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Great Barrier grief: Coral 'cooked to death' in scorching summer heatwave

This is just an academic republication of some claims made in 2016, which were shown at the time to be greatly exaggerated.  And note below that global sea surface temperatures actually FELL during late 2016.



So if there was a big warming event in North Queensland waters at the time it was a LOCAL event, not a global one.  So any coral damage was not caused by global warming.

The BOM does record high temperatures in the reef area in 2016 but admits that there were several factors contributing to that.  I quote:

"The 2015–16 El Niño suppressed and delayed the monsoon, leading to reduced cloud cover and weakened winds this summer. Additionally, a relatively low number of summer storms occurred over the Reef. These factors led to increased surface heating and reduced mixing, resulting in substantially warmer ocean temperatures around northern Australia from December to March 2016."

And note that the BOM places the warming in early 2016, not late 2016.  Pesky!

Something else that happened in 2016 was a regional sea-level fall --which really is detrimental to coral and could alone explain any damage.

And note the announcement from late last year that bleached corals are already recovering nicely.  So no fear is warranted.

It's just propaganda below -- propaganda in a scholarly disguise.  I actually wonder whether they did all the surveys they claim to have done? A little bit of interpolation here and there, perhaps?  JCU has a record of dubious integrity.  Ask Peter Ridd about that


Millions of corals on the Great Barrier Reef were 'cooked' during a scorching summer in the northern region, according to scientists.

The underwater heatwave eliminated a huge number of different species of coral during a process which expelled algae after the polyps were stressed.

'When corals bleach from a heatwave, they can either survive and regain their colour slowly as the temperature drops, or they can die.

'Averaged across the whole Great Barrier Reef, we lost 30 per cent of the corals in the nine-month period between March and November 2016,' said Professor Terry Hughes from James Cook University said.

Prof Hughes who acts as the Director of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies at JCU said his team was very surprised to see a quarter of the corals die in just two to three weeks during the March heatwave.

Scientists researched the entire reef by analysing water surveys at various locations along its 2,300-kilometre distance, and combined insight with aerial data and satellite monitoring.

Results showed 29 per cent of the 3,863 reefs which make up the world's largest reef system lost 'two-thirds or more of their corals', which dramatically impacts the ability of the reefs to maintain full ecological abilities.

'The Great Barrier Reef is certainly threatened by climate change, but it is not doomed if we deal very quickly with greenhouse gas emissions.

'Our study shows that coral reefs are already shifting radically in response to unprecedented heatwaves,' said Prof Hughes.

The team warn that if changes are not made to consider climate change it will have a huge effect on tropical reef ecosystems and, therefore, a detrimental impact on the benefits those environments provide to populations of poor nations.

SOURCE

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Men arrested at Starbucks were there for business meeting to change 'our lives'

Why on earth did these guys not spring a few bucks to buy a coffee? Nothing more would have happened if they had done that.  And they could have agreed to do that at any time during the confrontation. So why did they pointedly refuse? Why were they so obstinate?  Repeatedly disobeying a police command is begging for trouble.

Black ego was at work, I think.  The same big ego that lies behind the high rate of black crime. Psychologists have found repeatedly that blacks have unusually high levels of self esteem and that self esteem can clearly blind them to the rights and needs of others on many occasions -- as their crime-rate shows

And that particular Philadelphia Starbucks has apparently had a lot of trouble with people just "hanging out" there without buying anything. Hence their strict policy of promptly ordering such people out.  You buy first and then you sit down. So the policy was there for good reason and the manager -- who is a strong Leftist, not some racist bigot -- was just doing what she was supposed to do in calling them out.

There are claims that some whites were allowed to be seated without ordering but there appears to have been no videos or other evidence of that at the Philadelphia venue.

It is however true that many Starbucks venues are more  relaxed about that.  This Philadelphia venue was different because of past problems. In any case two wrongs don't make a right and it is clear that the black duo were deliberately un-co-operative.

If there were whites there who were seated without ordering they could well have been regular customers -- and regular customers everywhere are given more latitude in various ways. They can be given more time to order, for instance. Different treatment can come from many other things than race. Assuming racism is egregious.

So what is the big one-day break at Starbucks going to tell Starbucks managers?  Nobody knows that in detail yet but it has been claimed that the training will ensure that blacks are never again treated the way the two adventurers described below were treated.  So in future blacks will be allowed to sit around all they like without buying, one imagines.

That's corporate suicide of course.  Starbucks provides a nice environment so it is easy to see blacks taking over their nearest Starbucks as their new hangout. So all Starbucks venues will be so full of blacks that few whites will go there. So no revenue for the business and it will have to close down. Leftist idiocy at work.

One hopes that there is some remaining shred of reason among the Starbucks top brass but, if so, they will have to be changing very little of the policy that brought on this uproar.  One intelligent thing they could do would be to make the policy uniform across all Starbucks branches.  That would help to avoid any misunderstandings


The two black men who were arrested at a Starbucks in downtown Philadelphia last week and accused of trespassing say they were there for a business meeting that they had hoped would change their lives.

Rashon Nelson and Donte Robinson came forward this morning on ABC News' "Good Morning America" to publicly share their story for the first time.

The 23-year-old entrepreneurs and longtime friends said they were waiting to meet a potential business partner at the Starbucks in Philadelphia's Rittenhouse Square neighborhood April 12 when a barista asked them whether they wanted to order anything. They declined and told her they were just there for a quick meeting, they said.

Nelson said he immediately asked to use the restroom when they walked in but was informed it was for paying customers only. So the pair sat at a table and waited for the person with whom they were scheduled to meet.

Then they saw police officers enter the store and speak with the manager, they said.

They didn't think anything of it until the officers approached their table and told them they needed to leave, they said.

"It was just, 'Get out, you have to leave. You're not buying anything, so you shouldn't be here,'" Nelson told "GMA."

They said they calmly told the officers they were there for a meeting, and Robinson said he even called the person for whom they were waiting. But the officers repeatedly insisted that they leave, they said.

"It's a real estate meeting. We've been working on this for months," Robinson said. "We're days away from changing our whole entire situation, our lives, and you about to sit here telling me I can't do that? You're not doing that."

The officers ultimately handcuffed Nelson and Robinson, and escorted them out of the Starbucks and into a squad car before taking them to the police station. Both men were later freed and the charges they were facing -- trespassing and disturbance -- were dropped that night.

An onlooker, Melissa DePino, captured the incident on video, which has been viewed more than 10 million times online and prompted protests outside the coffee giant's location on Spruce Street.

DePino, a 50-year-old writer and mother of two, told ABC News a Starbucks barista shouted from behind the counter at the two men to make a purchase or leave.

"They were sitting quietly minding their own business, and waiting for their friend to come," she said in an interview Sunday.

The Philadelphia Police Department did not immediately respond to ABC News' request for comment this morning. But Philadelphia Police Commissioner Richard Ross Jr. [who is black] said in a video testimonial released Saturday that his officers "did absolutely nothing wrong."

"I can tell you candidly these officers did a service they were called to do," Ross said.

The police commissioner also accused the men of being disrespectful to the officers and said that both were given several chances to leave, but they refused.

"On three different occasions the officers asked the two males politely to leave the location because they were being asked to leave by employees because they were trespassing," he said. "Instead the males continued to refuse as they had told the employees and they told the officers they were not leaving."

SOURCE


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Dating app for people who went to private school slammed. A NEW app exclusively for people who attended a private school has been slammed as “elitist”, “classist” and “totally ridiculous”

It's anything but ridiculous.  Going to a private school makes you one of Britain's ruling class.  It's a warrant that you have worked hard and had a good education.  If you went to a government school you could be a know-nothing nobody.

The 7% of the population who went to private schools in Britain basically run everything. They even dominate Britain's Olympic team.  Britain is lucky to have them.  Britain would be a real mess if it were run by the know-nothing, never-stretched graduates of the State schools.

So you see why the system below touches on a real need for people to meet others with a common background and with common values. Private school graduates are actually different

And to be even more politically incorrect, private school graduates are also an intellectual elite.  So much so that doubts have arisen over whether the later-life success of private school graduates is due to their schooling or their higher IQs.

There are two prerequisites for getting into a private school.  Your parents have to  be able to afford some pretty steep fees and you have to pass the Common Entrance Examination (CE), which is little more than an IQ test.  And the money requirement is also intellectually selective.  Going back at least as far as Terman & Oden in the 1920s it has been known that high IQ people tend to get rich.  Herrnstein & Murray wrote a well-known book a couple of decades ago which also showed that.

Not all rich people are smart but most are. The dim aristocrat is a well-known figure in British life but they tend to lose their money -- so once again the relationshp between money and IQ is established.

So it is pretty clear that private school kids are intellectually more gifted and we know that IQ is an important factor in assortative mating -- people's general tendency to marry  others with a similar background to themselves.  So the facility described below should be very helpful.  It pre-sorts your partners into a potentially useful category

For the sake of balance, I should add a few qualifying notes to what I have said below.  There are quite a lot of smart working class kids who will do as well as private school kids if they are offered schooling similar to what private schools students get. That happens in Britain's government-funded Grammar schools. And Grammar schools too require the student to pass an admission test -- the 11 plus -- which is also largely an IQ test.  And many Grammar School graduates have gone on to do well both economically and in other ways.

