a very large tax bill every year.”

Coles has more than 460,000 shareholders and many of these are retail investors – the so-called mums and dads. There are millions more who benefit indirectly from the dividends through their super funds.

The simple message Weckert will take to next month’s Senate inquiry that begins in Hobart is that Coles generates $2.60 for every $100 spent by customers.

This is “less than 3c on the dollar,” she says, and points to her profit margins now being stable for at least the past five years, including through an inflation spike. Nor is food inflation unique to Australia, she adds, It’s are often driven by a surge in input costs such as fertilisers or wheat. Indeed, many developed economies, particularly the UK and in Europe, have seen food prices rise at a faster pace.

Weckert says Australian supermarkets are facing more intense competition than ever as offshore giants Aldi, Costco and Amazon make big inroads. Wesfarmers’ Bunnings and Priceline, along with Chemist Warehouse, are making inroads into the non-food sector.

Meanwhile, supermarket customers are trading convenience over value and are using local specialists from butchers to bakers.

The numbers show Coles now has the momentum in the sales race against its rival, Woolies. It can be argued Woolies is more distracted than it has been in years with problems from New Zealand, Big W and its looming leadership transition.

Coles’ supermarkets sale jumped 4.9 per cent in the first eight weeks of the calendar year, while Woolworths delivered 1.5 per cent growth over the first seven weeks. This helped back a near 6 per cent jump in Coles’ shares.

Coles says it is getting on top of the jump in theft rates it experienced last year as it invests more in checkout technology.

This could make a big difference to its earnings line in coming halves as it continues to get theft rates down further.

Australia’s housing and building shortage is now becoming a force on the ASX, although it has taken global players to recognise the value.




Wednesday, February 28, 2024

“White” is a Way of Life

There is a story under the above heading by Sangeeta Kalsi, who is a lady of Indian origins

The article is too long-winded for me to reporoduce but her claim is in essence simple. She claims that brown perople like her are treated suspicously and as inferior by whites in the Western world. They are discriminated against because of their skin color and other differences.

She also says, however, that they can come to be treated as whites with a suntan if they behave similarly to whites.

From my observations, that is true. So skin color is not the key factor in how they are treated. It is how they behave. And that is her basic point. She gives Nikki Haley as a brown person who came to be treated as white by behaving as one. Haley was a governor of South Carolina as well as making a strong bid for the GOP presidential nomination -- so that is a good example

What Ms Kalsi seems unaware of is that she has described a basic human process that affects us all, not only Indians. We all judge others by how they behave towards us and we all get on best with people who are similar to us. It is often noted in assortatative mating, where men and women who form relationships with one-another tend to have a lot of background factors in common.

There is actually a large literature in psychology on impression formation and stereotyping and its universal conclusion is that our judgment of others changes as we get to know them. When we first get to see a person we judge him/her according to the physical characteristics that we see. And the initial reaction will be a standoffish one but that can rapidly modify as we get to know more about the person. If a person speaks in our accent and uses our slang, an easy and accepting relationship will normally result. Such a person will seem "like us" and the barriers between us will just be normal interpersonal ones.

I have summarized some of the findings of the academic psychology literature below:

So Ms Kalsi would be wise to stop "kicking against the pricks, as St Paul advises us, and accept that what she is seeing is just basic humanity



‘Christian Nationalism’: Scaremongering Left’s Newest Red Herring

Hollywood director Rob Reiner’s new documentary “God & Country,” released in theaters last weekend, warns Americans of an impending “Christian nationalist” takeover of the country.

The Associated Press declared Saturday, “Many believe the Founders wanted a Christian America. Some want the government to declare one now.” On Tuesday, Alexander Ward and Heidi Przybyla warned in Politico, “Trump allies prepare to infuse ‘Christian nationalism’ in second administration.”

Such manufactures represent “a coordinated effort” to stoke fear before the 2024 elections, declared Family Research Council Action President Jody Hice, guest host of “Washington Watch” on Wednesday. Their purpose is not just “to rally the Left but, probably even more so … to intimidate and silence Christians who embrace a biblical worldview,” he said.

The purpose of Reiner’s yellow journalism is more concerning than its aim. The Left’s “definition of Christian nationalism … tends to be a coat that is cut to fit whatever it needs to fit at any given time,” Regent University professor A.J. Nolte said on “Washington Watch.” As with donkeys and tails, it gets harder to pin the scare on the elephant after you’ve been blindfolded and spun in circles.

Some leftist definitions of “Christian nationalism” have little in common with Christianity. Take Reiner’s perspective, “The idea is that America was a born as a white Christian nation, and these people are virulent about returning to that, and they’ll do it at any means necessary, including … violence. And we saw this happen on January 6th.”

Most Christians would have difficulty recognizing themselves in this description. For starters, Christianity knows no ethnic barriers (Revelation 7:9); Christians are commanded to submit to the government (Romans 13:1); and violence disqualifies a man from Christian leadership (1 Timothy 3:3).

Reiner’s definition wasn’t particularly concerned with scriptural accuracy, as the entire documentary really served as a “Trojan horse for progressive ideology,” wrote Southern Seminary professor Andrew Walker. His documentary painted institutions as disparate as The Heritage Foundation, Turning Point USA, and Hillsdale College with the same broad brush, even though the first two aren’t sectarian, and the third isn’t political.

Reiner “gives the game away when he talks about ‘white’ Christian nationalism,” Nolte noted, a mistaken “conflation of white ethnic nationalism with Christian nationalism.”

Some leftist definitions simply equate “Christian nationalism” with social conservatism. Nolte described a book titled “‘Taking America Back for God,’ by two scholars named Perry and Whitehead.” In the book, “They took six questions, which are generally good questions if you’re trying to measure social conservatism” and used them as “measures for Christian nationalism.” These measures included support for prayer in schools, opposition to abortion and same-sex marriage, and an acknowledgment of Christian principles in America’s founding.

“So, what you often find is that Christian nationalism is basically just … social conservatism, sort of relabeled,” Nolte concluded.

This definition becomes increasingly unrealistic as left-wing extremism puts more and more Americans on the “Right” side of social and cultural policy disputes, particularly where transgender ideology is at play. The coalition opposed to pornographic books in school libraries, for instance, includes not just Christians, but also Jews such as Ben Shapiro, Muslims like the parents in Dearborn, Michigan, or Montgomery County, Maryland, and agnostics like Jordan Peterson.

The term “Christian nationalism” approaches meaninglessness when used to describe people who are not Christians and might not even be nationalists.

Some leftist definitions of “Christian nationalism” combine biblical positions with non-biblical ones. Thus, Przybyla (co-author of the Politico piece mentioned above) stated Tuesday, “We’re talking about here not just isolationism, immigration. We’re talking about ending same-sex marriage, abortion, reducing access to contraceptives, but also surrogacy, no-fault divorce, sex education in public schools.”

But not so fast! Those are “two separate issue sets,” Nolte pointed out. Opposition to immigration and an isolationist foreign policy are the preferred policies of a populist segment of the contemporary American Right, but they shouldn’t be lumped together with what Nolte called “family-oriented, social conservative policies.”

Even if both sets of positions are found on the political Right, they are espoused by “two separate groups of social conservatives,” Nolte explained. Again quoting Perry and Whitehead, Nolte said, “Among regular church attenders, they actually found less hostility toward those of different racial groups, toward immigrants … but there was more opposition to same-sex marriage, abortion,” while “among those who were socially conservative, but did not attend church, what they found was the exact opposite.”

