Friday, January 08, 2016

Blatant crocodile tears

Liberal networks were super impressed with the waterworks display put on by President Obama the other night. The reluctant commander in chief is using the latest terror attack on American soil as an excuse to grab guns from law abiding Americans, and his emotional display and supposed "evolution" to a policy position he's held for decades impressed a lot of people. But it didn't impress Mark Levin:

    “Did Obama cry when the precious young lady was murdered in cold blood in San Francisco, a sanctuary city? We didn’t hear from him for 48 to 72 hours,” Levin said Tuesday. “Did Obama cry when an American reporter was decapitated on tape? No, 10 minutes later he was seen laughing and going off to play golf.”

    “Did Obama cry when in the mass murder in San Bernardino, California when he made his statement? No. And he got around and going and visiting the area, and those folks on the way to his vacation,” he said. “I’m sorry, I can’t put up with this crap!”

    “Obama has made this a more violent, crime ridden, terrorist target, this nation. He absolutely has. And what did he do to our police departments? What has he done to them? From Ferguson to Chicago to Baltimore,” Levin argued the police officers are “treated like crap!”
Levin is right. Obama reserves both his outrage and his effort for instances that fit into his pre conceived view of the world and advance his liberal narrative. Nothing else matter



Russian Church Replaces Rome as the Center of Christianity?

Christians worldwide turn to Russia for protection

At no time in history has the persecution of Christians been as intense and widespread as it is now.  Christians in the Middle East are in dire need of a champion, which, in today’s world can only be a great power, and it is Russia that has taken on that responsibility.

With its secular ideology, the West can no longer protect Christian interests in the world as it did for centuries. Although the USA has a higher percentage of church goers than other Western countries, it underestimates the importance of religion in the countries it targets for regime change. Turning a blind eye to beheadings, child rape and other atrocities, it has created a hell on earth for Christians all over the Middle East.

And with the Arab Spring, things went from bad to worse, as ISIS’ success in Iraq inspired similar groups. The Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, Boko Haram in Nigeria and Al-Shabaab in Somalia are all committing atrocities against Christians.

Obsessed by its Constitution, the US assumes that it can impose the separation of church and state on a world where cultural and religious traditions run deep.  Its failure to realize that these traditions contribute to a rejection of Western-style democracy, and similarly, to notice  the spiritual dimension of Vladimir Putin’s foreign policy, including his standing among persecuted Christians, gives Russia a decisive advantage.

Vladimir Putin knows that modernity’s separation of politics from religion inspires many across the globe to return to their religious roots. In February 2012, he made a solemn vow to the Russian Orthodox Church to protect persecuted Christians all over the world, a commitment that has even caught the attention of America’s powerful Evangelicals.

Syrian Christians are thrilled and grateful for Russia’s decisive response to the slaughter they have endured for more than four years. But to understand the true significance of this initiative, you have to know that aside from Russia, Georgia and Armenia, there are Orthodox communities in fifteen European and near Eastern countries for whom Putin is increasingly looking like a 21st Century Constantine.

That 4th century Roman emperor converted to Christianity,  put an end to the persecutions Christians had suffered under his predecessors. and granted the Church privileges that allowed it to become a worldwide power. Notwithstanding the electrifying presence of Pope Francis, in future we could see the Eastern Church replace Rome as the center of Christianity.

This will happen without the help of the media. Incapable of imagining the spiritual development that has taken place in Russia since the demise of Communism, it portrays Putin’s assertions of faith as geopolitical opportunism. Yet in his autobiography “First Person”, published in 2000, the Russian President declared that the first line in every Russian law should refer to moral values. He wants Russia to be as aware of its spiritual heritage as it is of its political and geographical position.

President Putin is convinced that spirituality has a profound effect on the way a culture develops, providing an indispensable moral compass that goes deeper than passing political expediency and secular “freedom”.

As increasing numbers of Christians across the spectrum turn toward Russia, its global influence can only grow.



Health expenses surging in Mass.

Consumers and businesses across Massachusetts will have to pay more for health care in 2016, as insurance rates rise at a faster clip and some premiums soar by double digit rates.

At Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts, the state’s biggest commercial insurer, premiums will rise an average of 5 percent this year. Rates are set to increase between 3 and 7 percent at Tufts Health Plan, 6 to 12 percent at Harvard Pilgrim Health Care, and as much as 17 percent at Fallon Health.

The jumps in premiums come as insurers pass on the costs of rising drug prices, insurers and analysts said, and grapple with the cost of expanding coverage under the Affordable Care Act. Most of the state’s major health insurers are sharply raising premiums for individuals, small firms, and big businesses, according to a Globe review of figures provided by the insurers and the state Division of Insurance.

For many, the upward trend is troubling.

“People cannot sustain the amount of money they’re paying for health care, ” said Joshua Archambault, senior fellow at the Pioneer Institute, a right-leaning Boston think tank. “At some point, people really can’t afford it.”

With the enactment of the Affordable Care Act, more people have coverage, and as a result they are using more medical services and prescription drugs, analysts said. In addition, they said, insurers may be passing along the costs of millions of dollars in taxes and fees to finance the expansion of health coverage.

Several insurers and the state Division of Insurance, which approves rates for individual and small-business plans, attribute rising premiums in part to a controversial element of the federal health care law. That program, called risk adjustment, requires insurers with healthier members to make payments to companies with sicker members in order to share the risks and cost of insuring people with a lot of medical needs. It is designed to prevent insurers from boosting profits by enrolling only healthy members.

When the program went into effect in 2015, most insurers ended up paying money to their largest competitor, Blue Cross, which received more than $51 million in risk adjustment payments. Tufts Health Plan received more than $8 million.

The program aims to smooth and stabilize insurance rates, but some insurers say it is having the opposite effect. Companies, including Harvard Pilgrim, which made about $4 million in payments, Fallon, which paid about $11 million, and Neighborhood Health Plan, which paid about $28 million,said they raised rates more in 2016 because of risk-adjustment.

One portion of the market, health plans for individuals and small businesses, shows the steepness of some increases. Harvard Pilgrim raised premiums 8.7 percent for these plans in 2016, compared with a 1.4 percent decline in rates in 2015. Fallon’s rates are up 16.5 percent, compared with a 4.9 percent increase a year earlier. At Neighborhood Health, premiums rose 9.4 percent in 2016, compared to 5.9 percent a year earlier.

The national insurer United HealthCare raised rates 13 percent in 2016, after raising them 4.5 percent a year earlier.

Blue Cross, on the other hand, said the payments it received to help cover its higher population of sicker members helped it keep its premium increases modest: rates for individuals, small businesses, and large businesses are up about 5 percent this year, compared with 4.2 percent in 2015.



Burying Negative Polls

Network news outlets conduct their own polls. They also bury the poll results when they don't like them. On PBS on Jan. 1, liberal pundit Mark Shields brought some very bad news for the left. The NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll found 73 percent say they want the next president to take a different approach from President Obama's.

So NBC, both the creator of the poll and a relentless cheerleader of Obama, chose not to air that bombshell. Instead, they buried it deep in an article on the "Meet the Press" website. "This will become a high hurdle for the Democrats at some stage of the 2016 election," Democratic pollster Fred Yang declared in that piece.

So what did they pluck out of their December polling to report instead? Take a look.

Dec. 10: "Nightly News" anchor Lester Holt promoted "brand-new" results that 57 percent of America opposed Donald Trump's notion to ban (temporarily) Muslim immigration to America. On screen, a graphic showed it was 57 percent opposed, and only 25 percent in favor.

Dec. 11: "Today" doubled down. Peter Alexander reported "the firestorm over Trump's proposed Muslim ban keeps raging. Our new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll shows nearly 6 in 10 Americans oppose Trump's proposal. But Republicans are divided, 42 percent in favor, 36 percent against."

Dec. 13: Both "Meet the Press" and "Nightly News" touted NBC's poll showing Trump on top of GOP race, with 27 percent to Ted Cruz's 22 percent. Still no mention of the current president's unpopularity.

Dec. 14: On "Today," Peter Alexander repeated the Trump/Cruz findings, then added: "There are some new numbers from our NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll out just this morning that show Hillary Clinton would trounce Donald Trump in a head-to-head matchup. It's much closer though between Clinton and Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz and Ben Carson."

But there's no mention that if she runs on Obama's platform, she too would be crushed.