Sadly, however, the British Left are furiously opposed to Grammar Schools so there are not now many of them, thus entrenching  Britain's low social mobility.  What school you went to is overwhelmingly important to life-success in Britain.  And it is the British Left who stand in the way of broadening access to advantageous schools


THE world’s first dating app for the privately-educated has launched — but its founder insists it has nothing to do with snobbery or social division.

The app, Toffee, launched earlier this week and is the brainchild of Londoner Lydia Davis.

It is strictly off-limits to anyone who attended a state school thanks to a “hybrid checking process” that uses “automated social media cross checks” and a “manual screening process” to make sure the great unwashed don’t slip through the cracks.

But despite restricting membership to those from privileged backgrounds only, Ms Davis, 36, told The Mirror it was designed purely to help people find their soulmates.

“Toffee is just about helping people meet and fall in love. It’s not supposed to be snobby or divisive. I just want to help people do their thing,” she said.

“It’s just another niche dating app — there are lots of other dating apps for normal people.

“But there are also apps specifically targeted at smaller groups. There’s one for finding a sugar daddy, one for Jewish daters.”

She told the publication she expected the app to be controversial.  “Navigating the dating scene is really difficult, and it’s proven that people want to meet like-minded people who share the same interests and values,” Ms Davis said.

“I know it might bring about lots of feelings but it’s not meant to offend anyone. “Toffee is just a dating app for a group of people. We’re not trying to be snobby.”

But despite Ms Davis’ assurances, Toffee has been slammed as “elitist”, “classist” and “totally ridiculous” online, with one reviewer even labelling it a “classist hate crime”.

Ms Davis, a professional matchmaker, is now in a relationship with an unnamed man from a “similar background” who was also privately educated — but she insisted she would have been open to dating someone from any background.

She also told The Mirror she would be happy if her potential future children married a commoner. “I’m a total romantic and finding someone to fall in love with is so special. Everyone’s preferences are different and that’s what makes it exciting,” Ms Davis said.

Toffee has an Instagram account and a Facebook page, and its bio states: “Toffee is the world’s first dating app for people who were privately educated. We set it up because we know people from similar backgrounds are more likely to stick together.”

SOURCE

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Moscow has ‘irrefutable’ evidence chem attack in Syria’s Douma was staged – Russia’s envoy to OPCW

The Western allies have no investigative journalists on the ground in Syria while Russia does have people on the ground there, so this could be authoritative.

Canadian climate skeptic Stephen McIntyre reports:  I've collated, inspected, taken earliest observed time of #Douma hospital photos and videos. All come from two jihadists; nearly all from a single room during probably less than half hour with no casualties and no more than 30 individuals (mostly children/babies). Jihadi flash mob?

Moscow has “irrefutable proof” that the alleged chemical incident in Syria’s Douma was a “false-flag attack,” orchestrated by UK security services with support from the United States, the Russian envoy to the OPCW [Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons] said.

“We have not just a ‘high level of confidence,’ as our Western partners uniformly put it; we have irrefutable proof that there was no chemical attack in Douma on April 7,” Russia’s Ambassador to the Organization for the Prohibition of the Chemical Weapons Aleksandr Shulgin said at a special meeting of the UN chemical watchdog’s executive council. The diplomat added that the incident had been a “pre-planned false-flag attack by the British security services, which could have also been aided by their allies in Washington.”

“Things unfolded according to the pre-written scenario prepared by Washington. There’s no doubt, the Americans play ‘first fiddle’ in all of this,” Shulgin said, adding that “attack” was staged by “pseudo-humanitarian NGOs,” [White Helmets] which are under the patronage of the Syrian government’s foreign adversaries.

Russian radiological, chemical and biological-warfare units carefully examined the scene of the alleged attack mentioned in the NGOs’ reports immediately after the liberation of Douma from the militant groups, Shulgin said. He then drew attention to the fact that the Russian military specialists found “not a single piece of evidence” substantiating the claims about the alleged chemical attack. Instead, they found local witnesses who said that the video allegedly showing the aftermath of the perceived attack was in fact staged.

The timing of the attack was also bewildering, the Russian diplomat said, adding that the Syrian government had absolutely no reason to gas its own citizens when the city was already almost liberated from the militants. Under such circumstances, the accusations against Damascus look “absurd,” he said. “The senselessness of these claims is striking,” Shulgin added, referring to the statements of Western leaders.

The US and its allies are not interested in a real investigation into the alleged Douma attack, the Russian envoy to the OPCW said. Washington, London and Paris immediately pinned the blame for the incident on Damascus, and launched strikes against Syrian military and civilian facilities without waiting for the OPCW team even to start its investigation on the ground.

SOURCE 

Note:  The strike was of no military significance anyway.  It was just expensive theatre

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Lavrov: Swiss lab says ‘BZ toxin’ used in Salisbury, not produced in Russia, was in US & UK service

The Skripal affair has always smelled.  The British government rushed to blame Russia (sorry for the pun) long before it had any evidence of Russian involvement in the poisoning.  And initially the British chemical weapons establishment at Porton Down said it could not tell where the chemical agent came from.  The alleged Novichok agent is an old one and there are quite a few derivatives of it that are used in a number of countries -- so certainty about blame was always going to be difficult.  Eventually, presumably under political pressure, Porton Down changed its mind and said the stuff definitely came from Russia.

I was relating all this to a friend who had been out of contact with the news for a couple of months.  I noted that the alleged Novichok had not in fact killed anyone and all those affected were making a good recovery.  He guffawed at that, saying:  "If Russia had done it they would be dead".  That is my conclusion too.

And how is it that Britain refuses to hand over to Russia any samples of the not-so-deadly agent?  What are they afraid  Russia might find?  Only the Americans and the Swiss have been given samples.  But the Swiss are people of considerable integrity and it seems that they have denied that any Novichok was present in the samples. So the whole coverup of Mrs May's rush to a mistaken judgment seems to be coming apart.  The poisoning seems to be some sort of amateur effort by parties unknown


The substance used on Sergei Skripal was an agent called BZ, according to Swiss state Spiez lab, the Russian foreign minister said. The toxin was never produced in Russia, but was in service in the US, UK, and other NATO states.

Sergei Skripal, a former Russian double agent, and his daughter Yulia were poisoned with an incapacitating toxin known as 3-Quinuclidinyl benzilate or BZ, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said, citing the results of the examination conducted by a Swiss chemical lab that worked with the samples that London handed over to the Organisation for the Prohibition of the Chemical Weapons (OPCW).

The Swiss center sent the results to the OPCW. However, the UN chemical watchdog limited itself only to confirming the formula of the substance used to poison the Skripals in its final report without mentioning anything about the other facts presented in the Swiss document, the Russian foreign minister added. He went on to say that Moscow would ask the OPCW about its decision to not include any other information provided by the Swiss in its report.

Lavrov said that the Swiss center that assessed the samples is actually the Spiez Laboratory. This facility is a Swiss state research center controlled by the Swiss Federal Office for Civil Protection and, ultimately, by the country’s defense minister. The lab is also an internationally recognized center of excellence in the field of the nuclear, biological, and chemical protection and is one of the five centers permanently authorized by the OPCW.

The Russian foreign minister said that London refused to answer dozens of “very specific” questions asked by Moscow about the Salisbury case, as well as to provide any substantial evidence that could shed light on the incident. Instead, the UK accused Russia of failing to answer its own questions, he said, adding that, in fact, London did not ask any questions but wanted Moscow to admit that it was responsible for the delivery of the chemical agent to the UK.

The scandal erupted in early March, when former double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia were found in critical condition in the town of Salisbury. Top UK officials almost immediately pinned the blame on Russia.

Moscow believes that the entire Skripal case lacks transparency and that the UK is in fact not interested in an independent inquiry. "We get the impression that the British government is deliberately pursuing the policy of destroying all possible evidence, classifying all remaining materials and making a transparent investigation impossible," the Russian ambassador to the UK, Alexander Yakovenko, said during a press conference on Friday.

SOURCE

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Mass: Police officer repeatedly strikes a black Harvard University student while he was pinned to the ground

"Harvard University student" is a true description but is deliberately misleading.  That he was naked, aggressive and high on drugs would be a more relevant description. When police hit a man already on the ground it is usually  to subdue them and stop them from trying to escape.  With druggies, particularly, being put on the ground does not subdue them.  They still keep wriggling and giving the police a hard time trying to control them.  So the police keep hitting them as long as it takes to gain control of them.  That seems to have been the case here. I feel sorry for the police who have to deal with such dregs


Cambridge’s mayor called a video of a police officer repeatedly striking a black Harvard University student while he was pinned to the ground by fellow officers “disturbing” and promised that the findings of an internal probe would be made public.

