Monday, April 29, 2024

The surprising sexual kink that is most likely to result in orgasm, new study suggests

Well, what do you know? I had forgotten this. For a couple of years I had a relationship with C.W., an exceptionally good-looking woman with whom I also had an exceptionally good sexual relationship. I am not normally a great sexpot so that is surprising.

I was around 50 at the time but thanks to Viagra, we normally had sex at least twice a night. She once went around at her office job the day afterwards boasting that she had it seven times the night before I may have gone into her seven times but I certainly did not come seven times. She regularly used to go around with the top button of her blouse undone so people would get a glimpse of her big black bra so she would have been believed

And I did tickle her a lot while we were in bed. Her shrieks of laughter would stun other occupants of the house. And, yes, the tickling was a form of foreplay. It led up to intercourse. It was a custom we just hit upon that I attributed to her general good humour so have never done it with anyone else. From what I read below I failed to learn a lesson from my own experience. My present girlfriend is however very ticklish .. ....

Being tickled could be enough to bring on an orgasm, a study suggests.

First-of-its-kind research from Germany involving about 700 adults looked at the relationship between being tickled and experiencing sexual pleasure.

The researchers found that nearly 90 percent said they felt some degree of sexual stimulation from being tickled alone without other stimuli.

And one in four women and men reached orgasm exclusively through tickling.

The team found most participants who found tickling sexually gratifying enjoyed being tickled as children, suggesting that childhood experiences could 'shape their fetishism development.'

Sarah Dagher, study author and a PhD candidate at the University Medical Center of the Johannes Gutenberg University in Mainz, Germany, told PsyPost that the study shows that 'the spectrum of what can lead to sexual pleasure is broader than what we previously thought and extends beyond conventional concepts.'

The researchers recruited participants through a 43-question survey posted on X, formerly known as Twitter. Five 'tickle fetish influencers' also agreed to participate by reposting the survey link and pinning it to their profiles.


‘The Undoing of Civilisation’: What’s Driving the West’s Decline, according to prominent British writer

The key problems the West faces today is not military disarmament—the diminishing of a country’s military strength—but moral disarmament, argued a British pundit.

According to Brendan O’Neill, the chief political writer for London-based Spiked magazine, Western societies are going through a process of “decivilisation,” in which people, particularly the younger generations, are “disconnected from the past and live in utter dread of the future.”

“When your military won’t even say words like ‘strength,’ when your museums are hiding away artifacts, when Shakespeare has been added with loads of trigger warnings in case you get upset at his racist ideas, when the universities are overrun by academics who teach kids to hate the history of the West,” he said in Sydney on April 23.

“You can really see that this is … the institutions of the West destroying themselves in order to appease what they view as the original sins of Western civilisation.”

Speaking at the Centre for Independent Studies, a Sydney-based think tank, Mr. O’Neill said modern societies are facing an “incredibly serious threat” of moral disarmament, the process in which people are “stripping away the values and virtues that once defined who we are as a society.”

“I think the key problem we’re facing today is not necessarily military disarmament or physical disarmament, or not having the right equipment to fight back should they come our way, but moral disarmament,” he noted.

“The pushing aside of the core values and core ideas that [once bring society] together and the embrace of the woke ideology that is incredibly damaging to the confidence of our institutions, the confidence of the people in our society.”

The British author identified decolonisation—which he called “the cleansing of history”—and climate alarmism as the two “most popular” radical trends among the youth.

‘Wokeness’ Prominent Among Australian Youth

Australia is not immune to progressive social trends, and has become increasingly “woke.”

The statues of Captain James Cook—a renowned explorer who charted and claimed the eastern coast of Australia for Britain—have repeatedly become a target of anti-colonial activists.

On the day before Australia Day this year, the British explorer’s statue in St Kilda’s Jaca Boulevard in Melbourne was cut at the ankles and sprayed with the words “the colony will fall” in red paint. On the same day, a statue of Queen Victoria was also defaced and graffitied with a similar message.

[Illiterates! The colony fell in 1901,when Australia ceased to be a colony and became independent

The repeated attacks on the statue have prompted a council officer to suggest its permanent removal due to the serious damage incurred.

Anti-colonial sentiments were also prevalent during the Australian government’s campaign for the Voice proposal, which would establish a permanent Indigenous advisory body to parliament, and amend the constitution to recognise Indigenous people.

Australians emphatically voted against the proposal, with No proponents arguing it would sow further division in the community.

At the same time, governments and corporations have thrown support behind legislations that promote transgender ideology, such as the self-sex ID and conversion ban.

The Western Australian government, for example, became the latest state to introduce a gender recognition bill, which would allow people to legally change their gender without medical surgery. It praised the bill as a “significant legislative agenda” for people who identify as transgender or gender-diverse.

‘The Undoing Of Civilisation’

Mr. O’Neill said it’s tempting to view the rise of woke ideology as the “ideological exuberance” of young people who will “grow out of it eventually.”

However, under the surface, “something very serious” was happening, he said.

“We’re living through what can only be described as the process of decivilisation. The unraveling of the great gains of our society and the great culture of our society and the problematisation of these things as too male, too white, too old fashioned and not really appropriate or fitting to the modern era,” Mr. O’Neill said.

“It’s a vast project of the undoing of civilisation.”

He described civilisation as “a sense of permanence”—connecting with society’s history, being optimistic about the present, and having aspirations for the future.

However, that has been “completely robbed from the young in particular, who are now living in this permanent limbo of dread for what came before them and dread of what might come later,” Mr. O'Neill added.

Younger generations are feeling extraordinarily alienated from their own history, the result of being taught to “hate your own history, hate the old orders, the old museums, the old judges.”

“They live in a kind of limbo now,” the British author said.

“Everything about your past, you are encouraged and in some cases educated to hate, and at the same time, you fear for the future, you dread what is coming down the road.”

“And that is fundamentally the end of civilisation.”


There Are No Adult Leftists

Allen West

Last week I traveled out to Santa Barbara, California, a damn beautiful area, for the purpose of speaking for the Young America's Foundation Rawhide Circle Retreat. The actual event was held at the Alisal Ranch in Solvang, which is a picturesque Danish-themed town in the Santa Ynez Valley.

My flight from Dallas took me to Las Vegas, where I caught my connection, SWA flight 274. I travel mostly on Southwest Airlines and had boarding position A2, meaning I got my prized seat, starboard side exit row aisle! Two gentlemen came along and asked to take the window and middle seat. The one fella in the middle seat was reading a book called “You Dreamed of Empires” by Alvaro Enrigue. Before he began with his book he was checking his news feed on his phone...and then it came.

This fella blurted out to his male partner, “Why don't they just leave the students alone in the tents?” He continued by saying that they were just peacefully protesting against war; he called them anti-war. He further asked when being anti-war became anti-Semitic. He took the position that the school term would be over soon anyway, so just leave them alone.

I suppose my fellow traveler did not understand that Jewish students are not being allowed to attend class at a school like Columbia University, which has $80K/year tuition. They are being told to stay sequestered somewhere and take their classes virtually. Hmm, does anyone smell a lawsuit coming?

Yeah, da ol' Colonel had to bite his lip, but then I realized what the real issue is...there are no adult leftists. Much the same as Peter Pan, they are stuck in a permanent childish, immature, irrational, and imbecile state of mental existence. Obviously, this fella who was sitting next to me did not realize, or perhaps he did and did not care, that if you were truly anti-war, you should not be taking up the position of a designated Islamic terrorist organization, Hamas, that attacked a sovereign Nation, Israel.

This cheeky fella certainly must not have been aware of the chants being proliferated in these “Hamas Youth Camps” that call for the genocide of Jews and the eradication of the Jewish State. That is the essence of anti-Semitism, not free speech. Or maybe this guy was unaware that a Jewish student had his eye nearly gouged out by a “peaceful Hamas youth protester” who stabbed him in the eye with the flagstaff carrying the terrorist banner.

As of Thursday evening at Alisal Ranch, I have not heard a peep from Columbia University alum Barack Hussein Obama on this matter. That silence is deafening, to say the least.

Where are the presidents of these respective universities? Oops, I forgot; everything is examined in context. But the prevailing thing we must understand and accept is that there are no adult leftists. The Department of Homeland Security has made an empty threat to revoke the student visas of foreign students who are expelled. Well, it would require adults in the campus administrations to take the action of expelling these miscreants. Recently, Republican Speaker of the House Mike Johnson went to Columbia University. Where was Senate Majority Leader, Jewish Senator Chuck Schumer? Again, no adult leftists.

Oh, by the way, we now know how dumb Biden's idea about a floating humanitarian pier into Gaza is; Hamas has fired mortars at the US-led engineering effort, and equipment was damaged. Yep, we do not have an adult in the White House. Heck, we do not have a functional person as president, but he can lick a mean ice cream a kid. Refer back to the Peter Pan assertion. I remember back when Nancy Pelosi first took the Speaker's gavel, and she quipped that the gavel was in the hands of the children of America...yep, literally.