At the risk of committing an overgeneralization, one might say there was an inverse relationship between the depth of a person’s Christian walk and their espousal of “nationalist policies.” Does that sound like “Christian nationalism”?

Some leftist definitions of “Christian nationalism” simply mean that it’s bad for Christians to be involved in politics. For instance, “They’re all after Speaker Mike Johnson for his Christian faith,” said Hice. “He’s a Christian statesman who is certainly influenced and guided by his faith,” but “that’s no different from the liberal Left being guided by their secular, or whatever, worldview that they embrace.”

“This really galls the Left, [that] Mike Johnson has the unmitigated temerity to be a fairly conventional Southern Baptist,” Nolte agreed, with a touch of sarcasm. “Yes, he’s quite conservative on family issues. … But, as a conventional Baptist, he also stands [with] an over 200-year tradition of Baptists supporting religious liberty.” (Make that nearly 400 years in America since Baptist minister Roger Williams founded the colony of Rhode Island as a haven for freedom of conscience.)

The point is, “If somebody is truly committed to religious liberty, you never have to worry about them imposing Christianity,” Nolte argued. “They want to protect your freedom to believe or not believe as you choose.”

Yet no leftist definitions of “Christian nationalism” acknowledge its presence on the political Left. Follow along, if you will, with this thought experiment Nolte set forth:

Imagine a situation in which a Republican president goes to a church—a church that has been prominently associated with Republican politics in the past—on a federal holiday, and gives a speech where he talks about how New Testament principles ought to be the basis of our politics here in America. Would the media label that as Christian nationalism, do you think?

Over Martin Luther King Jr. Day weekend in 2023, President Joe Biden spoke from that man’s onetime pulpit in Atlanta’s Ebenezer Baptist Church, declaring that certain passages of the New Testament described “the essence of the American promise” and inspired his vision to “redeem the soul of America.” Yet, according to the propagandists now loudly decrying Christian nationalism, “that, somehow, was not considered Christian nationalism,” Nolte observed.

So, when defining the term, “it kind of depends on who is using the New Testament and whether the media outlets in question like the use to which the New Testament is being put,” he said.

Nolte suggested the entire project was political. His dissertation had examined how secularists in Turkey, France, and other countries have used “extreme fear language” about “religious reactionaries” to “mobilize constituencies that supported … secularism.” He warned that this strategy backfired in Turkey, where it “generally pushed most of the Islamic believers in Turkey more toward radicalism.”

Nolte argued leftists in America have made a “deliberate attempt” to craft a similar narrative. In particular, he pointed to “The Handmaid’s Tale,” a tailor-made scarytale “that’s going to appeal particularly to secular educated women who do not attend church and are not familiar with Christian belief.” Nolte criticized the way it twisted Scripture to depict a “misogynistic, theocratic society” that has nothing in common with the policy goals of socially conservative Christians in America.

Ultimately, fearmongering about the slur “Christian nationalism” says far more about those who wield it than those they aim to describe. In the “Red Scares” of the 1920s to 1950s, allegations that there was a communist under every rock, tree, bush, government desk, and movie script did little to inform the American public about which people really were communists. But they did inform Americans that the accusers were anti-communists. Similarly, accusations of “Christian nationalism” don’t inform Americans about which politicians, if any, wish to establish a theocracy; but they do help Americans understand that the people making the accusations are anti-Christian and anti-nationalist.

One final accusation lobbed against Christianity came from University of California at Riverside professor Reza Aslan, a Christian apostate. “The biggest sin, if you will, of Christian nationalism, is that it sees pluralism as a weakness, and not what it is: the foundation of what it means to be American,” Aslan insisted.

The irony in this inverted statement is so thick you could ice it and slice it. Not only did Aslan overlook the Christian origins of American pluralism, but he also missed the fact that American Christians are still pleading for a pluralistic society, “that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way” (1 Timothy 2:2).

It is totalitarian leftists who seek to de-pluralize American public life by banishing Christians from the public square—and scaremongering about “Christian nationalism” is simply their latest attempt to do so.



The Defense Advisory Committee on Diversity and Inclusion (DACODAI) was formed in 2022. The committee’s website says it is to “examine and provide recommendations to improve racial/ethnic diversity, inclusion, and equal opportunity within the DoD [Department of Defense], with a primary focus on military personnel.”

Sounds innocuous. However, diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) ideology promotes a radical, un-American belief system. DEI promotes extreme ideas like America is a racist nation, that racism and white supremacy are widespread today, and that whites are oppressors and minorities are oppressed. The committee itself is not diverse. However, the need for DACODAI is questionable, as the DOD’s 2022 demographics report shows the military is extremely diverse, at or above national demographics for race and ethnicity. DACODAI’s own data publicized in December 2023 shows rates on all types of discrimination complaints are tiny fractions of a percent. Examples of military adoption of DEI:

$114.7M in FY2024 for military DEI, a substantial increase from 2023.

In ongoing litigations against USMA and USNA, both admitted to using admissions practices that consider race and ethnicity. Specific practices of one or both include (1) reserving vacancies for racial “diversity” applicants, (2) using candidate composite score (only a small fraction of which is standardized test score) thresholds that differ by race when making admission decisions, and (3) using out of order of merit selection to achieve racial diversity. Better-qualified white and Asian applicants, some having much higher candidate composite scores, are not selected to make room for lower-scoring “diversity” applicants. These practices unarguably violate constitutional equal protection of the law, deny equal opportunity to hundreds of higher-scoring but non-selected applicants, demean minorities who gain admission based on merit, and, combined with other poor policy choices, lower standards for about 10%-20% of the entering class. These practices have been concealed from Congress and the American people for decades. The result: Warfighters are not always getting the best-qualified leaders.

DOD websites and recruiting emphasize DEI. DEI training is continuous and ubiquitous.

In 2022, the chief of staff of the Air Force set a goal of no more than 67.5% white pilots. Currently, 90%+ of AF pilots are white.

2023 Navy selection board guidance overtly allows the use of race in selections.

Based on their personal experience or those of their children, thousands of current and former military members objected to DEI’s dilution of merit. These voices represent thousands of years of service. They are the voices of experience, and they warn that the path we are on now leads to disunity, division, lower morale, recruiting and retention problems, and, eventually, failure. These testimonies are at STARRS. Meanwhile, zero data shows diversity improves performance, lethality, or readiness.

Col (Ret.) Bill Prince, U.S. Army Special Forces with 11 combat deployments, quotes the USMA’s Chief Data Officer, Col. Paul F. Evangelista ‘96, in commenting on attempts to measure the effectiveness of DEI, “We don’t have the data.”

BG (Ret.) Ernie Audino, U.S. Army, nails the issue precisely, saying: “If generals are right, i.e. that racial diversity in our officer corps is a 'national security imperative,’ then the services would at least track racial percentages in their mandatory assessments of unit combat readiness, but they don’t. Racial diversity is not included and never has been.”

CDR (Ret.) Phil Keuhlen, USN, is a former commanding officer of a nuclear-powered attack submarine. His analysis of Task Force 1 Navy’s claimed diversity benefits shows the Navy misrepresented source applicability, extended conclusions beyond the data, and ignored source conclusions that gains were due to factors that degrade military effectiveness. His detailed analysis is at RealClearDefense.