That evening, "Nightly News" anchor Lester Holt reported, "In our brand-new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll [apparently their polls never age], 40 percent say the federal government's top priority is national security and terrorism. That number has more than doubled since April, and 29 percent say they're worried that they, or a loved one, will be the victim of a terror attack. But today, for the second time in just over a week, President Obama argued that his strategy against ISIS is working."

Holt (and NBC) deliberately skipped numbers revolving around this issue that are far more important. Obama has his lowest approval rating since right before the 2014 midterm wipeout, at 43 percent. More to the point, just 37 percent approve and 57 percent disapprove of the president's handling of foreign policy, and only 34 percent approve and 60 percent disapprove of his handling of ISIS in Iraq and Syria.

NBC's pollsters said these low numbers on foreign policy were comparable to George W. Bush's numbers at this point in his second term. In addition, only 20 percent of the public believes the country is headed in the right direction, versus a whopping 70 percent who think it's on the wrong track.

The networks constantly hammered George W. Bush with bad polling results like these in the long war on terrorism. But for Obama, NBC and the other networks routinely and shamelessly spike these awful numbers to preserve his "legacy" and to keep Clinton "inevitable" in November.



Inside the garden of Political Town Hall Plants

On Thursday, CNN will host a town hall with President Obama as part of his "final-year push to make gun control part of his legacy." In addition to sitting down with liberal anchor Anderson Cooper, the network says Obama will "take questions from the audience."

Uh-oh. Get out your best pruning shears and trowels. In an age of micromanaged partisan stagecraft and left-wing media enablers, there is no such thing as a spontaneous question.

CNN has a long history of allowing political plants to flourish in its public forums.

At the cable station's Democratic debate in Las Vegas in 2007, moderator Wolf Blitzer introduced several citizen questioners as "ordinary people, undecided voters." But they later turned out to include a former Arkansas Democratic director of political affairs, the president of the Islamic Society of Nevada, and a far left anti-war activist who'd been quoted in newspapers lambasting Harry Reid for his failure to pull out of Iraq.

At a CNN/YouTube GOP debate two weeks later, the everyday, "undecided voters" whose questions were chosen included:

—A member of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transexual Americans For Hillary Clinton Steering Committee.

—A young woman named "Journey" who questioned the candidates on abortion and whom CNN failed to properly identify as an outspoken John Edwards supporter.

—A supposed "Log Cabin Republican" who had declared his support for Obama on an Obama '08 campaign blog.

—A supposedly unaffiliated "concerned mother" who was actually a staffer and prominent Pittsburgh union activist for the United Steelworkers — which had endorsed Edwards for president.

—A supposed "undecided" voter who urged Ron Paul to run as an independent, but who had already publicly declared his support for former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson's Democratic presidential bid.

—A staffer for Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill.; a former intern for Rep. Jane Harman, D-Calif., and a former intern for the Council on American-Islamic Relations.

Once a manipulative gardener, always a manipulative gardener. During the push for Obamacare, Democrat plants spread like kudzu across town hall propaganda events.



For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH,  POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated) and Coral reef compendium. (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 A WESTERN HEART.

List of backup or "mirror" sites here or  here -- for when blogspot is "down" or failing to  update.  Email me  here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or  here (Pictorial) or  here  (Personal)


Thursday, January 07, 2016

Does poverty reduce your IQ?

Only in America, allegedly.  That poverty CORRELATES with low IQ has long been known.  Poor people are often that way because they make dumb decisions -- spending all their money on beer, drugs and cigarettes, for instance.  A much more interesting question, therefore is whether poverty CAUSES low IQ.  We know that low IQ causes poverty but does poverty cause low IQ?

A recent very extensive and very sophisticated study set out to examine that -- and the results have been reported enthusiastically -- as showing that poverty DOES have an effect on IQ.  I reproduce a popular report of it below.

I have however, in my usual pesky way, gone back to the underlying academic journal article and read it. I have even looked at the numbers!  Despite its great methodological care and statistical complexity, it is an amusing example of failing to do something that the best journals now recommend:  Pre-register your expectations.  Studies that do not do that are very prone to data dredging effects -- looking for any correlation in the data that seems large and changing your hypothesis to say that's what you expected all along.

And the authors below did not pre-register their expectations.  They data-dredged.  After all the hard work they did in gathering and analysing their data, they initially found NO EFFECT of poverty on IQ.  So they desperately looked at their data to see what was in fact going on.  And they found that if they used U.S. data only, there was a weak effect in the direction expected.

Findings that were not pre-registered can of course still be accepted and there are long-standing procedures to allow for data dredging -- adopting an experiment-wise error-rate approach, for instance.  That is however very rarely done in fact.  It would take all the fun out of a lot of research. But some approach to allowing for that sort of thing is now being given emphasis in journal review policies.  In simple words, a much stronger effect is required for an unplanned relationship to be taken seriously. A weak relationship could be just a random oscillation.

The effects reported below were however very slight so I think that by current academic standards we should accept the null hypothesis.  We should conclude that poverty does NOT demonstrably affect IQ.

I don't like to flog a dead horse but a second defect in the study is that the findings were not controlled for race. Could race alone account for the aberrant U.S. results?  Knowing as we do how atypical are the IQs of persons with sub-Saharan African ancestry ("blacks", to use non-academic language) the researchers  should clearly have excluded blacks from all analyses on the grounds that they are a quite separate population requiring study in their own right.  The authors admit this but did not do it

The original study is rather misleadingly titled:  "Large Cross-National Differences in Gene × Socioeconomic Status Interaction on Intelligence"

Poverty has long been linked with lower levels of intelligence, especially among children, but a new study has suggested its impact may depend on where you live.

Scientists believe a person's intelligence is formed by a complex interplay between the genes they inherit from their parents and the environment they grow up in.

But a study of twins has determined that childhood poverty appears to 'dampen down' the potential contained within a person's genes - and the situation varies from country to country.

The study, conducted by researchers at University of Texas at Austin and the University of Edinburgh in Scotland, found people born in the US tend to suffer the effects of poverty more.

Elsewhere, the link between poverty and a lower IQ was less noticeable in Western Europe and Australia, and in fact the opposite may be true in the Netherlands.

The study, which is published in the journal Psychological Science, analysed the findings of 14 peer-reviewed papers.

Combined, they drew upon almost 25,000 sets of twins and siblings from the US, Australia, England, Sweden, Germany and the Netherlands.

The researchers said the differences between the US and European countries may be due in part to more universal access to healthcare, which has helped to close some socioeconomic gaps.

Differences in the education systems in the countries may also play a role.

The researchers behind the study added that the results could prove useful in helping to tackle gaps between socioeconomic groups.

They said that providing more uniform access to education and healthcare can counter and even reverse the negative effect of poverty on genes involved in IQ.



Oregon standoff: Militia occupy wildlife refuge for fourth day

The Leftist attempt to brand these people as "terrorists" is typical Leftist absurdity.  Terrorists kill people.  Who have these people killed?  Similar groups agitating for Leftist causes would be called "protesters" -- and that is what these people are.  And, to use more leftist terminology, what they are doing is a "sit in"

AMMON Bundy, the militiaman leading a standoff at a remote US wildlife centre in Oregon now in its fourth day, has hit back at claims he is a domestic terrorist.

Saturday’s takeover of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge outside the town of Burns, Oregon, was spurred by the imprisonment of two ranchers for setting fires that spread to federal land. The occupation marked the latest protest over federal management of public land in the west, long seen by political conservatives in the region as an intrusion on individual freedom and property rights.

Bundy, 40, whose father’s ranch in Nevada was the scene of an armed standoff against federal land managers in 2014, said his group was defending the Constitution and personal liberty against the federal government.

Online, public opinion was sharply split on what was quickly dubbed the #Oregonstandoff, with many branding the takeover an act of domestic terrorism, while others saw an act of resistance against government oppression.

A CNN reporter approached Bundy on Monday night and asked him about people saying his group is committing terrorism.

“There’s been a lot of social media discussion about what you all are doing out here,” the reporter said. “They’ve used words like ‘Ya’ll Qaeda’ and ‘Vanilla ISIS.’  And while they sound like funny names, they are basically calling you terrorists. How do you respond to these kinds of accusations?”

Bundy responded: “Well I would just encourage — well, one, I think that is the minority. But I would encourage people to look into what is really happening and find out who is truly doing the terrorising,” he said.

“Who has been taking ranches? This refuge alone, over 100 ranches have been taken so they can make this refuge.”
Ammon Bundy CNN interview

The protesters say they aim to protect the rights of ranchers and start a national debate about states’ rights and federal land-use policy that they hope will force the federal government to release tracts of western land.