The progressive socialist leftists, aka Democrat party, are more concerned about appeasement, negotiating, acquiescing, and compromising with delusional, deranged brats because that is the nature of the progressive socialist left, Marxists. For them, having the electoral patronage of children supporting a terrorist organization is more important than our Nation and our best ally in the Middle East.

See, adults make decisions, especially when it comes to disciplining children. Leftists believe that if your kid thinks they are a different gender, let them be, regardless of the harm and danger. And if you are an American adult and take a different position, then leftists believe you should not have children. Leftists who unfortunately have children allow their biological male kids to jump into swimming pools with the daughters of American adults, and you best accept that. This is why leftists have sought to overturn Title IX because they are not adult enough to tell their kids that this is foolishness. Heck, just like kids, they celebrate this whole delusion. So, what is next? Kids who want to affirm being an alcoholic?

I recall the saying, “Come let us reason together.” But how can you reason with people who have the intellectual capacity of the Scarecrow character from the Wizard of Oz? I could have easily interjected myself into the conversation with the fella on the plane sitting next to me, but his head would have exploded. I could have presented facts and articulated how supporting an Islamic terrorist organization that killed and held Americans hostage is not something we just brush off and appease. I presume he would have had to require the oxygen mask to be deployed for his personal safety.

While I was awaiting my flight at Dallas Love Field, Gate 4, MSNBC was playing “Morning Joe.” There was not a single iota of discussion about what was happening on these college and university campuses and expanding to other areas. The topic de jour was the Donald Trump trials. See, the mindless lemmings and useful idiots that frequent such outlets cannot bear to discuss anything weighty that goes against their dogma. If so, they throw fits and tantrums like a kid in the cereal aisle in the grocery store. Those are the kids whose leftist parents beg and attempt to reason with little John and Jane, throwing themselves on the floor.

I tried that one time with my mom. Elizabeth Thomas “Snooks” West was an adult, and she beat my tail. Guess what, I never did that again. My Dad, the ole World War II Army Corporal, beat me down because I did not speak to the adults sitting on their porches in his hometown of Cuthbert, GA, one day. To this day, I regard people as "Sir" and "Ma'am."

Always remember, the little radicals throwing fits on college and university campuses today will continue the leftist tradition of being stuck in Never Never Land. They believe that a little pixie dust can solve all the problems, and don't want to be bothered with anything tough. That is why the gentleman on Southwest Airlines flight 274 from Las Vegas to Santa Barbara said, “Just leave the kids alone in the tents; they aren't bothering anyone.” Yeah, they just shout out chants of genocide and death to America.

Or until something goes boom in America because the leftists’ kids masquerading as grown-ups have surrendered our national sovereignty, allowing our enemies to enter our Republic. If you think the summer of 2020 was bad, just wait for this summer. Those who remember the DNC convention of 1968, get ready. The radical children from then and the radical children of today. As the wise Jewish King Solomon said in Ecclesiastes, “There is nothing new under the sun.” And no truer words could have been spoken when it comes to Marxists, Islamists, and the lack of adult leftists.

Steadfast and Loyal.


Ideology, education will not protect women from violent men

Only a Leftist with his childish belief in government as a cure-all would think that governments could reliably predict and stop men who kill their women


A 28-year-old NSW woman, Molly Ticehurst, was found dead in her home last Monday. Two weeks prior, a man who had been charged with stalking and raping her appeared before court.

The police prosecutor charged him with a series of serious crimes and told the court his behaviour was “indicative of features in domestic violence offenders that we see often come to light after the most disturbing conclusions to their conduct”.

Despite this warning, he was released on bail.

Ticehurst is among 26 women who have been killed in the first 114 days of 2024. If the rate of violence continues, 2024 will be one of the worst years in recent memory for major crimes against women – with one woman murdered every four days. Despite the cries from the community to do more, and despite Anthony Albanese joining weekend rallies, there is a lack of leadership on what must be done. The current strategy isn’t working, and we need to understand why.

For the past decade or so, the focus of Australian governments has been on “primary prevention” – that is, preventing violence before it occurs. Ad campaigns that encourage boys and men not to slam doors or tell sexist jokes, as well as educational efforts in schools on “toxic masculinity”, are meant to have made a difference. But have they? It doesn’t look like it.

A recent essay co-authored by Walkley Award-winning journalist Jess Hill and UNSW criminology professor Michael Salter offers a sustained criticism of the primary prevention approach, arguing that our national strategy “outsources its results to future generations, and thus gives politicians the cover to adopt platitudes and evade accountability”.

Their central argument is a brave one: reducing inequality between men and women does nothing to reduce violence against women. The axiomatic claim that violence will disappear once inequality disappears is not supported by the evidence. They show that governments’ decades-long focus on gender equality has not moved the needle in terms of reducing violence against women. In fact, the opposite may be true.

The Nordic countries provide a warning. Those nations are all ranked higher in gender equality than Australia and other EU countries, yet also record higher rates of domestic violence and physical or sexual violence against women.

Through its National Plan to End Violence against Women and Children 2022-2032, the Albanese government has made the bold claim that it will work to end gendered violence in just one generation through attitude change, which is measured via surveys. But there are several problems with this plan. One of them, according to Hill and Salter, is its blanket focus on all boys and men – instead of identifying those most likely to offend.

Assigning guilt to the entire male sex may be a waste of time: “Situating all little boys as potential perpetrators not only risks diluting much-needed resources and effort, but it also invites confusion and potentially backlash from boys and young men who were never at risk of hurting their partners in the first place,” the authors write.

One reason it may be a waste of time is because the link between attitudes and behaviour is not clear-cut. We all know examples of high-profile figures (think Harvey Weinstein) whose public behaviour does not match how they act behind closed doors. Similarly, there is no good reason to think responses to a pencil-and-paper survey on attitudes will capture the future likelihood of violence.

To explain why this approach is inadequate, Hill and Salter draw attention to an alarming, yet under-reported trend. Young people aged between 16 and 24, are the most likely cohort to reject problematic attitudes regarding violence against women. Yet within this very age group there has been an alarming increase in sexual offending.

In the past, a child who had experienced sexual assault was most likely to have been targeted by an adult. Today, when a child is sexually assaulted, the perpetrator is most likely to be another child (or adolescent). If attitudes correlated directly with behaviour, we would not be seeing this trend.

Another failure of the strategy is to imagine everyone is equally capable of changing their behaviour as a result of changing their beliefs. “In our current prevention model, there does seem to be a default middle-class subject sitting at the centre of our interventions; a tabula rasa upon which we can imprint the right beliefs and attitudes,” write Hill and Salter.

Such an outlook disregards the harsh realities faced by many boys who later resort to violence. Boys who grow up to use violence are often raised in environments where violence, drug and alcohol abuse are commonplace, and where a general lack of impulse control means beliefs and attitudes are of secondary importance.

Much like teaching table manners to a person with no food, teaching proper attitudes to a person who has failed to develop self-control will be an exercise in futility. If we want to get serious about reducing violence against women, ideological attempts to assign collective guilt need to be discarded. Efforts should instead be redirected into identifying high-risk groups, and providing supports for drug, alcohol and trauma recovery. Perpetrators who have already offended, and who are at risk of reoffending, need to be locked up. They shouldn’t be let out on bail.

Believing educational materials alone can stop violence before it happens is naive. It’s unfair to victims who need governments to take real action to prevent future violence against women by perpetrators who have already been violent.

Commenting on the fact that Daniel Billings was released on bail after being charged with sexual intercourse without consent, stalking and intimidation, NSW Police Commissioner Karen Webb said: “I’ll say from the outset that police share the sentiment of the community. This shouldn’t have happened. And sadly, it’s not an isolated case.”




Sunday, April 28, 2024

Ukraine is forced to haul its fleet of $10million US Abrams tanks back from the frontline after losing five of its stock of 31 with Russia ramping up hunter-killer drone attacks in latest battlefield blow to Kyiv

This would appear to be further evidence that the day of the tank is over amid the availability of modern weapons systems, particularly drones. But drones are slow so are a danger only when fired from a short distance away, before they can be acquired as a target by an air-defence system. As Iran showed recently in their attack on Israel, over a long range, drones are a piece of cake. Any modern fighter can acquire them on its radar and have plenty of time to shoot them down. Britain was shooting down jet-powered long-distance drones (the V1s) in WWII. So anti-drone capability in tanks might make them important again.