“Cambridge affirms that Black Lives Matter, but it must be true in practice as well,” Mayor Marc C. McGovern said in a statement Sunday morning.

Later in the day, Cambridge police released a seven-minute video that showed the encounter between officers and Selorm Ohene, 21, of Cambridge, on Friday night.

Three Cambridge officers and an MBTA Transit Police officer pinned Ohene to the ground while arresting him near the corner of Massachusetts Avenue and Waterhouse Street, according to a police report. Ohene was naked and a woman who appeared to be Ohene’s acquaintance told officers he may have been on drugs, the report stated.

In the video, shot by a bystander and released by police, Ohene is standing on the median of Massachusetts Avenue, surrounded by three officers, then turns and approaches one of them.

Cambridge officers and a transit officer grabbed the legs of a 21-year-old Harvard student, who was naked on Massachusetts Avenue, police said.

An officer grabs Ohene’s legs from behind, knocking him forward into another officer. The three men fall to the pavement. The third officer helps pin Ohene to the ground.

Ohene can be heard on the video yelling, “Help me, Jesus! Help me, Jesus!” as he struggles with the officers. A fourth officer helps restrain Ohene, and one of the officers can be seen striking Ohene once, according to video released by police.

In a separate video of the incident, filmed from the opposite side of the street and obtained by the Globe Saturday night, an officer can be seen striking Ohene quickly four times while another officer grips the first officer’s belt.

Ohene was charged with indecent exposure, disorderly conduct, assault, resisting arrest, and assault and battery on ambulance personnel, police said.  An arraignment date hasn’t been scheduled, according to a spokeswoman for the Middlesex district attorney’s office.

The mayor viewed a video clip of Ohene’s arrest that was posted on social media, a spokesman for the mayor said.

“What is shown on the video is disturbing,” McGovern said. “When confrontations cannot be averted and include the use of physical force, we must be willing to review our actions to ensure that our police officers are providing the highest level of safety for all.”

City Councilor Sumbul Siddiqui also called the video disturbing and questioned whether punching is an acceptable use of force by officers.

“I think when you see the video and you see the officer punch the individual after he’s subdued, you think, ‘What kind of protocol was that?’ ” Siddiqui said during a telephone interview Sunday.

Police said they told Ohene they were “only there to help him and were concerned for his safety,” according to the police report. Police said Ohene became “aggressive, hostile, and intimidating” and approached officers with clenched fists, prompting them to take him to the ground.

During the arrest, an officer struck Ohene five times in the torso, according to the police report.

Cambridge Police Commissioner Branville G. Bard told city councilors in a statement Saturday that police used their discretion and struck Ohene to “gain his compliance and place him in handcuffs.”

Jeremy Warnick, a spokesman for Cambridge police, said in an e-mail Sunday that the department is committed to a “thorough and complete” review.

While Ohene was being transported to a local hospital for observation, he spat blood and saliva at an EMT, police said in a separate statement Saturday. Two Cambridge officers were also treated for minor injuries and unprotected exposure to bodily fluids, police said.

Ohene’s arrest occurred in view of about 30 people, according to police.

Members of the Harvard Black Law Students Association witnessed Ohene’s confrontation with police, and on Saturday, the group issued a statement calling it “a brutal instance of police violence” and demanded that officers involved “be investigated and held accountable.’

Daunasia Yancey, a Boston-based community activist in the Black Lives Matter movement, said in a phone interview that police generally use a greater level of force against African-Americans than against whites.

“It’s heartening for many people to hear the mayor say it’s ‘disturbing.’ But we also need to say it’s not okay,” said Yancey. “We need people and officials to just say it’s wrong.”

The Cambridge Police Department’s use of force policy, last updated in 2011, allows officers to “use only that degree of force which is reasonably necessary” to make an arrest, place someone in protective custody, bring an incident under control, or protect the lives of themselves or others.

SOURCE




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Trump and the White Helmets

Churchill once described the Soviet Union as "a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma". The same could be said of Syria at the moment.  Ascertaining what is actually going on there is very difficult and dogged with disinformation from several sources.  A major reason for that is the sheer danger of being there at all. So the Western media seem to have no-one on the ground there at all.  They are not going to risk the precious Leftist skins of their journalists just for the sake of the truth. They rely on feeds from Syria which are all likely to be compromised.

And that is where the White Helmets come in.  They masquerade as peace and humanitarian workers and have been adopted by the West.  It appears however that they are all old El Qaeda supporters.  Since nobody else was claiming to be peace workers, the Western authorities have done a Nelson and turned a blind eye to the dubious origins of the White Helmets. With Osama bin Laden dead and ISIS stealing their thunder, El Qaeda is a shadow of its former self but it has not gone away. And it is the White Helmets who are the sources principally relied on by the Western media for their news feeds out of Syria.

So it is entirely likely that Russia is right in claiming that the chemical weapon attacks in Syria were in fact a put-up job by the White Helmets. Who was in a position to question what the White Helmets said?  There seems little doubt that two chemical attacks did happen.  Nobody is questioning that.  The big issue is "Who dun it?".  Who was responsible for it? 

You can work out the answer to that by looking at what nearly happened if Mr Trump had fallen for it.  The White Helmets very nearly started a war between the USA and Russia!   What rejoicing throughout Syria that would have generated!  So I think all logic is on the side of the Russian account.

And Trump was initially taken in.  But wise counsel obviously got to him and pointed out the difficulty of pinning responsibility for the deaths on anyone.  Trump then did a big backtrack and said that an American strike would happen "maybe never".  That was his response to the difficulty of assigning blame.  He was prepared to do nothing in the circumstances.

Then President Macron of France waded into the issue and strongly suggested that France would strike at Syria.  Macron claimed to have complete proof that Assad was responsible.  On what grounds?  Much flimsier grounds than he claimed.  I have read Macron's dossier and it is all "highly probable" claims -- guesswork in other words.

But Trump liked the idea of a joint French/British/American strike on Syria.  American relations with Britain and France have been under strain ever since Trump got into office and this was a great opportunity to restore co-operation and friendship. It was too good to miss

But what about the target?  Targeting any of the Russian/Syrian facilities in Syria would be just what El Qaeda wanted -- so the targets had to be non-military. So alleged centers of chemical weapon production and design were the perfect target. They would be good targets even if no gas attacks had occurred. Chemical weapons are just always BAD! No excuses needed for attacking them.

That Russia was not directly involved with those targets was shown by the fact that all of the cruise missiles appear to have gotten  through and no planes were lost.  Cruise missiles are SLOW -- about the same speed as a Boeing airliner -- and the feared Russian S-400 anti-aircraft battery could have slaughtered them. Obvious conclusion:  The S-400 was not deployed to protect those targets.  The S-400 appears to have been deployed to protect only the joint Russian/Syrian airbase near Latakia.

So the Syrian and Russian armed forces are intact and able to operate as before despite all the huffing and puffing about how evil they are.  Neither Mr Assad nor Mr Putin are likely to be too put out.

Conclusion:  The raid got big kudos for Trump from almost everybody -- at minimal cost and at only symbolic damage to Russia.  Mr Trump is a statesman for the ages. He navigated a brilliant path though a very dangerous challenge.

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Australia's Discrimination Commissioner assumes discrimination rather than proving it

Frank Chung comments on a race-obsessed public servant.  If discrimination can be proved that is one thing but assuming it from statistics is very different.

Why is it different?  Because different groups have different priorities.  Indians, for instance gravitate to small businesses where income can be hidden.  There's a tradition of that in India.  So, in case you haven't noticed, we have a LOT of Indian taxi-drivers -- a mostly cash business. I was a taxi-driver myself once so I know a bit about it.  And there are Indian restaurants all over as well.

So does the over-representation of Indians in taxi-driving prove discrimination against white and East Asian taxi-drivers?  It's all a nonsense. East Asians for instance have a strong bent towards the professions.  So you won't often find bright East Asians in big business.  They are more likely to be the big businessman's doctor or medical specialist.  Is that discrimination we have to worry about?

From his name, I am assuming that Frank Chung is partly of East Asian ancestry and he clearly doesn't feel discriminated against


AUSTRALIA’S Race Discrimination Commissioner is being paid $340,000 a year by taxpayers to peddle racist pseudoscience.

In fact, Dr Tim Soutphommasane’s title could be more accurately described as “Commissioner for Racist Discrimination”, given his obsession with skin colour and apparent distaste for anyone from an “Anglo-Celtic or European background”.

Or in other words, white people.

In a risible piece of research released by the Human Rights Commission and the University of Sydney Business School on Tuesday, the good doctor lamented the fact that only eight executives in ASX 200 companies have a “non-European background”.

Similarly, of the 30 members of the Federal Ministry, there is “no one who has a non-European background” and only “one who has an indigenous background”.

Amusingly, that means Aged Care Minister Ken Wyatt — who is indigenous with part English, Irish and Indian heritage — is at once part of the problem and part of the solution, according to Dr Soutphommasane.

