Monthly Archives: March 2022

The End of Arizona’s Coronavirus Pandemic Experience

Arizona's coronavirus pandemic experience is nearing its end has come to an end.

The first sign that was the case came just a few days after the penultimate update to our long-running series. Arizona's Department of Health Services announced it would suspend daily reporting of the state's data on cases, hospitalizations, deaths, and numerous other related metrics on 26 February 2022 in a transition to weekly reporting that would begin on 2 March 2022. Here's an example of how the state's presentation of its data for new COVID-related hospital admissions presentation changed:

Change from Daily to Weekly Data Presentation for COVID-19 Hospitalizations - Source: Arizona DHS

We've followed Arizona's experience with the coronavirus pandemic for two reasons. First, we were among the first analysts to confirm the state had become an epicenter for COVID-19 infections within the U.S. in June 2020. Second, Arizona is one of 26 states that presented its high quality COVID-19 data on a daily basis, which made it possible to use back calculation techniques to identify both the timing and causes of major turning points in the state's pandemic experience, which we've featured throughout the series.

The change to weekly reporting however closes off our ability to continue our analysis, because the weekly data isn't granular enough to zero in on events contributing to changes in the state's COVID trends. That change however is something that only makes sense for public health officials if they no longer anticipate a need to continue that kind of tracking. It's good news.

Flashing forward one month later, Arizona remained one of 21 states with active COVID-19 emergency orders in effect. Arizona's public officials began signaling they would soon end the state of emergency for the coronavirus pandemic. Here's a Q&A with Arizona's Governor Doug Ducey from 23 March 2022:

Q: Any plans to end the state of emergency?

Ducey: Yes. The emergency is over, look around. The state is wide open. I think we had record number of people out for the Waste Management Phoenix Open. Spring training in full bloom and people are coming here from around the country and around the world to watch the games, so we’re excited about it. We’re winding down a number of things that are purely administrative. We’re working with the legislature, the general fund and federal authorities to bring an end to all of that.

So are we a couple of weeks away from that ending? Months? Days? "It's coming," Ducey remarked.

On 25 March 2022, Arizona's state government took a major step that will allow it to lift its two-year-old state of emergency for the pandemic.

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey has signed legislation that will prevent temporary medical licenses issued under his coronavirus executive orders from immediately becoming invalid if he ends the state of emergency he issued two years ago.

Friday’s action extends temporary licenses issued since the Republican governor first declared a state of emergency on March 11, 2020. They will be valid until the end of the year if they were active at the start of this month.

Rep. Joanne Osborne of Goodyear told fellow Republicans in a caucus meeting last week that more than 2,200 licenses remain active, including about 1,200 issued to nurses. A waiver issued by the Department of Health Services under Ducey’s emergency order allowed doctors, nurses and other qualified health professionals to be licensed even if they lack current training or other requirements for an Arizona license.

The extension of the temporary licenses will allow boards that issue them time to process permanent license applications. The bill passed the Senate and House with only one no vote.

“If we want the emergency orders to end, this has to be taken care of first,” Republican Rep. Regina Cobb said at the same meeting of GOP House members. “And then once this is taken care of, then the governor can do what he needs to do as far as ending any emergency orders.”

At this writing, though it hasn't officially happened yet, the proverbial writing is on the wall. We've reached the end of our series on Arizona's experience with the coronavirus pandemic!

Previously on Political Calculations

Here is our previous coverage of Arizona's experience with the coronavirus pandemic, presented in reverse chronological order.


Political Calculations has been following Arizona's experience with the coronavirus experience from almost the beginning, because the state makes its high quality data publicly available. Specifically, the state's Departent of Health Services reports the number of cases by date of test sample collection, the number of hospitalizations by date of hospital admission, and the number of deaths by date recorded on death certificates.

This data, combined with what we know of the typical time it takes to progress to each of these milestones, makes it possible to track the state's daily rate of incidence of initial exposure to the variants of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus using back calculation methods. Links to that data and information about how the back calculation method works are presented below:

Arizona Department of Health Services. COVID-19 Data Dashboard: Vaccine Administration. [Online Database]. Accessed 17 February 2022.

Stephen A. Lauer, Kyra H. Grantz, Qifang Bi, Forrest K. Jones, Qulu Zheng, Hannah R. Meredith, Andrew S. Azman, Nicholas G. Reich, Justin Lessler. The Incubation Period of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) From Publicly Reported Confirmed Cases: Estimation and Application. Annals of Internal Medicine, 5 May 2020.

U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. COVID-19 Pandemic Planning Scenarios. [PDF Document]. 10 September 2020.

More or Less: Behind the Stats. Ethnic minority deaths, climate change and lockdown. Interview with Kit Yates discussing back calculation. BBC Radio 4. [Podcast: 8:18 to 14:07]. 29 April 2020.

Australian Politics 2022-03-31 10:20:00


The NSW areas with high rate of school suspensions

Problem children tend to disrupt the schooling of the whole class they are in. And suspending them is usually too little too late. Such problems could be largely avoided if "special schools" were revived but that falls foul of the Leftist compulsion to ignore differences and pretend that all children are equal even when they are not. So troubled students are thrown in with normal students to the detriment of both.

In special schools provision can be made to have professional help available for troubled students, which would give realistic alternatives to suspensions, which usually achieve nothing

In the north-west of NSW, home to some of the state’s most disadvantaged and remote schools, one in 13 students was suspended in the first half of last year. In the north of Sydney, the rate was fewer than one in 100.