It should be noted however that in the Iraq war, Saddam's T72s were wiped out en masse by U.S. Bradley Fighting Vehicles using missiles. So it may be that nothing will save the tank as a war machine. Drones will be the key in future wars

It might be noted however that Abrams tanks have previously been shown as vulnerable when used by non-US forces. That was at the time attributed to two things: That the USA does not export fully-featured Abrams tanks and that the tanks are designed to be used as only one part of combined operations

Ukraine has been forced to sideline US-provide Abrams tanks for now in its fight against Russia, in part because Russian drone warfare has made it too difficult for them to operate without detection or coming under attack.

The US agreed to send 31 Abrams to Ukraine in January 2023 after an aggressive months-long campaign by Kyiv arguing that the tanks, which cost about $10 million apiece, were vital to its ability to breach Russian lines.

But the battlefield has changed substantially since then, notably by the ubiquitous use of Russian surveillance drones and hunter-killer drones - tactics also used to great effect by Ukraine's armed forces.

Those weapons have made it more difficult for Ukraine to protect their American made tanks, which are considered high priority targets by Russian units.

Russian troops claimed to have destroyed the first Abrams tank in Ukraine in February, with several Russian military bloggers sharing a clip of the armour on fire following a drone strike.

Since then, Moscow's forces have honed their approach to tackling Western armour.

Five of the 31 Abrams tanks in Ukraine have been destroyed in the past three months.

The proliferation of drones on the Ukrainian battlefield means 'there isn't open ground that you can just drive across without fear of detection,' a senior US defence official told reporters Thursday.

The official spoke on the condition of anonymity to provide an update on US weapons support for Ukraine before Friday's Ukraine Defence Contact Group meeting.

For now, the tanks have been moved from the front lines, and the US will work with the Ukrainians to reset tactics, said Joint Chiefs of Staff Vice Chairman Adm. Christopher Grady and a third defence official who confirmed the move on the condition of anonymity.


Study found gender-diverse adults were 3 to 6 times more likely to be autistic

I don't question these findings but note that the link is far from universal or automatic. I am pretty disrespectful of social norms but with 4 thoroughly heterosexual marriages under my belt I am certainly not gender dysphoric!

The disorder of gender dysphoria has puzzled scientists for decades: why is it that some people feel they are born in the wrong body, while others don't?

Now, experts speaking to believe one common characteristic among this group, estimated to be in the region of 1.4million Americans, may offer some explanation.

Research has shown those who do not identify with the sex they were assigned at birth are up to six times more likely to be autistic than people without gender dysphoria.

The developmental disorder, which affects how people communicate, socialize and behave, is thought to overlap with gender dysphoria for a variety of reasons.

Several studies have suggested exposure to certain hormones in the womb could increase the likelihood of both problems, while some experts say the link could lie in a shared refrain from conforming to societal norms.

One of the largest studies ever to examine a potential link between ASD and GD involved data from more than 641,000 people.

The study, published in Nature Communications in 2020, found people who do not identify with the sex they were assigned at birth are three to six times more likely to be autistic than people without gender divergence.

Dr Amethysta Herrick, a chemist and trans-education activist, who is a transwoman, told believes this could be because people on the autism spectrum 'have the freedom to explore their identities and express themselves the way they would choose because social norms matter less.'

The 2020 study showed transgender and gender-diverse people scored higher on self-reporting measures of autistic traits, including sensory sensitivity, which is often a characteristic of autism.

Following the study and based on his own observations, Dr Michael Craig, a professor of psychiatry, psychology and neuroscience at Kings College London in the UK, concluded there is an inherent link between gender dysphoria and autism.

Dr Craig, who was also the lead for the NHS National Autism Unit, told The Times: 'There were certainly some days where I was fairly convinced 40 to 50 percent of the patients I was seeing were autistic.

'I was trying to find out what it is that might explain this overlap, but it’s a difficult area to research for all sorts of reasons.'

Overall, he estimated about 20 percent of patients he observed at the Tavistock gender clinic in London might have qualified for an autism diagnosis.

While no definitive connection has been discovered, the authors of the 2020 study proposed several possible links between autism and gender-diversity.

They wrote that autistic individuals may conform less to societal norms compared to people not diagnosed with the condition, 'which may partly explain why a greater number of autistic individuals identify outside the stereotypical gender binary.'

Second, prenatal hormones involved in shaping brain development have been shown to contribute to both autism and gender role behaviors.

Previous studies have examined the link between prenatal hormones and autism. A 2019 study found a link between elevated levels of the female sex hormone estrogen in pregnant women and autism in their children.

Separate studies in both 2015 and 2018 found pregnant women with high levels of certain sex hormones, including testosterone and progesterone, had an increased risk of having a child with autism.

Previous research has also examined whether prenatal hormones play a role in gender dysphoria, with one study suggesting high levels of prenatal testosterone in females and low levels in males may contribute to gender dysphoria.

As the study found that gender-diverse individuals have higher rates of neurodevelopmental conditions, Dr Aaron Reuben, a neuropsychologist, told 'It is plausible that these conditions could be linked, or that there could be overlap among autism and gender dysphoria.


Iran’s Nightmares

Details of Israel’s recent limited retaliatory strike against Iran‘s antiaircraft missile batteries at Isfahan are still sketchy. But nonetheless, we can draw some conclusions.

Israel’s small volley of missiles hit their intended targets, to the point of zeroing in on the very launchers designed to stop such incoming ordnance. The target was near the Natanz enrichment facility. That proximity was by design.

Israel showed Iran it could take out the very antimissile battery designed to thwart an attack on its nearby nuclear facility.

The larger message sent to the world was that Israel could send a retaliatory barrage at Iranian nuclear sites with reasonable assurances that the incoming attacks could not be stopped.

By comparison, Iran’s earlier attack on Israel was much greater and more indiscriminate. It was also a huge flop, with an estimated 99% of the more than 320 drones, cruise missiles, and ballistic missiles failing to hit their planned targets.

Moreover, it was reported that more than 50% of Iran’s roughly 115 to 120 ballistic missiles failed at launch or malfunctioned in flight.

Collate these facts, and it presents a disturbing corrective to Iran’s nonstop boasts of soon possessing a nuclear arsenal that will obliterate the Jewish state.

Consider further the following nightmarish scenarios: Were Iranian nuclear-tipped missiles ever launched at Israel, they could pass over, in addition to Syria and Iraq, either Saudi Arabia, Jordan, the West Bank, Gaza, or all four. In the cases of Jordan and Saudi Arabia, such trajectories would constitute an act of war, especially considering that some of Iran’s recent aerial barrages were intercepted and destroyed over Arab territory well before they reached Israel.

Iran’s strike prompted Arab nations, the U.S., the U.K., and France to work in concert to destroy almost all of Iran’s drones. For Iran, that is a premonition of the sort of sophisticated aerial opposition it might face if it ever decided to stage a nuclear version.

Even if half of Iran’s ballistic missiles did launch successfully, only a handful apparently neared their intended targets—in sharp contrast to Israel’s successful attack on Iranian missile batteries. Is it thus conceivable that any Iranian nuclear-tipped missile launched toward Israel might pose as great a threat to Iran itself or its neighbors as to Israel?

And even if such missiles made it into the air and even if they successfully traversed Arab airspace, there is still an overwhelming chance they would be neutralized before detonating above Israel.

Any such launch would warrant an immediate Israeli response. And the incoming bombs and missiles would likely have a 100% certainty of evading Iran’s countermeasures and hitting their targets.

Now that the soil of both Iran and Israel is no longer sacred and immune from attack, the mystique of the Iranian nuclear threat has dissipated.

It should be harder for the theocracy in Tehran to shake down Western governments for hostage bribes, sanctions relief, and Iran-deal giveaways on the implied threat of Iran’s successfully nuking the Jewish state.

The new reality is that Iran has goaded an Israel that has numerous nuclear weapons and dozens of nuclear-tipped missiles in hardened silos and on submarines. Tehran has zero ability to stop any of these missiles or sophisticated fifth-generation Israeli aircraft armed with nuclear bombs and missiles.

Iran must now fear that if it launched two or three nuclear missiles, there would be overwhelming odds that they would either fail at launch, go awry in the air, implode inside Iran, be taken down over Arab territory by Israel’s allies, or be knocked down by Israel’s tripartite antimissile defense system.

Add it all up and Iran’s attack on Israel seems a historic blunder. It showed the world the impotence of an Iranian aerial assault at the very time Iran threatens to go nuclear. It revealed that an incompetent Iran may be as much a threat to itself as to its enemies. It opened up a new chapter in which Iran’s own soil, thanks to its attack on Israel, is no longer off limits to any Western power.

Its failure to stop a much smaller Israel response, coupled with the overwhelming success of Israel and its allies in stopping a much larger Iranian attack, reminds the Iranian autocracy that its shrill rhetoric is designed to mask its impotence and to hide its own vulnerabilities from its enemies.

And the long-suffering Iranian people?

