The creeping dictatorship of the Left... 

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Postmodernism is fundamentally frivolous. Postmodernists routinely condemn racism and intolerance as wrong but then say that there is no such thing as right and wrong. They are clearly not being serious. Either they do not really believe in moral nihilism or they believe that racism cannot be condemned!

Postmodernism is in fact just a tantrum. Post-Soviet reality in particular suits Leftists so badly that their response is to deny that reality exists. That they can be so dishonest, however, simply shows how psychopathic they are.


30 April, 2013

Secret British court in control of a £2billion fortune: It holds the assets of 16,000 vulnerable people - but pays them paltry interest

A secret court is controlling £2billion of assets of thousands of elderly and mentally impaired people and paying them a paltry rate of interest.

The controversial actions of the Court of Protection were criticised by an MP last night as ‘bordering on malpractice’.

The interest rate – currently much less than they would receive in an ordinary bank account – means that the value of the financial estates are falling rapidly because the rate of inflation is 2.8 per cent.

An investigation by the Daily Mail has uncovered a litany of other complaints about the court, which came under fire last week after it emerged it had jailed a woman for defying its orders over the fate of her elderly father in a care home.

The allegations include claims that:

*    The court’s officials frittered away people’s money by charging exorbitant fees;

*    Officials have raided homes in search of documents and read private emails;

*    The billions controlled by the court are being used to offset the national debt through an arm of the Treasury.

The court sits in private and deals with up to 23,000 cases a year.

It was set up in 2007 by Labour to act in the interests of those deemed incapable of running their own financial affairs because of ill health or old age.

It takes over when an individual suffers sudden mental impairment and has not already handed over power of attorney to a trusted friend or relative.  It now controls huge sums of money for 16,000 vulnerable people.

The money is not at any risk.  However, many families say the low interest rate – equivalent to the Bank of England base rate of 0.5 per cent – produces an income that it is impossible for their loved ones to live on.

Lib Dem MP John Hemming said: ‘The money should be well-managed and pay a decent rate of interest or it borders on malpractice.

'The current rate is risible and losing these 16,000 people, who desperately need a proper income, tens of millions of pounds a year in total.’

The Ministry of Justice said: ‘These accounts are designed to protect funds awarded by the courts with a 100 per cent government-backed guarantee and at zero risk to the individual.  'These are not supposed to be an investment fund.’


You can't bash a burglar after all: British Government's tough rhetoric branded a farce as it's revealed homeowners are barred from fighting raiders in garden or chasing them outside

New laws giving householders the right to fight back against burglars were condemned as a ‘farce’ last night after it emerged they are riddled with loopholes.

The Government had promised to let people use maximum force when confronted by intruders, after an outcry at cases where victims were arrested for defending their homes and businesses.

Justice Minister Chris Grayling told last year’s Tory Party conference: ‘Householders who act instinctively and honestly in self-defence are crime victims and should be treated that way.’
Justice Minister Chris Grayling MP had promised to let people use 'maximum force' against burglars at last year's Conservative party conference

But today it can be revealed that the new defence of ‘disproportionate force’ – which became law this week – will not apply in many cases.

Official guidance sent to judges, prosecutors and police shows:

*    Homeowners cannot rely on the new defence if they find an intruder in their garden or chase them outside – the fight must take place indoors.

*    Shopkeepers can only get away with disproportionate attacks on robbers if they live above their shop, and only if the two parts of the building are connected.

*    Shop assistants and customers cannot get involved in the violence, unless their loved ones happen to be living in the store.

*    Householders cannot use the defence if they are only trying to protect their property, rather than trying to defend themselves or their family.

The document admits: ‘The provision does not give householders free rein to use disproportionate force in every case they are confronted by an intruder.’

Dramatic CCTV footage released this week showed the risks shop staff are prepared to take to defend their livelihoods. Thurairagh Pirabahuran used his seat to hit gunman Sheldon Green as he tried to rob his store in Ilford, Essex.

But the brave shopkeeper does not live above the premises, so would not be protected from prosecution if police decided he had used ‘grossly disproportionate’ force.

Last night critics said the detail of the law, due to come into force within days, exposed Mr Grayling’s tough rhetoric as worthless.

They said it meant terrified homeowners and small businesses would still face possible prosecution if they lash out at criminals.

Malcolm Starr, a spokesman for jailed burglary victim Tony Martin, said: ‘I think it’s an absolute farce. They really must let common sense prevail.’ He said that rather than drawing up new laws, the system should simply prevent homeowners being arrested as soon as an intruder is attacked. Mr Starr added: ‘People immediately seem to get arrested and don’t get the benefit of the doubt – it’s the wrong way round.’

Nick de Bois, a Conservative MP on the Justice Select Committee, said: ‘It looks like the Ministry of Justice civil servants are watering down the intent behind this very sensible law. People have the right to defend their property and homes, and they don’t need a straitjacket from the Ministry of Justice.’

Campaigners have been calling for greater protection for burglary victims for years, prompted by a series of cases. Tony Martin, whose farmhouse had been repeatedly broken into, was convicted of murder after he shot two intruders in 1999, killing one. On appeal his sentence was cut.

In 2008, Munir Hussain chased and caught one of the three men who broke into his house. He and his brother Tokeer were jailed for attacking the intruder with a cricket bat, although their sentences were also later reduced on appeal.

Last September a couple spent two nights in custody after firing a  shotgun at intruders, but Andy and Tracey Ferrie were not prosecuted.

Mr Grayling has been saying since 2009 that the law on self-defence should be reviewed and the Conservatives’ 2010 Election manifesto promised householders ‘greater legal protection if they have to defend themselves against intruders’.

The following year David Cameron himself said: ‘We’ll put beyond doubt that homeowners and small shopkeepers who use reasonable force to defend themselves or their properties will not be prosecuted.’

Then at last year’s Tory conference, Mr Grayling announced that householders would be able to use more than reasonable force.

A clause on self-defence was added to the Crime and Courts Bill, which gained Royal Assent on Thursday.

But a circular sent this month by the Ministry of Justice makes clear the limitations of the legislation. It states: ‘Householders are only permitted to rely on the heightened defence if they are using force to defend themselves or others. They cannot seek to rely on the defence if they were acting for another purpose, such as protecting their property.’

It continues: ‘The term “in or partly in a building” is used to protect householders who might be confronted by an intruder on the threshold of their home, climbing in through a window perhaps. But householders cannot rely on the heightened defence if the confrontation occurred wholly outside the building, for example in the garden.’

Steve McCabe, a Labour MP on the Home Affairs Committee, said: ‘This shows how empty the conference rhetoric is. This constant raising of expectations followed by a failure to deliver, is undermining justice in this country. It’s time people like Chris Grayling acted more responsibly.’

Whitehall sources stressed the  legislation was only ever intended to give more protection to homeowners who wake up to find intruders.

Mr Grayling said: ‘Being confronted by a burglar inside your home while loved ones sleep upstairs is a rare but uniquely frightening experience. This law is designed to protect those whose actions in that awful moment may seem disproportionate in the cold light of day. ’


What kind of society treats smacking as a war crime - while teaching children how to watch porn?

A group of sex education ‘experts’ has suggested that pupils should be taught in school about pornography, on the grounds that it is not ‘all bad’ and can even be ‘helpful’ to them.

Yes, you read that right.  The Sex Education Forum says in a new publication for schools that pornography should be taught in terms of ‘media literacy and representation, gender, sexual behaviour and body image’.

Behind the gobbledegook, this seems to be at least in part a confused attempt to deal with the fact that children are now accessing all manner of dubious or harmful material on the internet.

Accordingly, this publication warns that the sex and bodies in pornography ‘are mostly unrealistic’, and that such material may involve coercing participants into performing sex acts. But it also suggests showing such images to children at age 14. Moreover, it states they might find some of the positions in such porn films ‘helpful’, while being made aware that ‘the so-called pleasure’ they see ‘may be anything but’.

So schoolchildren are to be taught sexual positions from pornography — with a pious health warning that they may not get much pleasure out of them! Pinch yourself — we’re talking 14-year-olds here. Whatever happened to childhood innocence? Whatever happened to teaching?

The Forum says that this approach will equip children with ‘filters in their head’ to apply to the disturbing or damaging media images available to them.

What an amazing argument, that for children to handle situations that are harmful to them they must be exposed to that harm! What next — teaching them how to smoke a crack pipe?

There is no such thing as harmless porn, let alone porn that is actually helpful to children. This is because, even at its least extreme, porn invariably turns the human body into a dehumanised sexual object and degrades  the people involved, particularly women.

Yet the Forum’s publication suggests that pornography may not in fact lead people to view women with contempt or disgust.

Whatever happened to feminism, and its fierce campaigns against pornography for putting women in danger by representing them as sexual objects?

These dangers move on to a different plane altogether when children are exposed to porn. Some will see these images before they are old enough fully to understand human sexuality. Indeed, porn may shape their whole view of sexuality, doing untold harm as a result.

It also inescapably makes the viewer complicit in a voyeuristic exercise which uses sex as a salacious peep-show. Exposing children to these disgusting images is therefore itself a type of child abuse.

Lucy Emmerson, co-ordinator of the Forum, has said the magazine aims to help teachers ‘offer factually correct information and an opportunity for safe discussion that matches the maturity of the child’.

But it is never safe to subject a child to pornography. At 14, a child is not mature enough to handle all the implications of healthy sexuality, let alone its perversions.

Among these ‘sexperts’, there is a shocking confusion between adults and children. Exposing children in this way is to treat them wholly inappropriately as quasi-adults, supposedly able to apply adult values and considerations to behaviour which would trouble many adults themselves.

The Forum's publication also contains some all-too telling details: a hypothetical correspondence with parents who would be horrified to hear that their children are to be exposed to porn in school

To these imagined (but realistic) parents protesting that they are trying to keep their children away from such images, this document replies with patronising idiocy that avoiding such things gives children the impression that it is wrong to talk about sex in any context.

How extraordinary to imply that there is nothing between ignorance and porn! And how revealing to dismiss such proper parental concern as damaging!

A teacher named Boo Spurgeon writes that, since children start accessing porn at around the age of 11, teachers need then to start talking to them about it.

This argument says if you can’t beat them, join them: innocence is already being abused, so teachers might as well finish the job. What an abandonment of responsibility.  Adults need to set boundaries for children by saying that certain things are simply wrong — and talk about matters that belong to the adult world only when children are fully able to understand that world.

Indeed, destroy the innocence of a child and you destroy what it is to be a child — and as a result, damage the adult into whom the child then grows.

In any event, children almost instinctively filter out from their minds much information that is too grown-up for them to understand. No chance of that, however, in many of today’s sex education lessons and teaching materials which introduce even pre-pubescent children to the full range of sexual practices, positions and perversions.

Indeed, since many such lessons are themselves a kind of pornography, it is not really surprising that teachers are now being advised to go the whole hog and introduce their pupils to the real stuff.

An adult world which thinks some pornography is acceptable fare for 14-year-olds can no longer grasp the difference between children and adults, nor between sexuality and pornography. It can no longer make the essential distinction between healthy and harmful behaviour.

A quite different campaign illustrates this terrible confusion. Brecon Cathedral has joined forces with a number of children’s charities to end what they call ‘legalised violence against children’ — which in the real world is called sometimes giving a child a smack.

The Dean of Brecon, Geoffrey Marshall, says ‘resorting to violence and smacking is not effective and should no longer be seen as acceptable behaviour or reasonable punishment’. Such language elides the acceptable and the intolerable.

Beating a child is wrong; a one-off smack is not in the same league. To call that ‘violence’ is to minimise, and thus effectively deny, what real violence actually is.

It fails to draw the proper distinction between loving discipline, without which a child cannot flourish, and child abuse.

What has our society come to when it treats as a war criminal anyone who admits to giving their child an occasional smack, and yet advocates exposing children to porn?

The answer is that, for several decades now, a small number of determined zealots have wormed their way into influential positions from where they have set about undermining traditional moral precepts and replacing parental authority with their own, in order to brainwash children with the doctrine of  ‘anything goes’ and ‘the right to choose’.