Col (Ret.) Bing West, USMC, is one of the most decorated combat veterans in our nation’s history. His article, “The Military’s Perilous Experiment,” ought to give our military leaders pause in their headlong pursuit of diversity. He writes: “Inside the military, however, another criterion has taken central booking: diversity. The focus has shifted toward emphasizing gender and racial equality, particularly in leadership positions. Diversity has replaced lethality as the lodestone for the military. … As a Marine veteran, I find this disconcerting. From boot training on, Marines are taught to put aside diversity, not to emphasize it.” The article can be found at the Hoover Institution.

DACODAI met in DC on December 14-15, 2023, and invited public comment. The input submitted by multiple public interest organizations was ignored. This behavior by DACODAI is most disconcerting. To ensure DACODAI will have various ideas, STARRS collaborated with leaders of Calvert Group, Veterans for Fairness and Merit, Flag Officers 4 America, the MacArthur Society, and Take Charge Minnesota in producing recorded, public testimony about DEI’s adverse impacts on the military. This powerful public testimony is available at the STARRS website. It deserves DACODAI’s attention and substantive response. Warfighters know it needs both.

DACODAI will meet again in early May. Americans interested in preserving our military’s unity, cohesion, and readiness to defend us against our enemies are urged to tell them what they think about DEI in our military.


Kudos To Mr. Nuzzo for Taking on the Feminist Status Quo

It is refreshing to find Mr. Nuzzo, a lone warrior willing to call out the feminist claptrap throughout the academic world.

There’s a four-year gap in life expectancy in Australia between men and women. So how come our peak science funding body, the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC), in 2022 allocated over six times more funding to research on women’s health compared to men’s?

This glaring bias in research funding attracted the critical gaze of a Perth-based academic with a keen interest in men’s health.

James Nuzzo is an exercise scientist, currently affiliated with Edith Cowan University, who has been busily churning out academic articles on topics like exercise neurophysiology and physical fitness testing.

But he’s become increasingly concerned to see his discipline infiltrated by gender ideologues whining about women missing out while totally ignoring the health outcomes of boys and men.

He’s calling out their bias and poor scholarship in a hard-hitting series of blogs on Substack (The Nuzzo Files) and podcasts.

For instance, Mr. Nuzzo points out that we hear constant allegations about the widespread exclusion of women in clinical trials.

In America, complaints about the neglect of women in health research led, in 1990, to the Office for Research on Women’s Health being established within the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

Since then, annual reports from the Office reveal that women constitute 55-60 percent of all participants in NIH-funded clinical trials each year. Thirty years later, the Office is flourishing, pouring out funding for women-only projects.
Similarly, Australian governments are falling over each other to prove their commitment to improving health outcomes for women and girls—and the NHMRC funding simply reflects that consistent anti-male bias.

This is simply one more example of the feminist claptrap now seeping throughout our academic world.

I hear regularly from principled researchers grinding their teeth at this blatant ideology and poor scholarship. Most don’t dare put their head above the parapet.

It is refreshing to find Mr. Nuzzo, a lone warrior willing to call it out, despite being well aware he is likely to implode his academic career in the process.

Another Small Victory In the Bag

Mr. Nuzzo’s most recent public skirmish in this territory involved an article in Sports Medicine written by mainly female exercise physiology students from the University of New South Wales (UNSW) claiming that “gender-based violence is a blind spot for sports and exercise medical professionals.”

The UNSW scholars devoted their entire article presenting women as the only victims of interpersonal violence (IPV)—the single mention of men referred to their “socially determined privilege,” an alleged cause of violence against women.

No mention of young male victims of abuse by coaches or fellow athletes, of which there have been plenty, nor of lesbian perpetrators of abuse (lesbians top the chart of rates of IPV). And not one word about the decades of research showing men and women are victims of IPV at roughly equal rates.

Mr. Nuzzo set out to put them straight, seeking to get the true facts published in a response letter in Sports Medicine. And he succeeded, but only after nearly a year of back and forth with the journal. It helped that he combined forces with Deborah Powney, the University of Central Lancashire psychologist doing work on male victims of coercive control, and John Barry, from the Centre for Male Psychology in London.

Sports Medicine took the unusual step of submitting the letter to peer review, but the three reviewers all concurred with the critique by Nuzzo and his co-authors. Ultimately the letter was published—one small victory for proper scientific inquiry.

Their published comment proved it was the UNSW academics who had the blind spot, by providing a summary of some of the best research showing equal gender rates of IPV victimization, which also applied in sports environments.

Storm in a teacup, you might conclude. Perhaps. But it is a telling example of how the feminist take-over of our universities is playing out.

The Next Generation

We now have increasing numbers of radical young female academics and students, probably indoctrinated back in their school days, all keen on displaying their feminist credentials in their so-called scholarship.

Increasingly, they are forcing this sludge into diverse disciplines, right across all academia.

Worryingly, these are the teachers of the next generation, intent on convincing young women they are set for a life of persecution, abuse and discrimination.

They are teaching our future bureaucrats who’ll be setting key policies, the future lawyers, judges, social workers, and the politicians who will be deciding where the dollars are spent.

Their goals are transparent and the process is unfolding before our very eyes.

Kudos for James Nuzzo for having the courage to take them on, in published articles, blogs and podcasts. It’s infuriating to read his research and discover how much we’ve been hoodwinked.

The Big Two Globalist Agencies

Another of Mr. Nuzzo’s published articles concerned bias against men’s issues in the U.N. and WHO. He conducted a content analysis showing consistent promotion of women’s issues whilst men are ignored. The U.N.’s sustainable development goal on “gender equality” is exclusive to females.

The organisation observes nine International Days for women’s issues/achievements and one day for men. They operate 69 Twitter accounts dedicated to women’s issues and none for men. And so it goes on.

DAVIA (the Domestic Abuse and Violence International Alliance) has launched a petition that calls on groups to “suspend their funding of the United Nations until all U.N. agencies fulfill their pledge to respect the ‘dignity and worth’ of all persons and assure the ‘equal rights of men and women.’” That’s a worthy goal.

It’s also a pleasant change to find someone looking for the good in men.

Mr. Nuzzo recently wrote a blog on Men: The Martyrs of Medicine. He’d unearthed a 1929 medical journal article listing the names of male doctors and researchers who died as a result of acquiring the disease they were studying or medical technology they were developing.

Brave men who gave their lives trying to save others from yellow fever, typhus, bubonic plague, and other infectious diseases.

It was quite a story and a welcome change to see the risk-taking, now so often labelled as ’toxic,' being promoted as valuable, even inspiring.




Tuesday, February 27, 2024

Are Leftists narcissists?

The Mayo definition:

"Narcissistic personality disorder is a mental health condition in which people have an unreasonably high sense of their own importance. They need and seek too much attention and want people to admire them. People with this disorder may lack the ability to understand or care about the feelings of others. But behind this mask of extreme confidence, they are not sure of their self-worth and are easily upset by the slightest criticism"

The Mayo clinic is America's leading hospital

Narcissism seems to be getting a lot of press these days. In particular, women are often being advised to be wary of relationships with narcissist men. I think there is no doubt that the term is over-used. Normal selfishness should not be confused with mental illness, where a mental illness is a loss of reality contact

Nonetheless something like narcissism can be observed in some people who have a reasonably good grasp of what the world around them is like. They are selfish and have a high opinion of themselves but not to a disabling degree. They are not blind to where they stand with other people. They are within the psychological normal range.