The truth will come out that Iran’s own theocracy hit the Israeli homeland with negligible results and earned a successful, though merely demonstrative, Israeli response in return.

So Iranians will learn their homeland is now vulnerable and, for the future, no longer off-limits.

And Iranians will conclude that Israel has more effective allies than Iran and that their own ballistic missiles may be more suicidal than homicidal.

As a result, they may conclude that the real enemies of the Iranian nation are not the Jewish people of Israel after all, but their own unhinged Islamist theocrats.


Australia: Do Fact-checkers Check The Facts?

Government should never have the power to determine what is or is not the truth, let alone silence dissenting views. However, what would be even worse is if unelected, unaccountable activists had this power instead.

But that is what the federal government is contemplating under its proposed internet censorship laws.

In private correspondence, released under a Freedom of Information request last year, Federal Communications Minister Michelle Rowland let slip to the Prime Minister how the government’s proposed ‘misinformation’ Bill would operate. The proposed law would empower the Australian Communications and Media Authority to impose huge fines on social media companies that do not censor ‘misinformation’ to the federal government’s satisfaction.

Minister Rowland confirmed that ‘fact-checking’ organisations are expected to play a central role in this new regime, so much so that Acma will be given the power to request information from ‘other persons such as fact-checkers and third-party platform contractors to monitor compliance with misinformation codes, standards and digital platform rules’. Rowland informed the Prime Minister that ‘the draft bill would give effect to this suggested change’.

The Minister has given the game away. It won’t be the social media platforms like Facebook, YouTube or X charged with the censoring. It won’t even be the faceless public servants at Acma. No, it will be these so-called ‘fact-checkers’.

Today, there are three main, self-appointed organisations in Australia claiming ‘fact-checker’ status; RMIT FactLab, AAP FactCheck, and RMIT ABC Fact Check. These organisations already have arrangements with social media companies in which they investigate ‘misinformation’ and if they render a ‘false’ verdict, the social media platforms will censor that content.

But based on Minister Rowland’s comments, ‘fact-checkers’ will in the future play an even more prominent role, as the enforcers of the government’s internet censorship laws. They, in effect, will be given the power of law to be the official arbiters of truth.

These ‘fact-checkers’ are signatories to a code of principles requiring them to be fair and neutral. This includes that they ‘not concentrate their fact-checking unduly on any one side’ of a debate. Last year, the Institute of Public Affairs investigated how well they complied with this requirement during the Voice referendum campaign. Not surprisingly, they failed miserably.

The IPA reviewed 187 fact-checking investigations which related to the Voice referendum, an enormous 91 per cent (i.e. 170) of which concerned the No campaign. 99 per cent of these were deemed ‘false’. Barely half of the other 17 investigations (concerning the Yes campaign) were deemed ‘false’. RMIT FactLab was the standout, worst offender with every one of its 41 investigations concerning the No campaign.

The IPA expanded its research to other policy areas, which revealed the Voice was not some aberration but, rather, confirmed the left-wing bias of these organisations is systemic and entrenched.

In respect to fact-checks about Australian politicians, there have been 249 investigations conducted over the past five years. 65 per cent of these investigations could be seen as favourable to the political left. Only 35 per cent could be seen as favourable to the political right. A 30 per cent margin of difference, in political terms, is enormous.

The research also looked at ‘fact checks’ into Covid-19, and climate change and energy policy. Of the 534 investigations into claims about Covid-19, a staggering 94 per cent targeted critics of official government responses, with just 6 per cent targeting advocates of the official line. So much for holding government to account!

Climate change and energy were no better. Of 153 investigations, 81 per cent were targeted against critics of the official climate change and energy agenda (that is, man-made carbon emissions are harming the planet, and we need to abolish fossil fuels and mandate alternatives in response). Every single one of these were deemed ‘false’, misleading, or missing context. Yet, remarkably, of the 20 investigations conducted by AAP FactCheck into advocates of the climate change agenda, 76 per cent were deemed ‘true’.

Again, RMIT FactLab was the worst. All of its Covid-19 and climate change investigations – 100 per cent – were targeted at critics. A level of consensus any North Korean dictator could be proud of!

It is clear Australia’s so-called, and self-appointed, fact-checkers have no interest in shining a spotlight on official government policies. Rather, they aim to attack critics and amplify official narratives.

This is not journalism. These are some of the most hotly debated and controversial areas of public policy, yet apparently to ‘fact-checkers’ only one side is worthy of investigation.

Predictably, the left-wing media have leapt to the defence of the ‘fact checkers’. An article that appeared in Crikey on 9 April claims that debunking a conspiracy theory doesn’t favour the political left or right but benefits the whole community. Miraculously, the enrichment of society so graciously offered by the ‘fact-checkers’ just so happens to involve targeting politicians on the political right, compared to the left, to the tune of two to one.

It is no surprise that left-wing journalists will attack any criticisms of ‘fact-checkers’. The utopia of the elite class – one that celebrates the modern media, academia and politics – is a world run by experts. Whether dictating where you can move during the Covid-19 pandemic, or deciding what can be said on the internet, the experts know best. With zero self-awareness, the same Crikey article claims, ‘Everything is a team sport to the outlets and politicians waging a war on fact-checkers in which “truth” becomes a trophy to be awarded rather than a fact to be established’.

But hang on, isn’t it the political left which is advocating for a system in which a select group decides on what is, or is not, ‘misinformation’ for the purpose of censoring alternative viewpoints?

Of course, the defenders of ‘fact checking’ would feel differently if these organisations were populated by conservatives. But, proving yet again the modern left is beyond parody, the author of the Crikey article once worked for AAP Fact Check!

These will be the people who determine what is true or false, and what you can or cannot say on social media.

It will, of course, be mainstream Australians who are silenced online if the federal government gets its way.




Thursday, April 25, 2024

The IRS Lied

Your government lied to you; who has seen this movie before? Despite assurances to the contrary to justify their $80 Billion influx in cash in order to hire some 87,000 new agents, the Internal Revenue Service has been caught red handed using the vast majority of the funds to target Americans earning under $200,000 per year.

In August 2022, IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig told senators who were skeptical of the new spending “These resources are absolutely not about increasing audit scrutiny on small businesses or middle-income Americans. As we’ve been planning, our investment of these enforcement resources is designed around the Department of the Treasury’s directive that audit rates will not rise relative to recent years for households making under $400,000.” Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen also vehemently denied the intentions of the IRS in no uncertain terms: “Contrary to the misinformation from opponents of this legislation, small business or households earning $400,000 per year or less will not see an increase in the chances that they are audited.”

Despite these promises by those tasked with managing the American economy, and breathless propagandizing on behalf of the state by corporate media outlets, the Wall Street Journal is reporting that, once again, we have been sold a bill of goods. “President Biden’s plan to hire a new army of tax collectors is falling flat, and the agents already at work are targeting the middle class. As of last summer, 63% of new audits targeted taxpayers with income of less than $200,000,” says the Journal. “Only a small overall share reached the very highest earners, while 80% of audits covered filers earning less than $1 million.”

It turns out the IRS has been unable to hire many new agents. Despite the goal of immediately hiring 3,700 new employees, the agency had only hired 34 in a year. According to a watchdog report, the IRS has lost 8% of its workforce between 2019-2023. Instead, the agency has decided to justify its bloated budget by preying upon working class Americans; a tale as old as time.

The claim by supporters of increased IRS funding that only the extraordinary wealthy would be targeted for audit may have resonated with some naïve voters, but it was always absurd on its face. Tesla/SpaceX founder, and X (formerly Twitter) owner Elon Musk, an opponent of increased IRS funding, said at the time that his taxes are audited every year “by default,” a sentiment echoed by many of the nation’s most successful entrepreneurs. Syracuse University reports that in 2022, Americans in the lowest income bracket were audited at a clip of 12.7 per 1,000, as opposed to a rate of just 2.3 per 1,000 for all other filers. Millionaires, albeit a far smaller sample size, were the only demographic audited at a higher rate than America’s poor, a whopping 23.8 per 1,000.

Janet Yellen, Charles Rettig, and the Biden administration’s lies about IRS funding have predictably gone the way of the Bush 43 administration’s infamous “Saddam Hussein has weapons of mass destruction” and the Obama administration’s “if you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor.” We were told that The Patriot Act would never be used to spy on American citizens, until, of course, it was. American voters would be wise to learn that if a potential government program or spending increase sounds predatory, and looks predatory, it is probably predatory despite claims to the contrary by government officials and their enablers in the media. British theorist Stafford Beer coined the term “the purpose of a system is what it does” (POSIWID.) If the state consistently fails to deliver on its promises, consider the possibility that it is rarely honest about its intentions.