New figures from the NSW Department of Education also show suspension rates for students who are Indigenous or have a disability continue to be disproportionately high, with one in 10 Aboriginal students sent home from school in term one in 2021.

Suspensions are at the centre of a fiery debate in NSW education. A plan to make it harder for principals to give them out was delayed this week amid intense opposition from teacher unions and principals’ groups, who argue it will lead to rowdier classrooms.

The new figures – which compares term one data over the past five years, due to the lockdown in the second half of 2021 – show suspensions among secondary students were the highest in five years, with 6.8 per cent of students sent home for continued disobedience or aggressive behaviour.

However, suspensions in primary schools were lower than usual, at 1.1 per cent.

More than 10,000 students received long suspensions for the most serious behavioural issues, and were away for an average 12.2 days. They included 184 students from kindergarten to year 2.

Most were for persistent misbehaviour or physical violence, while 640 were for serious, school-related criminal behaviour, 715 were for possession or use of a suspected illegal substance, and 527 related to weapons.

One in 10 Aboriginal students – who account for 8.6 per cent of enrolments in government schools – was suspended at least once during semester one, a lower rate than previous years. Some 8.4 per cent of students with a disability were suspended.

City schools had lower suspension rates than country ones, ranging from 0.8 per cent of students in Sydney’s north to 2 per cent in the inner city, 2.8 per cent in the west and 3.9 per cent in the south-west.

Country rates ranged from 4.8 per cent in the state’s south-east, Newcastle and the Central Coast, to 6.2 per cent in the north-east and 7.4 per cent in the north-west.

Just 128 students were expelled, a number that has trended down. About half were expelled for misbehaviour, and half for unsatisfactory participation.

Amid concern about the high rates of disadvantaged students suspended, Education Minister Sarah Mitchell has led the development of a new behaviour strategy that halves the length of school suspensions and prevents students being sent home more than three times a year.

The new policy, which had been due to begin next term, also requires principals to give a warning if a student’s behaviour was raising the prospect of suspension. They could only send students home immediately if there was a threat to the safety of others.

Principals and the teachers union said the policy would reduce consequences for poor behaviour in schools. The NSW Teachers Federation passed a resolution calling on schools not to implement it, and called for more resources for staff to deal with complex student needs.

About 500 principals have written to Ms Mitchell opposing the new strategy over the past month.

Ms Mitchell this week said she would delay the implementation of the behaviour strategy until term three, to allow schools – which have been hit hard by COVID-19 and floods this term – more time to prepare.

New rules around restrictive practices, such as seclusion and process to follow if a child becomes violent, will be delayed until the beginning of next year.

“We’re committed to the policy, and we’re not shifting,” Ms Mitchell said. “We want to make sure we implement it well. The other thing we’re wanting to look at [is principals’] concerns about better inter-agency collaboration.”

NSW Teachers Federation vice president Henry Rajendra said the delay was a response to teachers’ opposition.

“Our schools don’t have the necessary staffing to meet the needs of our students, particularly measures to intervene early, so we can provide the maximum support, so they can engage positively throughout the classroom,” he said.

But Louise Kuchel from Square Peg Round Whole – a community of parents advocating for children with disabilities – said the delay was “upsetting and frustrating and not fair”.

“We’re getting really tired of advocating for [students’] rights and being consistently blocked by the union, who we are trying to help by providing them with some strategies to help our kids.”

One mother, who wanted to remain anonymous to protect her children, said her children’s public school’s understanding of disability had improved with a new principal.

One son, now eight, who has autism, was suspended four times, triggering such deep anxiety about school that she decided to teach him at home.

Another son – who is on a six-month waiting list for a diagnosis and who struggles to leave his parents – has been given warnings rather than suspensions for his behaviour. “If a student with attachment issues gets to spend more time with his parents [through suspension], he will repeat the behaviour and make the situation worse,” the mother said.


Lachlan Murdoch claims Australia's way of life is 'under attack' and that a woke ABC is undermining the country

Lachlan Murdoch has slammed the ABC and claimed the Australian way of life is under siege in a pointed speech to the Institute of Public Affairs (IPA).

'Our core values, our successes and even our history are under constant attack,' Rupert Murdoch's eldest son said on Tuesday night as he launched the Centre for the Australian Way of Life - 'a centre of cultural and intellectual influence and authority' at the IPA.

'Nourishing and defending those core values is extremely important. Not to do so has real world, real bad outcomes,' he said.

Mr Murdoch, who is the CEO of Fox Corporation and thought most likely to succeed his father, did not name the ABC in his 3,400 speech, instead referring to it as 'the national broadcaster'.

'To listen to our national broadcaster or much of the media elite is to hear about a uniquely racist, selfish, slavish and monchromatic country,' the billionaire media baron said.

He said the reality was very different, that Australia is one of the most 'tolerant, generous, independent and multicultural countries in human history', but that 'our national identity and culture are are weathering constant attempts to recast Australia as something it isn't'.

Mr Murdoch, who arrived back in Sydney last Friday on his $90million private jet, said Australians had an 'innate concept of fairness' and believed in a 'fair go'.

'I am always saddened when elements of our citizenry, often the elites who have benefited most from our country, display not a love of our values but a disdain for them,' said the 50-year-old, who was born in London, raised in New York and moved from Los Angeles to Sydney last year.