A related concept is need for approval. The academic psychology literature on that is large and goes back a long way. In that literature it is generally seen it as weak and something to be overcome.

I see something like narcissism and need for approval in Leftists. But to avoid implications of mental illness I have mostly avoided those terms and instead made use of the Greco/Latin term "ego" ("Εγώ"), which simply means "I" in both languages. Freud popularized the word to refer to the conscious self and it has now passed into common use in roughly that meaning. I say that Leftists have "excess ego" or "weak ego", implying that they are people who have a high opinion of themselves but that opinion is weakly held and needs a lot of propping up, similar to what we see in true narcissists

It is excess ego that they badly want to be seen as kind and wise and noble. So it is akin to narcissism but is not as unrealistic. The stances they adopt generally WILL gain them approval.

A classic example that is rather politically hot at the moment is rent control. People advocating it present themselves as "caring" about poor tenants and the policy does at first glance seem beneficial to tenants.

I am not going to give a lesson in economics here but suffice it to say that the policy in fact works out very badly for tenants before long. It reduces the number of places being offered to tenants and makes then pay HIGHER rents for what they get

But the Leftist gets immediate credit for "caring" and that is what they want. The conservative who points out the adverse long-term consequences tends by contrast to be seen as uncaring

I give many more case studies of Leftism in action here:

So ego need is certainly pernicious. It causes Leftists to advocate policies that sound good even when they are not. An exceptionally moronic example of that in some American cities in recent years has been the cry "defund the police". Most defunders by now have become refunders but the damage done in the meanwhile has been considerable

So, Yes. Leftist ego need is a low grade form of narcissism. It is not a clinical condition but it still does a lot of harm

It should be noted that some care is needed in talking about narcissism among non-clinical populations. Freud's seminal article on narcisissm claimed that traits of grandiosity and vulnerability covaried and that is obviously confirmed in the definition drawn from clinical experience by the Mayo clinic.

But it should not be assumed that the same is true in the population at large. The findings of Paul Wink in particular show that in the general population, not all vulnerable peope have feelings of grandiosity and not all people with grandiose views of themselves also have feelings of vulnerability. Wink found that the two traits formed independent Varimax factors.

But within Wink's sample, there was a subset of respondents in which the two factors DID go together and it is such people whom we can reasonably describe as sub-clinical narcissists. Such people will be at least strongly inclined towards Leftism. Whether people who are simply vulnerable or simply grandiose are drawn to Leftism is at this stage unknown

My claim that Leftists are people with large but weak egos in an inference extracted from what Leftists do. It explains what they do. But there is also some general population survey research showing that strongly Leftist views are associated with narcissism. See the two U.S. studies by Krispenz & Bertrams below

I make no claim that ego need is the whole of Leftist motivations. As I have discussed elsewhere, there are many influences which may lead to Leftism. See

Chief among them would appear to be a tendency to anger. The great outpouring of rage and hate that greeted the election of Donald Trump leaves no doubt about that. Never before has hatred been so openly expressed by so many people. Krispenz & Bertrams also found an association between Leftism and antagonistic attitudes. They conclude that Leftist activists "use political activism to endorse or exercise violence against others to satisfy their own ego-focused needs".



NZ Realtor Faces 5 Year Ban for Rejecting ‘Woke’ Training

A real estate agent in New Zealand is at risk of having her 30-year career cut short after rejecting a compulsory course on Maori culture and customary behaviours.

Janet Dickson is seeking to challenge the New Zealand’s Real Estate Authority (REA) in court after the regulatory body allegedly threatened to cancel her licence for five years for refusing to take the course, according to the advocacy group Hobson’s Pledge.

Under current regulations, real estate agents need to complete 20 hours of continuing professional development each year to maintain their licence, including two hours of mandatory topics and eight hours of elective topics.

Ms. Dickson was concerned that the REA overstepped its power by forcing real estate agents to complete courses that had little to do with their jobs, especially on contentious topics.

In a Facebook post, Ms. Dickson called REA’s alleged practice of imposing compulsory courses as “woke madness” and vowed to fight to ensure that other people would not be subject to the same fate.

Ms. Dickson is seeking a judicial review in New Zealand’s High Court to challenge the REA’s power to impose compulsory courses, believing that it is essential in addressing the alleged overreach, and could set a precedent for other professional organisations.

“The ramifications of this case extend well beyond the realm of real estate. Similar mandates have detrimentally affected a wide array of professions, including doctors, teachers, and lawyers,” the webpage of her campaign read.

“The imposition of these mandates, infringing upon the fundamental freedom of conscience, requires immediate action.

“This (the judicial review) is essential not only to rectify the excessive use of authority in the present case but also to establish a precedent that will guide and inform the conduct of other professional regulatory bodies.”

Ms. Dickson’s campaign seeks donations of up to NZ$50,000 (US$31,000) from the public to cover part of her NZ$150,000 legal fee.

Response from Other Parties

Don Brash, the former Reserve Bank of New Zealand governor and Hobson’s Pledge’s founder, criticised REA’s “draconian” rules, saying it was an attempt to impose a particular worldview that was not in line with the majority of New Zealanders. “It’s inappropriate for the REA to force people to do a course that’s not relevant to their work,” he said, as reported by the New Zealand Herald newspaper. “We don’t want a particular view of the world forced on anybody.”

Meanwhile, Bernie O’Donnell, a Poutaki Mātauranga Maori adviser at the University of Auckland, said it was necessary for real estate agents to understand Maori due to the nature of their business.

“You can’t go into that profession blindly in Aotearoa ... it’s important they understand the history of their country,” he said, noting that it was a shame that some people didn’t want to go through that step.

“Maori are the indigenous people of this land, and in this new world, we have to start making an effort to understand their worldview.

“And even though there’s a huge history to this land, people just want to get down to business.”


Indigenous people sue over alleged Canadian secret medical experiment

An MRI is just a scan. It doesn't do anything to you

Members of a First Nation in Canada have launched a lawsuit alleging they were subjected to a secret medical experiment without their consent that left them feeling “violated and humiliated”.

The class-action lawsuit, which was certified by the Nova Scotia supreme court in early February, revives the painful history of Canada conducting medical experiments on Indigenous peoples and the persistent discrimination they continue to face within the country’s healthcare system.

In a statement of claim, Chief Andrea Paul, the lead plaintiff, says she and 60 other members of the Pictou Landing First Nation participated in an MRI in 2017 for a medical research project administered by the Canadian Alliance for Healthy Hearts and Minds.

But after the test finished, staff at the hospital in Halifax kept her for a second test.

“As she lay inside the claustrophobic MRI chamber, holding her breath, and cringing from the loud banging sounds around her, the MRI scans generated data that revealed intimate medical information about her body without her knowledge or consent,” reads the statement of claim. “She had been singled out for the one reason – she was Mi’kmaq.”

A year later, Paul, who also serves as regional chief for the Assembly of First Nations in Nova Scotia, learned that two radiologists had allegedly used the second procedure to conduct MRI elastography to study the livers of Indigenous subjects, without their knowledge or consent.

