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Thou shalt bow the knee to Holy Mother Global Warming at all times

The article excerpted below was headed "Climate change hurting N.E. cod population, study says".  But that's just a token bow -- an assertion for which there is no evidence.  Cod populations do fluctuate.  There's been a big bounceback in the North Sea (near England) cod population recently and the article below mentioned that they almost vanished from Grand Banks off Newfoundland in the early 1990s.  So there is every reason to think that the current situation is part of a natural cycle.

It does appear that the temperature in the Gulf of Maine has risen 4 degrees in the last 10 years and that probably is disliked by the cod.  But is that temperature rise part of global warming?  We also read that "the rise in temperatures in the Gulf of Maine exceeded those found in 99 percent of the world's other large bodies of saltwater"  

So it's NOT global, is it? It is a local phenomenon of unknown cause but probably due to fluctuations in ocean currents. But those recent changes in ocean currents are due to global warming we are told -- on the basis of no evidence. But in fact the changes CANNOT be due to global warming -- because there has been no global warming for 18 years. The satellites are the only way of obtaining a truly global temperature reading and for the last 18 years they just show random fluctuations around a constant mean.

So a desperate attempt to link a local problem to global warming is an abject failure on all counts.  Warmists really are disgusting in their constant obeisances to their false god


The rapid warming of the waters off New England has contributed to the historic collapse of the region's cod population and has hampered its ability to rebound, according to a study that for the first time links climate change to the iconic species' plummeting numbers.

Between 2004 and 2013, the mean surface temperature of the Gulf of Maine - extending from Cape Cod to Cape Sable in Nova Scotia - rose a remarkable 4 degrees, which the researchers attributed to shifts in the ocean currents caused by global warming. 

The study, which was released Thursday by the journal Science, offers the latest evidence of climate change - this time, affecting a species once so plentiful that fishermen used to joke that they could walk across the Atlantic on the backs of cod.

Fisheries management officials have sharply limited cod fishing in hopes of protecting the species, but they estimate the number of cod remain at as little as 3 percent of what would sustain a healthy population. The limits, in turn, have hurt fishermen. 
"Managers [of the fishery] kept reducing quotas, but the cod population kept declining," said Andrew Pershing, the study's lead author and chief scientific officer of the Gulf of Maine Research Institute in Portland. "It turns out that warming waters were making the Gulf of Maine less hospitable for cod, and the management response was too slow to keep up with the changes."
Maine, the state with the highest percentage of forested land, is uniquely vulnerable to climate change, scientists say.

How does the government count the fish?

The institute had reported last year that the rise in temperatures in the Gulf of Maine exceeded those found in 99 percent of the world's other large bodies of saltwater. The authors of Thursday's study link the rapid warming to a northward shift in the Gulf Stream and changes to other major currents in the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. 

They say the warmer water coursing into the Gulf of Maine has reduced the number of new cod and led to fewer fish surviving into adulthood. Cod prefer cold water, which is why they have thrived for centuries off New England. 

The precise causes for the reduced spawning are unclear, the researchers said, but they're likely to include a decline in the availability of food for young cod, increased stress, and more hospitable conditions for predators. 

Cod larvae are eaten by many species, including dogfish and herring; larger cod are preyed upon by seals, whose numbers have increased markedly in the region.

The researchers also suggest that federal officials have miscalculated the number of cod in the Gulf of Maine. The faulty models, they said, led the officials to allow overfishing, enough that the region's cod catch has fallen 90 percent over the past three decades.

The authors of the study said federal officials should use temperature and climate forecasts "to provide a more realistic picture of the potential size of fish stocks." 

Federal officials said they weren't surprised by the findings.
"People have said that fish stocks are impacted by global warming for a long, long time," said John Bullard, regional administrator for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which works with regional officials to set quotas. 

The authors of the study said it's possible that the past two winters, which were unusually cold, may have provided a boost to cod. But they said the numbers remain significantly lower than the historical average and the stocks are likely to continue to struggle as the gulf warms.

They noted that cod are often easier to catch as their numbers drop, because they tend to aggregate near their spawning areas when their population declines. 

Pershing said that's what happened along the Grand Banks off Newfoundland, where cod vanished in the early 1990s after environmental advocates raised concerns for years about their declining numbers. 




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Global warming could make Hajj impossible later this century

This is a typical bit of brainlessness from the Warmists.  They assume a very high global temperature rise (4 degrees) and calculate from that a wet-bulb temperature in the Gulf states of 35 degrees, which they say would make life impossible in the Gulf.  They then inform us that Gulf temperatures already run as high as 34.6.  But these things all operate on a continuum so if 35 is fatal, 34.6 should be extremely stressful too and more vulnerable people should start dying off at that point.  Yet there is no claim of that.  Half the Hajjis were not wiped out this year.

Clearly the 35 figure is just a theoretical one divorced from reality.  And I know from my own early life in the tropics that heat-adaptation does occur in humans.  The wet-bulb temperatures I experienced in Cairns would have been close to those recorded in the Gulf but we all just went about our business pretty much as usual.  We just took it a bit easy and drank a lot of beer. A cold beer on a hot day is one of life's great pleasures.  But our heat adaptation betrays us when we move away from the tropics.  A temperature that a Scot would experience as a pleasant summer's day becomes to us quite chilly


Parts of the Middle East, including the Gulf states and Muslim holy places around Mecca, could become uninhabitable even for the young and fit before the century is out, according to a new climate modelling study. The rituals of the Hajj, during which up to 2 million Muslims pray outdoors from dawn to dusk, would be impossible in summer.

Elfatih Eltahir of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Jeremy Pal of Loyala Marymount University, Los Angeles, used standard global climate models to show likely future temperatures in the Gulf, assuming global warming of 4 °C, which is possible later this century.

Crucially, they then made predictions of future humidity in order to assess likely “wet-bulb” temperatures, as measured by thermometers whose bulbs are kept damp.

Close to body temperature

The wet-bulb temperature is the best measure of our ability to tolerate high temperatures, because it reflects the ability of the body to cool off by sweating. When wet-bulb temperatures reach 35 °C, which is approaching body temperature, “the human body can no longer get rid of heat”, says Eltahir.

Wet-bulb temperatures are lower than dry-bulb temperatures, but the difference is greater in dry air and less in humid air, reflecting the common experience that dry heat is easier to endure than muggy heat.

“It is often assumed that humans would be able to adapt to any possible warming,” says Matthew Huber of Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana. “But any wet-bulb temperature over 35 °C for extended periods should induce hyperthermia, as dissipation of metabolic heat becomes impossible.”

Currently, wet-bulb temperatures rarely exceed 31 °C anywhere in the world, say Pal and Eltahir.

But the Gulf states are getting closest to the 35 °C threshold. This is because high temperatures are combined with the high humidity of air moistened by the exceptionally warm waters of the Gulf.

At the end of July this year, when dry-bulb temperatures in the Gulf exceeded 50 °C at times, wet-bulb temperatures peaked at 34.6 °C, Christoph Schär of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich writes in an accompanying article in Nature Climate Change.

Dead workers

This is the first study to have predicted that populated regions could suffer conditions during this century that “may be fatal to everybody affected, even young and fit individuals under shaded and well-ventilated outdoor conditions”, says Schär. Coastal urban centres such as Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Doha are most at risk.

While many Gulf citizens live their lives largely inside air conditioned buildings, there are exceptions. One is Muslims from round the world attending the rituals of the Hajj. A second is foreign workers on construction sites. Qatar has been accused of allowing South Asian workers building stadiums for the World Cup in 2022 to die from heatstroke.

In August, Islamic leaders called on Muslims around the world, including oil-producing states, “to lead the way in phasing out greenhouse-gas emissions.”

But so far the governments of Gulf states – which include some of the world’s major producers of planet-warming oil and gas supplies – have made no promises to the forthcoming Paris conference to limit their greenhouse gas emissions.

SOURCE




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Ya gotta laugh!  The NYT could teach Dr Goebbels a thing or two

The NYT has up at the moment a big article by a dear little lady named Coral Davenport (and friends) under the heading: "Greenland Is Melting Away". It's a long article decorated with huge and beautiful pictures so one might expect a lot of it.


Coral is a twit

But Coral presents zero proof that Greenland Is Melting Away.  Instead she salivates over a group of "scientists" travelling to Greenland to take "measurements".  The only actual statement she  makes about Greenland overall is "The full melting of Greenland’s ice sheet could increase sea levels by about 20 feet".

Maybe it could, though she gives no calculations or proof, but the interesting thing about the claim is that she doesn't say when or how long that will take.  In fact she goes on to say that nobody knows that and that the scientists she adulates are there to take measurements that might answer the question.  The answer could be "1,000 years" for all we know -- and for all that the NYT tells us

So the whole thing is just a glossy bit of unusually brainless propaganda. But it's the sort of  propaganda that Leftists need to prop up their sagging hypothesis about global warming.


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Does Leftism promote social peace?

Throughout history, redistribution of wealth and income has been from the poor to the rich and many of those societies were quite stable -- with Tokugawa Japan being the outstanding example of that. So the idea that redistribution from the rich to the poor is needed to secure social peace lacks immediate plausibility.

