UK: Don’t ‘decolonise’ my English degree

The student below is pretty on point but he misses out on the breadth of things that literary studies can contribute. Such studies are in fact one of the best time machines we have. The canon of English novels starts with Richardson and Fielding in the 1740s and has a wealth of contributions from then on.

And as the decades roll by we see an ever-changing world described.

The main interest in a novel is the story it tells. But to make the story as persuasive and engaging as possible, the novelist tends to make the setting of his novel as true to the times as he can. So the interest in literary studies tends to move from the story to its setting. We marvel at the different customs and beliefs of the times that the novel is set in. It is sociological history

It can be almost a laboratory for social ideas. We see how different beliefs about society play out. That is very explicit in the novel “Mr Midshipman Easy” an 1836 novel by Frederick Marryat — where socialist ideas are powerfully satirized and mocked.

So the novel introduces you to different social ideas in a vivid way — a way with far more impact than dry sociological statistics. And in any era there is a variety of novels so you get quite a survey of how the world looked directly from those who lived in that era.

There is much more that I could say about the value of classical litrature and its studies but I think I have made the case that it desrves respect for what it is in its own right. Studying novels originating in other cutures may have its own value but the value of the existing English canon is great and well worth experiencing and studying by and of itself

As we university students return to campus, we are bracing ourselves for the New Normal. For the majority, lectures will take place over laptops, tutorials will be reduced to sad, spaced-out affairs, and, for some, the academic day will end at eight in the evening to ensure adequate social distancing.

What we learn could soon change, too. I’m doing an English literature degree at the University of Edinburgh, which is not immune to the identitarian pressures facing other places of learning across Britain. The rallying cry that has been gaining mainstream traction is that of ‘decolonising the curriculum’.

The phrase ‘decolonise’ might make a bit more sense when applied to history courses, which deal with Britain’s colonial past and the atrocities committed in the name of Empire. I don’t imagine that university staff rooms are filled with rabid apologists for racial injustice, and the Atlantic slave trade was hardly portrayed in glowing terms when I learnt about it at school. But the less savoury aspects of our island story should never be brushed under the carpet.

It is more complicated with literature, however. Edinburgh’s English faculty recently received two letters from members of the student body, calling for the curriculum to be revamped to include more ethnic-minority voices. The suggestions offered illustrate why ‘decolonising’ English might not be so easy.

The first letter, calling for the diversification of first- and second-year core texts, suggests including The Souls of Black Folk by WEB Du Bois – undoubtedly a seminal work of sociology and American literature. But American is the key word here. The letter admits that the texts these students want included are ‘all written by American nationals’. And it is worth remembering that the subject in question is called ‘English literature’, not ‘literature in English’. While our course contains the odd novel, poem or play from the United States and the Commonwealth, the focus is on the British Isles.

While one can specialise in the honours years of an Edinburgh degree, the first two years are dedicated to grounding students in the English literary tradition, and that includes all the big hitters taking us up to the 20th century. Without this grounding, students would not understand the influences of today’s authors – of all backgrounds. Contemporary BAME writers take inspiration from Emily Brontë and John Donne as well as Phillis Wheatley and Olaudah Equiano. We should avoid the patronising assumption that undergraduates from a minority background can only identify with figures who share their skin tone.

Ultimately, a survey of English literature can only accommodate a certain number of authors, and each work should be sufficiently influential and studied to justify its inclusion. The ‘whiteness’ of the canon stems from historic, rather than present, inequalities, and we should look at the history of literature in this context. But including historical black authors on the basis of race, rather than their influence on literature, is an act of tokenism, and a denial of how literature has progressed in Britain. Literature is often political, but the calls to decolonise the curriculum seek to make the discipline inseparable from contemporary debates about identity.

The other letter sent to the Edinburgh English department goes further, accusing it of being ‘racially and culturally exclusive’. It complains that there was an entire term in which no ethnic-minority writers were studied. The period covered in that term was 1300 to 1700 – not exactly a golden age for black writing. The letter decries ‘colonialist’ texts by Daniel Defoe (Robinson Crusoe) and Aphra Behn (Oroonoko: or, the Royal Slave), assuming that their inclusion is somehow an endorsement of Empire. But English students can surely admire the craft of these works while condemning the attitudes they express, just as an art student can rate Caravaggio without supporting murder.

One of the letter’s most laughable claims is that the very concept of ‘books’ (its scare quotes, not mine) is indicative of a colonialist mindset. The letter demands that we study comic books, cartoons and other variants of media. As someone who came to university to learn about Jane Austen, Charles Dickens, George Eliot and TS Eliot, the thought fills me with horror.

The word ‘whitewashing’ is thrown around a lot in this debate, as if university curricula are part of some grand conspiracy – masterminded by racial supremacists, masquerading as educators, desperate to exclude Chaucer’s Afro-Caribbean contemporaries. In truth, the academic sphere is a remarkably progressive one.

Though the English faculty could not publicly comment on the letters, except to acknowledge their receipt, a statement released by Edinburgh’s senior management in the aftermath of George Floyd’s death shows us which way the wind is blowing. The university vows to ‘interrogate the role of the university in slavery and colonialism’ and ‘embed culturally relevant pedagogy by critically examining our work from a decolonial perspective’. The decolonisation crew appear to have a receptive audience.

The canon should not be rigid, but it should be organic. Important new writers emerge all the time from a variety of backgrounds, and old ones can regain relevance after years out of favour. We can also view traditional writers through modern lenses: Shakespeare’s plays are ripe for postcolonial and queer interpretations, for instance.

Minority fiction is currently enjoying a purple patch, with four out of this year’s six Booker-shortlisted novels written by non-white authors. Years from now, we may be discussing the lasting importance of Zadie Smith and Bernardine Evaristo, and we would be doing so because they are among the most talented novelists of their time, not for purposes of diversity.

Decolonising the curriculum is, at its heart, a deeply authoritarian project, in which the past is twisted and reshaped to fit the present. Every individual, every item of knowledge, becomes racialised, which only serves to further ‘Other’ black students. This campaign is not simply a bugbear for conservative hacks – it is a worrying prospect for those who study and love literature. The decolonisers should leave our books alone.

SOURCE

Classroom Indoctrination Alert: Mom Records Teacher Silencing 10-Year-Old Son Who Supports Trump

If you aren’t monitoring your child’s online classes, you’re nuts. A teacher at Perry G. Keithley Middle School in Tacoma, Washington, kicked a 10-year-old child off his classroom chat for answering the question, “Who do you admire and why?” with “Donald Trump.”

The child responded to the question with this statement:

I admire Donald J. Trump because he is making America great again and because he is the best president the United States of America could ever, ever have. And he built the wall so terrorists couldn’t come into in [sic] the U.S. Trump is the best person in the world. And that’s why I had admire him.

The teacher, Brendan Stanton, not only deleted the comment out of the chat but spent time berating the child for choosing Trump. “The example that was shared in the chat, which I went ahead and erased for us, was not appropriate, right?” Stanton said. “Especially as that individual has created so much division and hatred between people and specifically spoken hatred to many different individuals, OK?” Stanton went on to say Trump “has spoken hate to many individuals and I don’t think is an appropriate example for a role model that we should be admiring.”

Tucker Carlson had the story and played the recording.

When the child’s mother, Elsy Kusander, confronted the teacher, he tried to lie about it, not knowing she had a recording. Stanton tried to tell Kusander that the assignment was to name a computer programmer that the children admired. After he found out there was a recording showing that he lied, Stanton began to change his story, Fox News reported.

“I do apologize if my words were not perfect at the time,” he told her. “If I used … if I said that Trump was ‘hateful and divisive,’ that may have been what I used at the time, but my purpose was in bringing us back to the conversation of computer scientists and the positive role that they’ve played in our history.”

The school does not appear to have disciplined the teacher nor have they responded to requests for comment from the press. Administrators offered Kusander the option to have her son put in a different class.

“I don’t have anything personal against him [Stanton],” she told Fox News. “I just want my kid to understand that people can have different opinions, but that doesn’t mean we always fight, but we have to stand up for what we believe,” she said.

Fighting classroom indoctrination takes doing exactly what this mother did and getting it on tape. Without that, school officials will cover up and lie every time to protect their interests. Having recordings is the only way to catch them and hold them accountable.

The middle school’s phone is now disconnected and the superintendent’s office line is ringing busy. PJM reached out to the district for comment but as of publishing has not received a response. If we get one we will update.

SOURCE

COVID and the College Scam/b>

The China Virus pandemic has impacted the way many industries do business. One industry that will most certainly be permanently changed is higher education. Many people don’t see colleges and universities as economic entities. Higher education doesn’t have magnates, nor does it exist on any stock exchange. But make no mistake: Higher education in America is a money-making proposition for administrators, professors, and grant managers, and they want to see profits just like the rest of us. And these days, they’re a nervous lot.

Until just a few years ago, college was an institution on the rise. Leftist demagogues like Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, together with the ardent promoters and defenders of the ivory tower, insisted that a college degree was the only means to economic success and social stability. Being the isolated, out-of-touch, self-righteous lot that they are, university professors and administrators could never believe that a valuable education can be had in a machine shop, a vocational program, or anyplace outside of their hallowed halls.

Upstanding citizens always strive for our children to have a better life than our own, so we were willing to make whatever sacrifices necessary to get them into the best schools, come what may. Sacrifices consisting of second mortgages, foregoing vacations or even retirement, or pushing our kids into every extracurricular activity that could be crammed into a schedule with the hope of grabbing a college’s attention.

This perfectly admirable trait of the American character was exploited by the stewards of higher education so they could keep the diploma mill churning along. Once the populace was convinced that college was essential, colleges had a captive audience that could be manipulated economically and socially.

But three things happened in recent years that have loosened the stranglehold of colleges and universities. First, tuition rates skyrocketed. In many ways, we have Obama’s reorientation of the financial aid system to thank for that, because he greatly accelerated an already growing problem. Under the guise of making college more accessible, more families were given access to federalized aid and loans to put their kids through school. Just like with the housing bubble years before, when families who did not have the financial means to own a home were given loans they could never hope to be able to pay back, low- and middle-income families were tricked into believing they could send their kids to schools with exorbitant yearly tuitions.

These relaxed standards forced families to overextend themselves financially. Institutions could raise tuition without end. If taxpayers are subsidizing higher education, then colleges can charge whatever they choose. The ivory tower doesn’t care who’s picking up the tab as long as it gets paid. And it was of little consequence to academia if after the degree was earned, students and their families were saddled with crushing debt.

Then parents across the country began to get a whiff of just what’s being taught on college campuses. Where young people used to go to college to learn skills to obtain highly paid white-collar jobs, now colleges are little more than indoctrination centers of leftist ideologies. Courses and even entire degree tracks are dedicated to the deconstruction of American values and the capitalist system, and the vilification of white males. Higher education has mutated from being a stepping stone to a more affluent lifestyle to a reeducation camp dedicated to “fundamentally transform America.”

At a point when many parents have begun to question the cost and value of a college education for their children, along comes COVID-19. As economist Stephen Moore has asked, why are parents paying full freight to send their children to college when they have to take all their classes online and aren’t even allowed to leave their dorm rooms or congregate? In some cases, they’re not even allowed on campus. Many traditional schools have refused to refund or discount their fees to accommodate the new remote learning paradigm.

Higher education was already facing serious problems pre-COVID. The astronomical tuition and the toxic political and social environment on campus have become more than many parents and their children are willing to bear. There have been numerous college closures across the country in the last five years due to declining enrollments and over-leveraged institutions. Many more colleges are facing dire financial straits due to declining enrollment and shrinking state government support. Enrollment will now decline even further as students elect to wait out COVID rather than attend a virus hotbed at full price.

