Thursday, May 30, 2024

Sexual Assault Survivor’s Ordeal WIth Trans Inmate in Female Prison

A sexual assault survivor gave an inside look at living in a female prison with male criminals who say they identify as transgender in a new documentary released Tuesday by the Independent Women’s Forum, a conservative group.

The six-minute documentary, part of Independent Women’s Forum’s “Cruel & Unusual Punishment: The Male Takeover of Female Prisons” series, focuses on the story of Evelyn Valiente, a sexual assault survivor and former inmate at the Central California Women’s Facility. Valiente, who uses a pseudonym to protect her identity, was forced to share a housing unit with a male inmate who said he identified as a woman while serving time for killing someone in a shooting.

“At first I thought it was going to be OK [but] it didn’t take long before this one particular individual was manipulative, calculating, vindictive, and always looking and seeking to do harm to another person,” Valiente said of the “trans” inmate, who had a history of sex crime convictions.

In 2020, California Gov. Gavin Newsom, a Democrat, signed legislation requiring the state’s prison system to house inmates based on their gender identity and not their biological sex. Under the law, corrections officers are required to ask inmates privately how they identify and then work to house them accordingly.

Before her time in prison, Valiente had been sexually assaulted. She said that being in the same housing unit as an individual who had been convicted of sex crimes, as well as other men, made it “scary” not only for her but for many other women who had “come from very abusive backgrounds.”

“It’s a lot of walking in trauma,” Valiente said.

Andrea Mew, storytelling manager for Independent Women’s Forum and co-producer of the documentary series, told the Daily Caller News Foundation that although California lawmakers claimed that the transgender inmate bill was about keeping inmates safe, the law actually further victimized women in prison who often have been abused previously.

“It’s really interesting that California, at the same time that they are focusing on being all about rehabilitation, are subjecting women to being retraumatized by a lot of their personal triggers,” Mew said. “Many women who are in prison are victims of sexual assault, emotional abuse, physical abuse, and having men in their spaces can be a very big trigger for them. At the same time, it’s allowing violent male criminals to have unbridled access to, in many cases, the thing that got them there in the first place.”

Currently, five states—Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, California, and New Jersey—as well as New York City have passed laws allowing men who say they identify as women to be housed in women’s prisons. However, other states, such as Wisconsin, reportedly moved biologically male offenders who say they identify as transgender into all-female facilities despite their violent criminal histories.

In September 2023, a female inmate sued the Edna Mahan Correctional Facility in New Jersey after she said she was assaulted in prison by a male inmate identifying as transgender. Another female inmate from New York City filed a lawsuit in January, claiming that a prison official instructed a male inmate who reportedly sexually assaulted her to say he identified as transgender so he could have “access to female inmates.”

Mew said she and co-producer Kelsey Bolar wanted viewers to imagine how they would feel if someone they loved in prison was forced to share a cell or a housing unit with a transgender inmate who had a history of violence.

“People need to put themselves in the shoes of people who are in prison and just imagine yourself in there, imagine your own daughter in there,” Mew said. “There are a lot of things that could happen that could get you into prison that are complete accidents, so imagine yourself or your own daughter is in that sort of accident. Put yourself in the shoes of the person there and think about how it would feel if you’re being physically, emotionally, and, in some cases as we’ve seen, sexually threatened by male criminals while you’re just trying to do your time and get home.”


The unsinkable Kamala Harris

Scarcely four weeks from the first presidential debate of 2024, Democrats dream of President Biden’s stepping aside for a more appealing candidate. But there is a hitch.

For starters, a convention switcheroo is all but impossible unless the president agrees — and he and the rest of the Biden family show no sign they’re ready to go.

And even if someone did manage to persuade Mr. Biden stepping aside was the right thing to do, there’s a bigger problem. Her name is Kamala Harris, and identity politics gives her an effective veto over any plans to swap out candidates.

It’s an extraordinary power considering her political weakness. A Bloomberg/Morning Consult poll released last week reported that she is now the favoured replacement on the Democratic ticket if President Biden were to step down.

But when it came to head-to-head match-ups with Donald Trump in seven swing states, the same poll reported Ms. Harris trailing in all of them, by margins ranging from 3 points in Michigan to 10 in North Carolina.

That’s not surprising in light of her performance these past four years. Whenever Ms. Harris has been in the news, it’s typically been for her high staff turnover or the word salads she serves up regularly.

The one significant portfolio Mr. Biden gave her was the border with Mexico. She made one visit, and has since given it a wide berth. She rightly recognises it’s a loser for the Biden administration. But for all her insistence that she’s dealing with the “root causes” driving the illegal crossings, the whole country understands that the problem has metastasised under her watch.

So if the party is to have a stronger ticket heading into November, it probably means dumping both Mr. Biden and Ms. Harris. But that raises the uniquely Democratic problem of identity politics. Could the Democratic Party today really pass over its black, female, Indian-American vice president for any one of the white candidates usually mentioned as replacements for Mr. Biden?

Even the vice president’s estranged father has been critical. When Ms. Harris in a radio interview invoked her dad’s side of the family to explain that she had both smoked pot and inhaled — “half my family’s from Jamaica!” — her dad, a retired Stanford economist, complained that their ancestors were having their names tarnished “in the pursuit of identity politics.”

It helps to remember how she got her job, after being forced to drop out of the Democratic primaries before a single vote was cast. Back in March 2020, before Mr. Biden tapped Ms. Harris to be his running mate, he announced he would choose a woman. This followed a similar promise before the South Carolina Democratic primary to appoint an African-American woman to the Supreme Court. In short, Mr. Biden has made no bones about his appeals to identity politics to get votes.

This embrace of identify politics may have been cynical, but it worked. Black voters, who constitute the majority of Democrats in South Carolina, rescued Mr. Biden after an embarrassing fourth-place showing in the Iowa caucuses and fifth-place showing in New Hampshire.

Now Ms. Harris is on the campaign trail trying to shore up the president’s standing with women and African-Americans. Support for Mr. Biden has been slipping with the latter demographic, which he really needs to turn out for him if he is to defeat Mr. Trump. So giving Ms. Harris the old heave-ho in favour of a white politician such as California Gov. Gavin Newsom or Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer would probably backfire and further divide the party.

The only way Democrats might get away with it at this point is to nominate Michelle Obama. But the former first lady shows no desire to insert herself into the election mess that Mr. Biden has created for himself.

That leaves the vice president untouchable. Perversely that probably helps Mr. Biden because it means that Democrats who are calling for him to step down must think twice if Ms. Harris is the replacement. And if she’s not, they face the prospect of heading into the election having alienated a large chunk of Democratic voters.

Martin Luther King Jr. looked forward to an America where people would be judged by the content of their character rather than the colour of their skin. Identity politics works the other way. In the Biden White House, people selected for their racial or gender identities are politically difficult to let go if it turns out they aren’t up to the job — because that isn’t why they were hired in the first place.

By making clear that he cared less about whether his picks were the best than he did about whether they checked some identity box, the president unfairly cast doubt on the competence of all such hires. The result is what the nation now sees with Ms. Harris, clearly in over her head but impossible to dislodge.

May is Asian-American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander Heritage month. At a Rose Garden celebration earlier this month to mark the occasion, the president introduced himself to the crowd with a joke. “My name is Joe Biden,” he said. “I work for Kamala Harris.”

His embrace of naked identity politics means it’s truer than he knows.


How Indian PM Modi has turned the digital state to his advantage

When the party workers showed up in Deepak’s village, they already knew his name. “They had it on their phones,” the elderly farmer said. “They knew how much rice we were supposed to get and how many rupees. They reminded me it was thanks to Mr Modi.”

The digitisation of the Indian state, with a universal identification programme and online banking for all, has been one of the greatest transformations of Narendra Modi’s decade in power. But as India has gone to the polls over the past six weeks, to decide whether he deserves a third term, the digital state has emerged as one of the most powerful tools in the hands of his Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), leaving opposition rivals crying foul and rights advocates warning that the population is sleepwalking into an authoritarian trap.

Micro-targeting, pioneered in the United States by the Obama campaign, is nothing new. The Cambridge Analytica scandal followed, exposing how the personal data of millions of Facebook users was harvested without their consent and used to support Donald Trump’s first push for the White House.

In India, the vast bulk of the information making its way into the hands of the BJP has been surrendered by voters signing up to the government apps that facilitate their everyday lives. Vast government databases of citizens’ details have been transferred into the hands of the ruling party for use in the campaign machine and by favoured private companies. While the governments of individual, opposition-led states have sought to do the same, taking control of the national database has given the BJP an advantage rivals can only dream of.

“Party workers should not have access to data the government has collected for state programmes,” said Prateek Waghre, executive director of the Internet Freedom Foundation, a digital rights group. “What we’re finding is party workers themselves taking this information and going to someone to say, ‘Hey, we know you received so and so, you benefited from the government’.”

By which they mean Modi personally, a towering figure whose image adorns rice ration packs, looming larger than any distant bureaucracy.

Now 73, Modi’s tech savvy goes back more than a decade to his last run for chief minister of Gujarat. Before his ascendance to the national stage, he appeared in hologram form at rallies in villages across the western state. Modi has his own app, NaMo, which comes pre-installed on low-cost Indian-made phones and became the centre of a 2018 privacy row when it was found that it scraped data from users’ devices.