Starting with the arch-conservative and deep-thinking Otto von Bismarck, however, the idea has grown that government welfare handouts to the poor are needed to prevent revolutions and social upheavals.  And Leftists have gladly latched onto that idea.

The idea that Leftists would promote social peace is however implausible at first glance.  How could the politics of rage promote any kind of peace?  And there are clear instances where Leftism has in fact promoted social conflict.  Communist revolutions are the pre-eminent example of that but the way the American Left has promoted rage among blacks by telling them constantly that their various disadvantages are due to white racism is another deplorable example.

And it seems clear that Leftists preachings about equality are  hostile.  Such preachings seem more motivated by a desire to tear down the rich rather than lift up the poor.  It is only capitalism that has in fact lifted up the poor.

For decades now I have been impressed by the provocative dictum of Leibnitz  to the effect that we live in the best of all possible worlds. Various improvements in all sorts of things since Leibnitz make it clear that he was wrong but the intended message that some good things have bad things as their precondition and that some bad things are needed to secure good things still resonates.

And I think that hate-motivated Leftist raging about inequality and injustice could be rather like that.  It could be doing us all some good, despite appearances.  Among the genuinely disadvantaged it must create the impression that someone is listening to them  and working on getting help to them. And the alternative to that could well be social unrest.  Traditional societies were able to keep the poor powerless because they controlled the means of communication.  That is no longer so. Communication is something of an epidemic in the age of the internet.  Muslims already use social media to organize their attacks so it is obvious that others could do likewise.

So I am rather inclined to think that Leftism may on balance be a good thing.  It may help preserve social peace. The task of conservatives is not then to shut them up, persecute them or remove them -- which is what Leftists try to do to conservatives.  No.  Our task is simply to do our best to thwart their brainless and destructive levelling policies. Let them preach but also let us block or unwind their ill-considered and impoverishing policies wherever we can.


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Is a grateful heart the mark of a conservative?

I think it is. Prayers of thanks are routine for Christians but I think it extends beyond Christians.

I was moved to that thought by the case of conservative Australian cartoonist  ZEG, who is a former member of the armed forces, a former policeman and a very conservative man.  Zeg (Steven Gunnell) undoubtedly has a grateful heart.  At age 48 he has discovered that he has a dangerous vascular formation in his brain that could kill him at any time.  And it is very nearly inoperable. It is probably as I write this that he is undergoing the risky surgery involved. He will probably survive but runs a big risk of being destroyed as a person.

So is Zeg bitter, angry and resentful?  Far from it.  I reproduce on AUSTRALIAN POLITICS the email he sent to people he knows before he went into hospital.  It is one long note of gratitude and thanks to his many friends.  I am proud to be among them. There are even some politicians he praises!

But what struck me particularly was this paragraph:

"Remember always that we inherited this great gift of freedom and democracy from the generations before us -- thus it is our responsibility, NAY,  our duty to ensure that the next and future generations inherit not only what we have now but an even better and more secure freedom"

Could any Leftist write that?  I can't see it.  They HATE what they have inherited.  That we feel a connection with our forefathers and an appreciation of what they worked -- often very hard -- to achieve is a large part of what makes us conservative.  We are connected to our past.  Leftists are not.  Or if they do feel a connection, they despise it.  What sad people!

And as Zeg says, in appreciating the blessings that we have been given through no work of our own, we feel an obligation at least to preserve it.  Most of us would rather just get on with our own lives rather than bothering with politics but, when there are so many twisted and relentless enemies of what is dear to us, we have to fight.


A great Christian song of gratitude and appreciation


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Declining Student Resilience: A Serious Problem for Colleges

None of this is surprising in the light of the way Leftist academics have gone hysterical about minor matters, such as "micro-aggressions", "trigger warnings" etc.  Students have been TAUGHT to feel threatened and helpless amidst the rough and tumble of everyday life. They have been taught that they must be protected from evil influences by their elders at all times

And the relentless attacks on Christianity have not helped either.  Christianity gives people guidelines about how to behave and comfort amidst distress.  I was greatly helped by the  behaviour guidance I received from Christianity in my teenage years. I was given wisdom that I could have got from nowhere else. So although I have been an atheist for all my adult life, I sent my son to a church school and encouraged his interest in the faith.

In a world where all values and traditions are questioned, young people can be forgiven for feeling confused and alienated -- not knowing which way to jump or how to behave wisely.  Christian teachings put their feet back onto the path of tried and true values

And the assistance of the clergy and Christian youth workers is valuable but often not accessible on campus.  They would once have done much of the personal counselling and support that is now being demanded of academics


A year ago I received an invitation from the head of Counseling Services at a major university to join faculty and administrators for discussions about how to deal with the decline in resilience among students. At the first meeting, we learned that emergency calls to Counseling had more than doubled over the past five years. Students are increasingly seeking help for, and apparently having emotional crises over, problems of everyday life. Recent examples mentioned included a student who felt traumatized because her roommate had called her a “bitch” and two students who had sought counseling because they had seen a mouse in their off-campus apartment. The latter two also called the police, who kindly arrived and set a mousetrap for them.

Faculty at the meetings noted that students’ emotional fragility has become a serious problem when it comes to grading. Some said they had grown afraid to give low grades for poor performance, because of the subsequent emotional crises they would have to deal with in their offices. Many students, they said, now view a C, or sometimes even a B, as failure, and they interpret such “failure” as the end of the world. Faculty also noted an increased tendency for students to blame them (the faculty) for low grades—they weren’t explicit enough in telling the students just what the test would cover or just what would distinguish a good paper from a bad one. They described an increased tendency to see a poor grade as reason to complain rather than as reason to study more, or more effectively. Much of the discussions had to do with the amount of handholding faculty should do versus the degree to which the response should be something like, “Buck up, this is college.” Does the first response simply play into and perpetuate students’ neediness and unwillingness to take responsibility? Does the second response create the possibility of serious emotional breakdown, or, who knows, maybe even suicide?

Two weeks ago, that head of Counseling sent us all a follow-up email, announcing a new set of meetings. His email included this sobering paragraph:

    “I have done a considerable amount of reading and research in recent months on the topic of resilience in college students. Our students are no different from what is being reported across the country on the state of late adolescence/early adulthood. There has been an increase in diagnosable mental health problems, but there has also been a decrease in the ability of many young people to manage the everyday bumps in the road of life. Whether we want it or not, these students are bringing their struggles to their teachers and others on campus who deal with students on a day-to-day basis. The lack of resilience is interfering with the academic mission of the University and is thwarting the emotional and personal development of students.”

He also sent us a summary of themes that emerged in the series of meetings, which included the following bullets:

    Less resilient and needy students have shaped the landscape for faculty in that they are expected to do more handholding, lower their academic standards, and not challenge students too much.

    There is a sense of helplessness among the faculty. Many faculty members expressed their frustration with the current situation. There were few ideas about what we could do as an institution to address the issue.

    Students are afraid to fail; they do not take risks; they need to be certain about things. For many of them, failure is seen as catastrophic and unacceptable. External measures of success are more important than learning and autonomous development.

    Faculty, particularly young faculty members, feel pressured to accede to student wishes lest they get low teacher ratings from their students. Students email about trivial things and expect prompt replies.

    Failure and struggle need to be normalized. Students are very uncomfortable in not being right. They want to re-do papers to undo their earlier mistakes. We have to normalize being wrong and learning from one’s errors.

    Faculty members, individually and as a group, are conflicted about how much “handholding” they should be doing.

    Growth is achieved by striking the right balance between support and challenge. We need to reset the balance point. We have become a “helicopter institution.”

Reinforcing the claim that this is a nationwide problem, the Chronicle of Higher Education recently ran an article by Robin Wilson entitled, “An Epidemic of Anguish: Overwhelmed by Demand for Mental-Health Care, Colleges Face Conflicts in Choosing How to Respond" (Aug. 31, 2015). Colleges and universities have traditionally been centers for higher academic education, where the expectation is that the students are adults, capable of taking care of their own everyday life problems.  Increasingly, students and their parents are asking the personnel at such institutions to be substitute parents. There is also the ever-present threat and reality of lawsuits.  When a suicide occurs, or a serious mental breakdown occurs, the institution is often held responsible.

On the basis of her interviews with heads of counseling offices at various colleges and universities, Wilson wrote:

    “Families often expect campuses to provide immediate, sophisticated, and sustained mental-health care. After all, most parents are still adjusting to the idea that their children no longer come home every night, and many want colleges to keep an eye on their kids, just as they did. Students, too, want colleges to give them the help they need, when they need it. And they need a lot. Rates of anxiety and depression among American college students have soared in the last decade, and many more students than in the past come to campus already on medication for such illnesses. The number of students with suicidal thoughts has risen as well. Some are dealing with serious issues, such as psychosis, which typically presents itself in young adulthood, just when students are going off to college. Many others, though, are struggling with what campus counselors say are the usual stresses of college life: bad grades, breakups, being on their own for the first time. And they are putting a strain on counseling centers.”

