Italy's new prime minister Giorgia Meloni explains why so many people are afraid of her victory. American newspapers categorize her as "far-right", but Italian newspapers call her "center-right". Let's see what she does.


This is quality.

kyle_beckly_abc7_oil_and_gas_workers_09-07-2022.jpg

As John Hinderaker helpfully explains, The "Green Revolution" Is Impossible due to constraints on input materials (among other reasons). Courtesy of Professor Simon Michaux:

The quantity of metal required to make just one generation of renewable tech units to replace fossil fuels, is much larger than first thought. Current mining production of these metals is not even close to meeting demand. Current reported mineral reserves are also not enough in size. Most concerning is copper as one of the flagged shortfalls.

green energy material requirements.jpg

All this posturing is about control, not the environment or the earth. The long-term future of energy is space-based solar and nuclear.

(HT: Ed Driscoll at Instapundit.)


Louise Perry writes that she was betrayed by the lies of the sexual revolution. As a father of daughters this is heartbreaking to read.

It's precisely because I'm a feminist that I've changed my mind on sexual liberalism. It's an ideology premised on the false belief that the physical and psychological differences between men and women are trivial, and that any restrictions placed on sexual behavior must therefore have been motivated by malice, stupidity or ignorance.

The problem is the differences aren't trivial. Sexual asymmetry is profoundly important: One half of the population is smaller and weaker than the other half, making it much more vulnerable to violence. This half of the population also carries all of the risks associated with pregnancy. It is also much less interested in enjoying all of the delights now on offer in the post-sexual revolution era. ...

The new sexual culture isn't so much about the liberation of women, as so many feminists would have us believe, but the adaptation of women to the expectations of a familiar character: Don Juan, Casanova, or, more recently, Hugh Hefner.

It's almost as if our ancestors were wiser than we realized.


Self-identified liberals outnumber conservatives among Harvard faculty by 82-1.

More than 80 percent of Harvard faculty respondents characterized their political leanings as "liberal" or "very liberal," according to The Crimson's annual survey of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences in April.

A little over 37 percent of faculty respondents identified as "very liberal"-- a nearly 8 percent jump from last year. Only 1 percent of respondents stated they are "conservative," and no respondents identified as "very conservative."

Academics usually explain this uniformity by asserting that liberals are smarter than conservatives and thus better suited for faculty positions in higher education -- particularly in self-identified elite universities. This explanation is relatively simple to assess by considering whether or not these same academics would entertain a similar explanation for a lack of sex or racial diversity in other institutions, such as corporate leadership or government. If one were to claim that "there are more male CEOs because men are smarter than women" that claim would be rightly dismissed.

(HT: Campus Reform and Instapundit.)

Ross Douthat says that this fact is the heart of the abortion issue, and I agree. Our tolerance, acceptance, and promotion of at-will abortion is a shame and humiliation for our generation and civilization. Our descendants will look back on this era with horror and disgust, much like we view slavery and the Holocaust. They will ask, how could any people kill a million of their own children every year? How did they talk themselves into accepting the slaughter of the weakest and most vulnerable among them? How did they dehumanize the unborn, to be exterminated like insect infestations?

As is often the case, the solution to abortion -- and the general mistreatment of children and other vulnerable people -- won't be found in laws or courts. The solution is for each of us to honor the divine spark in each other. To recognize that we are each made in God's image, and each uniquely valuable because of that likeness.

Deuteronomy 27:19 -- 'Cursed be anyone who perverts the justice due to the sojourner, the fatherless, and the widow.' And all the people shall say, 'Amen.'

Exodus 22:22 -- You shall not mistreat any widow or fatherless child. If you do mistreat them, and they cry out to me, I will surely hear their cry.

Psalm 68:5 -- Father of the fatherless and protector of widows is God in his holy habitation.

Many people I talk to are eager for "prices to get back to normal", but that's not how inflation works. Medora Lee does a good job reminding us of that.

When talking about inflation, it's important to remember that inflation is a rate that measures how fast prices are rising. If the consumer inflation rate drops from its 40-year high of 8.6% in May, prices are still rising - just not as fast.