The Sex Education Forum, which describes itself as ‘the national authority on sex and relationships education’, is actually a bunch of activists with a ‘lifestyle choice’ agenda who have been busy undermining parental authority and traditional moral values for a quarter of a century.

Lo and behold, the organisations supporting the Brecon campaign include Barnardo’s, the National Children’s Bureau and Relate — which are also listed as members of the Sex Education Forum.

Is it any wonder, therefore, that parental discipline is treated as child abuse while children are force-fed pornography in the classroom — and anyone who dares protest faces vilification, ostracism and scorn?

But don’t worry. Children may have their innocence corrupted and become brutalised and degraded as a result — but they won’t be smacked. So that’s ok then.

There’s a name for this — society’s  death wish.     


The attack on religion in America

RELIGIOUS LIBERTY is being redefined in America, or at least many would like it to be. Our secular establishment wants to reduce the autonomy of religious institutions and limit the influence of faith in the public square. The reason is not hard to grasp. In America, "religion" largely means Christianity, and today our secular culture views orthodox Christian churches as troublesome, retrograde, and reactionary forces. They're seen as anti-science, anti-gay, and anti-women-which is to say anti-progress as the Left defines progress. Not surprisingly, then, the Left believes society will be best served if Christians are limited in their influence on public life. And in the short run this view is likely to succeed. There will be many arguments urging Christians to keep their religion strictly religious rather than "political." And there won't just be arguments; there will be laws as well. We're in the midst of climate change-one that's getting colder and colder toward religion.

Recent court cases and controversies suggest trends unfriendly to religion in public life. In 2005, a former teacher at Hosanna-Tabor Evangelical Lutheran Church and School in Redford, Michigan, filed an employment lawsuit claiming discrimination based on disability. The school fired her for violating St. Paul's teaching that Christians should not bring their disputes before secular judges. The subsequent lawsuit revolved around the question of whether a religious school could invoke a religious principle to justify firing an employee. The school said it could, drawing on a legal doctrine known as the ministerial exception, which allows religious institutions wide latitude in hiring and firing their religious leaders. It's in the nature of legal arguments to be complex and multi-layered, but in this case the Obama administration's lawyers made a shockingly blunt argument: Their brief claimed that there should be no ministerial exception.

The Supreme Court rejected this argument in a unanimous 9-0 vote. But it's telling nonetheless that lawyers in the Justice Department wanted to eliminate this exception. Their argument was straightforward: Government needs to have broad powers to address the problem of discrimination-in this case disability-as well as other injustices. Conceding too much to religious institutions limits those powers. Why should the theological doctrines of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, or of any other church, trump the legal doctrines of the United States when the important principle of non-discrimination is at stake? It is an arresting question, to say the least-especially when we remember that the Left is currently pushing to add gay marriage to the list of civil rights.

Concerns about the autonomy of religious institutions are also at work in the Obama administration's tussle with the Catholic Church and her religious allies over the mandate to provide free contraceptives, sterilization, and abortion-inducing drugs. After the initial public outcry, the administration announced a supposed compromise, which has been recently revised and re-proposed. The Obama administration allows that churches and organizations directly under the control of those churches are religious employers and can opt out of the morally controversial coverage. But religious colleges and charities are not and cannot. To them, the administration offers a so-called accommodation.

The details are complex, but a recent statement issued by Cardinal Dolan of New York identifies the key issue: Who counts as a religious employer? It's a question closely related to the issue in the Hosanna-Tabor case, which asks who counts as a religious employee. Once again the Obama administration seeks a narrow definition, "accommodating" others in an act of lŠse majest‚, as it were. The Catholic Church and her allies want a broad definition that includes Catholic health care, Catholic universities, and Catholic charities. The Church knows that it cannot count on accommodations-after all, when various states such as Illinois passed laws allowing gay adoptions, they did not "accommodate" Catholic charities, but instead demanded compliance with principles of non-discrimination, forcing the Church to shut down her adoption agencies in those jurisdictions.

Cardinal Dolan's statement went still further. For-profit companies are not religious in the way that Notre Dame University is religious. Nonetheless, the religious beliefs of those who own and run businesses in America should be accorded some protection. This idea the Obama administration flatly rejects. By their progressive way of thinking, economic life should be under the full and unlimited control of the federal government.

Religious liberty is undermined in a third and different way as well. For a long time, political theorists like John Rawls have argued that our laws must be based on so-called public reason, which is in fact an ambiguous, ill-defined concept that gives privileged status to liberalism. In 2010, Federal District Court Judge Vaughn Walker overturned Proposition 8-the ballot measure that reversed the California Supreme Court's 2006 decision that homosexuals have a right to marry-citing the lack of a rational basis for thinking that only men and women can marry. "The evidence shows conclusively," he wrote, "that Proposition 8 enacts, without reason, a private moral view that same-sex couples are inferior to opposite-sex couples." He continues by observing that many supporters of Proposition 8 were motivated by their religious convictions, which-following Rawls-he presumes should not be allowed to govern public law.

This line of thinking is not unique to Judge Walker. The influence of Rawls has been extensive, leading to restrictions on the use of religious reasons or even religiously-influenced reasons in public debate. In striking down Texas sodomy laws, Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy noted that moral censure of homosexuality has "been shaped by religious beliefs." The idea seems to be that moral views historically supported by religion-which of course means all moral views other than modern secular ones-are constitutionally suspect.

Here we come to the unifying feature of contemporary challenges to religious freedom-the desire to limit the influence of religion over public life. In the world envisioned by Obama administration lawyers, churches will have freedom as "houses of worship," but unless they accept the secular consensus they can't inspire their adherents to form institutions to educate and serve society in accordance with the principles of their faith. Under a legal regime influenced by the concept of public reason, religious people are free to speak-but when their voices contradict the secular consensus, they're not allowed into our legislative chambers or courtrooms.

Thus our present clashes over religious liberty. The Constitution protects religious liberty in two ways. First, it prohibits laws establishing a religion. This prevents the dominant religion from using the political power of majority rule to privilege its own doctrines to the disadvantage of others. Second, it prohibits laws that limit the free exercise of religion. What we're seeing today is a secular liberalism that wants to expand the prohibition of establishment to silence articulate religious voices and disenfranchise religiously motivated voters, and at the same time to narrow the scope of free exercise so that the new secular morality can reign over American society unimpeded.

Rise of the Nones

This shift in legal thinking on the Left reflects underlying religious trends. As the religious character of our society changes, so do our assumptions about religious freedom. The main change has been the rise of the Nones. In the 1950s, around three percent of Americans checked the "none" box when asked about their religious affiliation. That number has grown, especially in the last decade, to 20 percent of the population. And Nones are heavily represented in elite culture. A great deal of higher education is dominated by Nones, as are important cultural institutions, the media, and Hollywood. They are conscious of their power, and they feel the momentum of their growth.

At the same time, the number of Americans who say they go to church every week has remained strikingly constant over the last 50 years, at around 35 percent. Sociologists of religion think this self-reported number is higher than the actual one, which may be closer to 25 percent. In any event, the social reality is the same. As the Nones have emerged as a significant cohort, the committed core of religious people has not declined and in fact has become unified and increasingly battle tested. Protestants and Catholics alike know they're up against an often hostile secular culture-and although a far smaller portion of the population, the same holds for Jews and Muslims as well.

These two trends-the rise of the Nones and the consolidation of the committed core of believers-have led to friction in public life. The Nones and religious Americans collide culturally and politically, not just theologically.

For a long time, the press has reported on the influence of religious voters, especially Evangelicals. Polling data shows that religiosity has become increasingly reliable as a predictor of political loyalties. But what's far less commonly reported is that this goes both ways. In their recent book, American Grace: How Religion Divides and Unites Us, Robert Putnam and William Campbell focused on the practice of saying grace before meals as an indication of religious commitment and found a striking correlation. Seventy percent of those who never say grace before meals identify as Democrats, compared to slightly more than 20 percent who identify as Republicans. Nones are extremely ideological. Meanwhile, among those who say grace daily, 40 percent identify as Democrats and 50 percent as Republicans. Religious people are more diverse, but they trend to the political right, and the more religious they are the more likely they are to vote Republican.

Other data also suggests a growing divide between the irreligious and religious. A recent Pew study confirms that Nones are the single most ideologically committed cohort of white Americans, rivaled only by Evangelical Protestants. They overwhelmingly support abortion and gay marriage. Seventy-five percent of them voted for Barack Obama in 2008, and they played a decisive role in his victory in 2012. In Ohio, Obama lost the Protestant vote by three percent and the Catholic vote by eleven percent-and both numbers rise if we isolate Protestants and Catholics who say they go to church every week. But he won the Nones, who make up 12 percent of the electorate in Ohio, by an astounding 47 percent.

I think it's fair to say that Obama ran a values campaign last fall that gambled that the Nones would cast the decisive votes. For the first time in American political history, the winning party deliberately attacked religion. Its national convention famously struck God from the platform, only to have it restored by anxious party leaders in a comical session characterized by the kind of frivolity that comes when people recognize that it doesn't really matter. Democratic talking points included the "war on women" and other well-crafted slogans that rallied their base, the Nones, who at 24 percent of all Democrat and Democratic-leaning voters have become the single largest identifiable cohort in the liberal coalition.

This presents the deepest threat to religious liberty today. It's not good when the most numerous and powerful constituency in the Democratic Party has no time for religion. This is all the more true when its ideology has the effect of encouraging the rest of the party to view religion-especially Christianity-as the enemy; and when law professors provide reasons why the Constitution doesn't protect religious people.



Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the  incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

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 and political diversity 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.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH,   EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICSDISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL  and EYE ON BRITAIN (Note that EYE ON BRITAIN has regular posts on the reality of socialized medicine).   My Home Pages are here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here


29 April, 2013

Supermarket forced to pull packets of Whole Hearted Roasted Monkey Nuts from the shelves...because nuts aren't listed as ingredient

Monkey nuts seems to be a British term for peanuts (goober nuts; groundnuts) still in their shell.  The packaging  was transparent so customers could see that it contained unhulled peanuts.  Anybody aware that they had an allergy would surely know what the product looked like.  But bureaucracy is not paid to think and it doesn't

A Lancashire supermarket chain has been forced to clear its shelves of monkey nuts - because the label doesn't state that the packet contains nuts.

Booths Food, Wine and Grocery has withdrawn its Whole Hearted Roasted Monkey Nuts and the Food Standards Agency (FSA) has issued an Allergy Alert.

The company is concerned the label doesn't state the packet contains peanuts, putting those allergic to them at risk.

The withdrawn product is Booths Whole Hearted Roasted Monkey Nuts, 350g, best before July 12, 2013.

A spokesperson for the FSA said: 'The reason for the withdrawal is that the packaging does not state the product contains peanuts, which is a specific allergen that's listed in legislation.

'People who are allergic to peanuts may not be allergic to other types of nuts. The product's packaging is transparent, but the nuts are still in the shells i.e. sold as monkey nuts rather than specifically as peanuts.

The FSA added: `EH Booths has withdrawn the product with the above date code from sale.  `Customer notices will be displayed in stores, alerting customers to the reason for the withdrawal.  `The company will also contact the relevant allergy support organisations, which will tell their members of the withdrawal.

`Customers with an allergy to peanuts are advised not to eat this product but to return it to the nearest EH Booths store for a full refund.  `No other EH Booths products are known to be affected.'

'Without the correct information on the packaging, people with an allergy to peanuts - who might not know or make the connection between peanuts and monkey nuts, for example children - might eat the product and experience an adverse reaction.'

Booths said it takes the accurate labelling very seriously.  Technical manager, Waheed Hassan, alerted the FSA to this error immediately as well as posting notices in all Booths stores.

`It is our responsibility as retailers to accurately record allergy advice, and in this instance, we felt a responsibility to recall the product and issue a notice to our customers who might suffer from a specific peanut allergy,' he said.

It is the second product the company has had to withdraw within weeks.  Last month, the store withdrew some of its Edamame Bean Stir Fry because it contained soya.


House of Fraser manager sues employer for £1MILLION after 'suffering crippling injuries picking up an earring'

A department store manager is suing her employers for more than £1million claiming she suffered crippling injuries at work while bending down to pick up an earring.