The FBI said it was working with state and local law enforcement for a peaceful resolution.

The ranchers whose cause Bundy’s group has embraced — Dwight Hammond Jr. and his son, Steven — surrendered to federal authorities in California on Monday after being resentenced to longer prison terms for arson.

While turning themselves in they complained their five-year terms were “far too long” and announced they would seek rare clemency from President Barack Obama.

A Gallup poll released last month showed a majority of Americans view “big government” as the biggest threat to the nation in the future, when asked to choose between that, big labour and big business.



Crocodile tears

PRESIDENT Barack Obama wiped away tears as he condemned gun violence across the US and announced a new plan to tighten gun rules.

Mr Obama delivered a powerful address in the White House on Tuesday, surrounded by family members of people killed in shootings. His voice rose to a yell as he said the constitutional rights of Americans to bear arms needed to be balanced by the right to worship and gather peacefully.

“People are dying. And the constant excuses for inaction no longer do, no longer suffice,” he said. “That is why we are here today. Not to debate the last mass shooting, but to do something to prevent the next one.”

Mr Obama has often said his toughest time in office was grappling with the December 2012 massacre of 20 children and six adults at a primary school in Newtown, Connecticut.  “Every time I think about those kids, it gets me mad,” Mr Obama said, tears rolling down his cheek.

Mr Obama laid out executive action he is taking to require more gun sellers to get licences and more gun buyers to undergo background checks.



Obama plans to allow health care providers to provide information about mentally ill patients to the FBI for its background check system. No one wants a mentally ill and potentially violent person to be able to buy a firearm in order to hurt or kill people, but we expect that Obama telling states and agencies to violate HIPAA and snitch on patients isn't going to survive in court. The sticking point has always been what constitutes sufficient mental problems to override Second Amendment rights. Furthermore, Obama's implied assertion that this will deter "gun violence" is dubious.

The background check provision is both worrisome and peculiar, in that it could have some interesting effects that Obama didn't' intend.

Obama will direct the ATF to focus on what it means to be "engaged in the business" of selling firearms. "Quantity and frequency of sales are relevant indicators," the White House fact sheet says. "There is no specific threshold number of firearms purchased or sold that triggers the licensure requirement."

In other words, Obama took a vague requirement and ... did nothing to make it more specific. Instead, it will be left to the ATF to look for people "engaged in the business." As The Truth About Guns' Nick Leghorn put it, "Either the Executive Action is simply Obama paying lip service to 'closing the gun show loophole' by appearing tough on private gun sales while actually doing nothing, or this is Obama being purposefully vague to allow his ATF to go after as many people as possible."

On the other hand, Obama, already Gun Salesman of the Decade, might also become "kitchen table FFL dealer" creator of the decade. If he's going to blur the line around what constitutes "engaged in the business" of selling firearms, then more Americans than ever could soon become not only gun owners but licensed firearms dealers.

Complicating the process by which trusts obtain items regulated by the National Firearms Act (NFA) targets already law-abiding gun owners, not criminals. If you try to find examples of NFA-regulated items being used in crimes, you'll have to go back at least a decade. Even then there's some disagreement since the federal government doesn't track those crimes, likely because then they'd have to admit crime with such items isn't a real problem.

In short, there is absolutely no rationale for Obama changing anything related to NFA items. It's just a way to say "screw you" to the most enthusiastic gun owners — the "bitter clingers," if you will. Most people can't afford a $30,000 fully automatic M16, but most of the people who can are likely Republicans who donate heavily to the NRA.

Obama has done nothing to deter crime. Does anyone expect the gang bangers of Chicago, for example, to suddenly engage in only lawful firearms transactions? Murder is against the law, no matter the weapon used. Criminals won't comply or be deterred by this new hoop.

It's also worth reiterating that these measures wouldn't have stopped a single recent mass shooting, from Newtown to San Bernardino. Obama knows that, which simply means he's aiming for what's beyond the target.

Meanwhile, one positive change is that people will no longer need permission from their local Chief Law Enforcement Officer to obtain an item regulated under the NFA, like suppressors. In some states, that's a big deal, because individuals can't procure NFA items when their sheriff or police chief refuses to approve any and all NFA applications.

Obama wants to appropriate "funding for 200 new ATF agents and investigators to help enforce our gun laws." As we have noted previously, enforcement under Obama has become lax. We're hardly in favor of expanding bureaucracy, but if enforcing the laws already on the books becomes a focus, then it might be a welcome change.

Far more worrisome than the specific proposals themselves, Obama's actions continue a tyrannical trend: He demands his ideological preferences be passed into law, and when Congress declines, he takes action to do it anyway. As House Speaker Paul Ryan put it, Obama "is at minimum subverting the legislative branch, and potentially overturning its will." Ryan added, "This is a dangerous level of executive overreach."

Specifics aside, this lawlessness not only is a grossly unconstitutional executive overreach in itself, but it sets a precedent and a legacy that is dangerous to our Republic.


There is a  new  lot of postings by Chris Brand just up -- mostly about political correctness and the Cecil Rhodes controversy


For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH,  POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated) and Coral reef compendium. (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 A WESTERN HEART.

List of backup or "mirror" sites here or  here -- for when blogspot is "down" or failing to  update.  Email me  here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or  here (Pictorial) or  here  (Personal)


Wednesday, January 06, 2016

High doses of Vitamin D can be bad for you

I often wonder whether the Left or the Right are more likely to be health freaks. In particular, who is more likely to be a pill popper?  I was amused to see how science fiction author and conservative blogger Bill Quick was attached to his "supplements".  He clearly believed that his daily dose of vitamins etc kept him healthy.  When I made skeptical comments about that (Me, skeptical?) he got on his high horse and unfriended me on Facebook and put a block on my email access to him. I was mightily amused by that act of religious devotion.  He even called me unscientific.  When a novelist calls an actual much-published scientist unscientific, that is amusing too.  It would have been interesting if he had tried to prove it but he did not

Anyway, there is plenty of literature showing that too much of anything tends to be bad for you.  I think the craze for high doses of vitamin C has now run its course by now, for instance.

The recent study below is only a small one but getting any significant effect from such a small sample over a short period is interesting. The point of the study was to find out if you could make oldsters (like Bill Quick) less shaky on their pins by dosing them up with a pile of vitamin D. Sadly, the hi-dose  vitamin just made them fall over MORE.

Some kind person should pass on a link to this to poor old Bill Quick. His site is Daily Pundit.  If it is of any interest, at age 72 I take no pills of any kind.  I have a weakness for gin, though

Monthly High-Dose Vitamin D Treatment for the Prevention of Functional Decline: A Randomized Clinical Trial

By Heike A. Bischoff-Ferrari, et al.


Importance:  Vitamin D deficiency has been associated with poor physical performance.

Objective:  To determine the effectiveness of high-dose vitamin D in lowering the risk of functional decline.

Design, Setting, and Participants:  One-year, double-blind, randomized clinical trial conducted in Zurich, Switzerland. The screening phase was December 1, 2009, to May 31, 2010, and the last study visit was in May 2011. The dates of our analysis were June 15, 2012, to October 10, 2015. Participants were 200 community-dwelling men and women 70 years and older with a prior fall.

Interventions:  Three study groups with monthly treatments, including a low-dose control group receiving 24 000 IU of vitamin D3 (24 000 IU group), a group receiving 60 000 IU of vitamin D3 (60 000 IU group), and a group receiving 24 000 IU of vitamin D3 plus 300 μg of calcifediol (24 000 IU plus calcifediol group).

Main Outcomes and Measures:  The primary end point was improving lower extremity function (on the Short Physical Performance Battery) and achieving 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels of at least 30 ng/mL at 6 and 12 months. A secondary end point was monthly reported falls. Analyses were adjusted for age, sex, and body mass index.

Results: The study cohort comprised 200 participants (men and women ≥70 years with a prior fall). Their mean age was 78 years, 67.0% (134 of 200) were female, and 58.0% (116 of 200) were vitamin D deficient (<20 ng/mL) at baseline. Intent-to-treat analyses showed that, while 60 000 IU and 24 000 IU plus calcifediol were more likely than 24 000 IU to result in 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels of at least 30 ng/mL (P = .001), they were not more effective in improving lower extremity function, which did not differ among the treatment groups (P = .26). However, over the 12-month follow-up, the incidence of falls differed significantly among the treatment groups, with higher incidences in the 60 000 IU group (66.9%; 95% CI, 54.4% to 77.5%) and the 24 000 IU plus calcifediol group (66.1%; 95% CI, 53.5%-76.8%) group compared with the 24 000 IU group (47.9%; 95% CI, 35.8%-60.3%) (P = .048). Consistent with the incidence of falls, the mean number of falls differed marginally by treatment group. The 60 000 IU group (mean, 1.47) and the 24 000 IU plus calcifediol group (mean, 1.24) had higher mean numbers of falls compared with the 24 000 IU group (mean, 0.94) (P = .09).

