POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH: MIRROR
The creeping dictatorship of the Left...
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31 October, 2004
PRAYER FOR THE PRESIDENT INCORRECT
This one is so way-out and so presumptuous that I am afraid it gave me a laugh
In a letter of clarification requested by a traveling minister, the Internal Revenue Service has declared people gathered in tax-exempt churches can't pray for President Bush to win the election on Tuesday. The ruling comes in response to a request by the Christian Defense Coalition, which is in the midst of a 15-day prayer tour through Ohio and Pennsylvania. The Rev. Patrick J. Mahoney, director of the organization, had planned to lead in prayer for a Bush victory during evening services in each town. Though he had hoped to hold the services in churches, Mahoney says he has used American Legion halls, hotels and other venues pending a clarification from the IRS.
The American Center for Law and Justice wrote the letter to the IRS on behalf of the Mahoney's group, explaining that the pastor planned to "offer prayer during the evening services in the churches he visits that God grants President Bush four more years as president and that Senator Kerry does not become president."
"This is rank censorship," Mahoney told WND. "If churches felt compelled to pray for Senator Kerry, they should be able to do that, too. Now we have the IRS not only limiting what can be said behind a pulpit in terms of electioneering, but churches aren't even allowed to pray the dictates of their consciences." Mahoney said he would consider legal action against the IRS, saying churches that had considered hosting the tour were unable to do so. He also said he considers his First Amendment rights to have been violated. Reaction to the IRS ruling, Mahoney predicts, will include "massive anger" in the Christian community.........
The PC Police and attitudes to Islam
By: Vernon Richards (author of `Islam Undressed`, available free upon request Islam_Undressed@yahoo.com)
For all who bother to take a close look, separating personal emotion from the passion, pain, and sorrow connected with the historical events of Islam's dealings with non-believers is near-impossible. The issue at hand for us, survival, should not be politicized, but it is. A conservative Democrat at heart, I can no longer support the current direction of a National Democratic party that is largely ignorant of the nature and scope of the Islamic threat. It seems more a coalition of fringe myopic special interest groups than a truly National Party, none of whom seem to grasp the threat of militant Islam. My once great Party fell ill at the time of Jimmy Carter, our fierce peanut-farmer appeaser, became morally and mortally ill with Clinton at the helm, and lost its heartbeat completely following the Gore campaign. Great men like Zell Miller notwithstanding, nothing has come from the once great representative party since but the awful stench of moral death. Suffering from Hubris, it slips noisily into irrelevance, the entire country forced to endure shrill hateful screams of frustration from the likes of Al Gore, Ted Kennedy, Michael Moore, Howard Dean, and John Kerry. My hope is that reasonable people will seize the party back from the fringe of lunacy and make it great again. My once great party, powerfully allied with liberal judges and main-stream media, have become the `brown-shirts' of what is becoming an increasingly Orwellian society where only `approved' freedoms of thought and speech are respected and protected. Surely everyone has noticed by now, that when a prominent Republican or conservative said something even slightly offensive, it sets off a firestorm of media condemnation, while an anti-conservative smear voiced by a liberal or a Democrat rarely draws any attention whatsoever.
The Democratic Party seems only equipped to protect its advantage on `progressive' judges, abortion rights, privacy rights of terrorists, and the entitlements and delicate sensibilities of certain special interest groups, but otherwise seem wholly ill-equipped to protect us from anything more dangerous than vague unintended insults from the `insensitive' Republican Party. Possibly the greatest Democratic president of all time, JF Kennedy, understood well the perils facing the US by communist totalitarianism and was willing to risk all to stand up to it, but sadly there are no Democrats of his caliber in our day willing to even identify, let alone stand up to Islamic fascism.
On September 11, 2001, self-described devout Muslims carried out an act of brutal terrorism and murdered some 3000 people in America and caused over 100 billion in property damage. Remaining Americans were impacted by the trillion dollars in capital and millions of jobs lost (now blamed on Bush). The victims were not armed and did not fall in pitched battle. Of the three thousand dead, none expected their fate, but were nonetheless combat casualties of self-described religious warriors. On March 11, 2004 hundreds in Madrid, Spain experienced the same fate, at the same hands, for the same reasons, with thousands left wounded and maimed. The Israelis know intimately the nature and intents of Islam, while the children of Beslan had their up-close and personal introduction to `real Islam' just recently. Today, many not directly affected by these attacks seek to forget that day, to push it out of relevance, but the orphans of those causalities, and children of orphans not yet born, can never forget.
Because one is the embodiment of the other, the religion can and should be judged by the behavior of the people who practice it; you cannot in fact separate the two. Isa (Jesus) identified this simple fact when he said: "By their fruits ye shall know them", or in other words it is the acts of a religion or following that define the value of the theology, .not the number of followers, the beauty of words, the magnificence of buildings, robes, etc etc. Such bitter fruits as have been described herein, along with all the branches of humanity which made them, have no intrinsic value. The many who claim it as their religion notwithstanding, an incorrect opinion based on a false premise is still wrong, even if repeated by a billion people. As such, Islam cannot serve as any kind of guide to humankind, except as an example of the utter failure of all totalitarian systems of control.
The Muslim God is a god of deception, self-gratification, and war, whereas the Christian God is one of truth, self-sacrifice, and peace. Muhammad was a man of violence who bore arms, was wounded in battle, and preached holy war against non-believers. Christ, on the other hand, healed the wounded soldier's ear who came to arrest him. If you openly disagree with a Christian on religious doctrine, he'll probably pray for you. If you openly disagree with a Muslim on a matter of faith, he is likely to try and kill you. In Muhammad's day, converts were gained to Christian faith by witnessing the constancy with which its confessors cared for others and suffered martyrdom; whereas they were gained to Islam by the spectacle of the readiness of its adherents to inflict death on others. Indeed, for devout Muslims, there seem to be no limitations on to acting in vile and inhumane ways towards non-believers, jihadists being allowed to enslave, rape, rob, pillage, and kill to advance Islam. In Christianity, by contrast, the direction is to `do unto others as you would have them do unto you'. These two groups truly worship very different beings, and represent polar opposites in both belief and practice. Muslims claim to honor all prophets prior to Muhammad, including Jesus, yet conveniently dismiss all previous revelations regarding proper behavior in human relations. Muslims accept without thought that their great `seal' of the prophets, `abrogated' (canceled out) all previous revelation by all earlier prophets. Knowing almost nothing of earlier teachings, Arabs now and then swallow easily all the self-serving ideas the man Muhammad presented, whereas Christians and Jews, with some knowledge of those earlier revelations, were and are unable to accept a philosophy which effectively wipes out all previous understandings of the nature of God and directions on good behavior.
Consider the radical change in religious philosophy borne by Muhammad -- whereas previously God loved all inhabitants of the Earth, suddenly only Muslims were loved. How terribly discontenting for the non-believers, for whom the newly reformed Muslim God unexpectedly had no more patience or love. It completely escapes Muslim theologians how a perfect and fully developed and mature being (God) could suddenly decide that his previous feelings for His children, as revealed to his prophets, were in error and needed abrupt adjustment. Is the universe really that fragile, and can man's faith in God be based on the kind of uncertainty associated with a God whose feelings for his own children are in such flux? Obviously not, the concept fails all logical standards of reason. Muslim terrorists claim to kill people in the name of the one God, while vast numbers of Muslims tolerate such actions -- which surely is the greatest sacrilege and affront to God possible.
Critiques are continuously endured by followers of Christianity and the Bible, but Muslims claim no one is allowed to criticize Islam and the Qur'an, essentially claiming that principles of free speech are subservient to Islamic hyper-sensitivity to criticism. Pious Muslims tell us that critics of the teachings or person of Muhammad are blasphemers who have lost their right to live -- oblivious to the self-evident truth that the greatest blasphemers in any religion are those who appoint themselves as God's executioners (like the child executers of Beslan, or the self-described devout Muslims who steered the jets on 9-11). Muslims, have enormous capacity to absorb huge contradictions and great hypocrisies, remaining completely unfazed. With nary a blink, moderates and extremists alike call monsters who target Jewish children in Israel `mujahedeen' (holy warriors). Arab Muslim societies, instead of developing any empathy for the victims of Muslim terrorists, are racing backward into deeper superstition, bigotry, and a culture of blame -- rendering reformation impossible. Huge parts of the Muslim world are afflicted with what can only be called world-wide denial, if not a deep psychosis characterized by a false sense of superiority and irrational hatred of all others, particularly those capable of defending themselves. When an entire culture embraces the vile butchery of innocents, its whole civilization is in trouble, as are all others within striking distance of a people out of control.
We must all stop trying to compare Islam to other forms of religion, as there is really very little in common to compare outside of the term `religion'. Comparing Islam's ethics, or its followers `fruits' to other religions, Islam does not have recognizable spiritual standards that can be called lofty. Such a statement is easily understood by all peoples everywhere, except poor Muslims who have been brainwashed since birth to believe violent Jihad is the highest expression of personal spirituality. Indeed, any purview of its ethical precepts in relation to conduct toward non-Muslims is deplorable by any standard of human and civil behavior, .except Muhammad's. As such, with neither spiritual nor ethical precepts of a genuinely religious nature, and because it aims to conquer the world, it's much more realistic to call it a political system. Politically correct or not., sensitive or not., the philosophy and methods of group control, otherwise known as Islam, is simply not a religion. We must stop trying to protect them from the truth, and hide from it ourselves. And why, exactly, should anyone really care about the `feelings' of people following a cult seeking to kill us, our families, and dedicated to the destruction of everything we value. When they show a little empathy, sensitivity, and remorse for current and past atrocities, then perhaps we can approach our relationship with a little more delicacy. Until then, why tip toe about carefully worrying about their tender feelings? I mean, they aim to brutally kill us all anyway and take our young women as sex slaves, who cares if their feelings are a little hurt? Should not we all become much more concerned with our own tender feelings of survival, or the feelings of the tens to hundreds of millions of victims who in the past 1400 years suffered extreme horror, pain, humiliation, and death, at the hands of devout Muslims practicing Jihad. Instead of respecting and protecting it, shouldn't their precious religion be mocked by all of humanity to avoid reinforcing their own silly grandiose feelings of superiority, which is at the root of their dangerous psychosis? This corset of political correctness is way too tight and must be loosed, .before it kills us.
30 October, 2004
Rumpole's creator hates being politically correct
By his own admission, Sir John Mortimer, author, playwright and barrister, has always been a bit of a rebel. The man who created the inimitable defence barrister Rumpole of the Bailey bears many of the traits of his crumpled, wine-swilling alter ego, including obstreperousness.
His current pet hates include people who are fanatical about recycling, stinginess towards beggars, New Labour and the ban on fox-hunting. He insists that governments should not be able to lead other people's lives for them. "I can't bear political correctness," he says. "It's so unfair. I have to smoke now, which I don't really like doing, because I'm so fed up with all this anti-smoking propaganda. I have to stuff these little cigars in my mouth after dinner and I'm not at all good at it."....
His 81 years have packed in enough for several lifetimes. A barrister, a playwright, a prolific writer - his many film and TV scripts include Brideshead Revisited and an adaptation of Cider With Rosie, which starred his daughter Emily.
POLITICAL CORRECTNESS STYMIES THE WAR ON TERROR
Americans should not feel too secure with the U.S. government's anti-terror policies because the people being targeted aren't necessarily the terrorists. The government's policies are based on the idea that it's easier to put a net over an entire nation of law-abiding citizens than to take appropriate actions to catch the bad guys.
Maryland Special Education teacher Kathryn Harrington was flying home from vacation a few weeks ago when airport security in Tampa, Fla., confiscated her bookmark as a potential weapon. It was an 8.5 inch leather strip with small lead weights at each end. Police said it resembled a weighted weapon that could be used to knock people unconscious. So the 52-year-old teacher was handcuffed, put into a police car, and charged with carrying a concealed weapon. Though later released, she could have faced a possible criminal trial and a $10,000 fine.
The government's no-fly list is the latest scheme to abuse trusting Americans. A growing number of news reports detail the absurd extremes government is willing to put U.S. citizens through in the name of fighting terrorism. Senator Ted Kennedy and singer Cat Stevens aside, there are more than 300,000 names on the no-fly list. Yet, according to comments by some members of the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee, incredibly, the no-fly list doesn't contain the names of ALL terrorists, just the names of those known to be threats to aviation. If you're a truck-bomber, apparently your name's not on the list.
If you are unfortunate enough to have a name similar to the few terrorist names that are actually on the no-fly list, then your travel plans become a nightmare of government agents, security guards, and strip searches. Meanwhile, the actual terrorists change their names, use false ID, and walk past you and your tormentors to board the plane. The government has chosen to target you rather than focus on the bad guys, because using effective police methods isn't politically correct. Some pressure group might get upset. It's much less painful for the government to focus on helpless individuals who have no voice. In fact, the government wants to deliberately show force to you in order to convince Americans that it is working to protect you. And so we live in a world of the absurd.
For example, The Wall Street Journal reports that the federal Department of Transportation actually fines airlines that search more than two Arab travelers per flight. That would be profiling and profiling is wrong, says the policy. Yet every single one of the 9-11 hijackers was a male of Middle Eastern descent. Any good police detective knows that to catch a criminal you first must look at those who match the description. Airlines are not allowed to do that. The strict politically correct policy is to ignore the facts and randomly select by computer a certain few passengers to be searched each flight. That way it's all fair!...
Meanwhile, as Americans are subjected to such misdirected policy, the southern border of the nation is wide open. Four thousand illegal immigrants per day walk into the nation. An entire industry operates along the border to bring them in. There are safe houses, camps and transportation systems designed to help them disappear into the countryside. As Time magazine reports, for the illegals, there are "no searches for weapons. No shoe removal. No photo-ID checks." Such searches are reserved for legal Americans trying to travel around their own country. And these aren't just illegals from Mexico. Time reports that as many as 190,000 are from other countries, including the Middle East.....
It is politically correct to express compassion for the plight of those who steal into the country under cover of night. It is politically correct to be sensitive to the feelings of those of Middle Eastern decent. It is politically correct to impose black lists, national ID cards, searches of private property without warrants and strip search little old ladies under the excuse of fighting terrorism. But it is NOT politically correct to say these things are a danger to our liberties.
29 October, 2004
PC ELITE IGNORES THE PEOPLE
Stupid ban on Halloween maintained
The school board in this Pierce County city stood firm despite pleas from an angry crowd: No Halloween in the schools. ``Improving student achievement is our highest priority,'' board president Greg Heath told about 400 people at the board's meeting Monday. ``The school board supports the decision of our administration.'' Puyallup School District officials announced last week that Halloween festivities would be canceled in order to stop losing instructional time and to avoid offending believers in the Wiccan religion, sometimes known as witches.
``I'm shaking with anger,'' parent Vicki Hembroff told the board. ``Our children are very creative, and this mixes education and fun together. Let's not take that away.'' Any parents who are offended by Halloween can keep their children away from school that day, she said. Parents, students and district employees crammed into the Ballou Junior High School cafeteria and lambasted the board over a full hour, The News Tribune of Tacoma reported Tuesday. ``To make this decision at this late date is poor management, and you should be ashamed of yourselves,'' said David Powers, a parent. The crowd roared in approval.
Stacy Cook, who drives a school bus and serves in the PTA, wore a bright orange pumpkin hat when she came forward to speak. Cook said she was ``both spooked and afraid'' because the decision was made without advice from parents, students or teaching staff. ``You need to do a better job of probing the public,'' she said. ``Think of the children. I hope they are heard.''.....
District spokeswoman Karen Hansen said earlier that the costumes, excitement and all the focus on Halloween ``take the focus away from learning.'' Hansen said Wiccans who have met with school officials have not asked for cancellation of Halloween events but have said they are offended by images of witches with pointy noses flying on broomsticks.
Lisa Lawrence, facilitator of Gaia's Grove in Puyallup and Wiccan high priestess of Sacred Oak Circle in Puyallup and Tacoma, believes the issue is bigger than a Wiccan question. ``Taking Halloween away from children, that's just ridiculous,'' she told The Associated Press on Tuesday. Lawrence does not have children in Puyallup schools. ``We don't particularly care for the images of witches but there are a lot of stereotypical images that a lot of people don't like, but that's part of life,'' said Lawrence. ``People dress up as perverted priests, sexy nuns, drunken Irishmen, nerds, obese people, every group has its stereotype that is mocked or made fun of. ``As far as classroom time, this is just another attempt to take very bit of creativity and socialization out of schools,'' she said. ``They want to take every bit of fun away from these kids and turn them into testing machines.''