The class-action lawsuit has named the radiologists Robert Miller and Sharon Clarke as defendants. According to the claim, Miller met with Paul in 2018 and told her the MRI had been used for a broader research project titled “MRI Findings of Liver Disease in an Atlantic Canada First Nations Population”. Miller, an associate professor at Dalhousie University’s faculty of medicine who previously served as president of the Canadian Association of Radiology, allegedly told her the findings had been shared with a radiology conference after initially denying disclosing the test results.

Neither researchers with the Canadian Alliance for Healthy Hearts and Minds nor the plaintiffs were given the results of the test.

Canada has a dark history for its treatment of Indigenous peoples under the guise of healthcare, with the deadly effects of systemic racism persisting into the present day.

In the 1940s, nearly 1,300 Indigenous children across Canada were starved for studies about the effects of malnutrition as part of a government-run study. Indigenous women have also been sterilized against their will, leading human rights groups to call for an end to the practice.

“Knowing the long history of subjecting Indigenous people in Canada to cruel medical experiments … and to confirm the Indigenous right to own and control research data of Indigenous people, Chief Andrea felt powerless, vulnerable, and discriminated against because she was Mi’kmaq.”

The claim also asserts that Indigenous people “have been reluctant to participate in health research and receive treatment from non-Indigenous doctors, health centers, and hospitals” because of a legacy of mistreatment and abuse.

“There is an historically and evidentiary based mistrust at the healthcare system,” the claim reads. Paul says in the claim she had worked to persuade community members to participate in the initial MRI test and the actions of the two radiologists is emblematic of the mistrust held by Indigenous communities.

Paul and 60 members of Pictou Landing are seeking a declaration from the defendants for invasion of privacy, unlawful imprisonment, negligence, breach of fiduciary duty, breach of contract, charter breaches and damages. They also argue the tests amount to assault and battery because the MRI scan procedures “amount to a medical procedure that was performed on [the plaintiffs] without their knowledge or informed consent”.

A lawyer for the two radiologists has said neither will provide comment. None of the allegations have been tested in court and no hearing dates have been set.


Australia: Fact checkers fall out

The ABC has ended its partnership with the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT) FactLab, with which it has operated the ABC RMIT Fact Check project for the past seven years.

On Tuesday afternoon ABC news director Justin Stevens notified staff via email that the national broadcaster would replace the partnership with an internal fact-checking team, known as “ABC News Verify”.

Stevens said Verify would be a “team of specialists with the ability to scale up to support our special coverage in times of crisis. It will be part of the Investigative Journalism and Current Affairs team led by Jo Puccini.”

“In parallel with our decision to establish our own specialist verification team we have also taken the decision to not extend our current participation in ABC RMIT Fact Check when our current agreement expires in the middle of the year,” he wrote.

Crikey understands RMIT management felt blindsided by the decision from the ABC, with sources saying it appeared that the ABC had concerns over pressure from fact-checking politicians.

One source told Crikey that the relationship between RMIT and the ABC had become one-sided in recent years, with the university taking a lot of criticism from conservative media over the Fact Check project.

It comes as the partnership and the ABC have come under significant pressure in recent months over accusations of bias following the Voice to Parliament referendum. In May, RMIT FactLab published a fact check of itself, refuting claims that the organisation was being “used” by proponents of the Yes campaign to “rig the Indigenous Voice to Parliament referendum”.

The organisation’s participation in Meta’s fact-checking program was briefly suspended last year after its accreditation with the International Fact-Checking Network lapsed.

The Australian reported last year that the ABC had spent $165,000 a year on the RMIT partnership since 2020, according to figures released in Senate estimates.

In budget estimates this year, One Nation Senator Malcolm Roberts asked ABC managing director David Anderson about the make-up of ABC RMIT Fact Check in relation to the Voice referendum.

Anderson responded on notice that of the 17 articles published between June 1 and September 29, RMIT ABC Fact Check published two articles focusing on claims made by the Yes campaign or proponents, 10 on the No campaign or proponents, and five on claims made by proponents of both sides.

Anderson said “checkable claims more frequently surfaced from proponents of No arguments than from proponents of Yes arguments” in the ABC’s media monitoring process.

“When a Yes claim surfaced which was checkable and important to the national debate, Fact Check made sure it was covered in a timely manner.”

A spokesperson for RMIT said in a statement that the university was “proud of the long-standing partnership” with the ABC.

“The partnership between RMIT and ABC will conclude at the end of the current agreement [on June 30, 2024]. RMIT is committed to upholding the integrity of public information and will continue to do this through a range of activities,” the spokesperson told Crikey.




Monday, February 26, 2024

The biggest enemy of Gazans is HAMAS

Hamas launched a big terrorist strike into Israel in the full knowledge that Israel always hits back proportionally at attacks on it. It was a deliberate provocation motivated by their undoubted hatred of Israel.

Most Muslims are antisemitic. Their prophet tells them to be. But HAMAS are Islamic extremists. So they start out with religious hatred and add to it envy over Israel's notable success in most ways. Its success is an offence against the lowly place of Jews according to Muslim teachings

Helmut Schoeck has written eloquently about how dire in general it is to be envied and there is no doubt that Israel suffers in just the way that he predicts

And the Leftist "protesters" who claim to be speaking for Palestinians ignore the fact that Gazans are a small minority of Palestinians. Large numbers of Palestinians live in Jordan, the West Bank and Israel itslf. And they live peacefully with Israel.

It is HAMAS that the Left would be demonstrating against if they has any real concern for the people of Gaza. Without HAMAS, peace already reigns between Israel and Palestinians.

It should be noted that there is no clear agreement about who is a Palestinian. The name Palestine as a geographical term goes back to Herodotus but has never denoted a place with any clear boundaries. In ancient times generally, however, terms similar to it do seem to have mostly denoted the central or Southern part of the Levantine coast. So the term Palestine would seem to refer pretty well to what we now know as Eretz Israel. In that case some Jewish Israelis are Palestinians.

By courtesy, however, the term is usually reserved for Arabs with some ancestral attachment to the area. The vagueness of the term does however make it difficult to say precisely how many Palestinians there are in any particular place. If we include members of the Palestinian diaspora, Gazans are a really tiny fraction of the total Palestinian population



‘Good’ girls, ‘bad’ boys? That’s no way to make progress

Nikki Gemmell says boys in the West are angry. They want power and control, she says, pointing to a Gallup poll that apparently shows young men “flinching into conservatism” while young women are embracing and facilitating social reform.

The impetus for girls is fairness and equality, she says, a natural step for the educated. It’s why “the Taliban wants to stop females from being educated”, she wrote on the weekend.

The impetus for boys, says Gemmell, is to preserve what they had. She claims they are hurting, raging and lost.

Let’s put the Taliban to one side, given that in Australia girls are educated, they work, dress as they wish, vote, run companies, and become prime minister.

Lumping girls in the good column and boys in a bad one is not helpful. The world can’t be summed up so simply. Let’s dissect two claims – one about politics, the other about gender, at the centre of Gemmell’s thesis.

Having followed politics for a long time, I can safely say the world is more complicated than saying that conservative equals bad and progressive equals good.

If “progressive” meant only good things, we would do away with elections right now, and make Adam Bandt leader for life. In fact, the Greens are not genuinely progressive. For starters, they harbour anti-Semites.