Consumers won't feel immediate relief even as the inflation rate slows because many of those elevated prices are likely here to stay, said Michael Ashton, managing principal at Enduring Investments in Morristown, NJ.

"The price level has permanently changed," said Ashton. "Until your wages catch up (to inflation), it will continue to hurt."

Even when inflation returns to target 2% levels, prices won't return to "normal" 2019 levels. Prices will continue to grow, but at a slower and more predictable rate.

"Once core prices go up, generally they don't come down," Roussanov said. "In the last 40 to 50 years, we've never seen deflation in core goods. Most durable goods and services don't really come down in price."

And deflation is more dangerous than inflation because it can lead to a total economic collapse. When people believe that their money will buy more in a year than it will now, they stop consuming and just wait.

Additionally, modest, predictable inflation is seen as a sign of a growing economy. It incentivizes people to spend money now rather than waiting, allows wages to increase either in line or above inflation to boost the standard of living and makes it easier for businesses to plan, according to the Federal Reserve and IMF.


Bank runs are bad. They're bad enough to bring down governments. There's been a slow-motion bank run in rural China for several months, and people are starting to get concerned that the "contagion" could spread.

In the anatomy of an economic crisis, a bank run is the point of no return.

Bank runs occur when people scramble to withdraw cash from banks in fear of collapse. In the worst cases, banks' liquid cash reserves are exhausted, not everyone gets their money and the bank defaults. ...

In recent years it has become clear the Chinese people are losing faith in their financial institutions. There's been anger over harsh COVID lockdowns in Shanghai recently, while the collapse of China Evergrande saw rare public demonstrations as residents faced the prospect of losing their life savings used as deposits for housing. ...

Multiple sources contacted by Asia Markets, have confirmed deposits at the following six banks have been frozen since mid-April.

  • Yuzhou Xinminsheng Village Bank (located in Xuchang City, Henan Province)
  • Zhecheng Huanghuai Bank (City of Shangqui, Henan Province)
  • Shangcai Huimin Rural Bank (Zhumadian City, Henan Province)
  • New Oriental Village Bank (City of Kaifeng, Henan Province)
  • Huaihe River Village Bank (Bengbu City, Anhui Province)
  • Yixian County Village Bank (Huangshan City, Anhui Province)

It's understood the banks with branches across the Henan and Anhui Provinces successively issued announcements in April, stating they would suspend online banking and mobile banking services due to a system upgrade.

At the same time, clients reported their electronic deposits in online accounts, mobile apps and third-party platforms could not be withdrawn.

This led to depositors rushing to local bank branches, only to be told they were unable to withdraw funds.

It looks like the bank failures are due to fraud and corruption -- bank managers simply stole the money. Hopefully this corruption isn't widespread and the problem can be contained.


In this new era of stagflation it's important to remember that inflation is caused by expectations as much as by reality. If people and companies expect prices to go up, they'll start charging more for their products and services -- which is inflation. Inflation will only abate when expectations change.

So when we see a chart like this one it's not only that President Biden's policies created inflationary conditions, his policies also created the self-fulfilling expectation of inflation.

biden inflation.jpg

Presidents Obama and Trump spent boatloads of borrowed money and ran up the deficit, but something about President Biden (and, of course, the global environment) really spooked people.


It's a complete mystery why anyone would bribe Hunter Biden. Maybe it's because of his artistic talent.

But how about the question of how this investigation, and Hunter's underlying conduct, relate to President Biden himself? To read the Times and the WaPo, you would think that that whole question is somehow out of line. The Times's piece doesn't even discuss Joe's role or involvement, although it does include this bizarre line:
It is not clear whether the criminal probe is focused solely on Hunter Biden, or if he is among a group of individuals and companies being scrutinized.

As if anyone, let alone China or Burisma, would pay Hunter Biden millions of dollars without an expectation that it would influence his father. Over in the WaPo, in the context of paragraphs relating to Hunter's dealings with Chinese government-controlled energy company CEFC, we have this:

The Post did not find evidence that Joe Biden personally benefited from or knew details about the transactions with CEFC. . . .