In previous posts (for example, here and here), I have described the dramatic decline, over the past few decades, in children’s opportunities to play, explore, and pursue their own interests away from adults. Among the consequences, I have argued, are well-documented increases in anxiety and depression, and decreases in the sense of control of their own lives. We have raised a generation of young people who have not been given the opportunity to learn how to solve their own problems. They have not been given the opportunity to get into trouble and find their own way out, to experience failure and realize they can survive it, to be called bad names by others and learn how to respond without adult intervention. So now, here’s what we have: Young people,18 years and older, going to college still unable or unwilling to take responsibility for themselves, still feeling that if a problem arises they need an adult to solve it.

Dan Jones, past president of the Association for University and College Counseling Center Directors, seems to agree with this assessment. In an interview for the Chronicle article, he said:

    “[Students] haven’t developed skills in how to soothe themselves, because their parents have solved all their problems and removed the obstacles. They don’t seem to have as much grit as previous generations.”

In my next post I’ll examine the research evidence suggesting that so-called “helicopter parenting” really is at the core of the problem. But I don’t blame parents, or certainly not just parents. Parents are in some ways victims of larger forces in society—victims of the continuous exhortations from “experts” about the dangers of letting kids be, victims of the increased power of the school system and the schooling mentality that says kids develop best when carefully guided and supervised by adults, and victims of increased legal and social sanctions for allowing kids into public spaces without adult accompaniment. We have become, unfortunately, a “helicopter society.”

If we want to prepare our kids for college—or for anything else in life!—we have to counter these social forces. We have to give our children the freedom, which children have always enjoyed in the past, to get away from adults so they can practice being adults—that is, practice taking responsibility for themselves.

SOURCE


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Olives from Spain and tomatoes from Italy:  Why?

Various people exhort us to read the label on the bottles and cans that we buy.  Greenies want us to be sure that the contents have not hurt any whales, food-freaks want us to be sure that no salt has ever come near it and patriots want us to avoid buying anything imported.

And I DO read labels, but for a quite different reason from the three above.  I like the information they contain about economics.  They don't actually mention economics but they still tell us various things about economies.

The labels that particularly interest me are on the El-cheapo cans  on the bottom shelves of supermarkets -- usually bearing some sort of "House" brand. And what they tell us about the world is quite amazing.  They tell us that CHINA FEEDS THE WORLD.  Not only do they make almost all of our electrical gadgets these days but they also feed us all to a significant extent.  "Product of China" is what you nearly always read in the small print on those "Home brand" bottles and cans.  Chinese groceries now populate the world.

People tend to sneer at such goods but for the many who prefer to keep their money for beer and cigarettes, China is a godsend.

So how come?  Doesn't China have its work cut out feeding its own 1.3 billion people?  It's those clever Chinese farmers.  They can make crops spring lushly out of even unpromising ground.  Let me give an historical example of that:

Two of my great grandfathers were in on the Palmer River goldrush.  The 19th century was a century of goldrushes as new lands were opened up -- and one of the goldfields was on the Palmer river in far-North Queensland, Australia.  And much gold was dug there by people from all over the world.  And Chinese miners were there too.

Some of the Chinese, however, realized that they could win more gold by using their farming skills.  The miners had to eat and bringing in food from South was very expensive.  So the Chinese market gardeners got more  gold from selling their produce than they ever would have got by mining.

BUT:  The soils on Cape York Peninsula (where the Palmer lies) are notoriously poor and shallow.  So what to do about that?  Easy: The Chinese gardeners went all around collecting people's shit -- the traditional fertilizer of China, India and lot of other places. Shit-collecting is real shit-work but it is amazing what people will do for gold. And shit is great fertilizer so the Chinese market gardens flourished.  You can still see patches of lushness where the Chinese gardens were as you travel through the area to this day.

So the Chinese are great farmers and much of China is fertile so they coax amazing amounts of food crops out of their farms. China is about the same size as CONUS, Australia and Canada (around 3 million square miles in all 4 cases) so they do actually have a lot to work with -- enough to feed their own 1.3 billion people plus feeding lots of us.

And you can learn all that by reading labels!

But sometimes you can get a surprise.  You pick up a cheap can and expect to see "China" somewhere on the label but in fact see the name of some European country.  Why would Europeans want to send their stuff half way around the world to Australia?  Easy: Because of the EU common agriculture policy, which is mostly aimed at propping up French peasant farmers but which affects the whole of the EU.

Europe's problem is one that makes Greenies say "nyah, nyah, nyah, nyah" when you tell them about it.  Now that fracking has put panic about oil running out to rest, the Greenies these days are constantly prophesying that we will run out of food (Global warming, you know).  European agricultural administrators must wish there was some truth in that because their problem is the opposite: Europe produces TOO MUCH food -- more food than they can sell.  They pay their farmers big  subsidies to produce all the excess food and then pay Australians and others to eat it. Insane of course but that's politics.  You wouldn't want to contend with angry French farmers either.

So when I recently picked up from my local supermarket a very cheap bottle of Manzanilla olives from Spain and some very cheap canned tomatoes from Italy it was because the EU was selling the stuff off at a fraction of its cost just to get rid of it.  In the old days they used to donate it all to Russia (They did!) but Russia feeds itself pretty well now that they have got rid of Communism

Still, I suppose it is good that the Chinese have some competition.  Pity the European taxpayer, though.  Interesting things, those labels, aren't they?

Incidentally, olive trees grow so well in Australia that in South Australia they are regarded as weeds!

UPDATE:

I am pleased to report that I have at least some readers who know stuff.  One reader has asked how I square surplus olives with reports that this year's olive crop is way down due to unfavorable weather

In a way, the question answers itself.  The big jar of olives that I recently bought is NOT the product of this year's crop.  It has been known since ancient times how to store olives and I am sure that the EU people of today are really good at it. And in the way of these things, the EU bods would not sell off their stuff straight away.  They would wait until all hopes of a normal sale were gone.  So goodness knows when my olives came off the tree.  They taste great anyway

Another thing that I believe to be true but have not researched is that olives grown for oil and olives grown for human consumption are different.  So a shortage of oil olives may not tell us much about the supply of eating olives.

For what it's worth, I NEVER these days buy ANY European olive oils -- not even the big green tins of "Olio Sasso.  Diretta importata dall Italia" that I remember from my childhood.  Italian and Spanish olive oil distributors have really blotted their copybooks with contaminant and substitution scandals so I now buy  Australian olive oil exclusively.  Australian olive oil is a Southern European product made with Northern European ethics. So there are pyramids of Spanish and Italian olive oil in my local supermarket but I bypass them all.







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WHO "research" showing bacon and red meat cause cancer ‘a farce’, says Australia’s Agriculture Minister (Rightly)

Barnaby makes some reasonable comments but much more could be said.  This is an old scare and in my years as a health blogger I followed each research finding on the question as it came out. Every single study was flaky, mostly being the usual stupid epidemiological nonsense that flew in the face of the basic statistical dictum, "Correlation is not causation".  Even obvious confounds such as social class were not allowed for, and would mostly account for the findings.

And the report  below simply takes all that at face value.  Utter rubbish.

To make it worse the study is a meta-analysis. And you can't critique those in detail unless you go back over every single thing they did.  And sometimes you need to.  I know of several meta-analyses which were blatantly crooked -- excluding from consideration findings that did not suit the authors' preconceptions, for instance.

And the WHO IS crooked.  It can be bought.  And some environmental organizations have a lot of money.  I will say no more on that.

Meta-analyses can have merit.  The Cochrane studies are a case in point.  But the Cochrane analyses systematically exclude all dubious findings -- often ending up with a very small number of studies being considered as having value.  The study below analysed over 800 studies, making it clear that Cochrane rigor was not applied to the input of the study.  The study can be summarized by an old computer dictum: "Garbage in; Garbage out"


BACON lovers all over the world are reeling from the news that too much processed meat can increase the risk of cancer.  But none will be more surprised by the appetite-killing research than the world’s oldest woman, who credits her longevity on a daily helping of bacon.

116-year-old American Susannah Mushatt Jones, the official Guiness World Record holder, even had bacon on her 116th birthday cake, along with chicken drumsticks — her other favourite food.

The healthy centenarian is a living contradiction to an evaluation of more than 800 studies from several continents linking meat and cancer, that saw the WHO classify processed meat as “carcinogenic to humans” — in the same category as cigarettes — and red meat as “probably carcinogenic to humans”.

Australia’s Agricultural Minister Barnaby Joyce, who is clearly Team Susannah when it comes to meat consumption, has labelled the link “a farce”.

The outspoken Nationals MP told ABC radio the report was being blown out of proportion.  “I don’t think we should get too exited that if you have a sausage you’re going to die of bowel cancer. You’re not,” he said.  “What obviously is part of this is that you should have a balanced diet.”

Mr Joyce knocked back claims that some Australians were consuming a dangerous quantity of processed or red meat.  “A lot of people don’t have bacon every day. If you got everything the WHO says is carcinogenic and took it out of your diet, well you're heading back to a cave,” he said.

“If you were going to avoid everything that has any correlation with cancer then don’t walk outside, don’t walk the streets in Sydney. There’s going to be very little in life that you actually do in the end.”

The agricultural minister also argued encouragement of a vegetarian only diet would “completely change” the agriculture industry.

Meat industry groups have also protested the classification, arguing that cancer is not caused by specific foods but by several factors, Associated Press reports.