The China Virus may prove to be the incident that spurs a major course correction for higher education. Like any industry, when organizations are over-leveraged, when there is a glut of product and a sharp decline in consumer confidence, things will get messy. Expect more institutions to close because fewer people choose higher education, opting instead to pursue other paths. Then perhaps higher education will come back down to reality and become again what it was originally meant to be.

SOURCE

Australian parents say children’s education should be put first, not assessment ban

Queensland’s peak body for state school parents has hit out at the NAPLAN boycott, saying they’re disappointed the dispute over the controversial test has led to the ban and children’s education should be put first.

The Courier-Mail yesterday revealed that the Queensland Teachers’ Union would boycott any work associated with preparing for and administering NAPLAN in 2021.

P&Cs Qld chief executive Scott Wiseman said the organisation was disappointed the dispute over NAPLAN had reached this loggerhead, and hopes that all parties continue to put the children’s interests first.

“Every child deserves every chance at the best education possible and we hope the matter can be worked through and resolved constructively,” he said.

Mr Wiseman said P&Cs Qld held the view that NAPLAN provides useful information to parents about how their child performs in line with other students on a broader measure.

“P&Cs Qld feel parents should have as much information made available to them as possible to actively participate in their child’s education,” Mr Wiseman said.

“Our position is that parents must continue to have the ultimate say in their child’s involvement in the NAPLAN or not, and that it needs to be used as intended and not as a school versus school score sheet.”

The National Assessment Program – Literacy and Numeracy program has been subject to numerous reviews and has been contentious since it was first introduced in 2008.

Queensland Teachers’ Union President Kevin Bates said the industrial action followed reviews which had shown “NAPLAN was broken” so governments needed to introduce an alternative replacement.

“We have a national review by four jurisdictions, the state review from the Queensland government, all saying the same thing, we now have widespread acceptance that the NAPLAN test is broken,” he said.

“You can’t keep having reviews that say it’s bad and then keep doing it.”

It comes as the Catholic sector and Independent schools continue to prepare for the testing to resume next year, ramping-up its online delivery.

Queensland Catholic Education Commission executive director Dr Lee-Anne Perry said NAPLAN provided teachers with important information for planning and to discuss each student’s progress with families.

“NAPLAN is an important part of a large array of data gathered by teachers to determine how students are learning,” she said.

“No one test can provide all the data needed to form a comprehensive picture of each student but what NAPLAN provides is a national benchmark in the key areas of literacy and numeracy with a test that’s based on the curriculum.”

SOURCE

UK: Don’t ‘decolonise’ my English degree

The student below is pretty on point but he misses out on the breadth of things that literary studies can contribute. Such studies are in fact one of the best time machines we have. The canon of English novels starts with Richardson and Fielding in the 1740s and has a wealth of contributions from then on.

And as the decades roll by we see an ever-changing world described.

The main interest in a novel is the story it tells. But to make the story as persuasive and engaging as possible, the novelist tends to make the setting of his novel as true to the times as he can. So the interest in literary studies tends to move from the story to its setting. We marvel at the different customs and beliefs of the times that the novel is set in. It is sociological history

It can be almost a laboratory for social ideas. We see how different beliefs about society play out. That is very explicit in the novel “Mr Midshipman Easy” an 1836 novel by Frederick Marryat — where socialist ideas are powerfully satirized and mocked.

So the novel introduces you to different social ideas in a vivid way — a way with far more impact than dry sociological statistics. And in any era there is a variety of novels so you get quite a survey of how the world looked directly from those who lived in that era.

There is much more that I could say about the value of classical litrature and its studies but I think I have made the case that it desrves respect for what it is in its own right. Studying novels originating in other cutures may have its own value but the value of the existing English canon is great and well worth experiencing and studying by and of itself

As we university students return to campus, we are bracing ourselves for the New Normal. For the majority, lectures will take place over laptops, tutorials will be reduced to sad, spaced-out affairs, and, for some, the academic day will end at eight in the evening to ensure adequate social distancing.

What we learn could soon change, too. I’m doing an English literature degree at the University of Edinburgh, which is not immune to the identitarian pressures facing other places of learning across Britain. The rallying cry that has been gaining mainstream traction is that of ‘decolonising the curriculum’.

The phrase ‘decolonise’ might make a bit more sense when applied to history courses, which deal with Britain’s colonial past and the atrocities committed in the name of Empire. I don’t imagine that university staff rooms are filled with rabid apologists for racial injustice, and the Atlantic slave trade was hardly portrayed in glowing terms when I learnt about it at school. But the less savoury aspects of our island story should never be brushed under the carpet.

It is more complicated with literature, however. Edinburgh’s English faculty recently received two letters from members of the student body, calling for the curriculum to be revamped to include more ethnic-minority voices. The suggestions offered illustrate why ‘decolonising’ English might not be so easy.

The first letter, calling for the diversification of first- and second-year core texts, suggests including The Souls of Black Folk by WEB Du Bois – undoubtedly a seminal work of sociology and American literature. But American is the key word here. The letter admits that the texts these students want included are ‘all written by American nationals’. And it is worth remembering that the subject in question is called ‘English literature’, not ‘literature in English’. While our course contains the odd novel, poem or play from the United States and the Commonwealth, the focus is on the British Isles.

While one can specialise in the honours years of an Edinburgh degree, the first two years are dedicated to grounding students in the English literary tradition, and that includes all the big hitters taking us up to the 20th century. Without this grounding, students would not understand the influences of today’s authors – of all backgrounds. Contemporary BAME writers take inspiration from Emily Brontë and John Donne as well as Phillis Wheatley and Olaudah Equiano. We should avoid the patronising assumption that undergraduates from a minority background can only identify with figures who share their skin tone.

Ultimately, a survey of English literature can only accommodate a certain number of authors, and each work should be sufficiently influential and studied to justify its inclusion. The ‘whiteness’ of the canon stems from historic, rather than present, inequalities, and we should look at the history of literature in this context. But including historical black authors on the basis of race, rather than their influence on literature, is an act of tokenism, and a denial of how literature has progressed in Britain. Literature is often political, but the calls to decolonise the curriculum seek to make the discipline inseparable from contemporary debates about identity.

The other letter sent to the Edinburgh English department goes further, accusing it of being ‘racially and culturally exclusive’. It complains that there was an entire term in which no ethnic-minority writers were studied. The period covered in that term was 1300 to 1700 – not exactly a golden age for black writing. The letter decries ‘colonialist’ texts by Daniel Defoe (Robinson Crusoe) and Aphra Behn (Oroonoko: or, the Royal Slave), assuming that their inclusion is somehow an endorsement of Empire. But English students can surely admire the craft of these works while condemning the attitudes they express, just as an art student can rate Caravaggio without supporting murder.

One of the letter’s most laughable claims is that the very concept of ‘books’ (its scare quotes, not mine) is indicative of a colonialist mindset. The letter demands that we study comic books, cartoons and other variants of media. As someone who came to university to learn about Jane Austen, Charles Dickens, George Eliot and TS Eliot, the thought fills me with horror.

The word ‘whitewashing’ is thrown around a lot in this debate, as if university curricula are part of some grand conspiracy – masterminded by racial supremacists, masquerading as educators, desperate to exclude Chaucer’s Afro-Caribbean contemporaries. In truth, the academic sphere is a remarkably progressive one.

Though the English faculty could not publicly comment on the letters, except to acknowledge their receipt, a statement released by Edinburgh’s senior management in the aftermath of George Floyd’s death shows us which way the wind is blowing. The university vows to ‘interrogate the role of the university in slavery and colonialism’ and ‘embed culturally relevant pedagogy by critically examining our work from a decolonial perspective’. The decolonisation crew appear to have a receptive audience.

The canon should not be rigid, but it should be organic. Important new writers emerge all the time from a variety of backgrounds, and old ones can regain relevance after years out of favour. We can also view traditional writers through modern lenses: Shakespeare’s plays are ripe for postcolonial and queer interpretations, for instance.

Minority fiction is currently enjoying a purple patch, with four out of this year’s six Booker-shortlisted novels written by non-white authors. Years from now, we may be discussing the lasting importance of Zadie Smith and Bernardine Evaristo, and we would be doing so because they are among the most talented novelists of their time, not for purposes of diversity.

Decolonising the curriculum is, at its heart, a deeply authoritarian project, in which the past is twisted and reshaped to fit the present. Every individual, every item of knowledge, becomes racialised, which only serves to further ‘Other’ black students. This campaign is not simply a bugbear for conservative hacks – it is a worrying prospect for those who study and love literature. The decolonisers should leave our books alone.

SOURCE

Jordan Peterson on Marriage and the family

Thankfully, Jordan Peterson has now recovered from the shock of nearly losing his wife of many years and his subsequent illness and is now in good voice again. Below is his advice for young men seeking marriage and a family. And I have no doubt that anyone following that advice will have a happy life. It is very conservative advice, pointing out how important and desirable marriage and children are. But there is also no doubt that it goes against the grain of modern times.

For a start, he overlooks the divorce problem. Feminist inspired divorce laws have destroyed marriage for a large slice of the population. The divorce laws so heavily favour women now that the possibility of divorce scares off any well-informed man. They don’t enter marrige because they know that marriages do end and that such an end will leave them financially ruined.

I know a tradesman who was well-paid in his lifetime who should now be retired in comfort but who is now in his 70s almost completely “skint”. Two divorces took the lot and he is too old to start again

Another thing that Peterson overlooks to some extent is the power of sexual appeal. The sex drive is often strong in women and will lead them into relationships that are unwise. And the more good-looking men in particular can fall victim to that. They might find that they have a very satisfying sexual partner and start living with her, only to find that she is a “bitch”. The lady gets into bed very readily but the two of you are so ill-matched in other ways that after a while you end up making one another unhappy.

And because their sex drive is so strong, women will find a range of different things sexy in men, with a large wallet being the traditional example of that. So even men without traditional good looks can end up in bad relationships after the initial glow wears off. So divorce or breakups can be needed if a relationship ends up as being unwise and painful.

So Jordan’s advice that a married couple should at some stage tell one-another all their secrets is undoubtedly wise in general but has been known to destroy relationships. And what can seem toxic to one woman may be relatively untroublesome to a more worldly woman. It’s a risk. It could destroy an otherwise successful marriage.

I have found in my own life that total openness about myself and my varied past works wonders. Women really love a man who is honest with them. And the converse of that is that they hate men who lie to them. I have had four marriages and four divorces with minimal financial or other damage because I am habitually honest. It is quite amazing what women with put up with if the man they like is always honest with them. Honesty is powerful stuff.

So Peterson is right. Having no secrets is highly desirable and constructive. But it does depend on the secrets. Some things are probably best left to lie undisturbed in a man who has made mistakes but has learned from them. It is amazingly liberating if you have no secrets, however, as I have found.

I could go on but this essay is developing into a treatise rather than than a commentary on Peterson https://www.youtube.com/embed/VUA6uqO9keY

Black Lives Matter Is Taking Their Anti-American War into the Suburbs in Wisconsin

Well, they’re back. Leftist rioters and Black Lives Matter are descending into the Wisconsin city of Wauwatosa after a police officer wasn’t charged in a shooting that led to the death of 17-year-old Alvin Cole. Cole was killed on February 2 when he opened fire on officers. The Milwaukee County District Attorney’s office announced today that the officer who shot Cole, Joseph Mensah, wouldn’t be charged (via Fox6Now):

There will be no criminal charges filed against Wauwatosa Police Officer Joseph Mensah in the shooting death of Alvin Cole, 17, outside Mayfair Mall in February, Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm announced Wednesday, Oct. 7, writing: “In this case, there is sufficient evidence that Officer Mensah had an actual subjective belief that deadly force was necessary, and that belief was objectively reasonable. I do not believe that the State could disprove self-defense or defense of others in this case, and therefore, could not meet the burden required to charge Officer Mensah.”

