Sunday, May 28, 2017

There really is such a thing as 'daddy's girl': Fathers are MORE attentive to their daughters than they are to their sons

Fathers are more responsive to their daughters than to their sons, researchers found. As well as being more attentive, they are also more likely to sing to their daughters and use words associated with their body such as 'belly,' 'cheek,' 'face,' 'fat' and 'feet.'

Fathers of sons engage in more rough-and-tumble play with their child and use language related to power and achievement - words such as 'best,' 'win,' 'super' and 'top.'

The research shows how unconscious ideas about gender influence the way we treat people - even when they're very young children.

Fathers of daughters were more likely to sing to their daughters and use words associated with their body such as 'belly,' 'cheek,' 'face,' 'fat' and 'feet.' They also used more words associated with sad emotions such as 'cry', 'tears' and 'lonely'.

But with sons, they used more analytical language - words such as 'all,' 'below' and 'much' - which has been linked to future academic success.

Fathers of daughters had stronger responses to their daughters' happy expressions in areas of the brain important for processing emotions, reward and value.

In contrast, the brains of fathers of sons responded more robustly to their child's neutral facial expressions.

The study focused on fathers because there is less research about their roles in rearing young children than mothers.

The findings are consistent with other studies indicating that parents - both fathers and mothers - use more emotion language with girls and engage in more rough-and-tumble play with boys.

The discovery comes from brain scans and recordings of parents' daily interactions.

'When a child cried out or asked for Dad, fathers of daughters responded to that more than did fathers of sons,' said Jennifer Mascaro, who led the research from from the Woodruff Health Sciences Centre in Atlanta.

'We should be aware of how unconscious notions of gender can play into the way we treat even very young children', she said.

'It's important to note that gender-biased paternal behaviour need not imply ill intentions on the part of fathers', said James Rilling, senior author of the study.

'These biases may be unconscious, or may actually reflect deliberate and altruistically motivated efforts to shape children's behaviour in line with social expectations of adult gender roles that fathers feel may benefit their children', he said.

The study collected behavioural data in a real-world setting through an electronic activated recorder (EAR), which clipped onto participants' belts.

The participants included 52 fathers of toddlers (30 girls and 22 boys) in the Atlanta area who agreed to wear the EAR for one weekday and one weekend day.

The device randomly turned on for 50 seconds every nine minutes to record any ambient sound during the 48-hour period. 

In addition, fathers underwent functional MRI brain scans while viewing photos of an unknown adult, an unknown child and their own child with happy, sad or neutral facial expressions.

It is unclear whether these differences are due to biological and evolutionary underpinnings, cultural understandings of the way one should act, or some combination of the two.

The use of more emotional language with girls by fathers, for example, may help girls develop more empathy than boys.

'The fact that fathers may actually be less attentive to the emotional needs of boys, perhaps despite their best intentions, is important to recognise,' Dr Mascaro said.

'Validating emotions is good for everyone - not just daughters.'

Restricted emotions in adult men is linked to depression, decreased social intimacy, marital dissatisfaction and a lower likelihood of seeking mental health treatment.

Research also shows that many adolescent girls have negative body images.

'We found that fathers are using more language about the body with girls than with boys, and the differences appear with children who are just one-to-three years old,' Dr Mascaro said.

And while they use more words about the body with girls, fathers engage in more physical rough-and-tumble play with boys, an activity that research has shown is important to help young children develop social acuity and emotional regulation.

'Most parents really are trying to do the best they can for their children,' Dr Mascaro said.

'We need to do more research to try to understand if these subtle differences may have important effects in the long term', she said.


Migrants lose their 'strong work ethic' after just two years in Britain

The corrupting influence of the welfare staste

Complaints that British workers are lazy compared to Eastern Europeans are ‘misconceived’, a ground-breaking study has found.

Academics discovered that the ‘strong work ethic’ identified among migrants by bosses actually disappeared after just two years. By then, foreign workers are taking as many sick days as their UK counterparts.

It means native workers could be missing out on jobs because their nationality is wrongly not associated with hard work, say researchers from the University of Bath.

The paper comes as ministers are urged to put in place policies to wean businesses off cheap foreign labour after Brexit.

Employers have warned that some sectors of the economy, such as construction, agriculture and horticulture, rely heavily on EU workers and could struggle if the labour supply dries up.

But campaign groups have argued what the latest study shows - that, beyond the short-term, UK workers are as diligent as Eastern Europeans.

Research carried out for the first time found that workers from Poland and seven other eastern European countries that joined the EU in 2004 were initially more than three times less likely to be absent from work than native UK workers.

Economists equate work attendance – one of the most valued attributes for employers – with work ethic.

The report suggests that the extra effort put in by migrant workers is intended to ‘signal their worth’ to employers – compensating for limited English language skills and to reflect higher pay relative to their homeland.

But after a little as two years, the number of sick days taken by them has increased to levels recorded by those from the UK.

Dr Chris Dawson, senior lecturer in business economics at the University of Bath, said: ‘This is the first study with concrete evidence on the existence of the migrant work ethic.

‘It backs up managers’ perceptions that Polish and other Central and Eastern European migrants are harder working than UK employees, but importantly only for around two years from their arrival in the UK.

‘The study shows that the common view that UK workers are lazy compared to migrant workers is misconceived: In fact migrants are temporarily working extra hard to offset the challenges they face when they first enter the UK job market.

‘We clearly see in the research that migrants new to the UK put in a couple of years of hard work, before a better understanding of our culture and job market means they adopt the same work ethic as native workers.’

The research studied 113,804 people, of which 1,396 were workers from the so-called A8 ex-Eastern Bloc countries – Poland, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Slovakia and Slovenia.

The study, published in the Journal Work, Employment and Society, used data from the Office for National Statics UK Labour Force Survey from 2005 to 2012.

Alp Mehmet, vice-chairman of think-tank Migrationwatch which campaigns for balanced immigration, said: ‘It is a fallacy that UK workers are any less keen, diligent or hard-working than any other nationality. If anything, they are harder workers.

‘But companies often use this as an excuse to have access to cheap labour, who are also more likely to be pushed around.’

Recent figures showed that manufacturing in Britain employs some 332,000 EU nationals while the wholesale and retail trade has 508,000.

In March, Pret A Manger bosses told a House of Lords committee that only one in 50 applicants for jobs at the chain was British.


Nobody knows how best to tackle obesity

Even optimists admit that some things are undoubtedly getting worse: things like traffic jams, apostrophe use — and obesity. The fattening of the human race, even in middle-income countries, is undeniable. “Despite sustained efforts to tackle childhood obesity, one in three adolescents is still estimated to be overweight or obese in Europe,” said a report last week to the World Health Organisation. That means more diabetes and possibly a reversal of the recent slow fall in age-adjusted cancer and heart disease death rates.

Perhaps we should remind ourselves first that it is a good problem to have, a symptom of abundance. In Britain a century ago and in much of Africa today, the poorest people were or are the thinnest people. For hundreds of thousands of years it was very difficult to get fat, and very easy to starve or be stunted by hunger and malnutrition. Let’s be thankful that, despite quadrupling the global population in less than a century, we now have a problem of obesity, because of a global cornucopia of fine food unimaginable to past generations.

In western countries, obesity is worst among the poor, so it cannot be a matter of affluence alone. Urban areas of England with the highest levels of income deprivation are also the places with the highest obesity rates among young children. By contrast, among the most affluent people, anorexia is a more lethal disorder, and is increasing fast.

At the weekend Tam Fry of the National Obesity Forum claimed implausibly that obesity now costs the state £24 billion a year. The Institute of Economic Affairs puts the cost at less than £2.5 billion, and argues that “while claims of a crippling cost are a good way to get media attention . . . they irresponsibly incite resentment of a vulnerable group”. Also, if you die younger, you cost the state less, so the financial perspective is the wrong way to look at it.

Recognising that something is a problem is not the same as knowing what to do about it. Obesity is one of those cases where “demands for urgent action” go unheeded, not because of the callousness of our leaders but because there’s no agreement on what action to take. The range of suggestions for dealing with obesity — sugar taxes, bans on junk food on public transport, bans on junk food advertising before 9pm, health warnings on fast food, mock-up pictures of what kids will look like as fat adults, gastric balloons — only serves to remind us that nobody knows how best to reverse the obesity trend. Jamie Oliver, the TV chef, argues that the proposed Conservative policy of means-testing free hot school lunches for infants would worsen obesity.

Advising, hectoring and bribing people to eat less and exercise more appears to be ineffective. We have just about tested that idea to destruction. It isn’t working, and it probably will only work if it becomes fully totalitarian, with police raids on home kitchens to seek out and destroy secret stashes of biscuits.

The one thing we do know is that the simple equation so beloved of the medical profession is not the answer. It is not as simple as an in-out calorie balance sheet: eat less than you burn and lose weight. This fails to take into account a thing called appetite, and the way some people lay down fat while eating not very much, while others burn it easily while eating quite a lot.

As Gary Taubes, the heretical science writer who has made a career out of this issue, put it in the British Medical Journal a few years ago, “efforts to cure the problem by inducing under-eating or a negative energy balance, either by counselling patients to eat less or exercise more, are remarkably ineffective”. Even The Handbook of Obesity, the doctors’ textbook, admits that the result of such dietary therapy is “poor and not long-lasting”.

We all know friends who have shed the pounds through superhuman efforts of self-denial, and then gradually put them back on again afterwards. The public health lobby hardly helps by censoriously attacking all “fat and sugar”, or all “processed food”, and often “red meat” too. Which leaves a diet as depressing as it is unrealistic: steamed cod and boiled kale. The public health lobby must make up its mind whether it thinks carbs are bad or fat is bad: attacking both is silly.

Having spent decades urging people to adopt low-fat diets and watched obesity explode, the nannies cannot bring themselves to admit that this was terrible advice which almost certainly made the problem worse. Why? Because fat is satiating in a way that carbohydrates are not, and the body generally synthesises fat from dietary carbs, not from dietary fat. In the Stone Age, eating fat probably signalled a time of plenty, when laying down stores around the midriff was not urgent.

Logically, the heredity of obesity is almost certainly rising. In a world of food shortages, the only way to get fat was to be rich, so obesity was mainly an environmentally determined trait. In a world where so many can afford lots of cheap food, the ones to get fat will often be the ones who inherit some tendency to eat more or lay down more of their food as fat. Given ad-lib food, a greyhound will stay slim while a labrador balloons — it’s in their genes. Not all the variation in obesity between individuals will be explained by genetics but, statistically speaking, there will be greyhound tendencies and labrador tendencies.

Frankly, we just do not know why some people lay down fat more easily than others. Is it because they burn fewer calories even when not exercising? Is their digestion more efficient? Is their appetite greater, so they do eat more? Do they seek out carbs? Is the difference genetic, with some people having variants of genes that encourage fat deposition? Is it because fat people’s gut bacteria are different — a real possibility supported by increasingly persuasive experiments and transplants? All of these theories have something going for them. But not enough to justify the moralising tone and adamantine certainty that so often accompanies medical professionals’ pronouncements on the topic of obesity. We do not know enough.

What should a government do when there’s great uncertainty about both causes and the right course of action? Experiment, of course. Come up with five policies, ask for volunteers in five different parts of the country, and carefully measure the waistlines of people affected.


