Monday, 30 November 2020

Australian authorities seize child, rule parents ABUSIVE for resisting hormone therapy to help daughter become son – report


Australian authorities seize child, rule parents ABUSIVE for resisting hormone therapy to help daughter become son – report

An Australian couple whose child was reportedly seized by state authorities is appealing a magistrate's ruling finding them abusive and “dangerous” for resisting testosterone therapy for their daughter, who identifies as male.

Lawyers for the unidentified parents filed papers last week seeking to appeal a magistrate's October decision, setting up what appears to be the country's first test case on parental rights regarding gender dysphoria medicine, the Australian newspaper reported on Saturday. Their child, then 15, was taken away from the family last year, after discussing suicide online.

“The authorities say we will not allow her to change gender, so it's dangerous for told her to come back to our house because we will mentally abuse her,” the father told the Australian. “They want us to consent to testosterone treatment.”

The parents are seeking an independent psychological review of all possible causes of their child's depression, as well as consideration of non-invasive treatment options. The teen struggled after losing friends at 13, when the family relocated, and those difficulties were compounded by a difficult start to puberty and anxiety about eating and body image, the mother said.

The family migrated to Australia a decade ago, the newspaper said, without identifying their native country. The magistrate found that the teen likely suffered verbal abuse over “his feelings and expression of gender identity,” which the parents denied.

Lawyers for the child earlier this month filed papers seeking approval to begin hormone therapy.

A Twitter commenter who said her own daughter suffered from rapid onset gender dysphoria, said state interventions such as in the Australia case mark “the end of parenting as we knew it.”.

We have no rights. Our children can be seriously harmed by the government and medical profession, and we are powerless to stop it.

As the debate on treatment for gender dysphoria heats up in Australia, some US states are creating exceptions to parental consent laws to enable children to get such treatments as hormone therapy and sex-change surgeries without parental consent. Starting this year, children as young as 13 in Washington state have been allowed to obtain confidential treatment for gender dysphoria, billed to their parents insurance plan and done without parental consent.

.“Hard to overstate how radical this is,” Abigail Shrier, journalist and ‘Irreversible Damage’ author, tweeted. “States are intervening in a loving relationship between parent and minor child and declaring: ‘We will physically transform the child against your wishes and behind your back.’”


Donald Trump Urges Joe Biden to ‘Get Well Soon!’ After Fracturing Foot


Donald Trump Urges Joe Biden to ‘Get Well Soon!’ After Fracturing Foot

“Get well soon!” Trump wrote on Twitter sharing news footage of Biden leaving an orthopedic office in Deleware.

Biden’s office said “on background” that the former Vice President “slipped while playing with his dog Major, and twisted his ankle” while at his home in Delaware.

Biden was taken to an orthopedist for an examination and an x-ray.

A statement from Dr. Kevin O’Connor, the Director and Executive Medicine, of George Washington Medical Faculty Associates stated that Biden had “sustained a sprain of his right foot” but transported Biden to a different medical facility for a CT scan. 

The CT scan revealed that Biden did have fractures in his foot after the injury.

“Initial x-rays did not show any obvious fracture, but his clinical exam warranted more detailed imaging,” OConnor wrote, noting that the CT scan “confirmed hairline (small) fractures of President-elect Biden’s lateral and intermediate cuneiform bones, which are in the mid-foot.”

“It is anticipated that he will likely require a walking boot for several weeks,” O’Connor concluded.

Sunday, 29 November 2020

The Trumpiness of the GOP’s Future: Five Key Questions

 By Robert VerBruggen

November 27, 2020 6:30 AM 


 President Trump waves to supporters at a rally in Murphysboro, Ill., October 27, 2018. (Al Drago/Reuters)


 Has he remade the party in his image?

Let’s be frank: Over the past 30 years, Republicans have not fared well in presidential elections. Since 1992, Democrats have won five times and carried the popular vote all but once. Republicans won three times, but lost the popular vote in two of those. The 2000 win relied on a very narrow victory in Florida; the 2016 one came at the hand of Donald Trump, a very unconventional Republican by any measure, and relied on thin margins in Rust Belt states where his particular message resonated.