“We have a very strong policy of not charging anybody if we don’t believe we can prove it,” Chisholm told FOX6 News.

In making his decision, Chisholm outlined the factors that must be present for police officers in Wisconsin to use deadly force: a weapon, a means of delivering lethal force and displayed intent by the armed individual. According to Chisholm, this case presented all three.

“Mr. Cole went to Mayfair Mall armed with a 9mm,” said Chisholm. “He had a confrontation with a patron. While he was running from them, he discharged the firearm, and from that point on, he was ordered to surrender the firearm and never did so.”

But facts don’t matter to the Left or their band of thugs in the BLM and Antifa movements. Our own Julio Rosas is on the ground in Wauwatosa, where this anti-American mob took their war into the suburbs.

In a lengthy thread, Rosas captured BLM rioters targeting homes, along with the typical vandalism they inflict on storefronts. Yet, the police here appear to be not messing around. They tried to loot a gas station but fled when police arrived.

“The BLM crowd marched towards a line of police officers in Wauwatosa and began to throw projectiles,” wrote Rosas. “Police fired tear gas and pepper balls in response.” He added that this group was tear gassed a second time when they approached police.

“At another standoff between police and BLM marchers, the crowd inched their way towards the cops, using a car as cover. Police used tear gas to disperse the crowd,” he wrote.

Police and the National Guard have formed a perimeter around city hall.

SOURCE

“Systemic Racism”: a Popular Illusion

Slavery was commonly practiced throughout the world before and after the advent of Christianity. But some still blame the Catholic Church’s 15th century Doctrine of Discovery that claimed ownership of all discovered lands for the purpose of European colonization. The subjugation of native peoples then came in tow. However, since slavery had existed on every continent long before, placing the blame along these lines seems skewed against Christians, as well as being rather short-sighted.

The Papal Bull (Proclamation) “Inter Caetera” issued by Pope Alexander VI on May 4, 1493 gave European Christians a monopoly on the lands in the New World. It read: “…the Catholic faith and the Christian religion be exalted and be everywhere increased and spread, that the health of souls be cared for and that barbarous nations be overthrown and brought to the faith itself.”

This was the common practice of conquest done by nearly every tribe and society of mankind since antiquity. Slavery was part of conquest; it was systemic throughout the Old World. Today, some claim that the one-time existence of slavery has left behind an indelible stain of systemic racism on the United States.

These slavery and race theorists are correct about the existence of the stain but wrong about it being indelible. Despite the 620,000 Americans—equivalent to 6 million in today’s population—who died in action in the Civil War to end slavery, the defeated and resentful Southern states were the first population in the world to institute systemic racism in 1877, known as the ” Jim Crow” laws. If they could not have their slavery, they could still identify by race and exploit former slaves.

As a testament to the utter moral corruption of these laws, something similar was later adapted by the Nazi Party with the 1935 Nuremberg Laws and applied against Jews, with little change except for the ethnicity of the afflicted population. The Nazis had searched the world looking for a body of laws that targeted a certain race of people. Only Jim Crow articulated a workable, systemic racism.

In the case of both the United States’ Southern Democrats and Germany’s Nazis, these systems of racism did not endure. Yet the systemic racism theorists of today dismiss the historic struggle against slavery and the racism it generated. In 1215 A.D., with the adoption of the Magna Carta, the “Divine Right of Kings” over enslaved serfs began to be eroded. The abolition of slavery was then pursued over the next 400 years throughout Europe in a succession of attempts to establish the God-given and, therefore, inalienable rights of the sovereign individual. These efforts culminated with the Somersett Case in 1772, in which a fugitive slave was freed with the judgement that slavery did not exist under English common law. This created the legal foundation that would eventually recognize all men, very much including slaves, as sovereign individuals regardless of their race.

In America, after the Revolution and even before the United States was formally established, Pennsylvania passed legislation in 1780 abolishing slavery, and Massachusetts adopted a state Constitution that declared all men equal. Again, these facts are generally unknown or ignored by systemic race theorists, who presume an unbroken chain of racist oppression in America. Do they know that the first person shot and killed by the British in the Boston Massacre (and thus, arguably, the first casualty of the American Revolution) was Crispus Attucks, a free black man?

Do they know that the black man pictured next to George Washington in the famous painting of Washington Crossing the Delaware was Prince Whipple, who was born in Ghana, sent to America for his education, kidnapped, enslaved, and then freed during the Revolution? Do they know Whipple was specifically included in the painting because he was so admired by the patriotic soldiers who fought for America alongside him? Do they know he died a hero and free, leaving behind his free wife Dinah and two children?

Do the systemic racism promoters who recently published “The Few, the Proud, the White” in The New York Times accusing the Marine Corps of systemic racism know that one of the first acts of the American military, specifically the Marine Corps, was to attack and destroy the practice of slavery being conducted by North African Barbary pirates from the shores of Tripoli? Do they know this action is commemorated by the Marine Corps in their “Marine’s Hymn” and that racism has been banned by Executive Order 9981 in all branches of the military for 72 years now?

Yet, systemic racism’s proponents persist. They point to the establishment of Jamestown in 1619 that included slaves as proof that America was founded on (and became reliant on) slavery. In their view, slavery is the root cause of America’s wealth and prosperity. Not much is made, however, of the fact that Jamestown failed, with its slaves. All the while, other foundational American colonies established without slaves like Pennsylvania and Massachusetts thrived.

The remnants of slavery and systemic racism were federally outlawed by the 13th, 14th and 15th Amendments to the Constitution and further abolished through the civil rights legislation of the 1960’s. Since then, all elements of systemic racism have been actively pursued and effectively eradicated through litigation. In fact, with the advent of affirmative action legislation, racial preference has been consistently shown to black Americans in some employment opportunities and in higher education. Americans elected a black president, Barack Obama, twice.

Today, there is no systemic racism in the United States, though many theoretical claims have recently been made relying on the discredited Marxist “oppressor and oppressed” theory. This says, in effect, that systemic racism must exist because black Americans are oppressed by aggressive police tactics, failing schools, and family disintegration. Systemic racism, it is argued, is the universal culprit for a range of oppressive social ills in communities now defined as populated by “people of color,” a phrase that, of course, draws upon the old Jim Crow label of “colored” people. It is the same Jim Crow segregation logic applied now ostensibly to benefit—instead of exploit—black and brown Americans. It is just as morally corrupt as the old Jim Crow laws and just as focused on attaining political power instead of fair governance.

Systemic racism in America today is a myth. It is more than a shame that actual civil rights history is not read today or is dismissed by the activists who promote this myth. They disgrace themselves as the modern inheritors of dividing people by race. They disregard the achievements of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the civil rights movement. They undermine their very own stated goals by judging people by the color of their skin and not by the content of their character.

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DOJ Blasts D.C. Mayor for ‘Silencing’ Churches: ‘There Is No Pandemic Exception to the Constitution’

The Department of Justice on Friday announced it had filed a statement of interest in the case filed by Capitol Hill Baptist Church in Washington, D.C., against the District of Columbia and Mayor Muriel Bowser. The 853-member church has a strong religious conviction that it must meet weekly and in person, as a single body, for worship. As a result of Mayor Bowser’s onerous COVID-19 orders (first capping worship services at 10 people and now 100), Capitol Hill Baptist Church (CHBC) has not been able to meet together in the District since March. As a temporary measure, they’ve been meeting in a field in Virginia.

The congregation had asked the mayor for permission to meet at the 45,000-plus-seat Robert F. Kennedy Stadium, which would give them ample room to social distance, but the city denied the application for a waiver, and also the church’s appeals. (More background here.)

Finally, on Sept. 22, the church filed a lawsuit and a request for a temporary restraining order asking that they be allowed to hold outdoor worship services in the District of Columbia, citing the First Amendment and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. CHBC says the mayor has double standards—one for churches and another for large gatherings of protesters. The lawsuit pointed out that the mayor herself has attended some of these gatherings.

“The right to free exercise of religion and the right to protest are both enshrined in the First Amendment of the Constitution,” said Eric Dreiband, assistant attorney general for the Civil Rights Division, in a press release. “We are a nation dedicated to freedom of conscience and freedom of expression. The District of Columbia has, unfortunately, neglected these rights. The Justice Department is committed to defending both of these fundamental freedoms and in supporting all Americans’ rights to worship as they choose.”

The statement of interest is part of Attorney General William P. Barr’s initiative, announced April 27, directing the DOJ to “review governmental policies around the country to ensure that civil liberties are protected during the COVID-19 pandemic.”

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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. Email me (John Ray) here.
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Twitter announces changes to combat misinformation around voting

Twitter announced on Friday that it is making changes to its platform to help combat misinformation around Election Day and voting.

In a blog post, the social media site said it is adding new labels, warnings and prompts under tweets that falsely claim a candidate has won or tweets that incite violence or interfering with election results.

Additionally, the company will not allow users to ‘like’ or retweet posts from candidates if they have a misinformation or violation label attached.

The adjustments comes after users complained that fact-checking labels, often tied to tweets made by President Donald Trump, were not enough to counter false and misleading information ahead of the 2020 presidential election.

‘Twitter has a critical role to play in protecting the integrity of the election conversation, and we encourage candidates, campaigns, news outlets and voters to use Twitter respectfully and to recognize our collective responsibility to the electorate to guarantee a safe, fair and legitimate democratic process this November.’ the blog post reads.

‘As with any other product change, we will learn, observe, and iterate based on the impact of these changes, to inform both our strategy around future global elections and Twitter’s overall product experience

Since 2018, Twitter has already introduced several measures to protect the integrity of elections and combat misleading information.

This includes banning all political ads, adding Election Labels to candidates’ accounts, and labeling doctored photos or video as ‘manipulated media.’

It also added labels and warnings to potentially harmful misleading information about the coronavirus pandemic and mail-in voting.

SOURCE

Sexy onions

Facebook blocked an advertisement for onion seeds for being ‘overtly sexual’. The Seed Company, based in St John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada, posted an ad for Walla Walla onion seeds on Facebook last month

Facebook blocked the ad with a message stating products could not be positioned in an ‘overtly sexual manner’

However, on September 25, the social media platform suddenly pulled the ad, allegedly for its sexual suggestiveness.

‘Listings may not position products or services in an overtly sexual manner,’ a notice to the seed and garden supply business read.

The post, which advertised onion seeds for $1.99 CAD reads: ‘An extremely sweet, mild and large onion that is easy to grow from seed. ‘Its large size and excellent flavour make it ideal for slicing, salads, frying, baking, onion rings, and sauces.’

McLean took to the company’s Facebook account on Saturday to post about the bizarre situation.

‘Just got notified by Facebook that the photo used for our Walla Walla Onion seed is “Overtly Sexual”…Can you see it?’ he wrote, along with a laughing emoji.

McLean asked for the social media platform to review the ban, but he did not hear any response.

However, after he went to the Canadian national media with the story, Facebook reversed the decision.

Meg Sinclair, head of communications for Facebook Canada, told The Canadian Press the mistake was due to an algorithm mix-up.

‘We use automated technology to keep nudity off our apps, but sometimes it doesn’t know a Walla Walla onion from a, well, you know,’ she said.

SOURCE

Australia is sailing into the eye of an unimaginable storm

We will not know whether we have blown the pandemic response — economically, medically and socially — until the worst of it is over. Yet 10 months in, early fears that we have opted for expensive and damaging temporary measures to stave off a permanent pest have only grown.

After a year of jobs axed, industries shut, schools closed, families separated, events cancelled, travel prevented and communities crushed, this week we saw the fiscal side of the equation; it broke our budget deficit record, smashing Wayne Swan’s 2009 and 2010 efforts four times over, and notched up our first trillion dollar debt forecast.