MORE ANTI-CHRISTIAN NONSENSE IN CALIFORNIA
A Christian group is suing a state university that rejected its recognition on campus because it will not accept officers and members who openly oppose its religious beliefs. The University of California's Hastings College of Law says the Christian Legal Society chapter's criteria violate the school's Policy on Nondiscrimination. The policy forces the CLS chapter, and other campus religious groups who want to be recognized, to accept non-Christian members and officers.
The federal civil rights lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, alleges UC Hastings is violating the First Amendment rights of expressive association, free speech and free exercise of religion.
The CLS chapter asked school officials in early September to exempt the group and other religious student organizations from the policy but were denied. The school insisted that "to be one of our student-recognized organizations, the CLS chapter must open its membership to all students irrespective of their religious beliefs or sexual orientation." UC Hastings then stripped the CLS chapter of its yearly funding, despite promises already made by university officials to provide for certain chapter-related expenses.
"It is outrageous that the University of California, which was at the epicenter of the struggle for campus free speech in the 1960's, should now refuse to recognize a student group's fundamental right to choose to associate with those who share their beliefs," said Steven H. Aden, chief litigation counsel for the Christian Legal Society's Center for Law & Religious Freedom in Annandale, Va. Aden said the university is only "the latest in a string of colleges across the country to face litigation because they value political correctness over religious liberty." The lawsuit was filed by the Center for Law & Religious Freedom, the Alliance Defense Fund, and allied attorneys Timothy Smith and Stephen Burlingham.
Source. There is another article about politically correct oppression at a university on EDUCATION WATCH today.
American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.
28 October, 2004
CATHOLICISM INCORRECT IN EUROPE
The decision by the European Parliament's Civil Liberties Committee to reject the nomination of Rocco Buttiglione as European Commissioner for Justice and Security over his comments on homosexuality and marriage is very unfortunate. At best it looks like a case of political correctness gone mad, at worst an anti-Catholic (and anti-Berlusconi) bias among certain left-wing circles in the European Parliament.
Mr Buttiglione, the former Italian Minister for Europe, is a devout Catholic and a close friend of the Pope. During his questioning by the parliamentary committee he was asked whether he thought homosexuality was a sin. His reply was that he might think that homosexuality was a sin but this would have absolutely no bearing on his policies as a Commissioner, because in any case he certainly did not consider it to be a crime.
One may or may not agree with Mr Buttiglione's reply - perhaps he could have been more diplomatic - but this is certainly no reason to reject his nomination. Mr Buttiglione is entitled to his Catholic views, he is entitled to believe in a Europe of values and he is entitled to be loyal to his conscience.
Candidates should be rejected as Commissioners if they are incompetent, bigoted or hold extremist or anti-democratic views. This is certainly not the case with Mr Buttiglione who is balanced, moderate, level-headed and very intelligent. Why should he be penalised because he holds traditional Catholic views and has the courage to admit this?......
Although the European Parliament cannot prevent any one particular Commissioner-designate from taking office - it has to veto the entire team - the rejection of Mr Buttiglione is a serious blow to Commission President-designate Jos‚ Manuel Barroso who has repeatedly said that he has full confidence in his whole team of Commissioners.
Mr Barroso said that his Commission will be both tolerant and liberal on social issues, and that tolerance should be shown to Mr Buttiglione. "The same tolerance we should apply to different views," he added.
The Socialist Group, however, has already said that it is willing to reject the entire Commission if Mr Barroso insists on keeping Mr Buttiglione. Mr Barroso can decide to call Parliament's bluff - after all, the Socialists alone cannot veto the Commission, as they do not command a parliamentary majority and would need the support of other political groups to reject the entire team. Such a majority is unlikely, but possible. If it does come to this, then it will be a sad day for Europe, a day when political correctness exceeded all limits.... Europe is secular but people should not be discriminated against because of their religious beliefs. It will be a sad day for Europe if some compromise is not reached.
Another comment on the same matter:
The only person so far to have come out of the demeaning fracas in Strasbourg with any credit is Jose Manuel Durao Barroso, the incoming President of the European commission. His principled insistence that he "cannot surrender to a culture of intolerance" is a fitting reply to the baying in the European Parliament for the removal of Rocco Buttiglione from the justice and home affairs portfolio in the commission. Senhor Barroso has already done more than he need to defuse the crisis. He has promised to set up a panel to share responsibility with the commissioner for fighting racial and sexual prejudice; he has distanced himself from Signor Buttiglione's ill-conceived call for transit camps in North Africa for asylum-seekers; and he has said that his team is ready to meet the views of Parliament halfway.
In the end, however, Senhor Barroso has been forced, like Martin Luther, to declare: "Here I stand. I cannot do otherwise." To remove Signor Buttiglione at this stage would not only, as he said, create more problems than it resolved; it would be a capitulation to the prejudice and ambition of MEPs riding a crest of political correctness to raise their own deservedly low profile, bolster their weak claims to be taken seriously and score points in a grudge match against certain EU member states and their leaders, in particular Silvio Berlusconi.
Certainly, none of the MEPs seeking to reject the entire commission can justify such an extreme step on the basis of their aversion to Signor Buttiglione's views. The Italian nominee is a senior, respected politician. A convinced Roman Catholic, he holds views on homosexuality and the role of women in the home that are controversial but in accordance with his religious views. But he has made it perfectly clear that he would do his job according to EU human rights legislation rather than his personal beliefs. He can certainly be accused of insensitivity and lack of political nous.
The suspicion must arise that Martin Schulz, the German Socialist group leader notorious for goading Signor Berlusconi into his ridiculous outburst last year, sees the Buttiglione row as a cheap way of humiliating the Italian Prime Minister. For Herr Schulz to use "tolerance" as a cover for intolerance is intolerable.
Public safety fears have stumped one of cricket's greatest feats: the six. Amateur cricketers at two eastern Melbourne suburban grounds will be penalised for hitting a six under a Boroondara Council rule. The risk of cricket balls hitting bystanders and the likelihood of lawsuits have prompted the change, which is being adopted by more than 100 Eastern Cricket Association teams. The dead ball rule is to stop cricketers hitting sixes over certain boundaries at Canterbury Sports Ground and Dorothy Laver Reserve East, Glen Iris. Cricketers will not receive any runs and the ball will not be re-bowled.
Eastern Cricket Association secretary manager Rod Patterson said the rule was a necessary change to prevent injuries and lawsuits. "Unfortunately, in this day and age we have a litigious society and council is concerned they may get sued if they allow cricket balls to come out of the park," Mr Patterson said. "We're also concerned." Mr Patterson said there had been some surprise from clubs when told about the new rule. "We've explained to our clubs why we're doing this. Our clubs have accepted that," he said.
Boroondara city works director John Nevins said while the council was not aware of any cricket ball injuries to date, there had been near misses. "A resident wrote to us during last cricket season saying they'd been walking with their baby along the street of the southern boundary of the Canterbury Sports Ground, when a cricket ball landed near the pram." Mr Nevins said a study of Boroondara's 60-odd grounds found only two high-risk grounds. He said he could only speculate about the financial consequences of a lawsuit after an injury. "Cricket is a really significant community activity here in Boroondara," Mr Nevins said. "Nobody wants anybody to be hurt. We know there is a risk. As a responsible council we need to act appropriately."
27 October, 2004
FOOD DICTATORSHIP COMING IN BRITAIN
"Voluntary", of course. But, without doubt, sanctions will gradually be added
Every public health patient in Britain would receive a personalised diet and fitness program under a radical plan to cut the nation's obesity levels and shift the focus of the medical system from cure to prevention. The plans, which may also include personalised sex advice, are the centrepiece of a range of new measures to be unveiled by the Blair Government in a forthcoming white paper on Britain's perilous health. The proposals, leaked to the Independent on Sunday newspaper, are also expected to propose screening children at an early age to identify those at risk of obesity and related illnesses, such as diabetes.
The Blair Government is hoping to make health care a plank in its re-election campaign next year and has already signalled a shift towards preventive medicine. But the Government may not agree to a push by several large councils and Whitehall policymakers to introduce a ban on smoking in public places. The Government's opponents are likely to attack the health measures as an example of the "nanny state", but participation in the individual regimens is expected to be voluntary.
Patients will be set specific goals monitored by their family doctor, an unnamed official told the Independent on Sunday. Doctors will give individual advice on weight loss, fitness and sex as part of plans that, if approved by cabinet, could be in force within four years.
The proposals are due to be released on November 10 and come as the private sector reports a massive rise in the number of people signing up to weight loss programs and fitness regimens. Up to 100,000 Britons have reportedly joined private slimming clubs over the past year.
DEAFNESS CORRECT IN WACKY CALIFORNIA
Who cares about safety? If the guy in the truck is backing into you, it will be no good tooting your horn
United Parcel Service must give deaf employees a chance to drive its smaller delivery trucks if they can show they can drive as safely as employees with normal hearing, a federal judge in San Francisco ruled Thursday. "Hearing alone does not make someone a safe driver,'' said U.S. District Judge Thelton Henderson, ruling in a nationwide disability discrimination suit. He said UPS, the world's largest private package carrier, failed to show in a trial last year that the deaf are inherently unable to drive safely or communicate with the public. The firm can subject individual drivers to the safety evaluations and training it provides to all applicants, Henderson said.
His ruling allows the deaf to apply for jobs as drivers of UPS vehicles known as "package cars,'' weighing 10,000 pounds or less. Drivers of larger trucks, which make up about 90 percent of the Atlanta company's fleet of 65, 000 vehicles, are required by law to meet U.S. Department of Transportation hearing standards. The case is part of a class-action suit filed in 1999 on behalf of more than 1,000 hearing-impaired UPS workers. In a July 2003 settlement that resolved all issues except the firm's ban on deaf drivers, UPS agreed to pay $5.8 million in damages and provide aids such as vibrating pagers and text- message telephones.
UPS argued that deaf drivers would be more likely to get into accidents because they cannot hear sirens, screeching tires and other danger signals, and would also have trouble detecting maintenance problems and communicating with customers.
26 October, 2004
"In The Constitution of Liberty, Friedrich Hayek made the point that one of the keystones of socialism is the denial of individual responsibility. Thus, the crusade for socialism always included attacks on individual responsibility. For if individuals do not have free will, and are not responsible for their actions, then their lives must be controlled somehow-preferably by the state-according to the socialists. They must be regulated, regimented and controlled-for their own good.
This is the underlying message of Fast Food Nation, in which the author [Schlosser] makes the remarkable scientific discovery that a steady diet of chocolate milkshakes and French fries, combined with little or no exercise, will make you fat. Schlosser has nothing at all good to say about the fast food industry despite the fact that millions of Americans (and others) express their disagreement with him every day by spending their money at these establishments.
Schlosser fails to acknowledge that American consumers are as educated as they have ever been and can judge for themselves where the best place to eat is. Just as everyone has understood that smoking is bad for your health for well over a hundred years, if not longer, it is common knowledge that a super-sized double cheeseburger with fries has considerably more calories than baked chicken and broccoli. We don't need Eric Schlosser to inform us of this.
One gets the impression that despite his voluminous discussion of the alleged problems of the fast food industry, Schlosser has never paid close attention to the menu items at Wendy's, McDonald's, or Burger King. These fast food restaurant chains, and many others, have adapted to the American public's demands for healthier foods by cutting down on fat grams, offering more and more salads, wrap sandwiches, and other more healthful items, as well as all kinds of low-carb offerings. The free market is working, in other words. But Schlosser's book is nothing if it is not an uninformed attack on the free market in the food industry.
Schlosser reveals his true agenda in the book's epilogue, where he sings the praises of "scientific socialists," a term that Lenin used to boast of the alleged accomplishments of Soviet socialism. He lambastes capitalism in general and waxes eloquent about the alleged munificence of government intervention, from the job-destroying minimum wage law to "public works" departments and road-building programs, which have been perhaps the most colossal examples of government waste, fraud, inefficiency, and corruption.
He ends the book by recommending a blizzard of government intervention, as though that will make us all thinner, fitter, and healthier. We need more government "job training" programs, he says, despite the fact that such programs were even deemed to be abysmal failures by the U.S. Congress itself in the 1970s when it sunset the Comprehensive Employment and Training Act (CETA). We need more laws that give special privileges to labor unions, says Schlosser, who is apparently ignorant of how such union power played an important role in almost destroying the American steel and automobile industries, among others, over the past several decades.
The food industry is regulated by federal, state, and local bureaucracies, and by "consumer activist" busybodies in the nonprofit sector, but that is not enough for Schlosser, who advocates layers and layers of additional regulatory regimentation.
(Much) more here
LEFTISTS EXEMPT FROM THEIR OWN PC SPEECH CODES
Because George W. Bush ended the 8-year Democratic occupation of the White House, they have made him the object of their fury, even though his administration has not embraced the conservative direction they like to think it has and what I wish it were. Dick Cheney is loathed even more because he is considered to be more conservative than Bush and is a former CEO in the realm of business.
My other guess in discerning what vexes the Left is their own politically correct mentality. There is perhaps nothing more stifling to human intellect in the Western Hemisphere than the shroud of political correctness, which prevents people from projecting their instinctual thoughts and requires deep contemplation to review and censor the potential offensiveness of their statement before saying it.
If I had to carefully analyze everything uttered from my mouth and convince myself into believing a load of fertilizer that conforms to the norms of PC while ignoring the reality of a situation, I would probably be peddling a bicycle around Manhattan while wearing a tricorner hat myself.
The infringement of freedom of expression has undoubtedly bottled up emotional frustration causing liberals to channel it out through bombastic acts on the political stage that need no rationalization regardless how obnoxious they might be.
And finally, I believe liberals have a self-aggrandized view of themselves in which they are mentally and morally superior to everyone who thinks otherwise. This is the reason why they see no problem violating their own rules of political correctness as their deviation from the mob-enforced mentality is wholly justified in the pursuit of their agenda.
In their twisted minds, politics is not about the development of policy through deliberation, but about good versus evil. They are energized with the same self-righteous zeal that possessed Spanish Inquisitors during the religious cleansing of Iberia.
If a business manager had used in the presence of a female underling any of the words I read on the placards at the womynist "March For Women's Lives" in DC back in the spring, they would have been slapped with a sexual harassment suit faster than you can say "Bill O'Reilly".
Like the unpopular kid on the playground who constantly changes the rules in sports, the PC code only applies to the Left when it is convenient.
Tormented with the angst of defeat, fueled with hate, and desensitized to a point that they are willing to accomplish their goals through any means necessary, liberals across the country will continue their no-boundaries political rage until they are once again consumed by their own blind hostility and handed yet another setback at the polls.
25 October, 2004
A "LIBERAL" SEES THE PROBLEMS OF POLITICAL CORRECTNESS
Yet sometimes our desire to be politically correct quells dialogue. Our fear of being offensive causes us to censor ourselves. Instead of saying what they really think, people say what they think they should say. Rather than talking about the real issues, we talk around them. In an attempt at being politically correct, people foreclose the possibility of having an honest conversation, of revealing their true prejudices, and of being held accountable for their thoughts and practices, politically correct or not.
In a real sense, politically correct discourse is far more insidious. It allows people to hide behind their words, for it gives the impression of tolerance and fairness and understanding. It allows us to ignore the intentional and unintentional prejudices we hold. It allows us to forget the racism and misogyny and homophobia that pervade society. Were I not an advocate for equal rights for all humans, including women, gays, lesbians, people with disabilities, African-Americans, Latinos, Asians and Native-Americans. I might not be able to say the things I said before. And although I do believe in equality for all, it does not mean that what I said was therefore excusable. I do buy into stereotypes. I do use politically incorrect words. I do harbor certain assumptions and prejudices that are unfair and harmful. Yet had I not written them down, had I worried about offending you, had I been entirely politically correct, you might have never known I did.