JAMA Intern Med. Published online January 04, 2016. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2015.7148


A new financial meltdown looming?

By economic historian MARTIN HUTCHINSON

Imagine a game of Monopoly(™ Parker Brothers) in which the money supply for each player was infinite. You would see a glut of houses on all available spaces, followed in due course by a glut of hotels. Players would never go bankrupt, and all available spaces would be built until they could not physically hold any more wooden house/hotel tokens. Relaxing the normal constraints would make it a very dull game, with little suspense involved.

Well, that’s basically where we are today with the Fed’s monetary policies. The glut of houses happened in 2007; we are now seeing the glut of hotels. Needless to say, just as the housing glut became a deep depression with massive loss of wealth, so too today’s glut of hotels will shortly come to an unpleasant end.

The hotels glut has been building for several years. Having spoken at a hotel conference in 1999, I am the lucky recipient of a weekly newsletter, the International Hotel Investment News, detailing bids, deals and expansion in the global hotel industry. This has been extraordinarily bullish for about five years now, and last week reported that 2015 was yet another record year for lodging transactions, with deal volume up 56% in the first half of the year worldwide and 73% above last year’s level in the United States. Total deal volume in 2015 is expected to come in at $68 billion. The largest of these transactions, Marriott’s takeover of Starwood, is expected to create the world’s largest hotel company with 1.1 million rooms. Overall, IHIF described 2015 as a “dead sprint toward high occupancy and record rates.”

While business and leisure travel have also been increasing year by year, the world’s slow economic growth must put a cap on them – as evidenced by the positively spooky deserted nature of a large luxury hotel in Stamford, CT. in which I spent a day just before Christmas. Not the high season, admittedly, but Stamford is a very prosperous town and a major nexus of the hedge fund and financial sectors – in other words one of the world’s solidest and best hotel markets.

The problem is worldwide; Hong Kong retail sales are reported to be down in absolute terms this year because of a dearth of Chinese tourists. You can bet that Hong Kong hotels, an exuberantly overbuilt market, will also be hurting badly. The Macao casino business, also, is down by about two thirds following China’s crackdown on corruption.

What’s more the hotel space is being disrupted by Airbnb, the agency for private apartment and room lettings, which currently has only $900 million in projected revenues this year but in 2015 raised $1.5 billion in new venture capital on a $25.5 billion valuation, double the valuation of Starwood, the object of the year’s largest hotel M&A transaction. As we know from the retail business in 2008-09, that kind of disruption has to produce bankruptcies somewhere, either of the disruptor (unlikely with such a well-funded operation) or among the disrupted.

You would expect a hotel bubble. The Fed had ensured that banks have oodles of money to lend at ultra-low interest rates, generally below the rate of inflation before the risk premium is added in. That has naturally caused a surplus of investment in real estate, which has apparently stable cash flows that can surplus gigantic amounts of debt if the interest rates are low enough. In 2004-07 the surplus went into housing. Then the market crashed, negating participants’ assumptions about the invulnerability of home values to market decline.

This time around, the memory of pain from housing is too recent, so that sector has remained relatively controlled (though a price rise of 5.2% nationwide in the year to October, at a time when general inflation is about zero, indicates that exuberance has not entirely disappeared.) Retail real estate, too, had produced a lot of losses in 2008-09, as the Internet shook up the sector and consigned major operations such as Blockbuster Video to irrelevance. The hotel sector, on the other hand, has no recent history of major disaster and apparently had the right sort of steady income, especially in the luxury sector, which could be used to support a mountain of debt. Thus in November 2015 the number of hotel rooms under construction was 21% above the previous year (which was already a buoyant market), with some markets such as Los Angeles/Long Beach up over 100%.

The junk bond market is already in trouble, largely because of energy sector financing that depended on $100 oil. During the course of 2016, it is likely to see wave after wave of defaults and downgrades, as companies run into difficulties and discover that their cash flow is insufficient and refinancing possibilities have dried up. The tightening in the junk bond market and the leveraged loan market will also affect the hotel sector, as companies with unexpectedly tight cash flow and big expansion plans find themselves unable to raise the necessary finance.

The result will be a credit market Armageddon, similar to that of 2007-08, but this time not confined to housing. Just as in 2007-08, financial institutions will find themselves caught in the resulting backwash. This time, however, the biggest losers will not be the investment banks caught in the intricacies of securitized housing finance but the banks themselves, which will have lent directly against energy and hotels, without having laid off all the risk on unfortunate German regional banks through securitization. The downturn will prove that it is not necessary to be large and financially sophisticated to get into difficulties; if the Fed pursues extreme monetary policies even the simplest bank business strategy can go drastically wrong.

Monopoly™ was originally invented to show the evils of real estate speculation, and popularize Henry George’s (1839-97) eccentric theories on land ownership, which held that all land should be held in common with any increases in its value taxed at 100% to contribute to the needs of the state. The game failed to move the needle much on the popularity of George’s beliefs, but we can expect that a real financial crisis, which will appear to have been caused by excessive property speculation, will bring George’s theories very much back into vogue.

In 2008, the left asserted that the crisis had been caused by a lack of sufficiently detailed bank regulation, rather than by a combination of crazed Fed monetary policies and Federal meddling with the housing market to achieve social goals thought to be desirable. This time around, apart from a general demand for more regulation and more state spending, it seems unimaginable that we will escape demands for higher taxes. Thus a George tax on land value appreciation (without the George preference for abolishing all other taxes to make way for it) seems a likely demand, concentrated on the rich and with a certain amount of plausibility in the claim that it is relatively economically un-damaging.

Monopoly™ is realistic in that it is an excess of money in the game which produces bankruptcies; if money is limited the smart player concentrates on acquiring railroad stations and reaping the modest but steady rewards from those genuine operating businesses. Only when the amounts of money in the game become huge does the concentration of hotels become excessive and the game become a form of financial Russian Roulette with massive, indeed excessive rewards for the winners and total wipeout for the losers. Sound familiar?

The solution to the current cycle of massive overbuilding in real estate and speculative projects, producing massive and destructive bankruptcy cycles once a decade is simple as in Monopoly™ – reduce the supply of money and make it more expensive to borrow. Our current economy, if operated with sound money and light regulation, would produce all the productivity gains of the halcyon period 1948-73.



Scotland: Another prominent Leftist who thinks she is above the restrictions she wants to place on others

Self-love is very big among Leftists

A nationalist MP who campaigned against the sell-off of social housing has been accused of 'shameless hypocrisy' after buying up ex-council flats.

Dr Lisa Cameron makes thousands of pounds from renting the properties to her constituents, who pay more than tenants in identical homes still in public hands.

A Scottish Daily Mail investigation has uncovered the details of her £628,000 portfolio of seven properties, which includes five ex-local authority dwellings in impoverished areas – three of which were repossessions, sold off at bargain prices after previous owners could not keep up their mortgage payments.

The homes are now rented out on the private market for up to £400 a month – around £150 more than the average council rent for the East Kilbride area she represents.

Dr Cameron's husband, who was declared bankrupt less than three years ago, is responsible for the day-to-day running of the flourishing business.

But at a General Election hustings in April, 43-year-old Dr Cameron vowed to 'oppose the sale of housing association homes', arguing: 'We need to make sure we have affordable homes for people within our communities. We would end austerity to the most vulnerable people and support them in finding homes.'

In recent years there have been up to 4,000 people on the housing waiting list in East Kilbride, and South Lanarkshire Council has struggled with a shortfall of affordable housing.

In 2013, Nicola Sturgeon scrapped the popular right-to-buy policy for council tenants in an effort to prevent the further sell-off of homes.

The First Minister, who has said it is 'absolutely vital that people can access social housing when they need it most', will come under intense pressure to take action against her MP.

The party is still reeling after it suspended another MP, Michelle Thomson, amid a police investigation into allegations of mortgage fraud involving property deals.