Safaa Pate, 31, was running a Coast clothes and accessories concession at the High Wycombe branch of House of Fraser but has not been able to work since the incident in January 2009.

Ms Pate, who walks with a stick, says she suffered 'irreparable' back injuries and was left in 'unbearable' pain while retrieving a earring which had fallen under a display unit, her legal team claims.

In a writ lodged at London's High Court, Ms Pate, of Bray, Berkshire, says that she has had to undergo a spinal fusion operation and had been left with no feeling in her left leg and foot.

She is suing the Coast Fashions brand, blaming breaches of heath and safety at work regulations for her back problems.

However the company deny any wrongdoing, saying Ms Pate 'should have used a stick' to retrieve the dropped earring and arguing she was 'the author of her own misfortune.'

In the writ, Ms Pate's barrister, Caroline McColgan, sets out the details of the accident saying: 'She was performing a stock-take of items within the concession. As she was inventorying some jewellery, she dropped an earring onto the floor. It fell underneath one of the gondolas.

'She bent down and put her hand under the gondola in order to retrieve the earring. However, it had landed too far in from the edge and she was unable to reach it without moving the gondola out of the way. As she did so she heard a clicking noise and felt her back give way.

'She experienced increasing levels of pain over the course of the day. When it became unbearable she was compelled to leave work and attend hospital for treatment.'

The barrister claims that Ms Pate's employers were guilty of breaches of the Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 and the Manual Handling Operations Regulations 1992, and had 'failed to take reasonable steps to provide her with a safe system of work.'

In their defence to the action, Coast admit that they 'owed Ms Pate a duty of care as her employer at the material time' but deny responsibility for any harm she suffered.

Lawyers for the company state: 'Ms Pate's work was light work. She had to move clothes...but she was not required to lift or carry anything of substance.

'It is denied she was required to move the gondolas or that this formed any part of her employment. It was not Ms Pate's responsibility nor part of her job to move the stands and gondolas.

'It is denied it was sensible or reasonable or other than a breach of her own duty to take care to try to push or move the gondola to reach the earrings.'

The case is set to come to trial in November this year and is expected to be heard by Judge Richard Seymour QC.

Coast's barrister, Caroline Allen, said outside court after a preliminary hearing that Ms Pate was making a 'large damages claim' in excess of £1m.


The power of prayer: Believing in God can help treat depression

Belief in God may improve treatment for those suffering with depression, says a new study.

Faith in a higher being has been found to significantly improve treatment for people suffering with a psychiatric illness, according to research carried out by McLean Hospital in Belmont, Massachusetts.

Researchers followed 159 patients over the course of a year at the Behavioral Health Partial Hospital program at McLean to investigate the relationship between a  patient's level of belief in God, expectations for treatment and actual treatment outcomes.

Each participant was asked to gauge their belief in God as well as their expectations for treatment outcome on a five-point scale.

Levels of depression, wellbeing, and self-harm were assessed at the beginning and end of their treatment program.

Researchers found that patients with 'no' or only 'slight' belief in God were twice as likely not to respond to treatment than patients with higher levels of belief.

And more than 30 per cent of patients claiming no specific religious affiliation still saw the same benefits in treatment if their belief in God was rated as moderately or very high.

Researchers concluded that a belief in God is associated with improved treatment outcomes in psychiatric care.

The study, published in the Journal of Affective Disorders, said : 'Our work suggests that people with a moderate to high level of belief in a higher power do significantly better in short-term psychiatric treatment than those without, regardless of their religious affiliation.

Belief was associated with not only improved psychological wellbeing, but a decrease in depression and intention to self-harm, explained David Rosmarin, McLean Hospital clinician and instructor in the Department of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical.

He added: 'I hope that this work will lead to larger studies and increased funding in order to help as many people as possible.'

Previous studies have highlighted the power of prayer on a person's health.

Research at San Francisco General Hospital monitored the effects of prayer on 393 cardiac patients.

Patients were asked if they wanted to take part in the trial but were not told whether they would be the subject of prayers.

Half were prayed for by a group of strangers who only had the patients' names.

Those who were prayed for had fewer complications, fewer cases of pneumonia and needed less drug treatment.  They also improved more quickly and were able to leave hospital earlier.

A separate study, at Columbia University in New York, asked people in Australia, the U.S. and Canada to pray for named people undergoing IVF treatment in Korea.

Of the group in Korea, half had prayers said about them by the foreign strangers.  Among this half, the success rate for implantation of the embryo in the womb went up from 8 per cent to 16 per cent. Cases of successful conception - where the foetus started developing - went up from 25 to 50 per cent.


Swedish school brings in 'gender neutral' changing rooms to avoid teenagers being labelled male or female

A school in a liberal Swedish suburb is to open a gender-neutral changing room in an effort to discourage gender stereotypes and promote gay rights.

Patrik Biverstedt, headmaster of the Soedra Latins upper secondary school in Sodermalm, Stockholm, says they decided on the cubicle after students proposed it last year.

Students' union member Camille Trombetti says the changing room is not only 'for transsexual' students.

Any student who wants privacy when changing for school activities but doesn't want to feel constrained by traditional gender norms can use it.

Soedra Latins is in the same affluent district where children at a popular preschool are encouraged to avoid using 'him' and 'her' and to call others 'friends' instead of girls or boys.

Sweden has for the past few years been making efforts to socially engineer equality between the sexes from the earliest stages of childhood.

Miss Trombetti told Sweden's English-language news site The Local that school staff had welcomed the idea for gender-neutral changing rooms when it was proposed by the student council.

'They were very positive and welcoming but we had to figure out how to do it practically,' she said, adding that she hopes the idea will now be taken more seriously by the wider public.

'Every human being deserves a place where they feel comfortable,' she said.

'I'd remind people that hundreds of people commit suicide every year because they feel they are born into the wrong sex and don't feel their surroundings accept the gender they identify with.'

Students at Soedra Latins have been at the forefront of gay rights struggles in Sweden.

The school's student council were the first to march in Stockholm's Gay Pride parade last year and they have encouraged teachers to use gender neutral pronouns when referring to pupils.

The introduction of the new changing room comes two years after teachers at the nearby Egalia preschool began encouraging youngsters to stop referring to each other by their sex.

The colour and placement of toys and the choice of books at the nursery are carefully planned to try to prevent pupils being affected by stereotypes.

The decision to implement the rules was underpinned by a theory that existing social structures give boys an unfair advantage.

Nearly all the children's books at Egalia deal with homosexual couples, single parents or adopted children. There are no 'Snow White,' 'Cinderella' or other fairy tales.

Director Lotta Rajalin said in 2011 that Egalia places a special emphasis on fostering an environment tolerant of gay, lesbian, bisexual and trans-gender people.

But even in liberal Sweden the school's methods are controversial. Ms Rajalin claimed the staff have received threats from racists apparently upset about the preschool's use of black dolls.

Soedra Latins's gender-neutral changing room will be opened on May 6 by artist Elisabeth Ohlson Wallin, who is well known in Sweden for her photographic work on gay rights.



Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the  incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

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 and political diversity 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.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH,   EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICSDISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL  and EYE ON BRITAIN (Note that EYE ON BRITAIN has regular posts on the reality of socialized medicine).   My Home Pages are here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here


28 April, 2013

How anti-racism lessons INCREASE pupil intolerance by 'causing animosity to other cultures'

It takes Leftists to teach race-consciousness

Children who are given anti-racism lessons in school are more likely to be intolerant outside the classroom, a major study found yesterday.

It said accusing white pupils of racism causes animosity, and discussing sensitive ethnic concerns such as honour killings paints minority group children in a bad light.

The survey said children who live in mixed neighbourhoods are often free of hostility towards other racial groups.

But it found that `when more attention in class is being paid to the multicultural society, the liberalising effect of positive contact in class on youngsters' xenophobic attitude decreases'.

The project carried out in the Netherlands comes at a time of controversy over the place of multiculturalism - which blames Britain for historic racism and demands the encouragement of minority cultures - in the national curriculum and teaching in British schools.

Education Secretary Michael  Gove has been under fire from Left-wing academics over plans to stop teaching teenagers about topics such as `the wide cultural, social and ethnic diversity of Britain from the Middle Ages to the twentieth century and how this has helped shape Britain's identity'.

Instead, in future pupils will be taught much more British history. The study, published in the European Sociological Review, was based on a survey of 1,444 pupils aged 14 and 15 in ten schools in the city of Nijmegen.

The teenagers, drawn from different class and racial backgrounds, and with differing academic abilities, were questioned on their attitudes to those from different ethnic backgrounds and about multicultural teaching in their schools.

It said boys tended to be more intolerant of other groups than girls, and intolerance was greatest among those with strong religious or ethnic identity, among those from Turkish or Moroccan backgrounds, and those with the lowest educational achievements.

But it said the teaching of multiculturalism had an `unexpected negative effect'.

It added: `The impact of positive inter- ethnic contact in class disappears  or even reverses when multiculturalism is more emphasised during  lessons. Discussing discrimination and the customs and habits of  other cultures during lessons affects the youngsters' xenophobic attitudes indirectly.'

The report added that bad feelings among minority groups could be generated by discussion of topics such as honour killings or female  circumcision. Animosity could also be caused by `a one-sided offender- victim approach to racism'.

The findings echo the views of Bradford head teacher Ray Honeyford, who was driven from his job nearly 30 years ago over his claim that multicultural teaching was harming pupils.

Mr Honeyford said that pupil performance was hindered by `the notion of the multi-racial curriculum urged by the authorities, and of making colour and race significant, high-profile issues in the classroom'.

Patricia Morgan, an author on  the family and education, said  yesterday: `If you rub children's noses in their supposed racism, they resent it.

`Pupils are being accused of things they haven't thought or done. Multiculturalism attempts to manipulate children's thoughts, beliefs and emotions, it amounts to indoctrination, and it doesn't work. It is counter-productive.

`This study shows that when people try to manipulate children's minds, it bounces back on them.'


Clegg Kills U.K. Data-Monitoring Bill on Liberty Concerns

U.K. Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg killed off plans by David Cameron's Conservatives to monitor data from phone calls and e-mails, citing concerns about civil liberties, as Parliament prepared to end its current session.

Conservative Home Secretary Theresa May was pushing for adoption of the Communications Data Bill after police and intelligence agencies sought powers to collect information showing the time, location and duration of a mobile-phone call or the existence of an e-mail. Civil-liberties campaigners said the proposals were too intrusive and put ordinary people at risk of being spied upon.

"What people dub the snoopers' charter, that's not going to happen -- certainly with Lib Dems in government," Clegg told LBC radio today. An aide to Clegg, speaking on condition of anonymity in line with government rules, said no new version of the bill would appear when the next parliamentary session begins on May 8.

The move shows Clegg flexing his muscles against his Tory coalition partners before local elections next week and with national elections two years away. Prime Minister David Cameron mirrored that strategy for his own party by appointing a new team this week to focus on Conservative policy.


More black on black violence in Britain

A 15-year old boy has been charged with the murder of a teenager stabbed to death on a bus.

Derek Boateng, 16, was attacked in broad daylight on the 393 bus in Highbury New Park, north London, at around 3pm on Tuesday.  He was airlifted to hospital but died yesterday.

A police spokesman said: 'The 15-year-old boy from Havering will appear in custody at Highbury Corner Youth Court accused of the murder of 16-year-old Derek Boateng.'

Police say Boateng, who has three older sisters, was attacked following a row with another teenager. It was the fifth stabbing of a teenager in London in the past four days.

The London Air Ambulance landed on Highbury Grove School's Astro Turf pitch and airlifted the teenager to hospital in east London where he died yesterday.

Today, his devastated sisters paid tribute to the little brother they described as 'always laughing' and revealed his birthday presents are still lying unopened at the family home in nearby Hackney.

Derek's oldest sister Gifty, 29, said he was 'best brother in the world.

She told the Evening Standard: 'I could not have had a better brother.'  Earlier, she told how Derek was doing his GCSEs and wanted to be an engineer.

He said: 'He just fixes stuff, like things you can't figure out he comes to do.