Dubya’s 2004 reelection aside, either we’re getting our butts kicked, or we’re barely scraping the votes together to pull off wins that leverage the peculiarities of the Electoral College. Going forward, the question is how to put together a better winning coalition — and how much that coalition will look like and build on you-know-who’s.

No one, including yours truly, really knows where this battered ship is headed. But here are five key questions that should frame this debate heading into 2024.

  1. How unusual was Trump’s coalition, really? And should we be satisfied with an “Electoral College hack”?

When thinking about presidential coalitions, it helps to look at the data at three different levels: states, which of course decide the Electoral College; smaller geographical units, especially the gaps between rural, suburban, and urban areas; and individual demographics.

At the state level, things actually haven’t looked that unusual in the Trump era. Red states are still red, blue states are still blue, and purple states still hover around the 50 percent mark — with states across the country tending to shift toward the Republicans or the Democrats together. To illustrate this, I grabbed some data on the two-party vote share in 48 states in 2012, 2016, and 2020. (I left out D.C., California, and New York: D.C. is an outlier with next to no Republican presence; the other two, as of this writing, are still taking their sweet time counting their 2020 ballots and are not in play for the GOP anyway.)

Here’s how things shifted between Romney’s loss in 2012 and Trump’s victory in 2016, with a diagonal line indicating where states would fall if both candidates did equally well. Dots above the line indicate states where Trump did better than Romney had.

Despite the huge differences in these contests — the nation’s first black president up for reelection against a Mormon, as compared with . . . well, Hillary Clinton versus Donald Trump — the overall pattern is pretty simple and boring. Trump outperformed Romney in the vast majority of states, yet the vote shares in the two races are very strongly correlated.

Trump’s 2020 performance maps onto his 2016 performance even more directly. If you take his 2016 vote share from a given state and knock two points off, you’ll probably end up pretty close to his share in 2020.

These data make clear that presidential contests are fought between the 40-yard lines. Trump didn’t redesign the field and restart the game; he kept most of what Romney had, gained enough new ground to beat Clinton, and then lost enough ground to lose to Biden. And the shifts in vote shares are not limited to a handful of important states, but broadly distributed.

Nonetheless, it remains true that Trump had to do well specifically in Rust Belt swing states to win the Electoral College, and that his strategy paid off especially well there. Nationwide, he barely surpassed Romney’s share of the two-party vote (about 49 percent vs. 48 percent), and yet he beat Romney’s electoral-vote count by half. RealClearPolitics election guru Sean Trende thinks it unlikely that another Republican could have won in 2016:

Rubio et al. might have amassed similar — or better — popular vote counts, but they wouldn’t have been as efficiently distributed as Trump’s and still would have lost. Remember, in 2012 the Electoral College actually had a Democratic bias to it, in part because Romney famously failed to connect with blue-collar voters because of his stance on fiscal issues and his culturally upscale persona.

Rubio would have done little to fix that. Yes, he would have run better in the suburbs and probably among Hispanics. He might have carried Nevada, and we would probably not be talking about blue (or purple) Arizona or Texas today. At the same time, it is hard to see him appealing to out-of-work steelworkers in western Pennsylvania in the same way that Trump did. With massive support from rural and small-town voters, Trump barely carried Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin. Rubio wouldn’t have gotten that turnout, or made up for it in the suburbs given his social conservatism.

When you break voters down into rural, suburban, and urban categories this way, however, you also see how Trump’s appeal balanced on a razor’s edge. In 2016, it won him the election even though more people voted for Clinton, because his rural supporters lived in the right states and just barely canceled out his losses in urban areas. By 2020, he had antagonized the Democratic base and alienated the suburbs enough that his rural support was no longer sufficient. A candidate who could appeal to rural areas without proving toxic to suburbanites would of course be a welcome development. So would a candidate who’s simply likable and popular in general.

Lastly, let’s look at the individual-level characteristics of Trump’s supporters these past four years. In a piece over at Economics 21, Chris Pope argues that Trump’s populist coalition is largely a myth. At most, it amounts to an “Electoral College hack” that boosted just the right voting blocs, concentrated in just the right places, to achieve an unlikely victory four years ago. Some Republicans are claiming the party has become “working-class” and “multiracial” thanks to Trump, but that overstates recent developments, at least going by the exit polls:

The 54% share of Americans with household incomes exceeding $100,000 that supported Trump in 2020 was the same as that which supported Romney in [2012]. The proportion of Americans with incomes below $50,000 who supported Trump (42%) was only slightly greater than that which supported Romney (38%), while the share of the electorate in that lower-income group fell from 41% to 35%. Trump’s 49% share of voters without a college education was only a touch more than the 47% that supported Romney.