Politically incorrect speech presents us with the opportunity to call one another out. It holds the potential for real dialogue where the speaker is forced to come to terms with his or her assumptions and prejudices, and where the listener can inform the speaker about the power of his or her words and the fallacy of such thinking.
Now, I am not advocating that people revert back to using racial epitaphs [joke? I presume "epithets" is meant] and telling sexist jokes. Words are messy, complicated little things that possess an unruly amount of power. They can provoke and incite. They can hurt and upset people. They can cause irreparable damage. And there are some words that are so loaded with decades of discrimination and hate that I think they are better left unsaid.
Yet there is a difference between hate speech and offensive speech. Hate speech is violent and meant to inflict harm. It is saying politically incorrect things with the knowledge that they are hurtful and unwelcome. Offensive speech, while it too can also cause harm, is usually less malicious and its effect less understood. It stems more out of ignorance than out of sheer hate. Therefore, it can provide a locus for dialogue, for a rational and productive conversation about the word and its implications. It demands that people express their feelings, acknowledge their inherent prejudices, and work to improve themselves as well as their relations with others. Honest speech, as difficult and painful as it might be, is one way we can begin to break down the walls of hate and intolerance and misunderstanding.
ANOTHER SALVO FROM THE OBESITY WARRIORS
Socialism is self-reinforcing. Make the government responsible for your health-care and it has an excuse to dictate what you eat -- even though one would think that choosing one's own food would be one of the most basic of individual liberties
"More than a quarter of the phenomenal growth in health care spending over the past 15 years is attributable to obesity, Emory University researchers reported yesterday. With 60 percent of the U.S. population deemed overweight or obese, study author Kenneth Thorpe said the only way to control soaring medical costs is to begin targeting prevention efforts and treatment on the most costly weight-related illnesses, such as diabetes, high cholesterol and heart disease. "We've got to find ways to get the rates of obesity stabilized or falling," he said in an interview. "We need to find effective interventions to deal with this on multiple levels -- the schools, at home, in the workplace -- because clearly this is a major driver in terms of growth in health care spending."
From 1987 to 2001, medical bills for obese people constituted 27 percent of the growth in overall health care spending, he found. The jump in spending was attributable to both a rise in the number of obese Americans and higher costs for treating those patients. Treating obese patients was 37 percent more expensive than medical care for normal-weight people, Thorpe and colleagues wrote in the journal Health Affairs. Put another way, obesity accounted for an extra $301 per person in medical spending over the 15-year study period. "The actual numbers are probably higher," Thorpe said, because his team relied on people who self-reported their weight and height.
Obesity is determined by body mass index or BMI (a formula in which a person's weight in kilograms is divided by the square of his or her height in meters). A score higher than 30 is deemed obese; 25-30 is considered overweight. By those standards, a six-foot man weighing 225 pounds is categorized as obese. Federal officials have estimated that treating obesity-related illnesses costs about $93 billion a year, but Thorpe is the first to examine the impact on the overall growth in health spending. The Emory team based its analysis on inflation-adjusted federal data on medical spending and health status. "These numbers show that the prevailing approach for dealing with obesity, which is to blame people who have the problem and hope the situation will disappear, is a fantasy," said Kelly Brownell, director of the Yale Center for Eating and Weight Disorders. "Something dramatic needs to be done to change the environment in order to prevent this problem from occurring in the first place."
"Once you are obese, it is very hard to treat, so prevention makes sense," he said. "And when you focus on children, you get away from the libertarian arguments that adults are just doing this to themselves."" [The would-be dictator speaks]
24 October, 2004
The political game of out of sight, out of mind has grown old and we living in America are growing weary. When one sweeps items of a contentious nature under the rug of extreme diplomacy and political correctness the items are not gone. They are out of sight, yes; however they are not out of mind.
Daily I read of the lack of affordable health care in America, I watch and I listen as you attempt to explain your various philosophies and viewpoints on health care, our burgeoning American crisis. Yet I never hear about what it is costing American taxpayers to fund Mexico's poor that are sent here, as if they are a precious commodity being shipped across our shared border. As if Mexico is bestowing a great service and gifts upon us lowly, lazy American society members. Are we that lazy? Are we that grateful as a society for Mexico's 'gifts' that have been bestowed up on us? Do you realize the costs these gifts of from our porous border extend to Americans struggling to live here in our own country? Do you even care? The Center For Immigration Studies in Washington, DC just released an exhaustive study on illegal alien households and found each illegal alien household costs United States taxpayers $2,700.00 annually, above and beyond what these uninvited aliens pay in taxes by use of our generous welfare services. Dear prospective public servants, that money would purchase a great deal of expensive lettuce, or fund much-needed health care for our families in our country of America.
Again, according to the latest Roper and Zogby polls, 80% of Americans want illegal aliens stopped and deported. Numbers do not lie, in fact these numbers have only grown steadily since the 1970's. How say you, revered public servants, in response to the 80% of Americans who ask that our laws be upheld, that our laws be enforced and that our country be protected against both foreign and domestic enemies? Another oath you have taken or that you will take in 2 weeks. American citizens do not ask that new laws be put into place. We are content with the old ones. We ask again that you uphold your duties first and foremost to us, the voting American citizens. The Americans who trust you with our future in our own country.
Because you see, candidate hopefuls, American citizens know the laws of the United States. We have learned all about our Constitution in our American public schools. We have learned about the sworn duties of our elected officials, and we remember. Knowledge is indeed powerful. We are aware that you are not playing the game by the rule that is set before you. The Rule of Law that governs America.
Impolite or unpopular, ugly heads and all, illegal immigration remains a constant American concern, and we will not sweep it under the rug as you have done. We prefer the true clean the house remedy. See the problem, address the problem and then take care of the problem. Do not hide the problem under the Bush Administration guest-worker guise or John F. Kerry instant-amnesty proposal. The problem is still there, just assigned a much more politically correct name such as "Guest Worker", or "Amnestied new citizens". How polite.
I recommend a clean sweep. Much as you have done in Iraq, honorable President Bush. Come clean with a clean sweep. A clean sweep with your American public and a clean sweep with the invaders residing in America, these voteless and therefore voiceless illegal alien populace.
The contentious and pro-illegal agenda has gotten our attention in America, notably by the majority. Now it is your turn to respond. The ball is in your court, the dust bunnies are residing under your rug. Play by the rules, honor the laws. Respect the citizens of this country. It is all we ask and we expect no less dear Presidential candidates.
A New Zealand viewpoint
Apparently New Zealand's justice system is third world.That's good. Why should prisoners get a first world justice system? Do we really want our criminals to be housed in fancy state-of-the-art prisons with all the comforts of home? Let's have a quick look at why our system is third world.
More than 200 prisoners are kept in police and court cells, some under conditions that ignore human rights. Is there really something wrong with this? They have committed a crime against society, so why should they be treated like first class prisoners? There have been instances of prisoners being kept locked up for days at a time with no access to fresh air or sunlight. Some prisoners have been denied the opportunity to exercise. Seems to work in Thai jails. Who really wants to go a Thai jail? There's not too many places worse to go, except maybe an Iraqi jail when Saddam Hussein was in power. Going to jail in New Zealand would seem like a picnic compared to Thailand, where it's not good to be locked away for any period of time, no matter how short.
Some prisoners in New Zealand have been fed mostly pies and TV dinners. You could almost bet that doesn't sound too bad to some people. It seems in some instances prisoners have been kept for a week or more in the same clothes with no access to wash facilities. Again refer to Thailand for why this doesn't seem too bad.
I can't understand why prisoners complain. Listening to their pleas is just another case of New Zealand being too politically correct. Instead of making prison seem like a place to fear, those convicted don't really dread the place too much and in some cases people have tried to get convicted to go to prison where life is "easier" compared to life on the outside. That's just wrong. We should be creating a system of fear for those wanting to commit crime.
But those in charge of prisons tell us a climate of fear would not work. Prisoners need to be reformed. This has to be done in a healthy climate. That sounds good in theory, but let's fact it, some of those going to prison are coming out better educated in the art of crime and simply go on to offend again.
New Zealand needs to come down hard on criminals.I am sure there are plenty of people not concerned that our prisoners are being treated in a third world manner, if that's what it is at all. Somehow third world seems a bit dramatic to call our justice system. It's more lower first world than third. Maybe those saying it's third world need to look around at countries in Africa and Asia to see the true third world. Then maybe they might quieten down and realise criminals in New Zealand get it pretty easy to others around the world.
WITCHES STRIKE BACK ON THE INCORRECTNESS OF HALLOWEEN
The news-item about how Halloween is offensive to witches mentioned here yesterday has angered witches. It was sent to the spokesdroid firstname.lastname@example.org who made an announcement, since the email of the district superintendent in Washington is not on his site. The announcement follows:.
Speaking as a Wiccan, we will NOT allow our community to be used as an excuse for you to cut off the celebration of Halloween and we will NOT accept the blame for this. Expect to be hearing from angry witches and very, very soon. You owe our community an apology as well as your students and parents.
We have a holiday called Samhain that roughly corresponds to the Christian Halloween... both are harvest festivals. Where did you get the idea that celebrating one of the few religious holidays that shows up in both the Christian and pagan religious calendars would offend Wiccans?
Did you try ASKING any real witches? We are entitled to be treated with respect, and this is NOT what we are getting from you. Every witch in the USA helps fund the Federal school aid side of your educational program, and I don't like what you are spending our money on.
The ONLY religious group I know of that objects to Halloween is the Christian Right. Perhaps involvement by some of your politicians or high-level administrators with the Christian Right is the REAL reason why your district considers this a "waste of time"?
I will be turning this and excerpts from the ABC News article on this idiocy and putting this through our pagan information networks shortly along with more contact information for your school district "leadership".
23 October, 2004
POLITICAL CORRECTNESS TAKES A DIVE IN WESTERN AUSTRALIA
Note for American readers: Western Australia is about the same size as Alaska, California and Texas put together
"When does the word "wog" become a term of endearment? When the West Australian Government decrees it so. Terms such as "pom", "wog" and "ding" will be acceptable in the state after amendments to proposed racial vilification laws passed through the lower house of parliament late on Tuesday. The amendments allow the terms to be used without fear of prosecution, while strengthening punishments for race-related crimes.
Attorney-General Jim McGinty said the Government had no intention of making it a criminal offence to make "light-hearted" references to another person's race. "My best friend is a 'ding' and he has no objection to me calling him that – it's a colloquialism, a term of affection," Mr McGinty said. "Ding" is a West Australian term used to describe people of Italian origin.
Mr McGinty would not be drawn on whether terms such as "nigger", "coon" or "slope" would be deemed offensive under the amendments, saying it would depend on the context in which the words were used.
The Macquarie Dictionary lists "wog" and "ding" as derogatory and "pom" as a colloquialism. However, the dictionary's publisher, Sue Butler, said next year's edition would list "pom" as "sometimes derogatory".... "Over the last 10 years there's been an increased sensitivity to any kind of stereotyping or labelling, which means that many descriptive labels and slang are now equally capable of being used affectionately or angrily," Ms Butler said.
While the federal Human Rights and Equal Opportunities Commission is responsible for complaints under the commonwealth's Racial Discrimination Act, the states – with the exception of Western Australia – each have their own racial vilification laws. A spokesman for NSW Attorney-General Bob Debus said the use of "low-level" racial insults such as "wog" could lead to civil action but were not a criminal offence. In Victoria, the Racial and Religious Tolerance Act also provides a civil avenue for people who feel they have been vilified.
British People Against Racial Discrimination lobby group founder David Thomason said he had been trying to get the word "pom" outlawed for years. "It's not so much the word itself on its own, it's what comes before or after it – usually 'pommy bastard' or 'whingeing pom'," he said.
The reasoning is a sham. They just hate other people enjoying themselves
A Washington state school district is canceling its annual Halloween celebration, and the explanation has some parents baffled. "Let them have their 30 minutes of dressing goofy and having candy," Silas Macon, a father of two school-age girls, said Wednesday outside Maplewood Elementary School after learning that the grade-school tradition of a party and parade in costume during the last half-hour of class before Halloween night won't happen this year in the district.
A letter sent home to parents Wednesday said there will be no observance of Halloween in any of the district's schools. "We really want to make sure we're using all of our time in the best interest of our students," Puyallup School District spokeswoman Karen Hansen said. The superintendent made the decision for three primary reasons, Hansen said. First, Halloween parties and parades waste valuable classroom time. Second, some families can't afford costumes and the celebrations thus can create embarrassment for children.
Both of those reasons seemed sensible to the parents who spoke to ABC News affiliate KOMO-TV in Seattle. But the district's third reason left some Puyallup parents shaking their heads. The district said Halloween celebrations and children dressed in Halloween costumes might be offensive to real witches. "Witches with pointy noses and things like that are not respective symbols of the Wiccan religion and so we want to be respectful of that," Hansen said. The Wiccan, or Pagan, religion is said to be growing in the United States and there are Wiccan groups in Puyallup. On the district's list of guidelines related to holidays and celebrations is an item that reads: "Use of derogatory stereotypes is prohibited, such as the traditional image of a witch, which is offensive to members of the Wiccan religion."
22 October, 2004
THE DECEITS OF AMERICAN HISTORY TEXTBOOKS
An American High School student reports:
We are taught U.S. history out of politically correct textbooks. The books are boring and tedious and, what's worse, extremely misleading. The pages are carefully measured to spend equal time on the accomplishments of men and women, whites and nonwhites. They take care not to offend America's past enemies, but don't seem to worry about offending Americans.
My textbook last year, for example, was the 12th edition of The American Pageant by David Kennedy, Lizabeth Cohen, and the late Thomas Bailey. Its chapter on World War II has more than a page on the relocation and internment of Japanese-Americans after Pearl Harbor and one sentence on the Bataan Death March. (What does one infer from this about the value of an American life?) It spends no time at all on the American GI, but gives a comprehensive discussion of the number of women who served, and where. (It carefully refers to "the 15 million men and women in uniform.") The discussion, in short, is warped, incompetent, anachronistic.
Worst of all are The American Pageant's blatantly biased discussions of modern politics. Compare the chapters on Carter and Reagan. Carter's actions are often described as "courageous." For instance: Carter's "popularity remained exceptionally high during his first few months in office, even when he courted public disfavor by courageously keeping his campaign promise to pardon some ten thousand draft evaders of the Vietnam War era." Or: "Carter courageously risked humiliating failure by inviting President Anwar Sadat of Egypt and Prime Minister Menachem Begin of Israel to a summit conference at Camp David."
The book dramatically describes how Carter, in the summer of 1979, "like a royal potentate of old, summoning the wise men of the realm for their counsel in a time of crisis," went up to Camp David ("the mountaintop") while his people awaited "the results of these extraordinary deliberations." Then he made a "remarkable television address" in which he "chided his fellow citizens for falling into a 'moral and spiritual crisis' and for being too concerned with 'material goods.'" (Everyone else remembers this event as Carter's pathetic "malaise" speech.) The authors sum Carter up as "an unusually intelligent, articulate, and well-meaning president," but one who was "badly buffeted by events beyond his control, such as the soaring price of oil, runaway inflation, and the galling insult of the continuing hostage crisis in Iran." In other words: He did a great job, and the awful things that happened during his administration weren't his fault.
The Reagan chapter starts by describing Reagan's high hopes and goals, but quickly deteriorates: "At first, 'supply-side' economics seemed to be a beautiful theory mugged by a gang of brutal facts" as the economy went downhill. Then there was a "healthy" recovery. But "for the first time in the twentieth century, income gaps widened between the richest and poorest Americans. The poor got poorer and the very rich grew fabulously richer, while middle-class incomes largely stagnated."
This is how the authors describe the largest peacetime economic boom of the 20th century, a period in which the average income of all quintiles from poorest to richest increased. The book then quickly moves on to discuss the deficit: "The staggering deficits of the Reagan administration constituted a great economic failure. . . . The deficits virtually guaranteed that future generations of Americans would either have to work harder than their parents, lower their standard of living, or both, to pay their foreign creditors when the bills came due."
Reagan's most important achievement, ending the Cold War, is never mentioned in the Reagan section. The authors imply that the credit for ending the Cold War goes to none other than Mikhail Gorbachev. My classmates swallow it all. They believe that Gorbachev suddenly decided one day that it was time for his country to lose the Cold War. My history teacher thought it incredible that I refused to credit Gorbachev with "allowing us to win."