After the Confederates, Who's Next?

By Patrick J. Buchanan

On Sept. 1, 1864, Union forces under Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman, victorious at Jonesborough, burned Atlanta and began the March to the Sea where Sherman's troops looted and pillaged farms and towns all along the 300-mile road to Savannah.

Captured in the Confederate defeat at Jonesborough was William Martin Buchanan of Okolona, Mississippi, who was transferred by rail to the Union POW stockade at Camp Douglas, Illinois.

By the standards of modernity, my great-grandfather, fighting to prevent the torching of Georgia's capital, was engaged in a criminal and immoral cause. And "Uncle Billy" Sherman was a liberator.

Under President Grant, Sherman took command of the Union army and ordered Gen. Philip Sheridan, who had burned the Shenandoah Valley to starve Virginia into submission, to corral the Plains Indians on reservations.

It is in dispute as to whether Sheridan said, "The only good Indian is a dead Indian." There is no dispute as to the contempt Sheridan had for the Indians, killing their buffalo to deprive them of food.

Today, great statues stand in the nation's capital, along with a Sherman and a Sheridan circle, to honor these most ruthless of generals in that bloodiest of wars that cost 620,000 American lives.

Yet, across the South and even in border states like Kentucky, Maryland and Missouri, one may find statues of Confederate soldiers in town squares to honor the valor and sacrifices of the Southern men and boys who fought and fell in the Lost Cause.

When the Spanish-American War broke out, President McKinley, who as a teenage soldier had fought against "Stonewall" Jackson in the Shenandoah and been at Antietam, bloodiest single-day battle of the Civil War, removed his hat and stood for the singing of "Dixie," as Southern volunteers and former Confederate soldiers paraded through Atlanta to fight for their united country. My grandfather was in that army.

For a century, Americans lived comfortably with the honoring, North and South, of the men who fought on both sides. But today's America is not the magnanimous country we grew up in.

Since the '60s, there has arisen an ideology that holds that the Confederacy was the moral equivalent of Nazi Germany and those who fought under its battle flag should be regarded as traitors or worse.

Thus, in New Orleans, statues of Jefferson Davis, president of the Confederate States of America, and General Robert E. Lee were just pulled down. And a drive is underway to take down the statue of Andrew Jackson, hero of the Battle of New Orleans and president of the United States, which stands in Jackson Square.

Why? Old Hickory was a slave owner and Indian fighter who used his presidential power to transfer the Indians of Georgia out to the Oklahoma Territory in a tragedy known as the Trail of Tears.

But if Jackson, and James K. Polk, who added the Southwest and California to the United States after the Mexican-American War, were slave owners, so, too, were four of our first five presidents.

The list includes the father of our country, George Washington, the author of the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson, and the author of our Constitution, James Madison.

Not only are the likenesses of Washington and Jefferson carved on Mount Rushmore, the two Virginians are honored with two of the most magnificent monuments and memorials in Washington, D.C.

Behind this remorseless drive to blast the greatest names from America's past off public buildings, and to tear down their statues and monuments, is an egalitarian extremism rooted in envy and hate.

Among its core convictions is that spreading Christianity was a cover story for rapacious Europeans who, after discovering America, came in masses to dispossess and exterminate native peoples. "The white race," wrote Susan Sontag, "is the cancer of human history."

Today, the men we were taught to revere as the great captains, explorers, missionaries and nation-builders are seen by many as part of a racist, imperialist, genocidal enterprise, wicked men who betrayed and eradicated the peace-loving natives who had welcomed them.

What they blindly refuse to see is that while its sins are scarlet, as are those of all civilizations, it is the achievements of the West that are unrivaled. The West ended slavery. Christianity and the West gave birth to the idea of inalienable human rights.

As scholar Charles Murray has written, 97 percent of the world's most significant figures and 97 percent of the world's greatest achievements in the arts, architecture, literature, astronomy, biology, earth sciences, physics, medicine, mathematics and technology came from the West.

What is disheartening is not that there are haters of our civilization out there, but that there seem to be fewer defenders.

Of these icon-smashers it may be said: Like ISIS and Boko Haram, they can tear down statues, but these people could never build a country.

What happens, one wonders, when these Philistines discover that the seated figure in the statue, right in front of D.C.'s Union Station, is the High Admiral of the Ocean Sea, Christopher Columbus?


Australian spy boss sparks row over refugees

ASIO director-general Duncan Lewis has declined to elaborate on his claim that there is “absolutely no evidence” of a link between Australia’s refugee intake and ­terrorism, despite multiple Islamic terrorist acts in the past three years involving individuals on ­humanitarian visas, or their children.

One Nation seized on Mr Lewis’s comments, with Queensland senator Malcolm Roberts tweeting: “If ASIO can’t see a link between refugees and terrorism we are in far greater danger than I thought.”

Labor MP Anne Aly, an Islamic radicalisation expert, supported Mr Lewis, while Philip Ruddock, a former Liberal immigration minister and attorney-general, said while one could not ignore the issue, “simply to blame all refugees is over-simplistic”.

On Thursday, One Nation leader Pauline Hanson grilled Mr Lewis, a former special forces commander, in a Senate estimates hearing about Islam, radicalisation, refugees and terrorism.

She first asked Mr Lewis if he could confirm that the four terrorist attacks and the 12 foiled on Australian soil were “committed by Muslims”.

Mr Lewis replied: “Certainly of the 12 thwarted attacks, one of those indeed involved a right-wing extremist, so, the answer is ‘no’, they have not always been carried out by Muslims.”

During the exchanges, the ASIO chief said: “We’re not interested in religion. We are interested in whether an individual is exhibiting or practising violence.”

Senator Hanson then asked: “Do you believe that the threat is being brought in possibly from Middle Eastern refugees that are coming out to Australia?”

Mr Lewis replied: “I have abso­lutely no evidence to suggest there is a connection between refugees and terrorism.”

Islamic State-inspired gunman Man Haron Monis, who took hostages and killed one of them during the Lindt cafe siege in 2014, came to Australia on a business visa before successfully applying for asylum.

Abdul Numan Haider, the Melbourne 18-year-old killed after attacking police with a knife three months earlier, was an Afghan-born Australian citizen whose family arrived as refugees.

Farhad Jabar, the 15-year-old jihadist who killed NSW police civilian accountant Curtis Cheng in Sydney in 2015 was an Iranian-born Australian citizen of Kurdish-Iraqi background whose family came as refugees.

At least a dozen other first or second-generation Muslim ­mi­grants have been convicted of terror-related charges.

Senator Roberts last night told The Weekend Australian: “We see a lot of terrorism around the world from refugees who have come in particularly from Islamic countries. Most people so far have hidden the obvious correlation between Islam and terrorism and refused to discuss it.

“We’re stunned that ASIO doesn’t do that, and that the Australian Federal Police doesn’t.”

Mr Lewis declined to answer questions requesting he expand on his statements in Senate estimates. He has previously sparked controversy for what some conservative Coalition MPs saw as an effort to play down the threat of ­Islamic radicalisation.

In 2015, The Australian revealed Mr Lewis had telephoned MPs publicly critical of attitudes within the Australian Muslim community, asking them to use the “soothing language favoured by Malcolm Turnbull in their public discussion of Islam”.

Speaking from Liberia last night, Mr Ruddock said it would be unrealistic to say immigration and refugee questions “play no role in relation to trying to resolve difficult issues”, but he said “integrity in selection is always of the ­utmost importance. Some of the people you cite were never refugees and deceived us in relation in to their entitlements.

“Monis was never a refugee. He clearly had difficult psychological problems.”

Mr Ruddock noted many of those who had committed ­Islamic-inspired terrorism here had been born in Australia, and said the question was “why have we failed to pass on our values”, particularly respecting the law.

Dr Aly said: “I think Duncan Lewis knows more than Pauline Hanson, and if Duncan Lewis is saying that, we should be paying attention to him.”

Immigration Minister Peter Dutton declined to comment.



Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the  incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of  other countries.  The only real difference, however, is how much power they have.  In America, their power is limited by democracy.  To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already  very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges.  They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did:  None.  So look to the colleges to see  what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way.  It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH,   EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS and  DISSECTING LEFTISM.   My Home Pages are here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here


Friday, May 26, 2017

End the propaganda myth that Jerusalem is holy to Muslims

It's not even mentioned in the Koran

Upon the 50th anniversary of the Jewish state of Israel’s reunification of Jerusalem, there is no better time to end the propaganda myth that Jerusalem is a holy city to Muslims.

The Muslim fixation and clamor on Jerusalem is actually a very recent historical development—a product of political conflict, not historical truth.

Jerusalem rates not a single mention in the Quran, and Muslims face Mecca in prayer. In the 7th century A.D., the Damascus-based Umayyad rulers built up Jerusalem as a counterweight to Mecca. This is when the important Muslim shrines, the Dome of the Rock (691) and the Al-Aqsa mosque (705), were intentionally built on the site of the destroyed biblical Jewish temples—a time-honored practice to physically signal the predominance of Islam.

Yet references in the Quran and hadith to Muhammad’s night journey to heaven on his steed Buraq from the “farthest mosque” couldn’t mean Jerusalem, because the Quran refers to the land of Israel as the “nearest” place. It couldn’t have been a reference to the Al-Aqsa mosque, for the simple reason that Al-Aqsa didn’t exist in Muhammad’s day.

With the demise of the Umayyad dynasty and the shift of the caliphate to Baghdad, Jerusalem fell into a long decline, scarcely interrupted by occasional bursts of Muslim interest in the city during the Crusader period and the Ottoman conquest. Mark Twain, visiting in 1867, described it as a “pauper village.”

Jerusalem did, however, become a Jewish-majority city during the 19th century. The 1907 Baedekers Travel Guide lists Jerusalem with a population of 40,000 Jews, 13,000 Muslims and 7,000 Christians. Jerusalem meant so little to the Ottomans that, during World War I, they let it fall into British hands without a fight and even contemplated entirely destroying the city before pulling out.

When did Jerusalem become a passionate Islamic issue? Only with the Arab confrontation with Zionism in the 20th century. It was Mufti of Jerusalem Haj Amin al-Husseini, a vociferous anti-Semite and later Nazi collaborator, who expended enormous energy to focus Islamic attention on the city.

Seeking to foment a Muslim war on British Palestine’s Jews, he fabricated a tradition that the wall to which Muhammad was believed to have tethered his steed Buraq was not the southern or eastern walls, as Muslims had asserted for centuries, but the Western Wall, Judaism’s holiest prayer site. (The Israeli-Jordanian-Palestinian status quo agreement forbids Jewish prayer at the religion’s holiest site, the Temple Mount.) This turned the Western Wall into a flashpoint.

The massive Arab assault on Jews across British Palestine in 1929, in which 133 Jews were murdered and hundreds more maimed, was triggered by false rumors that Jews had attacked, or were intending to attack, the mosques atop the Temple Mount.

Strangely, even under the mufti, the Temple Mount was still recognized by Muslims as the site of the biblical Jewish temples. Thus, the Jerusalem Muslim Supreme Council’s publication, “A Brief Guide to the Haram Al-Sharif,” states regarding Jerusalem’s Temple Mount, “Its identity with the site of Solomon’s Temple is beyond dispute.” (After 1954, all such references to the biblical temples were excised from this publication.)