The funny thing is that outside the sole exception of the Biden family, large payments to the children of powerful government officials by those with interests potentially affected by those officials' actions are universally understood to be corrupt efforts to influence the officials. In cases involving people other than the Bidens, whether the official/parent "personally benefited" from the payments or "knew details" of the transactions are considered completely irrelevant.

I guess we'll never know.


What else needs to be said? Russia's U.N. Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia gets straight to the point. When there is no fear of God, everything is permitted.

President Eisenhower famously warned America about the risk of the military-industrial complex, but he also foresaw the risk that public policy would be captured by a scientific-technological elite.

Today, the solitary inventor, tinkering in his shop, has been over shadowed by task forces of scientists in laboratories and testing fields. In the same fashion, the free university, historically the fountainhead of free ideas and scientific discovery, has experienced a revolution in the conduct of research. Partly because of the huge costs involved, a government contract becomes virtually a substitute for intellectual curiosity. For every old blackboard there are now hundreds of new electronic computers.

The prospect of domination of the nation's scholars by Federal employment, project allocations, and the power of money is ever present and is gravely to be regarded.

Yet, in holding scientific research and discovery in respect, as we should, we must also be alert to the equal and opposite danger that public policy could itself become the captive of a scientific-technological elite.

(HT: American Experiment and Victory Girls.)


I'm a big supporter of public education -- I went to public school and university for my entire education. Despite my libertarian leanings, I think taxpayer-funded, locally-directed public education can be a very valuable governmental function. However, I'm not a fan of the grift and graft that engulfs public education, for example the money laundering between teachers' unions and the Democrat party. I'm also not fond of the ideological indoctrination that many of the grifters seek to impose on American children, without the consent of the parents.

So I think it's great that the "get woke, go broke" trend is finally hitting the public education grift infrastructure.

Seventeen NSBA affiliates have cut ties with the NSBA over their coordination with the White House and Department of Justice in casting parental complaints over curricula "domestic terrorism." And as Axios reports, they're taking their checkbooks with them -- accounting for a 40% loss in revenue at the NSBA:
The National School Boards Association has since apologized, but the fallout could be seven figures in annual funding. At least 17 state affiliates have severed ties with the group -- and some are even considering establishing a competitor.

The 17 state affiliates accounted for more than 40% of annual dues paid to NSBA by its state association members in 2019, according to Axios' analysis of documents detailing those contributions.

Officials fear upheaval at the organization -- the nation's leading trade group representing U.S. public schools -- will handicap it just as national debates over school curricula and COVID-19 mitigation measures dominate the political conversation.

Good.

This is fantastic news that will hopefully turn into a treatment for people with spinal cord injuries and other nerve injuries.

A self-assembling gel injected at the site of spinal cord injuries in paralysed mice has enabled them to walk again after four weeks.

The gel mimics the matrix that is normally found around cells, providing a scaffold that helps cells to grow. It also provides signals that stimulate nerve regeneration.

Samuel Stupp at Northwestern University in Chicago and his colleagues created a material made of protein units, called monomers, that self-assemble into long chains, called supramolecular fibrils, in water.

When they were injected into the spinal cords of mice that were paralysed in the hind legs, these fibrils formed a gel at the injury site.

The researchers injected 76 paralysed mice with either the fibrils or a sham treatment made of salt solution, a day after the initial injury. They found that the gel enabled paralysed mice to walk by four weeks after the injection, whereas mice given the placebo didn't regain the ability to walk.

The team found that the gel helped regenerate the severed ends of neurons and reduced the amount of scar tissue at the injury site, which usually forms a barrier to regeneration. The gel also enhanced blood vessel growth, which provided more nutrients to the spinal cord cells.


Why did Willie Sutton rob banks? "Because that's where the money is."

Why does the government want to tax your IRA and ROTH retirement savings? Because that's where the money is.