On budget day, the health crisis all this was aimed at tackling had fewer than 50 people in hospital and less than a handful in critical care. Measuring risks, costs, benefits and proportionate responses has never been more difficult. Obviously, the reason our medical toll has been so modest so far is, in large part, because of the intense response.

But with state borders closed, Melburnians chained to within 5km of their homes and many businesses and families stuck in financial cryogenics, we must strenuously interrogate the effectiveness of every measure. Melbourne’s curfew provides an exemplar of what to avoid — now scrapped, we know it was imposed without medical or law ­enforcement advice and that it had no beneficial impact on public health.

The people of our second-largest city were confined by law to their homes for more than 50 nights for no good reason. Avoiding or dismantling this sort of government overreach has obvious social and economic benefits, and carries no health costs. If only politicians took a Hippocratic oath to “first do no harm”.

We might never know what else was unnecessary. Should pubs and restaurants have stayed open with social distancing and customer registration (much as they operate in most of the country now)? The nation’s best medical advice said schools should have remained open all along.

How many extra jobs would have been saved, how many more outbreaks and deaths would have occurred, and how much less social dislocation would have been triggered with more modest restrictions? What we do know is that, with the notable exceptions of Prime Minister Scott Morrison and NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian, our politicians are more interested in competing for space under the doona than emerging, however tentatively, to confront the day.

Opposition politicians have toyed with pushing for greater freedoms and debating alternative approaches, but it is easier for them to seize on every infection or death as a gotcha government failure. The way we are responding is both a symptom and a cause of our long march down the bigger government road.

Given mindless faith in ever-expanding government has people blaming politicians for the weather, it is hardly surprising that they expect governments can control invisible and highly infectious viruses. (Not the ­Chinese government, mind you, they are the one government immune from COVID criticism — go figure.)

Elevated expectations of ­government drive the sort of responses we have seen; the draconian lockdowns and border belligerence of the states, and the eye-watering largesse from Canberra. After working hard in its early budgets to pull federal spending below 25 per cent of GDP, the Coalition blew it out to 29 per cent in the financial year just finished, even though the virus only arrived on our shores in January.

This year, federal spending will top 34 per cent of GDP. Government has gone viral. We are now talking about a two-year plan, with all this pain, aimed at protecting us from the worst of the pandemic until an effective vaccine is widely available late next year. We were told back in March that a vaccine might rescue us within six months. Morrison has been as frank as possible in changing circumstances. “I really want Australians to understand that we need to be in this for that haul,” the Prime Minister said in April. “It will be months. We need to make changes that we can live with and that we can implement day after day, week after week, month after month.”

Yet the states and the federal government are running policies that cannot be sustained month after month or year after year. Too much is predicated on a game-changing vaccine that might never arrive.

Those who happily cheer for this lockdown approach — this idea of getting to “the other side” — should think about how silly Donald Trump sounds every time he heralds another drug as the “game-changer” or announces how a “fantastic” vaccine is imminent. Many world leaders hold out the same false hope, with more prosaic language, basing policy settings on it.

We need to consider what we would be doing if we knew there was no hope of finding a vaccine. Policies that presume no vaccine would protect vulnerable communities while we prevent the virus running amok and get on with our lives to the greatest extent possible. A vaccine, if and when it comes, would be a bonus.

This would be prudent. It is why Sweden’s experience is so compelling and why we should not scoff at nations with higher mortality rates — we can’t remain closed off forever so, without a vaccine, our most difficult times might be ahead.

Something like the current NSW model should be our starting point. Those able to work from home do so, large outdoor crowds and smaller indoor crowds are banned, social distancing measures are in place in pubs and restaurants, along with customer registration. There will be cases and clusters for the foreseeable future, but they are quickly identified, publicised and, so far, touch wood, contained.

Other states are being far less sensible. Victoria has been an ­incompetent and authoritarian shambles, while the others are obsessively determined to keep the virus out — even if it kills them.

Given this virus does not harm most people, especially the young, and that we know who is vulnerable, the NSW measures are proportionate. As a nation, we set out to flatten the infection curve and ensure our health system was not overwhelmed, and the only significant breakout was in Melbourne — even then, less than 2 per cent of the nation’s critical care beds were required.

It is instructive to realise the COVID-19 restrictions have virtually killed our flu season. “This is virtually a non-­season,” is how Melbourne University professor of microbiology and immunology Ian Barr described it to CNN. “We have never seen numbers like this before.”

This means our coronavirus shutdowns have prevented anything up to 900 flu deaths — and many of them would have been children. If you truly cannot put a price on any life, why don’t we shut down like this every year?

We need to ease up and gain perspective. Whether you are frightened by a trillion dollars in debt, women arrested for going to the beach or young people losing their employment and educational opportunities, the need for proportionality is clear.

Our response needs to be ­sustainable for a year, or five. Whether or not the coronavirus would leave a historic imprint on our nation, we know the response will.

The budget papers told us “Australia’s population growth is expected to slow to its lowest rate in over one hundred years.” Over coming years, net annual migration will be negative for the first time since World War II (we saw more people leave than arrive during The Great Depression and World War I as well, so this COVID-19 era is in ignominious company).

The budget also assumes lower birthrates because of economic uncertainty, and lower internal migration because of the constricted economy and hard state borders. The very basis of our federation — free trade and movement between the states — and the central ingredient of our post-settlement prosperity — positive net migration — are being squandered.

Unlike the Great Depression or the two world wars, this ­trauma is one where we are in control. It is our own decisions about how to deal with the virus that are determining the balance between health, economic and social damage.

There will be decisions that save lives and protect livelihoods, and mistakes that harm people and burden generations with unnecessary debt. But we need a broader debate about the policy alternatives.

With these heady questions and vital discussions to be had, Labor’s main criticism of the budget was that it did not mention women enough. The bigger the governments, the smaller the minds.

SOURCE

The Black Summer bushfires that killed a billion animals and destroyed a fifth of the continent’s forests last summer were a normal outcome of fluctuating weather patterns, a new book has claimed

‘Climate Change: The Facts 2020’, written by biologists, atmospheric physicists and meteorologists, rejected the claim that climate change could be linked to the devastating fires between October 2019 and March 2020.

A number of scientists have blamed the changing weather patterns and drought for the fires but the book says there is ‘nothing unusual about the current rate or magnitude of climate change’.

Its authors state the earth regularly goes through cycles of dry and wet weather and that the fires were not unprecedented.

It claims the naturally occurring cycle was combined with poor hazard reduction burns and fire management which set the grounds for a catastrophic blaze.

Editor and Institute of Public Affairs senior research fellow Jennifer Marohasy said Australia had a history of bushfires that burned up large parts of the country as early as 1851.

Thirty-three people died directly from the fire while more than 400 are estimated to have lost their lives because of the smoke pollution.

More than 2,000 homes were burned almost 20 million hectares destroyed.

‘A similarly vast area of 21 million hectares was lost to unplanned fires as recently as 2012-13,’ Dr Marohasy told Daily Telegraph.

‘However, this is not the largest area burned by uncontrolled fires. In 1974–75, 117 million hectares burned.’

Dr Marohasy went on to dismantle a number of studies that showed a string of unseasonably dry years had contributed to the ferocity of the fires.

She noted that Australia had recorded its wettest summer since 1990 as early as 2010.

‘If anything, these official statistics suggest it is getting wetter, rainfall statistics for the entire Australian continent, available for download from the Australian Bureau of Meteorology, also indicate that more recent years have been wetter, especially the past 50 years,’ she said.

University of Melbourne’s Andrew King conducted a study that looked at a phenomenon known as the Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD), which has a direct effect on rainfall levels in Australia and elsewhere.

Since 2017 much of Australia has experienced widespread drought, something the study attributed to a relative lack of negative IOD events.

This sees warmer than normal sea surface temperatures in the east Indian Ocean with cooler waters in the west.

These events tend to shift weather patterns and typically bring greater rainfall to southeast Australia, and are made less frequent as global sea temperatures warm.

Dr King and the team examined rainfall statistics and found that the winter of 2016 saw extremely heavy precipitation and a corresponding negative IOD event.

Since then, the Murray-Darling Basin has experienced 12 consecutive seasons with below-average rainfall, the longest period on record since 1900.

‘With climate change there have been projections that there will be more positive IOD events and fewer negative IOD events,’ King said.

‘This would mean that we’d expect more dry seasons in Australia and possibly worse droughts.’

A comment piece from two researchers, from the CERFACS in France, claim the fires are unequivocally related to climate change.

‘Mean warming levels are now sufficiently large that many high temperature extreme events would be impossible without anthropogenic influence,’ Dr Benjamin Sanderson and Dr Rosie Fisher wrote.

‘In the case of recent events in Australia, there is no doubt that the record temperatures of the past year would not be possible without anthropogenic influence, and that under a scenario where emissions continue to grow, such a year would be average by 2040 and exceptionally cool by 2060.’

Climate Change: The Facts 2020′ is now available for sale.

SOURCE

Parents say children’s education should be put first, not assessment ban

Queensland’s peak body for state school parents has hit out at the NAPLAN boycott, saying they’re disappointed the dispute over the controversial test has led to the ban and children’s education should be put first.

The Courier-Mail yesterday revealed that the Queensland Teachers’ Union would boycott any work associated with preparing for and administering NAPLAN in 2021.

P&Cs Qld chief executive Scott Wiseman said the organisation was disappointed the dispute over NAPLAN had reached this loggerhead, and hopes that all parties continue to put the children’s interests first.

“Every child deserves every chance at the best education possible and we hope the matter can be worked through and resolved constructively,” he said.

Mr Wiseman said P&Cs Qld held the view that NAPLAN provides useful information to parents about how their child performs in line with other students on a broader measure.

“P&Cs Qld feel parents should have as much information made available to them as possible to actively participate in their child’s education,” Mr Wiseman said.

“Our position is that parents must continue to have the ultimate say in their child’s involvement in the NAPLAN or not, and that it needs to be used as intended and not as a school versus school score sheet.”

The National Assessment Program – Literacy and Numeracy program has been subject to numerous reviews and has been contentious since it was first introduced in 2008.

Queensland Teachers’ Union President Kevin Bates said the industrial action followed reviews which had shown “NAPLAN was broken” so governments needed to introduce an alternative replacement.

“We have a national review by four jurisdictions, the state review from the Queensland government, all saying the same thing, we now have widespread acceptance that the NAPLAN test is broken,” he said.

“You can’t keep having reviews that say it’s bad and then keep doing it.”

It comes as the Catholic sector and Independent schools continue to prepare for the testing to resume next year, ramping-up its online delivery.

Queensland Catholic Education Commission executive director Dr Lee-Anne Perry said NAPLAN provided teachers with important information for planning and to discuss each student’s progress with families.

“NAPLAN is an important part of a large array of data gathered by teachers to determine how students are learning,” she said.

“No one test can provide all the data needed to form a comprehensive picture of each student but what NAPLAN provides is a national benchmark in the key areas of literacy and numeracy with a test that’s based on the curriculum.”

SOURCE

You’ll be shocked at surgery wait times due to COVID-19 Hospital waiting lists were at record levels before the COVID surgery ban but now most Australians will have to wait years for their operations, experts warn

Inflexible public healthcare

Hospital waiting lists have skyrocketed by up to 40 per cent as a result of the COVID-19 surgery ban.

A News Corp investigation has found there were more than 260,000 people waiting for elective surgery in Australia’s public hospitals at the height of the pandemic in June.

And those needing cataract surgery, hip and knee replacements and tonsillectomies face some of the longest waits.

A further 280,000 surgeries were deferred in the private sector due to COVID, according to industry analyst Andrew Goodsall.