The conventional wisdom is also mistaken on race. Trump’s 57% level of support among white voters in 2020 was lower than the 59% share Romney received. With Obama and his legacy off the ballot, the GOP share of black voters surged from 6% in 2012 to 12% in 2020, while that among Hispanics ticked up from 27% to 32%. Due to the fact that white voters make up a larger share of the electorate, the net impact of these shifts roughly cancelled out. Nor has Trump done much to inflate the gender gap. In fact, the difference between Trump’s 2020 share of male and female voters (49% to 43%) was smaller than that for Romney in 2012 (52% to 44%).

Combining Pope’s observations about the Trump coalition with Trende’s conjectures about how a standard Republican might have fared in 2016, one might ask: Is an “Electoral College hack” all we can hope for? It’s more than John McCain or Mitt Romney had, obviously, but it’s not exactly a satisfying way to win.

 Given shifting national demographics, the Trump coalition at minimum feels awfully tenuous. To win going forward with the Trump approach, we’ll need to push the modest progress Trump made among minorities and the working class further, ideally while regaining support among the groups he sacrificed.

And to win another way, we’d need to, uh, figure out another way.

  1. What to make of the fact that GOP Senate candidates ran ahead of Trump in both 2016 and 2020?

As John McCormack pointed out four years ago,

In almost every state with a competitive Senate or presidential race, the Republican Senate candidate ran ahead of Trump — sometimes by a wide margin — regardless of whether or not the candidate stood by Trump. . . . There aren’t any Senate races in which GOP candidates rejected Trump and performed worse than him, but there are examples of Republican candidates who rejected Trump and did much better than him.

The same thing happened this year. As Aaron Blake of the Washington Post noted the day after the election, “Nine competitive Senate races were held in states that were also in play at the presidential level. In seven of them, Trump is running behind the GOP Senate candidate’s margin. He even ran behind challengers to incumbent Democrats in two key states.”

So perhaps the normal Republican approach isn’t so dead after all?

  1. How much of all this was about Trump himself, and how much is it about the people he was up against?

As Trende notes, Trump explicitly and deliberately appealed to the white working class. But his opponents also played a role in his coalition-building. Hillary Clinton was a weak candidate who ran her campaign poorly. And while Joe Biden presented himself as a moderate, many believe he was dragged down among minority groups, Hispanics in particular, by his fellow Democrats’ cries of “socialism” and “defund the police.” (Hopefully we’ll have better polling data on these issues soon.)

Trende has forgotten more about the nitty-gritty of election data than I could ever hope to learn, and we were colleagues a few years back, when I ran the policy vertical over at RealClear. But between the GOP’s Senate performances and the weaknesses of Trump’s opponents, I’m not entirely convinced that these factors couldn’t have propelled a different Republican to victory.


On a more pessimistic note, future Republican candidates can’t necessarily count on future Democrats to screw up so badly.

  1. To the extent this is about Trump, to what degree is it about his policies as opposed to his celebrity and rhetoric?

If “Trumpism” is the solution, what is Trumpism exactly?

The Donald came into the 2016 race with sky-high name recognition thanks to decades in the media spotlight, first as a real-estate mogul and then as a reality-TV star. He masterfully exploited the media’s hunger for ratings and clicks, letting loose a steady stream of ridiculous and offensive comments that the networks and newspapers ate up. I don’t want any future Republican candidate to follow in those footsteps, but I can’t say it didn’t work.

I’d ask what Ted Nugent is up to these days, but I probably shouldn’t even joke about that.

Trump’s actual policies, meanwhile, were somewhere in between the populism he proclaimed and the standard Republican platform. Immigration and trade restrictions, yes, but also tax cuts, deregulation, a business-friendly labor board, and three solid originalist Supreme Court picks.