The Latest Plan to Exacerbate California’s Housing Crisis

Against the backdrop of a national shortage of affordable housing, due in large part to government policies, California lawmakers want to restrict corporate investment in single-family rental properties. This would make the Golden State’s housing affordability crisis worse. Since California is often a bellwether for both federal and other states’ policies, renters should hope the flawed idea dies before it spreads.

One California proposal, Assembly Bill 2584, recently introduced by San Jose Democrat Alex Lee, would establish a quota system, banning “institutional investors that own more than 1,000 single-family homes from purchasing additional properties and converting them into rentals.” A second proposal, Senate Bill 1212, introduced by Berkeley Democrat Nancy Skinner, would prevent hedge funds and “other corporate investment entities” from buying single-family homes in California, starting next year.

Both lawmakers claim that deep-pocketed institutional investors, such as private-equity firms, hedge funds and real-estate investment trusts, buy so many single-family homes that first-time and low-income home buyers are priced out of the market. This claim shows how little these California lawmakers understand about the role most institutional investors play in the housing market.

The anticorporate housing crusaders overestimate the influence of institutional investors. According to the nonpartisan California Research Bureau, large institutional landlords own less than 2% of all single-family homes in the Golden State: 60,500 units statewide. Nationally, institutional investors owned only 5% of America’s 14 million single-family rentals in 2022, or approximately 700,000 units, according to MetLife Investment Management. Corporate investors don’t control a large enough share of the housing in any market either to dictate rental prices or to squeeze out desperate home buyers.

Despite their relatively small scale, however, corporate landlords are valuable niche participants in housing markets because they often purchase neglected properties and make them livable again. As Urban Institute researchers have noted, institutional investors can buy distressed homes in bulk, upgrade them and rent them out. Their lower investment costs and specialized expertise allow corporate landlords to make necessary repairs efficiently and economically—realizing economies of scale—expanding the supply of urgently needed move-in-ready rental homes.

The restrictions championed by Mr. Lee and Ms. Skinner would exclude these investors, exacerbating the shortage of affordable, single-family rental houses. Redfin reports that investors spend more than $100 billion nationally each year to buy and rehabilitate single-family homes. The solution to the housing shortage is more investment, not less.

California lawmakers have passed more than 100 laws to spur the construction of additional housing since 2017, yet they have failed to produce the promised construction boom that would drive down home prices. Many of the new laws have done the opposite, undermining the professed goals of affordable-housing champions.

Through their decisions and actions, institutional investors have been telling lawmakers that the way to ameliorate the affordable-housing crisis is to eliminate burdensome restrictions on home building and rehabilitation of existing properties, and to strengthen private-property rights.

Progressive California politicians say they want to restrict corporate investment in single-family rental markets because they think doing so would help everyday renters and home buyers. Instead, their proposals would force financial capital out, reduce the future stock of rental housing and increase rental prices. That isn’t an idea California should export.


Anti-Hunting Laws Have Deadly Consequences

On March 23rd, California brothers, and avid Columbian blacktail deer hunters Taylen and Wyatt Brooks, 21, and 18, respectively, were shed hunting (bucks shed their antlers, typically in February) near Georgetown when they were attacked by a 90 pound male mountain lion. Since no game animals were in season at the time, both brothers were unarmed. The cat charged Wyatt first, knocking him to the ground and biting his face, at that point Taylen began to fight the lion in order to free his brother. Despite saving Wyatt from certain death, Taylen was bitten in the throat and killed by the predator.

“We would like to express our sincere thanks for the outpouring of support and prayers from family, friends and the community,” the Brooks/Welsh Family said in a press release obtained by outdoors/conservation based outlet MeatEater. “We are all devastated by the tragic loss of Taylen yet thankful Wyatt is still with us and are well-aware the outcome could have been even worse.” You can read a detailed report of the events from MeatEater here.

Mountain lion hunting was banned via ballot initiative of the California Wildlife Protection Act in 1990, and while the tragic death of Taylen Brooks was the first deadly lion attack in the state since 2004, there have been numerous attacks by lions including a 2022 instance of a lion breaking into a family’s home and attacking their dog, and a mother’s heroic 2021 fight with a lion in order to save her 5 year old son. Over 100 lions are legally killed annually in the state due to reports of attacks on pets and/or livestock depredation.

New Jersey was recently forced to re-open their black bear hunting season after skyrocketing numbers of bear encounters. Governor Phil Murphy signed an executive order banning bear hunting on state land in 2018, eventually rescinding the order in 2022. “I feel awful,” said the governor, “but I can’t violate what are obvious facts that are potentially undermining public safety, particularly among kids. I just can’t in good conscience go on in this direction.” Four bear attacks have occurred in the state since 2013, one fatal, including a young woman mauled in 2021 while checking her mail, along with hundreds of encounters by bears with pets and property.

Other elected officials seem determined to learn this lesson for themselves. Colorado Governor Jared Polis’s administration, spearheaded by the governor’s husband, vegan anti-hunting activist Marlon Reis, is currently waging a war on the state’s hunting community. If the administration is successful via ballot initiative, it will ban the hunting of mountain lions and bobcats. “The onslaught has now escalated with the Proposed Initiative 91, which aims to strip away the very foundation of Science-Based Wildlife Management. By doing so, it seeks to deprive Colorado’s Wildlife Managers and the sporting community of their rights to manage, pursue, and harvest these well-regulated species” says Coloradans for Responsible Wildlife Management. There have been numerous recent encounters with mountain lions in the Centennial State, including an attack on a man’s front porch in 2022. Colorado has, by far, the largest elk herd in the nation, along with healthy populations of mule deer, white-tailed deer, pronghorn, bighorn sheep, mountain goat, moose, and black bear, all of which would be negatively affected by the banning of big cat hunting.

The North American Model of Wildlife Conservation has been extraordinarily successful compared to conservation efforts anywhere else on Earth, but the work of men like Aldo Leopold and President Theodore Roosevelt is now under attack by adversarial politicians and their strategy of employing direct democracy via uninformed urban voters. Not only do hunting bans undermine the heritage of outdoorsmanship fundamental to the history of the nation, they also put people in danger. Whether it is a symptom of the fact that most Americans now live in major cities and are blissfully unaware of where their sustenance comes from, or the decades of anthropomorphism by Hollywood, anti-hunting legislation must be fought tooth and nail in order to preserve our customs and protect the vulnerable.


Sidney Powell Handed Win After Judges Dismiss Disciplinary Effort by Texas State Bar

Sidney Powell, a lawyer who filed lawsuits after the 2020 election, got a win in Texas after an appeals court ruled that the Texas bar did not prove that she engaged in misconduct or fraud.

A panel of judges on the Fifth District of Texas Court of Appeals in Dallas ruled Wednesday that the state bar’s arguments lacked merit and evidence. They found that state bar prosecutors “employed a ’scattershot' approach to the case” that had alleged Ms. Powell did not have a reasonable basis to file lawsuits that challenged the 2020 election’s outcome in battleground states.

“The Bar employed a ‘scattershot’ approach to the case, which left this court and the trial court ‘with the task of sorting through the argument to determine what issue ha[d] actually been raised,'” Justice Dennise Garcia wrote in the court’s ruling. “Having done so, the absence of competent summary judgment compels our conclusion that the Bar failed to meet its summary judgment burden.”

A separate court had sided with Ms. Powell in the case last year, finding “numerous defects” in the evidence presented by the State Bar of Texas Commission for Lawyer Discipline. The court also found that the bar couldn’t provide evidence that she filed frivolous lawsuits.

“Under these circumstances and on this record, we conclude the trial court did not err in granting Powell’s no-evidence motion for summary judgment,” the appeals court wrote.

The State Bar of Texas Commission for Lawyer Discipline has not yet issued a statement on the matter. A representative for the Texas State Bar told Reuters that the commission would meet to determine its next steps but declined to comment further.

“The Dallas Court of Appeals has affirmed the Texas state court’s dismissal of the Texas Bar’s case against Powell. After three years of litigation, the Court of Appeals held the Bar had no evidence Powell violated any disciplinary rule in filing four federal lawsuits in the aftermath of the 2020 election,” she said in a statement this week after the court’s decision.

In court papers filed with the appeals court, Ms. Powell disputed the bar’s allegations that she provided altered evidence in her legal filings. She said the documents were provided by other attorneys involved in the case.

The court appeared to agree with her arguments. “Regardless of whether the challenged conduct must be knowing, intentional, or otherwise, a question we need not resolve here, it is axiomatic that dishonesty involves some conscious perversion of truth,” the judge wrote Wednesday.

Following the 2020 contest, Ms. Powell was among the most prominent attorneys to file lawsuits, alleging there was enough fraud in battleground states that swung it in favor of President Joe Biden. A federal judge in Detroit sanctioned Ms. Powell and other lawyers in 2021 over the lawsuits.