The WHO International Agency for Research on Cancer findings stated just 50 grams a day — the equivalent of around one sausage or two slices of ham — can increase the risk of colorectal cancer by 18 per cent.

Health experts have also weighed in, warning meat eaters not to go overboard heeding warnings.

“This decision doesn’t mean you need to stop eating any red and processed meat,” said Tim Key, an epidemiologist at Cancer Research UK.  “But if you eat lots of it, you may want to think about cutting down.

“You could try having fish for your dinner rather than sausages, or choosing to have a bean salad for lunch over a BLT (bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwich).” Nutritionist Elizabeth Lund from Norfolk in England said obesity and lack of exercise were a far bigger cancer risks.

“Overall, I feel that eating meat once a day combined with plenty of fruit, vegetable and cereal fibre plus exercise and weight control, will allow for a low risk of CRC,” she said, referring to colorectal cancer.

“It should also be noted that some studies have shown that if meat is consumed with vegetables or a high-fibre diet, the risk of CRC is reduced.”

SOURCE


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"Negro" now not allowed in Australia?

The High Court of Australia ruled in 2002 that the word "n*gger" is not offensive in Australia so there is little doubt that "negro" is also not generally offensive in Australia. People who take their cue from American sensitivities would however object to the term.

Additionally, "Negro" is a scientifically correct term  for a person of sub-Saharan African origin or ancestry.  Leftist hysteria has however moved most scientists these days to use the ponderous circumlocution "sub-Saharan African" instead of "Negro"

"Black" is the customary term in America these days but "Negro" is more accurate than "black" because most American blacks are in fact brown.  And there are a lot of black people (Melanesians and Australian Aborigines) who are black but are not negroes. The Senator below most likely had that latter fact in mind in his choice of words


Australian Government Senator Eric Abetz has bizarrely called U.S. Supreme Court Judge Clarence Thomas a 'n***o' during a radio interview.  Mr Abetz, 58, used the dated and offensive slur during an interview on Sydney radio, while being interviewed about the push for marriage equality.

'It was completely debunked by Clarence Thomas, the n***o American on the Supreme Court of the United States,' he said on 2UE.

Radio host Justin Smith could be heard quizzically muttering, 'n***o', as the Senator continued with his sentence.  Moments earlier, Mr Smith had asked the Senator about whether a business should be allowed to serve or not serve customers based on gender, race or sexuality grounds.

Mr Abetz was quickly criticised for the comment on social media, with many saying it was an offensive remark.  'And here's me thinking dinosaurs were extinct,' one Twitter user wrote. 'Simply jaw-droppingly offensive that Senator Abetz uses word 'n***o' - walking anachronism,' Tom Allen said.

SOURCE


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Has Vladimir Putin shown Obama how to do it?

Democracy has always been a rare thing on the world scene.  The Athenian and Roman democracies did not last.  Its only lasting base of support has been in North-Western Europe and its derivative societies.  Even Southern Europe has a poor record of democracy.  I mention Mussolini in Italy, Franco in Spain, Salazar in Portugal the Colonels in Greece, Tito in Yugoslavia and Petain in France.  That's the whole of S. Europe and all those ruled at various times during the C20.  Contrast that with Iceland's Althing, a parliament with a continuous history going back over 1,000 years.  And we all know about King John and the Magna Carta of 1215.

So the idea that democracy should be encouraged everywhere is laudable but seems unrealistic.  It just has no roots in most of the world and certainly does not in the Middle East.  "Choose your dictator" seems to be the only choice in the M.E.  The current chaos in Iraq, the rest of the M.E. and North Africa is surely ample testimony to that.  Where one dictator is not promptly replaced by another, great chaos, not democracy, seems to result.

And American foreign policy used to recognize that.  Conservative Latin American dictators were routinely supported as a preferable alternative to a Communist insurgency. As President Franklin D. Roosevelt said about Nicaraguan dictator Anastasio Somoza—“He may be a bastard, but he's our bastard”.

But Obama's "fundamental transformation" of America includes ditching as much of America's traditional wisdom and values as possible and we now see the results.  America should have supported Assad in Syria but instead undermined him -- and offered nothing as a replacement other than pious hopes.  The world can therefore probably be grateful that Vladimir Vladomirovich has shown more sense.  Only his intervention seems likely to eliminate the totally foul Islamic State -- an outcome hoped for among people of goodwill worldwide


RUSSIA’S power play in Syria appears to be paying off with the superpower making inroads against Islamic State and other extremist groups, leaving its American rivals looking ineffective and highlighting US failures in the region.

When Russia decided to involve itself in the war in Syria, American officials accused it of “pouring gasoline on the fire” in Syria and being “unprofessional” for only giving the US an hour’s notice of its intention to launch air strikes.

But just weeks later, Russia’s provocative move seems to be paying off.

Professor Clive Williams of Macquarie University’s Centre for Policing, Intelligence and Counter Terrorism told news.com.au that Russia’s support had helped Syrian armed forces make advances in some contested areas and “clearly it has made a difference for them”.

Earlier this year, commentators were writing off the Syrian army and suggesting that the government’s days were numbered.

With Russian air support, Syrians have been able to hit back against Islamic State in central and north-western regions, in a war that has stretched out for four years under the US’s watch.

The US is opposed to the Syrian regime headed by brutal President Bashar al-Assad and has so far refused to help its troops, but Prof Williams said it was better for the Assad regime to be in power, than for the likely alternative of jihadist groups Islamic State and Jabhat al-Nusra to prevail.

“We know what Islamic State is capable of, they are obviously ruthless and clearly have an agenda to dominate other opposition groups,” he said.

He said Russia’s success highlighted the US’s lack of strategy.

“America doesn’t really have a strategy but Russia’s is clear cut,” he said, adding that Russia aimed to support Assad’s regime and its own strategic interests.

While the US’s aim was to support Iraq and counter Islamic State, Prof Williams said what it was doing “was not really making much of a difference on the ground”. This was partly because the US did not want to put American boots on the ground and was limited in what it could achieve through air strikes.

Iraqi forces backed by the US had corrupt leaders and were poorly motivated, and seemed to be militarily incapable of making advances against Islamic State.

“They rely mainly on the Kurds to do the ground fighting and they are really only interested in establishing their own state,” Prof Williams said.

Earlier this month, US President Barack Obama admitted that his efforts to help resolve the Syria crisis had so far failed, but defended his strategy and dismissed assertions that Russian President Vladimir Putin was now the dominant world leader.

But this week former US secretary of state Henry Kissinger argued in The Wall Street Journal that Russia’s military action was the latest symptom of the “disintegration of the American role in stabilising the Middle East order”.

He said the geopolitical alliances in the region were now in “shambles” and that four countries — Libya, Yemen, Syria and Iraq — had ceased to function.

“American policy has sought to straddle the motivations of all parties and is therefore on the verge of losing the ability to shape events,” Kissinger wrote.

“The US is now opposed to, or at odds in some way or another with, all parties in the region: with Egypt on human rights, with Saudi Arabia over Yemen, with each of the Syrian parties over different objectives.”

He said the US wanted to remove Assad but had been unwilling to generate effective political or military leverage to achieve that aim, or to put forward an alternative political structure to replace him. This had allowed Russia, Iran, Islamic State and other terrorist organisations to move into the vacuum.

Overall if you looked at American involvement in the Middle East since the 1990s, Prof Williams said: “it has all been pretty disastrous in terms of long term outcomes”.

He said that America’s best move to combat Islamic State could actually be to withdraw from the conflict and let regional countries sort out what is essentially a regional problem.

SOURCE


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Breastfeeding and IQ

Breastfeeding is VERY politically correct these days.  Mothers who do not breastfeed can be harassed by other mothers over it.  Why?  Because breastfeeding is thought to be  "more natural" and hence better for the baby.  But better in what way? One claim is that is helps the child's IQ.  But the studies have not been very supportive of that. So the latest very extensive study is of great interest.  Abstract below:

Breastfeeding and IQ Growth from Toddlerhood through Adolescence

By Sophie von Stumm &  Robert Plomin

Objectives
The benefits of breastfeeding for cognitive development continue to be hotly debated but are yet to be supported by conclusive empirical evidence.

Methods
We used here a latent growth curve modeling approach to test the association of breastfeeding with IQ growth trajectories, which allows differentiating the variance in the IQ starting point in early life from variance in IQ gains that occur later in childhood through adolescence. Breastfeeding (yes/ no) was modeled as a direct predictor of three IQ latent growth factors (i.e. intercept, slope and quadratic term) and adjusted for the covariates socioeconomic status, mother's age at birth and gestational stage. Data came from the Twins Early Development Study (TEDS), a prospective cohort study of twins born between
1996 and 1994 in the United Kingdom, who were assessed 9 times on IQ between age 2 and 16 years (N = 11,582).

Results
Having been breastfed was associated with a small yet significant advantage in IQ at age 2 in girls (β = .07, CI 95% from 0.64 to 3.01; N = 3,035) but not in boys (β = .04, CI 95% from -0.14 to 2.41). Having been breastfeeding was neither associated with the other IQ growth factors in girls (slope: β = .02, CI 95% from -0.25 to 0.43; quadratic: β = .01, CI 95% from -0.02 to 0.02) nor in boys (slope: β = .02, CI 95% from -0.30 to 0.47; quadratic: β = -.01, CI 95% from -0.01 to 0.01).