He goes on to rattle off similar numbers for the state and federal public service and university administrations. “All up there are 11 of the 372 CEOs and equivalents who have a non-European or indigenous background,” he said.

“A mere cricket team’s worth of diversity. These are dismal statistics for a society that prides itself on its multiculturalism. They challenge our egalitarian self-image. And they challenge our future prosperity as a nation. If we aren’t making the most of our multicultural talents, we may be squandering opportunities.”

Like a modern-day Charles Darwin on the HMS Beagle, Dr Soutphommasane — magnifying glass and colour wheel in hand — has taken a meticulous taxonomic study on his voyage through corporate Australia.

“Of those who occupy 2490 of the most senior posts in Australia, 75.9 per cent have an Anglo-Celtic background, 19 per cent have a European background, 4.7 per cent have a non-European background and 0.4 per cent have an indigenous background,” he said.

“Described another way, about 95 per cent of senior leaders in Australia have an Anglo-Celtic or European background. Although those who have non-European and indigenous backgrounds make up an estimated 24 per cent of the Australian population, such backgrounds account for only 5 per cent of senior leaders.

“In a society where nearly one-quarter is estimated to have a non-European or indigenous background, the findings of our latest study challenge us to do better with our multiculturalism.”

Naturally, these findings have led Dr Soutphommasane to call for “cultural targets and quotas across the business, academic and political worlds”, according to Fairfax.

There are three pretty obvious problems with this.

Firstly, Dr Soutphommasane seems to be talking out both sides of his mouth. He says he wants “cultural targets”, but then admits his real problem is with “European and Anglo-Celtic” peoples. How similar are the cultures of Norway and Greece, or Ukraine and Portugal?

Secondly, Dr Soutphommasane does not seem to understand the meaning of “egalitarian”, which the Oxford Dictionary defines as “believing in or based on the principle that all people are equal and deserve equal rights and opportunities”.

Equality of opportunity is not the same thing as equality of outcome. As US economist Milton Friedman said, a society that “puts equality of outcome ahead of freedom will end up with neither equality nor freedom”.

“The use of force to achieve equality will destroy freedom, and the force, introduced for good purposes, will end up in the hands of people who use it to promote their own interests,” he said.

Which leads to the third point. Proponents of race and gender quotas like Dr Soutphommasane believe equality of opportunity is impossible due to the pseudoscience of “unconscious bias” — a kind of modern-day phrenology which claims everyone is incredibly racist and sexist even if they don’t think they are.

Unconscious bias, also called implicit bias, first emerged in 1998 with the rollout of something called the implicit association test and immediately spread like wildfire through western institutions, spawning a multimillion-dollar industry of consultants who, Clockwork Orange style, reprogram the racism out of workers.

It seems to be one of Dr Soutphommasane’s most deeply held beliefs. In 2014, he blamed unconscious bias for the “bamboo ceiling”, recounting a traumatic incident in which a friend asked whether he worked “in the finance or IT section”.

“My new friend’s faux-pas was not that he had made certain assumptions about me,” he wrote. “His mistake was that he had revealed some assumptions that might have been better kept to himself.”

Unfortunately, the scientific basis of the IAT — and so the entire concept of unconscious bias and the associated obsession with mandatory quotas — has effectively collapsed.

Even the creators of the IAT, Harvard social psychologists Anthony Greenwald and Mahzarin Banaji, have distanced themselves from its current usage, admitting that it does not predict “biased behaviour”.

In 2015, they wrote that the problems with the test make it “problematic to use to classify persons as likely to engage in discrimination”. As The Wall Street Journal put it last year, “the politics of the IAT had leapfrogged the science behind it”.

And yet people like Dr Soutphommasane soldier on undeterred, even in the face of mounting evidence. It was Dr Soutphommasane, for example, who hailed the Victorian government’s “blind recruiting” trial in 2016, in which applicants’ resumes are de-identified of name, gender, age and location.

But hilariously, a study last year by the behavioural economics team in the Prime Minister’s department, known as the “nudge unit”, actually found blind recruiting has the opposite intended effect.

According to the study, led by Harvard professor Michael Hiscox, Australian Public Service recruiters “generally discriminated in favour of female and minority candidates”.

“We anticipated this would have a positive impact on diversity — making it more likely that female candidates and those from ethnic minorities are selected for the shortlist,” he told the ABC. “We should hit pause and be very cautious about introducing this as a way of improving diversity, as it can have the opposite effect.”

There may be many reasons for the lack of one-to-one population representation at the very highest levels of business and politics — but for the Race Discrimination Commissioner, when you’re a hammer, everything looks like a nail.

For someone who is paid $340,000 a year to come up with this dross, it’s not surprising the concept of meritocracy is a foreign one. Or is that being racist?

SOURCE

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Emotional music

I spent some time listening to some wonderful songs last night

First was Leonid Kharitonov singing "Volga Boatman" with the Red Army Choir.  The song is actually a type of shanty.  It is not the song of sailors, however.  It is a song of men on a towpath dragging boats along the Volga, presumably upstream. It is a song of endurance.  As such the words are simple to the point of meaninglessness but the tune is compelling.  And when you see Kharitonov  -- a most manly looking man -- you get a feeling for Russian power.

 Russians are enduring. They have to be -- with both a demanding climate and a demanding government.  I admire them and have a feeling for what life must be like in Russia. When you listen to Kharitinov, however, you begin to understand the war on the Eastern front. The Germans were military specialists and killed 4 Russians for every one of theirs that fell.  But the Russians just did not give in -- so indomitability triumphed over military brilliance.



Then I watched an excellent version of The Battle Hymn of the Republic, played by an American army band. It was a very sophisticated performance in my language by people of my ethnicity referring to my religious heritage but I was nevertheless a little uncomfortable with it.  I was disturbed by the women in the band, including the very capable woman conductor.  In my old-fashioned military mind, we fight to protect our women, not put them in the army.  A nation that puts its mothers in danger has lost the plot and endangered its future in my view.



Then I watched a very well done version of Hatikva, the national anthem of Israel. I am hugely pro-Israel so that moved me.  When  they sing about Jerusalem that is not just their  religious capital but it is ours too.  Their Bible is our Bible too.  So we too have learnt to yearn for Zion.



Then there was a rendition of the simple but beloved Russian folk song: Katyusha.  With a lively little Russian girl (Valeria Kurnushkina) drawn in to sing her part.  The Choir with their big hats sang happily along with her.  She was a charmer.



And then I went to a magnificent rendition in the Albert hall of that great English song "Jerusalem".   Blake's magical words and Parry's setting are incomparable.  Anybody with English blood in them (and I am one) has to glorify in that song despite it's vast theological improbability.  I liked some of the comments left on the video.  I felt that way too:



The comments:

Thank God I was born an Englishman!!

For starters I hardly ever cry, but this almost brought a tear to my eye. Were so proud of you from across the pond, sending lots of love and wishes of luck on your new journey of independence.

I don't give a toss about what people say or think about my country, I'm a proud Englishman and that will never change

Amazing! Wish i was british. In germany it's a crime to love your own country.

Almost cried when I heard Jerusalem today and I'm not even British. I truly wish a bright future and only the best for England and for the whole UK.

God save the Queen from sweden .

If you happen to be a free citizen anywhere on this planet, believe it or not, you are indebted to England. By the way i am not British and not among the fortunate ones.

Being born English is like winning the first prize in the lottery of life.

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Nonsense in a leading medical journal

The article below, by Frumkin & Patz, appeared in the latest issue of JAMA.  the authors seem to be in more Greenie organizations than you can poke a stick at so a low intellectual level has to be expected in their writings. And that expection is fulfilled.  They regurgitate some common Warmist talking points but overlook a lot of basics.

Their mention of methane is for instance naive. Methane does intercept certain wavelengths of solar radiation in the laboratory but in the actual atmosphere the much more abundant water vapor absorbs the same wavelengths (among others), leaving little or nothing for methane to affect. So, even accepting global warming theory in full, it is clear that adding methane to the atmosphere can have no effect on warming

And their claim that warming is dangerous to your health is a deliberate lie.  Medical men of all people should know that winter is the season for dying, not summer.  So it follows that warming is actually GOOD for your health overall.

And they end up by showing what extremists they are.  They want all fossil fuels to be left in the grounds henceforth.

Why these brainless fanatics were given a platform in a respected medical journal rather escapes me.







SOURCE 

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Grandparents' education gives year 3 students huge boost

The Leftist morons below have just rediscovered IQ but don't know it.  IQ is a huge influence on educational success and is strongly inherited genetically.  So of course high achieving people will tend to have high achieving children and grandchildren.  The various "explanations" put forward below for the relationship are therefore supererogatory and pointless, though they may have some marginal explanatory power.

Most amusing is the apparent belief that schools can somehow make up for a disadvantageous ancestry.  Since there is not yet any known way to genetically engineer a high IQ, the expectation is not so much optimistic as plain stupid.  Leftism  is a terrible blight on the brain


A student's year 3 NAPLAN scores can be significantly impacted by their grandparents' level of education, with new evidence showing that educational disadvantage is multi-generational.