On top of the £74,000 Westminster salary to which she is entitled, Dr Cameron receives £150 a month from her company, Psychological Services Scotland, for five hours' work supervising the reports of an assistant forensic psychologist.



For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH,  POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated) and Coral reef compendium. (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 A WESTERN HEART.

List of backup or "mirror" sites here or  here -- for when blogspot is "down" or failing to  update.  Email me  here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or  here (Pictorial) or  here  (Personal)


Tuesday, January 05, 2016

Trump Popularity Soars With Group Democrats Fear Losing Most

Ever since Donald Trump shook the foundation of our voting population in the middle of 2015, it’s been all Trump ever since. We know that he takes a solid 25 percent or more in most Republican primary polls. We know that the other primary candidates are often asked about Trump and his comments. We know that the Republican establishment still hasn’t figured out how to respond to him.

But what happens when we add Democrats, independents and unaffiliated voters into the mix?

According to new data by Civis Analytics, those who identify as Republicans but are actually registered as Democrats support the real estate mogul at a higher rate than registered Republicans.

While we do know that not all Democrats will support Trump, this graph is a testament to the bipartisan appeal of his common-sense solutions and his “git-er-done” attitude.

Hot Air derived two important — and possibly contradictory — conclusions from this data:

“If you’re a Trump fan, here’s the smoking gun that he really is a new Reagan, the guy who’s going to broaden the tent and sweep to victory in November by bringing centrist Democrats into the GOP.”

Hot Air also had some choice words about the Obama administration’s effect on the Democrats:

“During the Obama era, many of these voters have abandoned the Democrats. Many Democrats may now even identify as Republicans, or as independents who lean Republican, when asked by pollsters — a choice that means they’re included in a national Republican primary survey, whether they remain registered as Democrats or not.”

After seeing a chart like this, I can’t help but think that Hillary Clinton’s and Bernie Sanders’ campaigns may morph into an effort to salvage and revive their lukewarm Democrat voter base.

Honestly, I can’t wait to see what the average Democrat does when they receive their next health insurance bill, which will be sky-high under 2016 mandates. A lot of questions will be asked and a lot of hard truths will be told — and more of the Democrats’ failed policies will be fully exposed.



Obama Releasing The Worst Terrorist Yet!

The President is pushing to release as many prisoners from Guantanamo Bay as fast as possible. The next terrorist slated for release is Haji Hamidullah. Let me tell you a little bit about this scumbag.

Previously, Obama has released lesser terrorists, such as Osama bin Laden's bodyguards. But now, he is going for it all.

Haji Hamidullah first popped up on our radar when American forces discovered his plan to smuggle shoulder-fired rockets into the Kabul Airport to start taking down commercial and military planes. In January, a raid on his compound discovered that he did in fact obtain rockets for an attack on the airport. This is a man who was potentially days away from shooting down commercial airliners.

Hamidullah was implicated in a number of high profile Taliban attacks before he was ultimately captured in the summer of 2003.

When he was interrogated, Defense Department officials determined that he had a high intelligence value and a high likelihood of returning to fight if ever released. That’s the determination of Joint Task Force – Guantanamo. If Haji Hamidullah was ever released, innocent people would once again wind up in his crosshairs. Their recommendation in 2007 was ongoing detention.

Now, President Obama is preparing to let him go. Obama is going to send him back to some third world prison where he’ll surely escape. And then he’ll be back on the battlefield killing Americans and our allies.

What is Obama thinking?!

Luckily, the Pentagon is fighting back. Over the past couple of weeks, we’ve learned that Pentagon officials have been deliberately delaying and sabotaging the President’s Guantanamo releases.

For example, one prisoner was slated to be released to another country but needed to pass a physical before being allowed across the border. The country demanded the terrorist’s medical records and Pentagon officials simply refused, citing health privacy laws. That's not a joke. The Pentagon used HIPAA to stop the President from setting these monsters free.

A handful of bureaucrats were able to stall long enough to call off the transfer.

But the White House is getting wise to this. When someone gets in the way of their goals to put terrorists back onto the battlefield, they replace them with a loyalist who will happily push their agenda.

Rumor has it that was one of the reasons that former-Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel was forced out.

The truth is that as we speak, opponents to Obama’s plans are being reassigned and the prisoner releases are being put back on schedule.



Under pressure, Hildabeest finally recognizes genocide when she sees it

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton says she now believes the Islamic State group’s persecution of Christians, the Yazidi minority and other religious and ethnic minorities in the Middle East should be defined as “genocide.”

Her declaration came Tuesday night in response to a voter at a town hall in New Hampshire, her last campaign event of 2015. Clinton said she’s been reluctant to use the term in recent months because calling something “genocide” has broad implications.

The voter who asked Clinton to use the term “genocide” to describe the Islamic State killings cited world leaders including the Pope and various advocacy groups that are using the phrase to define the extremist group’s killing of Christians, Yazidis, Kurdish Muslims, and other religious and ethnic minorities.

“Will you join those leaders, faith leaders and secular leaders and political leaders from both the right and the left, in calling what is happening by its proper name: Genocide?” the voter asked.

“I will because we now have enough evidence,” Clinton replied.

The Islamic State group’s actions, she said, are “deliberately aimed at destroying not only the lives, but wiping out the existence of Christians and other religious minorities in the Middle East in territory controlled by ISIS.”



Hillary's Marxist Agenda

Hillary Clinton is running a new series of radio ads in South Carolina that were originally written by Karl Marx.

The ads declare America’s capitalist economy to be a rigged game and vow punitive government actions against job creators to make salaries equal.

They’re intended to sap support from her nearest rival Bernie Sanders, a U.S. Senator from Vermont and member of the Socialist Party.

Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton has begun airing radio ads in Iowa and South Carolina that sound off against income inequality — the same platform on which her top rival Bernard Sanders has been running.

“On average, it takes 300 Americans working for a solid year to make as much money as one top CEO,” one ad whines. “It’s called the wage gap.”

“Boosting incomes for hardworking families so they can afford a middle class life is the defining economic challenge of our time,” wails another.



Many a true word ...


Last, the good news

2015 – By John Stossel

We reporters focus on bad news, but at year’s end, let’s remember what went right. 2015 was a better time to be alive than most any prior point in history.

The rich got richer. Some people think that’s a problem, but why? Do rich people sit on their piles of money and cackle about how rich they are? Do they build giant houses that damage the environment? Well, they sometimes do.

But mostly they invest, hoping to get richer still. Those investments create jobs and better products and make most everyone else richer. Even if the rich leave money in banks, banks lend it to people who put it to productive use.

Sure, income inequality has grown – but so what? The rich don’t get richer at the expense of the poor. Poor people’s income grew 48 percent over the past 35 years. Bernie Sanders says that “the middle class is disappearing!” But that’s mainly because many middle-class people moved into the upper class. Middle class incomes grew 40 percent over the past 30 years.

This year we heard more horror stories about bad schools and students who don’t learn. But take heart: Seven more states passed education choice legislation.

That means more students can opt out of bad schools and pick better ones, and over the long haul competing schools will have to get better at what they do. That will lead to a brighter future for all students – and for society, which will benefit from their improved skills.

In 2015, two more states and Washington, D.C., legalized marijuana. Authorities are always reluctant to give up control, but gradually the end of the expensive, destructive and futile drug war will come.

Meanwhile, real crime – violence and thefts – continue to fall. We cover horrible mass shootings and spikes in crime in cities like Baltimore and St. Louis, but overall, crime is down – over the past 20 years, down by about half.

Unfortunately, terrorism has increased – mainly because of ISIS in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan. Nevertheless, there are far fewer deaths from war and terror than there were 30 years ago, and in America, the odds of you or your family being killed by a terrorist are infinitesimal compared to disease, accidents and a thousand more-ordinary threats.

Marriage is good for civilization. This year the Supreme Court declared that gay people may get married. Government shouldn’t be in the marriage business at all, since marriage is a contract between individuals, but if it’s going to wade into that issue, it’s better to have one clear rule instead of ugly ongoing fights about it.

Ending the political squabble means we can all go back to minding our own business and worrying about our own marriages.

In 2015, women in Saudi Arabia got to vote.

More countries elected leaders, rather than inheriting them.

The picture isn’t all rosy. As I mentioned, terrorism is up. Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security are on track to lead America into bankruptcy. We have eternal problems like hunger and disease.  But even those “eternal” problems are closer to being solved than they used to be.

Thanks to better vaccines, 6 million fewer children under the age of 5 die each year compared to 30 years ago.