'How can we expect people to defend the values, interests and sovereignty of this nation if we teach our children only our faults and none of our virtues,' he added.

Mr Murdoch railed against what he called 'the damage done to the American psyche' through attacks on its values and the 'destructive rewriting of its history' and said Australia must 'learn from this cautionary tale'.

He also offered some advice on Australia's response to the Covid-19 pandemic, saying the country was right to 'turn the tyranny of distance into a temporary pandemic advantage ... until vaccines were developed'.

But he claimed the country then became 'a victim of our own success, with state leaders thinking they could out-do each other with lockdowns and remain Covid-free forever'.

Mr Murdoch said the approval of these approaches by much of the public 'was fuelled by the alarmist language and fear mongering of politicians and much of the media'.


ABC cancels book on cartoonist

There was enormous interest in last week’s “The Silence of the Aunty” segment of Media Watch Dog which was titled “The ABC’s Cancellation of Books on the Pell Case”.

This documented the fact that the taxpayer funded public broadcaster had “cancelled” recent books about Cardinal George Pell’s convictions on historical child sexual abuse charges which were quashed in a 7 to Zip decision by the High Court of Australia on 7 April 2020.

ABC journalists led the media pile-on against Pell and the ABC website contains numerous pages on the Pell Case. But ABC producers and presenters have refused to discuss three books which came out after the High Court decision. Namely, Keith Windschuttle The Persecution of George Pell, Frank Brennan Observations on the Pell Proceedings and Gerard Henderson Cardinal Pell, The Media Pile-On & Collective Guilt. With only one exception. Windschuttle was interviewed on ABC Radio National’s The Religion and Ethics Report.

MWD understands from its sources inside the ABC Soviet that there was considerable opposition from within the ABC to Windschuttle’s appearance on the ABC – despite the fact that no one has been able to point to any significant error in his book. Neither Brennan nor Henderson has been invited on to any ABC program.

An avid reader reminded MWD that author Fred Pawle suffered a similar fate with respect to his 2021 book Die Laughing: The Biography of Bill Leak.

Without question, Bill Leak (1956-2017) was one of Australia’s finest cartoonists and painters. In his introduction to Die Laughing, the comedian and artiste Barry Humphries described Leak as a “truly great and fearless Australian” whose work is not only “a record of its time” but also “funny”, “brutal”, “incisive” and “relentless”.

When Bill Leak was on the left and a fierce critic of John Howard and other political conservatives – including, at times, Jackie’s (male) co-owner – his work was untouched. However, when Leak became a critic of the left and adopted some conservative positions – there were many attempts by left-wing activists to silence him.

Fred Pawle’s work is what a good biography should be – sympathetic but also critical. In short, it is not a hagiography as is the case with many biographies of the left, by the left and for the left which are discussed ad nauseam on the ABC. Rather it’s an insightful, considered assessment of a brilliant artist and a clever but flawed man.

Australians can be trusted to read Pawle’s biography and make their own conclusions about Bill Leak. But not according to the ABC, it seems. For years, ABC types paraded against political and social censorship. Now censorship is rife within the ABC.

And so it has come to pass that ABC presenters and producers have effectively “cancelled” Die Laughing. The author has received only one interview on the ABC since his book was published last year – on ABC Radio National’s Between the Lines hosted by Tom Switzer. That’s all.

Now Bill Leak had quite a few mates in the ABC. Including Phillip Adams, Richard Fidler and Leigh Sales – currently the presenters of Radio National’s Late Night Live , ABC Radio’s Conversations and ABC TV’s 7.30 respectively.

Adams, Fidler and Sales spoke about their late friend Bill Leak for Die Laughing. But not one has brought about a situation whereby Fred Pawle has been interviewed on their programs – despite the fact that Late Night Live, Conversations and 7.30 interview authors about books. This suggests a lack of intellectual courage. If this trio does not believe that Leak is worth discussing on the ABC – why did they think it was worth talking to Pawle about his subject?

This appears to be yet another action by the ABC to silence voices that it does not want to hear. Another example of “The Silence of the Aunty”.


SA election shows Morrison the path to victory

The defeat of Liberal Premier Stephen ‘Marshmallow’ Marshall in South Australia opens a path to victory for Prime Minister Scott Morrison at the federal election but only if Morrison has the courage to follow the example of new Labor Premier Peter Malinauskas.

A Liberal defeat that presages a victory is not as contradictory as it seems. Marshall was a creature of the so-called moderate wing of the Liberal party. Malinauskas is a socially conservative Catholic who openly opposed same-sex marriage and voted against the legalisation of euthanasia and late-term abortion.

Labor presented Malinauskas as a dad who plays footy, but he is closer to former prime minister Tony Abbott and NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet than to opposition leader Anthony Albanese, who religiously attends Sydney’s Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras.

Malinauskas leads the Catholic right faction and the resignations of former treasurer Jack Snelling and former minister Don Kenyon to revive the Family First party forced his factional enemies to realise that if they wanted to win government, they would have to keep their bigotry to themselves. Labor’s cheer squad followed suit. No protesters screamed, ‘Get your rosaries off my ovaries’, those attacks are reserved for the Christian right.