Having four family members with university degrees can place a student 1.4 years ahead of their peers who have no family members with high attainment by year 3.

The study, which looked at the NAPLAN numeracy and reading scores and family background of 5107 infants aged between three and 19 months and 4983 children aged between four and five in 2004 over a decade, found that "grandparent educational attainment is associated with grandchild test scores independent of parent education" where both grandparents have high attainment.

Lead author of the study, Kirsten Hancock, a senior research fellow at the Telethon Kids Institute, said the findings have implications for both schools and families.

"It has implications for the current generation of parents, knowing that what they're doing now not only affects their own children but also generations down the line," Ms Hancock said.

"Not everyone's going to go to university but valuing education and supporting their kids is really important."

Ms Hancock said the study also "helps to show what schools are dealing with".

"There is a wide range of backgrounds that kids come to school with and it's difficult for schools to overcome that," Ms Hancock said.

"Something like 20 per cent of a child's waking hours are spent at school each year, so what happens there has to be pretty good to offset all these other things."

The study found that grandparents can contribute to their grandchildren's education directly through financial or other support, or by promoting the value of education within the family and providing access to useful networks.

It also found that grandparents' ability to contribute differs by country, and that Australian grandparents have plenty of opportunities to provide a financial boost by helping with school fees and costs or supporting extracurricular activities.

"Enrolment in private education is also substantially higher in Australia than in other countries, with almost 40 per cent of students attending non-government schools compared with an OECD average of 15 per cent," the paper states.

"Grandparents may also help parents to secure housing in the catchment areas of desirable public schools, either by providing financial support, or by providing free childcare that enable parents to generate more income and have greater choice with respect to housing."

The advantage provided by well-educated grandparents and parents tends to be concentrated in some families, with people with high educational attainment likely to partner with people who have similar levels of attainment.

"Such a concentration of human capital may contribute further to educational inequalities in subsequent generations," the paper states.

Ms Hancock said: "We haven't had the data to prove this in Australia before now. "For children who come from these strong educational backgrounds, they're doing pretty well. But it's difficult for schools to overcome and they need significant resources."

The latest NAPLAN results show that students across all year levels are far more likely to achieve scores in the top bands for all five NAPLAN domains if one parent holds a bachelor degree or higher.

This was especially evident in the numeracy test where 33.4 per cent of year 3 students with parents who had a bachelor degree or higher achieved a band 6 or above, compared to 13.2 per cent of those with parents who had a diploma and 2.7 per cent of students whose parents only reached year 11.

SOURCE

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Ex-Treasury secretary compares Trump to Mussolini

Musso also believed in minimum wages, equal rights for women and a strong progressive tax. So I expect Summers will also mention that the Democrats are the true heirs of Mussolini.  Or maybe not

Once again, all Summers has on Trump is his words.  He convicts Trump of Fascism solely because Trump has critizied one particular business - Amazon.  For some unknown reason, a President is not allowed to criticise a business, apparently.  No First Amendment protections for Trump's speech?

Summers is an economist so he should know that a perfectly democratic country -- Britain -- not only criticized various businesses but nationalized them and brought them under government control in the '40s and '50s. Such actions clearly go a long way beyond criticizing the businesses concerned.  Mrs Thatcher reversed that folly but both the nationalization and the de-nationalization were accomplished in a perfectly democratic way.

Mr Summers appears to have a quite strange idea of what democracy can and cannot do.  From Alcibiades in the Peloponnesian wars to this day, democratic leaders can do very foolish things but that does not make them less democratic


Former Treasury Secretary Larry Summers believes President Trump's recent attacks on Amazon are un-American. "Going on jihads with the power of the federal government against companies whose CEOs' private activity he doesn't find congenial — that's not the stuff of democracy," Summers said in an interview Thursday on CNN's "New Day. "That's the stuff of much more totalitarian countries."

Amazon (AMZN)founder and CEO Jeff Bezos privately owns the Washington Post, which Trump often derides as "fake news" for reporting on the administration. Trump has claimed without evidence that the Post is a "lobbying group for Amazon."

In the past week, Trump has fired off five false or misleading tweets about Amazon, including that the company doesn't pay state and local taxes and is causing the Postal Service to lose money. (Amazon collects sales tax in every state that charges one and remits it to the states, and it also pays the post office to deliver packages to customers' doors.)

Trump's tweets, as well as reports raising the possibility the Trump administration may look into tighter regulation or antitrust lawsuits against Amazon, have driven down the company's stock.

"Make no mistake, that's a Mussolini tactic, not an American tactic," Summers said of Trump targeting a private company. He called Trump's tweets "potentially quite dangerous for our business confidence."

Summers, a Democrat, led the Treasury Department under President Clinton and served as President Obama's top economic adviser from 2009-2010. He has been an outspoken critic of Trump and the administration's economic policies in the past.

The former Treasury secretary said Trump's attacks on Amazon should make "pro-business Republicans" nervous.

SOURCE

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Fascism 'goes unnoticed until it's too late': Albright sounds dire warning on Trump

Just for starters in considering Albright's fulminations below, I should point out that Fascism does NOT sneak up on anybody ('goes unnoticed until it's too late'). It is very vocal and the rises to power of both Mussolini and Hitler were very well telegraphed in advance.  Hitler won power in a democratic election after having fought many previous unsuccessful election campaigns, and Mussolini was a well-known and widely respected thinker long before the March on Rome (which he did not attend).

The Albright article is in fact an amusing example of how one-eyed Leftism can be.  What president has become so tired with the democratically elected legislators that he has tried to over-ride them with a slew of regulations and orders, some with with no apparent legal warrant?  That's incipient Fascism if ever there was one.  Ignoring the legislature is a huge step in the direction of Fascism.  But that was Barack Obama, not Donald Trump.

The essence of Fascism is control, a high level of government control over everything.  So has Trump sought to expand government control of the country and its citizens?  To the contrary he has rejoiced and continues to rejoice in how many governmental regulations he and Congress have wiped out,

But surely the Leftist claims below have SOMETHING anti-democratic to point to in Trump's actions? There is not in fact a single deed listed.  All they have is a jaundiced account of what Trump has SAID.  But blind Freddy by now knows that Trump thinks out loud, meaning that he gets details wrong and often contradicts himself. But that is actually his process of looking at all the options and choosing the best one out of all the possibilities.  It is an unusual way for a President to proceed but it ensures that he gets a lot of feedback before he acts and in the end  what he DOES is very moderate.  He is an unusually open person but his actions are well considered.

And even his most controversial actions are beginning to show their rightness.  We must not forget that Trump has a degree in economics so he knows all the traditional arguments for free trade perfectly well.  So why his repeated announcements of tariffs on imports?  Because he is not operating at the Economics 101 level.  He is operating more at the economics faculty level.  And almost everything is disputed there.  And the huge fact about free trade in American economic history is that America prospered mightily behind HIGH tariff walls in the 19th century.  There are of course arguments to explain that -- "infant industries" etc. But the basic point is that real-life is a poor fit to classical Ricardian free trade ideas.  And Trump has clearly taken that on board

And the fruits of that are already clear to see.  South Korea  has come to the party and has agreed to ease its restrictions on imports from America in return for Trump exempting them from his tariffs.  So clearly, despite their novelty, his trade ideas are realistic and effective.  And his actions have in fact led to FREER trade with S. Korea.  That must be a shit-sandwich to the many who thought he was anti-trade.

The huffing and puffing over tariffs on China will be resolved in a similar way.

And, unlike Obama, Trump has co-operated with the legislators.  Obama vetoed most of what came before him but Trump even signed an Omnibus spending bill that clearly stank to him.  So Trump has stuck with and respected the role of Congress while Obama did his best to defy it and escape its restrictions.  So who is the Fascist again?



Next week comes the release of Fascism: A Warning, a new book by former US ambassador to the United Nations and secretary of state, Madeleine Albright. It is in part a survey of the rise of authoritarian leaders and parties in Russia and the Philippines, in Hungary, Germany, Poland and Italy, and finally in the United States.

In a recent interview with American public radio NPR, Albright concedes that yes, the title is alarmist. It is intended to be, she explains. She was inspired by that phrase deployed across Western democracies in this age of terrorism, “If you see something, say something”. Albright has seen quite a lot in the Trump administration, and she has a lot to say.

“We have never had a president, at least in the modern era, whose statements and actions are so at odds with democratic ideals,” she writes in her chapter on the US.  “[Donald] Trump has spoken harshly about the institutions and principles that make up the foundation of open government, in the process he has systematically degraded political discourse in the US, shown an astonishing disregard for facts, libelled his predecessor, threatened to lock up political rivals, bullied members of his own administration, referred to mainstream journalists as enemies of the American people, spread falsehoods about the integrity of the US electoral process, touted mindlessly nationalistic economic and trade policies and nurtured a paranoid bigotry toward the followers of one of the world's foremost religions.”
Madeleine Albright joins Hillary Clinton on the presidential campaign in 2016.