'He paints and plays the drums - he was very artistic. He had a lot of friends and knew a lot of people around the area and had friends from primary school still. We are completely devastated and still in shock.'

Another of his siblings, Linda, 25, said: 'All we know is that he was on a bus by himself. He normally gets the train.

'From what we know, he was going to meet his friend at Highbury Grove when it happened.

'He was always laughing, everything was a joke. You can't even tell him off because he just started laughing at you.

'He was stabbed on his birthday on the 23rd and died the day after. He was coming home to his presents, he hadn't even opened them yet.'

She added: 'You hear about this sort of thing all the time and never think this is going to come to you.

'Knives are for the kitchen. Put the knives away, just concentrate on your education. They have left the family very devastated.

'I don't think they understand what they are doing. The guy who did it is probably really scared because they don't understand what they have done.  'It's ridiculous. Killing someone and going back to your group doesn't make you cool.'

More than 2,000 people have paid tribute on Facebook to a murdered teenager who died the day after being stabbed on his sixteenth birthday.

Derek Boateng, who wanted to be an engineer, was fatally stabbed on a 393 bus on Tuesday afternoon. He died in hospital last night.

And now more than 2,700 people have flooded a tribute page set up for the tragic youngster - known as Ddot - on Facebook.
Trawling the streets: Police search gardens, bins and drains close to the scene where Derek Boateng was stabbed on a bus in Highbury, London

Sheree Wright said: 'Rest In Perfect Peace, I Know The Streets Are Tough But I'm Disgusted That Young Boys & Girls In This World Think They Can Play God & Take Someones Life! Too Many Mothers Are Burying Their Babies.

The teenager was said by locals to be a former student at Highbury Grove School.

Police were called on Tuesday afternoon and the victim was rushed to hospital in a critical condition but he succumbed to his injuries yesterday evening.

Nearby residents said the boy was stabbed by a black teenager, aged around 16, who was wearing a baseball cap and who also pushed a passenger to the ground before running off through the nearby Spring Gardens Estate.


Iceland's Top Court Orders Valitor to Process WikiLeaks Payments

Iceland's Supreme Court ordered Valitor hf, the Icelandic partner of MasterCard Inc. (MA) and Visa Inc. (V), to process card payments for anti-secrecy website WikiLeaks within 15 days or face daily penalties.

If the company fails to comply it will be forced to pay 800,000 kronur ($6,800) in daily penalties, according to the ruling posted on the Reykjavik-based court's website today.

The court also said Valitor must honor a contract with Icelandic data-hosting service provider DataCell. The payment card company had refused to process payments for DataCell because DataCell had signed a contract to process payments for WikiLeaks.

Valitor's refusal to process WikiLeaks payments "shall be considered baseless," according to the ruling posted on the Reykjavik-based court's website. Valitor "is required to open a payment portal in accordance with its cooperation agreement" with DataCell.

Valitor Chief Executive Officer Vidar Thorkelsson didn't immediately respond to a call for comment after regular business hours.



Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the  incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

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 and political diversity 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.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH,   EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICSDISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL  and EYE ON BRITAIN (Note that EYE ON BRITAIN has regular posts on the reality of socialized medicine).   My Home Pages are here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here


26 April, 2013

The East German mentality of the British bureaucracy

Agony of woman jailed in secret: Daughter locked up for trying to save father from care home tells of terrifying police swoop

A woman imprisoned by a secret court yesterday described the shocking moment police descended on her father's care home to `cart me off to jail'.

Wanda Maddocks was sentenced for trying to remove her father John from a home where his family thought he was in danger of dying.

But she was not present in court, nor was she represented by a lawyer, when the judgment was made - and her sentencing was not made public for six months.

Miss Maddocks, 50, is believed to be the first person to be jailed by the Court of Protection, which settles the affairs of those too ill to make their own decisions.

Last night the case was at the centre of a furious row over behind-closed-doors justice as MPs condemned the secrecy of the court that jailed Miss Maddocks.

She was visiting her frail father when officers arrived to break the news that she had been sentenced to five months in prison.

She said: `I walked out of the care home and saw a small white van, then two female police officers approached me with two court officers.  `They told me I had been sentenced to jail for contempt of court. I couldn't believe it.

`They told me it was almost unheard of for somebody to be jailed like that in a civil hearing without first being given the chance to explain themselves.'

Miss Maddocks served six weeks in Foston Hall - the women's jail in Derbyshire which was home to Maxine Carr, girlfriend of Soham killer Ian Huntley - following her arrest in September.

The Court of Protection had originally ruled that Mr Maddocks, who suffered from Alzheimer's disease, must stay in the care home in Hanley, Stoke-on-Trent, because the plans for his care put forward by his children were considered inadequate.

It argued there was no choice but to take control of his affairs when he was found collapsed in his home by his carers. The council also deny he was badly treated during his stay in several care homes.

What has angered the family and open justice campaigners, however, is the draconian way in which Miss Maddocks was treated and the fact the secretive court was able to send her to jail.

Yesterday Miss Maddocks, a property developer, whose home is in the Turkish holiday resort of Fethiye, said: `I spent two weeks in the remand section and was then transferred to the main jail. I was ganged up on by the other inmates and one woman rushed at me and hit me.

`She did it because she thought I was lying about my reasons for being incarcerated. She couldn't believe I could have been jailed over something so petty, as she called it.'

Miss Maddocks added: `If my case had been in the public domain the judge would never have dared to jail me. There would have been uproar.

The Human Rights Act is supposed to guarantee everybody the right to a family life. It is the council and the court who have broken my father's human rights, not me.'

She said that while in Foston Hall she became too scared to ring her father, a painter and decorator who ran his own business, while in prison, out of fear of somehow breaking the restrictions designed to keep the case secret.

`The court paperwork threatened to seize the family's assets if we spoke to the press or anybody else about this,' she said. `I was terrified. I eventually called my father after almost two months, to tell him I would soon be released, and he was crying his eyes out. He was heartbroken because he was missing me so much.'

She said the family were told that social services would agree to Mr Maddocks leaving the care home only if she and his three other children - Ivan, 55, Wayne, 54, and Eden, 49 - could submit an acceptable `care package' to the court.

The care package had to explain how they would divide responsibility for looking after Mr Maddocks, who needed continual care, what food they would provide for him and any outside help they could call on, such as carers.  But she said the judge turned down four separate submissions.

Judge Martin Cardinal sentenced Miss Maddocks at the Court of Protection in Birmingham after hearing that she had repeatedly broken orders not to interfere with her father's life at the care home.

He found that she had helped take her father to a court hearing and had also taken him to see a solicitor; that she had tried to publicise the case; that she had left offensive messages for social workers; and that she had given the 80-year-old former painter and decorator a wooden cross to ward off evil at his care home.

The judge said she had `the attitude of someone who is simply not going to obey court orders'.

Miss Maddocks took her father to Turkey while he was subject to an order to remain in his care home and she acknowledged yesterday that she had left a message on a social worker's voicemail.

But she claimed the end of her father's life had been hastened by being `held prisoner' in care and claimed it was likely he would still be alive today if she had been allowed to move her father to live with her in Fethiye.  `We were all stunned at how quickly he had deteriorated,' she said of her father, who died in January.

Miss Maddocks said her jail sentence was outrageous and added: `I have had a successful career as a businesswoman and have never been in trouble.  `Why should I have to go through all this just to get my father back?'

Stoke-on-Trent councillor Gwen Hassall said: `This is clearly an extreme case, but one that the Court of Protection supported the council on. It was the court's decision to issue a custodial sentence to Wanda Maddocks.

`Our chief concern was always centred around the welfare of her father, who was suffering from a deteriorating condition and required 24-hour supervision in a stable environment.

This was a decision reached by medical consultants, geriatricians, social workers, community psychiatric nurses, dieticians, consultant health and nursing professionals and others who were involved in assessing his needs.'

Lib Dem MP John Hemming, who was first alerted to the case, called for new laws to ensure courts cannot sentence people to prison in secret. He said his own private member's bill had been blocked by the Government.

`My bill would have made sure that we know about jailings in the secret courts by making sure that details are made available. We then could know if the courts are behaving properly in our name.

Lord McNally, the Lib Dem Justice Minister, instructed the whips to squash the bill and keep secret jailings secret.

`Thanks to the hard work of the Daily Mail we now know that the courts are locking people up for getting legal advice for family members. This just cannot be right.'

Chris Skidmore, a Tory MP who sits on the Health Select Committee said: `Without commenting on the specifics of this case, it cannot be right that local authorities and council bureaucrats should run roughshod over the lives of individuals and their families.

`At the centre of elderly care must be the concept that families and loved ones must have a right to care and look after the best interests of patients, whatever their condition.'

Former care minister Paul Burstow, a Liberal Democrat, said outcome of the court case seemed an `extreme conclusion'.

He said: `The Court of Protection had a vital role to play in protecting the best interests of people who can't make decisions for themselves, for example dementia suffers.

`The law does provide for families to exercise decision making authority. The Court should be there to ensure people are safe, treated with dignity and are not deprived of their liberty.

`This is a very hard case and it is far from clear how the court, the council and the care home let events come to such an extreme conclusion.'

John Maddocks was being held in a care home against his families wishes under the Labour government's Mental Capacity Act

There the family claim Mr Maddocks stopped eating after being bullied by a male staff member, who would send him to his room as a punishment.

A spokesman for the home denied it had caused the death of Mr Maddocks.

`We are saddened by the allegations from the family and strongly refute them,' he added. `Mr Maddocks was seen by the GP and other medical professionals on five separate occasions over his 25 day stay.

`Everyone involved in his care was aware of his complex medical conditions and he was fully supported with these. When he arrived he was already a very ill man.'

Gwen Hassall, from Stoke-on-Trent City Council, said: `We are saddened to hear that the family have made allegations about the quality of care provided to Mr Maddocks, and take those allegations very seriously.

A post mortem examination revealed that Mr Maddocks died of natural causes, with Alzheimer's dementia and type II diabetes as contributory factors.

He was cared for at well-respected health facilities and centres which specialise in supporting people with dementia.'


Men could be convicted of rape 'even if the woman agrees to have sex'

A court headed by the Lord Chief Justice, Lord Judge, ruled in a sign-post decision that a man would still be guilty if he did something she asked him not to.

The High Court ordered the Director of Public Prosecutions to think again over a decision not to prosecute a man accused of raping his wife.

The woman had consented to sex, but only on condition that her husband withdrew as she did not want to become pregnant.

However, at the last minute he told her he was not withdrawing and told her 'because you are my wife and I'll do it if I want'.

The woman who did not want another child become pregnant after the incident in February 2010.

In his landmark decision Lord Judge ruled that because the man, the woman's husband under Sharia law, did not stick to his part of the pre-sex deal he could, in the eyes of the law, be held guilty of rape.

The judges said she 'was deprived of choice relating to the crucial feature on which her original consent to sexual intercourse was based'.

Granting a judicial review of the decision not to prosecute, the Lord Judge said that the woman's consent was 'negated' by the man's failure to withdraw.

He said that the woman's essential evidence was that after her Islamic marriage to the man in November 2009 their relationship was marred by his abusive dominance.

Lord Judge said that men who tried in vain to withdraw in time should not be pursued for rape, adding: `These things happen - they always have and they always will.  `No offence is committed when they do. They underline why withdrawal is not a safe method of contraception.'

In May 2010 she rang a rape phone line and made a formal complaint to the police about rape and sexual assault, but the DPP took the decision not to prosecute.


Catholic midwives in Scotland told they won't have to supervise staff taking part in abortions after winning court battle

Two Catholic midwives have today won a landmark court battle for the right to refuse any involvement in abortion procedures.

Mary Doogan, 58, and Connie Wood, 52, argued that being required to supervise staff involved in abortions was a violation of their human rights.

As conscientious objectors, the women had no direct role in pregnancy terminations, but claimed they should also be able to refuse to support staff taking part in the procedures.

The women took their case against NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde to the Court of Session in Edinburgh but lost last year.

But three appeal judges at the same court today ruled that their appeal should succeed.  'In our view the right of conscientious objection extends not only to the actual medical or surgical termination but to the whole process of treatment given for that purpose,' ruled Lady Dorrian, sitting with Lords Mackay and McEwan.