During Jordan’s illegal occupation and annexation of eastern Jerusalem from 1948-1967, Amman remained the Jordanian capital, not Jerusalem. No Arab rulers, other than Jordan’s kings, ever visited.

Neither the PLO’s National Charter nor the Fatah Constitution (the latter drafted during Jordanian rule) even mention Jerusalem, let alone call for its establishment as a Palestinian capital.

But today, Palestinian Authority (PA) officials deny Judaism’s connection to Jerusalem. PA Mufti Muhammad Hussein sneers at Jews’ “alleged Temple” and insists “Palestinians have an exclusive right…which they share with no one” to the Temple Mount. Sheikh Tayseer Tamimi, former chief justice of the PA’s religious court, insists he does not “know of any Jewish holy sites” in Jerusalem.

Today, the PA uses Jerusalem as a propaganda instrument to incite violence. In 1996, Yasser Arafat used Israel’s opening of an archaeological tunnel near the Temple Mount to incite riots on the basis of the lie that the tunnel threatened the stability of the Al-Aqsa mosque. Twenty-five Israeli soldiers and 100 Palestinian rioters were killed in the ensuing violence.

In 2015, PA President Mahmoud Abbas urged violence over Jews visiting the Temple Mount, borrowing from Haj Amin al-Husseini’s playbook the fabricated claims of Jewish assaults on the mosques. More than 30 Israelis were murdered and more than 200 Palestinians, the vast majority terrorists or rioters, were killed in subsequent attacks and clashes.

When a senior White House official told Bloomberg News this month that President Donald Trump—reneging on his pre-election promise—would not move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem “at this time” because “we’re not looking to provoke anyone when everyone’s playing really nice,” it gave the Palestinians their latest reason to believe violence over Jerusalem reaps rewards. Far from aiding the cause of peace, the fabrication of Jerusalem’s importance to Islam enables the instigation of bloodshed. If the propaganda myth persists, expect no change.


Strange memory failures

For now, everyone knows the sonorous name and cherubic face of 8-year-old Saffie Rose Roussos.

She's the littlest known victim of Monday night's jihad attack in Manchester, England. Her doe-eyed image spread as rapidly across social media as the #PrayForManchester hashtags and Twitter condolences from celebrities.

But I guarantee you that beautiful Saffie Rose will evaporate from the memories of those most loudly proclaiming "Never forget" faster than a dewdrop in the desert.

Look no further for proof of the West's incurable terror attack amnesia than the reaction to the Manchester massacre. Reporters, politicians and pundits expressed shock at the brutality of Muslim murderers targeting children and young people.

Labour Party leader Yvette Cooper posited on BBC Live that it was a "first."

"The architects of terror have hit a new low," a Liverpool newspaper editorialized.

U.K. columnist Rosie Millard described the bloody bombing as an "attack unique in its premeditated targeting of the young."

What planet have these people been living on for the past 16 years? How quickly the blind, deaf and dumb virtue signalers forget.

Last year, the Orlando, Florida, nightclub jihadist purposely targeted young people simply having a good time. Among the youngest victims cut down in their prime: Jason B. Josaphat, 19, and vacationing high school honors student Akyra Monet Murray, 18.

Somali jihadist Abdul Razak Ali Artan plowed his car into Ohio State University students last fall before stabbing several of them. The attack was swept under the rug as the usual, terror-coddling suspects worried more about a nonexistent "backlash" against Muslims than they did about the steady infiltration of refugee jihadis and Islamic extremists at colleges and universities across the country.

In 2004, Islamic baby-killers attacked a school in Beslan, Russia, during a three-day siege that took the lives of 186 young children.

At Fort Hood in 2009, soldier Francheska Velez and her unborn child were murdered by jihadist Nidal Hasan with 13 other victims. Her last words: "My baby! My baby!"

Eight children were murdered on airliners that jihadists hijacked and crashed on Sept. 11, 2001.

Christine Hanson, 3, was on United Airlines Flight 175 with her parents. She was on her first trip to Disneyland. Juliana McCourt, 4, was traveling with her mom — also on her way to Disneyland. David Brandhorst, 3, was traveling with his adoptive dad and his companion.

Sisters Zoe Falkenberg, 8, and Dana, 3, were headed to Australia with their parents on American Airlines Flight 77.

Bernard Brown Jr., 11; Rodney Dickens, 11; and Asia Cottom, 11, all from Washington, D.C., were also on the Falkenbergs' flight. They were public schoolchildren traveling with their teachers on an educational trip.

An additional 10 pregnant women and their unborn babies died as the Twin Towers toppled. Eight years before, during the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, one pregnant woman and her unborn child also perished.

The Boston Marathon bombing of 2013 injured 263 and claimed three lives, including 8-year-old Martin Richard. Authorities recounted at trial that Martin suffered "visceral pain" in nearly every part of his body as shrapnel — metal, wood, nails and pellets — from the jihadists' pressure cooker bomb ripped into him.

Yes, the same type of sadistic torture bombs suspected of maiming and killing kids and teens in Manchester this week.

Newsflash: There is nothing new or unique about the barbaric soldiers of Allah executing premeditated attacks on our young. History teaches us there is no appeasing the unappeasable. They will not be bought by welfare subsidies, sensitivity programs, college educations or diversity-is-our-strength platitudes. The slaughter of the innocents will continue unabated as long as the West's useless last responders to jihad violence — addled by short-term memories and child-like comprehension of the Islamic imperialism imperative — prevail.


The ‘Trump Effect’ Is Becoming Evident In the States

Human rights legislation is quickening in the states: protections for the unborn are gaining across the nation. Similarly, there is a determined effort to secure religious liberty.

Progress against child abuse in the womb is so strong in Kentucky that it may become the first state not to have a single abortion clinic. Planned Parenthood efforts to house new abortion clinics have been stopped, and it is now illegal to kill children after 20 weeks of pregnancy. Requiring doctors to inform pregnant women of ultrasound details is also law.

On May 12, Tennessee made it illegal to end the life of an unborn baby beyond viability. The law is different from the more than 20 other states that ban abortion beyond viability: it actually requires doctors to assess viability beginning at 20 weeks.

Indiana has tightened its parental consent law by allowing a judge to inform an underage girl's parents that she wants to abort her child. Planned Parenthood and the ACLU are up in arms over this expansion of parental rights.

Lawmakers in Iowa passed a bill denying reimbursement to abortion clinics that rely on Medicaid; starting July 1, they can no longer expect to be refunded for such expenses. True health services—unrelated to killing—will still be refunded.

Catholics have sued St. Louis for disrespecting the religious liberty rights of employers and landlords opposed to abortion. The law mandates that all employers—including Catholic institutions—must respect the "reproductive health decisions" of its employees. In practice, this means that pro-abortion teachers could sue if denied a teaching job at a Catholic school.

The Texas legislature has passed a bill that respects the autonomy of foster care and adoption agencies that receive public monies. Radical homosexuals, as well as men and women who have undergone surgery to adopt the genitals of the opposite sex, are unhappy with this religious liberty legislation.

A lot of good things are happening. Is this the "Trump Effect"? If so, the pope should have been very pleased when they met.


The Leftist race obsession

MORE THAN half a century after Martin Luther King Jr. exhorted Americans to judge each other by the content of their character, obsessive racialists continue to insist that people must be judged by the color of their skin.

These days, the racialists aren't usually motivated by notions of group supremacy; they are more likely instead to march behind banners emblazoned "Diversity" or "Inclusion." Nonetheless, the race fetish — the regard for skin color or ethnicity as a supremely meaningful factor in human behavior — is as pernicious as ever. Few superstitions could be more illiberal. After all, the noblest teaching of 20th-century liberalism was that human beings must be treated by society without regard to the shade of their skin or the shape of their eye. A preoccupation with racial and ethnic categories is nearly always irrational and primitive.

And yet, from sea to shining sea, the pressure to discriminate on the basis of race never seems to let up. Some recent examples:

In Minnesota, every state agency has an affirmative-action plan for increasing the percentage of racial and ethnic minorities it employs; the state's official goal is for 1 of every 5 employees to be nonwhite.

In Washington, school districts are required by law to draft a blueprint for hiring more racial minorities; a government body, the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction, is in charge of determining the "ideal" number of minorities each district should have.

In Massachusetts, developers bidding to construct a hotel on state-owned land must meet a "diversity" threshold by including racial minorities among their investors and reserving significant chunks of the work for black- and Asian-owned subcontractors.

The leitmotif that links these stories, and so many like them, is that racial identity is more important than character, personality, or merit. They are premised on the belief that individuals matter less than the demographic group they belong to. They deny the great truth that beat at the heart of the Civil Rights movement — that "classifications and distinctions based on race or color," as Thurgood Marshall expressed it in a 1948 brief for the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, "have no moral or legal validity in our society."



Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the  incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of  other countries.  The only real difference, however, is how much power they have.  In America, their power is limited by democracy.  To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already  very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges.  They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did:  None.  So look to the colleges to see  what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way.  It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH,   EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS and  DISSECTING LEFTISM.   My Home Pages are here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here


Thursday, May 25, 2017

The Manchester Muslim attack

Current American journalism is nearly as fake as Nazi journalism
If conscientious observers were to take seriously news headlines about President Trump, many would have to conclude that Americans had elected a Charlie Chan mustachioed despot sporting a Kookie hairdo (from 77 Sunset Strip), and a temperament hissing with Darth Vader-like venom or Larry-Moe-Curly buffoonery, depending on the situation. Clarion calls for impeachment from furrow-browed swamp creatures likely are motivated by President Vader’s pledge to drain their native habitat.

One response on their part, of course, is to launch another round of reductio ad Hitlerum diatribes about America’s politically incorrect chief executive. Analysts with cabooses of academic degrees and accomplishments trailing their names have shoveled heaps of verbiage into the public domain comparing Trump to Hitler. However, there is one sense in which linking the Trump era to the Third Reich doesn’t fail the smell test, though not in a way that puts President Trump’s detractors in a positive light. That is, while Trump brings Hitler to mind for a lot of journalists, for me many current news reports spark memories of Nazi newspaper accounts covering events during the war.

An explanation of this point is in order. Although I missed collecting memories from the Second World War (though not by much), my parents and grandparents lived through it, some fought in it, and my mother, bless her heart, saved many newspapers from those years. Reading English translations of German newspaper stories when I was a youngster left me in a state of bewilderment. How could they say such things? How could people hold such beliefs? How could Germans view the world in ways so unimaginably at odds with reality? In short, what was wrong with those people?

The newspapers I pored over are now too yellowed and fragile to use as a source, so I consulted online accounts that triggered the most intense recollections, especially reports of the German invasion of Poland in September 1939. One headline blared Hitler’s threat to “Meet Bomb with Bomb,” with the story beneath describing in vivid detail Polish aggressions against the Third Reich. In Hitler’s proclamation: “Germans in Poland are persecuted with a bloody terror and are driven from their homes. The series of border violations, which are unbearable to a great power, prove that the Poles no longer are willing to respect the German frontier. In order to put an end to this frantic activity no other means is left to me now than to meet force with force.” In short, according to Nazi accounts, Poland was ready to invade Germany.