Conclusions
Breastfeeding has little benefit for early life intelligence and cognitive growth from toddlerhood through adolescence.

Von Stumm S, Plomin R (2015). Breastfeeding and IQ Growth from Toddlerhood through Adolescence. PLoS ONE 10(9): e0138676. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0138676



The study is persuasive rather than conclusive.  I think IQ of the mother should have been controlled for.  I made the same criticism of a noted Brazilian study which did find some benefit from breastfeeding.

Another concern is that the measures of IQ used at different ages were not well correlated. They could obviously not be the same but correlations between them as low as .18 are a serious concern.

Overall, however, the general agreement of the studies on the matter leads me to agree that breastfeeding has no effect on IQ.  It may however have other benefits.


UPDATE:  Those .18 correlations in Table 1 are of course absolutely appalling so I have been thinking about that.  The simple thing to say is that the questions you ask a 4-year-old to assess his IQ and the questions you ask a 16-year old to assess his IQ are necessarily  very different -- so a high correlation is not to be expected.  There is however a conventional solution to that conundrum:  Use a spiral omnibus test -- where the questions start out very easy and gradually get harder.

The authors above, apparently, did not however have that luxury.  So their solution was a creative one which I rather admire.  They took the first eigenvector of the battery they did have and standardized that as IQ (mean 100; SD 15).

So what do we find from that?  It could be argued that they have for the first time made IQ tests that are valid for particular age groups.  And in that case what we see is that IQ is very variable  throughout the lifespan.  Being bright at 2 tells us little about  IQ at 16

And I think that is an important finding.  In particular it conforms to other findings that environment is important in early life but, as time goes by it is the genetic given that manifests itself.

Be that as it may, the measures of IQ used in the early years are clearly just not valid.  They do not correlate with well-accepted  measures from later life. Putting it more bluntly, trying to measure IQ at age 2 is just a no-go.  It fails.  It tells you  nothing.

In that case the slight effect seen at age 2 is a nonsense and not to be taken seriously.

And Table 1 in the article has another interesting implication.  It bears on the "Eleven Plus" exam used in England to filter access to Grammar (selective) schools. There was no IQ given for age 11 but there was for age 12.  And we see there that  the correlations for age 12 and up averaged around .6.  That is not ideal but, given changes in IQ throughout the early lifetime, is probably as good as can be expected. Those eigenvectors were not too bad as IQ measures!



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Silly little hyphenated lady has drunk the Kool-Aid

The nicely-spoken Alice Bows-Larkin is an astrophysicist so you can understand her talking about global warming (?)  The TED talks are supposed to be about new and exciting ideas but everything this dear lady said in her talk to the London TED in July was pure Warmist boilerplate, with not the slightest originality or any  suggestion of evidence for her assertions.  Nice graphs of what fellow-Warmists say had to be enough.  But her conclusions were stern.  See below.  She wants "austerity".  Since Leftists everywhere are vocally anti-austerity, I wonder how they will square that circle?

"The economist Nicholas Stern said that emission reductions of more than one percent per year had only ever been associated with economic recession or upheaval. So this poses huge challenges for the issue of economic growth, because if we have our high carbon infrastructure in place, it means that if our economies grow, then so do our emissions. So I'd just like to take a quote from a paper by myself and Kevin Anderson back in 2011 where we said that to avoid the two-degree framing of dangerous climate change, economic growth needs to be exchanged at least temporarily for a period of planned austerity in wealthy nations.

This is a really difficult message to take, because what it suggests is that we really need to do things differently. This is not about just incremental change. This is about doing things differently, about whole system change, and sometimes it's about doing less things".

SOURCE

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Yes means Yes and No means No -- except when you are Ched Evans

The conviction of British footballer Ched Evans for rape  has widely been decried. Because Yes does not mean Yes when you are Ched Evans, apparently. The woman concerned DID say Yes to him and made no complaint afterwards but a badly instructed British jury  in its stratopheric wisdom decided that Evans should have taken Yes to mean No. She was too drunk to give consent, apparently. Though how they know that and what is the relevant metric of drunkenness in those circumstances remains uncertain.

So it is a relief that the British justice system has now reopened the case -- after Evans spent over two years in jail.  Sex with women who drink must be harshly discouraged, it seems.  If that pompous dictum were taken seriously among the population at large, it would at least halve the British birthrate, I would think.  Alcohol and sex have a long history together, even among married people.

And the Yes means Yes mantra is a typically stupid feminist invention anyway.  There are many men who can attest that sometimes No means Yes.  I was always too impatient to play that game myself (apparently to some confusion) but it is a common one where the woman is embarrassed, shy etc.  Many women would think less of themselves if they said "Yes" straight away.  The woman  would think that she was appearing "too easy". So men do sometimes have to decide whether a No really means Yes and they can obviously make the occasional mistake there, particularly if they are not too bright.

So one can only hope that the feminist mantra is vigorously preached to women too so that they will be less evasive and less confusing to men.  I am not holding my breath -- JR


A case drawn up by private investigators to clear the name of rapist footballer Ched Evans is believed to question the lifestyle of his victim and failures by police to seize crucial CCTV footage.

Earlier this week, the Criminal Cases Review Commission said that new evidence had emerged in the case which 'raises a real possibility the Court of Appeal may now quash the conviction'.

Now it has been reported that private investigators, hired by the father of his fiancee Natasha Massey, have spent 18 months finding new evidence and interviewing new witnesses, which they believe will help the 26-year-old have his conviction overturned.

It claims she was banned from the Zu Bar nightclub in Rhyl, north Wales, where she and Evans had been socialising separately that night and that a statement has been provided from a woman who had a 'significant 'conversation with the victim in a taxi on the way to a police station.

The dossier of evidence is also thought to criticise police for their investigation for taking Evans and co-accused Clayton McDonald to a police station in the same car and their alleged failure to seize potentially significant CCTV footage.

However, a source close to the appeal team has said the evidence is not a 'character assassination' of the woman but rather raises potential inconsistencies in her background.

The source told the newspaper: 'Some of the new ­information is being seen within Ched’s camp as highly significant.

'It would be easy to take the view that he has done his time and he should now just put it all behind him. But he has set his sights on it being quashed. 'Resuming his career is key to all his plans with his fiancée and the new baby they are expecting.'

Since being released from prison last year, Evans has been unable to find a new team, with several clubs offering him trials only to backtrack after a public outcry.

Evans applied to the Criminal Cases Review Commission in July 2014, and it received further evidence from his legal team earlier this year.

After a ten-month investigation, the commission is now referring the case to the Court of Appeal, based on ‘new information which was not raised at trial’ that could have supported his defence.

The court can now either uphold the conviction, quash it, or overturn it and order a retrial.

Evans denied rape in 2012, saying the sex was consensual, but he was found guilty by a jury at Caernarfon Crown Court. The prosecution said the woman was too drunk to consent to intercourse.

The woman was raped in a Premier Inn in 2012 after his footballer friend McDonald, who was cleared of rape, texted Evans on the way there saying: 'I've got a bird'.

McDonald had sex with the victim, before Evans arrived and raped her, while two others filmed it through the window.

After Evans's release from jail his old club Sheffield United, who used to pay him £20,000 a week, agreed to let him train with them.

But the League One club were plunged into crisis when three patrons quit, fans threatened a boycott and its main sponsor warned it would scrap their deal if they tried to sign him.

Evans started his career at Manchester City and cost Sheffield United £3 million when he signed for the team in 2009.

He scored 42 goals in 103 league appearances for the Blades and was set to sign for Oldham Athletic in a move that triggered a huge media storm following his release from prison before the plug was pulled on the deal.

It has been reported Evans has told friends that he wants his conviction quashed so he can find another football club and gain in a place in the Welsh national team for the European Championships next year.

SOURCE

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The latest non-science from the non-science guy

Bill Nye is not a scientist.  He is an entertainer.  His degree was in mechanical engineering.  But we see here a claim from him that Miami is sinking due to global warming.  Che??  How does global warming do that?  It is true that Miami is going underwater to a degree but it is not due to global warming.

There are various parts of the world -- the S.E. coast of England notably -- where the land is sinking.  And Florida is one of those.  To the casual observer, the rise of the sea and the sinking of the land look the same but they are not.  And accounting for crustal movements is an important part of geology, with satellites and all sorts of other observations being used to differentiate sea level rise from land movement.  If he were a scientist, Nye would know that and make proper allowance for it.  He is however aiming at drama rather than informing people.

Prof. Tim Ball has written a short article on the subject and he has in addition emailed the following comments:

"Yes Miami is sinking and it is partly due to water extraction. It is also due to the porous limestone that compresses easily and also has extensive cave structures because it is essentially a Karst topography. This is why sink holes are common.

This sinking of major cities is occurring everywhere with some more pronounced than others. Mexico city is a good example.

However the major reason for Miami sinking is because the entire Gulf coast of the US is sinking as post glacial isostatic adjustment occurs.

During the last glaciation the weight of the ice pushed the entire northern half of the continent down relative to the geoid line and sea level.  Since the removal of the ice the north is rising and the south is sinking. Some think the New Madrid fault line across the centre of the US adn site of the largest earthquake in modern US history is a result of the continent 'cracking’.