The health board noted the decision and said it would be considering its options with its legal advisers.

Ms Doogan and Ms Wood were employed as labour ward co-ordinators at the Southern General Hospital in Glasgow.

At the time of the original ruling, Ms Doogan had been absent from work due to ill health since March 2010 and Ms Wood had been transferred to other work.

Both women, practising Roman Catholics, registered their conscientious objection to participation in pregnancy terminations years ago, as allowed by the Abortion Act, but became concerned when all medical terminations were moved to the labour ward in 2007.

They argued that before that they were not called on to delegate, supervise or support staff treating or caring for patients undergoing termination procedures - a stance disputed by the health board.

They said the supervision and support of staff providing care to women having an abortion did amount to 'participation in treatment' and breached their rights under the European Convention on Human Rights. They raised a petition for a judicial review at the court, which was refused last year by judge Lady Smith.

She found that the women were sufficiently removed from involvement in pregnancy terminations to afford them appropriate respect for their beliefs.

The midwives said at the time that they were 'very disappointed' by the decision, and appealed against that ruling.

During the hearing earlier this year, Gerry Moynihan QC, representing the women, suggested that their consciences should determine what tasks they undertake.

He told the court: 'The dividing line ought to be the individual's conscience, not a bureaucrat saying what is within the literal meaning of the word `participation' or not.'

The health board argued that the right of conscientious objection was a right only to refuse to take part in activities that directly brought about the termination of a pregnancy, and was not available to the pair in respect of their duties of delegation, supervision and support.

NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde said in a statement: 'We note the outcome of the appeal and will be considering our options with our legal advisers over the next few days.'

The midwives' appeal was supported by the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC), which welcomed today's decision.

In a statement released by the society, Ms Wood and Ms Doogan said: 'Connie and I are absolutely delighted with today's judgment from the Court of Session, which recognises and upholds our rights as labour ward midwifery sisters to withdraw from participating in any treatment that would result in medical termination of pregnancy.

'In holding all life to be sacred from conception to natural death, as midwives we have always worked in the knowledge we have two lives to care for throughout labour; a mother and that of her unborn child.

'Today's judgment is a welcome affirmation of the rights of all midwives to withdraw from a practice that would violate their conscience and which over time, would indeed debar many from entering what has always been a very rewarding and noble profession. It is with great relief we can now return to considerations that are all to do with childbirth and midwifery practice and less to do with legal matters.'

The midwives also thanked 'the many individuals the length and breadth of Britain and, indeed, further afield' who have supported them throughout the dispute.


Health and safety nonsense revealed: Shredded paper and toothpicks banned

Bar staff banned from serving pints in traditional handled beer mugs, toothpicks removed from tables, and a six-year-old told she couldn't have a bubble machine at her party.  These are just a few of the bizarre rules imposed under the guise of `health and safety'.

A school banned shredded paper in a lucky dip stall, while a hotel said it couldn't serve burgers rare.

A taskforce set up to weed out poor use of health and safety laws found a host of examples in its first year.

It investigated 150 cases - including a hotel which told a chamber maid she could not make up a cot bed.

The ridiculous bans were revealed by Judith Hackitt, chairman of the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), who heads a team which looks at cases where `health and safety' is cited for bogus reasons.

She called on those making daft decisions to own up to their real motives.  `We never cease to be amazed by the cases we consider,' she said.

`Why on earth do people think they can get away with banning pint glasses with handles, bubbles at a birthday party, or burgers served anything other than well done, claiming they are a health and safety hazard?

`The reality is people hide behind "health and safety" when there are other reasons for what they're doing - fear of being sued perhaps, or bad customer service. It's time for them to own up to their real motives.'

She added: `We're helping people to fight back - and I'm delighted to hear of cases of our panel making  jobsworths admit they're wrong.'

The HSE's panel welcomes examples from the public of the barmy use of health and safety legislation.

In one example, Joel Gordon, 42, of Glossop in Derbyshire, told the panel that a hotel restaurant would not let him have a toothpick in case he stabbed his mouth.  He said: `I'm a grown adult - I'll take the risk. It was nonsense.'

Employment minister Mark Hoban said: `I despair when I read cases like these. Health and safety is to protect people from serious risks, not to be abused by jobsworths who stop  people getting on with their lives.'



Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the  incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

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 and political diversity 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.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH,   EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICSDISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL  and EYE ON BRITAIN (Note that EYE ON BRITAIN has regular posts on the reality of socialized medicine).   My Home Pages are here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here


25 April, 2013

An amusing feminist wail

Clemmie Ford again.  She admits that her appearance is not enticing but faults the world for that!   I guess it makes her anger understandable, though. Buddhist-style ideas of reality acceptance as a path to happiness are obviously alien to her.

Her narcissism is even more unrelenting than her poor grammar.  The poor grammar starts out in the first paragraph below with "between my two siblings and I".  Naughty Clemmie:  You can say "me", you know!  It's allowed.  Or is good grammar not feminist?  See what a condescending patriarchal male I am!

But the quite sad thing about Clemmie's rant is her obsession with herself.  A little rain (even a tropical downpour) falls into all our lives but Clemmie seems to think that the good Lord (or is it mother Earth?) sends his showers down onto the heads of women only.  I have experienced  what I see as injustices and bad treatment (as a conservative teaching in a university Sociology Dept., what would I expect?) but I don't blame it on my being a man!  I wonder why? 

When I was a lad in the bad old patriarchal days, I was told to chop wood for the copper (only old folks will know what that is.  It's not a policeman) but my sister wasn't.  Until I cut my toe with an axe that didn't bother me much so I see Clemmie's wail about doing the dishes as singularly one-eyed.  She got off lightly.

Clemmie is severely unbalanced.  But there is a good market for anger -- even a "mighty river" of it (That narcissism again) -- so she will get by   -- JR

My own feminist awakening came about gradually. As a teenager, I argued vehemently with my father over the distribution of chores between my two siblings and I. Every evening after dinner, I'd hear the same words: "Right, girls. Time to do the washing up." Meanwhile, my brother was given leave to head to his bedroom and indulge himself as he pleased. I found this monstrously unfair.

During the now nightly arguments, I proposed a solution that I felt would address the fundamental inequality of our family's domestic arrangement and put an end to the bitter animosity that was steadily growing between father and child. I was prepared – happily! – to do the dishes every night without complaint as long as my brother and sister alternated. It seemed an equitable solution, and I couldn't see how it was less preferable to yelling at each other for half an hour while our food was trying to digest.

But rather than take me up on it, my father would either storm out or push me aside to do the dishes himself, instilling in me the early lesson that the discord over discrimination will almost never be attributed to the inequality that exists therein, but to the ones who insist on making a problem out of it. He didn't seem to understand that my objection was never to the expectation that I contribute to the domestic workload, but that my brother be excused from it by virtue of having a penis.

On other nights, as my sister and I stood bent over the soapy sink, my mother would try to appease me by saying, "It's just that I know I can trust you girls to do a good job. If I left Toby to do it, I'd have to do them again." Because you make it easy for him to perform badly! I would scream inside my head, unmoved by the meaningless compliment of being handy with a dish-brush. Years before I could properly articulate it in my head, I was experiencing first hand one of the casually pervasive assumptions that continue to divide the sexes – men are good at running the world, women at running the house.

Lest I give the impression my childhood was a 1950s throwback, with girls in ankle-length skirts and mid-19th century chastity belts, let me confuse you further by telling you most of my rudimentary feminist education came from my father. To my sister and I, he emphasised the need to always maintain financial independence and to never rely upon a man for our livelihoods. He was a staunch supporter of reproductive rights, defending a woman's right to choose and letting us know that if we were ever "in trouble", we should never be afraid to tell him. He drummed into us early on that we were never to tolerate a man hitting us, and told my brother that he was never to hit a woman.

It was a confusing time. Because even though I believed in all the principles of feminism, I was so disconnected from the word itself that for many years I would deflect it as if it were an accusation I needed to apologise for. "Well, obviously I believe in equal rights ... but I wouldn't call myself a feminist." I was scared to wear the tag for the same reason many women are scared to call themselves feminists – I thought no one would want to have sex with me.

The thing is, no one wanted to have sex with me anyway, feminist or not. And it dawned on me one day that if I were so frightened of being confused for a man-hating, hairy-legged, ugly shrew just because I expressed the belief that women deserved equality and liberation, then perhaps the time for feminism hadn't passed after all.

I have been fortunate to have experienced the kind of life in which such an awakening occurred free of violence, trauma or pain. Instead, it was a trickle of indignation that gave rise to a mighty river. I grew weary of the routine way I was expected to contribute to my own diminishment, laughing at jokes that positioned women as a punchline in order to stroke the egos of boys whose limited experience of disapproval resulted in gendered name calling and the withdrawal of erectile approval.

The stories I hear from other women show that some of them have been luckier, raised from birth to believe in their fundamental right to exist equally. But many others have come to feminism through painful things that fill me with sadness, and remind me of a friend's words that "feminism is finding a way of being a girl that doesn't hurt".

I come across many women in my line of work who believe in the fundamentals of feminism but are still at the crossroad of uncertainty. All around them, they hear the message that equality has been reached – that anything we agitate for now is just the greed of professional feminists trying to get away with institutionalising misandry.

I can present you factual arguments to discount that, and demonstrate gendered inequality both here and internationally. I can cite statistics that will shock you with into incredulity. But the fact is, only you can answer the question of whether or not you believe yet.

Think of the sexist jokes passed off as humour, the rape apology sites on Facebook, the disparate numbers of men in positions of power. Think of your potential earning capacity, or the fact that only one in four girls in India won't live past puberty. Think of how victims of sexual violence are made complicit in their attacks, or the fact that girls are sold as property in parts of the world only to be discarded or killed when they no longer have any financial value. Have you found a way yet of being a girl that doesn't hurt? Have they?

I realise that for some of you the analogy might be a little too fantastical. But being awoken into a feminist reality isn't really so different because it takes one out of uncertainty and into strength. When Buffy Summers tells her Potentials of the plan to share her power, she leaves them with these words: "From now on, every girl in the world who might be a Slayer will be a Slayer. Every girl who could have the power, will have the power. Can stand up, will stand up. Slayers, every one of us. Make your choice.  "Are you ready to be strong?"


A British kangaroo court

The drift to an East German system continues

A woman was jailed ‘in secret’ for trying to remove her father from a care home where his family thought he was in danger of dying.

Wanda Maddocks, 50, is the first person known to be imprisoned by the Court of Protection, which settles the affairs of people too ill to make their own decisions.

A judge ruled that she should go to prison for five months for contempt of court even though she was not present or represented by a lawyer.

Details of the case were made public for the first time yesterday and provoked a fresh row over behind-closed-doors justice.

Miss Maddocks, who served six weeks of her sentence, was jailed because she ignored the court’s orders not to try to remove her father John from the home.

She was condemned for incidents including taking the 80-year-old dementia sufferer to a court hearing and to see a solicitor.

She was also censured for producing a leaflet to try to publicise details of the case and giving her father a wooden cross ‘to ward off evil’ in the care home.

Her family said Mr Maddocks, a retired painter and decorator from Stoke-on-Trent, had been held ‘like a prisoner’ on the orders of a local council.

Miss Maddocks was initially not allowed to be named after the hearing and was identified only by her initials WM.  And the court’s ruling containing details of her sentence was not published.

The Court of Protection is a branch of the High Court and its hearings are always conducted in private.

Judge Martin Cardinal merely went through the motions of observing open justice when he handed down his sentence.  He ordered the doors of his courtroom in Birmingham to be unlocked and told ushers to announce in the corridor that members of the public were free to come in.

But there was no wider announcement of the judgment and no-one who was not directly involved is thought to have attended.

The ban on naming Miss Maddocks was lifted because there was no reason for it to remain in place after her release.  Mr Maddocks has since died.

He separated from wife June more than 30 years ago. She remarried but now suffers from Parkinson’s Disease.

The extraordinary case began when the grandfather-of-one was found collapsed at his own home last year.