Years later, William L. Shirer’s The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich appeared, and although academicians decried his journalistic approach, Shirer’s tome was invaluable in depicting the political atmosphere in Germany at that time. “How completely isolated a world the German people live in, I noted in my diary on August 10, 1939,” Shirer reported. He purchased some newspapers that thrust him into “"the cockeyed world of Nazism,” where one headline after another screeched with rage: “WARSAW THREATENS BOMBARDMENT OF DANZIG—UNBELIEVABLE AGITATION OF THE POLISH ARCHMADNESS!”; “COMPLETE CHAOS IN POLAND—GERMAN FAMILIES FLEE—POLISH SOLDIERS PUSH TO EDGE OF GERMAN BORDER!”; “THIS PLAYING WITH FIRE GOING TOO FAR—THREE GERMAN PASSENGER PLANES SHOT AT BY POLES—IN CORRIDOR MANY GERMAN FARMHOUSES IN FLAMES!” And so it went, at a fevered pitch throughout the Reich.

Does this comparison mean that American reporters today are as corrupted as their counterparts in Nazi Germany? The answer to this question is no, but many are headed in that direction. Indeed, in his review of a Harvard University study, Howard Kurtz stated, “You may have gotten the impression that the coverage of President Trump is kinda sorta pretty negative. That’s not quite right: It’s overwhelmingly negative. Stunningly negative. Head-shakingly negative.” More than that, many stories are based on sources so hateful, so partisan, so questionable, that their writers might as well have made them up. Which would put them in the same league as those who labored in Nazi media during World War Two: journalism was their name, fabrication, their game. Welcome to the “cockeyed world” of contemporary American political reporting.

Still, journalists who are offended by this unsavory allusion could proclaim that Germany was a totalitarian state, while America today is a democratic republic and at least has Fox News, talk radio, and a smattering of conservative think tanks here and there. But while this is true, one only need be reminded by the fact that everything Propaganda Minister Goebbels did during the 1930s was foreshadowed by the Nazi publication Völkischer Beobachter, and it was simply a matter of time for the regime to destroy freedom of the press when Hitler came to power. Similarly, anyone familiar with the academy’s totalitarian impulses to banish free speech — by force, if necessary — can project its eventual elimination once college snowflakes achieve critical mass and rule the entire country, and not just their protected enclaves within it. Should that horrible scenario unfold, Americans will then be faced with a regime of controlled speech like those enforced at any one of our worst universities. Or, a regime of oppression found in the country once dominated by Hitler.

Certainly, Trump’s detractors have made good points about his policies and temperament, but too many journalists destroyed their credibility during the “long, slobbering love affair” they had with President Obama. Conservative critics rightly point out that President Trump has little or no serious intellectual foundation to feed his mind, nourish his thoughts, or control his adolescent rhetorical impulses. Many on both sides of the ideological divide wish he wouldn’t talk (or tweet) so much, which recalls the comment a British observer made about Kaiser Wilhelm: “The other sovereigns are so much quieter.”

This is good advice for the president today, as well as for many of his critics. At least until all parties learn that you must not fabricate stories just to make political points. After all, we’re not invading Poland.


Trump Signals a Reset Between Israel and US

It’s time to patch up America’s second “special relationship” after eight years of frayed feelings between the United States and Israel.

That’s the message President Donald Trump is sending in his early-presidency trip to Israel and unprecedented visit to the Western Wall in Jerusalem.

Trump said of his Monday visit to the Western Wall, a first for sitting American presidents, that the visit was potentially a path to a “deeper” friendship with Israel.

Conflicts over policy and philosophy strained the relations between former President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu and led to distrust between the two countries.

By going out of his way to entreat with Israel, Trump is at least signaling that a reset is in store.

Israel plays an essential role in American foreign policy—and not only in the Middle East. The war against radical Islamists has global implications in which the two countries have overlapping interests.

America’s Other ‘Special Relationship’

It is almost taken for granted today that Israel has been such a reliable foreign policy partner. This was only due to the careful diplomacy and alignment of key national and cultural interests between the two countries.

The nature of this partnership in many ways mirrors the so-called “special relationship” between Great Britain and the United States.

However, it is important to remember that before World War II, the U.S. and U.K. spent a century as mortal enemies and had deep reasons to distrust one another.

World War I pushed the U.S. and U.K. closer together after a century of suspicion and hostility. The fires of World War II and the Herculean efforts of British Prime Minister Winston Churchill sealed a the long-term collaboration between the countries—an example of the importance of wise statesmanship from American and British leaders.

It is important for American leaders to recognize and cultivate just such a relationship with Israel.

While the United States has always been supportive of Israel’s nationhood since 1948, the two countries were not always so intertwined. The complex nature of the Cold War in the Middle East occasionally put the U.S. and Israel at odds.

U.S.-Israel ties grew closer after Israel defeated a coalition of Arab states backed by the Soviet Union in the Yom Kippur War and the country proved itself to be a valuable Cold War ally.

The wisdom of this cooperation is even more apparent after the rise of radical Islamist sentiment that became a cornerstone aspect of American foreign policy after the terrorist attack on 9/11.

Israel was in a prime position to help combat this pernicious ideology, which has strong ties in the Middle East.

Countering Iran and Syria

Trump addressed a few major issues of immediate concern to the U.S. during his visit to Israel.

Of course, the thorn of the Islamic State, also known as ISIS, and other radical, subnational Islamist groups in the region remain high on the U.S. agenda, and Israel is a key partner in destroying these factions.

But the national threats of Syria and Iran, which have acted recalcitrantly toward the West and are well-known funders of terrorist groups, are of particular concern and also require close cooperation with Israel.

Trump has already shown that he is willing to make limited strikes in Syria to enforce the red line on chemical weapons. This action was strongly supported by Israel, and was seen as a rebuke to both Bashar Assad’s regime in Syria and also Iran.

On Monday, Trump sent a strong message to Iran that its terror funding and nuclear ambitions would not be tolerated.

As Middle East expert Jim Phillips argued in a recent Heritage Foundation report, “Iran remains the chief long-term regional threat to the U.S. and Israel.”

Trump has not yet followed through on his promise to tear up the Obama administration’s 2015 nuclear deal with Iran, pending a formal policy review of whether the nuclear deal advances vital American national interests.

Nevertheless, Trump said in a speech that Iran was guilty of “deadly funding, training, and equipping of terrorists and militias,” and that it acted inappropriately after the deal took place.

As Phillips noted, it is vitally important to either change the terms of this treaty or step away from it entirely to stem Iran’s “continued support for terrorism, expanding ballistic missile program, and deepening military intervention in Syria.”

Israel is among the most important counterweights to this hostile regime in the Middle East, especially in upholding economic sanctions and controlling arms flowing to and from Iran.

The ‘Ultimate Deal’

Trump made numerous commitments regarding Israel during the campaign.

Currently, his promise to officially recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and move an American embassy there has failed to materialize. This remains a thorny issue for the Palestinians in particular. It would also create a challenge for Trump’s desire to broker the “ultimate deal” between Israel and the Palestinians.

Trump has expressed a desire to create some kind of lasting solution for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, an issue that has become a white whale for American presidents from Jimmy Carter to Obama.

All of these attempts have failed to achieve any kind of lasting peace, and some have exacerbated the conflict.

A more realistic approach would be to seek an interim agreement to make incremental progress on addressing Israeli security concerns and facilitating Palestinian economic development, which would help restore mutual trust and create a more supportive environment for later addressing touchy final status issues.

Sticking points like the “right of return” for Palestinians, the status of Jerusalem, the future of Israeli settlements, and the redrawing of borders are unlikely to be resolved anytime soon, given the glaring lack of trust and wide gaps in the negotiating positions of Israel and the Palestinian Authority.


Trump on Visiting Israel’s Western Wall: ‘It Will Leave An Impression On Me Forever’

Images of President Trump touching the ancient stones of the Western Wall in Jerusalem will send a strong signal to the Palestinians and their Muslim allies who have used U.N. forums to contest Jewish claims and heritage at the location of the biblical Temples.

Trump on Monday became the first sitting president to visit the wall, where he stood, placing his hands on the hewn stone, and slipped a note into a crack in line with Jewish custom.

“I was deeply moved by my visit today to the Western Wall,” Trump said afterwards. “Words fail to capture the experience. It will leave an impression on me forever.”

He was accompanied during the visit by the chief rabbi of the Western Wall, Shmuel Rabinowitz. Not present, despite a reported Israeli request, was Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, a reflection of the great sensitivity surrounding the site.

The Temple Mount is the most revered site in Judaism, but although the area has been under Israeli sovereignty since 1967 the nearest point where observant Jews are able to pray openly is the Western Wall, a remnant of a retaining wall on the western flank of the hilltop platform.

The hilltop itself is home to the al-Aqsa mosque, built after the 7th century Islamic invasion and regarded by Muslims as their third-holiest site, after the Ka’aba in Mecca and the Mohammed mosque in Medina.

The international community, including the United States, does not recognize Israeli sovereignty over the area, or Israel’s claim to Jerusalem as its “indivisible and eternal” capital.

Later Monday, Netanyahu – as he often does with visiting foreign leaders – emphatically welcomed the president and first lady to his residence “in Jerusalem, the eternal capital of the Jewish people, the united capital of the Jewish state.”

The Palestinians want at least eastern Jerusalem as the capital of a future independent state, and Islamic theology calls for the Temple Mount – which Muslims call al-Haram al-Sharif (“Noble Sanctuary”) – to be in Muslim hands, exclusively and always.

Palestinian political and religious leaders have long challenged Jewish historical and religious claims to holy sites in Jerusalem and elsewhere.

These include the site of the temple first built by King Solomon some 3,000 years ago, as recounted in the Bible (2 Chronicles 3), and the rebuilt one – the one in which Jesus taught – which was finally razed by the Romans in 70 AD.

The Palestinians also contest Jewish rights to the traditional burial places of the biblical patriarchs and matriarchs in Hebron and Bethlehem.

In 2011, the U.N. Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization became the first U.N. agency to admit the “state of Palestine,” and in recent years Arab states have introduced resolutions at UNESCO rejecting any Jewish connection to Judaism’s most important sites.

Some of the texts have referred to the Temple Mount and the Western Wall only by their Islamic names, and all have attacked Israeli sovereignty in Jerusalem.

The Trump administration has navigated the tricky waters warily.

According to Israeli media accounts, U.S. diplomats involved in preparing for Trump’s visit turned down a request for Netanyahu to accompany the president to the wall, citing the sovereignty issue.

Asked the administration’s view on whether the Western Wall fell inside Israel, national security advisor H.R. McMaster last Tuesday demurred, calling it a “policy decision.”

On the same day, however, U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley sided with Israel on the matter.

“I don’t know what the policy of the administration is,” she told CBN television, “but I believe the Western Wall is part of Israel and I think that that is how, you know, we’ve always seen it and that’s how we should pursue it.”

While campaigning for the presidency, Trump undertook – as have some of his predecessors – to move the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, a step that would lend enormous weight to Israel’s claims to its capital.

Such a move could, however, alienate the very Arab and Islamic leaders Trump wants to rally in a concerted effort against what in his speech in Riyadh Sunday he called “Islamic terror.”

Many Israelis hoped Trump would announce the embassy move during his current visit, but U.S. officials ahead of the trip indicated that would not happen.