The 6th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals largely upheld those sanctions, and the U.S. Supreme Court recently declined to hear Ms. Powell’s appeal.

Ms. Powell in October 2023 pleaded guilty in Georgia and took a plea deal with Fulton County prosecutors after she was charged with illegally attempting to overturn the 2020 election results. President Trump, the Republican Party’s presumptive 2024 presidential nominee, has also been charged in the case.

He and more than a dozen other co-defendants in the case have pleaded not guilty. President Trump has said the Fulton County case is an attempt to interfere with the 2024 election, describing the charges as baseless.

Under the terms of her plea deal, Ms. Powell had to write an apology. “I apologize for my actions in connection with the events in Coffee County,” she wrote in the letter, made public in December.

Fani Willis, the embattled Democrat district attorney of Fulton County who presented the charges to a grand jury, said that the apology letters needed to include “real contrition” but that they did not need to be long.

Jenna Ellis, another lawyer who was charged and took a plea deal in Fulton County, also wrote an apology letter. However, she read hers aloud in court while pleading guilty.

In response to Ms. Powell’s apology letter, President Trump wrote on social media last year that Ms. Powell never worked for him in an official capacity.

“Sidney Powell was one of millions and millions of people who thought, and in ever increasing numbers still think, correctly, that the 2020 Presidential Election was rigged & stolen,” he wrote on Truth Social. He added that Ms. Powell “was not my attorney and never was.” If she was, “she would have been conflicted,” the former president wrote at the time.

“Ms. Powell did a valiant job of representing a very unfairly treated and governmentally abused General Mike Flynn, but to no avail. His prosecution, despite the facts, was ruthless. He was an innocent man, much like many other innocent people who are being persecuted by this now Fascist government of ours, and I was honored to give him a Full Pardon,” he added.


Diverse Faith Groups Rally in Support of Bearded Atlantic City Fire Department Staffer

For more than 20 years, Alex Smith has worked for the Atlantic City, New Jersey, Fire Department, dedicating his life to serving his hometown.

In his current position as air mask technician, he fits masks and refills air tanks for firefighters engaged in fire suppression—an important role to ensure their safety while fires are raging.

For more than 20 years, Smith has also served as an ordained minister. He leads Community Harvesters Church, a vibrant local ministry dedicated to showing the love of Christ to the community. He and his church host a food pantry and tend a community garden to offer food and fresh produce for the elderly and financially struggling families.

The church also maintains a beautiful “tiny house” on church property for those in need of shelter.

His compassion also carries over to his fellow employees in the fire department. Smith serves as a chaplain in a program he started to provide a listening ear and spiritual support to those who regularly risk their lives to save others.

Smith’s religious beliefs and conscience require him to wear a beard to set a godly example for his congregation and follow the examples of the prophets and Jesus in Scripture.

Fire department policy, however, prohibits beards of any length.

Because Smith is an air mask technician and does not fight fires himself, he asked the city for a religious accommodation regarding his beard. After the city denied his request, he sued.

In 2023, a district court in New Jersey ruled for the city, concluding that accommodating Smith would be an “undue hardship” for the fire department because Smith could—hypothetically—be needed to fight a fire in the future. The district court ignored evidence that Smith had successfully passed a mask-fit test with his beard multiple times and that the masks used by the fire department are positive pressure masks, meaning that even if there were a slight leak, the firefighter still would not inhale any air contaminants.

But what constitutes an “undue hardship”?

The Supreme Court’s unanimous landmark ruling last year in Groff v. DeJoy determined “undue hardship” means a “substantial increased cost” to an operation or business, far more than the old de minimis standard courts often relied on.

Here, the city cannot show any increased costs because Smith’s beard would have no impact on his co-workers or his ability to safely do his job filling air tanks.

Other fire departments and the military have found ways to safely provide religious or medical accommodations to otherwise clean-shaven requirements. So, why does the city still deny Smith’s request for a religious accommodation, refusing to even engage him in discussions about how he could faithfully live out his beliefs on the job?

Smith has appealed the district court decision to the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

He’s not alone in his conviction that he should not have to choose between his faith and his job. Recently, individuals and organizations representing a broad array of minority faiths filed six friend of the court briefs at the 3rd Circuit in Smith’s support, presenting the views of three Jewish organizations, the American Hindu Coalition, and two Sikh groups, as well as Muslim and Christian law professors and advocacy groups.

These briefs not only pointed out how the district court misapplied the law; they also highlighted a trend in other military, police, and fire department contexts toward safely accommodating religious beards, rather than excluding Sikhs, Muslims, and others from entire career paths.

Also voicing their support for Smith were four firefighters and paramedics—Jewish and Muslim—who in 2007 won a permanent injunction prohibiting Washington, D.C., from enforcing a requirement that they be clean-shaven. Now recently retired or nearing retirement, each worked for the District of Columbia’s fire department for more 30 years.

Some of these D.C. first responders regularly donned protective face masks and entered hazardous situations—something that Smith’s role does not even require. Their brief recounted their experience that first responders need not compromise their religious convictions to serve in the fire department.

Even though Smith doesn’t need to wear a mask to perform his job, Atlantic City still requires that he shave every day to keep his job. All the city’s concerns are hypothetical, but the harm to Smith from the city’s refusal to respect his faith is very real.

Given the robust protections of federal law and the Free Exercise Clause, as well as the experience of other fire departments safely offering religious accommodations to bearded employees, Smith should be allowed to continue to serve his community as an air mask technician while enjoying the religious freedom the law guarantees.




Wednesday, April 24, 2024

Israel wants Hamas out of Gaza but even rooting it from the north hasn’t worked

Fighting between Israel and Hamas intensified in northern Gaza, the first battleground in the war, where 200 days into the conflict territory is still heavily contested and Israel says thousands of militants remain.

The renewed violence, in areas Israeli forces had previously largely cleared of Hamas, serves as a sobering example of the difficulty of consolidating gains as they prepare an offensive in the southern city of Rafah, the militant group’s last major bastion.

Stabilising northern Gaza will take time, said Amir Avivi, a former deputy commander in the Israeli military who oversaw operations in Gaza. “A huge challenge is not the first part, when you go full-scale and control an area: It’s maintaining and deepening that control,” said Avivi. “It’s a different kind of warfare.” Intense clashes have occurred in recent days in the towns of Beit Hanoun and Beit Lahia, close to the fence with Israel, and in Gaza City, which before the war was the enclave’s most populous locale. Residents of the city reported multiple strikes in the Zeitoun neighbourhood.

The Israeli military’s Arabic-language spokesman in a message on X on Tuesday instructed people in the Beit Lahia area to immediately evacuate for their own safety, saying: “You are in a dangerous combat zone.”

Earlier Tuesday, the military said four rockets were launched from northern Gaza toward the Israeli city of Sderot on Tuesday morning, a reminder of the enduring ability of militants to target Israeli territory. All four rockets were intercepted, but a falling piece of shrapnel set fire to a warehouse, according to the local municipality.

Northern Gaza was the site of Israel’s first major operations against Hamas in the wake of attacks by the militants on Oct. 7 that killed 1,200 people, according to Israeli authorities. The Israeli military launched a widespread aerial-bombing campaign there in the immediate aftermath of the attacks on southern Israel before beginning its ground invasion of the enclave in the area a few weeks later. More than 34,000 people have been killed in Gaza, most of them women and children, according to Palestinian health officials. The numbers don’t distinguish between combatants and civilians.

Israel considered northern Gaza the heart of the militant group’s intelligence and operational activities. Most Palestinians at the time fled south for safety at the direction of the Israeli military.

But even as the focus of the fighting gradually shifted south in Israel’s hunt for Hamas militants, northern Gaza remained a stubborn flashpoint in the war. Israeli forces largely dismantled Hamas’s combat battalions operating in northern Gaza, but Hamas fighters regrouped in smaller units, shifting to urban guerrilla-warfare tactics. There are still several thousand militants in northern Gaza, according to an Israeli defence official. Around 300,000 people still live there.

Ghassan Hisham, 43, a resident of Zeitoun, said artillery shelling in the area started on Monday evening and continued into Tuesday. Many of his neighbours fled. “I choose not to because we have a lot of children and adults, and we have nowhere else to go,” Hisham said. The violence was some of the worst he has witnessed since the early months of the war, he said.

Khalil Kahlout, a resident of the Jabalia neighbourhood in northern Gaza City, said that there have been frequent air strikes and shelling in nearby Beit Lahia and Beit Hanoun since Monday morning and that the intensity of the violence has picked up.

“Some residents of Beit Lahia have fled to shelters in Jabalia because of the shelling,” he said. “The bombardment continues.”

The Israeli military on Tuesday morning said it had struck 25 targets across the strip over the past day, including rocket-launch posts.