Such data is particularly sensitive in a political climate characterised by communal divisions. At campaign rallies, Modi has stoked resentment against Muslims and accused the opposition of wanting to withdraw welfare from lower-caste Hindus and give it to their Muslim “vote bank”.

Minorities fear the reverse. While beneficiaries receive welfare irrespective of religious or caste identity, India’s polarised climate has given rise to fears the data could be used to micro-target payments selectively.

One of the greatest fears about the misuse of technology in the elections - AI-generated deepfakes - has not yet come to pass.

Deepfakes of the Bollywood stars Ranveer Singh and Aamir Khan endorsing political candidates did the rounds before state elections last year but were later taken down. Modi himself warned of the threat when he mistakenly believed himself to be a victim. A video appearing to show him dancing turned out not to be AI-generated but an old-fashioned impersonation by a Modi lookalike.

Waghre says such stunts are far more likely to be the work of private actors than political parties, for whom the reputational risks would be huge. “I’m more concerned about the loss of trust, where something is actually real and people don’t believe it,” he said.

That has already happened in the case of a BJP candidate in Uttar Pradesh who was filmed making a “let them eat cake"-style remark about the poor. Supporters denounced it as fake.

The relative absence of AI-generated misinformation is partly due to the industry’s self-policing, according to Divyendra Singh Jadoun. Known as The Indian Deepfaker, he runs an AI company in Rajasthan making products such as micro-targeted video messages in which candidates address voters by name.

“This is the first time we’ve done these political scenarios but we’ve had to turn down the vast majority of requests because what they are asking is unethical,” he said, referring to propositions that he deepfake a candidate’s rival making career-ending statements.

With the Indian election ending on Saturday, Jadoun is fielding a flood of requests from foreign political campaigns for his services, a mark of India’s global reach in the tech service sector. “So many countries are having elections, including the US, so many people are reaching out to us,” he said. “We’re still considering whether to do it.”


Nurses head off prostate cancer admissions

Hmmm ... I am not sure that prostate cancer sufferers will get good advice from nurses. Although I feel perfectly well, I have both prostate cancer and bone cancer: A penalty of old age. I saw a urologist about the prostate cancer but she was not very helpful. But the oncologist was. He prescribed something -- Xtandi -- that fixed my symptoms without any side-effects. So if even medical specialists can be unhelpful, what hope is there for nurses? Better than nothing, I guess

Emergency departments have seen a 60 per cent reduction in admissions from men suffering from prostate cancer who receive the care of specialist nurses, a groundbreaking report has shown, sparking calls to expand the service.

The findings from an independent report by the University of Queensland’s Centre for the Business and Economics of Health has also revealed providing specialist nurses to prostate cancer patients saves the healthcare system up to $20m each year.

Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia director of nursing Sally Sara, who is calling for the service to be expanded, said the hospital-based program provides an expert to turn to, as opposed to the emergency room.

“It’s about having that primary point of contact who men can to speak to on the phone, talk about what’s going on and get some advice before things become a problem,” Ms Sara said.

“Specialist nurses can initiate action early so issues are called and treated early before they get to the stage where someone might be quite unwell and ends up being admitted to hospital.

“It may be as simple as a man ringing a nurse after surgery and describing symptoms that sound like an infection, and the nurse can fax a pathology company so he can go straight away,” she said.

Prostate cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in the country, with 70 Australian men diagnosed each day.

Ms Sara has overseen the program grow from a 12-person pilot study 12 years ago to a nationwide service with 110 nurses based in all major regional areas and capital cities – trained by prostate cancer experts like herself.

She said the findings indicate an extension of the program will further benefit an overburdened healthcare system and the wellbeing of Australian men.

“The report recognised that having these nurses really helped with hospital avoidance and it came straight from the horse’s mouth. It’s oncologists, urologists, and other health professionals who are reporting back to us saying they noticed that since these positions have been in place, those unplanned admissions have dropped because of early intervention,” Ms Sara said.

“There is excellent evidence that the program itself has generated a positive return financially but also that there is a really big impact in health related quality of life … men have contacted us and said they wouldn’t be alive if it wasn’t for the nurse who kept them going, encouraged them to go to the appointments, or let them talk through their worries.

“It is a very trusted relationship the prostate cancer nurses build with the men they care for and their families as well.”

Husband, father, and Gulf War Naval veteran Paul Bain, 54, said highly-trained specialist nurses were helping men identify and cope with a disease that often goes unnoticed.

“As someone who’s going through having to deal with all the implications of the disease, a situation for me that came out of left-field completely, it has been quite a journey through various stages of treatment, emotion, and mental and physical fatigue that we’ve got to deal with,” Mr Bain said.

“We all appreciate nurses and people in the health community in general but to have some of these specialists that are obviously focused on the intricacies around this particular disease is just fantastic and good peace of mind during what can be a really tricky time.”

Mr Bain was first diagnosed with prostate cancer in June 2020 after his doctor decided to give him a prostate-specific antigen test (PSA) during a routine check-up, simply because of his age.

The Royalla father was fit, healthy, and asymptomatic despite having an aggressive form of cancer doctors said would have killed him before Christmas that year if not for the discovery.

Four years later, Mr Bain is recovering from another round of radiotherapy after the cancer metastasised to his ribs. He said his story speaks to the value of specialist care and greater awareness about the disease.

“Men aren’t great with talking about their health and if they don’t have support networks or family around them as they go through (cancer) it can be really difficult to deal with,” he said.

“The nurses have been amazing for me on my own particular journey and I talk to them at different times about how to approach treatment from the mental to the physical changes you go through.

“Generations ago a lot of men would have just died with prostate cancer and it is a slow growing disease in most instances so it can be overlooked … but I think it’s so important men don’t take it lightly.”




Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Life and love in old age

Whenever I put up my own comments on this blog it is almost always in the form of comments on something somebody else has written. But this time I am going to put up some thoughts that do not respond to something somebody else has written. And that in a sense is the story.

Stories about personal relationships are very frequent in the media. And if the mainstream media are not source enough for such stories, there is always which offers tales about relationship difficulties at least daily.

But the odd thing about what I see written on the matter is that all the stories are about people in their reproductive years. Stories about people older than that are pretty much restricted to Hollywood and other celebrities. And articles that purport to HELP and guide older people with relationship difficulties seem to be quite absent. Yet there are a lot of old people about. They are an increasingly large segment of the population. Do none of them have relationship problems that could be helped by experienced advice?

Older people do in fact often have relationship difficulties, with the death of a partner being a major cause of that. So for one reason or another there are a lot of older people wanting a new partner. And if that search is difficult for young people, it's even more difficult for older people. Older people are more set in their ways and so find it difficult to make the changes and adjustments that a new relationship inevitably requires.

So accounts of how relationship difficulties have been overcome in peoples' later years would undoubtedly be helpful if not urgent. Many old people die alone. They have usually once had a partner but have failed to repartner after losing the one they once had

So I hope that I will help to get the ball rolling on discussions of partnering in later life by offering a brief account of my own experience. Most of what I have to tell is particular to me but I think there are some wider lessons.

I am 80 but was fortunate to find a new girlfrend only a bit younger than myself a couple of years ago. And we are pretty firmly glued to one another. We have had our storms but the relationship has survived them. So what challenges were there and what was needed to make the relationhip survive?

We do have large incompatibilities. We have radically different opinions on matters political, historical and medical for starters. They are differences greater than what most young people would tolerate. So how and why have we coped with that?

Basically we have just looked past the negatives and enjoyed the positive. And at the base of that is that we simply like one another. Cupid's arrow has struck with all its usual unpredictability.

And a great help is that we both have small needs for physical intimacy. We do have such needs but our needs are similar. So that is a major source of satisfaction for us. It is for instance an objectively small thing but we enjoy having an afternoon nap in one-another's arms. At all ages, mismatched physical needs can be a problem but we satisfy one another's small needs in that department. I doubt that we would still be together except for that important satisfaction that we give one another. So even in old age the physical can be important

So if there is a lesson I can offer it is a very old one: The importance of focusing on the positive and a recognition that tolerance may often be required at least as often in old age as it is in earlier years. My girlfriend never stops trying to convert me to her view of matters important to her but I amiably refuse to be converted and she tolerates my refusal to convert. So large amounts of tolerance can be needed. But when I look into her bright eyes amid a smiling face it is all worthwhile: "Bright eyes Burning like fire"



Generation Z has serious problems. It has serious advantages, too

by Jeff Jacoby

Generation Z was the first in history to experience a childhood and adolescence focused more on screens than on unstructured play with other kids.

THERE ARE an estimated 2 billion people in Generation Z. As it happens, two of them are my children, which is probably why I am drawn to reading (and sometimes to writing) about how their cohort is doing.

A flood of words have been devoted to the topic, and many of the reports are discouraging.

Two landmark studies of the generation born after 1995 — Jean Twenge's iGen, published in 2017, and Jonathan Haidt's The Anxious Generation, which appeared in March — are replete with data documenting that members of Gen Z are much more likely than their predecessors to be unhappy, mentally fragile, lonely, withdrawn, or depressed. The two psychologists (Twenge teaches at San Diego State University, Haidt at New York University) argue that what fundamentally distinguishes Zoomers from the generations that came before them is technology: They were the first to grow up on smartphones and social media, and therefore the first not to spend most of their formative years playing in the company of other children or engaging in unstructured and unsupervised exploration. Screens became central to their daily routines and social connections.