Yet it was moderate Liberals who gave Malinauskas his biggest break. Attorney-General Vickie Chapman infuriated social conservatives by introducing a private member’s bill allowing abortion up to the time of birth, which was fast-tracked by Marshall. When Liberal minister David Speirs tried to limit the damage by introducing an amendment to restrict access to late-term abortion, Marshall voted against it; Malinauskas supported it. Marshall added fuel to the fire by also fast-tracking a bill on euthanasia. Not content with these legislative victories, won with the support of the Greens and Labor, moderates thwarted a move by hundreds of Christians to join the party. SA Liberal party president Legh Davis, backed by Marshall and federal government leader in the Senate Simon Birmingham, forced recent members or those seeking to join the party to declare their support for endorsed candidates.

The purge of Pentecostals infuriated Tony Pasin, the Liberal member for the federal seat of Barker, who said it bordered on religious vilification, and incensed outgoing federal Liberal MP Nicolle Flint who slammed the move as undemocratic. It also prompted the Australian Christian Lobby and Family First to target all MPs who voted in favour of late-term abortion, along with One Nation and former Family First senator Bob Day, who campaigned against the attack on Christian values.

The election results show the outcome. Three socially conservative Liberals who left the party comfortably won seats as independents. Moderate Liberals in safe seats suffered massive swings. Marshall’s claim to be a better economic manager bought him nothing. At best, the Liberals will have 15 out of 47 MPs, with Marshall in danger of losing his own seat.

The notion that Marshall should have won because he did a good job managing the pandemic is delusional. He earned the moniker Marshmallow because he hid behind his police chief who exercised draconian powers at the behest of the chief health officer, a nutty professor who famously claimed you could catch Covid from touching a football. To this day, if you test positive for Covid in South Australia you must quarantine for a week, while your close contacts must isolate for a fortnight. Who knows why? When there was no Covid in the state, Marshall tolerated business-strangling restrictions. When the state opened in late November, the combination of Omicron and crazy quarantine rules crippled the economy by forcing people into repeated isolation.

The lesson for Morrison is stark. The marginalisation of Christians in the Liberal party is a cardinal error, just as it has been for Labor, which is usually beholden to the godless Greens when in power. By bringing Christians into the Labor fold, Malinauskas has won a majority in the lower house after only one term in opposition.

Malinauskas has another lesson for Morrison. Unlike Marshall, he is pro-nuclear and has had the courage to defend the establishment of a nuclear waste repository or a nuclear power plant in South Australia, saying it could be a safe source of base-load power with zero emissions.

This is a golden, or a uranium-plated opportunity for Morrison. Albanese puts himself forward as a leader in the mould of Bob Hawke or John Howard. Not on nuclear energy, which both supported. As a student politician, Albanese was aligned with the hard Left and friendly with People for Nuclear Disarmament. In 2004, as shadow minister for environment he campaigned against nuclear power when it was raised by Howard. In 2019, he called any discussion of nuclear technology a ‘fantasy’ which his Green allies found ‘alarming’.

Putin’s invasion of Ukraine has gifted Morrison the opportunity to cut energy prices in ways Albanese won’t be able to copy; extending the life of coal-fired power plants, accelerating gas plants, and fast-tracking an increase in energy exports to bolster our allies. It also allows Morrison to drive a wedge through Labor on nuclear technology by talking to Malinauskas about nuclear industry in South Australia.

Morrison also needs to address the heightened threat of conflict posed by Russia and China. With support from Malinauskas, he can put flesh on his new Aukus alliance with the US and the UK by announcing the purchase of nuclear submarines and establishing an industry to support their maintenance in South Australia. He could also start discussions with Malinauskas on safe, small-scale, fourth-generation nuclear power, based on the miniature reactors in nuclear submarines.

Albanese likes to pretend he is like Malinauskas. Hardly. While Albanese has been cosying up to communists since his days as a student politician, the Malinauskas family fled communism in eastern Europe to set up a fish and chip shop in Adelaide. Labor, under Albanese, is hostile to politicians like the late senator Kimberley Kitching and retiring MP Anthony Byrne who were among the diminishing few to criticise China because under Albanese, Australia will kowtow to China, not defend the national interest.

Morrison once said he didn’t want to fight ‘culture wars’ because they don’t deliver jobs, but if he wants to hold on to his own job, he has to make the moderates in the Liberal party recognise that unless they win the support of Christians and conservatives at the next election, the marshmallows in the party will be toast. ?




How to Use a Measuring Tape to Assess Your Health Risk

How much health risk do you have from carrying too much mass around your midsection?

That question arises because studies point to the Waist-to-Height Ratio (WHtR) as a better indicator of early health risk than the Body Mass Index (BMI). As a general rule of thumb, if the circumference of your waist is greater than half your height, you have an elevated risk for developing chronic conditions like hypertension, diabetes mellitus, hypercholesterolemia, joint and low back pains, hyperuricemia, and obstructive sleep apnea syndrome.

The Waist-to-Height Ratio is also reported to be better than BMI in predicting heart attacks, especially for women, with higher ratios corresponding to higher risk.

That sounds like good bit of information to have, so we've built a tool to calculate your Waist-to-Health Ratio. Since you probably already know your height, the hard part will be finding out your waist circumference. Here's a video showing how to measure it.

