Now will you believe the science?

This planet of ours is beginning to burn — and not just last week or month either. It’s been smoldering for decades now. Last summer, for instance, amid global heat records (Ouargla, Algeria, 124 degrees Fahrenheit; Hong Kong, over 91 degrees Fahrenheit for 16 straight days; Nawabsha, Pakistan, 122 degrees Fahrenheit; Oslo, Norway, over 86 …

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A Polish church stuck in the past

In Poland a simple poster distributed by an LGBT activist featuring an image of the Virgin Mary with a rainbow halo has got Catholic leaders in a lather. Elzbieta Podlesna allegedly put up the posters near a church to protest an anti-gay Easter message that denounced words like “LGBT” and “gender” as “aggressive” and “deviant”. …

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Hard to comprehend such a massive difference in values!

Earlier this year, the National Rifle Association opposed a bill that would prevent convicted stalkers and abusive boyfriends from possessing guns. “Why? Because any gun purchase increases profits for gun manufacturers, and any regulation – even common-sense measures – is to be opposed.” Having arrived at this indecent and immoral policy the NRA leadership deserves …

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Eton going Epicurean?

Eton College is adding gratitude, kindness and empathy coaching to its curriculum to build its pupils’ “character”. Following a review into what values Eton should be promoting, boys at the £40,700-a-year school are being taught to take a moment each day to acknowledge how others have helped them and what they have to be grateful …

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This cannot stand!

Lawmakers in Alabama have passed a bill that virtually bans abortion. The legislation, to be signed by the state’s Republican governor, outlaws abortion except in cases where the pregnancy poses a “serious health risk to the mother”, the “unborn child has a lethal anomaly”, or the pregnancy is ectopic (in an abnormal place or position). …

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Reparations for slavery

Letter to The Times The proposal by Cambridge University to devote resources neither to teaching nor to research, but to virtue signalling over slavery is not only questionable for a charity, but also an endorsement of notions of hereditary guilt. Leaving aside the prevalence of coercive labour systems across much of the world, including Africa, …

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Sex and the Catholic church

In the early church nearly all Christian priests were married.  Popes tried to ban marriage and co- habitation,  but to little effect.  Pope Gregory the Great (590-604) said that all sexual desire is sinful in itself (meaning that sexual desire is intrinsically evil?), but right up to the 800’s the majority of priests were nonetheless married. …

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Does more than 2 hours of screen time really harm children’s brains?

It seems intuitive that children’s schoolwork will suffer if they spend too much time gazing at their phones instead of getting to bed or getting some exercise. And that is broadly what a recent study has found. But should parents be panicked into pulling the plug on their kids’ electronic devices. Jeremy Walsh at the …

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Mafia steals billions: surprise, surprise

The Italian Mafia has made €3bn over the past ten years by siphoning off EU funds intended for farmers within Sicily’s largest national park, according to a former director of the park, who survived a Mafia assassination attempt in 2016. In his new book, Giuseppe Antoci claims that Cosa Nostra clans use threats to deter …

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In contrast to media Wikipedia arguments are quite civilised

An analysis of millions of Wikipedia articles suggests that ideologically diverse groups can not only cooperate effectively, but also produce better work than homogenous groups. How did Wikipedia succeed where much of the online world has failed? Misha Teplitskiy and his colleagues at Harvard University looked at the editors of Wikipedia articles on politics, science …

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One person’s (very personal) journey towards Epicureanism

When I was seven years old I was sent to a boarding school.  There I was cheek by jowl with the other little boys, sharing ice-cold baths in the morning and crammed into small rooms with eight other boys, teasing and being teased. There was no privacy whatsoever. On to the next school at 13, which …

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Britain is the bolthole for crooked money from all over the world

More than 87,000 properties in England and Wales, worth £100bn in total, are owned by anonymous companies registered in tax havens.  (The Week, 23 March 2019) If you think this is sleazy, wait until Britain is out of the EU.  Given the main cheerleaders of Brexit one has to conclude that one motivation of the …

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Reconnecting with the voters

If we really want the parties to reconnect with voters, we should import – from Australia, say, or Brazil – a far more important innovation: compulsory voting. Obliging people to cast a ballot may sound illiberal: but it has the huge advantage of forcing political parties “to reach beyond their comfort zone”. Labour could no …

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Five things you shouldn’t do

Don’t smoke The Hisayama Study, an ongoing investigation of a suburban Japanese community, has found that smoking in mid to late life not only raises the risk of lung cancer, but also ups the chance of developing dementia. Smokers who quit, even in their 40s or 50s, didn’t see the same rise in risk. Don’t …

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