Relocating the embassy is a requirement of U.S. law, enacted in 1995, which called for the move by May 1999 at the latest, but also contained “national security” waiver provisions that have been invoked by presidents at six-monthly intervals ever since.

The current waiver expires on June 1, so Trump has a little over one week to renew it – or set the embassy move in motion.



Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the  incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of  other countries.  The only real difference, however, is how much power they have.  In America, their power is limited by democracy.  To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already  very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges.  They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did:  None.  So look to the colleges to see  what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way.  It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH,   EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS and  DISSECTING LEFTISM.   My Home Pages are here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here


Wednesday, May 24, 2017

The incorrectness of Soylent

Soylent is a liquid meal replacement born in California a few years ago. For people too busy to eat or too busy to prepare meals, it offers great convenience.  You can live on Soylent.

It is a cleverly-made product that embodies answers to most criticisms that might be made of it.  It is for instance made from grains and other vegetable products so is acceptable to vegans. Yet there has been great opposition to it. Before I look at why, I should perhaps declare that I have an interest of sorts. 

In 1967 when I was in the 4th year of my psychology degree, our professor of physiology mentioned to the class that skim milk has a very similar nutritional profile to the liquid diet that American astronauts at the time were being fed.  Just add a few vitamins and you should be able to live permanently on nothing but skim milk.  Being both busy and having little money at that time, the idea appealed to me.  So for six months I lived on skim milk plus some supplements.  I was fine.  The diet worked.  No problems. I gave it up only because of boredom.  So I have the experience to find the Soylent story reasonable.

So what have people got against Soylent?  Just Google 'Soylent' and you will come across a whole lot of grouchy comments on it. I have read a lot of those comments.  The most scathing seem to come from people who have their own barrow to push -- from GMO opponents to sugar-opponents.  Soylent obviously does not bow down sufficiently to their particular obsession. From my reading of the medical journals, I consider opposition to GMOs and opposition to sugar as ill-informed so I regard all that they say in their attacks on Soylent as unreliable and not worth pursuing.

The majority of the negative comments however just seem to come from the break with normal human food practice:  It's unnatural; it deprives us of pleasures; and disrupts social interaction. And some of course didn't like the taste, texture etc.  Though the critics who actually made an attempt to live on Soylent for a little while were generally rather surprised by its palatability.

And like all new products it had teething problems, with early formulations triggering food insensitivities in some people.  Those problems were met with slight reformulations of the product and it should not now give those problems.

So, basically, it seems to me, the opposition to Soylent is mainly a combination of snobbery and a fear of the new.  As an alternative to a normal diet it would seem to have few problems. Living on it would probably reduce your social interactions and it will never taste as good as a well-cooked T-bone but nobody claims otherwise.

The only real scientific objection to it that I can see concerns the bioavailabilty of its ingredients.  Its micronutrient profile fits well with official guidelines but there are various ways of meeting those guidelines and some ingredients may have greater bioavailability than others.  Some further research on that may be worthwhile.  The product would however seem in general to do well what it purports to do -- JR.

Now here's some REAL Multiculturalism

A woman accused of shooting two of her three children dead is expected to appear in court later today to face charges in connection with their deaths.

Claudena Helton of Lori Sue Avenue, Dayton, Ohio was accused of shooting her two children Khmorra, 8 and Kaiden, 6, at their home on May 18. The children died over the weekend despite emergency surgery.

Police chief Richard Biehl said Helton shot the two children inside the home and moved them to the front yard to wait for police and emergency services.

He said there are suggestions Helton may have been suffering from a mental illness. 

The children's 11-year-old sister was unharmed.

According to court records, Helton was initially charged with two counts of felonious assault, but they are expected to be upgraded following the children's deaths. 

According to the Dayton Daily News, prosecutors are considering increasing the severity of the charges.

Neighbor John Sanders Snr said: 'From what I’ve seen and noticed, she and the kids got along fine. They were always out in the yard barbecuing, cleaning the car, going back and forth to school. I could see no problem whatsoever. I was very shocked to hear, and disturbed, as to what happened over there.

'I’ve always thought and felt if, whenever the authorities know of cruelty ... they shouldn’t wait for an incident such as this to take place in order to take action.'

Helton is expected to appear in court later today. 


Australian national anthem reworked to be more inclusive of  Aboriginal people

"Young" and "Free" are bad words?  And if everybody has to be recognized, where is the Vietnamese version, the Maori version, The Fijian version, the Sikh version etc?  And don't forget the Ulster Scots.  I am  descended from one of those.  And what about the convicts?

A version of Australia's anthem that recognizes Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders can be sung as a patriotic song at certain events, the government agreed this week.

The Australian government granted permission on Tuesday for the altered version of 'Advance Australia Fair' to be used, but not as an official anthem, according to 7News.

The more inclusive version introduces a third verse with references to Aboriginal culture, Uluru and 'respecting the country.'

It also alters the line 'For we are young and free' from the first verse to read 'In peace and harmony.'

Recognition in Anthem Project have pushed for the new patriotic song, written by Victorian Supreme Court Judge Peter Vickery, according to 7News.

The national anthem fails to recognize all Australians and many Aboriginals and Torres Strait Islanders find some of the lyrics upsetting, Judge Vickery said.

'Many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island people find the words 'For we are young and free' hurtful and offensive, and find it difficult, if not impossible, to stand or sing the Anthem with these words,' the Recognition in Anthem Project website read.

'A simple solution is presented for consideration. The strength of our proposal is that it retains all of the proclaimed words and music (with one change to Verse 1), while adding a new Verse 3 which acknowledges our First Peoples and their occupation of Australia for more than 50,000 years. Otherwise the words and music of the National Anthem stay the same.'

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull told 7News the new version will be played at certain events but it has not been revealed which ones.


Who’s really afraid of the British working classes?

Margaret Thatcher isn’t to blame for modern-day chav-baiting and anti-working class sentiment. It was fashionable anti-Thatcherites who made a mockery of the lower orders.

There is a great book to be written about modern-day elite disdain for the working classes. Unfortunately, this isn’t it. Owen Jones does a fairly good job of scooping together all the bile that has been spat at Britain’s working-class communities by posh politicians and cheap hacks over the past 15 years. But his own political prejudices, and his embarrassingly paternalistic concern for ‘the vulnerable’ and ‘the poor’ who inhabit ‘conquered’ communities, prevents him from making sense of what motivates these top-down tirades against the lower orders. In keeping with the ‘chav’ theme, his book is a bit like a KFC: momentarily tasty, even fun, but ultimately unsatisfying. And if you look at its innards for too long, you might even feel a bit nauseous.

First, the good bits. Jones catalogues quite well, if unevenly, various cultural assaults that have been launched against so-called chavs, who are increasingly looked upon by elite movers and shakers as fat, dumb, racist and lazy. Some of his accounts will be familiar to readers of spiked, where we have written extensively about the new liberal bigotry against the great unwashed: the trendy London gym that offered people ‘chav-fighting classes’; the tourism firm that promised the middle classes ‘chav-free holidays’; the media attacks on reality TV star Jade Goody after she made allegedly racist comments to a Bollywood actress and was held up as an escapee from ‘ugly, thick white Britain’. Jones is on to something when he says ‘working-class people are the one group in society that you can say practically anything about’.

Yet it becomes clear very early in the book that this is going to be at best a partial account of ‘chav-bashing’. Jones, a former researcher for a Labour MP, focuses most of his fury on tired old right-wing arguments about single mums and the feckless poor, as if these caricatures have any purchase outside of the Home Counties these days. This means he misses what is new and distinctive about modern-day prole-mauling. He gets himself into such a tizz about anti-chav columns penned by James Delingpole and Simon Heffer in the Daily Telegraph, and by what he calls the ‘Thatcherite experiment’, and by the out-of-touchness of the Bullingdon-braised New Tories led by David Cameron, that he not only overlooks some glaring instances of liberal snobbery – he also misunderstands the very modern, decidedly post-Thatcherite political outlook that now motors chav-bashing.

Jones’s pro-Labour blinkers, his quaint attachment to a party that really ought to be given a one-way ticket to Dignitas in Switzerland, means he gives an historically patchy account of anti-working class sentiment. More than that, he holds Cameron – that doofus who has never once had an original political idea – responsible for things that Labour actually came up with. So, he frequently comments on the fact that in 2009, after two young boys in South Yorkshire seriously tortured and abused two other young boys, Cameron, then leader of the Opposition, put forward a ‘semi-apocalyptic vision of a Broken Britain’. Cameron exploited this rare crime to talk about a ‘social recession’, complains Jones, in the process demonising working-class communities. Yet it was Tony Blair in 1993, then leader of the Labour Opposition, who first used the term ‘Broken Britain’. Following the murder of Liverpudlian toddler James Bulger by two 10-year-old boys, Blair talked about the ‘moral vacuum’ in ‘lost communities’, exclaiming: ‘Look at the wreckage of our broken society.’ In milking an exceptional crime to paint a picture of morally unanchored communities ‘out there’, Cameron, not for the first time, was only aping Blair.

There are numerous instances when Jones throws his hands up in horror at Tory comments or policies that actually were nicked from Labour. ‘At the centre of Cameron’s political philosophy is the idea that a person’s life chances are determined by behavioural factors’, says Jones, accusing the New Tories of being obsessed with ‘personal behaviour’. Sound familiar? Maybe that’s because in the early 2000s, Labour’s Frank Field talked openly, and sans shame, about ‘the politics of behaviour’, a ‘new politics’ that is about ‘moderating behaviour and re-establishing the social virtues of self-discipline’ and which ‘reinforces what is good and acceptable behaviour’. Jones criticises Cameron for saying that ‘social problems are often the consequence of the choices people make’, and says that the New Tories’ focus on ‘individual responsibility’ for health problems and crime is a way of deflecting attention away from society’s own defects. Yet in the 1990s and 2000s, Labour leaders lamented the fact that many social problems are now seen as ‘entirely structural… we have eliminated individual responsibility from the account’.

At one point, Jones gets upset by a proposal put forward by the Tory Iain Duncan Smith, who suggested that social housing tenants ‘should be rewarded for decent behaviour by giving them a stake in their property’. ‘Rewarded for decent behaviour’, says Jones (his italics). ‘It’s the sort of language used when dealing with prison inmates, children or pets.’ In fact it’s the sort of language used by Labour. Throughout its Opposition years in the 1990s and its authoritarian rule in the 2000s, Labour continually pushed the idea of ‘welfare conditionality’, which was summed up by one writer as: ‘The principle that an individual’s entitlement to benefits and services should depend upon his or her willingness to meet specified conditions regarding behaviour and activities.’ 

Indeed, the use of welfare to manipulate the behaviour of the hordes has long been an issue close to Labour’s heart. Beatrice Webb, the early twentieth-century Labourite, said of welfare: ‘The unconditionality of all payments under insurance schemes constitutes a grave defect. The state gets nothing for its money in the way of conduct.’ The aloof grandes dames of the old Labour machine were just as keen as Mr Duncan Smith to remould the mob through the allocation or withholding of welfare. They were just a bit more PC about it.