Perhaps needless to add, there are no lessons on the virtue of patriotism. Like the textbooks, my teachers are extremely charitable when discussing American enemies; from the Soviet Union to the Vietnamese Communists, they all get the benefit of the doubt. I would like to believe that this is only a temporary situation, perhaps one that a few well-placed educational reformers could begin to correct. But my fear is that it will take a long time to repair our public schools. Meanwhile, what will become of a country whose youngest citizens have been taught to have so little affection for it?
POLITICAL CORRECTNESS IN NEW ZEALAND
I recently received documents under the Official Information Act, which outline the "two-world view" ideology underpinning the Housing New Zealand Corporation. The "Housing New Zealand Way" consists of a Maori world-view and a Crown world-view. According to HNZ's Chief Executive, the Two-World View: "is based on an acknowledgement that the two Treaty partners have different ways of looking at the world including beliefs, values and experience. By looking from both of these perspectives we can develop a two-world view for the Corporation, which will underpin the way HNZC operates internally and the way we develop relationships externally."
While I understand that a Two-World View methodology may be rife throughout the public service, the reality is that the vast majority of New Zealanders do not want a divided country. Instead, they want a nation that celebrates differences but unites us as one people working, living and playing together. The sort of racist, politically correct brainwashing being promoted by the Labour Government is the antithesis of that. In the training materials, for example, the view is being promoted that - as a result of the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi - Maori: "might reasonably have expected" that "they would remain the majority, with an ongoing trickle of migrants rather than a flood" and that "the bulk of the country would still belong to the tribes...
Under the two-world view, Maori could look forward to: "self-determination for Maori; return of Crown controlled resources unjustly alienated from Maori owners and negotiated compensation to Maori for such resources which are no longer in Crown control (does this mean all private assets?); and compensation for past and present dependency, poverty and discrimination by policies aimed at equity, including affirmative action in training, job appointments etc until there is real equity".
All of this flies in the face of public assurances by the Prime Minister and other Ministers that they are not giving special privilege to Maori. In reality, it means that, for the first time in public service history, we have a government that has introduced recruitment and promotion policies based on racial ideology: unless a staff member buys into the Labour Party's Maori grievance world-view and politically correct agenda, they cannot work for HNZC.
The political correctness indoctrination is so advanced that the training manual has pages of "transformational vocabulary", which states that certain words should not be used but should be replaced by others. For example: 'confused' should be replaced by 'curious', 'afraid' by 'uncomfortable', 'furious' by 'passionate', 'disgusted' by 'surprised', and if someone believes 'it stinks' then instead they must say 'it is aromatic', and if they are 'pissed off' instead they should be 'tinkled'!
Labour's Two-World View is promoting racial discrimination. Not only should it be immediately scrapped, but it would not surprise me to learn of staff members - or potential employees - who are taking claims to the Employment Court, because they had their reasonable career expectations curtailed through their failure to subscribe to the outrageous racial discrimination and re-writing of history being promoted by this government agency.
21 October, 2004
CHILDREN'S GAMES INCORRECT
"Traditional fairground amusements such as “grab a toy” and “penny fall” machines could be banned as part of the Government’s attempt to be seen as tough on gambling. Ministers have told the British gaming industry that they are considering outlawing the machines in areas where children have access when the Bill comes to a second reading on November 1. Such a move would effectively herald the death knell of the seaside and fairground amusement arcades.
However, ministers believe that the decision would help to head off opposition to “super-casinos” and appease church groups who say that family entertainment centres are “gateways to adult gambling”. Tessa Jowell, the Culture Secretary, has already stated that children and gambling “do not mix” and has promised to listen carefully to further representations on the Bill which was published yesterday.
TO THE MEDIA, ONLY POLITICALLY CORRECT VICTIMS COUNT
How many hate-crime anecdotes does it take before the mainstream media spot a trend? If the victims are politically correct, all it takes is one or two. One alleged name-calling. A few alleged acts of vandalism. A suspicious arson here or there. In an instant, an unsubstantiated attack against the right kind of ethnic, racial, religious or sexual minority becomes undisputed evidence of an epidemic of violence. A symbol of rising hate. A national crisis.
But what happens when the targets are the wrong kind of victim? When conservatives and Republicans are on the receiving end of discriminatory threats or harassment or worse? Hello, reporters? Do I hear pins dropping in the grievance corners of America's otherwise victim-friendly newsrooms?
For several weeks, the Internet has been buzzing with story after story of election-related mayhem aimed at Bush/Cheney supporters. Some have downplayed the incidents as mere pranks. Others claim that "both sides are doing it" equally. Yes, both Democratic and Republican signs have been torn. Yes, there has been juvenile behavior on both sides. But left-wing activists have escalated their attacks to a seemingly unprecedented level, from simple mischief to open-season malice.
And the supposedly objective reporters who are always so willing to connect the dots to expose the politics of hate are now whistling past the smashed windows, flaming signs and bullet holes.
In Madison, Wis., someone burned a swastika on a lawn decorated with Bush-Cheney signs. The vandals used grass killer to spray their hate (Bush-hating trumps environmentalism).
In Orlando, Fla., Democrats stormed the local Bush/Cheney headquarters, and the melee resulted in physical injuries to at least two GOP campaign workers. The liberal protesters justified their actions - including ramming the head of one worker into an office door - by blaming President Bush's "negative campaign." So, the 30-second ads made them do it. It's always someone else's fault.
In Knoxville, Tenn., someone shot into the Bush/Cheney headquarters. Shots were also fired into Bush/Cheney offices in Huntington, W. Va., and Florida.
The GOP office in Gallatin County, Mont., was vandalized twice in a week. GOP offices in the Seattle area, Spokane, Wash.; Canton, Ohio; Fairbanks, Alaska; and Edwardsville, Ill., have also been burglarized and/or vandalized.
On an Alaska-bound flight, a drunken Kerry supporter went ballistic after harassing a female Bush supporter and refusing to calm down at the request of flight attendants.
In Gainesville, Fla., police arrested a Democrat accused of punching the chairman of the Alachua County Republican executive committee in the face at town GOP headquarters. The accused, David McCally, also punched a life-sized cardboard cutout of President Bush. McCally is a college instructor whose specialty is behavioral sciences. According to the GOP chairman, Travis Horn, McCally hurled obscenities at him before the assault. "He proceeded to say how he had a Ph.D., and he was smarter than me. I'm a stupid Republican."
And that, no doubt, is the superior attitude held by reporters and anti-hate crime advocates and peace preachers and civility pleaders who refuse to acknowledge the totally unhinged tactics of Democrats Gone Wild. Liberals promise to do "whatever it takes" - "by any means necessary" - to win this election. If it were conservatives mouthing those slogans as shattered glass was flying and lawns were smoking, Karl Rove would be under federal investigation. Jimmy Carter would be requesting U.N. assistance. And the New York Times would be calling for a National Day of Reconciliation.
A single act of hate is a danger to the Republic, except when it's fomented by bug-eyed, rock-throwing, lighter-wielding Kerry/Edwards supporters just exercising their "free speech."
From Michelle Malkin
20 October, 2004
OBESITY PANIC WILL FATTEN GOVERNMENT
Last week, under a mandate from Congress, the Institute of Medicine initiated a report to battle childhood obesity in America. The report was sweeping in scope, calling on government at all levels to muster resources, and to take decisive action. It called for massive federal intervention in public education, federal nutrition requirements in school lunches, heavy regulation of soda and snack machines, and for Federal Trade Commission authority over the marketing of food to children. The report also called on local governments to change zoning laws to favor pedestrians and bicyclists over automobiles. "We're talking about something that's nothing less than a revolution," Dr. Thomas Robinson, one of the authors, told the Boston Globe. "It has to involve so many elements in our society. ... It's really going to require a major sea change in how we look at this problem."
This childhood obesity scare, however, is just part of an alleged obesity epidemic among the adult population. But, just how severe is America's obesity problem? Do we really have a developing public health disaster on our hands? The data suggest not. According to Rockefeller University professor Jeffrey Friedman, as quoted in The New York Times, Americans have been getting modestly chubbier since the early 1980s. Friedman also told the Times that most of us are carrying an extra 4-6 pounds - not much to worry about - while the very obese among us have gotten very much more obese. The result is a significant increase in the population's average weight, but an increase that's mostly caused by those very heavy people, not by the vast majority of the population, as media reports and nutrition activists would have you believe.
Indeed, if the whole of America has, over the past two decades, been getting as fat as alarmist headlines have suggested, we should be starting to see the early signals of this coming public health crisis. That's just not the case. According to the National Center for Health Statistics, Americans are living longer than ever before. A child born today into almost any demographic group can expect to live more years than at any other time in American history....
An increase in Type II diabetes cases among children is the principal battle cry among those advocating heavy government intervention. The CDC reports that about 7.2 children per 100,000 are now diagnosed with the disease. However, the number of children with eating disorders such as anorexia and bulimia is estimated by the National Mental Health Association to be around 2,500 per 100,000. When kids are 347 times more likely to have an illness associated with poor body image than they are an illness associated with obesity, asking our public schools to have growing kids step on the scale - as the Institute of Medicine report recommends - doesn't seem like such a great idea.
Even if the tenuous connections between obesity and illness were as firm as the anti-fat warriors would have us believe, there's still reason for caution when calling for government intervention. Any far-reaching government program is likely to be costly, and just as likely to restrict personal choice and undermine personal responsibility. Most government programs also come with the hidden costs of unintended consequences, such as incubating eating disorders among young girls by asking them to weigh themselves in front of their peers. There's also no guarantee that any of these programs will be effective.
The best thing Congress can do in the fight against obesity is understand that there are some spheres of life that simply aren't within the purview of government. How and when and how much we eat - and how we raise our kids with respect to diet, food and exercise - ought to be one of those spheres.
19 October, 2004
SEPARATE MALE AND FEMALE CHANGE-ROOMS INCORRECT!
A 14-year-old girl hockey player has won the right to share the same locker room with her male teammates. News Brunswick's Human Rights Commission has ruled that Brigette LeBlanc's rights were violated when she was forced to use a separate change room.
LeBlanc has been playing hockey since the age of five. Her sense of camaraderie took a hit three years ago when she was made to use a separate change room. It felt like I was alone. I was always alone and I was the only girl on the team," she told ATV News. While she didn't mind at first, LeBlanc realized she was missing out on important coaching tips. Her parents asked for a change to allow her to use the same change room, but that request was denied by Moncton's minor hockey association.
The next step was filing a complaint with the provincial human rights commission, which the LeBlancs did in August 2002, when Brigette was 12. It ruled co-ed hockey team players can't be segregated. "They don't have to feel like second-rate players and teammates," said Nicole LeBlanc, Brigette's mother. "They are there and they deserve equality. It's not a privilege to be there with the boys. It's not a privilege to be treated equally -- it's their right. And that's the way it has to be."
The ruling does come with a proviso: The boys must wear shorts at all time and girls must wear shorts and t-shirts. Showers must be taken at separate times, although many shower at home anyway.
COMMONSENSE TRIUMPHS FOR ONCE
"A decision not to pay damages to a Huddersfield schoolgirl injured in an accident in a gym lesson has been upheld by the Appeal Court. Lauren Babbings was eight when she badly fractured her arm during a lesson at Honley Primary in March 1995. Earlier this year, the town's County Court dismissed her claim, ruling staff had not breached their duty of care. On Monday, judges said there was no arguable case that the original decision was wrong.
Lauren, now 18, jumped from a springboard and was supposed to grasp a bar six or seven feet above the ground, but missed it and landed on a wooden floor. Barrister Benjamin Caswell said she will always have some deformity and disablement and argued the school was responsible. He said that Lauren was too young to tackle the apparatus, which had been left out after being used by an older class. Mr Caswell added there was a "reasonably foreseeable" risk of injury, and claimed Lauren, who was suing Kirklees Metropolitan Council, should have had help when landing.
Lord Justice Brooke told the court: "How boring things would be if there were no risk." He praised the school teacher, who had decided to ask his pupils to do the exercise on the spur of the moment, as "a man of integrity". When deciding that there was no arguable case, he described Lauren as a sporty girl who was "excited" at the thought of the exercise. "She liked new challenges; she picked this exercise because it was more exciting than the other three on offer," added the judge.
Lauren still plays football for Huddersfield Ladies and her high school."
18 October, 2004
THE INCORRECTNESS OF FATHERS
"Geldof pointed out that family law works on the presumption that only mothers are capable of caring for children and that, except in extreme cases of addiction or abuse, the mother is always deemed the more capable nurturer. Divorced dads, he claims, do not play an equal and active role in raising their offspring, often because the law prevents them from doing so......
The important point here is that modern dads not only have the desire to raise their offspring, but the ability to do so. Yet the law decrees that when a couple divorce, in the majority of cases the children stay with the mothet. How is that fair or equal?
For that matter, why do we take it for granted that when a couple split up, the woman will be awarded the vast majority of the assets -- including the family home? Is it not possible that in some situations, at least, the father is the more capable parent? The very idea is heresy to many feminist campaigners, for whom all things must be equal... so long as that doesn't mean acknowledging that some women can be equally bad parents as some men.
Again and again we are told: in the eyes of the law, the children come first. And they should. But there must be some occasions when the man can provide a better home than the woman for his children?
Much as we would all love a world where every family is whole and secure, that is not our generation's reality. As Sir Bob pointed out, it is too easy to get into marriage and too easy to get out. But in Bob's World, where mothers and fathers had equal rights, there is an intriguing possibility. If mothers did not get automatic custody of the kids and guaranteed financial support; if instead they faced the risk they would end up with the bills and without the kids, I suspect our divorce-rate would plummet"
BRITISH FOOTBALL IS "RACIST"
Even though it gives far better representation to minorities than is generally the case!
Football is failing to tackle racism in the game, according to a new report from the Commission for Racial Equality (CRE). 'Football's authorities and clubs are not taking racism seriously', claims CRE chairman Trevor Phillips. 'They are not doing enough to promote equal opportunities off the pitch and remove the barriers that prevent ethnic minorities working at all levels of the sport.'
Oh dear God, not another report on racism in football. You would have thought that researchers might have found more groundbreaking subjects to investigate. You know, like studying things we didn't already know about. Trying to discover the causes of cancer might be a good place to start.
Anyway, why does football get singled out as an exemplar of racism? It is ironic that an industry so frequently accused of importing too many foreign players and managers should be just as frequently branded as racist. In fact, football is one of the few arenas in public life where black people can and do succeed. Indeed they are overrepresented in football. Twenty per cent of professional footballers are black, yet black people constitute just 2.3 per cent of the population of England.
But that's not enough for the CRE, which complains that there are too few ethnic minority managers, directors and administrators. 'There is a striking disparity between the relatively high number of black footballers and the under-representation of ethnic minorities in the boardrooms and governance arrangements of football clubs and national football associations', concludes the report. The CRE has drawn up an action plan requiring clubs and FA bodies to overhaul their recruitment and training procedures, adopt equal opportunities policies, and set targets for tackling the under-representation of ethnic minorities. The CRE action plan reads like a full employment charter for race consultants and diversity trainers, but would it benefit anyone else?
I don't think so. No doubt plenty of black and Asian youngsters dream of becoming professional footballers, but do they really aspire to sit on county FA committees? There would have be something seriously wrong with them if they did. Some poor bastards are now going to be dragooned on to these wretched bodies just so that the FA can meet its ethnic representation targets.
The CRE wants all football clubs to develop what it calls 'representation strategies' by July 2006. The problem with these affirmative action-style policies is that they send out the message that ethnic minorities cannot get jobs on merit, but instead need a bureaucratic hand-up. This is patronising - and counter-productive. If more black managers or administrators are hired as a consequence of such policies, there will always be the lingering suspicion that they only got the job because of the colour of their skin. How does that advance the cause of racial equality?
Admittedly, football clubs may not be the most enlightened of employers, but I'd rather see black and Asians succeed on merit. Black footballers broke into what was then an exclusively white man's game in the 1970s and 80s, at a time when terrace racism was at its worst. More to the point, they established themselves without the anti-racist policies or representation strategies that proliferate today. So why can't aspiring black managers or aspiring black FA blazers (if any such creatures exist) do the same?