There are those of course - not least in the Republican Party - who would dismiss this as hyperbole. But when you break it down, it is hard to challenge any assertion in that passage.
Fascism, she says in the interview, approaches us one step at a time, even in countries with strong democratic institutions and traditions, “and in many ways goes unnoticed until it's too late”.

Albright is not the only prominent commentator to sound such dire warnings about the Trump administration. Last year the polemicist Andrew Sullivan wrote an apocalyptic essay for New York Magazine in which he cast back to the first book on politics, Plato’s Republic, to illustrate what he saw as the potential for a contemporary American descent into tyranny.

But applying ideas like Sullivan’s - or Plato’s or Albright’s - to contemporary America is difficult because the Trump administration resists definition. It is a twitching, impulsive tachycardic mess; a movement without substance or identifiable intent, let alone ideology. The journalists that have covered it - and this has been a golden era of American political journalism - have tripped over one another as they navigated the miasma of incompetence and trough-snuffling that Trump presents them with, allowing the administration to obscure each catastrophe with the next.

Amy Siskind’s new book, The List: A Week-by-Week Reckoning of Trump’s First Year, helps clear some of that thick air and reminds us of just how weird the last year has been. Siskind’s book is based upon her viral blog, The Weekly List, which she began when Trump was elected. Siskind, a Wall Street executive turned feminist activist, had been inspired by the suggestion by another shell-shocked liberal Sarah Kendzior, who had appealed to concerned citizens to keep lists of facts, beliefs and principles, of the minor changes they perceived in the nation under Trump, so they could better watch for what Albright would later describe as the steps towards fascism.

None of these writers suggest that America today is an authoritarian state, just that the only consistency of the Trump administration is its anti-democratic urges and impulses, that Trump himself has no regard for democratic institutions or traditions, that his greatest appeal to his core base is his willingness to demonise minorities.

SOURCE

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Far-right views now mainstream in Europe: Warning issued after Poland blames Jews for their own destruction, Hungary declares that Europeans should not 'mix' with Africans and Croatia thanks Argentina for welcoming Croatian Nazi sympathizers

After decades of being physically and mentally oppressed under the Soviet boot, virtually everyone in central Europe is patriotic -- pleased and proud to be who and what they are  -- pleased to be no longer part of a grey mass.  So they resist attacks on their identity.

And they sometimes go to extremes in rejecting any pressures towards making them part of an international  cultural melting pot -- they go to the enemies of socialism on the grounds that the enemy of my enemy is my friend.  Internationalism there just provokes nationalism.  They had enough of internationalism under Communism so sometimes look to its oppposite for a model.

In America, by contrast, there are many patriots but they are largely neutered by another half of the population -- "liberals" -- who hate America and who do everything they can to harm America and its way of life.  Attempts by conservative Americans to preserve their American way of life are met with shrieks of "racism"

Far-right views are now mainstream in Europe, is the stark warning coming from a leading historian.

Polish officials recently blamed Jewish people for their 'own destruction' while the Hungarian Prime Minster declared Europeans should not 'mix' with Africans.

The Croatian president on a trip to Argentina came under fire from a Holocaust survivors charity for thanking the country for taking in 'notorious' pro-Nazi criminals.

Ton Junes, who works with the Human and Social Studies Foundation in Bulgaria, says the events all show a worrying trend for a rise in far-right views.

'There is something broader going on in the region which has produced a patriotic, nativist, conservative discourse through which far-right ideas managed to become mainstream,' the expert explained.

Ever since WWII, such views were taboo in Europe, confined to the far-right fringes. Today they are openly expressed by mainstream political leaders in parts of Central and Eastern Europe, part of a populist surge in the face of globalization and mass migration.

But Mr Junes said the shift to the right has included the rehabilitation of Nazi collaborators, often fighters or groups celebrated as anti-communists or defenders of national liberation.

In Hungary, Prime Minister Viktor Orban recently claimed Hungarians don't want their 'own color, traditions and national culture to be mixed by others.'

While the Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki listed 'Jewish perpetrators' as among those who were responsible for the Holocaust.

His comments come just months after nationalists held a large Independence Day march in November, carrying banners calling for a 'White Europe'. 

In both countries, governments are also eroding the independence of courts and the media, prompting human rights groups to warn that democracy is threatened in parts of a region that threw off Moscow-backed dictatorships in 1989.

While that claim is difficult to prove with concrete evidence, it's clear that the growth of radical groups has pushed moderate conservative European parties to the right to hold onto votes.

That's the case in Hungary, where Prime Minister Viktor Orban and his Fidesz party - the front-runner in the country's April 8 parliamentary election - have drawn voters with an increasingly strident anti-migrant campaign.

Casting himself as the savior of a white Christian Europe being overrun by Muslims and Africans, Orban has insisted that Hungarians don't want their 'own color, traditions and national culture to be mixed by others.'

Orban, who is friendly with Russian President Vladimir Putin, was also the first European leader to endorse Donald Trump in the 2016 U.S. presidential race. In 2015 he erected a razor-wire fence at Hungary's borders to stop migrants from crossing, and has since been warning in apocalyptic terms that the West faces racial and civilizational 'suicide' if the migration continues.

Orban has also been obsessed with demonizing financier and philanthropist George Soros, falsely portraying the Hungarian-born Holocaust survivor as an advocate of uncontrolled immigration into Europe.

In what critics denounce as a state-sponsored conspiracy theory with anti-Semitic overtones, the Hungarian government spent $48.5 million on anti-Soros ads in 2017, according to the investigative news site atlatszo.hu.

In a recent speech, Orban denounced Soros in language that echoed anti-Semitic clichיs of the 20th century. He said Hungary's foes 'do not believe in work, but speculate with money; they have no homeland, but feel that the whole world is theirs.'

In Poland, xenophobic language is also on the rise. When nationalists held a large Independence Day march in November and some carried banners calling for a 'White Europe' and 'Clean Blood,' the interior minister called it a 'beautiful sight.'

Poland's government has also been embroiled in a bitter dispute with Israel and Jewish organizations over a national law that would criminalize blaming Poland for Germany's Holocaust crimes. Critics say that could allow a whitewash of history.

With tensions running high, Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki listed 'Jewish perpetrators' as among those who were responsible for the Holocaust. He also visited the Munich grave of an underground Polish resistance group that had collaborated with the Nazis.

In the same vein, an official tapped to create a major new history museum in Warsaw has condemned the postwar tribunals in Nuremberg, Germany - where top Nazis were judged - as 'the greatest judicial farce in the history of Europe.'

Arkadiusz Karbowiak said the Nuremberg trials were only 'possible because of the serious role of Jews' in their organization, and called them 'the place where the official religion of the Holocaust was created.'

Across the region, Roma, Muslims, Jews and other minorities have expressed anxiety about the future.

But nationalists insist they are not promoting hate. They argue they're defending their national sovereignty and their Christian way of life against globalization and the large-scale influx of migrants who don't assimilate.

The Balkans, bloodied by ethnic warfare in the 1990s, are also seeing a rise of nationalism, particularly in Serbia and Croatia. Political analysts there believe that Russian propaganda is spurring old ethnic resentments.

Croatia has steadily drifted to the right since joining the EU in 2013. Some officials there have denied the Holocaust or reappraised Croatia's ultranationalist, pro-Nazi Ustasha regime, which killed tens of thousands of Jews, Serbs, Roma and anti-fascist Croats in wartime prison camps.

On a recent visit to Argentina, Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic thanked the country for providing post-war refuge to Croats who had belonged to the Ustasha regime.

The world's top Nazi hunter, Efraim Zuroff of the Wiesenthal center, called her statement 'a horrific insult to victims.' Grabar-Kitarovic later said she had not meant to glorify a totalitarian regime.

Meanwhile in Bulgaria, which holds the EU's rotating presidency, the government includes a far-right alliance, the United Patriots, whose members have given Nazi salutes and slurred minorities. Deputy Prime Minister Valeri Simeonov has called the country's Roma minority 'ferocious humanoids' whose women 'have the instincts of street dogs.'

Junes, the researcher, says even though hate crimes are on the rise in Bulgaria, the problem has raised little concern in the West because the country keeps its public debt in check and is not challenging the fundamental Western consensus, unlike Poland and Hungary.

'Bulgaria isn't rocking the boat,' Junes said. 'They play along with Europe.'

While populist and far-right groups are also growing in parts of Western Europe, countries like Poland and Hungary are proving more vulnerable to the same challenges, said Peter Kreko, director of Political Capital Institute, a Budapest-based think tank.

'In younger, weaker, more fragile democracies,' Kreko said, 'right-wing populism is more dangerous because it can weaken and even demolish the democratic institutions.'

SOURCE


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A climate quiz

Warmists usually just pour out abuse at skeptics but sometimes they try to be more factual.  One such effort is a "climate quiz" that came out last year. It pretends to be a factual approach to explaining why there is and will be global warming.  And it is. It does deal in facts -- or the Warmist version of facts to be precise.