The clashes in the north come as Israeli forces have temporarily scaled back the number of troops and the intensity of their operations in the Gaza Strip. Earlier this month, Israel’s military said it called up two reserve brigades to the enclave as Israel prepares a ground incursion in Rafah, where they believe Hamas has its four last battalions. That is also where Israeli officials believe some hostages kidnapped from Israel on Oct. 7 are being held.

More than one million Palestinians who have fled the fighting elsewhere in the strip are currently sheltering in Rafah. The city is also the hub for the humanitarian response for the whole of Gaza, where the majority of the population of 2.2 million is suffering from acute levels of hunger and can’t access adequate medical care.

Israel says it will ensure civilians can be evacuated from battle zones before a ground incursion in Rafah, something on which the Biden administration has repeatedly pressed the Israelis.

Israeli forces want to prevent civilians and militants reaching the north when they leave Rafah and are working to bolster their control of the strip of land that cuts the enclave in two.

“That’s important because there is a vast infrastructure of terror in Gaza. Dealing with the remaining tunnels, weapons, and [improvised explosive devices] spread all around will take a long time. It cannot be done if you have hundreds of thousands of citizens moving around,” said Avivi, who is also founder of the Israel Defense and Security Forum think tank.

Talks for a ceasefire have stalled in part over whether Israel will concede to Hamas’s demand to allow the unrestricted return of Gazans to the northern part of the enclave, in addition to the withdrawal of Israeli troops from populated areas – moves that if done in tandem could allow Hamas to regain power in the strip and survive the war.


Even as Americans grow increasingly pessimistic and agitated about their personal finances, Congress is about to ask struggling families to cover the cost of more funding for Ukraine.

Ukraine aid just prolongs the war. Very foolish

The $95 billion foreign aid package adopted Saturday by the House and facing near-certain passage in the Senate includes an additional $61 billion for Ukraine. Once added to the money already appropriated for Ukraine since 2022, the United States will have spent approximately $173 billion.

That translates to more than $1,300 per American household, according to Heritage Foundation economist Richard Stern, director of the Grover M. Hermann Center for the Federal Budget.

“This will continue to drive higher inflation and interest rates and increase the cost of living for Americans,” Stern told The Daily Signal. “No matter where you live, every American family will pay the price.”

Stern explained that the funding isn’t offset with spending cuts and will instead be added to “the national credit card and by printing cash out of thin air at the Fed.” He warned that it will devalue the U.S. dollar as well as the paychecks and life savings of all Americans.

After three years of Bidenomics, Americans are feeling exasperated about the economy, pollster Scott Rasmussen discovered in an RMG Research survey conducted earlier this month.

Only 19% of Americans surveyed say their personal finances are improving. That number has dropped five percentage points since January and is at its lowest point in 18 months.
Nearly half, 44%, say their personal finances are getting worse.

By comparison, just 20% believe their incomes are keeping pace. That number is at its lowest level since September 2022.
Heritage Action for America Executive Vice President Ryan Walker lamented that Washington politicians appear disconnected from the economic struggles of many Americans. Speaking to “The Daily Signal Podcast,” Walker said Congress’ latest spending spree will negatively affect Americans’ personal finances.

“The American people see it at the grocery store, they see it on their credit card bills, they see it in their mortgage rates, they see it in their credit card rates. They experience this on a daily basis,” Walker said. “Many people in Washington, D.C., may be so disconnected from the struggles of the average person in their community that they don’t take those factors into consideration. And they should.”

While frustration mounts among everyday Americans, lawmakers in Washington will soon have spent more on foreign aid to Ukraine than the annual wages paid to every American manufacturing worker who produces motor vehicles, vehicle parts, and other transportation equipment. It’s also more than the annual wages paid to every American worker in all agriculture, mining, and oil and gas extraction industries, Stern calculated.

With the Senate set to approve $61 billion more for Ukraine—along with $34 billion for Israel and the Indo-Pacific—lawmakers have made no attempt to offset the additional spending. On its own, the $95 billion package would cost $730 per household.

“Every time the federal government spends money, it forcefully takes that money from hard-working Americans,” Stern explained. “Even if you don’t pay federal income taxes, you still pay through inflation taxes and slower overall economic growth.”

The consequences of profligate spending aren’t just reflected in the national debt, already at $34.6 trillion and growing at a record pace. Stern noted that high interest rates for mortgages, for example, force some Americans out of the housing market or make it more costly for others to buy a home.

When the government borrows money this way, driving interest rates higher, it does so by promising to tax someone else or print more money in the future, Stern said.

As the government is now planning to lift yet another $95 billion out of the economy, the storm clouds are gathering. Mortgage rates jumped 0.2 percentage points in just a week. Chase Bank CEO Jamie Dimon and other leading bankers see mortgage rates climbing to about 8% with credit card debt already at record levels.

“Never forget,” Stern said, “the government has a monopoly on legal violence and doesn’t have any reason to care about your quality of life.”

Rasmussen’s poll was conducted by RMG Research from April 3-4. It surveyed 1,000 registered voters and has a plus or minus 3.1 percentage point margin of error.


Former British PM Liz Truss Warns About Global Threat of the Left

Liz Truss served as prime minister of the United Kingdom and leader of the Conservative Party from September to October 2022. She is the author of “Ten Years to Save the West.”

Former British Prime Minister Liz Truss spoke Monday at The Heritage Foundation about how the United States and the United Kingdom are facing very challenging forces in the global Left, not just in terms of their extremist activists, but also in the power they hold in our institutions. (Heritage founded The Daily Signal in 2014.)

She warned that conservatives must create a stronger infrastructure to take on the Left—which is well-funded, activist, and has many friends in high places—by recruiting more conservative activists and candidates who can fight in the trenches in the ideological war that we now face.

Excerpts from her remarks are below.

Why am I launching “Ten Years to Save the West” in the United States as well as in the United Kingdom? Well, I like to think of the United States of America as Britain’s greatest invention, albeit a slightly inadvertent invention. And if you look at our history, from Magna Carta to the Bill of Rights to the American Constitution, we have developed and perfected representative democracy.

And if you look at what is going on in our societies, first of all, the Brexit vote back in 2016 and then the election of President Donald Trump later that year, you can see the same desires of our people for change and the same desires for those conservative values and that sovereignty.

And if you look at the battle for conservatism now and the frequency with which we get new prime ministers in the United Kingdom and the frequency with which you get new speakers of the House here in the United States, we can see again that there is a battle for the heart and soul of conservatism on both sides of the Atlantic. And I think that battle is very important. Because, let’s be honest, we have not been winning against the global Left.

If you look at the history since the turn of the millennium, the Left have had the upper hand. And it’s not the old-fashioned Left who used to argue about the means of production and economic inequality. It’s the new Left who have insidious ideas that challenge our very way of life.

Whether it’s about climate extremism that doesn’t believe in economic growth, whether it’s about challenging the very idea of a man and a woman and biological sex, whether it’s about the human rights culture that’s been bedded into so much of our society that makes us unable to deal with illegal immigration—those new ideas have been promulgated by the global Left and they have been successful in infiltrating quite a large proportion of society and a large part of our institutions.

Let’s just look at the state of economics. I am a supply-sider. I know that it works. We saw it work under [U.S. President Ronald] Reagan and [U.K. Prime Minister Margaret] Thatcher, and yet we’ve seen the domination of Keynesian economics in recent years, bloated size of government, huge debts in both of our countries.

On the immigration and human rights culture, look at what is going on now on American university campuses where it is not safe anymore to be Jewish, or the streets of London where a Jewish man could not cross the road during yet another appalling protest, or the fact that we can’t seem to deport illegal immigrants either from your southern border or the small boats that are crossing the channel.

Or take wokery, another bad neo-Marxist idea developed from [Michel] Foucault and all those crazy post-modernists in the 1960s, the idea that biological sex is not a reality.

We now have President [Joe] Biden introducing regulations around Title IX, which means that girls could see biological boys in their changing rooms, in their locker rooms, in their school restrooms and not be able to do anything about it. And if they complain about it, they could be the ones guilty of harassment. How on earth can that be happening in our society?

Or the climate extremists who aren’t satisfied with just stopping coal-fired power stations here in America, [liquefied natural gas] terminals being built, fracking in the United Kingdom, but want to go further. Whether it’s imposing electric vehicles or air-source heat pumps or extra taxes on the public. Meanwhile, our adversaries in China are busy building coal-fired power stations every week.

I see that as unilateral economic disarmament in the middle of what is a various, serious threat to the West.

So how has it ended up that after the turn of the millennium, despite the fact that we have many conservative intellectuals and politicians, why have our institutions, why has so much of our public discourse shifted to the Left?

Well, first of all, too many conservatives have not been making the argument. Now, I call them conservatives in name only, CINOs. I know in America you call them RINOs. But these conservatives in name only, rather than taking on those ludicrous ideas, instead have tried to appease and meet them halfway.