This is another example, of people like Nye taking a normal event and exploiting it for his political agenda. I think a RICO charge is required for such deliberate deception or at least for blinding ignorance"

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Are firstborns smarter?

This is an old hypothesis that Robert Zajonc devoted considerable work to in the '70s.  He found an effect of up to 3 IQ points.  A recent international study with large samples has however recently re-examined the theory.  There is a popular account of the findings here. The journal abstract is as under:

Examining the effects of birth order on personality

Julia M. Rohrer et al.

This study examined the long-standing question of whether a person’s position among siblings has a lasting impact on that person’s life course. Empirical research on the relation between birth order and intelligence has convincingly documented that performances on psychometric intelligence tests decline slightly from firstborns to later-borns. By contrast, the search for birth-order effects on personality has not yet resulted in conclusive findings. We used data from three large national panels from the United States (n = 5,240), Great Britain (n = 4,489), and Germany (n = 10,457) to resolve this open research question. This database allowed us to identify even very small effects of birth order on personality with sufficiently high statistical power and to investigate whether effects emerge across different samples. We furthermore used two different analytical strategies by comparing siblings with different birth-order positions (i) within the same family (within-family design) and (ii) between different families (between-family design). In our analyses, we confirmed the expected birth-order effect on intelligence. We also observed a significant decline of a 10th of a SD in self-reported intellect with increasing birth-order position, and this effect persisted after controlling for objectively measured intelligence. Most important, however, we consistently found no birth-order effects on extraversion, emotional stability, agreeableness, conscientiousness, or imagination. On the basis of the high statistical power and the consistent results across samples and analytical designs, we must conclude that birth order does not have a lasting effect on broad personality traits outside of the intellectual domain.

SOURCE

So the effect was very small.  In fact, if we look at the supplemental material, we see that the difference in the British sample was just one IQ point -- totally unimportant for all intents and purposes.  So even the small effect found by Zajonc would seem to have been overstated.

Whether a difference of one IQ point requires explanation is unclear but several environmental explanations have been suggested in the links above.

What was NOT found is also interesting. That birth order had NO effect on any personality variable upsets a lot of theories -- but is consistent with genetics rather than the environment being the main influence on personality -- e.g. if you are a miserable whiner like most Leftists are, you were born that way.

One theory that would seem rather damaged by the findings even though it was not directly tested was the pet theory of Frank Sulloway.  Firstborns are conservatives and later-borns are  rebellious, says Sulloway.  Rebelliousness would seem to be a personality variable. See here for a dissection of the strange Prof. Sulloway and his theory.

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Israeli PM Netanyahu is covering up for Hitler?

A report below that I will have a lot to say about immediately following it:

The Israeli Prime Minister has caused a storm hours before his visit to Germany by saying the former Palestinian Muslim elder in Jerusalem convinced Adolf Hitler to exterminate the Jews.

In a speech to the Zionist Congress late on Tuesday, Benjamin Netanyahu referred to a series of attacks by Muslims against Jews in Palestine during the 1920s.  He claimed they were instigated by the then Mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin al-Husseini.

Husseini famously flew to visit Hitler in Berlin in 1941, and Netanyahu said that meeting was instrumental in the Nazi leader's decision to launch a campaign to annihilate the Jews. 'Hitler didn't want to exterminate the Jews at the time, he wanted to expel the Jews,' Netanyahu said in the speech.

'And Haj Amin al-Husseini went to Hitler and said, "If you expel them, they'll all come here."

'"So what should I do with them?" Netanyahu said Hitler asked the mufti, who responded: 'Burn them.'

Netanyahu, whose father was an eminent historian, was quickly harangued by opposition politicians and experts on the Holocaust who said he was distorting the historical record.

Palestinian officials said Netanyahu appeared to be absolving Hitler of the murder of six million Jews in order to lay the blame on Muslims. Twitter was awash with criticism.

Saeb Erekat, the PLO's secretary general and chief Palestinian negotiator with the Israelis, said: 'It is a sad day in history when the leader of the Israeli government hates his neighbour so much that he is willing to absolve the most notorious war criminal in history, Adolf Hitler, of the murder of six million Jews.

'Mr Netanyahu should stop using this human tragedy to score points for his political end.'

Even Netanyahu's defence minister, close ally Moshe Yaalon, said the prime minister had got it wrong.   'It certainly wasn't (Husseini) who invented the Final Solution,' Yaalon told Israel's Army Radio. 'That was the evil brainchild of Hitler himself.'

It is not clear what sources Netanyahu was relying on for his comments. A 1947 book 'The Mufti of Jerusalem' and a newspaper report at the time said a former Hitler deputy had testified at the Nuremberg war crimes trials that Husseini had plotted with the Nazi leader to rid Europe of its Jews.

Husseini was sought for war crimes but never appeared at the Nuremberg proceedings and later died in Cairo.

SOURCE

That Netanyahu was in any way excusing Hitler must be one of the most absurd suggestions ever but nothing is too absurd for the Leftist media.  Netanyahu is a long-time student of the relationship between Hitler and the Arabs so his words are well-considered.

There are two issues in the matter.  Did Husseini, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, change Hitler's mind about the Jews and was Netanyahu in some way excusing Hitler?

The second is of course absurd and Netanyahu said it was absurd.  Hitler was the man who set the holocaust in train and he and his henchmen are to blame for it.  Nothing can excuse that.  Only the Leftist media would suggest otherwise.  An attempt to understand Hitler's mind is not an attempt to wipe away his guilt.

The more interesting question is what influence the Mufti had on Hitler's thinking.  And here the first thing to know is that it was Hitler's practice in all policy areas to give only general guidance and leave it up to his deputies to sort out the details.

It is certainly crystal clear that Hitler was hostile to the Jews from early on but it is NOT clear exactly what he wanted to do about them. Many historians have suggested that he initially wanted only to expel them but gave up on that idea when nobody else would have them.

Netanyahu however, from his reading, claims that it was not only the difficulty of expelling them but also the advice of the Mufti that changed Hitler's mind.

But again we hit the problem that NOBODY knows Hitler's exact thoughts on the matter.  He certainly kept his public pronouncements vague -- as politicians usually do -- so Netanyahu's reconstruction of his thinking is as good as any other. Hitler may or may not have been swayed by the Mufti in allowing the destruction of the Jews.  Netanyahu has his reasons for his reconstruction and we may in time hear the details of that.

There is an account of what transpired during the meeting beteen Hitler and the Mufti and it does not mention the words that  Netanyahu quoted.  But that fails to note that the account is not verbatim. It is a journalistic account in the third person so involves an element of interpretation and selection by the reporter.

My view is that we will never know at what point Hitler decided that the Jews had to be exterminated.

Now for some other comments on the matter with which I only partially agree.

Mufti Advised Hitler on Holocaust, Says Middle East Forum Scholar

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has drawn criticism for comments about the role of al-Hajj Amin al-Husaini, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, in conceiving and perpetrating the Holocaust.

Indeed, leading Nazi aides testified that al-Husaini was one of the instigators of the genocide. In his Damascus memoirs, the mufti admitted how he advised Hitler and other leading Nazis, and that he acquired full knowledge of the ongoing mass murder.

Middle East Forum scholar, historian, and author Wolfgang G. Schwanitz added, "It is a historical fact that the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem al-Hajj Amin al-Husaini was an accomplice whose collaboration with Adolf Hitler played an important role in the Holocaust. He was the foremost extra-European adviser in the process to destroy the Jews of Europe."

Although Schwanitz hadn't previously heard the dialogue between Hitler and al-Husaini as told by Netanyahu, he says it is absurd to ignore the role played by al-Hajj Amin al-Husaini, a war criminal, in encouraging and urging Hitler and other leading Nazis to exterminate European Jewry.

According to the foremost expert on the ties between Nazis and Islamists, there is much evidence that al-Husaini's primary goal was blocking all of the ways out of Europe. He pushed Hitler to slam the last doors of a burning house shut.

In their 2014 book Nazis, Islamists, and the Making of the Modern Middle East, published by Yale University Press, Schwanitz and co-author Barry Rubin delve into the deep ties between Hitler and the Grand Mufti:

"At their meeting [on November 28, 1941, Hitler and al-Husaini] concluded the pact of Jewish genocide in Europe and the Middle East, and immediately afterward, Hitler gave the order to prepare for the Holocaust. The next day invitations went out to thirteen Nazis for the Wannsee Conference to begin organizing the logistics of this mass murder."

The highly acclaimed book also examined the Grand Mufti's efforts to prevent Europe's Jews from finding refuge in the land that would become Israel:

"And since any European Jews let out of Europe might later go to Palestine, al-Husaini made it clear that if Hitler wanted Muslims and Arabs as allies he must close Europe's exits to Jews. At the same time, al-Husaini and Arab rulers also told Britain that if it wanted to keep Arabs and Muslims from being enemies, it must close entrance to Palestine to all Jews. By succeeding on both fronts, al-Husaini contributed to the Holocaust doubly, directly, and from the start."