This word, “progressive”, is often a crock. The progressive Greens are economic dunces; they’d wreck the economy overnight with their taxation and spending policies. We know from experience that being progressive on immigration – in other words, handing over control of our borders to people-smugglers – led to thousands of deaths at sea for desperate people.

So-called progressive policies can be wickedly regressive. When a bunch of elites thought that granting special rights to one group of Australians was such a good idea it should be enshrined in the Constitution, the response from Australians was an overwhelming “no”.

That No vote was the height of social and political equality: it was progressive and liberal.

When I hear claims that “progressive” is all sweetness and light, and comes in the shade of teal, it pains me to point out that most of the teals are frauds.

For all their kvetching about the need for more integrity in politics, and attacking low-hanging fruit such as pork-barrelling, they haven’t shown any interest, on behalf of taxpayers, in getting to the bottom of why the federal government handed over $2.4m to Brittany Higgins. Not a single injured veteran is able to secure that amount of money, no questions asked. How’s that for political integrity.

Nice-sounding words can’t hide poor outcomes. When diversity translates into discriminating against men, the result is neither fair nor equal.

Earlier this year, Caroline Overington reported on a bookshop owner in Melbourne who was concerned that while she had shelves of great women’s fiction writing, “positive stories with men and boys are almost missing from the mix”. We reported that women filled seven of the top 10 places in fiction writing last year. It was the same internationally.

Women coming out on top is great news, so long as it’s not manufactured by booting men out of the mix. Sadly, it’s seen as “progressive” to do precisely that.

Gender quotas are routinely used to fill board seats, sidelining merit. It’s easy to predict what flows: boards end up reflecting a political monoculture comprising people who think quotas make sense. That’s not genuine diversity.

When I wrote extensively many years ago about the importance of phonics when teaching young kids to read, I discovered phonics was described by its opponents as a conservative plot to entrench the political status quo. What on Earth? We’re talking about giving the kids the building blocks to read, a necessary step so they can learn, expand their horizons, think for themselves.

Back then, progressives believed kids learned to read by osmosis, by being exposed to words, and most schools bought their magic pudding. The steady stream of poor literacy results for Australian students reveals how regressive that progressive project has been for kids. Talk about being mugged by reality.

According to a piece in The Financial Times about the Gallop survey, the #MeToo movement is the trigger for women moving to the progressive side of politics. Gemmell repeated the claim. So, let’s look a little closer at this recent progressive movement.

The #MeToo movement has helped women feel empowered to report sexual assault and call out bad behaviour that falls short of assault. But not everything about #MeToo is positive. For example, the oft-repeated mantra that we must “believe all women” can only serve to undermine the presumption of innocence. That’s a dangerous path for a society committed to fairness, let alone fair trials.

There are other, less serious, but equally boneheaded responses to the #MeToo movement. One of Sydney’s most prestigious boys schools told boys in an assembly not to use the word “moist” because it offends girls. That school and others are going co-ed because apparently boys will become civilised human beings by sharing a classroom with girls.

The boys I know aren’t angry about sharing power, let alone classrooms. They’re not hurting, or raging, or lost, as Gemmell suggests. They weren’t born to be at the top of the tree. Nor are they hankering for cosy arrangements to continue. If I had to guess, what annoys both boys and girls – along with some of their parents – are evidence-free anti-male messages that go unchallenged.

Sky News contributor Daisy Cousens says the MeToo movement’s celebrity activists do not actually care about…
Young men and women in Gen Z are entering a world where labels and slogans are routinely used to dumb down society. Just as people are complex, so too are political philosophies.

For those interested in learning about conservatism as a political philosophy, there are plenty of books I could suggest. But let’s cut to the chase: being conservative means looking at what people did before us, holding on to what works and, yes, changing what doesn’t work.

Conservatism is rooted in lived experience, to coin a phrase from the progressive zeitgeist, not crossing your fingers, closing your eyes and saying a little prayer that good intentions will translate into good outcomes.

Now to another point about boys and girls. Gemmell claims Gen Z is “split” and living in “two separate worlds”. I looked at the Gallop results. In the US, Gallop’s news website says “a widening of the ideological gaps between men and women over time has been due to women becoming more liberal at a faster rate than men, rather than women and men moving in different ideological directions”. So, let’s take a breather.

I must live in a different part of Australia to my colleague. Having young men and women waft through our homes for many years, I can vouch for relationships forged above politics and social movements.

These young men and women befriend, work with, partner and marry people who have different views. The reason is simple: in most workplaces, pubs and homes, politics need not be a morality contest; ergo progressive doesn’t mean good, and conservative doesn’t mean bad. Or vice versa.

Perpetuating a myth that girls are progressive social reformers, while boys hanker for the good old days when men ruled the world, will only help to make the world more, not less, polarised.


A complete Leftist nutcase

The co-founder of a Black Lives Matter chapter has slammed Taylor Swift fans as 'racists' and referred to Kansas City's Super Bowl victory as a 'right-wing, white-supremacist conspiracy' in a series of posts on social media.

Melina Abdullah, 51, a professor of Pan-African Studies at Cal State University Los Angeles, took to X, formerly Twitter, to unload her opinions on the pop singer and her athlete boyfriend over the course of two weeks.

'Why do I feel like it’s slightly racist to be a Taylor Swift fan?' Abdullah wrote on February 11, the day of the Super Bowl.

'I said FEEL, not think,' she continued when another user asked her to elaborate. 'Kind of like that feeling I get when there are too many American flags.'

Hours later, after the Kansas City Chiefs were declared the winners, Abdullah wrote: 'Why do I feel like this was some right-wing, white-supremacist conspiracy?!?! Booooooo!!!!'

As her posts drummed up attention from other users, Abdullah doubled down on her stance. 'Folks think they’re attacking me by asking why I think everything is racist…I’m not offended,' she wrote. 'Virtually everything is racist.'

In response to one commenter, the advocate clarified: 'And I’ve also decided to work with all my might and in a community of committed people to upend racism and oppression.'

On February 23, Abdullah returned to social media to post a voice message sent by a man who blasted her as 'a joke,' 'ignorant,' and 'what's wrong with this country.'

'How dare you throw out the racist ideas you throw out on a daily basis?' shouted the man, who identified himself as Ethan George from Texas, before proclaiming that he wished she would 'die.'

'If this is what a tweet about Taylor Swift fans being “slightly racist” brings, I’ll edit myself…Y’all are full-fledged violent white-delusionists,' Abdullah wrote.

The 51-year-old is also a co-director of BLM's advocacy wing, Black Lives Matter Grassroots.

She sued the Los Angeles Police Department in 2020 after they descended on her home during a reported swatting incident.

On August 19, 2020, the LAPD received a 911 call from someone who claimed he had taken people hostage in Abdullah’s Crenshaw home.

In court documents filed with California Superior Court, the mother of three said she feared LAPD SWAT officers would fire their weapons into her home and hurt her children.

She accused the LAPD of failing to contact her beforehand despite having her that contact information and claimed the department staged the incident in ‘retaliation’ for her activism.

She added that police did not actually believe the claims of an ongoing hostage situation.

As proof, Abdullah cited an instance where police allowed her security guard, whom officers did not know, to pass through a perimeter and enter the home as they staged around it.

Two neighbors were also permitted to enter the home to check on her and walk alongside her as she walked out to speak with officers, the lawsuit claimed.