When the income tax first went into effect in 1915, the top rate was a mere 7% and fell only on those making $500,000 a year or more -- that's $13.5 million in today's dollars. The vast majority of Americans paid the lowest 1% rate.

Today, the federal income tax ranges from 10%-37% and that's on top of all the FICA withholding. Today's top rate -- more than five times higher than it was in 1915 -- falls on those making about $500,000.

Which means top rate-payers are paying 5.5 more income tax on about one-thirtieth of the income.

The lowest rate-payers are paying 10 times more on about the same fraction -- and that still doesn't count FICA deductions, which hit the poorest the hardest.

The income tax was sold by early 20th Century progressives as a way to sock it to the rich, but progressives made sure it become a way to sock it to everybody.

You can bet your bottom dollar -- if Congress doesn't confiscate that, too -- that today's "Billionaire Income Tax" is tomorrow's "Tax Your Middle Class Retirement Accounts Before You Even Retire."

Our government is too big, too unaccountable, too incompetent, and entirely dedicated to growing its own power. Anything that can't go on forever, won't.


I recently wrote that Facebook should be regulated like a utility, but maybe social media is more like an addictive, harmful drug than a utility. The companies that push social media on us are like drug dealers. Given my libertarian sympathies, adults should generally be free to use the drugs they want, but society should regulate promotion and distribution of the substance and protect children from being preyed upon by the dealers.

The real problem with Facebook's behavior is the revelation of its rampant institutional lying. In the XCheck story, we learned that after Facebook spent more than $130 million to create an Independent Oversight Board to oversee its content-moderation decisions, Facebook executives routinely lied to that board. Facebook told the Oversight Board that XCheck was only used in "a small number of decisions," even though the program had grown to include 5.8 million users in 2020.

"We're not actually doing what we say we do publicly," and the company's actions constitute a "breach of trust," reads a confidential internal review done by Facebook.
We also learned -- shockingly -- that the CEO and COO of the trillion-dollar behemoth are regularly involved in decisions of what posts to remove when such posts are made by certain people who are exempted from Facebook's community guidelines and content-moderation procedures. This is all while Facebook asserted that it applied the same standards to everyone.

Apparently, XCheck was created to mitigate "p.r. fires" or negative media attentions when Facebook takes the wrong action against a high-profile VIP. Even worse than the existence of the XCheck program was Facebook's dishonesty about it, reflecting the state of mind of a company that knew it was doing something wrong -- and still did it anyway.

These revelations strengthen the case that Facebook likely serves increasingly as the censorship arm of the US government, just as it does for other governments around the world.

That last sentence gets to the heart of the matter, and explains why collective action against social media dealers has been so slow: the elite class wants to control our speech, and is happy to use social media dealers to do it.

Facebook is soma.

What is soma in Brave New World by Aldous Huxley? In the context of the novel, soma is a recreational drug that several of the main characters take throughout the story. The government in Brave New World strongly encourages individuals to take soma as a way to increase the happiness and complacency of the population. Soma can be taken as a pill or as a powder and can also be released as an aerosol. It is freely available to everyone in the novel. Its inclusion in the text is central to the novel's themes of complacency and resistance in society as well as the theme of escapism.


This is extremely disturbing. Two days ago Bob Woodward claimed in his new book that General Mark Milley, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, pledged to warn China in advance if then-President Trump ordered any attacks on Chinese interests. Many people found this claim difficult to believe, including myself.

This report claims Milley pledged to alert his CCP counterpart in the event of a U.S. attack, quoting Milley as saying: "General Li, you & I have known each other for now five years. If we're going to attack, I'm going to call you ahead of time. It's not going to be a surprise."

"In a pair of secret phone calls, Gen. Mark A. Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, assured his Chinese counterpart, Gen. Li Zuocheng of the PLA, that the U.S. would not strike, according to a new book by Bob Woodward & Robert Costa."

Yesterday Milley issued a statement that doesn't deny the substance of the allegation.

NEW statement from Milley spokesman Col. Dave Butler:

"The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs regularly communicates with Chiefs of Defense across the world, including with China and Russia..."