The result was what Haidt has called the "Great Rewiring" — a shift from "play-based childhood" to "phone-based childhood." It turned out to have ominous consequences. Study after study confirmed, in Twenge's words, that "all screen activities are linked to less happiness, and all nonscreen activities are linked to more happiness." Beginning around 2012, as the first Gen-Zers were reaching their mid-teens, a mental health crisis was underway. Reports of anxiety, depression, and self-harm among the young began to soar. Most alarming of all, suicide rates for adolescents spiked, rising 91 percent for boys and 167 percent for girls.

Like countless other parents with kids in Gen Z, I know only too well how addicting screens are to teens — and how hard it is to impose limits on their use. But I also know that societies adapt to transformative technologies. Smartphones and social-media apps will not escape being regulated, either through legislation or through litigation. Public attitudes will change, too. It wasn't that long ago that much of mainstream America smoked cigarettes. At the turn of this century, 35 percent of young adults used tobacco, according to Gallup; today the rate of smoking among the young is just 12 percent — and only 7 percent among college students. Before the youngest Gen-Zers (born in 2012) are out of their teens, we may similarly see a marked easing of the mental health crisis.

In any case, mental health is only part of the Gen Z picture. By other measures, especially those related to wealth and work, their age group is doing pretty well.

Many Zoomers themselves, of course, are prone to lament that they face vastly greater economic hurdles than their parents did at their age. Online, it is easy to find videos of solipsistic and self-entitled young people bewailing their financial circumstances or the expectations placed on them in the workplace by their Gen X or millennial bosses. (In surveys, those bosses concur that Gen Z employees can be exceptionally difficult to work with.)

And yet, as The Economist observed last month, "Generation Z is unprecedentedly rich."

Worldwide, Gen-Zers are entering a workforce bursting with historic job opportunities. Unemployment among the young is lower than it has been in more than 30 years. In the United States, hourly wages for workers younger than 25 jumped by 13 percent last year; for those between 25 and 54, by contrast, the year-over-year increase was just 6 percent. "This was the highest 'young person premium' since reliable data began," noted The Economist. In other countries, too, Generation Z workers enjoy a similar advantage.

When compared with the cohorts that preceded them into the workplace, Gen Z is much more likely to have a four-year college degree and much more likely to have money in the bank. Citing research by the American Enterprise Institute and Federal Reserve, The Economist reports that the average 25-year-old today earns an annual income of more than $40,000, outstripping (in inflation-adjusted dollars) members of every previous generation — millennials, Gen-Xers, baby boomers, and the silent generation — when they were the same age.

Boomers like me had a 35- to 40-year head start on Gen Z, so naturally we are more likely to have more substantial life savings, to own property, and to be less in need of a side hustle for money. But that will change as the Zoomers supplant us — which they are already on the point of doing in the workplace. Time and the power of compound interest are as ineluctable as they have always been. Today's teens and twentysomethings may be waiting longer than my generation did to move on to the responsibilities (and the pleasures) of adulthood, but so did Gen X and millennials. One encouraging marker: Gen-Zers, despite, or perhaps because of, the greater levels of loneliness they grew up with, overwhelmingly say that serious relationships are important to them. Newsweek points to survey research in which 93 percent of Gen Z respondents say they are interested in marriage. If true, that is a deeply hopeful development.

Generation Z will come through these anxious years, and then they will catch up with and surpass their parents. Every generation does. Twenty years down the road, how astonished they will be when the cohort that they raise grouses about not having it as easy as their parents did. To those of us waiting patiently to become grandparents, what a pleasure it will be to hear our grandchildren voice that complaint.


Tesco apologises as Black magazine publisher ‘racially profiled’ and offered bananas


Tesco has apologised after a Black publisher says she was “racially profiled” while shopping and then offered a bunch of bananas after she complained.

Serlina Boyd, 42, was with her two children at a branch in Hampshire when she says was followed by two security guards for no apparent reason. When she challenged them and asked to see the manager, she says he then offered her the fruit.

Ms Boyd sent a formal complaint to Tesco, questioning whether the supermarket’s staff members undergo adequate diversity training.

She received an apology, but was told the only action was “where appropriate they have refreshed their relevant training”, which she condemned as “not good enough”.

Describing her ordeal, she told The Independent: “I actually avoid going into the local supermarkets as much as possible because I don’t want to be profiled.

“It’s as though Tesco needs a handbook about how to deal with Black people in their stores.”

“I was racially profiled. Tesco - and all supermarkets - need to look at how they treat Black people when they come into the store, that the system has to change.

“Black people should not automatically be treated as though we are criminals. I do want to see Black people treated fairly when they go into a supermarket.”

In 2020, Ms Boyd launched the UK’s first major magazines to celebrate Black children, Cocoa Girl and later launched Cocoa Boy, a few months later. Copies of her magazines used to be stocked in the store where she was approached.

She added: “This needs to be told because so many people are saying that they’re experiencing similar treatment and Black people have the right to go shopping without being treated in this way”.


Rising number of men ignore domestic violence orders

I am not going to be popular for saying this but we need to recognize what lies behind attacks by men on ex-partners, murder-suicides in particular. It the man's sense of loss. Usually the pair have had a relationship that the man is pleased and proud about, accompanied by a probably realistic feeling that if he loses that relationship he will never be able to get another such relationship. So when a woman takes that away, he is hugely angered by the loss. And anger does often motivate violent and revengeful behaviour.

So that does point the way towards a possible solution to the problem. In brief, the man's needs should be recognized and all possible steps taken to minimize his sense of loss. I am not going to say exactly what steps should be taken as that will vary with the individual circumstances but one simple thing that could work well in some cases would be for an ADVO to trigger a visit by a social worker to talk to the man in a supportive way. That should be automatic and urgent immediately an ADVO is granted. Ever since Freud, psychiatrists have recognized the curative power of talk and that may be all that is needed to save the woman's life in some cases

I hasten to add that what I have just said does not in any way reflect my own experience. My four marriages all ended amicably and even now at age 80, I still have an attractive girlfriend

Domestic violence offenders are increasingly disregarding ADVOs at alarming rates in NSW, new analysis shows. The first three months of the order are the most dangerous period for victims.

The Herald’s analysis of ADVOs over a five-year period has found a rise in the number of offenders breaching ADVOs even amid a police crackdown, while punishments are becoming less severe.

The number of orders breached was up 35 per cent from 17,057 to 22,969 in the five years to 2023.

The proportion of offenders being sent to jail for breaching an ADVO, when that was their principal charge, also showed a decline, according to NSW Criminal Courts Statistics from July 2018 to June 2023.

Over the same period, fine penalties increased as a proportion of court outcomes from 12 per cent to 21 per cent from 523 to 1412.

However, this data fails to capture every ADVO breach in NSW, as it counts only those defendants who have been found guilty of and sentenced for breaching an ADVO if that is their main offence.

The danger period for victims, the analysis found, was the three months after an ADVO was issued. The rate of ADVO breaches or domestic violence reoffending was highest in these three months.

Last year, the NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research found that extending the length of an ADVO from 12 to 24 months was linked to a decrease in the probability of further DV offending. However, longer ADVOs were associated with significantly higher breach rates.

Experts say the increase in breaches is concerning and that it could be reflecting a combination of more actual breaches, a rise in breach reporting, as well as a targeted police crackdown on domestic violence, including the formation of a squad targeting the worst offenders.

Domestic Violence NSW senior policy officer Dr Bridget Mottram said the perpetrators of violence were often at their most angry and vengeful in the immediate aftermath of an ADVO being taken out. She said the rise in reporting of breaches to police and more proactive policing also would have resulted in the number of offences increasing.

“It’s also an element of boundary testing – the perpetrator seeing what they can get away with, which a breach charge reasserts the boundaries for,” she said.

“It’s significant to note, as well, that the NSW Domestic Violence Death Review Team have found that most women who are murdered by a previous partner had ended their relationship within three months of the homicide. This is an exceptionally dangerous time and where it’s imperative that we have systems in place to keep victim-survivors safe.”

Man raped ex-wife as children slept next door

In another disturbing example of an ADVO failing to protect a woman, one offender broke into his ex-wife’s home several months after being handed the order and raped her for hours as their children slept in the next bedroom. Sentencing documents released by the NSW Supreme Court detail how the offender, who had recently separated from his wife, had been barred from going near the victim or finding out where she lived.

His breaches started with texts asking if he could visit her house to pick up a scooter for their child. On another date, he asked to collect a beach towel. The mother declined both requests.

On October 25, 2021, he asked the young child where his mother lived, and after hours of drinking, he broke into the house and walked into his ex-wife’s bedroom.

The sentencing remarks read: “She came face to face with the offender, who grabbed her by the throat and said, ‘hello [woman’s name]’.

“It caused the victim pain. The offender pushed the victim towards the bedroom, leading her by holding her throat, and said, ‘guess I’m really going through with this after all … My heart is racing’.”