Twenty-five years ago, 2 billion people lived in extreme poverty – that meant surviving on about a dollar a day, often with little access to basic needs like water and food. “Experts” predicted that number would rise as the population grew. Happily, thanks to the power of free markets, they were wrong. In the space of a generation, half the people most in need in the world were rescued.

Ten percent of the world’s people still live in dire poverty, but the trend is clear: Where there is rule of law and individual freedom, humanity is better off. As Marian Tupy of puts it, “Away from the front pages of our newspapers and television, billions of people go about their lives unmolested, enjoying incremental improvements that make each year better than the last.”

So enjoy it. Happy New Year!



For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH,  POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated) and Coral reef compendium. (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 A WESTERN HEART.

List of backup or "mirror" sites here or  here -- for when blogspot is "down" or failing to  update.  Email me  here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or  here (Pictorial) or  here  (Personal)


Monday, January 04, 2016

Did Mohammed exist?

Islam claims that, during his lifetime, Mohammed took a night journey on a flying steed, called al Buraq, to Jerusalem to the Farthest (al-Aqsa) Mosque.  The irony is that, according to Muslim sources, there was no mosque in Jerusalem for Mohammed to visit.  So why are they fighting over what never was?

Official Muslim history says Mohammed died in 632 AD – if one uses the Islamic calendar, the year 10.  Of this, there is no debate among imams, mullahs, Shi'a, Sunni, Wahhabi, Sufi, etc.  By every account, Western or Islamic, Arab armies did not reach Byzantine Roman Christian Jerusalem until 636 AD of our calendar, to immediately set a siege.  The Arabs did not enter in until 637 AD, when Christians finally surrendered the city.

Almost five years after Mohammed's death.  Five years!

Even were one to accept Islam, there were no mosques in Jerusalem until after Mohammed's death.  Whenever and wherever Mohammed made his night journey, al-Aqsa could not have been in Jerusalem.

This is only if one accepts Islam.  If one does not accept Islam, the story unravels even further.

Western deconstructionists now question the very existence of Islam's Mohammed.  The British historian Tom Holland and America's Robert Spencer  have done masterful jobs pointing out that the Mohammed of the Koran is a collection of biographic myths, appended centuries later.  The Christian apologist Jay Smith has made a career of deflating Islamic claims.  All three trace the legends of Mohammed back to the fertile imagination of Abd al Malik, the fifth caliph of the new Arab Empire – an empire that did not even call itself Muslim originally.

Was there even a Mohammed?

Probably!  But the Koran exaggerates and inflates his life.  And his teachings?  In fact, much of Koranic doctrine can be traced to then centuries-old Gnostic texts that arose after the birth of Christianity.

That is it. Soon after Christianity started, counterfeit Gnostic gospels arose in the second century.  These were discredited early on by the Church, but the ridiculous legends remained floating around among the Arabs.  Mohammed plagiarized from counterfeits for his own political motives.  Hence, the Koran, rather than being revealed wisdom from God, was rather a bastardized recompilation of earlier counterfeits, which Mohammed jumbled for his own ends.  What astounds us is that Mohammed used such ridiculous sources to counterfeit from.

Further aggravating this are the Koranic references to Mecca that have been shown could apply only to the Nabateans in Petra.  The Koran mentions olives, which do not grow in Mecca.  The earliest mosques pointed to Petra, not Mecca.

Did Mohammed exist?  If he did, was Mohammed from Petra, or did he borrow Petra sources?  We know he borrowed from the Gnostics.  And why doesn't Mecca show up on any maps until 900 AD?

But now, for the absolute coup de grace: "The 'Birmingham Koran' fragment that could shake Islam after carbon-dating suggests it is OLDER than the Prophet Muhammad"

Islam, and its prophet, may be a total fraud.

Of course, a lot of this is arcane stuff.  The average Westerner is not going to learn Arabic, nor its myriad ancient dialects, to source this myth out.  Nor, for that matter, will the modern Muslim.

But a Muslim can be asked this one simple question.  If official Muslim history says Islam entered into Jerusalem during Mohammed's lifetime, how could al-Aqsa (The Farthest Mosque) possibly be in Jerusalem?  How could Mohammed visit a mosque that did not exist?

Concerning religion, one can argue whether Buddism's Mahabodhi Temple bears a real connection to the Budda or is primarily a British reconstruction, but Buddism does not rise or fall based on the Mahabodhi Temple.  Catholicism does not require Rome; during the 14th century, the pope was based in France.  Eastern Christianity does not require Constantinople.  Protestantism does not require Geneva.

But Islam's claim to al-Aqsa requires that a mosque existed in Jerusalem during Mohammed's lifetime.  Muslims even admit that the present al-Aqsa site was originally built in 705 AD, over seventy years after Mohammed's death.  Islam has a real problem.  Their own history contradicts their claim.

The mosque on the Temple Mount should therefore be referred to as "the Southern Mosque," given its location on the Temple Mount at the southern end.  No one should indulge this Islamic error.  Media commentators should be called out for even saying "al-Aqsa" at all.  Every Muslim must hear the truth – if not from their leaders, then from the West.



The ‘Refugee Crisis’: Muslim History vs. Western Fantasy

Those who forget or ignore history are destined to be conquered by those who remember and praise it

Raymond Ibrahim

One of the primary reasons Islamic and Western nations are “worlds apart” is because the way they understand the world is worlds apart.  Whereas Muslims see the world through the lens of history, the West has jettisoned or rewritten history to suit its ideologies.

This dichotomy of Muslim and Western thinking is evident everywhere.  When the Islamic State declared that it will “conquer Rome” and “break its crosses,” few in the West realized that those are the verbatim words and goals of Islam’s founder and his companions as recorded in Muslim sources —words and goals that prompted over a thousand years of jihad on Europe.

Most recently, the Islamic State released a map of the areas it plans on expanding into over the next five years.  The map includes European nations such as Portugal, Spain, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Greece, Bulgaria, Ukraine, Romania, Armenia, Georgia, Crete, Cyprus, and parts of Russia.

The reason these European nations are included in the Islamic State’s map is simple.  According to Islamic law, once a country has been conquered (or “opened,” as it’s called in the euphemistic Arabic), it becomes Islamic in perpetuity.

This, incidentally, is the real reason Muslims despise Israel.  It’s not due to sympathy for the Palestinians —if so, neighboring Arab nations would’ve absorbed them long ago (just as they would be absorbing all of today’s Muslim refugees).

No, Israel is hated because the descendants of “apes and pigs” —to use the Koran’s terminology —dare to rule land that was once “opened” by jihad and therefore must be returned to Islam.  (Read more about Islam’s “How Dare You?!” phenomenon to understand the source of Islamic rage, especially toward Israel.)

All the aforementioned European nations are also seen as being currently “occupied” by Christian “infidels” and in need of “liberation.”  This is why jihadi organizations refer to terrorist attacks on such countries as “defensive jihads.”

One rarely heard about Islamic designs on European nations because they are large and blocked together, altogether distant from the Muslim world.  Conversely, tiny Israel is right in the heart of the Islamic world—hence why most jihadi aspirations were traditionally geared toward the Jewish state: it was more of a realistic conquest.

Now, however, that the “caliphate” has been reborn and is expanding before a paralytic West, dreams of reconquering portions of Europe—if not through jihad, then through migration—are becoming more plausible, perhaps even more so than conquering Israel.

Because of their historical experiences with Islam, some central and east European nations are aware of Muslim aspirations.  Hungary’s prime minister even cited his nation’s unpleasant past under Islamic rule (in the guise of the Ottoman Empire) as reason to disallow Muslim refugees from entering.

But for more “enlightened” Western nations—that is, for idealistic nations that reject or rewrite history according to their subjective fantasies—Hungary’s reasoning is unjust, unhumanitarian, and racist.

To be sure, most of Europe has experience with Islamic depredations.  As late as the seventeenth century, even distant Iceland was being invaded by Muslim slave traders. Roughly 800 years earlier, in 846, Rome was sacked and the Vatican defiled by Muslim raiders.

Some of the Muslims migrating to Italy vow to do the same today, and Pope Francis acknowledges it.  Yet, all the same, he suggests that “you can take precautions, and put these people to work.”  (We’ve seen this sort of thinking before: the U.S. State Department cites a lack of “job opportunities” as reason for the existence of the Islamic State).

Perhaps because the U.K., Scandinavia, and North America were never conquered and occupied by the sword of Islam—unlike those southeast European nations that are resisting Muslim refugees—they feel free to rewrite history according to their subjective ideals, specifically, that historic Christianity is bad and all other religions and people are good (the darker and/or more foreign the better).