Once you've done that for yourself, you're ready to go. If you're accessing this article on a site that republishes our RSS news feed, please click through to our site to access a working version of the tool. Here it is:

Waist and Height Measurements
Input Data Values
Waist Circumference

Waist-to-Height Ratio
Calculated Results Values
Waist-to-Height Ratio
Risk Level

In using the tool, be sure to use the same units of measurement for both waist circumference and height. You'll get accurate results so long as you don't start mixing and matching inches and centimeters together....

According to documents leaked in February 2022, starting in July 2022, U.S. Air Force personnel will have their Waist to Height Ratio assessed. Individuals with waists that measure at more than half their height will be reassessed six months later, with those whose waists exceed that threshold at the later measurement date separated from service. "Seperated from service" meaning "discharged from the Air Force". Here's the chart the Air Force will be using to make that determination:

Waist-to-Height Ratio (WHtR) Assessment

The thresholds shown on this chart for low, moderate, and high risk are those we've built into the tool's feedback. We've also made a point of giving the answer to the same two-decimal place results as would be used by Air Force medical personnel in their assessments, so there are no surprises for what to expect.

Previously on Political Calculations


Margaret Ashwell and Sigrid Gibson. Waist-to-height ratio as an indicator of ‘early health risk’: simpler and more predictive than using a ‘matrix’ based on BMI and waist circumference. BMJ Open 2016:6:3010159. [DOI: 10.1136/bmjopen-2015-010159 | NIH: PDF Document]. 14 March 2016.

Sanne A.E. Peters, Sophie H. Bots and Mark Woodward. Sex Differences in the Association Between Measures of General and Central Adiposity and the Risk of Myocardial Infarction: Results From the UK Biobank. Journal of the American Heart Association. Vol. 7, No. 5. [DOI: 10.1161/JAHA.117.008507]. 28 February 2018. American Heart Association. Waist size predicts heart attacks better than BMI, especially in women. [Online Article]. 28 February 2018.

Darsini Darsini, Hamidah Hamidah, Hari Basuki Notobroto, and Eko Agus Cahyono. Health risks associated with high waist circumference: A systematic review. Journal of Public Health Research. Vol. 9, No. 2: Papers from the 4th International Symposium of Public Health (4th ISOPH), Brisbane, Australia. 29-31 October 2019. [DOI: 10.4081/jphr.2020.1811 | NIH: PDF Document]. 2 July 2020.

ShapeFit. Waist to Height Ratio Calculator - Assess Your Lifestyle Risk. [Online Article and Tool]. 31 March 2015.

Australian Politics 2022-03-30 08:09:00


Teaching sexual consent in high schools

Bettina Arndt makes a number of good points below. She is undoubtedy right to ascribe present policies to anti-male feminists.

She should have gone further, though. WOMEN also need education about consent. I doubt that any consent education will do much but I am sure that almost any experienced man will tell you that female consent can be an enigma wrapped in a mystery.

It used to be well-known that women play games with men. They may be open to having sex with a man but will at no stage utter a clear consent. It is essentially a "wait-and-see" strategy that is not inherently unreasonable but it sure can be confusing to the male concerned

I have always refused to be part of such games. I was willing to spend time talking with a woman but if the conversation seemed too flirtatious I would simply desist from further conversation, apparently to the confusion of the woman concerned on some occasions. I once left party rather early after having a rather involved conversation with an Eve but was told the day after by a friend who had also been present: "You could have got her into bed, you know". I think he was right. I felt that at the time. I just didn't like the complexity of the games.

So in my case I have confined myself to situations where an approach of some sort from me was met with clear agreement, but not necessarily verbal agreement. Behaviour can be more eloquent than words. So I have always acted with clear consent but am well aware that I have missed out in situations where consent was less clear. And I have no doubt that on some such occasions the woman concerned has felt frustrated by my "stupidity". I know that because the woman concerned has persisted with me and been much more direct on a second occasion.

And a big problem often is that a rather assertive approach by a male is required for the woman to give consent. The consent will be genuine but for various reasons the woman likes an assertive approach. And thererein lies a big problem. How is the male to work out when assertiveness is required as opposed to where consent is genuinely not given? It can be a guessing game and guessing games can go wrong. Neither party is at fault when it goes wrong. The fault lies with a culture in which female consent or the lack of it may not be clear

So can we "educate" women to be clearer in giving or refusing consent? I would like to think so but am not holding my breath

Last month it was announced all Australian high school students are to be taught about sexual consent and coercion. Mandatory education programs are being rolled out across the country teaching boys not to rape.

It’s mainly due to Sydney schoolgirl Chanel Contos, who burst into the limelight last year when she announced that a school sex education course had led her to discover she’d been raped two years earlier. As a 13-year-old she’d been ‘forced’ to go down on a boy at a party but it took a Year-10 school sex education course for her to realize what had happened to her. She started a website encouraging other girls to tell stories of similar sexual assaults and nearly 2,000 obliged. Ever since she’s been out there calling out male misbehaviour and lobbying for school sexual consent courses.

This is just the latest front in the mighty feminist battle to rein in male sexuality and punish more rapists. I wrote recently about how the NSW parliament was misled by false statistics which were used to assist the smooth passage of enthusiastic consent regulations into law. At much the same time over 1,500 school kids were signing a Contos petition calling for enthusiastic consent to be taught in schools.

Our compliant media dutifully pushed the fear-mongering as Contos met with members of parliament and other power brokers to make it all happen. We heard shocking stories of drunk girls waking up to discover males taking advantage of them, boys behaving badly, circulating photos of their mates having sex, etc. some truly unacceptable male behaviour.