And he predicts it will take almost two years to address the pre-pandemic backlog.

The crisis comes as a Breast Cancer Network of Australia (BCNA) survey has found one in eight women had their breast cancer surgery delayed by the pandemic and four in 10 can’t get a breast reconstruction.

A further one in eight have missed out on being able to take part in a clinical trial of potentially life saving new treatments as a result of COVID-19.

BCNA CEO Kirsten Pilatti said she feared that because breast reconstruction is an eight-hour surgery it was being given less priority than other surgeries that use operating theatres for only an hour or so.

State and territory governments need to make more funding available for elective surgery to deal with the surgical backlog and consider contracting work to private hospitals, she said.

Adding further pressure to public hospital waiting lists is the fact that tens of thousands of people dumped their private health cover.

Cancer specialists are warning there is a backlog of undiagnosed cancer cases about to hit the health system, given people put off going to the doctor during COVID.

There was a 37 per cent drop in the number of breast cancer diagnoses and 145,000 fewer screening mammograms conducted in the first six months of this year.

SOURCE

Posted by John J. Ray (M.A.; Ph.D.). For a daily critique of Leftist activities, see DISSECTING LEFTISM. To keep up with attacks on free speech see Tongue Tied. Also, don’t forget your daily roundup of pro-environment but anti-Greenie news and commentary at GREENIE WATCH . Email me here

More Green denial by Kamala Harris

The Democratic presidential ticket has, during the first two debates, effectively denied ownership of the Green New Deal. What gives?

Last week, former Vice President Joe Biden said, “I don’t support the Green New Deal,” even though he has supported it for more than a year. Biden’s “Unity Task Force” recommendations issued jointly with Sen. Bernie Sanders endorsed the tenets of the Green New Deal, and his campaign’s website embraces it.

At the Vice Presidential debate this week, Biden’s running mate, Senator Kamala Harris, was asked about Biden’s denial of supporting the GND and her own co-sponsorship of the plan in the Senate. She dodged the question by claiming Biden supports hydro-fracturing for natural gas, and that he will create jobs. Harris also mentioned the wildfires in California and storms on the Gulf Coast, and claimed, “the science is telling us this.” Climate change, she said, is “an existential threat to us as human beings.”

Curiously, Sen. Harris never mentioned the words “Green New Deal,” perhaps because it has never polled well. It is hugely expensive, in the multi-trillions of dollars, and envisions replacing fossil fuels, destroying jobs and empowering government with far greater control over the private economy and lifestyles of Americans. In the abstract, Americans may like “green energy” and “carbon free” concepts when push-polled, but they mostly oppose the socialistic specifics of what is required to get there. This explains why not a single senator, including Harris, supported the GND when it was put to a vote last year on the Senate floor.

Another factor is that every version of the Green New Deal is anti-fracking. Throughout the Democratic presidential primaries, Mr. Biden, Sen. Harris, Sen. Sanders and the other two dozen candidates were tripping over each other to tout their support for banning fracking. There were no caveats or ambiguity from Biden or Harris. The general election is a different matter since at least two battleground states, Pennsylvania and Ohio, have a large energy sectors dependent on fracking natural gas.

Sen. Harris claimed in the debate, “Joe Biden will not ban fracking. That is a fact.” Considering her own emphatic commitment to ban fracking, and Biden’s repeated prior statements to do likewise, her reassurance falls flat. I was next expecting her to don a Pittsburgh Steelers helmet to claim she was a fan since her days riding the school bus in suburban California.

The GND’s original sponsor in the U.S. House of Representatives is the one-and-only Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who happened to co-chair the committee that drafted the climate provisions of the Biden-Bernie Unity Task Force. AOC responded to Harris after the debate by saying “fracking is bad, actually.”

As with the first debate, the “moderator,” Susan Page of USA Today asked several loaded questions to Vice President Mike Pence, including on climate change. She asked, “Do you believe, as the scientific community has concluded, that man-made climate change has made wildfires bigger, hotter and more deadly? And it made hurricanes wetter, slower and more damaging (emphasis mine)?

Whatever inchoate description one can make of the “scientific community,” it has not “concluded” any such connection between a changing climate and wildfires and hurricanes. Yet, Ms. Page, a lifelong journalist, incuriously embraces such trope. At least she eschewed debating the subject with Pence, in contrast to the impervious Chris Wallace in the first presidential debate.

The Vice President properly responded with mention of the Trump administration’s environmental record that is impactful on people in the present day, namely, cleaner water and air, and investments in national parks and conservation. He also dismissed any connection to hurricanes, which haven’t changed in frequency in a century; and wildfires, which are caused by mismanaged forests. Pence then turned to challenge Sen. Harris on her and Biden’s embrace of the Green New Deal and their anti-fracking positions.

Mr. Pence also avoided the directly the issue whether climate change is “an existential threat” to humanity. His careful response stated, “Climate is changing. We’ll follow the science.” He returned to criticize the Green New Deal and its threat to American jobs, though he could have added that the climate was much warmer in centuries past.

A more robust climate discussion should involve “moderators” challenging politicians who insist on trillions of taxpayer dollars to attempt to lower global temperature by a single degree. Make them justify reducing America’s energy sources, job market and economy by explaining the actual science and data that purports to necessitate such drastic action. Instead, both debates peddled climate shibboleths.

Americans lose when alarmists—politicians and journalists alike— emotionally continue to invoke “science” generically to promote destructive and foolhardy climate policies.

SOURCE

Why wind won’t work

Unreliable and expensive renewables won’t give us the energy abundance we need.

Does Boris want to shut down the country long-term? I’m not talking about the Covid-19 lockdown (which will be over when the public tires of it), but the PM’s eyecatching announcement that wind farms could power every home by the end of the decade.

Johnson vowed to make the UK into the ‘Saudi Arabia of wind’. ‘As Saudi Arabia is to oil, the UK is to wind – a place of almost limitless resource, but in the case of wind without the carbon emissions and without the damage to the environment’, he told the Conservative Party conference.

Before we get swept away by Johnson’s breezy chatter, it’s worth putting this pledge into context. He was careful to use the word ‘homes’, which account for only a third of the UK’s electricity demand (the rest going mainly to industrial and commercial uses).

But even so, is wind really the cheap, limitless resource the PM claims it is? Unfortunately not, for the quite simple reason that the wind doesn’t blow how we want it to. When the wind blows too much, wind turbines have to be switched off. When it blows too little, back-up power sources need to be identified.

Wind power comes with a hefty price tag, too. In the UK, over a hundred million pounds is paid each year to wind-energy companies to reimburse them when they switch off their turbines during high wind. And when not enough energy is generated from wind, other sources (usually natural gas) have to be on hand to provide a backup. These generators also have to be switched on and off again to meet demand, pushing up the price further.

Wind’s unreliability is just one reason why it makes electricity more expensive, even as the construction cost of the turbines themselves is falling.

Reliance on renewable sources alone is simply not an option. Green-energy experiments across the world have led to disaster. California now experiences rolling blackouts, having tripled its supply of renewables and phased out the use of fossil fuels and nuclear power. Germany’s electricity prices are now among the highest in the world since embracing the Energiewende (energy transition), while carbon emissions remain stubbornly high as coal has made a comeback as a bridging fuel. But the track record of green failures and the unreliability of renewables never seem to be enough to dent enthusiasm for various ‘Green New Deals’ or, in Boris Johnson’s vision, the ‘green revolution’.

The bigger problem is that energy policy has for so long been based around constraint – politicians have tasked themselves with limiting demand and cutting carbon emissions. Instead, our priority should be creating a cheap, reliable and abundant supply of energy that can power the serious growth we need.

SOURCE

Uh Oh, Joe: Even PA Voters Know You’re Full of Crap When It Comes to Fracking

Joe Biden and Kamala Harris are two unlikable candidates on the 2020 Democratic ticket, who have refused to answer whether they’ll pack the Supreme Court and have been caught lying regarding fracking. Energy issues are key in a state like Pennsylvania, which Biden has to retake this November if he has a shot of winning the presidency. With an anti-fracking stance, he may find conquering the Keystone State to be all but impossible. Natural gas has been great to Pennsylvania and the local economy. Both candidates have declared they will ban it. We have the receipts. We have the videos. On Biden’s campaign website, it says he supports the Green New Deal, which kills fracking. It also bans the internal combustion engine, but that’s for another time.

The point is that Pennsylvania voters know where both of you stand, guys. You’re not going to lie your way through this, and even if you didn’t want to ban it—you’re stuck. You’d owe too big a debt to the environmental left to do nothing on this. You’d have to subject scores of American families to economic destitution.

MSNBC went to Beaver, PA and found that voters here know exactly where these two clowns stand on energy and what will happen should they get elected.

And as of now, there’s not enough time to turn that ship around. There’s too many statements and videos showing them dead set on killing this industry.

SOURCE

Australia: The Black Summer bushfires that killed a billion animals and destroyed a fifth of the continent’s forests last summer were a normal outcome of fluctuating weather patterns, a new book has claimed

‘Climate Change: The Facts 2020’, written by biologists, atmospheric physicists and meteorologists, rejected the claim that climate change could be linked to the devastating fires between October 2019 and March 2020.

A number of scientists have blamed the changing weather patterns and drought for the fires but the book says there is ‘nothing unusual about the current rate or magnitude of climate change’.

Its authors state the earth regularly goes through cycles of dry and wet weather and that the fires were not unprecedented.

It claims the naturally occurring cycle was combined with poor hazard reduction burns and fire management which set the grounds for a catastrophic blaze.

Editor and Institute of Public Affairs senior research fellow Jennifer Marohasy said Australia had a history of bushfires that burned up large parts of the country as early as 1851.

Thirty-three people died directly from the fire while more than 400 are estimated to have lost their lives because of the smoke pollution.

More than 2,000 homes were burned almost 20 million hectares destroyed.

‘A similarly vast area of 21 million hectares was lost to unplanned fires as recently as 2012-13,’ Dr Marohasy told Daily Telegraph.

‘However, this is not the largest area burned by uncontrolled fires. In 1974–75, 117 million hectares burned.’

Dr Marohasy went on to dismantle a number of studies that showed a string of unseasonably dry years had contributed to the ferocity of the fires.

She noted that Australia had recorded its wettest summer since 1990 as early as 2010.

‘If anything, these official statistics suggest it is getting wetter, rainfall statistics for the entire Australian continent, available for download from the Australian Bureau of Meteorology, also indicate that more recent years have been wetter, especially the past 50 years,’ she said.

University of Melbourne’s Andrew King conducted a study that looked at a phenomenon known as the Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD), which has a direct effect on rainfall levels in Australia and elsewhere.

Since 2017 much of Australia has experienced widespread drought, something the study attributed to a relative lack of negative IOD events.

This sees warmer than normal sea surface temperatures in the east Indian Ocean with cooler waters in the west.

These events tend to shift weather patterns and typically bring greater rainfall to southeast Australia, and are made less frequent as global sea temperatures warm.

Dr King and the team examined rainfall statistics and found that the winter of 2016 saw extremely heavy precipitation and a corresponding negative IOD event.

Since then, the Murray-Darling Basin has experienced 12 consecutive seasons with below-average rainfall, the longest period on record since 1900.

‘With climate change there have been projections that there will be more positive IOD events and fewer negative IOD events,’ King said.

‘This would mean that we’d expect more dry seasons in Australia and possibly worse droughts.’

A comment piece from two researchers, from the CERFACS in France, claim the fires are unequivocally related to climate change.

‘Mean warming levels are now sufficiently large that many high temperature extreme events would be impossible without anthropogenic influence,’ Dr Benjamin Sanderson and Dr Rosie Fisher wrote.