As I’ve put it in the past, Trump nailed down the GOP base by adopting the usual positions on “dealbreaker” issues such as guns and abortion, but beyond that took license to appeal to other constituencies with unorthodox positions: trade restrictions for the Rust Belt, Social Security for seniors, etc. This is probably fertile ground for a future candidate.

  1. How does Trump plan to occupy himself these next four years?

As you may have noticed, to this point I’ve taken little note of the diarrhea storm raining down on us at present. Trump seems unwilling to admit his clear loss and is filling the courts with embarrassingly weak legal challenges.

He’s not going to ride off into the sunset, his orange hair waving in the breeze. He could start a TV network, try to make himself a kingmaker in GOP politics in the coming years, or even run again in 2024. If he’s successful at any of those things, Trumpism will continue to have force even if another strategy could work just as well politically.

About half of Republicans think the election was stolen, so this strategy hasn’t backfired, at least not yet.

Friday, 27 November 2020

Biker dog Bogie thrills fans as he cruises Philippine highways


IMUS, Philippines (Reuters) - With his black sports jacket, reflective aviator sunglasses and bespoke orange helmet with holes so his ears can stick out, Bogie the dog sure is one suave-looking canine, with an Easy Rider look that would earn him a place in any motorcycle gang.

The 11-year-old crossbreed from the Philippines takes daily motorcycle rides with his owner Gilbert Delos Reyes, balanced perfectly with his hind legs on the edge of the seat and paws straddling the handlebars. Bogie has become a neighbourhood celebrity and is a magnet for attention on mountain and beach road trips.

“The first thing I taught him when he was around four months old was how to ride a motorcycle. I would carry him whenever I rode,” said Reyes, who owns a motorcycle shop in Cavite province outside the capital Manila.

“One day, he just started following me every time I left the house. As soon as I started the engine, he would get excited and jump on the bike.”

Bogie is also good for business, helping to lure customers eager to take pictures with him to Reyes’ shop, and doling out pawshakes as well.

He has even proven himself useful as a guard dog, once chasing after thieves who tried to steal his owner’s gold necklace at an intersection.

Reyes purchased Bogie when he was just a month old for 100 pesos ($2), but says the dog has been a lucky charm, and is priceless.

“I think of Bogie as a son. He’s been with me for 11 years and is a big part of my life,” said Reyes.

“We’ve had so many adventures and been to many places together, I don’t think I can ever replace him.”


Writing by Martin Petty; Editing by Karishma Singh

Thursday, 26 November 2020

The 1620 Project

 By Cameron Hilditch

November 26, 2020 6:30 AM 

 The Pilgrims Signing the Compact, on board the Mayflower, Nov. 11th, 1620, engraving by Gauthier (Library of Congress)  

A tale of, and a tribute to, those who planted the seeds of American liberty 

On November 11, 1620, the Mayflower arrived on the eastern coast of North America. She had weathered the slings and arrows of maritime misfortune for almost ten weeks at that point, but the passengers thought the discomfort of crossing a small price to pay for passage to the Promised Land. After all, these were radical Protestants, and to them a land undefiled by any previous association with the Catholic Church was more to be desired than Canaan itself, with all its rivers of milk and honey.

And so the settlers settled and gave thanks with the natives and worked and lived and died. Though centuries have passed since the last Mayflower pilgrim was entrusted to the earth in a makeshift Massachusetts cemetery, the symbolic freight of the ship and its voyage has only grown. It’s safe to say no other passage from the Old World to the New — with the possible exception of the Titanic — is likely to be commemorated in a column such as this one 400 years later.

There’s good reason for the Mayflower’s staying power in the American psyche, but it may not be immediately obvious. It wasn’t the first ship to alight in the New World (we have Columbus Day to remind us of that). Nor was it the first ship to carry English passengers to America: Virginia had been granted a royal charter and settled decades earlier. The Mayflower pilgrims have no claim to uncharted waters or undiscovered countries. Their pathbreaking endeavor wasn’t geographic at all. It was political and, more specifically, constitutional.

The ship had set out for Virginia but ended up landing on Cape Cod instead, which was beyond the legal domain of the Virginia Company. To head off lawlessness and anarchy, the passengers and crew of the ship quickly came together to draft and undersign the Mayflower Compact, which functioned as a governing document for the community. Its purpose was to establish “a civil body politic,” in order to make “just and equal laws, ordinances, acts, constitutions and offices” for the new colony.