He was sentenced last month to a maximum of 12 years in jail.

Women’s Legal Service NSW principal solicitor Philippa Davis said police and courts must take all breaches seriously.

“If victim-survivors are not believed, or they are told it is just a ‘minor’ or ‘technical breach’, the seriousness of the ADVO is downplayed, and this can lead to perpetrators continuing to disregard the ADVO,” Davis said.

While Davis was pleased to see an increase in the number of ADVO applications being made by police, she said the legal service consistently heard from clients who felt police failed to respond appropriately to their reports of violence.

“[This data] doesn’t tell the whole story because it doesn’t capture those circumstances where police don’t take action,” she said.

Davis said a combination of factors might cause repeat offending within the first few months of an order being issued.

“For some, it could be a lack of understanding as to the particular orders and the restrictions placed on what they can do and where they can go,” she said.

“For others, though, it will be a blatant disregard for the AVO as they continue to assert power and control over a victim-survivor and ensure she continues to fear for her safety and that of her children.”

The Herald recently joined police on a four-day domestic violence blitz as they arrested 226 people for serious offences.

At the time, Superintendent Danielle Emerton, commander of the domestic and family violence registry, said police treated all ADVO breaches seriously.

She said her team used criminal profiling to detect “dangerous offenders” who posed an elevated threat of causing serious harm to victims and they performed regular compliance checks on offenders serving out ADVOs.

The Herald also recently revealed Lismore man James Harrison had been served an ADVO to protect his ex-partner, doctor Sophie Roome, three months before he allegedly killed himself and their two-year-old son.




Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Massachusetts declares early victory in taxing the rich, saying $1.8 billion take from millionaires tax was double expectations

This celebrating is a bit premature. Few people can up-sticks immediately but there will be a gradual and cumulative drip of departures that will mostly leave only the elderly rich in place. Elderly people are not good at handling change so will in many cases opt to pay the tax for the sake of peace.

But elderly people are prone to die. So who will replace them? Just about nobody in all probability. So the "rich" population is likely to shrink to nothing over time -- with a huge loss to Massachustts tax receipts. The Left elite will eventually realise that they have shot themselves in the foot but by then the damage is likely to be irreversible. "Taxachusetts" will once again be a byword for economic stupidity

Taxing millionaires is a contentious issue—but Massachusetts is declaring early victory, with an announcement this week that the state’s tax on its highest earners has yielded $1.8 billion in additional income. With three more months left in the state’s fiscal year, the take is already $800 million more than what officials, including Gov. Maura Healey, planned to spend in additional revenue from the tax, according to the State House News Service.

The money from the so-called fair-share tax has been earmarked to boost transportation and education, including giving every public-school child in the state free lunch, Healey’s office told Fortune last fall, and while the fate of the surplus funds isn’t yet clear, it’s likely to be designated for capital projects related to education and infrastructure. “Those are two areas of immense need,” senate budget chief Michael Rodrigues said on the senate floor, according to the State House News Service.

The tax imposes an additional 4% charge on any income over $1 million a year and was approved by voters in 2022, but immediately drew criticism from opponents who warned it would drive out high earners. Florida and New Hampshire—two states that don’t tax income— have long been favored destinations for Massachusetts residents looking to escape the state’s tax regime, Bloomberg Tax noted. Now, progressive proponents are claiming victory in the wake of the Massachusetts haul.

“Opponents of the Fair Share Amendment claimed that multimillionaires would flee Massachusetts rather than pay the new tax, and they are being proven wrong every day,” Andrew Farnitano, a spokesperson for Raise Up Massachusetts, a group that pushed for the initiative, told the Boston Globe.

“With this money from the ultrarich, we can do even more to improve our public schools and colleges, invest in roads, bridges, and public transit, and start building an economy that works for everyone,” Farnitano continued.

The right-leaning Massachusetts Fiscal Alliance denounced the tax. “Whatever short-term financial benefit the state will receive from the income surtax will be outweighed by the long-term negative effect this tax is having on the state,” spokesperson Paul Craney told the State House News Service. “It’s chasing out high-income earners and making the decision very easy for taxpayers who are regularly impacted by this tax to domicile in more tax-friendly states.”

The Tufts University Center for State Policy Analysis, in January 2022, released a report that found the tax would apply to less than 1% of Massachusetts households in any given year—and that while some high-income residents might move to other states, the number of movers would likely be small.

The news of the first-year success of Massachusetts’s tax is giving fuel to progressives in other states. In neighboring New York, the group Invest in Our New York called for a similar tax, writing that the Massachusetts experience “underscores that taxes on the ultra-wealthy are not only politically feasible, they are a fiscal imperative.”


What neurodiversity means for psychiatrists and the people they help

Neurodiversity has certainly been kind to me-- JR

By Grace Wade

As a child, I was frequently scolded for zoning out in class, interrupting conversations and losing just about everything I owned. It wasn’t until adulthood, when I was diagnosed with ADHD, that these “bad habits” began to make sense.

The idea that my brain is wired differently is the foundation of neurodiversity, a relatively new framework for understanding neurodevelopmental conditions like ADHD and autism. “Neurodiversity reflects an awareness that, across humanity, we have many different ways of perceiving and relating to the world that reflect differences in our brain development and brain function,” says Geraldine Dawson at Duke University in North Carolina.

Instead of viewing these differences as problems to be fixed, a neurodiverse approach aims to embrace them, she says.

That seems clear enough. But the concept of neurodiversity has been a source of debate in recent years, particularly in terms of what it means for psychiatrists and neuroscientists, who have long thought in terms of neurodevelopmental “disorders”, and the people they are seeking to help.

“Some people take it that the neurodiversity paradigm is against the medical paradigm,” says Anita Thapar, a psychiatrist at Cardiff University in the UK. “What I have argued in several papers is that both are useful for different purposes.”

What is neurodiversity?

To start from the beginning, the term “neurodiverse” was first coined in the late 1990s by sociologist Judy Singer, who used it when describing people with autism who had no intellectual impairments but struggled with relating to others or had repetitive behaviours.


Science journalism surrenders to progressive ideology

Michael Shermer got his first clue that things were changing at Scientific American in late 2018. The author had been writing his “Skeptic” column for the magazine since 2001. His monthly essays, aimed at an audience of both scientists and laymen, championed the scientific method, defended the need for evidence-based debate, and explored how cognitive and ideological biases can derail the search for truth. Shermer’s role models included two twentieth-century thinkers who, like him, relished explaining science to the public: Carl Sagan, the ebullient astronomer and TV commentator; and evolutionary biologist Stephen Jay Gould, who wrote a popular monthly column in Natural History magazine for 25 years. Shermer hoped someday to match Gould’s record of producing 300 consecutive columns. That goal would elude him.

In continuous publication since 1845, Scientific American is the country’s leading mainstream science magazine. Authors published in its pages have included Albert Einstein, Francis Crick, Jonas Salk, and J. Robert Oppenheimer—some 200 Nobel Prize winners in all. SciAm, as many readers call it, had long encouraged its authors to challenge established viewpoints. In the mid-twentieth century, for example, the magazine published a series of articles building the case for the then-radical concept of plate tectonics. In the twenty-first century, however, American scientific media, including Scientific American, began to slip into lockstep with progressive beliefs. Suddenly, certain orthodoxies—especially concerning race, gender, or climate—couldn’t be questioned.

“I started to see the writing on the wall toward the end of my run there,” Shermer told me. “I saw I was being slowly nudged away from certain topics.” One month, he submitted a column about the “fallacy of excluded exceptions,” a common logical error in which people perceive a pattern of causal links between factors but ignore counterexamples that don’t fit the pattern. In the story, Shermer debunked the myth of the “horror-film curse,” which asserts that bad luck tends to haunt actors who appear in scary movies. (The actors in most horror films survive unscathed, he noted, while bad luck sometimes strikes the casts of non-scary movies as well.) Shermer also wanted to include a serious example: the common belief that sexually abused children grow up to become abusers in turn. He cited evidence that “most sexually abused children do not grow up to abuse their own children” and that “most abusive parents were not abused as children.” And he observed how damaging this stereotype could be to abuse survivors; statistical clarity is all the more vital in such delicate cases, he argued. But Shermer’s editor at the magazine wasn’t having it. To the editor, Shermer’s effort to correct a common misconception might be read as downplaying the seriousness of abuse. Even raising the topic might be too traumatic for victims.

The following month, Shermer submitted a column discussing ways that discrimination against racial minorities, gays, and other groups has diminished (while acknowledging the need for continued progress). Here, Shermer ran into the same wall that Better Angels of Our Nature author Steven Pinker and other scientific optimists have faced. For progressives, admitting that any problem—racism, pollution, poverty—has improved means surrendering the rhetorical high ground. “They are committed to the idea that there is no cumulative progress,” Shermer says, and they angrily resist efforts to track the true prevalence, or the “base rate,” of a problem. Saying that “everything is wonderful and everyone should stop whining doesn’t really work,” his editor objected.