Jones spends chapter after chapter attacking the Tories and only a few pages on Labour’s snobbery. Even then he writes about the ‘private contempt’ felt by New Labour individuals for the lower orders, largely overlooking the vast institutional assaults made by Labour over the past 15 years on the working classes’ lifestyles, parenting habits, political outlooks, socialising mores, morality and receipt of welfare. Perhaps the best example of how his pro-Labour tendencies warp his ability to get a handle on modern-day chav-bashing is his claim that Cameron’s Tories, through their PR response to the South Yorkshire child-torture case and other rare events, have promoted a view of working-class kids as out-of-control, as ‘feckless, delinquent, violent no-hopers’, a ‘feral underclass’.

Yet the impact of Cameron’s opportunistic statements in response to occasional crimes pales into insignificance when compared with the sweeping overhaul of the legal system enacted by Labour in response to the murder of Bulger. Then in Opposition, Labour promised after the killing of Bulger by two children that it would abolish doli incapax, the presumption in British law that children under the age of 14 are ‘incapable of crime’. It abolished it in 1998. This reckless act of legal sabotage, driven by a PR compunction to be seen as tough on crime, did far more to institutionalise the idea that those people’s kids are capable of great evil than any half-hour press conference by Cameron has done.

One of Jones’s key arguments is that when Labour unfortunately forayed into chav-bashing territory in the 1990s and 2000s, it was mistakenly trying to curry favour with the middle classes and the right-wing press by carrying on some of the Thatcher regime’s dirty deeds. In short, Labour foolishly copied the Tories. This seems to me to get things the wrong way round. It is true, of course, that some Thatcherite social policy, most notably intervention into the family and the promotion of health panics, was carried on by New Labour. But the most striking thing about modern-day Britain is the extent to which the New Tories, the current rulers of Britain, have been shaped by New Labour – by its politics of behaviour, its nannying/nudging, its belief that it has the right and the power to remould the lower orders’ lifestyles, its focus on the link between ‘bad parenting’ and future crime, its penchant for ‘early intervention’ into poor people’s lives, and so on.

All of these Labour projects, all of which contributed enormously to the febrile climate of elite suspicion of chavs over the past 15 years, have been enthusiastically embraced by Cameron and Co. Jones presents Cameron’s Tories as the rehabilitators of the old Victorian view of the working classes as a ‘rabble’, but in truth they are the instantaneous heirs of the more PC, health-focused, pseudoscience-fuelled authoritarianism of Labour.

If Jones’s harshness on the Tories and relative softness on Labour only meant that he gave a skewed account of recent events, that would be bad enough. But I think it’s worse than that. He misses something fundamentally important. Which is that contemporary chav-bashing is underpinned, not by the outlook of Thatcherism, as he claims, but rather by the politics of anti-Thatcherism, by the now mainstream liberal narrative which says that the problem with Thatcherism is that it made people too materialistic and self-obsessed and not sufficiently ‘communal’. It is this which nurtured the eruption of anti-working class sentiment in the 1990s through to today.

At times, Jones’s argument that the ‘Thatcherite experiment’ gave rise to modern-day chav-bashing sounds positively conspiratorial. He says that ‘few men can claim to have had as much influence over modern Britain as Keith Joseph’. Who?, says everyone under the age of 35. Joseph was a leading figure in the Tory right in the 1970s. He was a ‘supporter of free-market guru Milton Friedman’, says Jones (and of course Friedman is responsible for every ill in modern society) and he inspired Thatcher. She went on to demolish working-class institutions in the 1980s, with her war on trade unions, and to champion and institutionalise the Josephite, Friedmanite, unfettered free-market machine. Thus did Joseph, ‘the Iron Lady’s Mad Monk’, rewrite the script of British politics and society, weakening the working classes, strengthening the capitalist class, and unleashing an orgy of bile against the lower orders (which, for some unexplained reason, did not reach fruition until the early 2000s, when chav-bashing really took off).

This is not good sociology. Of course it is true that the 1980s were a very important moment in the history of British class. Thatcher did indeed lead a war against the trade unions, an ideological war against the politicised working classes, which contributed to the historic defeat of that class as a powerful force in public and political life. Yet the 1980s was not, as Jones claims, a decade of free-market triumphalism, in which the right was swaggeringly cocky, ‘the wealthy were adulated’, there was the rise of ‘dog-eat-dog individualism’, and ‘aspiration [came to mean] yearning for a bigger car or a bigger house’.

For alongside what are referred to as ‘Thatcherite’ trends, there was also another, very powerful cultural dynamic – one which mocked the ‘Loadsamoneys’ of the working classes who wanted only material goods; one which frequently laid into ‘Essex Man’ and ‘Basildon Man’ and other members of the working classes who wanted cushie jobs and nice cars; one which ridiculed ‘Yuppies’ (wide boys with cash) and which lamented the alleged impact that Thatcher’s rule was having on the self-esteem and mental health of the working classes. (All of this nonsense was later outlined in early Nineties liberal tomes such as Thatcher’s Children and Unhealthy Societies: The Afflictions of Inequality.) Even in the Eighties – now presented to us as a decade of rampant and demented greed – there were powerful cultural forces mocking the desire for stuff and the temerity of material aspiration.

And it is this dynamic, this cultural narrative, which survived the Eighties and which gave rise to the politics of chav-bashing. That is, it was not Thatcher, whose grip on public consciousness was weakening even as early as the mid-1980s, but rather the fashionable anti-Thatcherites, the thinkers, academics, Labour officials and journalists who detested what they saw as the vulgar materialism of the Thatcher years, whose arguments have motored modern-day disdain for the grubby, fat, stuff-obsessed lower orders.

For example, you can see the explicit refashioning of the cultural elite’s war of words on Yuppies in the contemporary assault on the ‘bling’ and ‘big trainers’ of inner-city kids. You can glimpse the anti-Thatcher elite’s demonisation of so-called Basildon Man in the continued braying at anyone from Essex who has a mock Tudor house or a fake tan. The powerful Thatcher-bashers’ concern for the loss of tradition and the rise of ill-health amongst the lower orders is visible in the contemporary jihad against junk food and the promotion of allotments and organic fare.

One of the key complaints made by the frustrated anti-Thatcherites in the 1980s was that the working classes had been bought off by Thatcher with the promise of material comfort. And likewise, one of the key reasons that chavs are attacked today is for their alleged slavishness to stuff, their apparently selfish desire to own and scoff and throw away as much as possible. Influential books such as Oliver James’s The Selfish Capitalist: Origins of Affluenza and Kate Pickett and Richard Wilkinson’s The Spirit Level argue that the desire for affluence has made people unwell, even mentally ill; James says that Thatcherism turned Britons into ‘credit-fuelled, consumer-binging junkies’. It is that sentiment, not the outdated, discredited Thatcherite penchant for Victorian values against the feckless poor, which is at the heart of contemporary chav-hatred.

In short, things are vastly more complicated than Jones would have us believe. Thatcher’s assault on the trade unions may have represented the culmination of a long, drawn-out war on working-class independence and power, leaving that section of society exposed to moral assault. But it was the anti-Thatcherites, the liberal elite that came to the fore in the post-Thatcher era, who launched the moral assault, laying into the working classes for their lack of community spirit, their individual greed and their gluttony.

Ironically, these very prejudices are reproduced in Jones’s book. He favourably cites Labour MP Jon Cruddas’s claim that we now have too many people who ‘aspire to own more material things’ and he calls for a ‘total redefinition of aspiration’. His disingenuous contrasting of ‘rugged individualism’ (bad) with ‘the old collective form of aspiration’ (good) leads him to argue that the working classes should be less obsessed with ‘climbing the social ladder’ and more proud of what he embarrassingly calls their ‘working-classness’. He agrees with Hazel Blears, who says: ‘I’ve never understood the term “social mobility” because that implies you want to get out of somewhere… And I think that there is a great deal to be said for making who you are something to be proud of.’ That sounds very much like an updated, more PC version of the old idea that the poor should be happy with their lot: never mind ‘escaping’, just be proud of your roots! When Jones says that ‘rugged individualism’ is at odds with ‘social solidarity’, he misses the point that strong-minded and strong-willed individuals – yes, even self-interested ones – are the backbone of any social movement worth its name. Today, a defence of ‘rugged individualism’ and autonomy against the intervention of a pitying liberal class that wants the lower orders to enjoy and communally celebrate their existing living conditions would be a good start for any radical; Jones does the opposite of this.

Jones accuses old right-wingers of fearing the working classes. And it’s true, many of them do. But if there is one thing worse than fear of the workers, it is pity for them. This book has way too much of that. These are the ‘victims of social problems’, ‘the poor’, ‘vulnerable working-class groups’; sadly there is ‘no sympathy for them’ and there aren’t even any ‘likeable working-class characters’ on TV anymore. In one particularly embarrassing bit, Jones invites his largely middle-class readers to ‘imagine being a poor working-class youth in Britain today… lacking many of the things others take for granted: toys, days out, holidays, good food’. Oh dear. At least the right has a point when it fears the working classes: history shows that they can indeed be a fearsome class. But there is never an excuse to pity them.



Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the  incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of  other countries.  The only real difference, however, is how much power they have.  In America, their power is limited by democracy.  To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already  very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges.  They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did:  None.  So look to the colleges to see  what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way.  It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH,   EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS and  DISSECTING LEFTISM.   My Home Pages are here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here


Tuesday, May 23, 2017

The war on fat - a big, fat waste of time

Until recently, the advice that we should avoid fat - particularly saturated fat - was regarded as simple common sense. Heart attacks were caused by fatty deposits in our arteries, right? It was obvious that these must have in turn been caused by the heavy, saturated fat in our diets. Obesity is excess storage of fat, so it must obviously be caused by eating fat. So all the fatty treats we once loved were replaced by boring, low-fat alternatives. Bacon and eggs were replaced by Shredded Wheat and All Bran; fatty steaks were replaced by dull, dry low-fat chicken breasts. Butter was replaced by odd-tasting, low-fat vegetable-oil spread. The pleasure of full-fat milk was skimmed away, to be replaced by a thin, insipid white liquid. But if the joy of eating was diminished, at least we could rest assured that we would all be slimmer and healthier in the long run.

But in recent years, the advice to eat a low-fat diet has increasingly been called into question. Despite cutting down on fatty foods, the populations of many Western countries have become fatter. If heart-disease mortality has maintained a steady decline, cases of type-2 diabetes have shot up in recent years. Maybe these changes were in spite of the advice to avoid fat. Maybe they were caused by that advice.

The most notable figure in providing the intellectual ammunition to challenge existing health advice has been the US science writer, Gary Taubes. His 2007 book, Good Calories, Bad Calories, became a bestseller, despite containing long discussions on some fairly complex issues to do with biochemistry, nutrition and medicine. The book’s success triggered a heated debate about what really makes us fat and causes chronic disease.

Into this controversy comes The Big Fat Surprise by Nina Teicholz, which examines both the history and the merits of the advice to avoid fat – saturated fat, in particular. Teicholz, a food journalist, was originally intending to write a book on a much narrower subject: trans fats. As Teicholz says, in the early twentieth century, it became possible to mass-produce vegetable oils. These are generally made up of polyunsaturated fats (1). These vegetable oils were cheaper than animal fats, like lard, which had been used before, but they had serious disadvantages in terms of texture and shelf life. Polyunsaturated fats are liquid rather than solid and much more reactive than saturated fats and so spoil more quickly. In order to tackle that problem, a process called hydrogenation was used to make these vegetable oils more saturated, causing them to solidify. By adding different amounts of hydrogen, different qualities could be created in the resulting oil, which is then described as ‘partially hydrogenated’.