SOURCE


The comments above about the Wannsee conference are misleading.  It was called, not by Hitler but by Heydrich.  Hitler did not attend.  And the claim: "The next day invitations went out" seems unlikely, as the conference took place on 20 January 1942, nearly two months later.  And we can't be sure what was said and decided there.  Both Eichmann, who took the notes of the meeting, and Heydrich, deliberately made sure that the final record of the conference was kept bland with nothing too specific in it. So, with great respect to Schwanitz and the late Barry Rubin, I can see no way in which the Wannsee conference is at all relevant to what Netanyahu specifically said.

So I stand by what I said earlier:  The matter is indeterminate. Netanyahu has his grounds for his interpretation and others have their grounds


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"Covert" measure of racism invalid

I have been critical of the IAT for over a decade (See e.g. here) so I am pleased to see that its invalidity seems to be becoming widely accepted.  The text below is from a wide-ranging survey of psychological research findings that have not stood up to scrutiny

Perhaps most consequentially, replications failed to validate many uses of the Implicit Association Test, which is the most popular research tool in social psychology. Its designers say the test detects unconscious biases, including racial biases, that persistently drive human behavior. Sifting data from the IAT, social scientists tell us that at least 75 percent of white Americans are racist, whether they know it or not, even when they publicly disavow racial bigotry. This implicit racism induces racist behavior as surely as explicit racism. The paper introducing the IAT’s application to racial attitudes has been cited in more than 6,600 studies, according to Google Scholar. The test is commonly used in courts and classrooms across the country. 

That the United States is in the grip of an epidemic of implicit racism is simply taken for granted by social psychologists​—​another settled fact too good to check. Few of them have ever returned to the original data. Those who have done so have discovered that the direct evidence linking IAT results to specific behavior is in fact negligible, with small samples and weak effects that have seldom if ever been replicated. One team of researchers went through the IAT data on racial attitudes and behavior and concluded there wasn’t much evidence either way.

“The broad picture that emerges from our reanalysis,” they wrote, “is that the published results [confirming the IAT and racism] are likely to be conditional and fragile and do not permit broad conclusions about the prevalence of discriminatory tendencies in American society.” Their debunking paper, “Strong Claims and Weak Evidence,” has been cited in fewer than 100 studies.

SOURCE


The text above is part of an article that looked at replications.  There have been several attempts made recently to see if a research finding will be repeated if the same experiment is repeated. About two thirds of the reports could not be replicated.  When someone else carried out exactly the same research, the original finding was not repeated.  That is of course very destructive to faith in scientific "findings".

There is however another problem that is equally disquieting:  Researchers keep refusing to make their raw data generally available for others to check the analyses.  Many journals have policies saying that authors MUST make their raw data available to other scientists.  But it still does not happen.  As the report below shows, only 38% of psychologists were willing to make their raw data available to others.  That is however good when compared with climate researchers.  The percentage there seems to be 0%.

Are We Wasting a Good Crisis? The Availability of Psychological Research Data after the Storm

By  Wolf Vanpaemel et al.

Abstract

To study the availability of psychological research data, we requested data from 394 papers, published in all issues of four APA journals in 2012. We found that 38% of the researchers sent their data immediately or after reminders. These findings are in line with estimates of the willingness to share data in psychology from the recent or remote past. Although the recent crisis of confidence that shook psychology has highlighted the importance of open research practices, and technical developments have greatly facilitated data sharing, our findings make clear that psychology is nowhere close to being an open science.

SOURCE


And it's even worse here, where 31 emailed requests for data yielded only 4 positive answers.

"Psychology is bunk" would be a reasonable comment on most of it.  That psychologists are overwhelmingly Leftist does help to explain that.  Leftism is bunk too -- JR


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Personality and politics

Even since 1950, psychologists have been trying to predict one's politics from one's personality. The idea was that conservatives all had personalities that were defective in some way. It was a big topic in the '50s and 60s but still burbles on today at a low level.  The exciting connections discovered early on have all gradually withered away under criticism of various sorts --  but a last redoubt remains in the form of research with the Altemeyer "Right wing authoritaranism" (RWA) scale -- an attitude inventory that does have a few weak correlations here and there.

One of the old warriors who is still plugging on is John Duckitt -- originally a white South African but now escaped to New Zealand. Duckitt was for a long time an uncritical acceptor of the conventional wisdom but after some pointed criticism from me (here, here and here) he gradually seems to have become more cautious.

His latest paper reflects that.  He has become very cautious about what the RWA scale measures.  He says: "measures such as the RWA scale cannot be assumed to be assessing anything more than what their items are directly reflecting—a dimension of social attitudes of a broadly ideological nature".  How vague can you get?

In other words he says "search me!" when asked to put a name to what the RWA scale measures. I would say the same.  He does however continue elsewhere to refer to it as a measure of authoritarianism and seems to regard it as a measure of some sort of conservatism, without presenting any evidence to that effect.

In using the RWA scale he inherits an extensive body of prior research that purports to tell us what causes RWA attitudes, with "Openness to experience" being a major candidate.  High RWAs are not very open to experience, it is alleged.

Duckitt has however turned his current skepticism about what the RWA measures onto measures of "Openness to experience" also.  And he concludes, as I also tend to do, that the concept is overly broad.  He has decided that the concept can fruitfully be broken down into two parts:  Openness to intellectual experience and openness to aesthetic experience -- which seems reasonable enough.

But what does he discover when he relates those different sub-components to RWA?  He finds that it is only openness to intellectual experience that predicts RWA.  So a lot of the excitement seems to have gone out of RWA.  There is now only one thin personality dimension that predicts it substantially.  Very thin pickings for 65 years of research!

But here we come to the big question:  What does it all mean for behaviour?  Duckitt has been churning questionnaire answers through his computer for many years but what connection does any of it have with behaviour -- with what people do?  The original measure of authoritarian attitudes -- the F scale -- went out of favour because it had almost NO connection with behaviour.  And Altemeyer himself -- author of the RWA scale -- says that answers on it do not predict vote to any important extent.  When used in Russia it predicts Communist loyalties!  So much for the "Right-wing" tag attached to it: Right-wing Communists??

So Duckitt's correlations would seem to have nothing to do with real-life.  In psychometrician's terms, neither his Intellectual Interest scale nor his RWA scale are satisfactorily validated. What they really measure as general concepts is just speculation.  So let me suggest some possible meanings to Duckitt's findings.  I actually think they are enlightening.

It seems to be early days for us to KNOW what the intellect scale measures but I would have a substantial bet that it is largely a measure of our ubiquitous old friend: IQ.  It is high IQ people who are expressing intellectual interests.  That sounds pretty likely, does it not?

And that in turn throws some light on what the RWA scale measures.  High scorers ("authoritarians") on the RWA scale score low on the intellectual interest scale.  So now we know:  the RWA scale measures dumb opinions!  It too probably correlates negatively with IQ, though I have not seen anything on that.  The RWA does not measure just ANY dumb opinions, however.  There is a universe of dumb opinions and the RWA measures just one subset.  My suggestion would be that the RWA scale reflects primarily the political issues of yesteryear -- old-fashioned attitudes.

UPDATE:  I have now got around to checking my speculation about RWA and IQ and find I was spot-on.  McNamara, P. "Where God and science meet" Vol. 1.  Westport, Praeger. 2006. p. 42. report a correlation of -.37 between them in an adult twin sample

But let's get back to behaviour.  Duckitt at one point does list what he sees as relevant behaviours:

(a) pressures to opinion uniformity among group members,
(b) endorsement of an autocratic leadership and decision making structure,
(c) intolerance of diversity in group composition
(that betokens the potentiality for dissent),
(d) rejection of opinion deviants and extolment of conformists,
(e) in-group favoritism and out-group derogation,
(f) attraction to groups (both in- and out-groups) possessing strong shared realities,
(g) conservatism and adherence to the group’s norms,
(h) loyalty to one’s in-group to the degree to which is constituted a ‘good’ shared reality provider.”

Any conservative would immediately identify that list of behaviours as what he encounters whenever he talks to Leftists, and to Warmists in particular. Duckitt seems to think that those attributes define conservatives but I would like to see the evidence on that.

But conservatives and climate skeptics know from experience who behaves like that.  If you want to encounter closed-mindedness just try to discuss the evidence for global warming with a Leftist.  They just won't listen.  They quote their supreme authority -- Al Gore -- and just get abusive if you talk about such things as the satellite temperature record.  They are so closed-off that they usually don't even know the basic facts about global temperature.   See below for how much the president of the Sierra club knows about it:



And see here and here for the sort of scholarly rejoinder that climate skeptics get from true believers. [/sarcasm]

And for the flood of Fascist-style attempts from the Left to suppress free speech,  see here for just one recent summary.

So Duckitt is happy in his little world of weakly correlated attitude statements but whether they tell us anything about the world outside his window is very dubious. They certainly do not tell us that conservatives are either authoritarian or closed minded.


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Zar und Zimmermann

Yesterday I got in the mail a DVD of Zar und Zimmermann -- a German comic opera written about 150 years ago. It took me a long time to decide to buy it but I thought it might be worth a go. It is Austro/Hungarian operetta from either side of the year 1900 that I like and this was composed well before that period in Germany. But I seem by now to have acquired all of the few available DVDs of Austro/Hungarian operetta so I thought I might branch out a bit. Zar und Zimmermann (The Tsar and the carpenter) is after all an acclaimed and popular comic opera that is still performed in Germany.