Shermer dug his grave deeper by quoting Manhattan Institute fellow Heather Mac Donald and The Coddling of the American Mind authors Greg Lukianoff and Jonathan Haidt, who argue that the rise of identity-group politics undermines the goal of equal rights for all. Shermer wrote that intersectional theory, which lumps individuals into aggregate identity groups based on race, sex, and other immutable characteristics, “is a perverse inversion” of Martin Luther King’s dream of a color-blind society. For Shermer’s editors, apparently, this was the last straw. The column was killed and Shermer’s contract terminated. Apparently, SciAm no longer had the ideological bandwidth to publish such a heterodox thinker.

American journalism has never been very good at covering science. In fact, the mainstream press is generally a cheap date when it comes to stories about alternative medicine, UFO sightings, pop psychology, or various forms of junk science. For many years, that was one factor that made Scientific American’s rigorous reporting so vital. The New York Times, National Geographic, Smithsonian, and a few other mainstream publications also produced top-notch science coverage. Peer-reviewed academic journals aimed at specialists met a higher standard still. But over the past decade or so, the quality of science journalism—even at the top publications—has declined in a new and alarming way. Today’s journalistic failings don’t owe simply to lazy reporting or a weakness for sensationalism but to a sweeping and increasingly pervasive worldview.

It is hard to put a single name on this sprawling ideology. It has its roots both in radical 1960s critiques of capitalism and in the late-twentieth-century postmodern movement that sought to “problematize” notions of objective truth. Critical race theory, which sees structural racism as the grand organizing principle of our society, is one branch. Queer studies, which seeks to “deconstruct” traditional norms of family, sex, and gender, is another. Critics of this worldview sometimes call it “identity politics”; supporters prefer the term “intersectionality.” In managerial settings, the doctrine lives under the label of diversity, equity, and inclusion, or DEI: a set of policies that sound anodyne—but in practice, are anything but.

This dogma sees Western values, and the United States in particular, as uniquely pernicious forces in world history. And, as exemplified by the anticapitalist tirades of climate activist Greta Thunberg, the movement features a deep eco-pessimism buoyed only by the distant hope of a collectivist green utopia.

The DEI worldview took over our institutions slowly, then all at once. Many on the left, especially journalists, saw Donald Trump’s election in 2016 as an existential threat that necessitated dropping the guardrails of balance and objectivity. Then, in early 2020, Covid lockdowns put American society under unbearable pressure. Finally, in May 2020, George Floyd’s death under the knee of a Minneapolis police officer provided the spark. Protesters exploded onto the streets. Every institution, from coffeehouses to Fortune 500 companies, felt compelled to demonstrate its commitment to the new “antiracist” ethos. In an already polarized environment, most media outlets lunged further left. Centrists—including New York Times opinion editor James Bennet and science writer Donald G. McNeil, Jr.—were forced out, while radical progressive voices were elevated.

This was the national climate when Laura Helmuth took the helm of Scientific American in April 2020. Helmuth boasted a sterling résumé: a Ph.D. in cognitive neuroscience from the University of California–Berkeley and a string of impressive editorial jobs at outlets including Science, National Geographic, and the Washington Post. Taking over a large print and online media operation during the early weeks of the Covid pandemic couldn’t have been easy. On the other hand, those difficult times represented a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for an ambitious science editor. Rarely in the magazine’s history had so many Americans urgently needed timely, sensible science reporting: Where did Covid come from? How is it transmitted? Was shutting down schools and businesses scientifically justified? What do we know about vaccines?

Scientific American did examine Covid from various angles, including an informative July 2020 cover story diagramming how the SARS-CoV-2 virus “sneaks inside human cells.” But the publication didn’t break much new ground in covering the pandemic. When it came to assessing growing evidence that Covid might have escaped from a laboratory, for example, SciAm got scooped by New York and Vanity Fair, publications known more for their coverage of politics and entertainment than of science.

At the same time, SciAm dramatically ramped up its social-justice coverage. The magazine would soon publish a flurry of articles with titles such as “Modern Mathematics Confronts Its White, Patriarchal Past” and “The Racist Roots of Fighting Obesity.” The death of the twentieth century’s most acclaimed biologist was the hook for “The Complicated Legacy of E. O. Wilson,” an opinion piece arguing that Wilson’s work was “based on racist ideas,” without quoting a single line from his large published canon. At least those pieces had some connection to scientific topics, though. In 2021, SciAm published an opinion essay, “Why the Term ‘JEDI’ Is Problematic" for Describing Programs That Promote Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion.” The article’s five authors took issue with the effort by some social-justice advocates to create a cute new label while expanding the DEI acronym to include “Justice.” The Jedi knights of the Star Wars movies are “inappropriate mascots for social justice,” the authors argued, because they are “prone to (white) saviorism and toxically masculine approaches to conflict resolution (violent duels with phallic light sabers, gaslighting by means of ‘Jedi mind tricks,’ etc.).” What all this had to do with science was anyone’s guess.

Several prominent scientists took note of SciAm’s shift. “Scientific American is changing from a popular-science magazine into a social-justice-in-science magazine,” Jerry Coyne, a University of Chicago emeritus professor of ecology and evolution, wrote on his popular blog, “Why Evolution Is True.” He asked why the magazine had “changed its mission from publishing decent science pieces to flawed bits of ideology.”

“The old Scientific American that I subscribed to in college was all about the science,” University of New Mexico evolutionary psychologist Geoffrey Miller told me. “It was factual reporting on new ideas and findings from physics to psychology, with a clear writing style, excellent illustrations, and no obvious political agenda.” Miller says that he noticed a gradual change about 15 years ago, and then a “woke political bias that got more flagrant and irrational” over recent years. The leading U.S. science journals, Nature and Science, and the U.K.-based New Scientist made a similar pivot, he says. By the time Trump was elected in 2016, he says, “the Scientific American editors seem to have decided that fighting conservatives was more important than reporting on science.”

Scientific American’s increasing engagement in politics drew national attention in late 2020, when the magazine, for the first time in its 175-year history, endorsed a presidential candidate. “The evidence and the science show that Donald Trump has badly damaged the U.S. and its people,” the editors wrote. “That is why we urge you to vote for Joe Biden.” In an e-mail exchange, Scientific American editor-in-chief Helmuth said that the decision to endorse Biden was made unanimously by the magazine’s staff.


An Australian govt to explore dropping character references for child sex offenders

Good character is unimportant in a Leftist scale of values

There will be a roundtable on Friday with key justice stakeholders to discuss alternative options to references.

The possible change has been prompted by Your Reference Ain't Relevant campaign, which has been seeking to drop good character references for those convicted of child sexual abuse across the country.

Attorney-General Shane Rattenbury committed to the roundtable in his response to a petition led by the campaign's founder Harrison James.

The roundtable's purpose will be "to identify changes that could be implemented which align with the objectives of sentencing, and address the legitimate concerns raised by those with lived experience".

Alternate options could include revised language or "reviewing court processes to mitigate the risks of re-traumatisation for victim-survivors".

A character reference can be taken into account by a magistrate when determining a sentence for a person convicted of a crime.

The option for a good character reference is not available to some convicted child sex offenders such as teachers and religious leaders but can be used by others, including relatives and family friends.

Mr James will take part in the roundtable. He said the aim of the campaign was to shift focus to the seriousness of the offence rather than the perpetrators apparent good reputation.

"This roundtable signifies a crucial milestone in our campaign's trajectory, and I sincerely hope the legal community, the government and survivors can all come together in solidarity and commit to legislative reform," he said.

"It's time to forge a path forward that ensures no other survivor of child sexual abuse suffers the trauma of having their experiences dismissed and invalidated by irrelevant character references."

Mr Rattenbury's responded to Mr James petition earlier this month.

"I recognise the significant impact that the presentation of 'good character' references during sentencing of child sexual abuse offenders has on victim-survivors," he wrote in the response.

"I agree it is timely to consider what reform could look like in the ACT to make the sentencing process more trauma-informed."

The ACT Bar Association has spoken out against the proposal, saying "evidence of prior pro-social conduct of an offender is relevant to the sentencing exercise".

"Sentencing is a nuanced, multi-factorial exercise. One of the factors to which ACT courts are obliged to have regard, and properly so, is the 'character, antecedents, age and physical or mental condition of the offender', the association said in a statement.




Monday, May 27, 2024

Does Montague William lll exist?

Neither Wikipedia nor Snopes appear to have heard of him yet there is a video by him that has multiple appearances on the web so he has not in any way been censored. And it is a beautiful performance. It is totally opposite in style to Hitler but probably outdoes Hitler in asserting convincingly that bankers rule the world. That belief is still common on the Left.

I particularly like his speaking voice. He has a beautiful "cut glass" accent (well articulaed RP). My own accent is educated Australian -- "university English" -- which is quite close to RP. So I find RP to be easily understood. Being a bit deaf, other accents often cause me to miss some of what is being said

The video is clearly a work of fiction but whoever made it did a very good job

I believe there was a real British playboy named Montague William lll, now deceased. I see that the performer above was actually British actor Michael Daviot. Actors have to be able to "do" different accents

I gather that the video premiered in 2011. I enjoyed it greatly and watched it several times. I think it is the best monologue I have seen


How to lose an election: British PM Rishi Sunak announces plan to bring back mandatory national service

18 year-olds can vote in Britain. He may have just lost almost the whole of that vote

Rishi Sunak has unveiled his first new policy leading up to the UK snap election, saying his Conservative Party will bring back mandatory national service for 18-year-old Britons, in a move that has been dubbed "desperate" by the opposing Labour Party.