Indeed, countless are the books and courses on the “sins” of Christian Europe, from the Crusades to colonialism.  (Most recently, a book traces the rise of Islamic supremacism in Egypt to the disciplining of a rude Muslim girl by a European nun.)

This “new history”—particularly that Muslims are the historic “victims” of “intolerant” Western Christians—has metastasized everywhere, from high school to college and from Hollywood to the news media (which are becoming increasingly harder to distinguish from one another).

When U.S. President Barack Hussein Obama condemned medieval Christians as a way to relativize Islamic State atrocities—or at best to claim that religion, any religion, is never the driving force of violence—he was merely being representative of the mainstream way history is taught in the West.

Even otherwise sound books of history contribute to this distorted thinking.  While such works may mention “Ottoman expansion” into Europe, the Islamic element is omitted.  Thus Turks are portrayed as just another competitive people, out to carve a niche for themselves in Europe, no differently than rival Christian empires.   That the “Ottomans” (or “Saracens,” or “Arabs,” or “Moors,” or “Tatars”) were operating under the distinctly Islamic banner of jihad —just like the Islamic State is today —that connection is never made.

Generations of pseudo history have led the West to think that, far from being suspicious or judgmental of them, Muslims must be accommodated —say, by allowing them to migrate into the West in mass.  Perhaps then they’ll “like us”?

Such is progressive wisdom.

Meanwhile, back in the school rooms of much of the Muslim world, children continue to be indoctrinated in glorifying and reminiscing over the jihadi conquests of yore —conquests by the sword and in the name of Allah.  While the progressive West demonizes European/Christian history —when I was in elementary school, Christopher Columbus was a hero, when I got into college, he became a villain —Mehmet the Conqueror, whose atrocities against Christian Europeans make the Islamic State look like a bunch of boy scouts, is praised every year in “secular” Turkey on the anniversary of the savage sack of Constantinople.

The result of Western fantasies and Islamic history is that Muslims are now entering the West, unfettered, in the guise of refugees who refuse to assimilate with the “infidels” and who form enclaves, or in Islamic terminology, ribats —frontier posts where the jihad is waged on the infidel, one way or the other.

Nor is this mere conjecture.  The Islamic State is intentionally driving the refugee phenomenon and has promised to send half a million people —mostly Muslim—into Europe.  It claims that 4,000 of these refugees are its own operatives: “Just wait….  It’s our dream that there should be a caliphate not only in Syria but in all the world, and we will have it soon, inshallah [Allah willing].”

It is often said that those who ignore history are destined to repeat it.  What does one say of those who rewrite history in a way that demonizes their ancestors while whitewashing the crimes of their forebears’ enemies?

The result is before us.  History is not repeating itself; sword waving Muslims are not militarily conquering Europe.  Rather, they are being allowed to walk right in.

Perhaps a new aphorism needs to be coined for our times: Those who forget or ignore history are destined to be conquered by those who remember and praise it.



Some history of the "Jim Crow" laws: They were Leftist laws

Leftists tend to object to points such as the above on the grounds that the Southern Democrats were in fact conservative -- as is allegedly shown by the strong showing that the GOP now has in the South.  But that is false. The Southern Democrats for the first two thirds of the 20th century may have differed in some ways from Northern Democrats but both were Leftist.  They both were anti-business and strong believers in government intervention in daily life.  The Jim Crow laws were one such intervention.  The Jim Crow laws were certainly different from current Democrat policies but in their own way they were just as much Big Government as the Democrat policies of today.

That great Leftist hero, FDR, was President in the Jim Crow era and he was the biggest interventionist since Lincoln -- and his base of support was in the South. He was notable for turning away Jews trying to flee Nazi Germany.  Fortunately, many Southerners seem to have learnt to distrust secular Messiahs eventually.

FDR vote in blue.  The South voted solid Leftist in the Jim Crow era

And that other great "progressive" hero of the Jim Crow era, Woodrow Wilson, was also solid in the South.  When he came to power as President he resegregated Washington government agencies, after the GOP had desegregated them.  He too was a Leftist racist

1912 election

And the Left are still racist to this day.  Affirmative action is nothing if not racist.  They will never realize Martin Luther King's dream.  King was a Republican, after all.


For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH,  POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated) and Coral reef compendium. (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 A WESTERN HEART.

List of backup or "mirror" sites here or  here -- for when blogspot is "down" or failing to  update.  Email me  here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or  here (Pictorial) or  here  (Personal)


Sunday, January 03, 2016

Q. Why Are There No Muslim Terrorists in Japan?

A. Because there are virtually no Muslims in Japan

And all strata of Japan, from the prime minister to the working class, intend to keep it that way

There are countries in the world, mainly in Europe, that are presently undergoing significant cultural transformations as a result of Muslim immigration. France, Germany, Belgium and Holland are interesting examples of cases where immigration from Muslim countries, together with the Muslims’ high fertility rate, effects every area of life.

It is interesting to know that there is a country in the world whose official and public approach to the Muslim matter is totally different. This country is Japan. This country keeps a very low profile on all levels regarding the Muslim matter: On the diplomatic level, senior political figures from Islamic countries almost never visit Japan, and Japanese leaders rarely visit Muslim countries. 

The relations with Muslim countries are based on concerns such as oil and gas, which Japan imports from some Muslim countries. The official policy of Japan is not to give citizenship to Muslims who come to Japan, and even permits for permanent residency are given sparingly to Muslims.

Japan forbids exhorting people to adopt the religion of Islam (Dawah), and any Muslim who actively encourages conversion to Islam is seen as proselytizing to a foreign and undesirable culture. 

Few academic institutions teach the Arabic language. It is very difficult to import books of the Qur’an to Japan, and Muslims who come to Japan, are usually employees of foreign companies. In Japan there are very few mosques. The official policy of the Japanese authorities is to make every effort not to allow entry to Muslims, even if they are physicians, engineers and managers sent by foreign companies that are active in the region. Japanese society expects Muslim men to pray at home.

Japanese companies seeking foreign workers specifically note that they are not interested in Muslim workers. And any Muslim who does manage to enter Japan will find it very difficult  to rent an apartment. Anywhere a Muslim lives, the neighbors become uneasy. Japan forbids the establishment of Islamic organizations, so setting up Islamic institutions such as mosques and schools is almost impossible. In Tokyo there is only one imam.

In contrast with what is happening in Europe, very few Japanese are drawn to Islam. If a Japanese woman marries a Muslim, she will be considered an outcast by her social and familial environment. There is no application of Shari’a law in Japan. There is some food in Japan that is halal, kosher according to Islamic law, but it is not easy to find it in the supermarket.

The Japanese approach to Muslims is also evidenced by the numbers: in Japan there are 127 million residents, but only ten thousand Muslims, less than one hundredth of a percent. The number of Japanese who have converted is thought to be few. In Japan there are a few tens of thousands of foreign workers who are Muslim, mainly from Pakistan, who have managed to enter Japan as workers with construction companies. However, because of the negative attitude towards Islam they keep a low profile.

There are several reasons for this situation:

First, the Japanese tend to lump all Muslims together as fundamentalists who are unwilling to give up their traditional point of view and adopt modern ways of thinking and behavior. In Japan, Islam is perceived as a strange religion, that any intelligent person should avoid.

Second, most Japanese have no religion, but behaviors connected with the Shinto religion along with elements of Buddhism are integrated into national customs . In Japan, religion is connected to the nationalist concept, and prejudices exist towards foreigners whether they are Chinese, Korean, Malaysian or Indonesian, and Westerners don’t escape this phenomenon either. There are those who call this a “developed sense of nationalism” and there are those who call this “racism”. It seems that neither of these is wrong.

And Third, the Japanese dismiss the concept of monotheism and faith in an abstract god,  because their world concept is apparently connected to the material, not to faith and emotions. It seems that they group Judaism together with Islam. Christianity exists in Japan and is not regarded negatively, apparently because the image of Jesus perceived in Japan is like the images of Buddha and Shinto.

The most interesting thing in Japan’s approach to Islam is the fact that the Japanese do not feel the need to apologize to Muslims for the negative way in which they relate to Islam. They make a clear distinction between their economic interest in resources of oil and gas from Muslim countries, which behooves Japan to maintain good relations with these countries on the one hand, and on the other hand, the Japanese nationalist viewpoints, which see Islam as something that is suitable for others, not for Japan, and therefore the Muslims must remain outside.