17 October, 2004
SNACK FOODS NOT THE CULPRIT IN OBESITY
"Snack foods, as it turns out, may not be an important cause of weight gain in children after all. Harvard University researchers followed the snack food intake during 1996-1998 of almost 15,000 children aged 9 to 14 years. Their results were reported online in the International Journal of Obesity (search) on Aug. 17 - and virtually no place else since.
After statistically controlling for stage of development, age, height change, activity and inactivity, the researchers reported no relation between intake of snack foods and subsequent changes in bodyweight among the 6, 774 boys and an inverse relation (meaning snack food intake was associated with lower weight gain) among the 8,203 girls. The researchers concluded, "Our results suggest that although snack foods may have low nutritional value, they were not an important independent determinant of weight gain among children and adolescents."
I know what you're thinking: only researchers bought and paid for by the snack food industry could produce such a shocking result and try to sell it to the public. So, who paid for the study? Was it Coca-Cola? Maybe Frito-Lay? What about M&M/Mars?
The study, as it turns out, was sponsored by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (search), the Boston Obesity Research Center (search) (a nonprofit organization funded by the National Institute for Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases), the National Institutes of Health (search) and the Kellogg Company (search). So, yes, there was some industry funding (albeit not from a company primarily known for its snack foods), but it looks like the bulk of the effort was funded by the very federal government agencies that have been primary promoters of the current wave of childhood obesity hysteria
NO OBESE GEESE IN CALIFORNIA!
"We write about food a lot, because we like food a lot. What we don't like a lot, to put it mildly, are people who mess with our food. That would include trial lawyers who see deep pockets to be looted from the purveyors of fast food, which can't help but raise the price of our chili cheese fries. That would include the fruit and nuts crowd, who would force us to live longer at the expense of better - certainly a matter of individual choice. The animal rights whackos who want us to have dinner with our ham rather than of it. The anti-obesity opportunists, seeking to deprive fat fetishists of fundamental civil rights.
The list is long and could get very personal. Moving from nowhere to the very top of the list is California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, who has now signed one of the most idiotic bills in that state's much-studied history of such action. We'd blame the California legislature, which passed the bill, but Arnold was elected to be the adult there.
The bill will ban the force-feeding of geese to produce (really good) foie gras . in 2012. How's that for "progressive" governance? You've got a state where betting touts can't decide whether terminal mismanagement or an earthquake will do it in, and its government has the time and inclination to declare foie gras production to be a crime against goosemanity. Having done so, it postpones implementation for eight years. A state that can't (or won't) police illegal immigration and thinks marijuana should be the state plant is going to police illegal goose liver. Paul McCartney and Kim Basinger, who cried for the bill, celebrated with soy milk toasts.
16 October, 2004
NO "DIVERSITY" ALLOWED IN THINKING ABOUT HOMOSEXUALITY
So here's some "diverse" thinking:
This year's National Education Association annual convention met with serious opposition from teacher-members regarding the union's long-standing gay-lesbian rights plank. To protest the popular wisdom that homosexuality is inborn and, therefore, immutable, an Ex-Gay Educators Caucus positioned itself in the convention's exhibit hall and distributed literature that runs counter to the NEA leadership's extremist philosophy. Predictably, the larger, pro-homosexual contingent was "offended" and challenged the NEA's new policy of allowing an ex-gay faction to market its wares under the emblem of "democracy" and "diversity."
The NEA was among the first organizations to actively promote a Gay-Lesbian Pride month in its Legislative Agenda and to openly endorse homosexual and "transgendered" teachers. For years, it has supported teaching about homosexuality as a valid lifestyle choice as part of already-graphic sex education classes. Some psychologists and sex educators (most infamously, Jocelyn Elders, former Surgeon-General under President Bill Clinton) would have gone even further by including dialogue about coital positions, masturbation and bestiality in the classroom setting. The NEA leadership had no objections to the outrageous suggestions of Jocelyn Elders and her ilk, even if some of their membership winced.
Obviously, some educators have had a sufficient change of heart to brave the insults of their liberal brethren by setting up an exhibit in the NEA convention hall.....
Decisions about homosexuality versus heterosexuality or bisexuality are unsuitable for grade-schoolers, middle-schoolers and even high-schoolers, for another reason as well: Most youngsters are not sexually mature and, as a result, suffer extreme embarrassment comparing themselves to what they see as their more "endowed" peers - superstars and cult figures like Britney Spears and Jennifer Lopez. A young teenager already suffering from low self-esteem over his or her under-developed body may find suggestions about "gay-ness" plausible. Later, they find it difficult to pursue a normal sexual relationship if they have already "bought in" to the gay lifestyle.
I can't prove it, but having talked with some of those "sexually immature" teens who were late bloomers during my own youth, I suspect that something like this may be behind the sudden outpouring of indignation by the Ex-Gay Educators Caucus. Had some of those kids been left alone just another year or so, they might have rejected any such "gay" suggestion altogether, and gone on to develop normal, healthy relationships without ever having had to worry about the emotional or physical fallout from the perverted and promiscuous relationships that were, in a sense, thrust upon them. I say "in a sense" because what sex educators have done here is something very close to contributing to the delinquency of a minor - seizing, if you will, upon the perceived deficiencies of a vulnerable, under-age person and presented him a set of non-negotiable options.
It is ironic that in an age where sexual abuse of children is the only crime in which the person so accused is guilty until proven innocent, that sexualization of children is not a crime at all......
The Ex-Gay Educators Caucus at this year's NEA convention is no doubt well-meaning, and given the decades-long proliferation of "gayness" in schools, perhaps timely. But what I would really like to see is that organization taking a leadership role in de-sexualizing the educational environment. They may not be able to do anything about the media, but if schools would just confine its sex information to science-physiology classes with a unit on the reproductive system, and start equating sex with love instead of with sport or "tension relief," that would be an excellent start.
And homosexual "marriage" is certainly not diverse:
"The coming together of man and woman in marriage is one of the most beautiful and highest achievements of human nature. In this union between a man and a woman we create something greater than the sum of its parts. A husband and wife are not just roommates. They are a microcosm of what society can be. We can learn to live with diversity. We can overcome even the most incredible differences. We can make something even more beautiful together than we can on our own or with those who are just like us. Marriage is the ultimate test laboratory for tolerance. But it is also a helluva lot of work. And maybe that's the rub.
It is ironic, is it not, that liberals who clamor for diversity in every other aspect of human relations, now argue for homogeneity in marriage. For, ultimately, that's what homosexual marriage is. It is a redundancy. Perhaps it is an exercise in narcissism. Perhaps it is laziness or cynicism. It is easier to "love" that which is familiar and what can be more familiar than that which is just like you? This is not to say that there can never be any joy or pleasure or personal fulfillment for the parties involved in a homosexual union. But it is safe to say that whatever those benefits may be, the reciprocal benefit to society is in no way equivalent to that of a heterosexual marriage. Obviously, then, society need not recognize, support or encourage these unions.
What we should recognize, however, is ordinary human decency and compassion. Sodomy laws, while probably not unconstitutional (as the Supreme Court argued last spring), are probably also pretty stupid. Clearly, homosexuals should be able to visit their sick "partners" in the hospital. There should probably be some reasonable accommodations made with respect to inheritance and insurance laws. But these things do not require a recognition of homosexual marriage or even a formal recognition of so-called "domestic partners" in the law.
These are harsh words. I know that. In ordinary times one would not dream of uttering them in a public way. But then, if the times were ordinary, one would not need to utter them. It could be argued their utterance is uncharitable and that the proper attitude to assume with respect to people who punish themselves by denying themselves higher goods is sympathy. But again, these are not ordinary times and it is clear that sympathy is not wanted or appreciated by the huge homosexual lobby in this country. The hand of decent Americans is forced and we must come to the debate with an equally strident approach. Too much is at stake for us to mince words. We cannot sacrifice the truth on the altar of polite conversation."
15 October, 2004
THERE ARE FEW THINGS AS INCORRECT AS A BIG MAC
It's just snobbery
"Many now seem to agree with the American professor who described McDonald's advertising as 'the last socially acceptable form of child abuse'.... Why do they hate McDonald's so much? Some of us might not think its food tastes that great, but surely that is a matter of, well, taste. There is no evidence that eating a McDonald's meal is bad for you, but plenty to suggest that it is being made an easy scapegoat for obesity. I want to let you in on a scientific secret. There is no such thing as 'junk food'. Given the news coverage that it attracts, this may sound like saying that there is no war in Iraq. But junk food really is a myth. As Professor Stanley Feldman from the University of London told me: 'Of course, some foods taste better or are more nutritious. But the idea that some are 'junk' - containing nothing of value, or harmful to our health - is nonsense. 'Whether meat is prime Angus beef or a Big Mac, it is absorbed into the bloodstream as the same variety of amino acids.'....
If people do not want their children to eat fast food, that is their choice, just as it should be their business if they want to take the kids out foxhunting. But the fashion for lecturing other people about the evils of eating McDonald's is motivated by something else. Partly, I think, it is a brand of anti-Americanism - the infantile belief that McDonald's golden arches are symbols of global empire, with Big Mac cast in the role of Bond villain.
Closer to home, it looks to me like the last socially acceptable form of snobbery, Many of those who hate McDonald's seem to believe that this makes them better, more caring people than those whom they blame for raising children as the human equivalent of chicken McNuggets. Listen to the words that everybody from the Department of Health downwards now uses to describe fast food - 'junk, fatty, unhealthy' - and it is hard not to hear them as moral judgments passed on those who eat it.
Anti-McDonald's protesters who have denounced its 'soulless industrialised product' unknowingly echo the snobbery of another age. In his fine book The Intellectuals and the Masses, John Carey describes how 20th-century writers from TS Eliot through John Betjeman to George Orwell railed against 'tinned food' as a symbol of the industrialised popular culture they despised: 'Tinned food becomes a mass symbol because it offends what the intellectual designates as nature: it is mechanical and soulless.' For today's less eloquent snobs, it seems that the ills of modernity and the soulless masses are encapsulated in a sesame burger bun rather than a tin of pink salmon.
The anti-McDonald's Left insist that attacking junk food is a 'class issue'. How noble of them to stoop to save the ignorant, helpless burger-munching poor from themselves. Has the Left really lowered its horizons so far that changing the world now means trying to prevent hard-up families from feeding their kids for œ1.99 a time (toy and indoor playground included)?
14 October, 2004
A SOCIAL WORKER SUFFERS
Social workers are a great fountainhead of political correctness so there is a certain justice in their suffering from its effects. Here is an account by a trainee social worker of the results for her personally of PC failure to confront reality
"My supervisors are... moving in a new client for me - she who will be called 'R', a 24 year old, six-three, 95kg, clinically depressed, epileptic, mildly intellectually disabled Samoan girl. Which should be heaps of fun! She steals. She lies. She starves herself. She hoards her medication for days, then overdoses. She's self-harming, with lovely grid patterns carved into her arms and legs. She's passive aggressive. And then, if confronted in any way, shape or form on the wrong day, she's just plain aggressive, and has regularly put support workers through windows, down stairs, and face first into walls and her fists.
My being given her is supposedly a compliment - they wouldn't foist her on me if they "didn't think I could handle it." Thing is, nearly everyone who has worked with my service longer than I have has been her support worker at one time or another. None of them could 'handle her' for very long, and some of them have been doing this shit for forty years. Poor sad bastards.
I think there is something really wrong when your employer says to you "when you work with (this person), she will attack you. You will get hurt."
If she's hurting so many people, then why are we still working with her? Why hasn't she been put somewhere? I must sound heartless, but I didn't sign up for this to be someone's punching bag, and I think it is irresponsible of my employers to put their staff in harm's way. Am I wrong, or just being naive, here?
.... I found out that R has Hepatitis B. Now, that doesn't bother me at all, per se. What bothers me is that my employers weren't going to tell me, because of privacy laws. I mean, sure, I support privacy rights for our clients. But what about the company's duty of care towards me? My boss told me that only the clients have the right to tell me (or not tell me, as the case may be) themselves whether or not they have these types of diseases. Now, faced with situations involving blood and bodily fluids, I take the ol' universal precautions, because I am not an idiot. However. This particular client has a long history of cutting both herself and her support workers. If I end up in an emergency situation where both of us have open wounds (and she will in all likelihood be in very close proximity to me, hitting me) then I'm pretty fucked, aren't I. I know, even if they had told me about her Hep B it won't change a goddamn thing if things come to crisis point, but I'm really pissed off about the whole thing. Is that the only thing she has? If she was HIV+, would they tell me that? I'm in a position where it is likely I will get hurt. It is likely my blood will be spilt at the same time as hers".
"RETARDED": GOOD SLANG BUT VERY INCORRECT
"Thanks for your inquiry regarding Let's Get it Started/Let's Get Retarded," wrote communications director Chris Privett. "The Arc did publicly call for the song's lyrics to be changed, which included writing several letters to record company executives. We hope our actions played a role in getting the lyrics changed, but as we never heard any response from the record company or the group's management, we're not sure whether they planned to make the change anyway or whether we convinced them that the language was offensive."
The one thing I remember with the "bad usage" example is that none of the mentally disabled adults I worked with really knew or cared on the rare occasions people called them names--and these were people who expressed every emotion. Their minds were occupied with more important things, like enjoying the day at hand and not being condescended to or coddled. Much of the uproar over the word "retarded" is secondhand offense--people taking offense because they believe others will be offended.
In Arc president Lorraine Sheehan's letter to Ms. Lohan regarding her "retarded" usage, she said, "There are few more deeply wounding words than these." (I can think of a few worse words offhand, having spent my career in newsrooms, but decorum prevents going into detail here.) The civilized world agrees, though, that it's not nice to be mean to mentally retarded people. (Though PC dictates that professional white males are still fair game, baby--have at it!)
Ms. Sheehan goes on to say, "People with mental retardation and developmental disabilities aren't looking for special treatment or sympathy." Agreed--so why single them out in a PC cage? My childhood best friend had cerebral palsy, epilepsy and mild retardation. Her very cool attitude was one of: "Yep, I'm retarded. So what do you wanna do after school?" Far from being picked on, she was the first to tell someone if he was acting stupid. Instead of quibbling over the words used to define her condition, she showed other kids that the condition didn't define her. Changing the words wouldn't have changed her condition, anyway.
So in an effort to promote integration, we instead wind up engulfing the mentally disabled in a web of political correctness. Those with good intentions get snapped at when they use the term "mentally retarded" as opposed to "developmentally disabled" or "handicapped" versus "differently abled," fueling a war of words and driving focus away from the true issues at hand. When you expend so much effort drawing up a correct label for someone, it ratchets up the importance of that label and sends their individuality down a notch."
Political correctness draws up rigid distinctions instead of blending differences into one harmonious pot. PC relegates a person's worth to the weight of the words used to describe him. PC assumes people have all the resiliency of whipped cream and will be scarred by words that they might not originally find offensive, but PC has told them that they're offensive. Even the Oscars are PC now: It's not "the winner is . . .," but "the Oscar goes to . . ."
PC is awash in schools, where competitions occur without a winner being crowned and districts increasingly ban dodgeball (though maybe Muqtada al-Sadr was the emotional victim of one too many pelts in school). One study even pooh-poohed the games of duck-duck-goose and musical chairs, suggesting they inflict emotional damage. Last year, Los Angeles County asked computer vendors to avoid all use of the technological terms "master" and "slave" in product labels and descriptions (terms that describe systems that are under the control of others). Apparently, a county employee felt oppressed by the computer and complained. The county missed the cost-saving complaint-resolution technique of giving the complainer a pack of Post-It Notes with directions to slap them over any offensive words on the blasted oppressive computer."
13 October, 2004
CELEBRATING TRAFALGAR INCORRECT
Because it might offend the French!
A town has decided not to mark next year's 200th anniversary of the Battle of Trafalgar - because it might offend the French. Councillors in Totnes, Devon, feared that joining commemorations of Nelson's victory over the French and Spanish could upset their twin town in France. Totnes councillor Geoff Date said: "The town council decided not to support the Trafalgar celebrations. "I said I didn't think it was right to celebrate a defeat over the French when they have been our allies in the last two world wars. "We felt the place to remember that sort of thing was Remembrance Day." Other councillors were worried that marking the anniversary could offend people in Totnes's twin town of Vire in Normandy, he said.