The national service would require young people to either join the military full-time or volunteer one weekend a month in community service.

Mr Sunak said he believed the service would help young people learn "real world skills, do new things and contribute to their community and our country", as well as fostering "national spirit".

"This is a great country but generations of young people have not had the opportunities or experience they deserve and there are forces trying to divide our society in this increasingly uncertain world," Mr Sunak said.

"I have a clear plan to address this and secure our future. I will bring in a new model of national service to create a shared sense of purpose among our young people and a renewed sense of pride in our country."

Mr Sunak's Conservative Party said the national service would also help divert at-risk young people away from "lives of unemployment and crime", and provide "valuable work experience".

The plan is the first new policy announcement made by Mr Sunak since he called an early general election for July 4.

His party, which has been in power since 2010, has consistently polled behind the opposing Labour Party since January 2022.

A Labour spokesperson said the plan was "another desperate £2.5 billion unfunded commitment" from the Conservative Party who "already crashed the economy, sending mortgages rocketing".

"This is not a plan – it's a review which could cost billions and is only needed because the Tories (Conservatives) hollowed out the armed forces to their smallest size since Napoleon," the spokesperson said.

Liberal Democrat defence spokesperson and member of parliament Richard Foord said the Conservative Party had made "damaging cuts" to defence forces.

"If the Conservatives were serious about defence, they would reverse their damaging cuts to our world class professional armed forces, instead of decimating them, with swingeing cuts to the number of our regular service personnel," Mr Foord said.

"Our armed forces were once the envy of the world. This Conservative government has cut troop numbers and is planning more cuts to the size of the army."

The UK's early vote is a shock, but its result won't be
Britain's general election didn't have to be held for another six months, but Rishi Sunak's decision to call a snap July poll might point to how desperate things have become inside his Conservative Party.

The options for the national service would include full-time, 12-month placements in the armed forces or cyber defence, or volunteering 25 days a year in community organisations such as fire and rescue services, police, the National Health Service (NHS) or charities that work with the elderly.

A new royal commission would establish the details of the plan.

The details include possible non-criminal sanctions for any young people who refused to take part in the service, Sky News reported quoting sources in the Conservative Party.

The cost of the scheme is estimated at about £2.5bn ($4.8bn), the BBC reported.

The UK had a national service, where men between the ages 17 and 21 were required to serve in the military for 18 months, from 1947 to 1960.

Several other European countries, including Sweden, Finland, Norway and Denmark, already have a form of mandatory military service. Denmark announced a plan this month to expand mandatory national service to young women.


Another disgraceful coerced confession by police

I am reminded of the coerced confession from Barry Mannix in Australia. He was only exonerated from murdering his father when the real villain confessed. In this case the guy got off only because his father is not dead

California cops have agreed to pay a nearly $1million settlement after they forced a confession out of a mentally unstable man by threatening to kill his dog if he did not falsely admit to murdering his father - who was alive and well.

Thomas Perez Jr was questioned by police for over 17 hours in 2018 in an interrogation that amounted to 'unconstitutional psychological torture,' according to the judge.

Perez reported his father missing to police. He was never formally arrested, but was still taken to the Fontana Police Department on August 8, 2018 to be questioned.

He was told by officers that if he didn't confess to murdering his father, they would have to put his dog to sleep due to 'depression' over witnessing a murder that never occurred.

After hours of interrogation, Perez became visibly distressed and resorted to self destructive acts including pulling his hair out, hitting himself and tearing off his shirt.

The judge said he was 'sleep deprived, mentally ill, and, significantly, undergoing symptoms of withdrawal from his psychiatric medications.'

Perez also had reportedly begged for medical attention but was never provided his psychiatric medication.

He was told his father was found dead with stab wounds, however, police soon after found his father alive and well. Perez's sister said her father was with a 'lady friend.'

A detective reportedly told him: 'How can you sit there, how can you sit there and say you don't know what happened, and your dog is sitting there looking at you, knowing that you killed your dad?

'Look at your dog. She knows, because she was walking through all the blood.'

After 17 hours of interrogation, Perez finally admitted to the crime he didn't commit.

When the two interrogating officers left Perez alone in the room, he attempted suicide by hanging.

California Judge Dolly Gee ruled last June that the evidence in the case would convince the jury that the questioning amounted to 'unconstitutional psychological torture.'

Footage of the interrogation was released, sparking outrage and a long legal battle before the city of Fontana, California, finally agreed to a $900,000 settlement.

His lawyer Jerry Steering told the Orange County Register, 'Mentally torturing a false confession out of Tom Perez, concealing from him that his father was alive and well, and confining him in the psych ward because they made him suicidal.'

'In my 40 years of suing the police I have never seen that level of deliberate cruelty by the police,' he continued.

'This case shows that if the police are skilled enough, and they grill you hard enough, they can get anybody to confess to anything.'

After confessing, Perez was involuntarily locked away in a psychiatric ward. He was kept there in isolation for three straight days.

Police reportedly neglected to inform Perez that his father was still alive. His dog was also given to a shelter but later rescued, according to the Telegraph.

For days, Perez sat alone in the psychiatric unit believing that both his father and dog were dead.

The police department has not specified whether the police officers involved will face any repercussions.


Seattle museum is forced to shut down after nearly 30 Jew- hating staff stormed out

This is very troubling. Hate can lead to murderous deeds

The Wing Luke Museum in Seattle has been forced to close after nearly 30 staffers, about half of the museum's workforce, walked out in protest at its new 'Confronting Hate Together' exhibit. The walkout meant the tourist had no other option but to close.

The staffers are unhappy with the type of language used in the exhibit claiming parts of it 'conflate anti-Zionism with antisemitism.'

The workers walked off the job on opening day of the exhibit, forcing the museum to close. They are vowing to remain on strike until their demands are met and the displays are changed.

The disgruntled staffers, who work at the only pan-Asian art and history museum in the United States, wrote, 'Zionism has no place in our communities and being anti-Zionist goes hand in hand with our own liberation as AA/NHPI. Our solidarity with Palestine should be reflected in our AA/NHPI institutions.'

The 26 striking workers are now demanding the removal of any language from the exhibit that attempts to frame Palestinian liberation and anti-Zionism as antisemitism.

They are also calling for the museum to acknowledge its 'limited perspectives', conduct a community review, and center voices and perspectives that align with the museum's mission and values,' the group wrote on social media.

The exhibit had been designed to explore hate against Asian American, Native American, and Pacific Islander communities, as well as black and Jewish communities.

It was supposed to run from Wednesday through June 30, according to the museum's website.

One panel in particular from the Jewish Historical Society said: 'Today, antisemitism is often disguised as anti-Zionism' - but such a view is a point of contention for the striking staffers, who argue that it conveys Zionist perspectives.

'What is happening in Palestine directly reflects violent colonization and imperialism that has and continues to impact Asian American, Native American and Pacific Islander (AA/NHP) diaspora for generations,' the disgruntled workers wrote online.

The group raised concerns that the exhibit's portrayal of Zionism contradicts the museum's purpose of addressing the impacts of colonization and imperialism on AA/NHPI diaspora communities.

'Our Museum's exhibits, education and programs have brought together communities, shared hard histories and conversations and helped create joy and light among the darkness of what AA/NHPI diaspora often feel and experience,' they stated.

Zionism is a movement that advocates for the establishment and support of a Jewish homeland in the historic land of Israel, but critics, including many Palestinians argue that the establishment of Israel led to the the displacement of Palestinian Arabs.

Following the staff walkout, the museum issued a statement in support of its employees, acknowledging their right to express their beliefs and engage in dialogue.

'Members of Wing Luke Museum's staff held a respectful walk-out in protest of content on display in a new exhibit,' the museum said.

'As an organization rooted in dialogue, we acknowledge and support the right of our staff to express their beliefs and personal truths and to this end, we are holding space for a careful and thoughtful process of listening with intent to hear multiple perspectives in pursuit of a mutual way forward.

'After closing the Museum this week to listen and earnestly engage in dialog with our staff, the Museum looks forward to opening our doors at a future date so that we can continue serving our community in other needed capacities during this time. Please look for updates from us.'

The museum closed temporarily to listen and engage with its staff and is aiming to find a way forward that includes multiple perspectives.

The museum plans to offer free admission to the community to experience the exhibit once it reopens.


Australian ABC star Laura Tingle sparks outrage after labelling Australia racist

Typical Leftist hatred of her own country. I see falsification of her assertion in front of me most days. In the cafe where I eat several times a week it is common for me to see Asian women on the arms of Caucasian men and EVERY day my pink skin is greatly atypical of my fellow diners. The patrons are clearly greatly varied in origins -- a real United Nations -- and I have NEVER seen an aggressive incident there. Asians, Indians and Middle Easterners are all frequent diners there and nobody bothers anyone else or shows any attitude to anyone else

A high-profile ABC presenter has come under fire for labelling Australia 'racist' and been accused of bias after pinning the blame on the Opposition.

The national broadcaster's chief political correspondent Laura Tingle made the comment during a discussion panel for the Sydney Writers' Festival on Sunday.

'We are a racist country, let's face it. We always have been and it's very depressing,' she told her audience at Carriageworks.