But gradually questions started appearing in online comments about why so many girls were finding themselves in these risky situations, why were so many vulnerable youngsters attending these alcohol and drug-fuelled parties?

Naturally, any suggestion that girls needed to take care of themselves were howled down. A principal of a Sydney girls school dared to suggest that along with more sex education in schools, parents need to be ‘having conversations regarding consent, the impact of alcohol, risk-taking behaviours, and self-respect’. Her sensible suggestion was treated with disdain by journalists who lined up enlightened souls to put her straight. The problem is ‘not about girls’ pronounced an executive from the Alliance of Girls’ Schools, but rather about the ‘underbelly of disrespect, privilege, and callousness displayed by young men towards young women’.

‘This is a systemic, centuries-old societal problem,’ she explained. ‘Behaviour that endorses male sexual entitlement, lack of accountability, and a power imbalance.’

That’s it, you see. Feminism 101, all designed to tie in nicely with the ‘respect for women’ ideological claptrap already rolled out in the Respectful Relationships programs allegedly tackling domestic violence, which are currently indoctrinating children in schools – teaching them about toxic males and helpless females.

Now sexual consent education will reinforce that message. I’ve just been sent snapshots taken from the brand-new curriculum being introduced in one South Australian school. Apparently, there’s flexibility in how the educators choose to address the topic but it seems most schools will take a similar approach.

It’s fascinating seeing how the educators twist themselves into knots to avoid any hint of victim-blaming. They’ve come up with a new slogan: ‘Vulnerability is not the same as responsibility.’ Look at this little scenario featuring Kim. Be warned, it’s pretty confusing because we aren’t given the gender of Kim, who uses the pronoun ‘they’.

Kim is out drinking, and a man ‘they’ know offers ‘them’ a ride home but instead drives to a secluded spot, parks and wants to have sex. Our educators spell out the message very clearly: it’s the villain, the driver, who is 100 per cent responsible for his actions and whether or not Kim is safe. Kim is simply ‘vulnerable’ as a result of decisions ‘they’ have made to get into this situation.

Neat, eh? In this particular scenario we don’t know the gender of the potential victim, but the bulk of the responsibility/vulnerability examples given in the curriculum involve males taking advantage of girls who arguably signal sexual interest in various ways by: wearing low-cut dresses; or inviting a boy to ‘snuggle’ with them in a private room at a party. Here’s a classic example, featuring Jen and Luke. Note that it is taken from an American publication called Men Stopping Rape – which says it all…

The predominantly female teachers who will be guiding the students’ discussion of these scenes will no doubt work hard to convince the kids that the boy is inevitably 100 per cent ‘responsible’ while the innocent girl is simply ‘vulnerable’.

Very occasionally they do present a girl as the baddie. Like the sexually aggressive Mila who is all over her boyfriend Luke and gets very indignant when he says he wants to take his time. ‘I said it was time to be a real man and do the deed,’ responds Mila. A rare toxic woman but overwhelmed by large numbers of pushy blokes who don’t take no for an answer, have sex with sleeping girls and boast about having sex to their mates.

The curriculum does include one scenario, Ali and Josh, describing the situation of a girl who has sex because she fears her boyfriend might dump her if she doesn’t. That’s true to life – a very good example of a girl giving consent she may later regret. The great pity is there is so little in this curriculum about the many reasons girls might be ambivalent about consent. The central myth of the ‘enthusiastic consent’ dogma is the notion that girls/women know their own minds and clearly indicate their desires. The truth is males are forced to interpret the muddy waters of female sexual ambivalence, obfuscation, and confusion. The apparent ‘Yeses’ that are really ‘Maybes’ or secret ‘Nos’.

This week I had a live chat on Thinkspot with a famous YouTuber, Steve Bonnell – also known as ‘Destiny’. Bonnell has made big bucks as video game Twitch streamer. but this clever, articulate young man is also a political commentator, debating all manner of issues usually from a leftist perspective. Funnily enough, just after our conversation Bonnell was banned from Twitch for ‘hateful conduct’ which might just have included our chat about sexual consent, which certainly would have got up the nose of the woke folk running social media.

Bonnell regularly challenges the new dogma on this issue, throwing down the gauntlet by declaring that women no longer have bad sexual experiences – if was bad, it was rape and the man’s fault. His argument is that men are being forced into a parental role – treating women like infants with no agency of their own. Bonnell also declares that if you invite someone to your house, you must expect them to see that as a sexual invitation. And that when it comes to stealthing, women shouldn’t have sex with anyone whom they wouldn’t be comfortable telling not to remove a condom.

Naturally I agreed with him on these points, but amusingly Bonnell was very careful not to align too strongly with what he sees as my overly protective pro-male stance. I was intrigued to hear him talk about young women today, whom he claims enter every sexual encounter with some element of fear. As I pointed out, I’ve never felt like that and see this as a total failure of modern feminism. Whatever happened to feminism’s celebration of women’s female strength and independence? Remember Helen Reddy’s triumphant song – I am woman, hear me roar?

Many of you will know Camile Paglia’s famous story about being in college in the 1960s when girls were still chaperoned and locked safely away from boys at night. She describes their fight to rid themselves of this protectionism, the fight for the freedom to risk rape. ‘I think it is discouraging to see the surrender of young women of their personal autonomy,’ she says, amazed that women are welcoming ‘the intrusion and surveillance of authority figures over their private lives’.