He was placed in a care home and the local authority applied  for a legal order which said he must stay there.  These are introduced when officials believe someone could be at risk of harm, and put the Official Solicitor in charge of their affairs.

After a few months Miss Maddocks’ brother Ivan took him out of the care home for lunch.  Miss Maddocks was alerted and flew her father to Turkey, where she owns a number of properties.

They stayed for 13 weeks before returning to Britain, and her father went to a different care home.

Mr Maddocks said: ‘Wanda was certain she could care for him herself but the social services said he had to be put in the home. Wanda was very angry that they were taking Dad away from us.’

Miss Maddocks was jailed on September 11 last year after the sentencing in her absence by the Court of Protection in Birmingham, and sent to Foston Hall prison in Derby

She was freed from Foston Hall prison in Derby on November 1 after returning to the court to purge her contempt by apologising to the judge.

Judge Cardinal said in his ruling that ‘there is a history of the family being difficult with the local authority’ and that Miss Maddocks knew she had been ordered not to interfere with her father.

He said she had done so on a number of occasions. On one she took him from his care home to attend a court hearing. On another she took him to Birmingham to talk to a solicitor. [How awful! I thought that was a basic right]

Miss Maddocks was said to have left a long and abusive message on a social worker’s voicemail describing ‘you in your tarty little stuck up voice’ and to have called council staff names including ‘arrogant little cunning b*******’.

In one message she said: ‘I hope you all end up where my Dad is and I hope you all end up cursed.’

But the whistleblowing MP who first learned of the case, Lib Dem John Hemming, said: ‘The jailing of people in secret for contempt is not supposed to happen.

‘No records have been collected. I believe the judges have broken the rules of their own courts, but nobody is doing anything about it.’

‘One of the charges against the woman was that she took her father from his care home to see a solicitor. We now live in a country where ordinary people get locked up for taking their father to see a lawyer. Even in Iran they do not jail people for taking legal advice.’


Bungalows! Incorrect in Britain but popular anyway

A bungalow is a single story detached house in its own yard.  Few of any other type of house are built in Australia these days but Brits are not often offered them

Bungalows have been the butt of derision for decades. But the irony is that the British, in their modest, understated way, would actually prefer to live in a bungalow more than any other type of building.

Survey after survey shows that the bungalow always comes out on top. `The Bungalow' even remains the third most popular name for our homes, after The Cottage and  Rose Cottage.

Older people are particularly keen on them - they are so much easier to clean, so much more convenient for security measures and, of course, easier to get around in, without all those stairs to negotiate.

And yet no one seems to be catering for the legions of bungalow lovers. In 2009, only 300 bungalows, out of 100,000 new properties, were built in the whole country and many more were demolished. Just 2 per cent of our national housing stock is taken up by bungalows - even though 30 per cent of the nation are longing to live in one.

Now Policy Exchange, a Right-of-centre think tank much favoured by the Prime Minister, is determined to remedy the situation. In a new report, it suggests that, with an ageing population and a third of us keen to move into bungalows, they could help solve the current housing crisis.

`Older people, currently living in large family homes, might want to downsize to a bungalow, which is smaller and easier to maintain, as well as being on one floor and offering outside space,' says the report's author Alex Morton.

`There are huge numbers of spare rooms in homes older people are currently living in. What are needed are the homes that older people like and so would like to move into. But planning policy prevents these homes from being built.'

The trouble is that the Coalition, which is of course desperate to expand the number of homes in our crowded little island, insists on new developments cramming in at least  30 houses per hectare.

Bungalows - spreading horizontally, eating up all that lovely space - don't fit the bill. As a result, half of all newly built homes are one-bedroom or two-bedroom flats.

If we did come to our senses and started building bungalows instead, we would be reviving a British craze that has been going strong, here and abroad, for more than three centuries.

Our taste for the bungalow began in the 17th century, when British expats in India, working for the East India Company, fell for the local one-storey thatched houses, built in the Bengali style - thus the name bungalow, derived from the Hindi word `bangla', meaning Bengali.

These banglas also had verandahs, itself another Hindi word, meaning balustrade or balcony.

The housing style caught on quickly in colonial India, as a 1676 entry in the diary of the splendidly named Streynsham Master, working in the India Office, reveals: `It was thought fitt to sett up Bungales or  Hovells for all such English in the Company's service.'

Still, it took several centuries for the style to be brought back to these shores by returning colonial servants.

Of course, there had been one-storey houses in Britain, ever since prehistoric man first threw a primitive roof over a few rough stone walls. But the crucial thing about the first British bungalows of the late 19th century was that they were a positive style choice from the beginning.

Bungalows may have often been mocked by supposed sophisticates like Prince Charles, who has called them `homogenised boxes'.

But the people who really matter - the people who live in them - have always loved them; in stark contrast to the high-density tower blocks that crazily misguided planners commissioned by the thousand from the Fifties onwards.

Bungalows satisfied the national desire for home ownership on a limited budget, provided a pleasant touch of exotic history and met our island taste for things with a seaside flavour: the first British bungalows were built at Westgate-on-Sea and Birchington, both on the Kent coast, in 1869.

They soon became a popular form of seaside architecture all around our coast; not least because they're less likely to block the sea view of the bungalow behind you.


Australia:  Woman driver wants to have her cake and eat it too

She wants to do a man's work but then complains because she is not up to it

COMCAR driver Lynette Prater says she is still suffering from a shoulder injury she suffered carrying eight heavy bags for Defence Minister Stephen Smith while the senior cabinet member sat and waited in the car.

The workers' compensation authority Comcare refused to pay out for the injuries Ms Prater says she sustained while lugging the heavy bags of the Labor minister 15 months ago.

Mr Smith's office says the minister has no memory of the event and that he or his staff would usually offer to help lift their bags and heavy document cases.

According to papers lodged in the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT), the then 49-year-old COMCAR driver picked up the minister at Canberra's RAAF Fairbairn airfield late on the night of November 20, 2011, as Mr Smith disembarked from a VIP flight.

Ms Prater's official incident report recalls; "Mr Smith came out and had two small silver cases with him, I then went to pick up the cases, they were extremely heavy and I could only manage to take one up to the car, he said he had a few more cases.

"Mr Smith put something else in the boot and then went and sat in the car, whilst I loaded the remaining cases in the boot." When they arrived at Parliament House, Ms Prater was left to unload the cases from the vehicle.

"Arriving at the basement Mr Smith went and got a trolley for him to take the cases inside and left me to take them out of the boot unassisted," the report reads.  "Left arm a bit tingly, I put this down to being a sore muscle."

The driver said she hoped the severe pain that developed in her shoulder after the incident would go away, but when she was diagnosed with a muscle tendon sprain she claimed for workers' compensation. Her claim was denied by Comare, which cited the delay between sustaining the injury and lodging the claim.

Now Ms Prater, who has not returned to her job and says she cannot afford to have her injury treated privately, is fighting Comcare's decision in the AAT with the case listed for a conciliation conference.

She told Fairfax that she accepted the task when it became clear she was expected to lift the minister's bags on her own. "I just shrugged my shoulders and thought 'oh well, I'm going to have to do it'," she said.

A spokesman for Mr Smith said he had not been aware of the issue until questioned by Fairfax.

"The minister and his staff regularly travel with secure briefcases and assist in the movement of them, without the need for a request for assistance."



Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the  incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

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 and political diversity 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.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH,   EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICSDISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL  and EYE ON BRITAIN (Note that EYE ON BRITAIN has regular posts on the reality of socialized medicine).   My Home Pages are here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here


24 April, 2013

The growing cry for England and St George

Politicians should take note of the resurgence of English national identity

And a Happy St George's Day to you as well! Now there's a phrase few of us are likely to utter today - not least because many English people haven't a clue that this is their national day. In Catalonia, which shares the same patron saint, young men will give their love a red rose and a book, and the church bells will ring out. Here, anyone wearing a red rose in their buttonhole to work will be assumed to be on their way to a wedding.

The English consider overt nationalism to be in bad taste, yet are quite content to wear leprechaun hats and drink green beer on St Patrick's Day or tuck into a haggis on St Andrew's Day or Burns Night. The Celtic fringes need their national days to assert their identities; while the English, as the dominant people of these isles, have always felt a little bit above it all.

That never used to be the case, however. In medieval times, St George's Day was widely observed in England as a feast day; today, some towns and cities will host pageants that date back to the 13th century. Yet after the Union of 1707, and for the following 291 years, such celebrations fell into abeyance. When I was growing up, hardly anyone considered April 23 to be a special day - though I remember boxes of wilting shamrock arriving in the post from our relatives in Northern Ireland on St Patrick's Day, and daffodils being sported by the Welsh on March 1.

But ever since Scottish devolution in 1998, there has been a resurgence of interest in English national identity. Over the past few days, the letters page of this newspaper has carried advice on how the day could be marked: why not a supper party with such English culinary delights as Lancashire hotpot or shepherd's pie, followed by readings from Shakespeare, who died on this day in 1616 and may have been born on April 23, too? The English can more than match Robbie Burns with "This royal throne of kings, this sceptr'd isle/This earth of majesty, this seat of Mars/This other Eden, demi-paradise. This blessed plot, this earth, this realm, this England."

Over the past 10 years or so, more and more events to mark St George's Day have taken place across the country: last Saturday, there was a big celebration in Trafalgar Square. So is something going on here? Has the English national spirit, for so long subsumed beneath a cloak of Britishness, been prodded from its torpor? Have the people, as Chesterton said they would, found their voice?

If so, it is hardly surprising, given the current fixation on Scottish independence and the referendum in 2014, chosen to coincide with the 700th anniversary of the Battle of Bannockburn and Bruce's victory over the English army of Edward II. Indeed, the reassertion of Scottish nationalism has reawakened its English counterpart. A poll published today by the IPPR, a Left-leaning think tank, suggests that seven out of 10 people living in England want St George's Day to be a public holiday (a good idea only if it replaces May Day, since we already have a glut of days off at this time of year). The last census showed that 70 per cent of the English population identified themselves as either solely English or English in combination with some other national identity; a generation ago they identified themselves predominantly as British.

Nick Pearce, director of the IPPR, says: "There is compelling evidence that English identity is becoming politicised: that is, the more strongly English a person feels, the more likely they are to believe that current territorial arrangements treat England unfairly." He maintains that Englishness is a growing force that politicians can no longer ignore. So why do they continue to do so?

When the Scots and, to a lesser extent, the Welsh were granted a modicum of home rule, England was left out. The last government tried to foist regional devolution on England, but was sent away with a flea in its ear. After all, why should England be balkanised when the other constituent parts of the United Kingdom have re-emerged as self-governing entities?

The reason, of course, is England's comparative size. The simplest answer to what to do about England within a devolved UK is to give it its own parliament; but this would be so large as to threaten the stability of the Union. It is no coincidence that the strongest supporter of a separate English parliament is the Scottish nationalist Alex Salmond.

With a Coalition that commands a majority of votes and seats in England in power at Westminster, the issue of the influence wielded by Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish MPs over English laws does not arise. But it will if Labour wins the next election by a narrow margin, and, using its Scottish votes, is able to impose legislation that England does not want. For Scottish MPs at Westminster can vote to make laws for the English - even on matters that, in Scotland, have been devolved from Westminster.

The McKay committee, which reported recently on how to deal with this so-called West Lothian question, suggested giving new responsibilities and opportunities to English MPs, but without allowing them a veto over their own laws. This is a characteristically pragmatic approach, very much in keeping with the constitutional gradualism this country prefers. But it will cut little ice if Scotland votes against independence but still gets another big dollop of devolution to compensate.

Sooner or later, the English will insist on being heard; but for now, a suitably understated and self-deprecating celebration is in order.


Egypt Persecutes Christians and Americans Pay the Bill

Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood's governing majority, is not actually crucifying the nation's Christians. But they are nonetheless actively persecuting Coptic Christians who are said to be one-tenth of the population of the largest Arab country. A photograph of two young men set afire during recent demonstrations is pretty striking.

Demonstrations have turned into riots as Egypt's police cracked down on the Copts. The Copts were protesting against increasing sectarian violence directed at the country's Christian minority.