Tingle repeatedly accused Liberal leader Peter Dutton of fanning the flames after he called for a reduction in immigration to ease the strain on the housing market.

Her comment has sparked criticism with Tingle accused of breaking her responsibility of remaining impartial as a political reporter.

Tingle was appointed to the ABC board as the staff-elected director in 2023 and is obliged to 'act in good faith at all times and in the best interests of the ABC'.

In March, ABC chair Kim Williams shared a blunt message saying staff should leave if they broke the national broadcaster's code to be balanced.

Tingle said she couldn't remember the last time a major party leader was seen 'to be saying … everything that is going wrong in this country is because of migrants'.

'[I] had this sudden flash of people turning up to try and rent a property or at an auction and they look a bit different - whatever you define different as - (and) that basically he (Dutton) has given them licence to be abused, and in any circumstance where people feel like they're missing out,' she said.

Tingle accused Mr Dutton of 'dog whistling' and said his call to cut immigration didn't make 'rational sense'.

Shadow Minister for Indigenous Australians Jacinta Nampijinpa Price told 2GB Ben Fordham Live on Monday that Tingle's comments 'create division'.

'I'm really disappointed in this continued narrative that is being pushed within our country that does not provide any sense of pride for our children,' she said.

'It absolutely creates division and we had enough of it during the referendum.

'Leading journalists, well supposedly leading journalists, like Laura Tingle should know better than to use that sort of rhetoric.'

Senator Price also accused Tingle of political bias, despite her duty to be impartial as a political reporter.

'She says "we're a racist country, let's face it, we've always been, it's very depressing",' she said.

'That is not a reflection of the country, that is her opinion.

'Laura has demonstrated her bias and I think Kim Williams (chairperson of the ABC) needs to explain why having someone so blatantly partisan sitting in the top political commentator position is acceptable.'

Fordham went on to read a list of comments sent in by listeners who unanimously disagreed with Tingle.

'I live in a block of units with neighbors of Indian Filipino, Chinese and African backgrounds, not an issue, just sensational people. Laura is wrong,' one of the comments read.

Another added: 'Laura tingle's warped and miserable view of this country ignores the fact that people come here in drones because it's the opposite of the picture painted by her'.

Environment and Water minister Tanya Plibersek told Channel Seven's Sunrise program she did not believe Australia was racist.

'I think it's a fantastic multicultural country but we have to protect against incidents of racism which occur in our community as they do in every community,' she said.

'My parents came to Australia after the Second World War from Europe and I am so grateful every day that Australia took them in and that we were born here and able to grow up in this fantastic country.

'Of course, there are Australians who have experienced racism. Of course that is absolutely true.'

Tingle also attacked shadow treasurer Angus Taylor's address to the National Press Club on Wednesday, which she moderated.

'I said to him (Taylor), "so you are saying we're relying on migration for growth … what does that imply about growth if you are going to cut migration?",' she said.

'He (Taylor) said something about Labor and the unions buying up all the houses, which I really didn't follow.'

Tingle also appeared at the Melbourne Writers Festival this month during which she accused Australian journalists of asking 'questions that are simply unanswerable, in the name of political or media sport'.

She appeared less critical of Labor: 'It's not just about whether they got rid of Scott Morrison, they are actually trying to govern, they are trying to run a government, they are actually trying to do policy.

'Whether you think the policy is s**t or not, that's another issue.

'We are not running the sort of stupid ideas that we are seeing out of the Coalition now from the platform of government.

'All of this absolute crap that used to run from government on a day-to-day basis, don't underestimate the value of not having to put up with that.'




Sunday, May 26, 2024

How junk food causes cancer - as Morgan Spurlock, maker of "Super Size Me", dies from disease aged 53

Ho Hum! Just the usual elitist scorn for anything popular, regardless of the evidence. They make a nod to the evidence but it is a pathetic nod. The Singapore study they mention was in vitro (cells in glass dishes) and the European study of mainly middle class ladies "excluded participants with extreme energy intake", failed to control for income and found only marginal hazard ratios. See below for links to the original studies:
Studies of cells in glass dishes notoriously fail to predict effects in actual human beings and income is the most pervasive predictor of poor health and is hence a serious potential confounder

And the study is moreover a correlational one -- to which the old dictum "correlation is not proof of causation" applies.

Perhaps the most amusing thing about the European study is that it was based on questionnaires -- self reports of food intake. I have recently noted a case where food questionnaires predicted ill health while a more direct measure of the same food intake by the same peope did not. In other words, self reports are a poor predictor of actual behaviour. Psychologists have known that since the 1930s but it has yet to dent the faith of medical researchers, apparently

But it is a paradox of logic that while correlations are no proof of causation, their absence can be an excellent DISPROOF of causation. And I have recently noted a case where a correlational study produced strong evidence that ultra-processed food is NOT bad for you. Too bad about that bit of evidence, I guess
And I will not waste words on the Spurlock stunt

To give hope to those who tend to eat whatever they like I will mention my own experience. I have always been a keen eater of "incorrect" food -- including many visits to McDonald's. Yet recent scans and tests of my splanchnic organs (liver, kidneys etc) have revealed them to be now in just about as a good a shape as they were when I was 18 -- and I am now 80. Don't let the panic-merchants get you down. It's your genes, not your food that dictate how healthy you are and will be

The link between junk food and cancer was put back into focus today after the death of Super Size Me documentary maker Morgan Spurlock - who died from the disease.

His family said Spurlock, 53, succumbed to 'complications' of cancer but did not reveal which type he had or how long he'd been battling it.

There is no indication his condition was linked to the 2004 movie, which saw him consume nothing but McDonald's meals for a month as a health experiment - even though he suffered a number of health issues in the immediate aftermath.

Piles of research in recent decades have shown that eating lots of processed foods is linked to at least 34 different types of cancers - even in people who are not obese.

Even though the link between ultra-processed foods - including fast food, soda, chips, ice-cream, sugary cereals and deli meats - and cancer is well established, the exact mechanism is still being understood.

One of the ways UPFs may cause cancer is due to their makeup. These foods often contain high levels of saturated fat, added sugars and sodium and are low in nutrients such as vitamins and minerals, and fiber.

If we eat too many ultra-processed foods, we may not eat enough of the foods in the diet that we know boost the immune system and help prevent cancer from forming, such as wholegrains, fruit and vegetables.

Secondly, consuming these foods regularly can lead to weight gain. Being above a healthy weight increases your risk of developing 13 different cancers, including cancers of the bowel, kidney, pancreas, esophagus, endometrium, liver and breast (after menopause).

Excess weight can trigger a host of hormonal changes that can cause tumors to grow.

A study earlier this year also uncovered a potential missing link between how eating junk food increases the risk of cancer.

The research out of Singapore found that a compound released when the body breaks down sugary and fatty foods switches off a gene that fights off cancer.

It could, at least in part, explain why cancers among young, ostensibly healthy Americans are becoming so prevalent, particularly tumors in the colon.

The academics looked at the effect of methylglyoxal, a compound released when the body breaks down sugary and fatty foods, on a gene that helps fight off tumors.

They found that methylglyoxal was able to temporarily shut off the BRCA2 gene's ability to protect against cancer forming and growing.

Repeated exposure, such as through eating processed foods, would increase the amount of damage to genes like BRCA2.

The research adds to a long list of studies suggesting that diet could have an impact on cancer risk, particularly colorectal cancer.

Research from the Cleveland Clinic, for example, found that people under 50 who ate diets rich in red meat and sugar had lower levels of the compound citrate, which is created when the body converts food into energy and has been shown to inhibit tumor growth.

Red and processed meat also contain compounds such as heme and nitrates, which, when broken down in the body, form compounds that can damage the cells lining the bowel, increasing the likelihood of cancer developing.

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

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

One example is phthalates - a group of chemicals used to make plastics more durable.

The chemicals get into food mainly through packaging and food handling equipment such as cellophane and plastic in contact with food. Exposure to phthalates has been linked to breast cancer.

Other research, including the biggest analysis of evidence to date involving 10million people, found that 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.

A 2023 study published in the European Journal of Nutrition found cancer risk shot up when people ate just 350g of ultra-processed food per day over the course of a decade - the equivalent of a large packet of chips or half a sharing bag of Skittles.

This amount was linked to a 20 percent higher risk of head and neck cancer and a 25 percent higher risk of esophageal adenocarcinoma, a type of cancer that grows in the lining of the food pipe.

The study said the disease could result from detrimental changes in gut flora, as well as potential hormonal effects.

Dr David Katz, a specialist in preventive and lifestyle medicine who was not involved in the study, previously told CNN: 'If UPFs contribute to cancer risk, they do it to a small extent by contributing to obesity, and to a much larger extent by other mechanisms.'

'What might those be? Diet-induced inflammation; disruption of the microbiome; adverse epigenetic effects; and many other possibilities come to mind.'


NHS charter to stress biological sex when placing patients in wards

A huge backdown for the Left. Edward Dutton is having some fun with it:

Transgender women should not be put on single-sex female NHS wards, the government is proposing.

The measure is part of a raft of changes to the NHS Constitution for England, the charter of rights for patients.
The proposals stress the importance of biological sex for the first time when it comes to same-sex accommodation and intimate care.