I just did the first 3 or 4 questions and got them all wrong but they were very technical questions so I was not sure how well founded their answers were.  They asked, for instance, "When Glacier National Park in Montana was founded in 1910 it had 150 glaciers. How many are left?"  The answer was allegedly 25. I had no idea how many nor would most people and the answer is probably disputable anyway.

Then I came to a question: "What was likely the first mammal to lose its habitat and go extinct due to the crisis?"

Now the answer to that was really obscure. I did however happen to know the answer that they were looking for: The Bramble Cay Melomy.  And I knew a bit about that story.

Bramble Cay is a 9 acre sand cay which is the Northernmost part of Australia. There is a lighthouse (now automatic) there and some grass.  A type of rat known as a Melomys was known there which in times past was used as target practice by bored visitors. In 2016 scientific visitors could not find any of them anymore.

So how does that relate to global warming?  It doesn't. We have no idea why the Melomys has died out if it has died out. It is just speculation that global warming was to blame.  Most likey it was shot out by visitors.  It is only 34 miles South of New Guinea and New Guineans would undoubtedly eat them. Melanesians are poor but are excellent sailors.

They normally have very little animal protein in their diet. There are no grazing animals in New Guinea.  They were probably all hunted to extinction thousands of years ago. So now all they have is their pigs and an occasional bird. And they can't feed enough pigs to slaughter one very often. So a Melomys would be a treat.

And it is only the Melomys on that cay which is missing.  There are lots of them elswhere in that part of the world.  So it is not even a small tragedy.

So that's the quality of the "quiz".  Its facts are between dubious and wrong and they don't prove anything anyway -- JR


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It's all in the genes

In their never ending quest to pooh-pooh the genetic influence on IQ (and everything else), a common Leftist suggestion has been that the genetic influence is "moderated" by environmental factors.  Socio-economic status has been nominated as such an environmental influence.  That has just had a big test and the answer found is that genes rule.  Their effect is not moderated by environmental influences.  Article below followed by journal Abstract

It's amusing that the authors don't want to believe their own results.  They seize on things that might rescue their hypothesis. They say, for instance, that "Among twins and siblings pairs who were close in age, standardized math and reading scores increased proportionally along with mothers' years of education beyond high school"

They attribute that to an environmental influence when it could better be explained by saying that smarter mothers undertake more education. And smarter mother have smarter kids of course.

They really are pathetic in their attempt to hang on to political correctness


Genes and environment have equal influence in learning for rich and poor kids, study finds

More than 40 years ago, psychologist Sandra Scarr put forth a provocative idea: that genetic influence on children's cognitive abilities is linked to their family's income. The wealthier the family, the more influence genes have on brain development, the thinking went.

Scarr turned the nature-nurture debate on its head, proposing that how much "nature" matters varies between environments. Scarr's research has since been roundly debated and thoroughly studied by other researchers with mixed results, including reaffirmation by another American psychologist, David Rowe, in 1999.

The line of research has come to be called the Scarr-Rowe hypothesis—that parents' socio-economic status moderates genetic contributions to variation in intelligence. The thinking was that, for people of lower socio-economic status, a person's intelligence is influenced more by his or her environment than by genetics, meaning whether a child reaches full potential depends on economic standing.

I have been studying the relationship of early health conditions to subsequent school performance for 25 years and been fascinated by the role that genetics and environment play in student achievement.

A group of us set out re-examine the question: Are genetic influences on cognitive abilities larger for children raised in more advantaged environment? To get that answer, I collaborated with colleagues at Northwestern University and Stanford University.

Studying twins, siblings gives insight

We analyzed birth and school records of 24,000 twins and nearly 275,000 siblings born in Florida between 1994 and 2002. As did previous researchers who examined genetic and environmental influences of cognitive development, we focused on a very large set of twins and siblings.

Twins and siblings close in age allowed us to disentangle the role of genes and environment in development of cognitive ability. We found no evidence that social class played more of a role in educational performance for poor kids than for rich ones.

While students in the higher income groups performed better than students in the lower income groups, the relative influence of genetic and environmental differences was the same across groups. The results were published recently in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

A complex gene-environment interaction

What is the significance of our findings? According to David Figlio, dean of the School of Education at Social Policy at Northwestern and lead author of the study, we did not confirm that environmental factors mitigate the effects of genetics on cognitive development. Environmental differences are just as important for students from affluent backgrounds as students from poorer backgrounds.

Recent research has found evidence of a difference in genetic influence on academic performance between rich and poor families in the United States, when compared with families in Australia or Western Europe.

However, our research did not replicate the U.S. findings, in part because our large data set from Florida represented a very socio-economically diverse set of families.

Our findings, however, do not contradict the overall pattern that parental socio-economic status is associated with children's cognitive development. Among twins and siblings pairs who were close in age, standardized math and reading scores increased proportionally along with mothers' years of education beyond high school.

SOURCE 

Socioeconomic status and genetic influences on cognitive development

David N. Figlio, Jeremy Freese, Krzysztof Karbownik and Jeffrey Roth

Abstract

Accurate understanding of environmental moderation of genetic influences is vital to advancing the science of cognitive development as well as for designing interventions. One widely reported idea is increasing genetic influence on cognition for children raised in higher socioeconomic status (SES) families, including recent proposals that the pattern is a particularly US phenomenon. We used matched birth and school records from Florida siblings and twins born in 1994–2002 to provide the largest, most population-diverse consideration of this hypothesis to date. We found no evidence of SES moderation of genetic influence on test scores, suggesting that articulating gene-environment interactions for cognition is more complex and elusive than previously supposed.

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The Passover and Jewish endurance

Jewish continuity is completely amazing.  There were many great and notable civilizations in the ancient world -- Mitanni, Hittites Sumerians etc -- that have completely vanished -- mostly with very little record of their presence other than what archaeologists have been able to dig up. Their descendants are presumably around somewhere but anything that made them a distinctive group has vanished.

There is just one of those ancient people that survives today, following the same religion and customs, speaking the same language and living in the same homeland.  And they have even brought their history books with them:  The Bible.  How remarkable is all that!  Many Jews see it as clear proof that they really are God's special people and that only his protection can possibly explain their unique survival. That sounds like a pretty good argument


IN MARCH 1946, David Ben Gurion appeared before the Anglo-American Committee of Inquiry, a panel convened to study conditions in Palestine, which was then still under British rule. The committee is little-remembered today; its recommendations became moot with the UN partition resolution the following year. But Ben Gurion's heartfelt testimony making the case for Jewish sovereignty in the Jewish homeland remains worth reading.

In one memorable passage, the man who would two years later become Israel's first prime minister addressed the astonishing longevity of the Jews' love affair with Zion.

"More than 300 years ago a ship by the name of the Mayflower left Plymouth for the New World," Ben Gurion told the committee. "It was a great event in American and English history. I wonder how many Englishmen or how many Americans know exactly the date when that ship left Plymouth, how many people were on the ship, and what was the kind of bread that people ate when they left Plymouth."

Few Americans, of course, know any of those minutiae. But countless Jews, Ben Gurion went on, know the details of a far older journey.

"More than 3,300 years ago the Jews left Egypt. It was more than 3,000 years ago, yet every Jew in the world knows exactly the date when we left. It was on the 15th of Nisan. The bread they ate was matzos. [To this day] Jews throughout the world on the 15th of Nisan eat the same matzos — in America, in Russia — and tell the story of the exile from Egypt. [They] tell what happened, all the sufferings that happened to the Jews since they went into exile. They finish [their retelling with] these two sentences: 'This year we are slaves; next year we will be free. This year we are here; next year we will be in Zion, the land of Israel.'"

The 15th of Nisan returned this weekend, and once again Jews the world over sat down to the Passover Seder. Again they ate matzos, the bread of affliction eaten by the Hebrews in Egypt. Again they tasted bitter herbs, a reminder of how Egypt embittered the lives of the Jewish slaves. Again they read the text of the Haggadah (literally, the "telling") — the age-old text that recounts the story of the Exodus and explains the customs of the Seder.

The Hebrews were a clan of herdsmen when they first arrived in Egypt. By the time they left, they had been forged into a body politic. The Exodus marked the emergence in history of the Jews as a nation, so Passover is the national independence day of the Jewish people.

Nations have special ways of commemorating their independence. The French mark Bastille Day with a great military parade. Mexicans recreate "El Grito," the famous "Shout for Independence" of 1810. Indians celebrate their country's birth with kite-flying festivals and a flag-raising over the Red Fort in Delhi. And the United States marks the Fourth of July with "Pomp and Parade . . . Bonfires and Illuminations" — much as John Adams recommended in 1776.

The Jews? They relive their ancestors' liberation from enslavement. No fireworks. No flags. For more than three millennia, Jews have paused each spring to steep in the history of their distant forefathers and to relate the tale to their children. In so doing, they have renewed and preserved Jewish identity — and have managed, unlike every other people of antiquity, to outlast the sands of time.