Typically, what has been happening is the Copts protest against Islamist violence directed at them and their churches. St. Mark's Cathedral has been the target of Muslim extremists in recent week. When the Copts face police, they get tear gassed. And then they are the ones arrested. The Muslim Brotherhood authorities will pick up Coptic youth-hopefully the ones not yet set on fire-and jail them.

Then, the police grab some of the Islamists perpetrators and jail them. Later, following a much-ballyhooed "reconciliation," the authorities release all-perpetrators and victims alike. Christian Magdy Saber described the phony process in an interview with the online Daily News of Egypt, an English language source.

"This is a natural consequence of the reconciliation between Muslims and Christians in Al-Khasous and what some priests agreed to," said Magdy Saber, vice head of the union's media committee. "It brings us back to the old bargaining scenario [under Mubarak] where the criminals are released."

Saber said that this method has long been used in any sectarian conflict. "Reconciliation sessions take place followed by Coptic arrests. Then both the Copts and the criminals are simultaneously released to end the conflict."

Police used tear gas against the Copts. It is tear gas sold to Egypt by American firms. In addition to foreign aid-most recently a $250 million increase offered by Sec. of State John Kerry-our State Department has approved sale of this "non-lethal " crowd control agent to the Muslim Brotherhood governing party.

The Christian Copts of Egypt are divided among themselves, unfortunately. Some want the Egyptian military to exercise greater control over the actions of the Islamists aligned with the Muslim Brotherhood and the Salafists. But others remember what they call the

Maspero Massacre of 2011 in which armored personnel carriers drove over Coptic protesters in an action reminiscent of the Chinese Peoples Liberation Army mowing down student pro-democracy demonstrators in Tiananmen Square in 1989.

Egypt's Al Ahramonline site, English version, carried these comments by Coptic activists:

"Copts are split between those who want the military back for protection and those who still remember the military tanks that ran over Coptic bodies only last year," said Coptic political activist Sally Toma, referring to the "Maspero massacre" in which 24 Copts were killed.

A report in the Los Angeles Times shows the difficulty faced by the Copts:

"The country's general chaos is causing everything to escalate and allows a radical Muslim ideology to propagate violence," said biomedical engineer Karim Samuel, a Copt. "I sometimes sit on the Metro [subway] next to men reading the Koran. I wonder if they really understand what they're reading or do they blindly follow sheiks."

He paused and calculated the political math against his faith and other minorities.

"Morsi and the Brotherhood don't care about Copts, liberals or leftists," Samuel said. "I don't know what we can do as a Christian community."

It is, to be sure, a most confused and confusing situation in Egypt. But this much should be clear: American taxpayers are underwriting a regime that has little concern for fundamental human rights. We are shoveling billions to Egypt in the na‹ve belief that they are moving toward democracy.

Is Egyptmoving towards democracy? Pew polls and other opinion surveys regularly report that as many as 84% of Egyptians today say anyone who leaves Islam should be killed. Believing that,how can they have a democracy?

The Obama administration has never explained how it makes sense for Americans to borrow billions from China to give it to a government in Egypt that is rolling over its own citizens and turning a blind eye to those of its backers who are burning Coptic churches, shooting them down, and setting them on fire.

We may not be able to protect the Copts of Egypt, but we surely should not be helping their persecutors. If the Morsi administration begins to crucify the Copts, will we pay for the nails?


The Power of Being "Offended" in Order to Shut Down Political Debate

Has society really become quite thin-skinned, or is acting "offended" a new tactic that is being used to shut down legitimate political debate? Progressives are increasingly claiming to be offended whenever those on the right disagree with their left-wing positions. It doesn't matter what the issue is; the left will divert a legitimate political debate into an accusation that the right disagrees with them because they are full of hate towards them. This puts the right on the defensive, and removes the real debate from discussion. It then becomes difficult for the right to ever prevail with their position, because to do so would mean "hate" had won.

Economics? Disagree with welfare, and you're full of hate and intolerance towards the poor. Social issues? Disagree with the left on abortion or gay marriage, and you don't like women or gays. Foreign policy? Disagree on foreign policy, and you hate Muslims, Palestinians, and the poor in less fortunate countries. Second Amendment? If you support gun rights, then you have a cold and callous view towards the victims of gun violence. Affirmative action? If you disagree with affirmative action, then you're a racist. Unions? Disagree with them, and you despise working-class Americans.

The offended attitude ploy has become stifling. The left has brainwashed thousands of people across the country into seeking out chances to be offended. Meanwhile, these same people who act hysterically offended by a differing political view will pay $90 to attend a comedy show, laughing the hardest of anyone at the comedian's racist, misogynist, and obscene jokes. This is evidence they're not really offended by those who merely harbor different political positions on issues.

Try to make a joke about any of these issues with one of these thin-skinned victims and they will tear into you at best, report you to your employer or appropriate government agency at worst. We're seeing more and more people lose their jobs over simply posting an outspoken viewpoint on Facebook. The left will whip up its victims into a frenzy and have them bombard the employer with angry complaints until the employer complies and terminates the employee.

The left is expanding its victims to include almost all Americans. Now everyone has something to be offended about. Even the right is falling into this victim mentality. Fat? You're a victim. Smoker? You're a victim. Single mom? You're a victim.

The left has turned generations of Americans into wimpy fourth graders ready to start whining at any minute. At the same time, those same offended folks are walking around on eggshells at work, in public, and on social networking programs, paranoid of someone else catching them saying something "insensitive."

It is a dishonest stretch to assert that because someone has a differing political opinion than you on an issue, they hate you. Look at all the people on the right and the left who are friends with each other. They don't hate each other, or they wouldn't be friends. Sneakily, the left will point to a handful of hateful individuals around the country, and use a broad brush to paint everyone on the right as sharing their views. This is lying. Lying in order to convince Americans of your viewpoint is despicable and shows how desperate the left has become.

Using the ruse of being offended to shut down legitimate political debate is censorship. If you try to point this out, however, the left will bring up an extreme example, such as terrible words used against blacks in the pre-civil rights era. This is a red herring, because virtually no one today agrees that racial slurs are acceptable. If someone is using disgraceful slurs against someone on welfare, or against gun control proponents, that is one thing. But to merely disagree with the concept or welfare or gun control is not the same as being full of hate towards those people.

The absurdity of this concept can be seen by looking at some of those on the right. Mark Mattioli, the father of 6-year-old Sandy Hook victim James Mattioli, has been speaking out against gun control. He doesn't "hate" the victims of the Sandy Hook shooting, in fact, he and his wife loved their son more than anyone. To equate him with hate merely for opposing gun control is a pretty cruel tactic by the left.

Many blacks speak up against affirmative action and are viciously attacked by the left. Blacks don't "hate" themselves; there has never been a quote by a conservative black saying they dislike themselves, nor have there been hate crimes committed by conservative blacks against themselves. The entire concept is the height of foolishness. Yet the left routinely goes after outspoken conservative blacks more viciously than they go after, say, doctors who mutilate girls' genitalia in Africa, supposedly one of their key causes and something truly abhorrent. It has become so bad that the word "blacklash" has been coined.

The latest victim of the left's attacks on conservative blacks is Dr. Benjamin Carson. Carson, the director of pediatric neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Md., dared to express a few political opinions as a speaker at the National Prayer Breakfast, for which he was highly praised later by the Wall Street Journal. The left has gone after him hard ever since.

The hypocrisy can be seen by visiting the White House website shortly after Carson gave his speech. The website wasn't even viewable until you clicked through a huge gun control message from Obama. There was no massive outrage, it was merely mentioned on a few conservative websites. Apparently for the left, it is O.K. for a left-wing black man to use the national government's website to promote an overtly political message, but not for a conservative black man to use the national prayer breakfast to also declare some political opinions.

The phony offensive ploys must stop. We are not a nation of crybaby fourth graders. Don't buy into the victim mentality, and call out the tactic when the left uses it. The left is not the harmless crybabies they appear to be at first. If we don't speak up now, they will bully us into giving up our First Amendment rights by threatening our jobs, licenses and reputations. As Charlton Heston once said, "Political correctness is tyranny with manners."


Ever think your other half's brain must be wired differently? New research reveals you're right

Despite feminist ideology

One of the greatest enigmas of the brain is the role of gender. For instance, women seem to be more prone to dementia and depression, yet neurological conditions such as Parkinson's  disease strike more men.

Why is this so? More controversial is the suggestion that gender doesn't just affect the health of your brain, but the way it works - and how effective it is at different tasks.

`More and more research is revealing that male and female brains are much more different than we previously thought,' says neuropsychiatrist Dr Louann Brizendine, author of The Female Brain And The Male Brain. Here, with the help of leading experts, we reveal some of the latest thinking about what your sex says about your brain.

On average, men's brains are 8 to 10 per cent bigger than women's - hardly surprising, as men's heads tend to be larger. But some areas of men's and women's brains are also different sizes.  A study in 2001 by researchers from Harvard University found that parts of the frontal lobe, which governs decision-making and problem-solving, is proportionally larger in women.

In men, the parietal cortex, involved in spatial perception, and the amygdala, which triggers fight or flight responses, covered a larger area - the researchers suggested this meant men would probably make their way round a building better and often sense danger quicker.

It could also be that the activity levels in women and men's brains are different. `A woman's brain is never at rest, unlike the male brain - a woman is always on alert,' says British neuropsychologist Dr Anne Moir, the author of Brain Sex: The Real Difference Between Men And Women. `In evolutionary times, women were responsible for children who could get into grave danger, so they had to be extra alert.'

When U.S. neuroscientist Dr Daniel Amen compared 26,000 brain scans, women had increased activity - shown by increased blood flow - in 112 of the 128 regions of the brain measured. But more active doesn't mean better, he says. `Male and female brains are different. Women have busy brains; men's are a lot quieter. One pattern is not better than the other; they are just different.'

Women feel pain more than men and are more sensitive to touch.  `The pain mechanisms in our brains are different due to the sex hormones,' says Dr Nick Losseff, consultant neurologist at The National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery in London. `The male foetus is bathed in testosterone from the beginning, which may trigger these brain changes.'

Women process pain in a different way, as highlighted by recent research using MRI brain scans. It seems they are affected more emotionally by pain, suggests the lead researcher, Qasim Aziz, professor of neurogastroenterology at Barts and the London School of Medicine and Dentistry.  `This may influence how they report pain. For instance, it's known that certain chronic pain conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome and fibromyalgia are more common in women.

`We think greater emotive response to pain may translate into more pain reporting in these conditions.'

This kind of research is cutting edge and controversial. Looking at brain activity is a difficult task. In the study carried out by Professor Aziz, for instance, functional MRI (fMRI) was used to identify changes in blood flow. When there is more in an area of the brain, this is taken to mean there is more activity there.

It's generally thought to be the best method available for analysing brain activity, but there are questions over its accuracy - some experts feel emphasising local activity ignores the fact that the brain is a network, with other regions also critical to any single brain function.

As Dr Moir says: `The ways of measuring the brain are improving. But they're still limited. You can't measure the brain in everyday circumstances because you have to be inside a massive machine and not moving for it to work.'

It's well known that migraine affects up to three times more women than men. The standard explanation is that this is down to fluctuating hormones.

But there may be another factor -  in women, it's easier to trigger the brain waves linked to migraine, says Dr Andrew Charles, director of the headache research and treatment programme at the University of California.

His research, based on animal studies, suggests that in men the stimulus - including lights - needs to be  three times greater to produce the  same effect.

And while migraines are more frequent during the menstrual period, Dr Charles says his research indicates something else. `Our results suggest the female brain has an intrinsic excitability that predisposes women to migraine that may not be linked to the menstrual cycle.'

Dementia - it's women who suffer most:  `Women generally remember things better for longer than men,' says Dr Amen. His research showed that women have increased activity in the hippocampus, the area that helps memories go into long-term storage.  But longer term, the statistics for women don't make for good reading: nearly 7 per cent of women aged 75 and over have some form of dementia compared with 5 per cent of men.

Among Alzheimer's patients, women have faster cognitive decline than men. Twenty per cent more women than  men die of Alzheimer's.

Experts think it is due to the effect on the brain of oestrogen and testosterone - the hormones that determine the different sexual characteristics of men and women.