In both cases, the rights are available only where possible.
For example, same-sex accommodation rights, which have existed for years, can and are breached where there is a clinically urgent need to admit and treat a patient and do not extend to areas such as critical care or accident and emergency.

The guidance also means that trans men should not be housed on single-sex male wards.

Under the proposals:

transgender people, whose gender identity differs from their biological sex, may be provided single rooms, where appropriate

patients will have the right to request a person of the same biological sex delivers any intimate care

Health Secretary Victoria Atkins said it was about making it clear that "sex matters".

"We want to make it abundantly clear that if a patient wants same-sex care, they should have access to it wherever reasonably possible," she said.

"By putting this in the NHS Constitution, we're highlighting the importance of balancing the rights and needs of all patients, to make a healthcare system that is faster, simpler and fairer to all."

What does trans mean and what is the Cass review?

'Trampled over'

Maya Forstater, of the Sex Matters campaign group, said the changes were "excellent news".

"The confusion between 'sex' and 'gender' in official policies like the NHS Constitution is what has enabled women's rights to be trampled over in the name of transgender identities," she said.

But Cleo Madeleine, of trans-led group Gendered Intelligence, said robust policies were already in place and the government had its priorities wrong.

"After 14 years of austerity, medical professionals are crying out for more funding, more resources, and better conditions for staff and patients," she said.

"The government seems hell-bent on pursuing its obsession with the transgender community instead of addressing these longstanding needs."

'Martha's rule'

The changes are part of a wider review of the NHS Constitution, which the government must complete every 10 years.

They also include a plan to embed patients and their loved ones' right to access a rapid review from outside the care team if the patient is deteriorating.

This is the right behind "Martha's rule", which is being introduced in the NHS, to ensure patients know they can ask for a second opinion, with the government providing funding to hospitals for posters and leaflets informing patients and their families.

All the changes will be consulted on over the next eight weeks, before the constitution is updated later this year.

Labour's shadow health secretary Wes Streeting said: "Rights on paper are worthless unless they are delivered in practice.
"The NHS constitution already pledges that no patient will have to share an overnight ward with patients of the opposite sex, but that is not the case for too many patients."


Top academic accuses the British Medical Journal of 'abandoning science' after rejecting research 'because of their views on the trans debate'

The BMJ is HIGHLY political and has been for long time

The British Medical Journal has been accused of 'abandoning science' after it rejected research from top academics over their views on the trans debate.

One researcher had his paper rejected because he was 'opinionated' and had tweeted in support of author JK Rowling's gender-critical views.

The other's research was taken offline by BMJ staff who accused him of being 'transphobic' based on a student paper article about him. Both academics saw the discussions in BMJ staff emails after making Freedom of Information requests.

Dr Michael Biggs, an Oxford University sociologist, was blacklisted over a paper saying the official number of transgender people in the UK – 262,000 – is unreliable because of a confusingly-worded census question.

He said a number of people who don't speak English as a first language had answered 'no' to: 'Is the gender you identify with the same as your sex registered at birth?'

BMJ staff emails claimed Dr Biggs' piece 'portrays trans individuals as uneducated and implies they weren't able to understand the question on the census'.

The emails also revealed concerns about him 'being known for being transphobic' after a student paper in 2018 claimed he had tweeted critical views of trans people.

Dr Biggs said 'some journal editors... don't care if an article is true, but whether it helps disadvantaged or oppressed minorities'.

Dr John Armstrong, a mathematician at King's College London, submitted a paper to BMJ Open on findings that institutions with higher 'Athena Swan' ratings – an award given for promoting gender equality – had fewer women in senior roles.

After it was rejected, he found a member of staff had told a colleague his social media account had 'coloured our impression of the manuscript'.

One email said 'he's quite argumentative and opinionated', and highlighted how he retweeted a JK Rowling post supporting campaigner Maya Forstater, who lost her job after saying people could not change their biological sex.

Dr Armstrong said: 'If a journal censors findings because they don't like the results or the author, it has abandoned science.'

The BMJ denied it would reject a paper for 'political or ideological reasons'.


Catholic Church shift marks ‘a step back in time’ for some

Madison: It was the music that changed first. Or maybe that’s just when many people at the pale brick Catholic church in the quiet Wisconsin neighbourhood finally began to realise what was happening.

The choir director, a fixture at St Maria Goretti for nearly 40 years, was suddenly gone. Contemporary hymns were replaced by music rooted in medieval Europe.

So much was changing. Sermons were focusing more on sin and confession. Priests were rarely seen without cassocks. Altar girls, for a time, were banned.

At the parish elementary school, students began hearing about abortion and hell.

“It was like a step back in time,” said one former parishioner, still so dazed by the tumultuous changes that began in 2021 with a new pastor that he only spoke on condition of anonymity.

It’s not just St Maria Goretti.

Across the US, the Catholic Church is undergoing an immense shift. Generations of Catholics who embraced the modernising tide sparked in the 1960s by Vatican II are increasingly giving way to religious conservatives who believe the church has been twisted by change, with the promise of salvation replaced by casual indifference to doctrine.

The shift, moulded by plummeting church attendance, increasingly traditional priests and growing numbers of young Catholics searching for more orthodoxy, has reshaped parishes across the country, leaving them sometimes at odds with Pope Francis and much of the Catholic world.

The changes are not happening everywhere. There are still plenty of liberal parishes, plenty that see themselves as middle-of-the-road. Despite their growing influence, conservative Catholics remain a minority.

Yet the changes they have brought are impossible to miss.

The progressive priests who dominated the US church in the years after Vatican II are now in their 70s and 80s. Many are retired. Some are dead. Younger priests, surveys show, are far more conservative.

At St Maria Goretti, once steeped in the ethos of Vatican II, many parishioners saw the changes as a requiem.

“I don’t want my daughter to be Catholic,” said Christine Hammond, whose family left the parish when the new outlook spilt into the church’s school and her daughter’s classroom. “Not if this is the Roman Catholic Church that is coming.”

But this is not a simple story. Because there are many who welcome this new, old church.

They often stand out in the pews, with the men in ties and the women sometimes with the lace head coverings that all but disappeared from American churches more than 50 years ago. Large families signal adherence to the church’s contraception ban, which most Americans have casually ignored.

Many yearn for Masses that echo with medieval traditions – more Latin, more incense, more Gregorian chants.

“We want this ethereal experience that is different from everything else in our lives,” said Ben Rouleau, who until recently led St Maria Goretti’s young adult group, which saw membership skyrocket even as the parish shrank amid the turmoil.

If this movement emerged from anywhere, it might be a now-demolished Denver football stadium.

Some 500,000 people descended on Denver in 1993 for the Catholic festival World Youth Day.

Pope John Paul II, who was beloved both for his kindness and his sternness, confronted an American church shaped by decades of progressive change.

The church had grown increasingly liberal since Vatican II. Confession was rarely mentioned, Latin largely abandoned. Catholic social teaching on poverty suffused churches.

On some issues, John Paul II agreed with liberal-minded Catholics, speaking against capital punishment and for workers’ rights. He preached relentlessly about forgiveness.

But he was uncompromising on dogma.

Catholics “are in danger of losing their faith,” he said in Denver, decrying abortion, drug abuse, and what he called “sexual disorders”.

Across the nation, fervent young Catholics listened.

Yet even today, surveys show most American Catholics are far from orthodox. Most support abortion rights. The vast majority use birth control.

But increasingly, those Catholics are not in church.

In 1970, more than half of America’s Catholics said they went to Mass at least once a week. By 2022, that had fallen to 17 per cent, according to CARA, a research centre affiliated with Georgetown University. Among millennials, it’s just 9 per cent.

As a result, those who remain in the church have outsized influence.

On the national level, conservatives increasingly dominate the US Catholic Bishops Conference and the Catholic intellectual world. They include everyone from the philanthropist founder of Domino’s Pizza to six of the nine US Supreme Court justices.

Then there’s the priesthood.

Young priests driven by liberal politics and progressive theology, so common in the 1960s and 70s, have all but vanished.

In churches from Minnesota to California, liberal parishioners have protested changes introduced by new conservative priests. Each can seem like one more skirmish in the cultural and political battles tearing at America.

Looming above the American divide is Pope Francis, who has pushed the global church to be inclusive, even as he stands firm on dogma.

The orthodox movement has watched him nervously, angered by his more liberal views on issues like gay relationships and divorce. Some reject him entirely.

The US church has “a very strong reactionary attitude,” he said last year.

St Maria Goretti is a well-kept island of Catholicism tucked into one of America’s most liberal cities.

In 2021, a new priest, the Reverend Scott Emerson, was named pastor.

Parishioners watched the changes - some pleased, some uneasily. Emerson’s sermons are not all fire-and-brimstone. He often speaks about forgiveness and compassion. But his tone shocked many longtime parishioners.

Protection is needed, he said in a 2023 service, from “the spiritual corruption of worldly vices.” He has warned against critics – “the atheists, journalists, politicians, the fallen-away Catholics” – he said were undermining the church.

But those critics, he says, will be proven wrong. “How many have laughed at the church, announcing that she was passé, that her days were over and that they would bury her?” he said in a 2021 Mass.

“The church,” he said, “has buried every one of her undertakers.”