That’s the bottom line here. The sexual consent courses being introduced in our schools are simply the latest effort to convince young women that they are all potential victims, needing protection from dangerous males. Another step to creating a divided society.


Australian Covid-killing ‘fog’ guards Singapore Airport

Hi-tech hand sanitisers, nasal sprays, pills and even cannabis have all been spruiked as treatments to kill or ease symptoms of Covid-19. But could crushing the virus be as simple as using water?

Or more specifically, electrified water, with a sprinkling of salt, that can create a potent dis­infectant?

The nation’s peak science agency, the CSIRO, thinks so and has backed a South Australian company that has developed a Covid-killing “fog” that will be deployed at Singapore Airport in coming months.

The technology has received approval from Australia’s health regulator, the Therapeutic Goods Administration, as well as undergone testing from the world’s two biggest airline manufacturers, Airbus and Boeing.

For the company, Ecas4, it is proof that life can really present bouquets. It originally developed the technology to extend the shelf life of fresh cut flowers.

The “fog” involves electrolysis of salt and water, creating a pH-neutral disinfectant solution known as Ecas4-Anolyte. This solution can be sprayed onto a surface or fogged in an enclosed space using a specialised machine, such as an aircraft cabin, to sanitise all the surfaces it comes into contact with.

Crucially, it has no harsh chemicals or side effects, meaning people can breathe it in (and out), helping stop the spread of Covid.

It is similar technology to the salt chlorinators commonly used in swimming pools, and Ecas4 director Tony Amorico cites this connection when highlighting its safety.

“Chlorine about 2000mg/litre becomes a dangerous, hazardous product. Below that it’s safe. We’re producing at levels two to 300 where we know we kill bacteria and Covid effectively, instantly,” Mr Amorico said.

After international borders reopened last month, Industry Minister Angus Taylor said Ecas4’s technology would help give people the confidence to return to the skies following two pandemic-plagued years.

“From incredible inventions such as rapid breath Covid tests, mRNA technology, to innovations such as this cleaning and sanitising solution from Ecas4 helping to get us back in the skies, this is the kind of groundbreaking innovation the Morrison government is supporting to grow our economy, create new jobs and help our nation reach the other side of the pandemic,” Mr Taylor told The Australian.

But like most fledgling companies with great ideas, committing precious funds for research and development can be risky and cost-prohibitive. And this is where the CSIRO comes in via its Innovation Connections scheme, part of the Australian government’s Entrepreneurs’ Program.

CSIRO introduced Ecas4 to the University of South Australia, which began investigating whether the solution could eliminate traces of Covid-19. The project was successful, and the solution subsequently received approvals from TGA and major aircraft manufacturers.

Other beneficiaries of the CSIRO’s innovation fund include plant-based meat start-up V2food, which formed a partnership with Jack Cowin’s Competitive Foods to launch the Rebel Whopper at Hungry Jacks.

For Ecas4, getting Singapore Airport on board was challenging, given international travel bans prevented them from installing the system in-person.

“Because the cost of transporting a solution to them was prohibitive, we built a purpose built machine to allow a batch production, which we can remotely connect to and we remotely see how much they’re producing,” Mr Amorico said.

“The best part of it is we can switch it off if I need to, as well for any reasons to stop them from producing if we want them to. And that’s how we ensure the quality of the product is produced on a regular basis because we can measure the conductivity of the solution and we can also measure the current and the voltage that we’re providing through that process.”


The Australian Federal budget holds an economic miracle

Perhaps it is the misery brought on by the ongoing global pandemic and war in Ukraine that has dulled the awareness of Australians to the economic miracle forming before them.

Two years ago when the economy was deliberately put into hibernation in order to save lives after the Covid-19 virus entered the country through air and sea ports, economists were full of dire warnings about coming double-digit unemployment, a house price collapse, and the deepest recession in a century.

The pandemic came to snap nearly 30 years of sustained economic growth, and put before policy makers a threat to the prosperity of the country that easily dwarfed that of the Global Financial Crisis in 2008.

As international and state borders slammed shut in 2020, Australians hunkered down in their homes and braced for the worst, with a generation of them unaware of what a recession meant.

It is through this bleak prism that the economic forecasts contained in the federal government’s budget for 2023 released on Tuesday need to be viewed.

Instead of a job market horribly scarred by years of recession, the country is now on the cusp of full employment. In simple terms that mean that anybody seeking a job can get one, or already has one.

Nearly every forecast for unemployment since the outbreak of the pandemic has had to be binned quickly as the economy consistently outperformed.

The jobless rate is now forecast to fall to 3.75 per cent by mid-2022 from 4 per cent currently. That’s a number no economic policy maker or politician in the country will have seen in their working lives.

Even Reserve Bank governor Philip Lowe, who joined the central bank out if school in the late 1970s, can’t claim he has been witnessed to such a low number.

It’s a staggering forecast that, if anything, looks conservative given current trends in hiring and record numbers of job vacancies. It’s highly possible the unemployment rate will fall even further than that in the next year.

So instead of long lines of long-term unemployed, Australia is engaging its labour force, which is underpinning a forecast for the economy to grow by 3.5 per cent over the next year.

Some economists will argue that with closed borders and a federal government fiscal stimulus of more than $300bn to battle the pandemic, the country should indeed be approaching full employment.