Alas, however, the humour was very low level -- clown humour just about.  It had none of the quick wit and sophistication of Austro/Hungarian operetta.  I just got bored with it and turned it off 1.5 hours into the 2.5 hour show.  Maybe I will try to watch it again some time.  Could the final hour redeem it?  Who knows?

UPDATE:  I have now watched the final hour of the show and have ended up more favourably disposed towards it.  I even got a laugh out of the scene where the mistaken emperor Peter meets his girlfriend in his new role.  The show as a whole was just fun with nothing horrible happening -- which I liked.  I tried to re-watch the mentally ill "Carmen" recently but couldn't do it. It was just too silly.  I gave that DVD to Anne.  She likes conventional opera.

I was most taken with the scenes of Dutch shipbuilding, set in 1698.  It was great to see the old hand-tools in use -- adzes, augers, two-handed planes and crosscut saws. I may be one of the few left who have had some contact with all that.  I have seen a man use an adze and I have myself used a wood auger.  It is downstairs in my garage as I write this.

And seeing the crosscut saw was very nostalgic.  I remember my father setting and sharpening his big blue-steel crosscut saws.  He used them to cut down big forest trees in the era before chainsaws.  Yes: There was such a time.

And the very first Ray in my Australian family was a sawyer -- A central trade in building the old wooden ships. How do you get evenly straight planks without a circular saw?  The old sawyers did it.  The original Joseph Henry Ray came out from England to Australia as a convict chained up in the hold of a sailing ship -- an East Indiaman.  So I almost could see my great-great grandfather at work in this show.

An excerpt:



YouTube sometimes does strange things when clips are called from it. You get the wrong clip altogether sometimes. If the above clip is irrelevant, the link to the intended clip is here: https://www.youtube.com/embed/Yat7RGaR9q4

There were actually some distinguished people in the show.  The girlfriend was sung quite charmingly by the Slovakian Lucia Popp, whom the Austrian cultural authorities recognized as a Kammersängerin.

And the conductor was the distinguished Australian Charles Mackerras. There seemed to be rather a lot of Mackerrases around in Australian public life at one time.

The show was supposedly set in "Saardam", now "Zaandam". The production was from the Hamburgische Staatsoper, 1969.


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Is NASA actually unserious about global warming?

Considering their unwavering support of it, that would be a surprising conclusion.  But we find surprising carelessness about it in a place -- their home page -- where they should be very careful about it.  One gets the impression that they are just going through the motions without any real commitment to the claim or interest in it.  The following email was sent to the senior science editor for the NASA site about the matter.  Whoever wrote the NASA piece concerned is either very dumb or very careless:

Re:   Scientific consensus: Earth's climate is warming

Hi Senior Science Editor: Laura Tenenbaum,

At the top of the above referenced web page, it is stated:

"Multiple studies published in peer-reviewed scientific journals show that 97 percent or more of actively publishing climate scientists agree: Climate-warming trends over the past century are very likely due to human activities. In addition, most of the leading scientific organizations worldwide have issued public statements endorsing this position. The following is a partial list of these organizations, along with links to their published statements and a selection of related resources".

I question the use of the time frame, "trends over the past century."

Generally speaking, I believe you will find the consensus (IPCC summary included) to be that it is not until around the middle of the 20th Century - 1950 is often referenced (several, many decades later) - that AGW comes into play. It is not widely believed that until this time CO2 had not yet risen to a level where their might be any potentially observational evidence of a human foot (from anthropogenic greenhouse gases) to be present on global temperature.

In fact - among the various scientific orgs listed on your web site (several referenced in the footnotes), I find very consistent views on this issue:

" . . on the global climate change observed over the past 50 years."  [ 2013-50 ='s 1963]

" . .that human activities (mainly greenhouse‐gas emissions) account for most of the warming since the middle 1900s."

" It is likely that most of the warming in recent decades can be attributed to human activities ."

"The global warming of the past 50 years is due primarily to human-induced . ."

"Most of the observed increase in global average temperatures since the mid-20th century . ."

"Human activities (mainly greenhouse-gas emissions) are the dominant cause of the rapid warming since the middle 1900s (IPCC, 2013)"  - GSA

"It is likely that most of the warming in recent decades can be attributed to human activities (IPCC 2001)."  Joint Science Academies Statement.

"The global warming observed over the past 50 years is due primarily to human-induced emissions of heat-trapping gases." From Executive Summary "Global Climate Change Impacts in the United States (2009) - U.S. Global Change Research Program.

"Most of the observed increase in global average temperatures since the mid-20th century is very likely due to the observed increase in anthropogenic greenhouse gas concentrations.[12] This is an advance since the TAR’s conclusion that “most of the observed warming over the last 50 years is likely to have been due to the increase in greenhouse gas concentrations”  IPCC Fourth Assessment Report: Climate Change 2007

I'd suggest that at a minimum the summary regarding consensus on the "birth of AGW," be changed to match your own expert witnesses, i.e., 'somewhere between the middle of the 20th Century to the late 1970's.'

Lest us not forget the graphic on the top of your page shows a clear global cooling cycle from about the 1940's through the late 1970's.  It's a bit awkward to sell the view that man's footprint on GW occurred just as the Earth was getting serious - for several decades - about global cooling.


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A defence of Muslim hostility from "New Matilda"

Using a typical Leftist strategy, Michael Brull looks at only part of the story in his article below.  He addresses in general terms what blind Freddie knows is an issue about Muslims.  The plain fact is that Muslims constantly demand that we change what we do to accommodate them and express so much hostility to Australian society that some of them go put and randomly shoot innocent Australians who have done nothing to them.  There are some peaceful Muslims but there are a lot of creeps too.

So it is reasonable to suggest that if they dislike us and our arrangements so much, why don't they go elsewhere?  And representatives of both major Australian political parties have done just that recently.  And in asking that, they were saying that our tolerance has its limits, as all tolerance must.  It was saying that our patience with a troublesome subgroup was running out.  And there is no doubt that in saying that the speakers were saying what a great majority of Australians think.

But Leftists like Muslims.  They are united in hate. Leftists share with Muslims a great dissatisfaction with current Western society generally and Australian society in particular.  They too want to destroy the existing arrangements in this country -- what Leftists used to call "the system".  I imagine that some far-Leftists still use that term.

So that is where Brull comes in.  He mounts an attack on "go back" talk under the pretext that such talk is intolerant and bigoted.  And he makes his case by saying that such talk is IN GENERAL intolerant and bigoted -- which indeed it can be.

But circumstances alter cases and Muslims are a particular case. A major reason why we have courts and judges is that general principles don't cover equally well all the cases they might be applied to.  And that is where the Muslim situation is going.  So far we have put up with their antics but there are limits to tolerance.  Brull seems to think there should be none.

But I doubt that he really thinks that.  I think he implies that as a way of defending Muslims only.  Does he think racism should be tolerated, for instance? I am pretty sure he doesn't.  But if so why should we tolerate Muslim supremacism?  Why should we not tell them to take their supremacist attitudes elsewhere?

Racial supremacism is not exactly the same as religious supremacism but both are obnoxious to non-members of the group concerned.  They are both offensive.  And we don't tolerate offensiveness these days do we?


Malcolm Turnbull may be a sophisticated lawyer, but it didn’t take long for him to join in the national dog-whistle. That is, “It is not compulsory to live in Australia. if you find Australian values are, you know, unpalatable, then there’s a big wide world out there and people have got freedom of movement”. Opposition Leader Bill Shorten, unable to oppose official racism from the Coalition, rushed to agree: “If you really hate Australia, well then you should go.”

Though it is in a sense predictable, it should be regarded as strange that in the name of Australian values, the major parties are embracing intolerance. Though we are supposedly a secular country, mainstream political discourse is approaching consensus on political dogmas that shouldn’t be challenged. Those who adopt “Australian” values – whatever those might be – can stay in Australia. Everyone else should leave.

There are lots of reasons someone might want to live in a country. I don’t see that one reason is more valid than another. One person might live in Australia because he loves the country. Another might do so because she loves her family. Another person might just live her because that’s where she was born, and out of inertia isn’t interested in looking into living in other countries. Any citizen of Australia can live here for whatever reason they want.

Attorney-General George Brandis once scandalised many Australians with the comment that we have the right to be bigots. Brandis expressed horror that a man could be taken to “federal court merely because he expressed an opinion about a social or political matter”. Yet it seems to be perfectly acceptable to repeatedly, openly state that people with unpopular political views should leave Australia. It seems only those who adhere to official orthodoxies are welcome.

Saying that those who don’t share Australian values should leave contains within it a certain dog-whistle. Suggesting that dissidents should leave implies that there is something less Australian about them than the rest of us. It doesn’t quite go so far as to say that they are foreign. Just that they would be happier somewhere which is foreign. And as it so happens, this rhetoric is targeted at Muslims who don’t like Australian values.

Though this may offend Australian patriots, if intolerance of political unorthodoxy is to be an Australian value, I think Australia should change. Indeed, I think we would benefit from importing values from another country. That is, from revisiting principles of freedom of thought established over 70 years ago in the Supreme Court of the United States of America.

SOURCE