‘In the case of recent events in Australia, there is no doubt that the record temperatures of the past year would not be possible without anthropogenic influence, and that under a scenario where emissions continue to grow, such a year would be average by 2040 and exceptionally cool by 2060.’

Climate Change: The Facts 2020′ is now available for sale.

SOURCE


For more postings from me, see DISSECTING LEFTISM, TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC and AUSTRALIAN POLITICS. Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here.

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Wildly, madly, the West is destroying itself

Suicidal Covid ‘public health’ policies and the Marxist Trojan horse of BLM zealotry are products of our perilous complacency. We may be tempting an implosion on a historical scale.

By LIONEL SHRIVER

The widespread COVID-19 lockdowns and the increasingly venomous Black Lives Matter movement are both destabilising phenomena instigated by people suffering from a perilous complacency.

A surfeit of Western security, with no major wars and nearly uninterrupted prosperity for 75 years, has created an ahistorical under-appreciation for the fragility of order.

Perhaps the hyper-racialising of the West in the second half of this year will prove a temporary mania, at the end of which we’ll have fairer, more sensitive societies. But somehow I doubt it.

We don’t commonly characterise folks who want to altogether overturn the way a country works “systemically” as complacent. But I would argue that most of this year’s abundantly white, middle-class protesters embody the epitome of complacency. These are not people who expect to make any personal sacrifice to make the world a better place. To the contrary, by positioning themselves as “allies” on “the right side of history”, they expect to reap rewards, and to jettison older, purportedly prejudiced generations even more rapidly than younger generations do as a matter of course. BLM bandwagoners assume they can change everything while everything they fancy stays the same.

Weekend revolutionaries imagine they can bring an end to capitalism and still keep all the fruits of capitalism that they take for granted. They think they can install a neo-Marxist equality of outcome, boot out all the wicked old white guys like Tim Cook, and keep their iPhones, replete with regular OS updates. They imagine they can pack faculties and student bodies with minorities regardless of qualification and “decolonise” the curriculum to rid it of “white knowledge” and still have prospective employers regard their degrees from Harvard as meaningful commendations.

They want to undermine the means by which their parents earn a living yet still expect to crash back home when they’re low on cash, where they can always raid the refrigerator when feeling peckish.

Woke white activists want to demonise “whiteness” as the sole source of all evil, while mysteriously believing this does not entail demonising themselves. Apparently the joyful embrace of one’s own “fragility” grants the right to hector others while triggering a racial opt-out clause.

The same brand of white activist helped draft “open letters” to Princeton and Stanford, the Poetry Foundation, and a beleaguered liberal bookstore in Denver, to name a few. The signatories reliably demanded aggressive, instantaneous affirmative action, often well in excess of regional or national demographic proportions.

Yet if governments, schools and businesses embrace “anti-racism” as their sole prime directive, as opposed to producing a saleable product or performing a valuable service, competency is bound to decay at what was once these entities’ driving purpose: to provide for the common defence, to educate students for viable careers, to manufacture products that consumers want to buy.

Should most Western institutions and corporations devote their principal energies to “anti-racism”, China will clean up. As a result, “equality” zealots will level the playing field by making everybody poor. Forgive me for stating the self-evident, but advocates of wealth redistribution need wealth to redistribute.

Rioters are dependent on a functional society or they have nothing to disrupt. Hoodlums still assume that if they get thumped with a truncheon a well funded and skilfully staffed hospital will patch them up. Looters rely on a generous supply of operational businesses whose premises can be ransacked and which are chock-full of the fruits of capitalism like high-end trainers. Eager to acquire more free stuff, looters blithely expect these businesses to replace their windows and restock, the better to get ransacked again.

As with cake, this northern summer’s activists wanted to have their police and defund them, too.

We can take it as a given that none of these often well-off white protesters have any desire to live in truly lawless cities — where their phones are snatched on the street and their homes are repeatedly burgled. Where women are raped with impunity and petty grudges are settled with violent assault. Where everyone lives in fear of arbitrary injury or even death because this is a city without legal recourse.

By the time this summer’s failed utopian project nicknamed CHOP in Seattle had lived with no police presence for three weeks, four shootings had occurred within the zone’s mere six blocks, one of them fatal. With chastened, demoralised police forces embracing passivity as a means of self-protection, murders in Chicago, Minneapolis and New York have been soaring. Yet according to a core tenet of the BLM-inspired American medical students in White Coats for Black Lives, “Policing is incompatible with health.” You’ve got to be kidding me. Nothing is less healthy than being dead.

For all their demands for “systemic” transformation, 2020’s protesters don’t really want that much to change. They want to keep curating their playlists on Spotify and ordering oat milk from Amazon Fresh. They want Netflix to keep churning out new entertainment, through whatever nefarious corporate machinations, because they’ve already binged the fifth season of Ozark.

Thanks to horrible racist capitalism and centuries of oppression, their computers can communicate instantaneously with Minsk.

They not only have enough to eat but a range of dim sum in their local supermarket’s freezer, from shrimp to pork to vegan pumpkin. This past spring, you can be sure that these same young people got as consternated as everyone else when those supermarkets ran short of paper towels. Thanks to the police they detest, in many smaller cities these protesters still enjoy safe spaces — in the sense that safety used to mean, protection from physical harm.

Up to a point, dedication to racial equality — in countries that have never been less prejudiced — is laudable. But in a society that provides shelter, clean water and sustenance to the vast majority of its inhabitants, even in densely populated cities where otherwise we’d be slaughtering each other in packs, the opportunity to obsess fetishistically about microaggressions and unconscious bias is one more luxury born of the system they abhor. Even the right to demand curtailment of free speech requires the right to free speech.

In the US, I’m loath to histrionically predict a second civil war. Nevertheless, in Minneapolis, Portland, Seattle, DC, San Francisco, New York and Kenosha, arson­ists are literally and figuratively playing with fire. This northern summer has seen the most tumultuous civil unrest since the 1960s. Opposing sides in the culture war no longer seem to feel like citizens of the same country.

Few in the white majority feel any responsibility for slavery and many white Americans are themselves struggling to pay bills or unemployed; should the reparations movement be victorious, white resentment could be incendiary. And if a deadly confluence of logistical disarray and mutual distrust means there’s no clear winner after November’s presidential election, I foresee mayhem.

Centuries in the making, contemporary Western civilisation is so complex that it shouldn’t really work at all — but somehow, after a fashion, it does. In fact, on the whole we’ve never lived more comfortably, more peaceably or more justly. Yet shrill voices on the hard left preach that countries such as the US, the UK and Australia are a disgrace and should inspire only shame. Subjecting the fruits of one’s forebears’ toil to contempt signals not only complacency but ingratitude.

Nevertheless, I reserve my own contempt not primarily for callow protesters with no appreciation for how utterly dependent they are on social order to afford to dabble in disorder. Young people have always erred on the side of poorly thought through idealism and sanctimonious hot-headedness. In my own teens and 20s I wasn’t any different. Far more do I deplore the grown-ups: global leaders in 2020 who should know better.

With rare sane exceptions such as Sweden’s, Western governments have installed unprecedented lockdowns of their societies for month upon month, and continue to threaten the reimposition of economically catastrophic, near police-state condi­tions on their ostensibly “free” populations.

These governments are also guilty of an obscene complacency. Having done no cost-benefit analysis before pressing a giant pillow over the territories entrusted to their guidance, politicians have credulously assumed that civil liberties can always be magically restored (and that’s assuming these officials don’t come to rather fancy wielding unlimited power). There will always be more taxpayers. Treasuries can always “borrow” — meaning print — more money, and the currency will still retain its value.

The authorities’ capitulation to COVID hysteria — which set the emotional table for racial hysteria — has inflicted a scale of destruction that might, had anyone looked before they leapt, have been anticipated. Indeed, a 2006 paper by Thomas Inglesby, director of Johns Hopkins’ Bloomberg School of Public Health, predicted nearly every disastrous consequence of a theoretical lockdown that we can now verify in practice. This expert on epidemics wrote: “The negative consequences of large-scale quarantine are so extreme … that this mitigation measure should be eliminated from serious consideration.” Yet even poor countries have aped this clumsy protocol, which may kill millions from starvation.

Once lockdowns are finally eased, successfully terrified workforces refuse to venture out their front doors — especially in the UK, where two-thirds of employees are still working, or neglecting to work, from home. For some processes are far easier to set in train than to reverse. It’s not that difficult to frighten people. Un-frightening them is a bastard.

Small business has been ravaged by bankruptcy. Public transportation with minimal ridership is running unsustainable deficits and many systems will enter a death spiral of reduced services followed by even smaller riderships. Financial and commercial centres of great cities such as New York and London are hollowed out. Midtown Manhattan, Wall Street, the City of London, and Canary Wharf are ghost towns, as if commandeered by film crews for movies about the end of the world.

The West’s collective GDP looks like an apple that a St Bernard took a bite of. The performing arts, precious in and of themselves but also vital engines of tourist revenue, have been incinerated. Airlines are on their knees. Unem­ployment is headed to a scale not even seen in the Depression, and job losses are often as irreversible as fear. Swathes of restaurants, bars, hotels and nightclubs have closed for good. Tax bases have effectively been plunged into vats of acid as demand on the public purse has skyrocketed.

Widespread, simultaneous, long-lasting and often repeated international lockdowns may be unprecedented but COVID-19 is not. Asian flu in 1957 killed between one million and two million worldwide. Hong Kong flu in 1968 killed between one million and four million. During both pandemics, world leaders didn’t close so much as a newsagent. COVID deaths worldwide have killed just over one million — and owing to peculiar data collection whereby anyone with COVID necessarily died from COVID, Western coronavirus death counts may be inflated. The disproportionate re­sponse to one more disagreeable, albeit occasionally lethal, virus boggles the mind. There’s growing acknowledgment that lockdowns will cost many more lives than they saved, and that’s assuming they saved any lives, rather than simply dragging out inevitable fatalities over a longer period.

But my biggest worry isn’t the immediately devastating econom­ic losses and personal suffering that this copycat, kneejerk over-reaction has wrought. I’m worried about implosion on a more historic scale. Lockdowns have sped up the rate at which national debts are burgeoning. How tall can a house of cards rise before it topples? According to “Magic money tree” thinking, aka modern monetary theory, a government that controls its currency can print money to cover its expenses without limit. We can see why this theory is so popular: everything for nothing.

What’s wrong with this fairytale? It’s deeply counterintuitive, and never underestimate common sense. I can’t cite a single product that can be manufactured in infinite quantity and still retain its value. Flood the market with corn, and the price of corn plunges to below the cost of production. Our gut intelligence dictates that the logic of oversupply also pertains to money: the more you conjure from thin air, the less it will buy. As an ominous early warning, the US Federal Reserve announced last month that it would not be raising interest rates, even if inflation rose to above the Fed’s target. Stay tuned for more such cheerful news from the Bank of England and the European Central Bank.

The international monetary system is held together with rubber bands, bits of string and appeals to divinity. Because it’s in everyone’s interest to have confidence in this fragile kludgeocracy, we all determinedly have confidence in it. But frankly, ever since all money became fiat money — backed by nothing and therefore generated ad infinitum at no apparent cost — countries have competed with each other over whose currency could be more worthless. The race to the bottom is well under way. Me, I’m astonished that any currency in the world right now is worth anything at all. I’m positively impressed that the pound and the dollar continue to be accepted in exchange for genuinely valuable tangibles such as wheat and oil. But we have succumbed to complacency.

The insouciant assumption runs that because we’ve been getting away with murder for all this time, and so much rides on our continuing to get away with murder, we will therefore be able to get away with murder forever more. We can thus pile up national debts of over 100 per cent of GDP, even over 200 per cent, so why not three or four hundred per cent? A thousand? Isn’t the sky the limit? Yet all Ponzi schemes collapse. The only uncertainty is when.