The trouble is that these partially hydrogenated oils contain trans fats - chains with chemical bonds that are the ‘wrong’ way round. These trans fats have been linked to a variety of health problems and are now largely being phased out. But how they got into our food is an interesting story in itself. As Teicholz tells me over Skype from New York, it soon became clear that there was a bigger story, way beyond trans fats, to be told. ‘I spent over a year investigating that book, talking to dozens and dozens of insiders in the food industry. I became extremely well-networked among oil chemists just trying to understand the trans fats story and understanding that industry, which is extremely closed. It’s a tiny club of all-male oil chemists… It was really interesting how hoodwinked these scientists were in the Fifties that they thought that these just-invented foods could restore people to their previous state of health. And there are lots of interesting angles to that whole story. The embrace of polyunsaturated vegetable oils to begin with, how trans fats were ramped up to become the backbone of the food industry, and how the food industry had to back out of trans fats in the last eight years and went back to using those oils.’ Teicholz argues that the fashion for polyunsaturated fats has been misplaced. Indeed, when heated up for frying, polyunsaturated fats could be downright dangerous.

The most talked-about aspect of Teicholz’s book is her discussion of the evidence against saturated fat. In the Fifties, a well-known American researcher, Ancel Keys, came to the conclusion that cholesterol was responsible for heart disease and, in turn, that the consumption of saturated fat, mostly from animals, was to blame for boosting cholesterol levels. Yet the evidence for these claims was shaky from the word go. So how did Keys manage to make his views the official ones?

Teicholz tells me that the answer lies in Keys’ unshakable moral certainty, which found fertile ground in a medical and scientific establishment spooked by the rapid rise of heart disease: ‘Before Keys got on the nutrition committee of the American Heart Association, it was very hesitant about jumping to any kind of conclusions while at the same time acknowledging the enormous pressure to do so, given that the entire nation was focused on heart disease. It was a terrifying epidemic. President Eisenhower was out of the Oval Office for 10 days [following a heart attack in 1955]. This was an all-consuming panic for all the people that ran the country. All the people in science, it was their colleagues who over the previous 30 years had started dropping like flies. There was tremendous public pressure to find some kind of solution. It was into that vulnerable setting that Ancel Keys stepped. It was just this perfect storm of his oversized, highly aggressive personality meeting this vulnerable time in America.’

Teicholz never met Keys, but she has met one of his leading supporters and apostles, Jeremiah Stamler: ‘You could see why people would just fold in their presence. It’s like being in the presence of a gale-force wind, the power that comes at you. In Jerry Stamler’s case, he’s also profane and there’s this supreme self-confidence that he brings…There was a very aggressive tenor to the whole nutrition conversation back then. It was almost like internet manners, pre-internet!’

Once the politically astute Keys had packed the nutrition committee of the AHA and got its backing for the advice to avoid saturated fat, the war on meat and dairy could begin. But a major turning point came in 1977 when the Senate Select Committee on Nutrition, led by Democratic senator George McGovern, held hearings on the issue. The result was a set of guidelines, Dietary Goals for the United States, which promoted the consumption of ‘complex’ carbohydrates, and reductions in the consumption of fat in general and saturated fat in particular.

By 1980, this report had been worked up into government-backed guidelines – around the same time that obesity appears to have taken off in the US. The McGovern Report inspired all the familiar diet advice around the world that we’ve had ever since, and led to major changes in what food manufacturers offered. Out went fat, though unsaturated fat and hydrogenated oils were deemed less bad than saturated fat, so vegetable oils and margarines became more popular. In came more carbohydrate and more sugar, to give those cardboard-like low-fat ‘treats’ some modicum of flavour.

Yet two recent reviews of the evidence around saturated fat - one led by Ronald Krauss, the other by Rajiv Chowdhury - suggest that saturated fat is not the villain it has been painted as. (The latter paper, in particular, sparked outrage.) As for fat in general, Teicholz tells me: ‘There was no effort until very late in the game to provide evidence for the low-fat diet. It was just assumed that that was reasonable because of the caloric benefit you would see from restricting fat.’ Yet a diet low in saturated fat is still the standard prescription. For example, the British Heart Foundation (BHF) (the UK equivalent of the AHA) still suggests consuming unsaturated fat rather than saturated fat - though at least the BHF is now suggesting that more research should be done.

This mad, mad story of the battle over fat is not actually that new, though Teicholz adds new details to it. But there is much more to Teicholz’s book than that. Three things stand out.

First, there is her discussion of the Mediterranean Diet. Although mentioned in a cookbook by Keys in the early Seventies, the idea was first actively researched by two researchers in the Eighties - one Greek, one Italian. But it was when the idea got the backing of Harvard University medical researchers that it really took off. Now, it seems like a no-brainer that the kind of food served on a balmy Italian or Greek terrace, with lashings of olive oil, plenty of fresh vegetables and a substantial side order of wine, is the healthiest way to eat. At the very least, it was a relief: olive oil was the healthy fat that you were allowed to enjoy. But in truth, the ‘Mediterranean Diet’ doesn’t bear much relation to what many Mediterraneans actually eat. Diets vary substantially across the Mediterranean countries - and even within those countries. In reality, the Mediterranean Diet is a construct, a rose-tinted version of reality tailored to the anti-meat prejudices of American researchers.

The second thing that sets The Big Fat Surprise apart is its tale of how the other major backer of the Mediterranean Diet was the olive-oil industry. Conferences, funded by the industry and organised by an American organisation called the Oldways Preservation and Exchange Trust, would be staged in Mediterranean countries, with idyllic climates and lots of lovely, olive-oil-heavy food. Swooning researchers were literally wined and dined into going along with promoting the benefits of olive oil. But it is questionable just how traditional the consumption of olive oil really is. It certainly only became a major part of British and American diets over the past 20 years or so. Even in Greece, it seems olive oil had functions that were more ceremonial than dietary until perhaps 200 years ago. One French historian, quoted by Teicholz, says: ‘Less than 100 years ago, ordinary people in many parts of Greece ate far less oil than today.’ In any event, the notion that this is a battle between the longstanding food culture of peasant societies and an unnatural diet forced on us by big bad corporations in the West is far too black and white.

Which leads us to an important third point made by Teicholz: that the blame for our current dietary problems cannot solely, or even mainly, be placed at the door of big food corporations. Teicholz writes about how she discovered that ‘the mistakes of nutrition science could not be primarily pinned on the nefarious interests of Big Food. The source of our misguided dietary advice was in some ways more disturbing, since it seems to have been driven by experts at some of our most trusted institutions working towards what they believed to be the public good.’ Once public-health bureaucracies enshrined the dogma that fat is bad for us, ‘the normally self-correcting mechanism of science, which involves constantly challenging one’s own beliefs, was disabled’.

The war on dietary fat is a terrifying example of what happens when politics and bureaucracy mixes with science: provisional conclusions become laws of nature; resources are piled into the official position, creating material as well as intellectual reasons to continue to support it; and any criticism is suppressed or dismissed. As the war on sugar gets into full swing, a reading of The Big Fat Surprise might provide some much-needed humility.


Texas revives transgender ‘bathroom bill’ for public schools

A transgender “bathroom bill” reminiscent of one in North Carolina that caused a national uproar now appears to be on a fast-track to becoming law in Texas — though it may only apply to public schools.

A broader proposal mandating that virtually all transgender people in the country’s second-largest state use public restrooms according to the gender on their birth certificates sailed through the Texas Senate months ago. A similar measure had stalled in the House, but supporters late Sunday night used an amendment to tack bathroom limits onto a separate and otherwise unrelated bill covering school emergency operation plans for things like natural disasters.

Republican Rep. Chris Paddie authored the hotly-debated language, saying it had “absolutely no intent” to discriminate. Under it, transgender students at public and charter schools would not be permitted to use the bathroom of their choice but could be directed to separate, single-occupancy restrooms.

“It’s absolutely about child safety,” said Paddie, from the East Texas town of Marshall. “This is about accommodating all kids.”

His change passed 91-50. Final House approval should come Monday, sending the modified bill to the Senate, which should easily support it. Texas’ legislative session ends May 29, but that’s plenty of time — even if the bathroom bill is scaled-back enough to only affect the state’s roughly 5.3 million public school students, and not the general public.

“This amendment is the bathroom bill and the bathroom bill is an attack on transgender people,” said Rep. Joe Moody, an El Paso Democrat. “Some people don’t want to admit that because they are ashamed, and this is shameful.”

A small group of Democratic women legislators went into the men’s restroom just off the House floor before debate began in protest. With Republicans enjoying solid majorities in both of Texas’ legislative chambers, though, such opposition was purely symbolic.

Houston Democratic Rep. Senfronia Thompson, one of the House’s longest-serving and most-respected members, likened the new language to when restrooms nationwide were segregated by race.

“Bathrooms divided us then and bathrooms divide us now. Separate but equal is not equal at all,” Thompson said, drawing floor applause.

While Barack Obama was still president, the U.S. Department of Education tried to implement requirements that school districts nationwide allow transgender students to choose campus bathrooms or locker rooms they wished to use. Texas led a lawsuit challenging that directive and a federal judge in Texas ordered it suspended. President Donald Trump then rescinded the order in February.

Republican Gov. Greg Abbott has said he wants to sign a bathroom bill into law. House Speaker Joe Straus, a Republican from San Antonio, has been even more vocal opposing one — saying it could hurt a Texas economy that has been among the country’s strongest in recent years.

Top firms, chambers of commerce and lobbyists also have decried the bathroom bill in all forms as bad for business. Many Hollywood actors and music stars have suggested state boycotts, and the NFL and NBA have expressed concerns about it passing — even though Houston successfully hosted this year’s Super Bowl.

Since 2004, Texas has hosted more combined Super Bowls, NBA All-Star Games (three) and NCAA men’s Final Fours (five) than any other state. San Antonio is scheduled to host another Final Four in 2018, and Dallas is hosting the 2018 women’s NCAA Final Four.

Supporters described limiting the scope to schools as “middle ground” and hinted that it could soften the kinds of costly boycotts that hit North Carolina after it approved its bathroom bill last year. The NCAA pulled sporting events and the state faced losing billions of dollars in related economic fallout, though some opposition has quieted since North Carolina lawmakers voted in March for a partial repeal.

Straus said in a statement that the House amendment “will allow us to avoid the severely negative impact” of the original Senate bill, which was closer to what North Carolina’s original looked like.

But opponents still vowed to fight Sunday’s Texas amendment with lawsuits.

If the Legislature succeeds “in forcing discrimination into Texas law, you can bet that Lambda Legal will be on the case before the next school bell rings,” Jennifer C. Pizer, senior counsel and director of law and policy at the national gay rights group Lambda Legal, said in a statement.


‘Penises Cause Climate Change’; Progressives Fooled by Peer-Reviewed Hoax Study

Gender studies is a fake academic industry populated by charlatans, deranged activists and gullible idiots.
Now, a pair of enterprising hoaxers has proved it scientifically by persuading an academic journal to peer-review and publish their paper claiming that the penis is not really a male genital organ but a social construct.