A series of public events are being held around Britain to mark the bicentenary of the 1805 sea battle, in which Nelson was killed.
BRAINLESS FOOD CORRECTNESS
"Last week, a study led by Barry Popkin, PhD at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, was released which claimed soda consumption had increased 135% since 1977 and since rates of type 2 diabetes and obesity were rising, too, that was evidence that "consuming these [drinks] increase weight gain in children and adults." Based on that correlation alone, they then leapt in reverse to conclude, "reduced soft drink and fruit drink intake ... would seem to be one of the simpler ways to reduce obesity in the United States."
Did you catch the fallacies in this example? Just because consumption of a certain food goes up or down among an entire population does not demonstrate that only fat people are eating that food or that that food is the cause of obesity or type 2 diabetes. Such correlation-generated claims rely on the belief that fat people eat differently. But consumption of sodas and sweets, for instance, have been shown to actually be as high or higher among thinner, more active people. Such claims also rely on the belief that sugary foods and beverages cause obesity and type 2 diabetes. But sugar has been studied probably more than any other food ingredient in history and it's been repeatedly found to not cause obesity, type 2 diabetes or any chronic disease. In fact, a surprising number of studies have demonstrated an inverse relationship between dietary sugars and obesity.
Popkin cited a study led by David Ludwig of Boston Children's Hospital in 2001 to support sweet beverages' role in obesity, which Popkin said "showed the effect of increased consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages on increased energy intake and obesity among U.S. teens." But Ludwig's study actually found no difference in the BMIs of children consuming the most and least amounts of sugar and the researchers noted "there is no clear evidence that consumption of sugar per se affects food intake in a unique manner or causes obesity."
The Popkin study was a "meta-analyses," lumping together five different dietary surveys (telephone surveys to questionnaires) gathered over the decades from a total of 73,345 random individuals. These one- and two-day population dietary surveys were all done using different methods and also underwent significant redesigns over the years to probe for more complete information and lessen under-reporting, meaning the earlier surveys would be more likely to under-estimate how much people actually ate and using them would accentuate perceived increases. Like all meta-analyses, when researchers combine data from several different sources trying to create something bigger and more convincing, their results are actually more untenable. I call them Rorschach studies. That might explain why sounder studies, such as those at the University of Michigan led by Youngme Park which closely following the diets for weeks at a time for years of a total of 12,000 children, have found no increase in soda consumption and no evidence that sodas were reducing milk consumption.
Of the thousands of foods and beverages people consume, this study chose sodas. But in typical data dredge fashion, Popkin could have mined that databank and pulled out anything...and has. For example, in a previous study he found grains, legumes and low-fat milk intake up among adults since 1965, along with significant decreases in calories and percentages of dietary fat. Yet he didn't tie these overall "healthful" eating trends to rising rates of obesity or type 2 diabetes. Why, that wouldn't have made sense!"
(For details of another "meta-analysis" in another field that was at least as disreputable, see here).
12 October, 2004
PUNCH & JUDY INCORRECT
A puppeteer who has been putting on his Punch and Judy show for English children for the past 15 years is likely to have his show banned by councillors in the Cornish town of Bodmin in southwestern England. Bodmin's Women's Rape and Sexual Abuse Centre had bombarded Reg Payn (48) the town's officially licensed puppeteer with leaflets on domestic violence, The Times reported on Friday. "They harassed the audience, accusing me of promoting domestic violence against women and threw leaflets at me," Payn told the newspaper. "Children of four and five know the difference between puppets and reality. I'm a father and a husband and I've no intention of promoting violent behaviour," he added.
In the traditional show, Punch beats up his wife Judy, lies about it to the policeman and also batters his child, the policeman and even the devil. It was introduced to England from Italy during the reign of Charles II in the 17th century. The show contains asides of a topical and usually scurrilous nature for the benefit of the adults standing behind the children seated on the ground. The children are encouraged to join in by pointing out to Punch that he is not telling the truth to the policeman. "Oh yes you did, Mr Punch," and "You're fibbing, Mr Punch," are common cries.
"It's part of our heritage, an old tradition," Payn said. But Maggie Parks, director of the abuse centre, said: "It's appalling that children are encouraged to sit, watch and laugh at a baby's head being battered and a woman being beaten up with a stick when one in four women experience domestic violence."
Bodmin would decide on the issue next month, and if it passed a ban it would become the first council in Britain to outlaw the characters.Newcastle City Council had to rescind a similar ban when it emerged that the official who recommended it had never seen a performance
("Conkers", or knocking chestnuts together, is a traditional kids' game in British schools)
A primary school headteacher has banned children from playing conkers because some of her pupils are allergic to nuts. Veronica O’Grady of Menstrie Primary, Clackmannanshire, claims she had no choice after health experts said the playground pastime threatened the lives of pupils who suffer severe reactions to nuts. The ban comes days after a school in Carlisle forced youngsters to wear safety goggles when playing the traditional game.
Inevitably, the move has infuriated some parents, who say measures to protect children from nut allergies have gone too far. One parent, who did not want to be named, said: "We feel our children are being discriminated against. We do understand that nut allergies are very dangerous, but the banning of conkers is just mad. "This chestnut ban and the ban of nut products throughout the school also includes nursery classes, so now three-year-olds will not be taught about parts of nature." Another parent added: "Two children were apparently reprimanded recently for playing conkers. It is one thing asking them not to take peanuts for lunch, but banning the children from taking chestnuts to school for conkers is a bit much. How far is this going to go?"
Parents learned about the conker ban in a recent edition of the school newsletter. The newsletter article said: "We have several pupils in the school who have allergies or conditions that affect what they can eat and be exposed to. "To help keep all of our pupils safe, please ensure your child doesn’t bring nuts or nut products to school. This includes tree nuts such as chestnuts."
More here. (Story via Nanny Knows Best -- which has lots more on the incorrectness of "Conkers" and nuts generally).
Brainless British do-gooders at work again
"Proposed new rules on broadcasting standards could be so tough they end up banning Bambi, the BBC has said. A draft broadcasting code being drawn up by industry watchdog Ofcom threatens the BBC's long-established tradition of self-regulation, the corporation said. In a consultation, it argued that a clause requiring children be protected from "psychological harm" could hit Bambi because it scares some children.
Ofcom said the BBC's response would be taken into account.
In what the corporation describes as a "detailed and considered response" to the proposed code, it complained rules would have a "chilling effect" on broadcasters' freedoms. It believes the code's section on broadcasting to children has the "potential to severely restrict the programme choice accessed by adults in the UK". Programmes featuring religious content - such as Songs of Praise - may have to carry a warning, which the BBC said could "severely restrict" its religious coverage.
A recommendation that adult scenes be shown "well after" the 2100 watershed, seemed excessive when the majority of households do not have children, the corporation added. The BBC argues that a phrase in the code that under-18s must be protected from "potential or actual moral, psychological or physical harm" is too vague.
"Some children are distressed by Bambi and others by natural history programmes," the BBC said. Many programmes and films can disturb and distress children, like Schindler's List or even news coverage on a subject like the Soham murders, it continued".
11 October, 2004
KITE-FLYING IS NOW INCORRECT WITHOUT OFFICIAL PERMISSION
Not without "the right forms", you don't!
"A kite-flying contest to raise money for Afghanistan, where the pastime was prohibited under the Taliban, has been brought to earth because parishioners had not applied for council permission. Sion Baptists' church in Rossendale, Lancashire, wanted to stage the contest at a council sports centre to symbolise the spirit of newfound freedom. Youngsters paid œ1 to paint and make their own home-made kites to find the best one in the competition after Sunday service.
Rossendale borough council's environmental services department told the Rev Ron Phillips he should have got permission for the event beforehand. And as it was a paid competition the event would have to have public liability insurance against possible claims for accidents or damage.
Mary Davidson, the church secretary, said: "It is extraordinary we have to have permission to fly kites because we paid one pound. It all goes to the church charity and was helping people in Afghanistan. Our minister had a telephone call from the corporation saying, 'Sorry, you can't do it' because we needed permission and had not applied for it. They say there are health and safety issues. "It is pathetic. That is what we feel but those are the rules. Some of the children must have been disappointed."
Owen Williams, chief executive of Rossendale council, said it had no ban on kite flying but there was an issue over insurance and the right forms being filled in.
PC DESTROYS GOOD GRAMMAR
"Leftists methodically destroy language and thinking skills. They make special targets of the accuracy and integrity in words. It's not just through Clintonian doublespeak or even radical usurpation of word meaning. It's through grammar itself, and the very structure of words.....
English has only "he" and "she" for reflexive personal pronouns. We once said, "Everyone has his own opinion." The reflexive pronoun case must agree with the subject. "Everyone" is singular. The predicate nominative must also be singular. Therefore, "his" was always understood to stand for both male and female nominatives. But `80's feminists wouldn't stand for it, so it became a politically correct mandate to say "Everyone has his or her opinion." That's now three words, to be politically correct, instead of one.
Human nature being lazy, the extra weight was soon dropped. The whole sentence became truncated, I should say, corrupted, into "Everyone has their own opinion." "Everyone," which is singular, is followed by "their," which is plural. This is a grammatical catastrophe, committed daily by English speaking writers, journalists, and reporters alike. These former guardians of the language have fallen slaves to the legally protected enterprise of political correctness. The people follow. It all happens because saying "his or her" all the time is awkward, and seems entirely unnecessary. Political correct talk is so pretentious and tedious that it has caused grammatical errors to become a permanent part of the English language. (Try using correct grammar on your own computer. You'll be erroneously `corrected.')"
SHOPS FOR THE POOR INCORRECT
SAN BERNARDINO - The City Council slammed the door shut on new low-end stores Monday when it adopted a moratorium on opening or relocating eight types of businesses within the city. The urgency ordinance approved Monday will go into effect as soon as today, when Mayor Judith Valles signs it. The action bypasses what is usually a 45-day process to get a new law on the books.
The affected businesses include smoke shops, discount stores, tattoo parlors and pawn shops that try to open up or relocate in the city.... "The types of business listed can have some real negative impacts on surrounding neighborhoods, as well as commercial districts that are trying to survive,'' she said.
Judi Penman, executive vice president of the San Bernardino Area Chamber of Commerce, applauded the effort to bring in more high-end businesses. "The city has to be more selective on the types of businesses in order to encourage people to shop here instead of outside the city,'' said Penman. She is married to City Attorney James F. Penman, who signed off on the ordinance. The staff report and ordinance contained no figures on the number of new businesses of these types which have opened recently. The city attorney said the city gets hundreds of complaints about these businesses and the issues that go along with them. "It's totally out of control,'' he said.
The ordinance would ban: Smoke shops; "99 Cent'' stores and others that sell a variety of merchandise in the low-priced range; Tattoo and body piercing parlors; Secondhand/thrift stores; Check cashing stores; Convenience stores, within a one-mile radius of another; Pawn shops; Automotive stereo shops
10 October, 2004
COFFEE BECOMING INCORRECT
"A single cup of coffee a day can produce "caffeine addiction," according to a study from Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions, which has declared caffeine the most "behaviorally active drug" on the planet.
Caffeine withdrawal is a genuine "mental disorder," according to the study, which was funded in part by the National Institute on Drug Abuse. "Caffeine is the world's most commonly used stimulant, and it's cheap and readily available so people can maintain their use of caffeine quite easily," said Roland Griffiths, professor of psychiatry and neuroscience at Hopkins, and the study director.
Based on his findings, Dr. Griffiths anticipates that caffeine withdrawal could be included in the next edition of the national Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, compiled by the American Psychiatric Association and considered the veritable bible of such things among medical professionals.
That would make "addicts" out of an awful lot of people. According to industry statistics, about 80 percent of American adults regularly consume caffeine, averaging 280 milligrams a day - two mugs of joe, or three to five soft drinks.
Dr. Griffiths already has plans for those who want to kick their caffeine habit. "We teach a systematic method of gradually reducing caffeine consumption over time by substituting decaffeinated or non-caffeinated products," he said.
Others have had similar ideas. In March, Albany-based Soy Coffee began promoting "National Caffeine Awareness Month" to raise the American consciousness about "detection and prevention of caffeine addiction in the U.S." In a statement last year, the coffee substitute manufacturer noted that "caffeine can hurt a person's overall health and well-being," declaring that "caffeine is not only considered habit forming, but also addicting."" [But does the Soy stuff taste any good?]
More here. (Via Bits Blog).
INCORRECT TO MENTION IMMIGRANT HEALTH RISKS
"Disease and crime are concentrated in areas where undocumented immigrants are more commonly found. An estimated 7 million undocumented immigrants now reside in the U.S. While the nation wastes its money and energy planning to thwart or combat imagined terrorism via the Department of Homeland Security, carriers of biological and other threats walk over the southern border into the U.S. on a daily basis. Over 1 million Mexicans will attempt entry this year. It's an invasion.
Recently an outbreak of hepatitis traced to a Mexican restaurant in Pennsylvania was inexplicably traced to contaminated green onions, not the most obvious cause, undocumented food workers who harbored hepatitis. For the most part, hepatitis is a blood-borne, not a food-borne disease. The hepatitis outbreak infected over 650 individuals, caused 9000 Americans to undergo immune globulin shots, and killed 4 people. If Americans found out restaurants can commonly infect their customers from food workers, it would be a blow to the restaurant industry. Better blame the green onions. Let's concede the onions, grown in Mexico, were contaminated from fecal material. Did all the green onions imported from Mexico end up in one single restaurant? There were no other outbreaks of hepatitis elsewhere from green onions. There were 13 restaurant workers who had hepatitis. They were the likely source of the transmitted infection.
While the unions resist mandatory hepatitis vaccination for food workers, the government mandates that newborn babies be jabbed with hepatitis vaccines before they can leave the hospital. The logic in this defies understanding until one realizes that newborn babies of immigrant families can more easily acquire hepatitis. So all the rest of American babies are given the vaccines.
The problem is with immigrant families who are not properly screened for disease as they enter the U.S. A recent study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control reveals that young infants from Hispanic families are at the greatest risk for whooping cough, presumably because the disease is transmitted from their unvaccinated family members who may have immigrated to the US from Mexico where vaccination rates are low"
PHOTO OF PRESIDENT BUSH INCORRECT
But you can display any number of pictures of the murderous Che Guevara
"A New Jersey public-school teacher claims she was bushwhacked by her principal yesterday when he ordered her to "get out" of the building after she refused to remove a photo of President Bush and the first lady from her classroom. The White House-issued photo of the Bushes was pinned to a bulletin board that held portraits of George Washington, Benjamin Franklin and a copy of the Constitution.
"I wouldn't touch politics in my classroom with a 10-foot pole, but [the principal] felt I was making a political statement," said Shiba Pillai-Diaz, 33, a seventh- and eighth-grade English teacher at Crossroads South Elementary School in Monmouth Junction. "It was meant to be a picture of the current president, nothing partisan about it," said Pillai-Diaz, a Republican mother of one who volunteered at the party's convention in Madison Square Garden.
The controversy erupted Thursday night when a handful of parents objected to the photo during a back-to-school parent-teacher conference. Pillai-Diaz said three parents demanded the photo be removed - or complemented with a picture of Sen. John Kerry.
Pillai-Diaz said she notified the assistant principal, Mark Daniels, of the brouhaha during a break in the conference and that Daniels defended her right to post the photo. But yesterday, Pillai-Diaz said Daniels changed his tune and demanded she remove it before her first class. "He told me that if I care about my employment at the school, I would take down the picture," she said. When she refused, the matter was taken up by the principal, Jim Warfel, who Pillai-Diaz said accused her of "causing disruption and hatred" with her "inflammatory politics" and told her to "get out" of the building. Pillai-Diaz said she stormed out of the building and was told by Warfel to hand over her keys.
When she returned for her belongings - after The Post placed calls to school officials - Pillai-Diaz said she was greeted by the superintendent, Gary McCartney. Pillai-Diaz said McCartney warned her against telling her story to the press, saying "it will be beyond [his] ability to help" her if she did. She told The Post she was not sure if she would return to school Monday. "Basically, I'm being told to choose [between] my job and my principles," she said.