Because the Japanese have a gentle temperament, and project serenity and tranquility toward foreigners, foreigners tend to relate to the Japanese with politeness and respect. A Japanese diplomat would never raise his voice or speak rudely in the presence of foreigners, therefore foreigners relate to the Japanese with respect, despite their racism and discrimination against Muslims in the matter of immigration. 

A Japanese official who is presented with an embarrassing question regarding the way the Japanese relate to Muslims, will usually refrain from answering, because he knows that a truthful answer would arouse anger, and he is both unable and unwilling to give an answer that is not true. He will smile but not answer, and if pressed, he will ask for time so that his superiors can answer, while he knows that this answer will never come.

Japan manages to remain a country almost without a Muslim presence because Japan’s negative attitude toward Islam and Muslims pervades every level of the population, from the man in the street to organizations and companies to senior officialdom. In Japan, contrary to the situation in other countries, there are no “human rights” organizations to offer support to Muslims’ claims against the government’s position. In Japan no one illegally smuggles Muslims into the country to earn a few yen, and almost no one gives them the legal support they would  need in order to get permits for temporary or permanent residency or citizenship.

Japan is teaching the whole world an interesting lesson: there is a direct correlation between national heritage and permission to immigrate: a people that has a solid and clear national heritage and identity will not allow the unemployed of the world to enter its country; and a people whose cultural heritage and national identity is weak and fragile, has no defense mechanisms to prevent a foreign culture from penetrating into its country and its land.


Greece Illustrates 150 Years of Socialist Failure in Europe

Greece cannot pay its debts ... ever. Nor can several other members of the European Union. That’s why Europe’s elite are loath to place Greece in default. If Greece is allowed to abrogate its debts, why should any of the other debtor members of the EU pay up? The financial consequences of massive default by most of the EU members is hard to predict, but it won't be pretty. Europe has built a financial house of cards, and the slightest loss of confidence will bring it crashing down.

The tragedy of Europe has socialism at its core. Europe has flirted with socialism since the late nineteenth century. Nineteenth century Bismarckian socialism produced two world wars. Leninist socialism slaughtered and enslaved hundreds of millions until it collapsed, mercifully without a third world war. Yet, not to be deterred, in the ashes of World War II, Europe’s socialists embarked on a new socialist dream. If socialism fails in one country, perhaps it will succeed if all of Europe joined a supra-national socialist organization. Oh, they don't call what has evolved from this dream “socialism,” but it is socialism nonetheless.

Socialism will not work, whether in one country, a multi-state region such as Europe, or the entire world. Ludwig von Mises explained that socialism is not an alternative economic system. It is a program for consumption. It tells us nothing about economic production. Since each man's production must be distributed to all of mankind, there is no economic incentive to produce anything, although there may be the incentive of coercion and threats of violence. Conversely, free market capitalism is an economic system of production, whereby each man owns the product of his own labors and, therefore, has great economic incentives to produce both for himself, his family, and has surplus goods to trade for the surplus product of others. Even under life and death threats neither the socialist worker nor his overseer would know what to produce, how to produce it, or in what quantities and qualities. These economic cues are the product of free market capitalism and money prices.

Under capitalism, man specializes to produce trade goods for the product of others. This is just one way of stating Say’s Law; i.e., that production precedes consumption and that production itself creates demand. For example, a farmer may grow some corn for his family to consume or to feed to his own livestock, but he sells most of his corn on the market in exchange for money with which to buy all the many other necessities and luxuries of life. His corn crop is his demand and money is simply the indirect medium of exchange.

Keynes attempted to deny Say’s Law, claiming that demand itself — created artificially by central bank money printing — would spur production. He attempted, illogically and unsuccessfully, to place consumption ahead of production. To this day Keynes is very popular with spendthrift politicians, to whom he bestowed a moral imperative to spend money that they did not have.

We see the result of 150 years of European socialism playing out in grand style in Greece today. The producing countries are beginning to realize that they have been robbed by the EU’s socialist guarantee that no nation will be allowed to default on its bonds. Greece merely accepted this guarantee at face value and spent itself into national bankruptcy. Other EU nations are not far behind. It’s time to give free market capitalism and sound money a chance: it’s worked every time it’s been tried.


Dear Media: Stop Trying To Teach Christians Theology

Christianity obviously doesn’t mean what you think it means. So stop making yourself out to be televangelists.

Every journalist in America has been secretly attending seminary, and now understands Christianity better than most Christians do. This is the only conclusion I can draw after months of theology lectures from reporters whose most recent encounter with religious terminology was Hozier’s “Take Me to Church.”

To those of us for whom church isn’t a metaphor for sex, it’s been a frustrating few months. First, the chattering class endlessly assured Christian bakers, restaurant-owners, photographers, and florists that Jesus would be totally down with making same-sex nuptials fabulous (and presumably, with paying the $135,000 fine for those who felt differently).

Then, in the wake of June’s gay “marriage” decision at the Supreme Court, we got an earful about how mean and un-Christian it would be not to attend same-sex “weddings.” (Wouldn’t you know it, we’ve been reading the Bible wrong all these centuries!) Then the Kim-pocalypse struck, and we were treated to smug editorials on how the Kentucky clerk’s faith represents the dark side of Christianity, while those who ignore tertiary topics like—say—God’s design for human sexuality in favor of social justice issues, are the good Christians. (I once was blind, but now I see!) But this month, the media got an opportunity to bestow their theological insights on us like never before. Did they ever.

Shock: Christian College Upholds Christianity

When Wheaton political science professor Larycia Hawkins was suspended after wearing a hijab during Advent, writers at outlets like The Huffington Post thought this headline was too good to resist: “A Christian College Placed a Professor on Leave for Wearing A Hijab.”

Except, they didn’t. Wheaton has made it clear that it has no policy regarding Islamic religious garb, or as Hawkins calls it, “embodied solidarity” with Muslims. Instead, the administration suspended Hawkins for her bizarre explanation of the stunt:

“I stand in human solidarity with my Muslim neighbor because we are formed of the same primordial clay, descendants of the same cradle of humankind—a cave in Sterkfontein, South Africa that I had the privilege to descend into to plumb the depths of our common humanity in 2014. I stand in religious solidarity with Muslims because they, like me, a Christian, are people of the book. And as Pope Francis stated last week, we worship the same God.”

Putting aside for a moment the question of how many Muslims would agree that mankind crawled from a cave in South Africa, Wheaton points out that its faculty and staff “make a commitment to accept and model our institution’s faith foundations with integrity, compassion, and theological clarity.” As part of the faculty’s jobs, the college asks them to “faithfully represent the College’s evangelical statement of faith.” In other words, what Wheaton professors say in front of students has to be recognizably evangelical. Obviously, the administration felt Hawkins failed this test by equating the God of Christianity with the god of Islam.

Ruth Graham at The Atlantic published a much-needed clarification that seemed like it might quell the cries of “bigotry” and “Islamophobia.” Alas, shifting attention from Hawkins’ headscarf to her statements only gave the media the chance to don again their theology professor bowties.

I Don’t Like Your Religion, So Change It

“Instead of debating the wisdom of bringing guns to campus to kill potential terrorists,” sneered David R. Wheeler at CNN, referring to Jerry Falwell Jr.’s recent remarks, “what about listening to the actual words of Jesus, such as ‘love your enemy’? What about 1 John 4:18: ‘There is no fear in love; instead, perfect love drives out fear’?” (It’s a good thing we have CNN contributors to apprise us of these obscure Bible passages!)

Wheeler says a few rare-as-snow-leopards Christians still live by Jesus’ words—Christians like Larycia Hawkins—“But they get punished,” he writes, for exercising such virtues. In a huff over Wheaton’s decision to suspend Hawkins, he sermonizes: “She didn’t say Islam and Christianity were the same religion…She didn’t say Muslims believe in the divinity of Christ…All she said was that they worship the same God.”

Evidently, he believes this should be no problem. Wheeler, like so much of the mainstream media, has scrutinized the situation with the eye of a trained theologian and after much deliberation concluded that—surprise!—evangelical Christians are just being meanies.

We could multiply articles in the Christians-are-meanies-and-I-know-the-Bible-better-than-they-do genre like St. Peter multiplied the animals after they left Jonah’s Ark. But it wouldn’t change the fact that the Most Holy Synod of Journalists doesn’t have an inerrant track record on religion. For instance, they sometimes need reminders that the resurrection is an actual thing Christians believe happened.

More HERE  


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