"...These conversations remain vital to improving mutual understanding of U.S. national security interests, reducing tensions, providing clarity and avoiding unintended consequences or conflict..."

"...His calls with the Chinese and others in October and January were in keeping with these duties and responsibilities conveying reassurance in order to maintain strategic stability..."

"...All calls from the Chairman to his counterparts, including those reported, are staffed, coordinated and communicated with the Department of Defense and the interagency..."

"...Also in keeping with his responsibilities as senior military advisor to the President and Secretary of Defense, General Milley frequently conducts meetings with uniformed leaders across the Services to ensure all leaders are aware of current issues..."

"...The meeting regarding nuclear weapons protocols was to remind uniformed leaders in the Pentagon of the long-established and robust procedures in light of media reporting on the subject..."

"...General Milley continues to act and advise within his authority in the lawful tradition of civilian control of the military and his oath to the Constitution."

Nowhere in his statement does Milley deny bypassing the elected civilian leadership of the country to offer assurances to China.

Update:

Fox News reports that Milley's calls were coordinated with the Trump's Secretary of Defense.

But Fox News spoke with multiple individuals who were in the room during the two phone calls Milley had with Li. The calls, in October, were coordinated with then-Defense Secretary Mark Esper's office.

"They were not secret," a U.S. official told Fox News about the calls, which took place over video teleconference.

Fox News has learned there were about 15 people present for the calls. Sources told Fox News that there were multiple notetakers present, and said the calls were both conducted with full knowledge of then-Defense Secretary Mark Esper and then-acting Defense Secretary Chris Miller - something Miller denied.

But Miller says:

Former acting Secretary of Defense Christopher Miller, who led the Pentagon from the period after the 2020 election through Inauguration Day, said that he "did not and would not ever authorize" Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley to have "secret" calls with his Chinese counterpart, describing the allegations as a "disgraceful and unprecedented act of insubordination," and calling on him to resign "immediately."

I think we need to hear from Mark Esper.


It's hard to know where to start with this. Internal Facebook documents confirm that the company "whitelists" powerful establishment people and permits them to post anything on the platform without censorship, while "normal" users are monitored, censored, and punished for "unacceptable" speech. This is possibly the most unAmerican business practice I can think of. Special speech rights for powerful, famous, rich people, and limited speech rights for everyone else. Disgusting and shameful.

The program, known as "cross check" or "XCheck," was initially intended as a quality-control measure for actions taken against high-profile accounts, including celebrities, politicians and journalists. Today, it shields millions of VIP users from the company's normal enforcement process, the documents show. Some users are "whitelisted"--rendered immune from enforcement actions--while others are allowed to post rule-violating material pending Facebook employee reviews that often never come. [...]

For ordinary users, Facebook dispenses a kind of rough justice in assessing whether posts meet the company's rules against bullying, sexual content, hate speech and incitement to violence. Sometimes the company's automated systems summarily delete or bury content suspected of rule violations without a human review. At other times, material flagged by those systems or by users is assessed by content moderators employed by outside companies.

Regardless of its profitability, Facebook is a national disgrace.

The company agonizes to an absurd degree over how its services are used and by whom -- an agony that telephone, electric, water, and trash-collection companies seem to manage just fine without.

Facebook's stated ambition has long been to connect people. As it expanded over the past 17 years, from Harvard undergraduates to billions of global users, it struggled with the messy reality of bringing together disparate voices with different motivations--from people wishing each other happy birthday to Mexican drug cartels conducting business on the platform. Those problems increasingly consume the company.

Time and again, the documents show, in the U.S. and overseas, Facebook's own researchers have identified the platform's ill effects, in areas including teen mental health, political discourse and human trafficking. Time and again, despite congressional hearings, its own pledges and numerous media exposés, the company didn't fix them.

Obviously all good people are united against drug cartels, teen depression and anxiety, and human trafficking -- but Facebook is no more an enabler of these ills than are the electric or telephone companies. In their absurd compulsion to lock out bad users, Facebook is shamefully restricting the free speech rights of all people everywhere in the world.