9 October, 2004
In Jesus' name, you can't pray.
The Culpeper County Ministerial Association isn't bowing down to that "suggestion" from the Culpeper Town Council. The group says it may challenge an Aug. 11 memo from Town Attorney Robert W. Bendall asking ministers not to refer to "Jesus, Christ or any variations of those names" while praying at the opening of council meetings. The memo stems from a U.S. 4th Circuit Court of Appeals decision July 22 ruling that a Great Falls, S.C., legislative prayer violated the First Amendment clause prohibiting the establishment of a state religion. The ruling sparked a similar controversy earlier this year in Fredericksburg, where Councilman Hashmel Turner stopped leading prayers at meetings rather than omit the name of Christ.
Bendall and Culpeper Mayor Pranas Rimeikis were invited to appear before the Ministerial Association at its regular monthly meeting yesterday to clarify the town's position. Bendall told the group it was "never my intention to tell you how to pray," but he suggested that those who open council meetings with prayer "pray to a neutral god" in the future. "There is no problem with 'Almighty God,' but we do not want to disparage one faith or sect over another," said Bendall, who called himself "just a messenger."
"Praying to a generic god denies me the right to speak to my God," the Rev. Marshall Braylo, pastor of the Jeffersonton Baptist Church, replied. "We're not choosing a golf course here," said the Rev. Mark Jarvis, former pastor of Open Door Baptist Church. "We're talking about our relationship with the true God through the Lord Jesus Christ."
"There are many out there who don't believe your god is the true god," the town attorney countered. He added that even leading the audience in the Lord's Prayer is legally "problematic."
COURT INVENTS NEW RIGHTS FOR WOMEN
A company that refused to offer a woman part-time work after she had a baby has been ordered to pay $16,000 in damages for unlawfully discriminating against her because of her responsibility as a carer. In a landmark decision, the Administrative Decisions Tribunal found the small transport company for which Evelina Reddy worked had been unreasonable in requiring her to return to her job full-time.
Ms Reddy, a manager in the customs section, told her employer two months before she was due to return from maternity leave that she needed an extra nine weeks off work and then wanted to work only three days a week, because of her responsibilities caring for her daughter. She had been unable to find suitable childcare and had to take her daughter to her mother's home 25 kilometres away. To avoid peak-hour traffic she wanted to work from 7.30am to 4pm on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays. Her employer, International Cargo Express, for which she had worked six years, wrote back saying she was not entitled to work part-time or to have extra maternity leave.
The three-member tribunal last week found International Cargo Express had reacted in a "knee-jerk" way and failed to properly consider her proposal. It is the first case in which carer's responsibilities have been used to argue a claim for part-time work. Mothers had won similar cases previously on the grounds that denying them part-time work amounted to sex discrimination. The company's managing director, Peter Timmermann, yesterday said his company had other staff working part-time, but a manager needed to be in the office every day. "How can you manage a company part-time?"
Kylie Nomchong, the company's barrister, said it was a significant case that went against some recent decisions. "The [tribunal] is saying it now requires employers to create part-time positions for women returning to the workforce." she said.
PAGAN RELIGIONS ARE PROTECTED BUT NOT CHRISTIANITY
The notorious Ninth Circuit rules that the government may legislate to protect land that Indians say is "sacred" but that it must not allow Christian symbols in public places
"Before a three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit, McKinnon's attorney argued that the ADOT violated the Constitution's Establishment Clause because Arizona required McKinnon, and everyone else in Arizona, to adhere to the "religious orthodoxy" of American Indians, an orthodoxy that, because Woodruff Butte is "sacred," bars its use. This is hardly the neutrality the Constitution requires when governments address matters of religion. Moreover, said McKinnon's attorney, the ADOT's action would be unconstitutional even if the ADOT had closed state-owned land; closing "sacred" private property is, if possible, even more unconstitutional.
A month after McKinnon's oral arguments, the Ninth Circuit ruled in another case involving religion and land use. Ordering the removal of a Latin cross, which memorialized the veterans who died in World War I, from the National Park Service's Mohave National Preserve, the Ninth Circuit held, "[T]he Establishment Clause [means] government may not demonstrate a preference for one particular sect or creed (including a preference for Christianity over other religions)." The ADOT's preferential treatment of American Indian religion seemed doomed.
Nonetheless, on September 1, the Ninth Circuit dismissed McKinnon's lawsuit as "premised on flawed analysis of the [Establishment Clause]." The Ninth Circuit did not just dismiss McKinnon's case, it issued a broad, published ruling that bars any challenge to the preferential treatment of American Indian religion: "[T]he Establishment Clause does not bar the government from protecting an historically and culturally important site simply because the site's importance derives at least in part from its sacredness to certain groups." Curiously, the historical and cultural importance of the Latin cross in the California desert was irrelevant to whether its presence violated the Establishment Clause.
Dale McKinnon has appealed. Meanwhile, however, the Ninth Circuit's two most recent rulings provide that governments may endorse paganism, but not Christianity"
8 October, 2004
FREE SPEECH UNDER ATTACK IN BRAZIL
The usual Third World mentality on display
"Since Brazilians enacted their democratic Constitution, in 1988, the law of their country has in theory prohibited all forms of censorship to freedom of the press. However, the situation in Brazil provides an extraordinary illustration of how 'law' in practice may be completely different from law in theory. Regardless of its legal protection, reality shows that freedom of the press has not been fully protected in Brazil.
Regardless of such provisions, constant attacks have been occurring against freedom of the press. Since President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva took office in 2003, the government has regularly complained that journalists are giving too much 'negative information' about Lula, who also says that journalists still have to develop a more 'loyal relationship' with the state.
In reacting against this kind of intimidation from the current administration, journalists decided to deliver on March 2004 their Manifesto for the Freedom of Information. They basically argued that Lula has created 'serious obstacles' to freedom of the press, and imposed a 'law of silence' upon public officers, who are now forbidden to provide any information about official hearings that the press was normally authorized to attend, even during the military government.
In fact, executive employees from federal ministries, agencies, public companies, and regulatory agencies have been advised that any information given to journalists always need to be 'filtered' by the authority in charge of each department. The Federal Cabinet of Institutional Security says that those employees cannot talk with the press without their supervisors' previous permission. Although the Lula administration describes the measure as 'awareness-raising campaign', the press decided to call it censorship, because it goes beyond what the law says about protection of sensitive information. Political analyst Dora Kramer has even reminded the President that his measure clashes with electoral promises of governing with transparency. As she wrote, such 'law of silence' is “more proper to militarised and misguided minds that mistake obligatory party discipline for democratic freedom of information....
In practice, freedom of the press might be dramatically reduced if Brazil's National Congress enacts a law proposal introduced in August 2004 by the PT government. Its purpose is to create the Federal Council of Journalism (CFJ), an entity that will have power to “orient, discipline, and monitor” journalists who work in the country. Once this bill is enacted, they will have to be registered with such entity to work. Penalties for violations range from fines to revocation of a reporter's registration. The prototype that inspired the proposal is the Ethics National Commission from Fidel Castro's Cuba. The essence of democracy is freedom of expression. Attempts to control the press under the pretext of disciplining journalists are basically anti-democratic.
However, the federal press secretary, Ricardo Kotscho, says that the purpose of the CFJ “is to guarantee society the completeness of freedom of the press, and not the freedom of some professionals and companies to publish what they feel like, at the service of their own interests”. For Lula's chief policy strategist, Luiz Gushiken, “nothing is absolute, not even freedom of the press”. And Labour Minister Ricardo Berzoini goes on to suggest that the state has 'urgency' to establish an 'efficient body' with power to punish 'bad journalists' who do not behave 'adequately'.....
Finally, we must consider that Brazil has recently supported the request from Libya and Cuba to suspend the consultative status of the Reporters Without Borders (RWB) within the U.N. Commission on Human Rights. The fact provides extraordinary evidence that the Lula administration does not have any esteem for freedom of the press. On July 23, 2003, Brazil supported the RWB suspension because the free-press organization dared to criticise the election of Colonel Gaddafi's Libya as the chair of that commission. In joining Libya and other countries with extensive record of human rights violations, such as China, Cuba, Iran, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia, the Lula administration voted for the suspension of one of the few press-freedom organizations to have consultative status within that branch from the U.N. Economic and Social Council"
HYPOCRITES MADE TO PAY
A federal judge in Detroit on Monday ordered the Ann Arbor Public School system to pay $102,738 in attorney fees and costs to the Thomas More Law Center, which defended a student who expressed her religious views against homosexuality. During her high school's annual "Diversity Week" program, Betsy Hansen says she was not allowed to express her belief against homosexuality. Hansen also complained about a school-sponsored "Homosexuality and Religion" panel, which, she said, was stacked with religious leaders who endorsed her school's pro-homosexual agenda.
Pioneer High School officials claimed that Hansen's religious objection toward homosexuality was a "negative" message and would "water-down" the "positive" religious message that they wanted to convey-that homosexuality was consistent with Christianity and that homosexual behavior is not immoral or sinful.
Robert Muise, the Thomas More Law Center attorney handling the case, commented, "If the Ann Arbor Public School District wants to continue to promote the homosexual agenda at the expense of the rights of Christian students, then this will be the cost of doing business. "This case should remind school officials that public schools are not a forum for their personal political agenda." The Thomas More Law Center filed a federal civil rights case against the school district and several officials in July 2002, claiming that Hansen's constitutional rights had been violated.
Last December, Federal District Judge Gerald E. Rosen ruled that the school had violated Hansen's constitutional right to freedom of speech and right to equal protection, as well as the Establishment Clause. The six-figure fee award is a result of that earlier decision. The judge's 70-page opinion in favor of Hansen criticized the school for censoring Hansen's speech: "This case presents the ironic, and unfortunate, paradox of a public high school celebrating 'diversity' by refusing to permit the presentation to students of an 'unwelcomed' viewpoint on the topic of homosexuality and religion, while actively promoting the competing view," Rosen said.
Richard Thompson, president and chief counsel of the Thomas More Law Center, said Judge Rosen's ruling "sends a clear message to public schools that insidiously attempt to advance the homosexual agenda using the Trojan Horse of 'diversity.' "Betsy Hansen's courageous refusal to be silenced is an example to other Christian students who are being discriminated against because of their religious beliefs," Thompson added.
From CNS News
7 October, 2004
"DON'T TRIP" NEEDS LESSONS?
"A locomotive driver has been awarded nearly $1 million in damages for serious injuries he sustained when he fell from a stationary train while on the way to the toilet. The Supreme Court heard Reck was a locomotive driver on the coal line between the Bowen Basin and the terminals near Mackay, in North Queensland. He was aboard a stationary locomotive in a rail siding when he attempted to leave to attend the toilet. As Reck attempted to leave, his foot caught on a raised lip at the doorway. He pitched forward on to the track sustaining serious facial and head injuries.
In a written judgment which became available yesterday, Justice Peter Dutney found QR had been negligent in its obligation to Reck. He noted Reck had been given no safety instructions or information concerning entering or exiting the locomotive. Justice Dutney said since the accident a video had been prepared giving instruction and warning of risks. Justice Dutney said the lip, which fulfilled a practical function of sealing the door, was an obvious danger to persons using the entry. Justice Dutney said Reck had negotiated the access system on hundreds of occasions and should have been aware of the dangers". [!!!!!]
ALL MEN ARE VILLAINS
Leftist groupthink at work
Swedish politicians are proposing to hit men with a domestic violence tax to cover the costs to society of abuse against women. Sweden's parliament was expected to open debate yesterday on the Left Party's proposal. It follows an Amnesty International report that found violence against women increased almost 40 per cent during the 1990s and that up to 40 women are battered to death in Sweden each year. "It must be clear to all we have a gigantic social problem and cost in men's violence towards women and we must discuss how we are going to pay for it," said Gudrun Schyman, the party's former leader and one of several female MPs who have signed the motion.
The Left Party says the idea of men collectively paying for the social costs of violence towards women is similar to the principle of poor people paying less tax than the rich. The party, which has 30 members in the 349-seat Swedish parliament, supports the Social Democratic minority Government, giving it enough votes to muster a majority. In order to gauge what the tax should be, it is proposing to appoint a taskforce to establish the cost of treating victims of domestic violence.
6 October, 2004
PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY RECOGNIZED FOR ONCE
"A jury ruled that a tobacco company was not responsible for the death of a 53-year-old woman who developed lung cancer after four decades of smoking. The jury rejected claims by the woman's daughters Thursday that Brown & Williamson Tobacco Corp. did not provide their mother, Stella Hale, with adequate warnings of the risks of smoking. Hale, who died in August 2001, smoked Brown & Williamson's Kool cigarettes for about 40 years, according to the suit.
The company, which merged with R.J. Reynolds in July to form the nation's second-largest tobacco company, said that Hale knew the potential health risks of smoking and chose to smoke anyway. Jeff Raborn, lawyer for the newly named Reynolds Tobacco Co., said the ruling "underscores the strength of our defenses in these individual cases." "
NO FREEDOM OF SPEECH IN SWEDEN
Sweden’s anti-hate speech laws have run amok, leading to a very worrying series of convictions—and non-convictions. More categories of people are entering the ranks of the “protected classes”—and recent cases have made it clear that these laws will not be enforced even-handedly. No prize for guessing who is protected and who is not.
Needless to say, Swedish laws prohibiting "hate speech" against racial minorities have been vigorously enforced. There have, for example, been a number of gang-rapes of Swedish women by Muslim immigrants. But Swedes must be careful what they say about them. On May 25, neo-Nazi Bjorn Bjorkqvist was convicted and sentenced to two months in prison for writing, "I don’t think I am alone in feeling sick when reading about how Swedish girls are raped by immigrant hordes."
In another recent case, a man living in the Bunkeflo neighborhood of Malmo sent an e-mail message to public officials saying he believed most Arabs were criminals, and that he opposed subsidies for them to move into his neighborhood. "Bunkeflo," he wrote, "was one of the last few refuges in Malmo where you could go out and not see Arabs loitering all around you." This man managed to avoid prison—but had to pay a fine of 10 percent of his pre-tax income. Given Sweden’s high taxation rate, this represented a figure of close to 20 percent of his actual income.
But the most spectacular case so far—and one completely ignored by American media—is that of Swedish feminist Joanna Rytel. Earlier this year, she wrote an article called "I Will Never Give Birth to a White Man," for a major Swedish daily, Aftonbladet. Rytel explained why she hates white men—they are selfish, exploitative, vain, and sex-crazed—and just to make things clear, she added, "no white men, please… I just puke on them, thank you very much." She wrote that other than the women’s restroom, she can find peace only in the segregated women's prayer room in the mosque in central Stockholm: "At least Muslim men don’t mind that women have their own community in peace and quiet." ...
Members of the Swedish National Socialist Front—an admittedly neo-Nazi group—called the article to the attention of the Stockholm authorities. But they refused to indict Miss Rytel. In a letter dated April 19, prosecutor Göran Lambertz explained why: "The purpose behind the law against incitement of ethnic hatred was to ensure legal protection for minority groups of different compositions and followers of different religions. Cases where people express themselves in a critical or derogatory way about men of ethnic Swedish background were not intended to be included in this law. Because of that, the content in this article cannot be considered incitement of ethnic hatred."...
So now it’s official: Swedes can go to jail if they say rude things about the foreigners whom they have generously allowed into their country. But foreigners and anyone else may say whatever they like about Swedes.
5 October, 2004
ANOTHER "OBESITY" ABSURDITY
Now freeways are to blame!
"Road tunnels have been blamed for pollution and fuelling Sydney's obsession with the car. Now NSW Health warns the planned M4 East could make people fat. The department insists the Roads and Traffic Authority conduct an obesity study as part of planning for the tunnel, which will link the M4 at North Strathfield with Parramatta Road and Haberfield. The state's chief health officer, Greg Stewart, said yesterday the loss of parks and open space resulting from the tunnel extension could contribute to worsening child obesity. He said people's physical health was a vital part of urban road planning.
About 20 per cent of NSW children were overweight, he said, and another 6 per cent obese, while more than half of all adults were above a healthy weight. In a submission to the roads authority on the M4 East, NSW Health said planners had to consider what impact the tunnel would have on people exercising, as well as pedestrian safety and access to nearby parks. "Considering the impact of the proposal on physical activity, health impacts of reduced physical activity, such as obesity, should be addressed," it said......