Abdullah deemed the response 'an attempt to put down protest, to target me as someone who's been very visible and vocal in protesting LAPD.'

She was swatted twice more after the lawsuit was announced.

In a separate legal battle, Abdullah and BLM Grassroots accused Black Lives Matters Global Network Foundation Inc. of raising donations off the work of city-based chapters and subsequently leaving activists out of decision-making.

BLM Grassroots is comprised of two dozen BLM chapters across the country, who argued that they were entitled to tens of millions of dollars from the national foundation.

However, the case was thrown out by a Los Angeles County Superior Court judge last year after the activists failed to prove they were entitled to the funds among other unsubstantiated claims.

Abdullah said the group was 'stunned and dismayed' by the court's dismissal order.

'As always, the work of Black Lives Matter continues, regardless of the court ruling,' she vowed in a statement.


Why it’s a mistake to deny the science of sex

In 1949, Simone de Beauvoir wrote that one is not born, but rather becomes, a woman. For decades after her claim, feminists have championed the idea that social conditioning is what creates differences between the sexes.

As little girls we are encouraged by our parents to play with dolls. As we get older we are encouraged to be decorative. From the clothes we wear to the interests we pursue, thousands of tiny interactions with the world mould us into the women we are.

But advances in neuroscience are throwing at least some of this conventional wisdom into question. While we have known for a long time that sex may have some subtle influences on the brain (how could it not?), a study published last week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences suggests such influences may be more expansive than previously thought.

The landmark study, conducted by Stanford professor Vinod Menon, and with Srikanth Ryali, PhD, and academic staff researcher Yuan Zhang, PhD, took a large sample of fMRI brain scans from 1500 young adults between 20 and 35, and then tested whether deep neural networks (AI models) could detect their sex. They could.

The AI models looked at many brain images from each person taken at different times (the brain scans were also taken from people in different regions). It found complex patterns that predicted if a brain was male or female with over 90 per cent accuracy.

The AI could not only tell if a brain was male or female, but the researchers also created explanatory models to predict cognitive abilities based on their images. Because male and female brains are so different, separate models were needed for each sex.

I contacted Professor Menon to ask what this meant. He told me “there were no gender differences (found) in the general intelligence factor, but response inhibition and reward sensitivity were higher in males than females”.

There are a multitude of implications in these findings. Male brains having higher reward sensitivity and variable response inhibition may explain why males tend to be more vulnerable to addiction and ADHD, for example.

The finding that males and females are different may strike many as intuitive and hardly worthy of journalistic attention, much like the observation that water is wet.

One might argue quite reasonably that anyone who spends any time around children knows girls and boys are different, and that these differences are not superficial. Nevertheless, in the world of academia, simple intuition does not go very far. In the scientific fields at least, empirical claims have to be proven with data.

Not only that, but there has been significant hostility from some quarters towards the idea that male and female brains differ at all. This hostility has been grounded in the fear that any discovery of differences will be used to reify gender stereotypes and justify discrimination against women – something female academics are naturally attuned to. Writing in Quillette in 2019, veteran neuroscientist Larry Cahill wrote: “Senior colleagues warned me as an untenured professor around the year 2000 that studying sex differences would be career suicide.”

But sexism does not need any scientific justification to exist. The odious Andrew Tate, for example, uses social media to spread his noxious misogyny and, as far as I am aware, is not relying on any findings from neuroscience in doing so.

Republicans in the United States are restricting women’s reproductive rights – including abortion and even IVF – on theological rather than scientific grounds. And I am not aware of the Taliban subscribing to Neuroscience News.

In truth, sexism flourishes wherever scientific progress is suppressed, not where it is advanced.

And ignorance about the influence of sex on the brain harms, rather than helps, women. For decades, basic research was only conducted on male cells, male animals and male clinical trial participants. Yet we know the incidence of many neurological conditions, from migraines to Parkinson’s disease, manifest differently according to sex. The failure to study how sex influences out of fear it will contribute to sexism means women miss out on having medical treatments tailored to their needs.

The fear of acknowledging sex differences has also, ironically, given rise to another form of anti-female prejudice. Today the denial of biology has metastasised into the denial of sex itself. Trans activists argue that one can literally change biological sex, and that biological males have no physiological advantage over women in sports.

Women are being denied the right to single-sex spaces such as bathrooms and change rooms, and new mothers are insultingly described in government-mandated protocols as “chestfeeders”. This is Simone de Beauvoir’s argument on steroids – this time used to erase womanhood altogether.

Refusal to grapple with biological realities has hampered progress in a way that has helped no one. Indeed, the denial of sex differences has not eradicated sexism but instead has led to the neglect of women’s health needs and the emergence of new forms of prejudice unimaginable just a decade ago.

While there may be some risks associated with new discoveries in neuroscience, these risks are outweighed by the potential benefits. As Larry Cahill has quipped: “The potential to misuse new knowledge has been around since we discovered fire and invented the wheel. It is not a valid argument for remaining ignorant.”




Sunday, February 25, 2024

Alabama hospital puts pause on IVF in wake of ruling saying frozen embryos are children

There are really two issues here: The failure to implant and the failure to thrive after implantation. As the father of an IVF son, I am acutely aware of the issues.

My wife undertook 10 IVF treatment cycles with only one embryo implanting. And it grieves me to this day that many of my children went down the drain. I would have loved them all. But to me there was no fault by any person involved. It is just nature's way that many embryos are lost during menstruation. Though I suppose that an argument could be mounted that taking any part in IVF is willingly creating life that will mostly not survive. You are both creating life and extinguishing it

In the abortion debate it has to me always seemed nonsenense to say that a "fetus" is not a human being. It is clearly just a human being at an early stage of growth. So I do have some understanding of the Alabama ruling. And I am an atheist so there is no religious issue involved in my case.

But there are clearly many adverse consequences of the ruling so I would say that a fertiized egg that is never implanted has never begun the process of developing so should not be regarded as a human person. A ruling to such an effect may be needed to allow IVF and its great blessings to continue

A large Alabama hospital has paused in vitro fertilisation treatments as health care providers weigh the impact of a state court ruling that frozen embryos are the legal equivalent of children.

The University of Alabama at Birmingham said in a statement Wednesday that its UAB Division of Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility has paused the treatments "as it evaluates the Alabama Supreme Court's decision that a cryopreserved embryo is a human being."

"We are saddened that this will impact our patients' attempt to have a baby through IVF, but we must evaluate the potential that our patients and our physicians could be prosecuted criminally or face punitive damages for following the standard of care for IVF treatments," the statement emailed by spokeswoman Savannah Koplon read.

The ruling by the all-Republican Alabama Supreme Court prompted a wave of concern about the future of IVF treatments in the state and the potential unintended consequences of extreme anti-abortion laws in Republican-controlled states.
Patients called clinics to see if scheduled IVF treatments would continue. And providers consulted with attorneys.


ADL Gives Head-Scratching Reason for Excluding Nashville Transgender Shooter From ‘Extremist Murders’ Report

Nashville Transgender Shooter Not a Left-Wing Extremist Because She Called Victims ‘Faggots,’ ADL Says

The Anti-Defamation League claimed that right-wing extremists committed “all” the extremist-related murders in 2023, discounting the apparent extremism of Audrey Hale, the transgender shooter who killed three adults and three students in March at The Covenant School in Nashville, Tennessee.