This compact, more than anything else, is what cemented the place of the Mayflower pilgrims in the annals of American folklore. Other settlers had been governed by written charters before, but those had always been granted by a king or a queen across the water. The Mayflower Compact, by way of contrast, was a written constitution framed by the people and for the people. The temptation to view the document as an historical overture, sounding notes and themes that would be played again in the old courthouse in Philadelphia, was irresistible for latter-day Americans looking back on it from a post-Revolutionary perspective.

After the Constitution was ratified in 1787, the Mayflower Compact came to be understood as a kind of colonial prototype for our current governing document. Similar to the first Christians, who interpreted prophets like Moses and Jonah as prefigurements of Christ, Americans have traditionally read the Mayflower Compact as a document that presages the full flowering of American liberty.

 John Quincy Adams called it the “first example in modern times of a social compact or system of government instituted by voluntary agreement conformable to the laws of nature, by men of equal rights and about to establish their community in a new country.”

Later in the 19th century, historian George Bancroft claimed that in “the cabin of the Mayflower . . . humanity recovered its rights, and instituted government on the basis of ‘equal laws’ for ‘the general good.’”

But perhaps the most salient expression of Mayflower mythology came from Calvin Coolidge, who spoke at the 300th anniversary ceremony a century ago:

The compact which they signed was an event of the greatest importance. It was the foundation of liberty based on law and order, and that tradition has been steadily upheld. They drew up a form of government which has been designated as the first real constitution of modern times.

The Mayflower Compact has endured in our national memory for so long because it inaugurated a project on these shores that we’re still engaged in today: the project of free government under a written constitution.

Until the American Revolution, most free countries in the world preferred an unwritten constitution of customs and norms established over time. This model allowed almost all matters of public concern to be hammered out by the rough-and-tumble process of electoral politics. The British constitution still functions this way today. The Founding Fathers, however, established a government framed by a written constitution. A supreme law exists in this land, around 7,200 words long, that governs and restricts the actions of civil magistrates.

In his brilliant book on the subject, Greg Weiner called the American constitution “Madison’s metronome.” It was written and ratified to regulate the convulsive political passions of the early republic and channel them into sustainable and productive thoroughfares that would steady the more erratic political rhythms of the Union. In this respect, it served as a more refined and civilized successor to the Mayflower Compact of the previous century.

The Mayflower pilgrims confronted more elemental threats than the framers of the Constitution: Starvation, exposure, disease, and the animal enmity these things bring out in people were the chief obstacles to their continued survival. Still, faithfulness to their governing covenant saw the pilgrims through these threats and helped them to keep the political beat of ordered liberty throughout the riotous years of early colonial life. It provided a prototypical structure and rhythm for liberty in America, saving it from an early death in the Hobbesian wilderness of the New World. The traditions of self-government inaugurated in the Mayflower Compact serve to remind us that freedom and form make happy bedfellows and that we owe the fruit of their union in the shape of our Constitution to the brave men and women of ages past.



 Mayflower II



Wednesday, 25 November 2020

Barriers to police investigations into widespread financial crime unveiled

NOVEMBER 24, 2020, by University of Portsmouth

Credit: CC0 Public Domain

A majority of police detectives in England and Wales investigating financial crime do not have sufficient knowledge to build a successful case.

That's the finding of new research from the Institute of Criminal Justice Studies at the University of Portsmouth, looking into why results of such investigations vary so widely, especially when the crimes account for half of all criminal activity in the UK.

The report, published today in Policing: A Journal of Policy and Practice, finds that only 40 per cent of investigators understood the process by which fraud is reported. A third of those questioned said they had not received proper training in how to investigate financial crime. There was also a poor perception of fraud and the impact on victims amongst those questioned.

Researchers found that in many cases investigators had a negative view of their work, and did not have the time, training or determination. Financial crime is perceived to be notoriously challenging to investigate. Investigations into less prolific, but higher profile and headline grabbing crimes are known to get better results. Their report builds a picture of why investigations into financial crimes are largely unsuccessful, and it makes a series of recommendations to improve outcomes.