The Seder is the most widely observed ceremony in Jewish life. Though the Haggadah is long and the rituals archaic, though pre-Seder preparations can be exhausting, an estimated 70 percent of American Jews attend a Seder every year. On Passover, decrees the Talmud, Jews must regard themselves as if they personally were liberated from Egypt. How? Through the elaborate reenactment and recitations of the Seder — above all, through answering children's questions.

That priority comes from the Bible itself — from the epic hour just before the Israelites went free.

"And when, in times to come, your child asks you, 'What does this mean?' you shall say to him. . ."

The story is told in the book of Exodus: Moses gathers the people and tells them that liberation is imminent. The years of brutality and bondage are over. At that moment of elation and excitement, with the Jews hanging on his every word, what does Moses say?

"He might have spoken about freedom, or the promised destination," writes Jonathan Sacks, Great Britain's former chief rabbi. "He might have chosen to speak about the arduous journey that lay ahead, what Nelson Mandela called 'the long road to freedom.' Any of these would have been the great speech of a great leader."

But Moses doesn't focus on the moment. He speaks instead of the future and of sons and daughters yet to be born. He stresses the importance of memory, and of keeping it alive through education: "And when your children ask you, 'What do you mean by this rite?' you shall say. . . . And you shall explain to your child on that day, 'It is because of what the Lord did for me when I went free from Egypt.' . . . And when, in time to come, your child asks you, 'What does this mean?' you shall say to him. . ."

Passover is replete with messages, but in the long sweep of Jewish history, this is the most essential: Liberation is not enough. Liberty must be sustained, and only education can sustain it. The Jews' passion for memory — for handing on their story to their children and grandchildren — is the secret of Jewish longevity. That passion is renewed at the Seder each year, amid matzos and bitter herbs, with children's questions and parents' answers.

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Betrayed by politicians

What Ben Shapiro says about politicians below is pretty right.  But he has a very strange gap in his understanding of it.  He does not seem to know WHY politicians break their promises,  They don't break them because they are crooks (though some may be).  They break them because they have to.  The recent omnibus spending bill is a good case in point.  Really conservative Senators such as Rand Paul threatened to vote against it unless it contained certain measures that were close to their hearts -- but measures which were generally a low proiority for others.  So nothing would have got through on GOP votes alone

So the GOP leadership, abetted by Mr Trump, had to put in provisions that would attract some Democrat votes.  And they did.  So the conservative purists by their obstinacy handed the Democrats a significant win.  Instead of getting more of what they wanted they got less. 

And it was all old hat to Trump.  He has been doing "deals" like that for most of his life:  I give you something and you give me something. It's called compromise and it is one of the distinctive talents of British-origin people.  Most of the world doesn't understand compromise at all.  They only understand winning and they will keep fighting until they do win.  But both sides can't win so one side will be destroyed, which is usually disastrous.  In countries with a tradition of compromise, on the other hand, domestic peace and calm is normal.

So in the Ommnibus bill various Democrat objectives were financed but Trump got a big dollop of money for defence and other objectives.  He may even find ways of using that money to build the wall.  So what you got was typical of compromise.  The weaker side got a few small wins and the stronger side got bigger wins.  But nobody got all their wishes.

So that is why politicians betray us.  They live in a world where different people have all sorts of different wishes.  And finding a way through that to deliver ANYTHING to their voters is a major achievement.  They can only do their best.  You do have to consider the other guy.


When the Founding Fathers wrote the Constitution of the United States, they feared the possibility of partisanship overtaking rights-based government. To that end, they crafted a system of checks and balances designed to pit interest against interest, promoting gridlock over radical change. The founders saw legislators, presidents and judges as ambitious in their pursuit of power.

They could not have foreseen our politicians.

Our politicians aren't so much ambitious for power as they are afraid of accountability. And so, we have a new sort of gridlock on Capitol Hill: Politicians campaign in cuttingly partisan fashion and then proceed to avoid solving just the sorts of issues on which they campaigned.

Last week, for example, Republicans passed a massive $1.3 trillion omnibus funding package to avert a government shutdown. It included full funding for Planned Parenthood and the regional Gateway rail project, but not full funding for the border wall. Republicans had spent years decrying deficits, criticizing funding for Planned Parenthood and ripping useless stimulus spending; they'd spent years clamoring for a border wall. When push came to shove, they did nothing.

Meanwhile, Democrats tore into the Republican budget for failing to ensure the permanent residence of so-called DREAMers, immigrants living in the United States illegally who were brought to the country as children. Then they rallied in Washington, D.C., along with gun control-minded students from Parkland, Florida, calling for more regulations on the Second Amendment. When Democrats held control of Congress and the presidency from 2009 to 2011, however, they promulgated no new gun legislation and passed no protection for DREAMers. Instead, then-President Barack Obama issued an executive action during his re-election cycle after saying repeatedly that he could not legally do so, and he complained incessantly about guns.

So, what should this tell us?

It should tell us that we, the voters, are suckers.

Our politicians use hot-button political issues in order to gin up the base and get us out to vote. They talk about how they'll end funding for Planned Parenthood and cut back spending on the right; they talk about how they'll end gun violence and protect DREAMers on the left. Then, once in power, they instead focus on broadly popular legislation instead of passing the legislation they've promised. They campaign for their base, but they govern for the center.

So, what are the real differences between the parties? The Republican Party is in favor of tax cuts and defense spending; the Democratic Party is in favor of increased regulation and social spending. All the other discussion points are designed merely to drive passion.

Practically speaking, this means gridlock on the issues about which Americans care most. Don't expect Republicans to stop funding Planned Parenthood anytime soon. And don't expect Democrats to start pushing serious gun control. They keep those issues alive deliberately to inflame excitement during election campaigns. Then, once in power, those issues go back into the freezer, to emerge and be defrosted when the time is right.

It's a convenient ploy. It means that partisan voters will never buck their party — after all, if the other side gets into power, they'll really go nuts. And, hey, maybe this time , our party bosses won't lie to us.
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But they will. And we'll swallow it. And the government will grow. But at least we'll have the comfort slamming one another over issues that will never get solved.

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The evolution of global warming theory

I have not seen any explicit comment on this but it seems that there has been a large change over the years in what Warmists try to scare us with. There has been a Warmism 1 and a Warmism 2.

Warmism 1 is the Warmism of Al Gore, with sea level rises of 20 feet drowning most coastal cities. That was certainly scary and warranting of urgent action.  But it was most implausible. 96% of the earth's glacial ice is in Antarctica and even at the continental margins the temperature there is many degrees below  zero.  So a few degrees of temperature rise might melt some sea ice but nothing more would happen. Melting sea ice cannot raise the sea level.  So where was the required great volume of water going to come from? Mars?

Warmism 1 had another fault as well. It assumed a most implausible effect of clouds.  It said that warming would be gradual until the cloud cover became much more extensive than it now is.  And there is no doubt that a warmer world WOULD have more clouds as more water evaporated off the oceans.

But Warmism 1 at that point made two great theoretical leaps.  They said that the increased cloud cover would warm the earth when clouds in fact normally cool the earth by blocking out the sun. But let's glide over that point and accept their assumption that clouds would warm us.  The Warmist at that point makes another great leap.  He says that at some point a "tipping point" would be reached so that warming would suddenly accelerate and we would really roast.

Normally, when scientists try to predict the future they make a straight line extrapolation from existing trends.  But Warmism 1 aborts that.  Because of the tipping point, the past is no longer a guide to the future.  Things will get a lot hotter very suddenly.  They will get much hotter than they would under a normal extrapolation from the past.  So while scientific prediction of the future is possible in some instances  -- by looking carefully at the past -- Warmism 1  abandons that and makes a prophecy based purely on speculation.

I have tried to tell the story of Warmism 1 as straight as I can but I think its implausibilities are nonetheless obviously gross.  And, although it has never been formally abandoned by anyone, it has quietly faded away from most Warmist discourse.  It is, for example, years since I have heard anything of the tipping point.  So Warmism 1 has been replaced by Warmism 2

Warmism 2 is much less fantastical. It has reverted to the normal scientific method of predicting the future by extrapolations from the past. There is no Deus ex machina that causes warming to suddenly leap. It hypothesizes a steady process of warming at some specified rate. But finding that rate is the issue. Vast guesses about what CO2 does are used to get a rate.

Different authors assume different rates and the actuality always seems to be less than any predicted rate. So the accepted rate of warming has trended steadily down in the face of all the predictive failures

So under Warmism 2 we will have a temperature rise of only about 2 degrees Celsius and a consequent rise in sea levels of inches, not the yards predicted by Al Gore.

But that is rather boring.  It is hard to frighten people with just a few inches of sea level rise so a whole new industry has arisen which says that the few degrees of predicted warming will lead to catastrophic weather events -- hurricanes etc.  But even that is a dead end as dramatic weather events considered overall do not seem to be increasing and may even be decreasing.

So Warmism has in a way disappeared up its own back passage.  It no longer has any pretence of science behind its warnings of doom.  It is merely an example of telling a big enough lie often enough so that less informed people will believe it.  And while it continues to give scientists a golden shower of research grant money, the myth will be maintained -- JR.