The paper, published by Cogent Social Sciences – “a multidisciplinary open access journal offering high quality peer review across the social sciences” – also claims that penises are responsible for causing climate change.

The two hoaxers are Peter Boghossian, a full-time faculty member in the Philosophy department at Portland State University, and James Lindsay, who has a doctorate in math and a background in physics.

They were hoping to emulate probably the most famous academic hoax in recent years: the Sokal Hoax – named after NYU and UCL physics professor Alan Sokal – who in 1996 persuaded an academic journal called Social Text to accept a paper titled “Transgressing the Boundaries: Towards a Transformative Hermeneutics of Quantum Gravity”.

Sokal’s paper – comprising pages of impressive-sounding but meaningless pseudo-academic jargon – was written in part to demonstrate that humanities journals will publish pretty much anything so long as it sounds like “proper leftist thought;” and partly in order to send up the absurdity of so much post-modernist social science.

So, for this new spoof, Boghossian and Lindsay were careful to throw in lots of signifier phrases to indicate fashionable anti-male bias:

We intended to test the hypothesis that flattery of the academic Left’s moral architecture in general, and of the moral orthodoxy in gender studies in particular, is the overwhelming determiner of publication in an academic journal in the field. That is, we sought to demonstrate that a desire for a certain moral view of the world to be validated could overcome the critical assessment required for legitimate scholarship. Particularly, we suspected that gender studies is crippled academically by an overriding almost-religious belief that maleness is the root of all evil. On the evidence, our suspicion was justified.

They also took care to make it completely incomprehensible.

We didn’t try to make the paper coherent; instead, we stuffed it full of jargon (like “discursive” and “isomorphism”), nonsense (like arguing that hypermasculine men are both inside and outside of certain discourses at the same time), red-flag phrases (like “pre-post-patriarchal society”), lewd references to slang terms for the penis, insulting phrasing regarding men (including referring to some men who choose not to have children as being “unable to coerce a mate”), and allusions to rape (we stated that “manspreading,” a complaint levied against men for sitting with their legs spread wide, is “akin to raping the empty space around him”). After completing the paper, we read it carefully to ensure it didn’t say anything meaningful, and as neither one of us could determine what it is actually about, we deemed it a success.

Some of it was written with the help of the Postmodern Generator – “a website coded in the 1990s by Andrew Bulhak featuring an algorithm, based on NYU physicist Alan Sokal’s method of hoaxing a cultural studies journal called Social Text, that returns a different fake postmodern ‘paper’ every time the page is reloaded.”

This paragraph, for example, looks impressive but is literally meaningless:

Inasmuch as masculinity is essentially performative, so too is the conceptual penis. The penis, in the words of Judith Butler, “can only be understood through reference to what is barred from the signifier within the domain of corporeal legibility” (Butler, 1993). The penis should not be understood as an honest expression of the performer’s intent should it be presented in a performance of masculinity or hypermasculinity. Thus, the isomorphism between the conceptual penis and what’s referred to throughout discursive feminist literature as “toxic hypermasculinity,” is one defined upon a vector of male cultural machismo braggadocio, with the conceptual penis playing the roles of subject, object, and verb of action. The result of this trichotomy of roles is to place hypermasculine men both within and outside of competing discourses whose dynamics, as seen via post-structuralist discourse analysis, enact a systematic interplay of power in which hypermasculine men use the conceptual penis to move themselves from powerless subject positions to powerful ones (confer: Foucault, 1972).

None of it should have survived more than a moment’s scrutiny by serious academics. But it was peer-reviewed by two experts in the field who, after suggesting only a few changes, passed it for publication:

Cogent Social Sciences eventually accepted “The Conceptual Penis as a Social Construct.” The reviewers were amazingly encouraging, giving us very high marks in nearly every category. For example, one reviewer graded our thesis statement “sound” and praised it thusly, “It capturs [sic] the issue of hypermasculinity through a multi-dimensional and nonlinear process” (which we take to mean that it wanders aimlessly through many layers of jargon and nonsense). The other reviewer marked the thesis, along with the entire paper, “outstanding” in every applicable category.

They didn’t accept the paper outright, however. Cogent Social Sciences’ Reviewer #2 offered us a few relatively easy fixes to make our paper “better.” We effortlessly completed them in about two hours, putting in a little more nonsense about “manspreading” (which we alleged to be a cause of climate change) and “dick-measuring contests.”

No claim made in the paper was considered too ludicrous by the peer-reviewers: not even the one claiming that the penis is “the universal performative source of rape, and is the conceptual driver behind much of climate change.”

You read that right. We argued that climate change is “conceptually” caused by penises. How do we defend that assertion? Like this:

Destructive, unsustainable hegemonically male approaches to pressing environmental policy and action are the predictable results of a raping of nature by a male-dominated mindset. This mindset is best captured by recognizing the role of [sic] the conceptual penis holds over masculine psychology. When it is applied to our natural environment, especially virgin environments that can be cheaply despoiled for their material resources and left dilapidated and diminished when our patriarchal approaches to economic gain have stolen their inherent worth, the extrapolation of the rape culture inherent in the conceptual penis becomes clear.

The fact that such complete drivel was published in a social science journal, the hoaxers argue, raises serious questions about the value of fields like gender studies and the state of academic publishing generally:

“The Conceptual Penis as a Social Construct” should not have been published on its merits because it was actively written to avoid having any merits whatsoever. The paper is academically worthless nonsense.

But they do not hold out much hope for it having any more effect on the bullshit in the social sciences industry than Sokal’s hoax did – because leftist stupidity in academe is so heavily entrenched.

As a matter of deeper concern, there is unfortunately some reason to believe that our hoax will not break the relevant spell. First, Alan Sokal’s hoax, now more than 20 years old, did not prevent the continuation of bizarre postmodernist “scholarship.” In particular, it did not lead to a general tightening of standards that would have blocked our own hoax. Second, people rarely give up on their moral attachments and ideological commitments just because they’re shown to be out of alignment with reality.


Australia: Victorian government gender agenda and mythmaking

By now, I’m sure you would’ve heard the news that the Victorian Andrews government is backing a brand new “feminist collective” strategy under the assumed guise of tackling domestic violence through a $21 million tax-payer funded school program called Respectful Relationships. Whether you like it or not, your kids will be made to feel bad about themselves for being white and male and lectured on how “white, male privilege” and “hegemonic masculinity” are the roots of domestic violence. It’s bad enough that us adults are already exposed to a constant drumbeat of feministic, anti-male hysteria on a daily basis, but our kids? This is beyond outrageous.

Fightback, the “feminist guide” has the approval of the state government and is part of this “domestic violence awareness program” that is already implemented in 120 schools across the state, and is designed to counter “everyday sexism” by brainwashing secondary school children about “negative attitudes towards gender equality that contribute to high rates of sexism and discrimination and ultimately … violence against women”.

The disturbing material also asks teachers to lecture kids on the concept of “privilege” – an idea that some groups have advantages over others just because of their birth identity (chiefly due to their parents’ hard work and moral choices).

The controversial program has long been a subject of criticism for foolishly simplifying the issue of family violence, putting the blame mostly on men and their apparent “privilege”.

“Being born white in Australia, you have advantages,” the guide claims. “By being born male, you have advantages … that you may not approve of or think you are entitled to, but that you gain anyway because of your status as male.”

And just so you know, I am not a white male. However, on more than one occasion on the Twitterverse, I have wrongly been called “entitled” and a “privileged white male.” (Hey feminists did you just assume my race and skin colour? I thought that’s racist!)

But when you think about it, the concept of “white privilege” is an elaborate invention of the “progressive” liberal collective – especially third wave feminists – to silence freedom of speech by discrediting white males for simply being what they were created to be. Instead of teaching respect for men and women equally, regressive programs like Respectful Relationships would prefer that the concept of “toxic while masculinity” is drummed into young minds.

It might surprise you to know that the theory of white privilege (if you can call it a legitimate theory, that is) started out being solely about men and their perceived privilege. It had nothing to do with the struggles of non-whites due to their lack of privilege. Peggy McIntosh, a feminist who is touted as the inventor of the white-skin privilege concept in the late 1980s, came up with the term “unacknowledged male privilege,” or the seemingly unearned advantages men have in society by virtue of being born male. She believed there was also a “white privilege” analogous to male privilege, and so the terminology of white privilege was born. McIntosh manufactured a crisis about males to prove they garnered favour over females but then expanded the concept to include white males and later evolved the concept to include all whites as the root of all apparently unearned privilege.

It is commonly (and wrongly) believed that women are the typical victims/ survivors of domestic violence and that most perpetrators are men. But the fact of the matter is both men and women are victims of violence and abuse. This is an issue that affects both genders, young and old. It is also a fact, according to the Royal Commission, that 25 per cent of domestic violence victims are men. Men also die earlier than women and young men have greater rates of youth suicide and self-harm. I guess somehow that’s white male privilege. No?

What about the apparent gender pay gap? Well, to put it plainly, it’s a complete hoax. Industries statistically dominated by men tend to attract better pay than those traditionally dominated by women. And then there is the choice women make, willingly, to trade career heights for job flexibility, shorter hours, maternity leave and more time to raise children, which a lot of mothers would agree is a priceless privilege. Raising healthy, secure children is tremendously productive to our society.

Christina Hoff-Sommers, “the factual feminist” has a good question: “If, for the same work, women only make 77 cents for every dollar a man makes, why don’t businesses hire only women?”

That number is calculated in a way that doesn’t take into account several factors that contribute to wage. In fact, a feminist organisation’s own research found that the wage gap is 6.6 cents when factoring in these choices that men and women make. These are choices such as college major, specialities, hours worked, and location. The keyword here is choice (I thought you progressives love that word?).

And when it comes to education, women are the privileged sex. Girls outperform and outstay boys in school and, as a result, they go on to university in ever-greater numbers. According to 2013 statistics from the federal Education Department, the number of female students in higher education jumped by 33.5 per cent between 2002 and 2012, compared with a 22 per cent rise for males. In 2002, of the 151,550 Australian students who graduated from university, 56 per cent were women. By 2012, graduation numbers had increased to nearly 195,000, of whom 60 per cent were female, a ratio likely to be higher again this year.

Thus, the concept of “white male privilege” is nothing less than a complete myth. It is thanks to this regressive kind of thinking that in today’s brave new world, boys can no longer be boys and are instead forced to break traditional stereotypes by putting on makeup and playing with Barbie dolls. It is no wonder why problems such as effeminisation (the stripping away of all facets of manhood), homosexuality, acquired gender dysphoria and transgender-ism are rife among our youth.

The million dollar question is why are Victorian schools teaching our children this type of hogwash? The answer? The cultural Marxists backing these regressive programs such as “Respectful Relationships” have an agenda to create a genderless society and end any celebration of the unique qualities of each gender. Their ignorance of science, biology and, therefore, the truth will only create more depression in our youth, not less.



Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the  incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of  other countries.  The only real difference, however, is how much power they have.  In America, their power is limited by democracy.  To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already  very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges.  They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did:  None.  So look to the colleges to see  what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way.  It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH,   EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS and  DISSECTING LEFTISM.   My Home Pages are here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here