Why have they done this? Well, first of all, they don’t want to look mean. They don’t want to look like they’re against human rights. They don’t want to look like they’re against the environment. They don’t want to be mean to transgender people. They’ve allowed those arguments to affect their views on what is right and wrong. But it’s also more cynical than that.

If you want to get a good job after politics, if you want to get into the corporate boardroom, there are a group of acceptable views and opinions that you should hold. And most of them are on that list. If you want to be popular and get invited to a lot of dinner parties in Washington, D.C., or London, there are reviews on that list that you should hold. And people have chosen dinner parties over principle.

But the other thing I think we’ve missed on the conservative side of the argument, and I put my hands up to this, is the rising power of the administrative state. The fact that power—which previously lay in the hands of democratically elected politicians, like them or not they can be voted out of office—is now in the hands of so-called independent bodies, whether it’s central banks, whether it’s government agencies, or whether it’s the civil service themselves.

And what we’re seeing in bureaucracy in the United Kingdom, and I think here in the United States as well, is a growing activist class of civil servants who have views on transgender ideology or climate or human rights, which they are keen to promote in their roles.

I saw this firsthand and one of the key points the book is about is my battles that I had with that institutional mindset. And there’s a phrase that we use in Britain called “consent and evade.” Quite often the officials will be very polite on the request, but it will take a very long time to do if it’s something like helping deport illegal immigrants or sort out the Rwanda scheme. If it’s something that they like, like dealing with climate change, that will be expedited.

And I think it’s very difficult for people who haven’t worked in government to understand just how cumbersome and how treacle-like it has become. And I don’t know if that’s a product of the modern era, if it’s a product of the online society, but it is very, very difficult now to deliver conservative policies.

Now, I did many jobs in many different government departments. I was in the justice department, the environment department, the education department, the treasury, I was in trade, I was in the foreign office, and I faced battles against activist lawyers, against environmentalists, against left-wing educationalists.

But what I thought when I ran to be prime minister in 2022 is I thought I had the opportunity to change things because that was surely the apex of power. I hadn’t been able to change it as environment secretary or trade secretary, but as prime minister, surely that was the opportunity for me to be able to really change things.

Now, there’s a bit of a spoiler alert about the book. It didn’t quite work out. I ended up being the shortest-serving British prime minister as a result of trying to take on these forces. And the particular thing that I tried to take them on was the whole issue of our economy.


I come today with a warning to the United States of America. I fear the same forces will be coming for President Donald Trump if he wins the election this November. There is a huge resistance to pro-growth supply-side policies that will deliver economic dynamism and help reduce debt.

What the international institutions and the economic establishment want to see is they want to see higher taxes, higher spending, and more big government, and more regulation. They do not want to see that challenged. And we’ve already heard noises from the Congressional Budget Office and elements of the United States market about the financial stability situation.

So, what have I learned from my experience? What have I learned from my time in office? I have learned that we are facing really quite challenging forces of the global Left, not just in terms of their virulent activists making extremist documents, but also the power they hold in our institutions. And that leads me to believe that what conservatives need is what I describe as a bigger bazooka.

Now, what do I mean by a bigger bazooka? Well, first of all, I mean that we need really strong conservative political infrastructure to be able to take on the Left. They are well-funded, they are activists, they have many friends in high places. And we need strength and depth in our political operation.

That’s why I’m working on a new political movement in the U.K. called Popular Conservatism, which is about bringing in more activists, more candidates, more potential legislators, more operators who can actually fight in the trenches against the Left in the ideological warfare that we now face.

The second thing we need to do is we need to dismantle the administrative state. And there are lots of people I speak to who say, “It’s just because you ministers aren’t tough enough. If only you were a bit bolder in taking on things, if only you had a bit more political will, you would be able to deliver.”

Those people are not right. Until we actually change the system, we are not going to be able to deliver conservative policy such as the depths of resistance in our institutions and our bureaucracy that we do have to change things first.

And what does that mean? Well, you’re ahead of us in the United States in that the president gets to appoint 3,000 people into the government positions. In Britain it’s only 100 people. And those 100 people are relatively junior. They’re not in charge of departments. So, I believe we need to change that in Britain. We need to properly appoint senior figures in our bureaucracy.

We also need to deal with the proliferation of unaccountable bureaucratic bodies. They have to go. There has to be a real bonfire of the quangos.

But even here in the United States, policies like Schedule F are going to be very, very important in order to be able to deliver a conservative agenda. And the project that Heritage is sponsoring, Project 2025, is another vital part of building that institutional infrastructure that can actually deliver conservative policies. Having seen what I’ve seen on both sides of the Atlantic, I think both of those things are vital in order for conservative policies to deliver.

But we can’t just deal with the administrative state at a national level because what we’ve also got is the global administrative state. We have the United Nations, the World Health Organization, we have the [Conference of the Parties] process.

And one of the things I tried to do was stop Britain hosting COP in Glasgow. I failed. But I want to see us in the future abandon that process. The best people to make decisions are people that are democratically elected in sovereign nations. It is not people sitting on international bodies who are divorced from the concerns of the public.

The final thing conservatives need to do is end appeasement. And by ending appeasement, I’m talking about the appeasement of woke Orwellianism at home as well as the appeasement of totalitarianism abroad. We have to do both of those things because both of those things are threatening our way of life.

Totalitarian regimes like China, Russia, and Iran have to be stood up to, the only thing they understand is strength. And now the military aid budget has been passed through Congress. There needs to be more clarity about how Russia can be defeated and how China and Iran will also be taken on. And in order to achieve that, we are going to need a change in personnel at the White House.

Now, I worked in Cabinet whilst Donald Trump was president and while President Biden was president. And I can assure you, the world felt safer when Donald Trump was in office. 2024 is going to be a vital year, and it’s the reason that I wanted to bring my book out now. Because getting a conservative back in the White House is critical to taking on the global Left. And I hate to think what life would be like with another four years of appeasement of the woke Left in the United States, as well as continued weakness on the international stage.

But my final message is that winning in 2025 or winning in 2024 and going into government in 2025 is not enough. It’s not enough just to win. It’s not enough just to have those conservative policies. That there will be huge resistance from the administrative state and from a Left in politics that has never been more extremist or more virulent.

And that is why it will need all the resources of the American conservative movement, think tanks like Heritage, and hopefully your allies in the United Kingdom to succeed. But you must succeed because the free world needs you.


Australian unions’ vile anti-Israel diatribe

As Jewish families leave an empty place at their Passover tables in memory of the hostages still missing at the hands of Hamas, comments by ACTU president Michele O’Neil and secretary Sally McManus about Israel are ignorant. The pair have ignited a battle with Australia’s Jewish community, calling for the Albanese government to end military trade with ­Israel, enforce sanctions against Israeli government officials and ­inject a further $100m of humanitarian aid to Gaza and the West Bank. Bob Hawke, a former ACTU president who warned “If the bell tolls for Israel, it won’t just toll for Israel, it will toll for all mankind”, would be horrified.

In demanding immediate recognition of a Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital, the union bosses do not appear to understand why a two-state solution is out of the question until Hamas, a proscribed terrorist organisation that controls Gaza, is defeated. Or does it not bother Ms O’Neil and Ms McManus that Iran is running a war to annihilate Israel through proxies, including Hamas, and is an implacable opponent of the US and its allies? The ACTU is living in “an alternative reality”, Zionist Federation of Australia president Jeremy Leibler said.

The union bosses’ views are immoral in view of the brutality and values of Hamas, seen in the unprovoked attack that killed 1200 people in Israel on October 7 and in the terrorist group’s kidnappings of 250 Israelis. The comments are contrary to Australia’s strategic and economic interests, and could help fuel anti-Semitism that has reared its ugly head in the past six months.

Israel, the Middle East’s only democracy, has superior military technology and outstanding intelligence capabilities. It has been a staunch Australian ally for more than 75 years and has “shared intelligence with us and thwarted terrorist attacks against our own interests, including against members of the Australian Defence Force”, as Peter Dutton said in his Tom Hughes Oration in Sydney a fortnight ago. In July 2017, a tip from Israeli intelligence helped authorities stop a plot to blow up an Etihad Airways flight from Sydney to Abu Dhabi with a bomb smuggled in a meat grinder. Two brothers behind the plot were sentenced to 40 and 36 years’ jail.

Nor is the ACTU’s opposition to Australian companies supplying parts used in supply chains for F-35 fighter jets legitimate. Doling out bad advice on foreign and strategic policy is not the ACTU’s role, which is promoting the pay and conditions of its members. Rank-and-file workers deserve better from highly paid leaders who are remote from the interests of the nation and its allies. The Albanese government should ignore these officials’ rantings.