Human civilization needs to change how we see social media and internet communication more broadly -- it's a utility that should be required to serve all comers. We shouldn't burden these services with the moral responsibility to discriminate between good and evil, and the services shouldn't take that responsibility on themselves. Leave that burden to the People and their elected representatives, as protected by the Constitution and our God-given rights and dignity.


The Intercept reports that the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease, led by Anthony Fauci, funded gain-of-function research carried out at the Wuhan Institute of Virology in China, the likely source of COVID-19.

The bat coronavirus grant provided EcoHealth Alliance with a total of $3.1 million, including $599,000 that the Wuhan Institute of Virology used in part to identify and alter bat coronaviruses likely to infect humans. Even before the pandemic, many scientists were concerned about the potential dangers associated with such experiments. The grant proposal acknowledges some of those dangers: "Fieldwork involves the highest risk of exposure to SARS or other CoVs, while working in caves with high bat density overhead and the potential for fecal dust to be inhaled."

Alina Chan, a molecular biologist at the Broad Institute, said the documents show that EcoHealth Alliance has reason to take the lab-leak theory seriously. "In this proposal, they actually point out that they know how risky this work is. They keep talking about people potentially getting bitten -- and they kept records of everyone who got bitten," Chan said. "Does EcoHealth have those records? And if not, how can they possibly rule out a research-related accident?"

In July Senator Rand Paul asked Fauci about US-funded gain-of-function research and Fauci denied that the research in question qualifies as "gain-of-function".

FAUCI: "Senator Paul, I have never lied before the Congress and I do not retract that statement. This paper that you're referring to was judged by qualified staff up and down the chain as not being gain of function. What was -- "

PAUL: "So you -- "

FAUCI: "Let me finish!"

PAUL: "So you take an animal virus and you increase the transmissibility to humans, you're saying that's not gain of function?"

FAUCI: "Yeah, that is correct. And Senator Paul, you do not know what you're talking about, quite frankly. And I want to say that officially. You do not know what you are talking about. Okay, you get one person -- "

PAUL: "The NIH -- "

FAUCI: "Can I answer?"

PAUL: "This is your definition that you guys wrote. It says that scientific research that increases the transmissibility among mammals is gain of function. They took animal viruses that only occur in animals and they increase their transmissibility to humans. How you can say that is not gain of function -- "

FAUCI: "It is not."

PAUL: "It's a dance and you're dancing around this, because you're trying to obscure responsibility for 4 million people dying around the world from a pandemic."

So Fauci thinks he can parse the terminology in a way that excludes the work he funded from being "gain-of-function", regardless of the plainest, most obvious reading of the definition. Fauci says that Paul isn't qualified to interpret what he has read and heard.

But experienced researchers say that the work described in these newly released grant applications is definitely "gain-of-function", even by the most hair-splitting definition. Rutgers University molecular biologist Richard Ebright writes:

The materials show that the 2014 and 2019 NIH grants to EcoHealth with subcontracts to WIV funded gain-of-function research as defined in federal policies in effect in 2014-2017 and potential pandemic pathogen enhancement as defined in federal policies in effect in 2017-present.

(This had been evident previously from published research papers that credited the 2014 grant and from the publicly available summary of the 2019 grant. But this now can be stated definitively from progress reports of the 2014 grant and the full proposal of the 2017 grant.)

The materials confirm the grants supported the construction--in Wuhan--of novel chimeric SARS-related coronaviruses that combined a spike gene from one coronavirus with genetic information from another coronavirus, and confirmed the resulting viruses could infect human cells.

It's not surprising that few people seem very interested in positively identifying the source of COVID-19. Our experts seem to have a conflict-of-interest.


How can this possibly be true?

The American Chargé d'Affaires Ross Wilson (formerly Ambassador, but hey, we don't have an embassy in Afghanistan anymore) says that Americans are not being denied entry to HKIA.

We pray for peace and safety in Afghanistan, and that everyone who wants to leave is able to.

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