I dread ever having to watch the civilisation that has nurtured me, and that has provided me such an exhilarating cultural inheritance, fall apart. I could not bear a real-life dystopia in which the Statue of Liberty is toppled and Parliament burns to the ground. In which libraries and online search results are strictly policed to serve a single, narrow, fanatical dogma (a process Facebook and YouTube have already begun).

Today’s hard leftists are eager to bulldoze their “systemically racist” societies into landfill but have no constructive replacement for what they would gleefully destroy. Their blind rampages go hand-in-hand with our idiotic COVID lockdowns. Both the Marxist Trojan horse of BLM zealotry and these suicidal, shortsighted “public health” policies eat away at everything in Western life that I treasure, from reading artful, ideologically unorthodox books to being able to buy a chicken.

Yet in protesters and politicians alike, I detect that deadly complacency, as if you can rock a boat as wildly as you want — all because it has stayed afloat so far.

SOURCE


IN BRIEF

Mitch McConnell is full-steam ahead on the Amy Coney Barrett nomination, though Senate Democrats are now calling for a pause over COVID concerns.

Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC) is appalled regarding why violent illegal aliens wanted by ICE are roaming free in his state.

Joe Biden offered his weak sauce reasoning for not calling on Democratic mayors to get a hold on the mayhem engulfing their cities.

One of the few voices of reason among Senate Democrats, Joe Manchin (D-WV), came out against packing the courts.

A new ad from the NRSC highlighted the attacks on Amy Coney Barrett’s Catholic faith from the Left.

The lawyers for Kyle Rittenhouse demand the Biden camp retract their awful smear of their client; Biden’s people said he was a white supremacist. He is not.

As California burns, their legislature is busy…drafting a bill on slave reparations.

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) triggered CNN’s Chris Cuomo when he brought up how his brother, NY Gov. Andrew Cuomo, pretty much killed a bunch of old people with his nursing home policy. Even CNN said that Andrew Cuomo’s nursing home policy was…problematic.

Joe Biden’s latest ad falls flat with religious voters.

A new poll shows much hasn’t changed regarding court-packing since FDR. The people are against it.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi thinks there shouldn’t be any more debates. Typical.

One liberal reporter noted white supremacy’s biggest ally, which should send the Left into a full froth tantrum.

We have Democrats rehash the ‘Trump didn’t denounce white supremacists’ lie again.

Biden said something disparaging about black women again.

And the vote-by-mail scheme got two more shots to the head when an NJ mail carrier was arrested for trashing ballots and mailboxes were broken into in Virginia.

October 12 marks the beginning of the hearings over the Supreme Court nominee Judge Amy Coney Barrett. It’s going to happen, even as Democrats become a bunch of cry babies over virtual hearings. It’s weak sauce.


For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated), A Coral reef compendium and an IQ compendium. (Both updated as news items come in). GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten. I also put up occasional updates on my Personal blog and each day I gather together my most substantial current writings on THE PSYCHOLOGIST.

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Uncle Ben’s Rice No Longer Has a Black Man on the Box Because That’s Racist

A black man is not good enough to appear on a rice packet?? So it would seem

The message was surely that uncle Ben was a good cook and that his methods were embodied in that packet of rice. So it was a message that praised a black man and his cookery. It is surely bigoted and racist to oppose such a message

Ever since a black man named George Floyd died in the custody of a multiracial group of Minneapolis police officers, America has learned a lot about what is and isn’t racist. Just to name a few examples: The phrase “master bedroom” is now racist, because it has the word “master” in it. Refusing to yell “Black lives matter” on command is now racist, because Jimmy Kimmel wants to keep working in Hollywood. Hiring a white person to do the voice of a black cartoon character is racist, because… I dunno, it just is. Rather than trying to list all the things that are now racist, you should just assume that every single thing you do and say is racist until you’re instructed otherwise.

For example, have you bought any rice lately? Did it have a picture of a black man on the box? Well, guess what?

Noah Manskar, NY Post:

Mars Inc. has renamed its Uncle Ben’s rice products “Ben’s Original,” making it the latest food producer to ditch a brand steeped in racist imagery.

The Virginia-based company is also scrapping the portrait of a white-haired black man that has adorned its rice boxes for decades — an image that’s long been criticized as a racist stereotype…

The Uncle Ben’s brand was established in the 1940s and originally named for a “legendary” Texas rice farmer, according to an archived page on its website. The portrait long used on the box was that of Frank Brown, the maitre d’ of a Chicago restaurant who agreed to pose for the brand, the page says.

That’s right: A rice company used for its logo a portrait of a living, breathing individual human being, a person who actually existed on this planet in real life, and now that’s racist because George Floyd is dead.

They say:

“Over the last several weeks, we have listened to thousands of consumers, our own Associates and other stakeholders from around the world. We understand the inequities that were associated with the name and face of the Uncle Ben’s brand and as we announced in June, we have committed to change.

We will change our name to Ben’s Original™ as well as remove the image on our packaging to create more equitable iconography. This change signals our ambition to create a more inclusive future while maintaining our commitment to producing the world’s best rice.”

If you know what “more equitable iconography” means, please let me know.

Look, I don’t even like rice, and I don’t spend much time worrying about what Uncle Ben’s — oh, sorry, Ben’s Original — puts on the box. But the idea that somehow the old packaging is evidence of “systemic racism” and “inequities” and other buzzwords is nonsense. They make rice, man. That’s it. They didn’t do anything to anybody. It’s rice. Okay, so there’s a picture of a black guy on the box. You eat the rice, you don’t eat the rice, whatever. How is it hurting you? The worst that can happen is you’ll get fat from all the carbs.

What happened to representation and diversity and all that stuff? What’s the point of demanding more black faces in movies and on TV, while erasing black faces from grocery stores and kitchens?

SOURCE

Fake Fact-Checking

Recently, I released a video that called California’s fires “government fueled.”

A few days later, Facebook inserted a warning on my video: “Missing Context. Independent fact-checkers say this information could mislead.”

Some of my viewers now feel betrayed. One wrote: “Shameful, John … what happened to you!!? Your reporting was always fair … [but] your … fires story was so … unfair, even Facebook tagged it.”

A “fact check” from Facebook carries weight.

Worse, Facebook says that because my video is labeled misleading, it will show my content to fewer people.

This kills me. My news model counts on social media companies showing people my videos.

I confronted the fact-checkers. That’s the topic of my newest video.

Facebook‘s “fact check” links to a page from a group called Climate Feedback that claims it sorts “fact from fiction” about climate change.

It posted this complaint about my video: “Forest fires are caused by poor management. Not by climate change.” It calls that claim “misleading.”

It is misleading.

But I never said that! In my video, I acknowledged: “Climate change has made things worse. California has warmed 3 degrees over 50 years.”

I don’t know where Climate Feedback got its quote. Made it up? Quoted someone else?

Facebook lets activists restrict my videos based on something I never said.

Now, Facebook is a private company that can censor anything it wants. I understand the pressure it feels. All kinds of people demand that Facebook ban posts they don’t like.

There’s no way Facebook can police everything. The site carries billions of posts.

I wish it’d just let the information flow. People will gradually learn to sort truth from lies.

SOURCE

In Hong Kong you can now be censored for talking about free speech

A primary-school teacher in Hong Kong has been sacked for talking to her pupils about free speech and the Hong Kong independence movement.

The teacher stands accused of asking children ‘what is freedom of speech?’ and what they think is behind the rise of the Hong Kong independence movement.

Hong Kong chief executive Carrie Lam, appointed by Beijing, defended the sacking, saying there was a need to remove ‘bad apples’ from education. ‘We do not allow independence and other unlawful ideas to creep on to campuses’, she added.

Hong Kong is supposed to have a degree of autonomy until 2047, but Beijing has become increasingly interventionist in recent years. Now apparently even discussing the fact that millions of Hong Kongers oppose China’s authoritarian takeover is enough to fall foul of the authorities.

Over the past year, protesters and opposition politicians have faced mass arrests and police brutality. The introduction of a new security law in June has made the crackdown even harsher.

Beijing’s terrifying repression of Hong Kong is a powerful reminder not to take free speech or democracy for granted.

SOURCE

British Subpostmasters to have convictions quashed following Horizon computer scandal

Extraordinary trust in computers

Dozens of subpostmasters will have their convictions quashed two decades after a computer glitch led the Post Office to wrongly accuse them of theft, fraud and false accounting.

It is feared as many as 900 former employees may have suffered miscarriages of justice after the Horizon IT system was introduced to branches in 1999.

The defective computer system would routinely return shortfalls in their accounts, reducing hundreds of subpostmasters to financial ruin, while others were prosecuted and even jailed.

A group action was brought against the Post Office over the computer system and last year the High Court approved a £58 million settlement involving more than 550 claimants.

There was a further major development on Friday as the company said it would not be opposing 44 appeals against criminal prosecutions linked to the scandal.

The appeals are the first batch of cases referred to the Court of Appeal by the Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC), but more are expected to follow.

Tim Parker, the chairman of the Post Office, said: “I am sincerely sorry on behalf of the Post Office for historical failings which seriously affected some postmasters.”

He added: “Post Office wishes to ensure that all postmasters entitled to claim civil compensation because of their convictions being overturned are recompensed as quickly as possible.”

Solicitors acting for some of the subpostmasters on Friday described the news as a “landmark moment”.

The Horizon scandal left a trail of ruined lives when the livelihoods of hundreds of innocent employees were snatched away by the accounting malfunction.

Seema Misra took over her local Post Office in Woking, Surrey, in June 2005, but quickly found the computer system was claiming she owed tens of thousands of pounds in shortfalls.

She had £20,000 taken from her wages, but then found herself dragged in front of the courts accused of theft – where she received a 15 month jail sentence while she was pregnant.

“If I wasn’t pregnant I would have killed myself,” she told the Telegraph last year.

It is now likely that she will see her conviction quashed.

Others will not be afforded that moment of vindication.

Martin Griffiths took his own life in 2013 after facing accusations that he had stolen money from a Post Office in Chester

The former postmaster was forced to repay £60,000 after the software erroneously cast a cloud of suspicion over him.

“My uncle had his life and his reputation torn apart by the Post Office and his mental health was completely destroyed, it’s an absolute tragedy,” his nephew, Samuel Caveen, told the Liverpool Echo earlier this year.

On Friday, the Post Office said it had set up an extensive disclosure process to identify material which might call into question any relevant historical prosecutions.

Hudgell Solicitors said their 33 clients had carried convictions against their name for a decade or longer – but they will now be quashed by the Court of Appeal.

Neil Hudgel, executive chairman of the firm, said: “For the Post Office to concede defeat and not oppose these cases is a landmark moment, not only for these individuals but, in time, potentially hundreds of others.

“We are obviously delighted for the people we represent. Clearing their names has been their driving goal from day one, as their reputations and livelihoods were so unfairly destroyed.

“We must never forget that these people endured years of suffering and how these allegations and convictions affected not only the individuals themselves, but their loved ones too.”

The Post Office said it still intends to contest three of the 47 cases referred to the Court of Appeal.

SOURCE

Virginia Forces Christian Ministries to Adopt ‘Government Ideology’ or Pay $100K

Three Christian schools and a Christian network of pregnancy centers are suing Attorney General Mark Herring (D-Va.) in order to prevent Virginia from implementing two pro-LGBT laws that force “people of faith to adopt a particular government ideology under threat of punishment.” The two laws purport to prevent “discrimination” against LGBT people but, in reality, they force Christian ministries to choose between violating their sincerely held religious beliefs or paying hefty fines, as much as $100,000 per offense.