They’d be right too. But the success also reflects the design of the government spending which had at its core a wage subsidy known as job keeper that kept firms afloat, but more importantly, kept employers paid and linked to a firm.

So when the lockdowns ended, the engines of growth re-engaged at speed. Prior recessions, like the one in the early 1990s, have been marked by years of sustained high unemployment. It’s usual that older and low skilled workers remain on the trash heap for some time.

The budget also includes a forecast that wages will grow by 3.25 per cent in the next year, reversing the trend of the moribund trend of the last decade.

Those looking for a dark lining in the Australian economic story will point to rising inflation. This is where it gets interesting. The budget forecasts consumer prices will rise by just 3.0 per cent in 2022-24 and by just 2.75 per cent in 2023-24.

Viewed against a back drop of inflation running hot in major economies, stoked by interrupted supply chains and soaring energy costs, these low numbers look ambitious. But Australia has been an inflation outlier for some time. Its proximity to Asia, where inflation is more benign, and a sluggish wage setting system, have helped to keep wage growth down.

Still, if the budget’s economic forecasts are too optimistic, it is here as inflation could still easily break out of its cage in the next year, setting up the next great challenge for policy makers to rein it back in.

Getting this wrong could undo the good work that is now visible strength in the economy, bringing with it rapid rises in interest rates.

Still, there is a strong argument to suggest that much of what consists of current price pressures in the economy will eventually fade. To have a true inflation break out, you need wages to jump. While they are drifting up, there’s no surge yet that would signal the genie is out of the bottle.

To round the story of the economy, the last batch of GDP growth data showed the economy steaming ahead at its fastest pace since March 1976, unemployment is currently at a 14-year low, and consumers have saved a large portion of the pandemic stimulus. It sit in bank accounts waiting to be spent.

In the last year, house prices have jumped by more than 20 per cent. While that’s a vexed statistic given the rise has frozen many out of home ownership, it still represents a big lift in household wealth.

After two years of pandemic, Australia has been left with a bulging government mountain that some economists will argue leaves the country more vulnerable in the event of another shock.

All that is true, but still, Australia’s debt burden is much lower than that of many of the major economies and the strong job market means the debt mountain can be eaten into by driving GDP growth faster.

By late 2022 (if not earlier), full employment is likely to have been achieved, and on current indications, interest rates will still be low.

It wasn’t meant to be like this.


The 'beautiful surprise' in the Budget that NO ONE is talking about - as top economist reveals why interest rates WON'T rise as soon as everyone thinks

A top economist has shone a spotlight on one of the most 'beautiful' things hidden in last night's Budget - sustained low employment rates.

Deloitte Access Economics partner Chris Richardson said the 'beautiful surprise' hidden in the 2022 Budget was welcome, and also predicted interest rates would not rise any time soon.

'It's not mentioned in any headline anywhere, it's only been a handful of months since the Treasury last updated us [and] they are now of the view that low unemployment rates in Australia can be sustained,' he told Sunrise host David Koch on Wednesday.

'Basically an extra 140,000 Australians can be in jobs from here on in. It looks as though we can run the Australian economy faster for longer, and that's great.'

Those considered 'winners' in Treasurer Josh Frydenberg's fourth budget were pensioners, carers, motorists, low to middle income earners and job seekers.

When asked if he thought there were any 'losers' the economist said of this budget: 'If you've got a pulse and a vote then you've got some money.'

However, he said there were 'hidden costs' as well as some consequences of splashing cash on an already healthy economy, with unemployment predicted to reach 3.75 per cent in September, the lowest level since 1974.

'When you drop extra money atop an economy that is pretty strong, you get higher inflation, that means our money doesn't go as far,' Mr Richardson explained.

'You may annoy the Reserve Bank into an interest rate rise, so the cost of your mortgage goes up, and we import more and speed up other economies rather than ours.'

He said the welcomed cash splash will in turn put pressure on the RBA to push interest rates up faster, but not as soon as people might think.

'We've got the view that is now unusual that the Reserve Bank will not be raising rates in the next few months. They'll still do it, but it's going to be the end of 2022 before they do it,' Mr Richardson predicted.




Market Cap of U.S. New Home Sales Flat in February 2022

After a positive January, the market capitalization for new homes sales in the U.S. dipped ever so slightly in February 2022. Political Calculations' initial estimate of the overall market capitalizaton of the U.S. new home market is $27.47 billion, holding essentially flat with respect to January 2022's revised estimate of $27.49 billion for the rolling 12 month average.

Trailing Twelve Month Average New Home Sales Market Capitalizaton in the United States, January 1976 - February 2022

February 2022's barely noticeable dip is the result of downward data revisions in previous months. The month itself was one of the strongest in the past year, seeing both rising average prices and number of sales. The following two charts visualize the trailing twelve month averages of the U.S. new home market's underlying annualized sales and average price data.

New home sales rose in February 2022:

Trailing Twelve Month Average of the Annualized Number of New Homes Sold in the U.S., January 1976 - February 2022

New home prices continued escalating:

Trailing Twelve Month Average of the Mean Sale Price of New Homes Sold in the U.S., January 1976 - February 2022

New home sales are counted toward GDP when their sales contracts are signed, so a flat or falling trend in the market cap for new homes represents an economic headwind for the U.S. economy. According to the National Association of Home Builders, new homes sales average roughly 3% to 5% of the nation's GDP.