Lead author Paul Gilmour, Lecturer of Criminal Justice and Policing, Institute of Criminal Justice Studies, University of Portsmouth, said: "The police service in England and Wales has been subject of much criticism in the past two decades over the response to financial crime. Many studies have reported failures in how the police investigate and prosecute financial crime, which have led to many victims being dissatisfied with the service provided by police. Despite this, there has been little research into the barriers facing police investigators entrusted with tackling financial crime."

A recent study by Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS) concluded that the policing response to fraud is ineffective, with victims of fraud often left dissatisfied with the quality of the police's investigation into fraud. Less than three per cent of fraud reported to police between 2017 and 2018 led to any type of positive outcome, such as a charge, summons, caution, or community service. These statistics are especially disappointing considering that fraud and related computer crimes accounted for almost half of all crime in England and Wales in the year ending December 2019 (Office for National Statistics, 2020).

Paul Gilmour said: "Our article reports on a study into such barriers, through surveys and interviews with investigators that aimed to better understand the challenges faced by police forces within England and Wales. It demonstrates several overriding practical and cultural issues that inhibit the success of investigations. The article concludes that police need a better appreciation of financial crime, to help improve the service delivered to victims and to prioritize this often undervalued field of policing."

The report found that financial crimes need to be prioritized, with all sectors of the police service needing to understand that they have an important role to play in the success of an investigation. Researchers also recognized that resources dedicated to fighting financial crime have struggled to compete with other policing priorities. It suggests improved training will allow investigators to better judge and, therefore, prioritize those cases that warrant further investigation.

A summary of the findings and recommendations can be found below:

The findings showed a common theme:

The police's lack of knowledge around relevant legislation and investigative procedures emerged as a key theme in the research. Only 40 per cent of all respondents reported understanding the processes through which frauds are reported to the police, and half of all respondents did not understand the role of Action Fraud.

Many respondents reported a lack of training as a barrier. A total of 29 per cent of respondents reported having received no training related to investigating financial crime. Almost 40 per cent of all surveyed stated that the only training received relating to financial crime was during their initial police recruitment. In nearly 40 per cent of respondents, all investigative training delivered had been via online e-learning packages.

There was also a poor perception of fraud and also victims of fraud. Given the lack of training and knowledge around financial crimes, many respondents reported being fearful of conducting investigations into such crimes. The perception of fraud was overwhelmingly negative. Many respondents reported that fraud was not a priority. One respondent said: "Fraud has never interested me, but that said, it does not seem to interest many people; and as a result, it is definitely a poor relation when it comes to criminal investigation." The perceived lack of support from fraud victims was also reported as being a barrier. One said: "Many victims have a completely unrealistic attitude towards what we can achieve."
Many respondents also reported that inadequate available resources hinder their ability to respond to financial crimes.

Report recommendations:
Greater training is needed in this field to enhance investigators' ability to tackle financial crime. Further initial training and ongoing development will, not only, strengthen the police's competence in tackling financial crime, but also, improve the police workforce's resilience in meeting growing operational demands.
Better training will also improve how this area of policing is perceived. Victims of fraud and other financial crimes need the full support of the police, especially considering the increasing volume of frauds reported to police each year.

Recommend this post and follow The Coconut Whisperer

Tuesday, 24 November 2020

Mysterious monolith found in remote part of Utah fuels speculation on how it got there


Mysterious monolith found in remote part of Utah fuels speculation on how it got there

A mysterious monolith, which is believed to be some kind of metal, was discovered in the remote parts of Utah on Wednesday, fueling speculation on what the object was or how it got there, according to reports.

The structure, estimated at between 10 feet and 12 feet high, was found by state wildlife employees counting sheep from a helicopter. 

Utah’s highway patrol shared a picture of the finding on Instagram, along with the caption: "Counting big horn sheep with DWR this week. During the counts we came across this, in the middle of nowhere, buried deep in the rock. Inquiring minds want to know, what the heck is it? Anyone?"

Bret Hutchings, the helicopter pilot, said it was "about the strangest thing that I’ve come across out there in all my years of flying," according to Salt Lake City's KSL-TV.

Users on social media were quick to speculate what the object was.  

"It’s the on-off button for the planet," one user wrote. 

"I love this. I imagine it’s an art piece, but what if it isn’t..." another replied.