The so-called Virginia Values Act (S.B. 868), which Gov. Ralph Northam (D-Va.) signed on Holy Saturday (the day before Easter Sunday) in the middle of a pandemic, compels churches, religious schools, and Christian ministries to hire employees who do not share their stated beliefs on marriage, sexuality, and gender identity. A companion law (H.B. 1429) requires ministries and others like them to pay for transgender surgery in employee health care plans, a procedure that violates these ministries’ convictions.

“The faith of many Americans inspires them to act for the good of their neighbors and also requires them to abide by its teachings,” Denise Harle, senior counsel at Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), the law firm representing the Christian ministries, said in a statement. “Our clients offer spiritual guidance, education, pregnancy support, and athletic opportunities to their communities because of the religious beliefs that motivate them. But Virginia’s new law forces these ministries to abandon and adjust their convictions or pay crippling fines—in direct violation of the Virginia Constitution and other state laws.”

“Such government hostility toward people of faith has no place in a free society,” Harle argued.

The lawsuit

The ministries filed a pre-enforcement challenge, a lawsuit designed to convince a court to prevent the government from implementing an unconstitutional law.

In the lawsuit, ADF is representing Calvary Road Christian School in Alexandria (preschool through 6th grade, 250 students), Grace Christian School in Staunton (preschool through 12th grade, 320 students), Community Christian Academy in Charlottesville (K-9, 50 students), and Care Net, a 501(c)3 nonprofit that supports a network of 1,100 pregnancy centers, churches, and other ministry organizations and has approximately 22,000 volunteers.

“For the Ministries, personnel is policy; and so they intentionally employ staff and recruit volunteers who further their respective Christian missions. Virginia’s new laws, however, make this free religious exercise and association impossible — and label these liberties ‘discrimination,’” the lawsuit argues.

S.B. 868 and H.B. 1429 require the ministries to hire employees who disagree with their beliefs on marriage, sexuality, and gender; mandate that the ministries hire employees whose beliefs and lifestyles are “antagonistic to the ministries’ convictions”; prohibit the ministries from firing employees who oppose their missions; require the ministries to provide services in a manner that violates their beliefs; ban the ministries from even communicating their biblical beliefs; make the ministries use their facilities in a way that contradicts their beliefs; and force the ministries to pay for “gender reassignment” procedures in their health plans, even though the ministries object to these procedures.

These laws put the ministries “in an impossible position: they must either abandon the religious convictions they were founded upon, or be ready to face investigations, an onerous administrative process, fines up to $100,000 for each violation, unlimited compensatory and punitive damages and attorney-fee awards, and court orders forcing them to engage in actions that would violate their consciences.”

The lawsuit brings five claims against AG Herring. It claims the LGBT laws violate the ministries’ right of free exercise of religion under the Virginia Religious Freedom Restoration Act; violate their right to free exercise of religion under the Virginia Constitution; violate their right to free speech under the Virginia Constitution; violate the Virginia Constitution’s Establishment Clause; and violate the state constitution’s Due Process Clause.

While the state constitution’s “Establishment Clause requires the government to act with a secular purpose and to neither promote nor inhibit religion,” the Virginia Values Act “targets the Ministries by singling out their religious speech and belief for hostility, and by showing favoritism towards, preferring, and promoting religious beliefs that approve of same-sex marriage and transgender ideology.”

The pro-LGBT law “also singles out the Ministries based on disfavored religious views and sends a message that religious persons with beliefs like the Ministries’ are second-class citizens, outsiders, and not full members of the community.”

Lawsuit: ‘I Won’t Let the State Force Me to Express Messages That Contradict My Beliefs’
Anti-religious bigotry fueled the Virginia Values Act
The lawsuit notes that the Virginia legislators who supported the Virginia Values Act expressed hostility to those who view marriage as between one man and one woman.

When considering SB 41 2016, a bill that would have allowed religious persons to object to solemnizing a marriage “in accordance with a sincerely held religious belief … that marriage is or should be recognized as the union of one man and one woman,” State Sen. Adam Ebbin (D-30) condemned the bill, claiming it “carves out a space for bigotry cloaked under the guise of religious freedom.” Ebbin was the chief patron of the Virginia Values Act in the Senate.

During a debate in the Virginia House of Delegates over an amendment to the Virginia Values Act that would have excluded “a religious corporation, association, society, or unincorporated house of worship” from the definition of public accommodations, Delegate Joshua Cole (D-28) asserted his view of Christianity as the correct one in opposing the amendment:

I understand we have theological disagreements and we have theological beliefs of what we’re supposed to carry out, but if you are a public organization, your doors are supposed to be open to everyone in the public. Now I don’t know what type of Christianity you come from, but the type of Christianity I come from, the Apostle Paul said “Try with everything within you to live peaceably with all men.”

…The Bible also says “And they shall know us by our love.” What are we doing with our witness when we allow organizations to say just because we have St. Peter’s behind it, or Christian behind it, … that we don’t like you so don’t come over here…. Madame Speaker as an ending thought, I will let you know that in Jesus’ day the sinner was not his enemy. It was the church.

These and other Virginia Democrats showed the very same kind of hostility to conservative religious beliefs about marriage that members of the Colorado Civil Rights Commission showed toward Christian baker Jack Phillips, who refused to bake a cake celebrating a same-sex wedding. In that case, the Supreme Court ruled that the commission had violated Phillips’ right to the free exercise of religion by subjecting him to “religious hostility” in its application of the law.

This hostility is not limited to the legislators, however. AG Herring has repeatedly insisted that if wedding photographers refuse to help celebrate same-sex weddings, they are discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation. Mark Herring said as much in amicus curiae briefs in Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission (2018) and in Telescope Media Group v. Lindsey (2019), two cases on the issue of whether or not bakers and photographers have the free speech and religious freedom right to refuse to serve same-sex weddings.

Virginia Gov. Northam Sneaks in Raft of Lefty Bills on Voting, Guns, Abortion, Climate, LGBT — Under Cover of Easter Weekend
Christian ministries were not pushing bigotry
Yet the ministries suing to stop the Virginia Values Act are not pushing bigotry — they merely intend to operate on the basis of their religious convictions.

The lawsuit explains why each of the ministries cannot simply adopt the government ideology on LGBT issues.

For example, Calvary Road Baptist Church, which operates Calvary Road Christian School, “believes that the Bible is the Word of God, divinely revealed and without error.”

“Calvary Road believes that God wonderfully and immutably creates each person as male or female, and that these two distinct, complementary genders together reflect the image and nature of God. Calvary Road believes that rejection of one’s biological sex is a rejection of the image of God within that person,” the lawsuit explains. “Calvary Road believes that marriage has only one meaning: the uniting of one man and one woman in a single, exclusive union, as delineated in Scripture, and that God commands that sexual intimacy occur only between a man and a woman who are married to each other.”

“To preserve its function and integrity, Calvary Road believes that all employees and volunteers must agree to and abide by its beliefs on marriage, sexuality, and gender,” and the school runs athletics based on biological sex. “Calvary Road maintains separate facilities like bathrooms and locker rooms for males and females. Access to private facilities is limited to those of the same biological sex in accordance with Calvary Road’s teaching on sexuality.”

“Calvary Road welcomes workers of any race, color, ethnicity, and national origin in any of its ministries, so long as the potential workers share Calvary Road’s religious values and doctrinal beliefs,” but it cannot employ those who disagree with its fundamental beliefs.

ADF is also representing a wedding photographer, Chris Herring, who also brought a pre-enforcement challenge against the Virginia Values Act.

Anti-religious bigotry seems on the rise, with Democrats adopting extreme pro-LGBT and pro-abortion policies and legacy media outlets reporting Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett’s mainstream Christian beliefs as some sort of extreme religious insanity.

SOURCE

TOPPLED! Oxford-educated museum curator who sparked fury for posting guide on vandalising statues leaves job after independent review

An Oxford-educated museum curator who sparked outrage after tweeting a guide about vandalising statues has left her job after an independent review.

American-born Madeline Odent posted messages to her 5,000 Twitter followers in the wake of the Black Lives Matter movement explaining how they could use household goods to permanently damage monuments.

A police probe was launched after she revealed that covering bronze busts in ‘a tone of tomatoes’ could irreparable damage them and make them impossible to display.

Her comments sparked calls for her to be sacked from her taxpayer-funded job at at Royston and District Museum in Hertfordshire from MPs and local residents.

Mrs Odent is no longer employed, but the council had refused to say if she was fired or quit — despite previously saying it ‘condemns all criminal acts including damage to statues and monuments and incitement to commit unlawful acts’.

The American also failed to clarify, telling her followers: ‘They are not commenting because they can’t and neither can I. Anyways, I don’t work for them anymore.’

Mrs Odent appears to have stopped working for the council at the end of August. She revealed she had a new job but declined to comment further.

Royston Town Council probed Mrs Odent after condemning her tweets, adding that her position would be reviewed following the next full council meeting.

A spokesman said: ‘Royston Town Council deplores and condemns all criminal acts including damage to statues and monuments, and incitement to commit unlawful acts.

‘The council has instigated an external independent enquiry into the recent use of social media by one of its employees.

‘This will ensure that the process is completed free from any political influence and should provide a fair and measured conclusion.

Glamorous curator Madeline Odent, whose maiden name was Madeline Briggs, comes from a wealthy family of American academics and is married to a banker.

Local Tory MP Oliver Heald said he had been bombarded with messages from locals, adding: ‘I deplore criminal damage to national monuments and statues in public places… It is important to respect the rule of law and there is a democratic and lawful process to remove statues.

SOURCE

No English, no visa – even if you’re married to an Aussie: Huge change brings in language test for loved ones who want to settle in Australia

Immigrants applying for a partner visa will be tested for ‘functional levels’ of English before they are granted permanent residency.

The government may require immigrants who do not speak English to have 500 hours of free class under the plan announced in Tuesday’s budget.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the new requirement would promote social and economic inclusion.

‘It’s a much more basic level of English language competency and we think this is important to just enable people to engage to access government services,’ Mr Morrison said on Wednesday.

‘For example, to engage with those who are seeking to assist to access and get the best possible medical treatment, to understand what teachers are saying at school at parent-teacher conferences, and to understand their rights.’

Partner visa are processed in two stages. First an applicant gets a temporary visa for about two years after which they can apply for permanent residency.

The English language requirements will need to be fulfilled at the second stage when the partner wants to become a permanent resident.

‘What this will mean is that we will require an applicant and a sponsor to have met functional level English or to have at least made reasonable efforts to learn English,’ said Immigration Minister Alan Tudge.

‘And by reasonable efforts we mean for most people that would be doing about 500 hours of free English language classes.’

Mr Tudge said the English test will be much simpler than the one needed to be met for economic migration.

Earlier this year the government made English classes free for migrants.

The policy will kick in from the middle of next year. The requirements will apply to applicants and their partners who are permanent residents not citizens.

Mr Tudge said about one million partners who are in Australia cannot speak English.

‘In some cases, the husband will not want his partner or wife to learn English. And in part that’s for control reasons,’ he said.

The announcement has been slammed by the Opposition, who claim the new rule ignores Australia’s multicultural values.

Andrew Giles, a Labor MP and the party’s spokesman for Multicultural Affairs and Assisting for Immigration and Citizenship, said the government needs to understand the impact of the new measure.

‘It’s come about without any context … and it seems to reflect an understanding of Australian society that’s anchored in the past, that doesn’t recognise the multicultural nation we are today,’ he told SBS.

People can apply for partner visa from inside or outside of Australia.

It can set applicants back about $8,000.

Applicants are often allowed a bridging visa while their visas are processed.

Other visa changes announced on Tuesday include waiving or refunding application charge for temporary visa holders affected by the COVID-19.

There is also a push on the Family Stream Visa, with a temporary application increase from 47,700 to 77,000.

SOURCE


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. Email me (John Ray) here.
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