Conservative commentator Steven Crowder released three pages of the shooter’s manifesto, which police confirmed were legitimate, in November.

Hale, a white female, reportedly identified as male and went by the name “Aiden.” Her manifesto expresses hatred for white people, whom she refers to as “crackers.”

“Kill those kids!!! Those crackers. Going to private fancy schools with those fancy khakis and sports backpacks with their daddies mustangs and convertibles. F— you little sh—s,” she wrote. “I wish to shoot your weak ass d—s with your mop yellow hair, wanna kill all you little crackers!!! Bunch of little faggots with your white privileges. F— you faggots.”

These remarks echo the Left’s ideological talking points on “white privilege” and reveal a disdain for others based on their skin color. This hatred of white people echoes the Marxist claim that America is institutionally racist, so justice demands stripping whites of their “privilege” and elevating racial minorities rather than securing a level playing field for all races.

Yet the ADL told The Daily Signal that Hale’s case does not show “clear evidence of extremism.”

“The case of Hale does not appear in the report, as we did not find clear evidence of extremism,” the spokesperson said. “Hale left some writings, not released by police, that they described as lacking any specific political or social issues. Three pages of a document were later leaked that contained hateful epithets directed at white and LGBTQ+ people, which did not provide evidence of any particular extremist ideology, but rather primarily resentment and grievance at students from the shooter’s former school perceived to be better off than the shooter was.”

“If additional information comes to light, this determination may change,” the spokesperson added.

The ADL appears to have considered Hale’s decision to condemn her targets as “faggots” to be an example of “epithets directed at … LGBTQ+ people,” thus muddying any potential left-wing extremism as a motivating factor.....

The ADL noted that “although our statistics determined that all extremist-related murders in 2023 were perpetrated by far-right extremists, as ADL CEO and National Director Jonathan Greenblatt made clear upon the release of the report: ‘Last week’s sickening attempted mass shooting in Houston by a woman who had praised Islamist terrorist groups reminds us we cannot stand idly by as hateful extremists continue to threaten our security from across the ideological spectrum.’”

The ADL has claimed that Fox News host Tucker Carlson endorsed a racist antisemitic conspiracy theory when he claimed that the Democratic Party is attempting to “replace the current electorate” with “third-world voters” by keeping the southern border open.

The ADL’s Center on Extremism has flagged critics of gender ideology, attacking conservative figures like Chaya Raichik, the Jewish woman behind the influential Libs of TikTok X account.

The ADL has even alerted law enforcement to conservatives who have criticized transgender orthodoxy, such as Manhattan Institute Senior Fellow Chris Rufo and conservative commentator Matt Walsh.

The ADL has faced harsh criticism for adopting many of the Left’s favored causes, often in the name of fighting antisemitism.


Bandy Lee is back

image from

One of Korea's gifts to the USA, she behaved unprofessionally and gave an invalid dagnosis by passing judgment on a person she had not interviewed. She is a disgrace to her profession

The psychiatrist who led efforts in 2017 demanding a 25th Amendment ouster of then-President Donald Trump said she does not have the same concerns about President Joe Biden, despite a Justice Department report last week that said Biden has “diminished faculties.”

Bandy X. Lee, a forensic psychiatrist who edited the 2017 book “The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump: 37 Psychiatrists and Mental Health Experts Assess a President,” told The Daily Signal and the Heritage Foundation’s Oversight Project that Biden’s case is different.

Asked about special counsel Robert Hur’s report, she, “Cognitive decline is a normal part of aging.” But she concluded, “The 25th Amendment question, therefore, is even more relevant to Trump, as long as he wishes to be president again, but neither appropriate nor relevant for Biden at this time.” (Her full comment can be found below.)

The 25th Amendment allows for the vice president and a majority of Cabinet members to determine whether a president should be temporarily removed from office if he is deemed unfit to serve. It would require two-thirds majorities of both houses of Congress to permanently remove the president under the amendment.

The report Hur released on Feb. 8 said Biden “willfully retained and disclosed classified materials after his vice presidency when he was a private citizen” at his home and office. However, Hur said he would not seek charges because Biden would appear to a jury to be an “elderly man with a poor memory” and because his “diminished faculties” make it less likely he intentionally violated the law.

The Hur report says Biden “did not remember when he was vice president, forgetting on the first day of the interview when his term ended … and forgetting on the second day of the interview when his term began.” The report also stated: “He did not remember, even within several years, when his son Beau died.”

After the report, several Republican lawmakers called for using the 25th Amendment to remove Biden from office, just as several Democrats pushed for using the amendment to remove Trump from the presidency


NYC law that would have allowed 800K non-citizens to vote struck as unconstitutional by appeals court: ‘Enacted in violation’

A controversial New York City law that would have allowed 800,000 non-citizens, but legal residents, to vote in municipal elections was struck down as unconstitutional by a state appeals court Wednesday.

“We determine that this local law was enacted in violation of the New York State Constitution and Municipal Home Rule Law, and thus, must be declared null and void,” Appellate Judge Paul Wooten wrote in the 3-1 majority decision.

Wooten said the state constitution broadly refers to only citizens having the right to vote in elections, municipal as well as statewide or for state legislative offices.

“Article IX provides that the elected officials of `local governments’ shall be elected by “the people, which incorporates by reference the eligibility requirements for voting under article II, section 1, applying exclusively to `citizens,'” the judge wrote.

The decision upholds a lower court ruling issued by Staten Island Supreme Court Justice Ralph Porzio in June of 2022, which Mayor Eric Adams and the City Council had appealed.

Writing for the Appellate Division’s 2nd Department, Wooten said if non-citizens are allowed to vote, it stands to reason they could also run for mayor.

He ruled such a dramatic change violated the Municipal Home Rule Law, saying the council and mayor had failed to put the issue on the ballot for voters to decide.

Judges Angela Iannacci and Helen Voutsinas concurred in the ruling.

Judge Lilian Wan issued a dissenting opinion.

“The majority, by deeming the noncitizen voting law invalid, effectively prohibits municipalities across the state from deciding for themselves the persons who are entitled to a voice in the local electoral process,” she wrote.

“The majority’s determination also disenfranchises nearly one million residents of the City, despite the fact that its people’s duly elected representatives have opted to enfranchise those same residents.”

Staten Island Borough President Vito Fossella was the lead plaintiff in the case along with Assemblyman Michael Tannousis (R-Staten Island), among others.

“During a time where nearly 200,000 migrants have flooded our city and streets, disrupting the public and attacking our police officers, my colleagues and I have worked tirelessly to protect our voting laws which were created for citizens of the United States,” Tannousis said.

“Democracy always wins and I am proud to say it was delivered yet again today.”

Rep. Nicole Malliotakis (R-Staten Island) was also among the lawmakers who applauded the decision.

“We determine that this local law was enacted in violation of the New York State Constitution and Municipal Home Rule Law, and thus, must be declared null and void,” Appellate Judge Paul Wooten wrote in the 3-1 majority decision.

“There is nothing more important than preserving the integrity of our election system, and in today’s age, the government should be working to create more trust in our elections, not less,” the congresswoman said.

“The right to vote is a sacred right given only to United States citizens. It is my hope that left wing lawmakers stop pushing these unconstitutional and reckless measures that dilute the voices of American citizens,” she added.

A city Law Department spokesman said, “We’re reviewing the court’s decision and evaluating next steps.”