However, the Government's top planning official, Jennifer Westacott, believes health surveys, including those on obesity, are useless when it comes to planning roads. "We also have to stop wasting money on studies and investigations that bear no proof in respect of sound land use planning," she said last week. "Now, unless we're planning to walk on it [the M4 east], I cannot understand what value that [an obesity study] will have but it will cost $3 million."
RELIGIOUS OPPRESSION IN AUSTRALIA
Australia's Federal Treasurer addresses a meeting of evangelical Christians in the State of Victoria
"The Age newspaper has reported that my appearance here tonight has been criticised by the Islamic Council of Victoria. According to the president of that council [Yasser Soliman], by speaking here tonight I could be giving legitimacy to parties that the Islamic Council is suing under Victoria's Racial and Religious Tolerance Act.
"I do not think that we should resolve differences about religious views in our community with lawsuits between the different religions. Nor do I think that the object of religious harmony will be promoted by organising witnesses to go along to the meetings of other religions to collect evidence for the purpose of later litigation. "The proceedings which have been taken [under this new law], the time, the cost, the extent of the proceedings, and the remedies that are available - all illustrate, in my view, that this is a bad law."
Yes, it's a very bad law. Within months of being enacted, the excesses of this legislation became self-evident. The first test case, Islamic Council of Victoria v Catch The Fire Ministries, has cost more than $1 million in legal fees and achieved nothing but enmity. Yet, on August 4, in the Great Hall of Parliament in Canberra, Labor's shadow attorney-general, Nicola Roxon, speaking before at a forum attended by 1000 people, announced Labor would introduce a federal version of the Victorian Racial and Religious Tolerance Act. Suddenly, the Great Hall, which just minutes before had been filled with applause for Roxon was filled with booing.
Labor appears incapable of absorbing a fundamental lesson from its federal election disaster in 1996, after Paul Keating, Gareth Evens, Robert Tickner and Nick Bolkus had poisoned the national debate by repeatedly spraying the word "racist" across the political landscape. Look what happened to their careers.
When the Bracks Government passed the Racial and Religious Tolerance Act, it did so after the Victorian Equal Opportunity Commission had logged just five complaints of religious vilification in the previous year. Yet the commission's head, Diane Sisely, had warned of a dramatic increase in attacks and insults against Muslims, despite the absence of evidence. Exactly the same was going on in NSW, where the president of the Anti-Discrimination Board, Chris Puplick, warned of endemic abuse of Muslims even as his own annual report reported only 55 complaints lodged by all groups in a year.
While Puplick was publicly eviscerated by the Premier, Bob Carr, Victoria went in the opposite direction. The Equal Opportunity Commission hired May Helou, of the Islamic Council of Victoria, to begin a large program advising Muslims of their rights under the new anti-vilification law. It was Helou who recruited three Muslims to attend a seminar, "The Nature Of Islam", organised by Catch The Fire Ministries, a national, non-denominational evangelical group. After attending the seminar, the three observers prepared a 52-count complaint for the Islamic Council of Victoria. The council then lodged the complaint with the Equal Opportunity Commission against the ministry and two of its pastors, thus completing the ideological circle between bureaucratic agitation and litigation.
A mediation session was arranged. It lasted seven hours and 40 minutes. It produced an ideological impasse. The Islamic Council commenced legal proceedings. Hearings began in the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal in October last year. The hearings went for 40 days, spread over nine months. Final submissions were made in June. The maximum penalties under the act are a $30,000 fine and six months' jail. However, the prospect of jailing people for their religious beliefs has proved so divisive that Judge Michael Higgins felt obliged to announce he saw no grounds to jail anyone.
"This has caused us a tremendous amount of time and stress," the head of Catch The Fire Ministries, Pastor Danny Nalliah, told me. That's the point, Danny. That's why the Equal Opportunity Commission went fishing for business. That's why the Islamic Council went to court. They don't need to win. They just need to send a message. Nalliah was happy to summarise the views that led to this imbroglio: "I have lived in Saudi Arabia and learned the real nature of Islam. It is to dominate other religions and other cultures. The Koran speaks of world domination. I have spoken to a lot of Muslim leaders who say it is easy to exploit the Western system. The say the key is to be patient, to learn the language, and to build up numbers. Then build up political power. "Even Christians believe everyone should know about Christ and want people to follow Christ. But the worry is with Islam, it goes one step further. If peaceful methods fail, the Koran says you can use violence."
The price for these views, so far, has been $300,000 in legal costs. The ministries' solicitors, acting pro bono, assess their costs at $400,000. With the costs of the complainant, plus the publicly funded cost of the hearings, total legal costs exceed $1 million. Eighteen months after the Islamic Council of Victoria lodged its action, the matter remains unresolved. And Labor wants a federal version of this law.
4 October, 2004
THE BIBLE IS "HATE SPEECH"
It's only history's single greatest influence towards humane treatment of others. Try the Koran for contrast.
"An evangelical preacher whose reading of a Bible passage at the July 21 Lansdowne Borough Council meeting was termed "hate speech" by the council president will stand trial in Media for disrupting a public meeting and a related charge.
Lansdowne Police Chief Daniel Kortan was the prosecution's lone witness at Thursday's preliminary hearing before District Justice John Perfetti in Upper Darby District Court. The chief testified that Lansdowne resident Michael Marcavage asked council a question concerning comments made by recently appointed Councilman Kevin Lee (D). Lee is the first openly gay public official in Delaware County. Marcavage then began reading from the Bible, Kortan testified. "I went to him and appealed to him," Kortan testified. "You had the microphone long enough. It's time to sit down and enjoy the meeting like the rest of the people or leave. He refused. They (council) asked him to go back on target with a question for council instead of just reading," Kortan testified.....
Marcavage's attorney, Steven Shields, argued that council had suspended the rules of order prior to opening the meeting up to public comment. Shields asked the judge to dismiss the charges. "The council president, who I believe is Mr. (Norman) Council, said that's hate speech. What better way to squelch the messenger or silence the message than to arrest the messenger?" Shields said.
"Council perceived what he was reading as hate speech. It would be homophobic today. They couldn't let him go on. You can't go up to the podium and start reading from the Bible," Assistant District Attorney Alyssa Kusturiss countered.
UNBELIEVABLE: POLICE TOLD NOT TO CATCH LAWBREAKERS
Illegal immigrants get more protection than citizens!
"Oakland police officers have stopped setting up roadblocks to check whether drivers are under the influence because of a rash of complaints from the Latino community and City Council President Ignacio De La Fuente. The checkpoints, which allow officers to demand licenses and proof of insurance, are an effective way to get drunken drivers off Oakland's streets, city leaders agree. But the checks also have ensnared dozens of illegal immigrants who are not licensed to drive yet otherwise obey the law.....
The complaints and pressure from De La Fuente, who represents the largely Latino Glenview-Fruitvale district and plans to run for mayor in 2006, prompted police Chief Richard L. Word to order his officers to hold off on any more DUI checkpoints while new guidelines are drafted. "The checkpoints are a great tool for law enforcement," Word said. "We'll develop a better focus on drug hot spots and stopping sideshows."
However, the month-long moratorium on checkpoints has outraged Councilmember Larry Reid (Elmhurst-East Oakland), who calls the change a threat to public safety. "It is absolutely insane to stop these checkpoints," Reid said. "I would not want to explain to a mother why we stopped doing these checkpoints when we know they work and her son or daughter was killed." ....
The new checkpoint guidelines, which are not final, may call for police to notify Latino community organizations of the time and location of coming checkpoints. The checkpoints will be held after the evening rush-hour commute and rotated throughout the city, officials said....
Reid said he has little sympathy with Rodriguez's position. "I don't care if they are illegal immigrants," Reid said. "They should not be driving on our streets without a license, without insurance. I expect the Oakland Police Department to do its job and get them off the street."
3 October, 2004
Feminism goes backwards: "Is it me, or have the feminists in this country completely gone off their rockers? Jane Fonda was recently in New York at a star-studded event designed to increase voter registration for women. The occasion? The 'Vaginas Vote, Chicks Rock' gala at the Apollo Theater, which was billed as 'a night of entertainment and political empowerment.' .... But do we really want to have young women thinking they should vote because they have vaginas? I thought the feminists were about empowering women's intellect, not identifying themselves by the genitals."
BOYS ARE INCORRECT
"Todd Goldman, the designer of the controversial "Boys are Stupid--Throw Rocks at Them" products, defended his work as harmless humor. Glenn Sacks, a men's and fathers' issues columnist and radio talk show host, criticized the products as being part of a male bashing culture which ignores boys' educational struggles. The battle between them has been covered by hundreds of television and radio stations, and over 300 publications in half a dozen countries, including TIME Magazine, Forbes, the Washington Post, and the U.K. Guardian.....
Ratigan opened the show by displaying pictures of "Boys are Stupid--Throw Rocks at Them" shirts and asked Sacks "what's the issue? They're having a good time here."
Sacks countered Ratigan, noting "yes, it's humor, but it's adult humor being played out on little boys. Twelve year-old boys don't get the humor, but they feel the insult." Sacks, a former high school teacher, tied his campaign to what he called the "boy crisis in education," noting "our boys have fallen way behind in school all levels K-12--to go to school and see shirts that say 'Boys are Stupid' rubs salt in the wound."
Earlier in the week nationally syndicated radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh defended the campaign, criticizing San Francisco Chronicle feminist columnist Jane Ganahl for her attack on Sacks and his supporters in her recent column Will you please shut up and get a life, already? Limbaugh noted:
"Can you imagine if a company put out a line of T-shirts that said, 'Black people are goobers, drop anvils on their heads' or 'Homosexuals are stupid, throw rocks at them'? And can you imagine the San Francisco Chronicle doing a story on how cute these T-shirts are?...Turn it around and imagine shirts suggesting the following: 'Girls lie and will break your heart. Throw rocks at them' or 'Little girls are not soft and cuddly, they are mean and vicious and will destroy you.' Can you imagine a newspaper doing a cute little headline and story on how wonderfully cute little boy fashion has become? I doubt it.""
2 October, 2004
HOT CROSS BUNS AND CRESCENTS
My post of 28th about Hot Cross Buns got more responses than usual. One reader questioned the veracity of the story. It is true that the local councils concerned did deny that it was their "official policy" to ban the buns but there is no denial of what some council employees said and did. See here for full details. The original story is here. Note that it is still up -- despite huffing and puffing by the councils. Their threats of lawsuits over the matter seem not to have been followed up by any action -- which rather suggests that the councils knew that the original report was justified.
FEDERAL FUNDS FOR FAT?
Apparently the good old generous taxpayer now wants to provide people with a substitute for self-control
At a meeting in November, Medicare's advisers will assess the safety, efficacy and cost of one increasingly popular method of weight loss - surgery - as a first step in a new policy that could lead to the use of federal money to cover a range of other obesity treatments.
Yet, at a time when coverage by Medicare and other insurers may increase, the evidence suggests that few obese people can lose significant amounts of weight in the long term. And some obesity researchers are also questioning the fundamental idea that losing weight improves health. Are weight loss programs, they ask, unnecessary medicine? "No one wants to hear this," Dr. Jules Hirsch, an obesity researcher at Rockefeller University, said, "but I would ask where the data are." None of the experts, however, are suggesting that people should abandon healthy eating habits and exercise, which have clear benefits.
At the moment, Medicare will pay for surgery for obesity when patients suffer other problems associated the condition, like diabetes. Now, Medicare says it may decide to cover treatment for those who are simply obese, meaning their body mass index, a measure of body fat, is at least 30. The agency said that it would need to determine if obesity treatments help people lose weight and improve their health, adding that as yet it has no estimate on costs.
The immediate question is whether to cover so-called bariatric surgery, which costs $30,000 to $40,000 if there are no complications, and greatly reduces how much food can be consumed and the calories that can be absorbed. But commercial diet programs as well as many obesity doctors, including members of the American Obesity Association, whose sponsors include makers of weight loss drugs as well as companies like Weight Watchers and Jenny Craig, say they want coverage for other programs, too. The obesity association said that it planned to use Medicare as a wedge to open the door for broader coverage for the obese and then, possibly, for overweight Americans.
1 October, 2004
"Staff at the coffee shop in the Mitchell Library in Glasgow last week allegedly refused to serve a customer who had ordered a 'black coffee', claiming that it was a racist phrase - he would only get his cuppa if he used the terminology 'coffee without milk'. I wonder how he managed to ask for white sugar?"
Scottish Daily Record 23-Sep-04. (Via Jerry Lerman).
THE DEMON DRINK IS BACK
This time the Left wants to reform you
"You could be forgiven, should you read the newspapers, for thinking that Britain is in the grip of a Hogarthian booze-fuelled nightmare.... Gangs of bevvied thugs stumble the streets, eyeing pedestrians as the lion does the gazelle, slurring mothers dash mewling babes headfirst on to stolly-soaked cobbles, while A&E Departments across the country groan under the collective weight of a million limp-limbed inebriates. We're all going to hell in a brewer's dray and it's time for the government to step in.
There's no denying that Britain has some form of collective drinking problem. According to research by the Institute of Alcohol Studies, Britons 'binge drink' more than any other European country - indeed, 40 per cent of all drinking occasions (for men) are a 'binge', compared to 33 per cent in Sweden, our leading competitor. But this research is not quite as revealing as it appears. Given that there is no international gold-standard as to what constitutes a 'binge', and that the UK minimum definition is 'more than six units of alcohol on a single occasion' (to put that in perspective, that's two pints of Stella), it could be that we lag significantly behind other countries.
There is a small problem with these figures, though. Firstly, in terms of alcohol consumed per head in Europe, the same report puts Britain in twelfth place, with the party animals of Luxembourg hogging the top spot. So it's not as if Britons are hopeless dipsomaniacs - either we drink in bursts or perhaps we have a skewed view of what constitutes 'harmful'.....
Any examination of the government anti-binge campaigns shows a disturbingly blitzkrieg approach to justification. Originally, the recommended levels were 21 units weekly for men and 14 for women. When it became apparent that these figures applied only in the Mormon State of Utah and Noddyland, they were raised to 28 and 21 respectively. Then research by a team at University College London concluded that drinking half a bottle of wine a day (31 units a week) was not only not bad for you, but actively good for the brain. And so the emphasis shifted.
The latest bit of pseudo-science aims to hit women where it hurts most: Binge Drinking Will Make You Ugly. The Portman Group-backed campaign warns that drinking 'dehydrates the skin', 'results in broken veins', causes 'loss of beauty sleep' and - best of all - warns women that drinking can leave them with 'blood-shot eyes and smelling of alcohol'. They may as well have said it gives you warts. Bombarded by spurious statistics and quack science as we are, it will be surprising if this campaign makes one iota of difference.
Whither next? Home secretary David Blunkett has announced that it is time for his favourite solution: a Crackdown. The crosshairs are sighted on underage drinkers, misbehaving pubs, errant off-licenses, the publicly intoxicated, anti-social drinkers and Uncle Thomas Cobleigh et al. Over the summer, 1900 people were served with on-the-spot fines for alcohol-related disorder, and 4000 people had their alcohol confiscated. The Association of Chief Police Officers branded the results 'disturbing'. I agree. Though probably not for the same reasons....
The 'ladette' culture so often blamed for female binge drinking is the accidental pregnancy of emancipation. Why shouldn't the girls go out, get lathered, and score? The lads do. And trying to convince young men that a good piss-up is harmful is a lost cause...
No wonder that responsibility is being tossed hither and yon like so many scalding spuds. The brewing industry is, after all, a business and it is naive to blame it for doing a good job. Asking brewers to take responsibility for people misusing their product is like demanding that BP apologise for every petrol bomb thrown in a riot. The government simultaneously rakes in duty profits and moans at the cost of so much drink leaving the shelves. And telling the voters that it's their fault they drink so much might be a little counter-productive. It must be alcohol's fault....
It is hard to see the latest crusade as anything more than an attempt to further regulate social behaviour, according to what is defined as 'acceptable' at Labour HQ. Britain's drinking problem is the latest in a list of excuses for prescriptive limitations on society...