`We are just beginning to realise how important differences in brain function between women and men might be to explain the common differences we see in illnesses such as Alzheimer's,' says Kathryn Abel, professor of psychiatry at the University of Manchester.

`Men are at half the risk of Alzheimer's compared with women before the menopause. And women who develop Alzheimer's deteriorate more quickly.'

Pauline Maki, professor of psychiatry and Psychology at the University of Illinois in Chicago, who has a special interest in brain-hormone links and dementia, believes oestrogen may play a role in Alzheimer's risk.

She cites the example of women who have undergone an early menopause (before 48) because their ovaries have been removed - they are 70 per cent more likely to develop Alzheimer's.

`Oestrogen seems to protect against neurodegeneration in women. In men, testosterone can have neuroprotective effects. Testosterone levels do not drop off as dramatically in men as oestrogen does in women.'

As a result, post-menopause, women are at greater risk of dementia than men.

But Dr Keith Laws, professor of cognitive neuropsychology at the University of Hertfordshire, believes the fact that women tend to stay at home and look after children may also play a role.
He and his team looked at 15 studies involving more than 2,000 men and women with Alzheimer's.

`Our findings indicated brain functions are more severely and more widely affected in women than men with Alzheimer's. For some reason, men are able to resist Alzheimer's for longer.

`This is still being studied, but one theory is that men have better "cognitive reserve" - for the generation developing Alzheimer's now, many of the women would have stayed at home while the men were working, which could have permitted them to keep their brains more active for longer. So, when the disease starts they can hold up better.'

Men CAN multi-task.  The cliche that men can't do two things at once is not, in fact, correct - at least not entirely.  `The evidence on multi-tasking is inconclusive,' says clinical psychologist Dr Genevieve von Lob at City Psychology Group in London.

`Studies tend to show inconsistent results - some find that women show slightly more superiority while others find men show slightly more superiority, depending on the task.'

Women multi-task much more often. A study published two years ago in the American Sociological Review looking at 500 families found that both parents spent a lot of time multi-tasking, but women multi-tasked 48 hours a week compared with 39 for the men.

The women's multi-tasking mostly involved housework and childcare. `So perhaps women multi-task more, not because they are naturally better at it, but because the need to juggle work and family life,' says Dr von Lob.

Women are more prone to depression.  Women are twice as likely to experience major depression as men and are particularly prone during hormonal changes.  `The overall evidence suggests the sexes process emotions differently,' says Dr Moir. `There are a few differences in the limbic area or emotional processing area of the brain that make it more likely that women take a more negative view of situations and are more likely to worry about problems.  This upsets sleep patterns, and if you don't sleep you get depressed.'

Dr Abel adds that these differences may be due to hormones. `Differences in the physical structure of a woman compared to a man's brain is in part caused by genes and in part by the differences in hormones the brain "sees",' she says.  Women's brains have more receptors for recognising the presence of oestrogen than men. They also have more of an enzyme that converts testosterone to oestrogen.  `Hormones and chromosomes may be important in thinking about disease and health for women and men.

In A fascinating study last year, University of Michigan researchers looked at how men and women responded to health messages. When they were shown poster adverts for exercise, men were more motivated by those that mentioned weight loss and health, women were motivated by those focused on wellbeing.

`We know men have more visual brains and respond better to visual messages in adverts. Women response to detail, so are more likely to absorb the total picture,' says Dr von Lob.

Men and women respond to eating chocolate with different parts of their brains, a Dutch study in 2005 found. In particular, women had reduced activity in the hypothalamus, which controls feelings of hunger, so they had to eat more to get a similar effect as men.

The researchers concluded their results `indicate that men and women differ in their response to satiation [feeling full] and suggest that the regulation of food intake by the brain may vary between the sexes'.

Dr David Katz, founding director of Yale University's Prevention Research Centre, agrees. `There are clear differences between the sexes,' he says. `Studies show women crave sugar and fat more while men are more likely to crave meat.'

And you can blame our cavemen ancestors. `All such differences tend to make sense in an evolutionary context,' says Dr Katz. `Men need a bit more protein to build the muscle that makes them most capable of surviving, succeeding and passing on their genes.

`Women do the harder work of procreation. They need more fat stores to get a baby through gestation and to produce sex hormones such as oestrogen. Those hormones, in turn, seem to affect dietary preferences.' That is why women's desire for chocolate can be affected by the menstrual cycle.

In one analysis of brains, Larry Cahill, professor of neurobiology and behaviour at the University of California, found the male amygdala appears to be more active on the right side, but a woman's is more active on the left.

The left side is connected with the area that governs emotions and self-awareness. `So men under stress want to go for a run, let off steam or have space to themselves,' says Dr von Lob.

`Women under stress tend to activate the brain's attachment system and release more of the hormone oxytocin, which is associated with feelings of love, calm, protection and safety. Women typically want to talk with friends for reassurance.'

And last but not least: sex

Oxytocin is a key hormone released in the brain to create feelings of love and safety during sex.

Women produce more of this hormone, while with men, the hormone released is dopamine - the pleasure hormone. `And this can be addictive,' says Dr Arun Ghosh, a GP in Liverpool.

Having regular sex may help both sexes grow new brain cells, according to scientists from America's Princeton University. And the more sex you have, the more cells can grow.

`MRI scans have shown that during orgasm the neurons [nerve cells] in the brain are more active,' says Barry Komisaruk, professor of psychology at Rutgers University in the U.S. `The more active the neurons, the more oxygen they draw from the blood - so more oxygenated blood is supplied, delivering more nutrients.'



Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the  incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

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 and political diversity 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.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH,   EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICSDISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL  and EYE ON BRITAIN (Note that EYE ON BRITAIN has regular posts on the reality of socialized medicine).   My Home Pages are here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here


23 April, 2013

A Satanic religion at work

I’m not really in the mood to write a column. The reason why I’m in a foul disposition is I just saw the picture, taken a few minutes before the Boston blast, of the Muslim POS, better known as “Suspect #2”, dropping off his backpack filled with a pressure cooker bomb right behind eight-year-old Martin Richard, his little sister Jane, his mom Denise and scores of others. This image made me both sick and pissed off.

Minutes after this picture was captured, as we now know, Martin would have nails and buckshot blast his body to smithereens, Jane would have her little leg severed from her frame and their mom would have shrapnel penetrate her head at 3300 feet per second -- leaving both her and little Jane clinging to life and Martin dead on the street. This left me thinking: “What kind of jacked up people do this kind of crap?”

Well, by and large, it is the “Religion of Peace” who does this kind of crap with great regularity, that’s who.

If you’re not hearing this on the evening news please allow me to inform you that two Muslim young men did this. Not right-wingers, as Chris Matthews and Peter Bergen predicted early on. Not Evangelicals or Catholics as the DHS has warned Americans repeatedly to be on the look out for. Nor was it your generic “angry white bogey man” that Salon’s writer David Sirota had hoped; but at least two male Muslims between the ages of 18-35.

I say “at least two” because early on there was a Saudi national that everyone was real interested in who, by the way, will be deported next week. This is the same cat that Michelle Obama secretly visited in the hospital last Thursday. I sure wish that young Saudi male could hang out a few more days here in the states and we could have someone seriously interrogate him; but alas, Big Government says he’s got to go back home and quick.

How quaint. And how strange…

As stated at the outset of this screed, I’m in no mood to write. However, I would like to wrap this piece up by saying two more things: One -- my prayers are with the victims of this baseless slaughter of innocent human lives by Muslim men, again. And Two – you can bet your last buck that if I see a backpack dropped off by a religion of peacer behind a crowd of kids I’m going to tackle that mule.

Call me judgmental.


It’s hard being right all the time

Long ago, I argued that the end result of Lawrence v. Texas, and ultimately the legalization of gay marriage, would ineluctably lead to calls to polygamous marriage, and in some fringe cases, incest. Here I am arguing it in 2005. What I was told at the time, essentially was:

    "Ah, the famed ’slippery slope’ argument.  It goes like this: "Opening the concept of marriage to any interpretation will lead to a slippery slope for any type of relationship to emerge as the new norm.

    This is patently offensive. It says that if a loving gay couple can marry, we will have to allow a zookeeper somewhere to marry his monkey.  Then, we have to allow Jethro to marry 8 women.  We have to allow dad to marry his daughter."

But that response was stupid. Because it was essentially, "Your artificial definition of marriage is monstrous. But my artificial definition of marriage will hold, impervious, for as long as the sun burns hot in space."

But, I was right, of course. Now that gay marriage seems to be becoming fixed as an accepted right, we find ourselves faced with the next logical push for expansion of marriage. In Slate today, Jillian Keenan has penned an article urging the legalization of polygamy. Indeed, according to her, it’s a feminist imperative.

    "While the Supreme Court and the rest of us are all focused on the human right of marriage equality, let’s not forget that the fight doesn’t end with same-sex marriage. We need to legalize polygamy, too. Legalized polygamy in the United States is the constitutional, feminist, and sex-positive choice. More importantly, it would actually help protect, empower, and strengthen women, children, and families."

It will empower women! Indeed, look at how empowered women are in all the polygamous societies that currently exist in the world. And in polygamous societies all throughout history.

Oh. Wait. It’s the exact opposite of that, isn’t it?

Anyway, the argument goes that, under the feministy, empowering regime of legal polygamy it won’t be patriarchal polygyny. No, a woman can have two or three husbands! Because, you know, men like nothing better than letting their wives screw other guys. That’s just human nature.

In any event, the definition of marriage is plastic, you see. it’s just a social construct and it can mean anything we want it to mean. And there’s nothing inherently better in one definition of "marriage" or another. It’s all good! Family is family, right? So, like, whatever.

But, let’s forget the argument about whether polygamy is a good or a bad thing. Ultimately the point is that I was, of course, right to argue that we’d end up with arguments demanding a right to polygamy and, despite gay marriage advocates calling me a monster for even suggesting such an unseemly slippery slope argument, well…here we are.

Eight years ago, the slippery slope polygamy argument was just a load of Rick Santorum, wingnut, Christer bullsh*t. Today, it turns out it was just a logical prediction that was correct, and entirely foreseeable.


Germany Cracks Down on Critics of Mega-Mosque

The Bavarian branch of Germany’s domestic intelligence agency, the Bundesamt für Verfassungsschutz (BfV), has placed under state surveillance German activists accused of fomenting hate against Muslims due to their opposition to the construction of a mega-mosque in Munich.

The move to silence critics of the mosque for being “unconstitutional” was announced by Bavarian Interior Minister Joachim Herrmann in a press conference on April 12, and represents an unprecedented threat to the exercise of free speech in post-reunification Germany.

Herrmann made the announcement while presenting an annual report about threats to democratic order in Germany. A seven-minute video of the press conference with subtitles in English can be viewed here.

Herrmann singled out a citizen’s movement called Die Freiheit Bayern (Freedom Bavaria), as well as the Munich branch of a highly popular free speech blog called Politically Incorrect (PI), which focuses on topics related to immigration, multiculturalism and Islam in Germany.

Both groups have been drawing public attention to plans to build a massive mosque complex known as the Center for Islam in Europe-Munich (ZIE-M). The 6,000 m² (65,000 ft²) project, which will cost an estimated €40 million ($51 million), is designed to be a key strategic platform for spreading Islam throughout Europe.

Speculation is rife that the Persian Gulf Emirate of Qatar — which is building Wahhabi mega-mosques at a breakneck pace across Europe — will be financing the project in Munich.

Members of Freedom Bavaria and PI (German equivalents to the American Tea Party movement, roughly speaking) are, according to Herrmann, “right-wing extremists who increasingly are establishing citizen’s initiatives, in order to attract the attention of German voters, under the guise of civil involvement. In this way they use, for example, the discussion about the construction of mosques to arouse, in an anti-constitutional way, prejudices against Muslims and Islam.”

Herrmann continued: “In Bavaria, this involves the Freedom Bavaria Party and the Munich chapter of Politically Incorrect (PI). Their activities are aimed, inter alia, at fomenting sweeping fears of Muslims and to disparage them because of their belief that Islam is a threat to the rule of law. As a result, religious freedom, human dignity and the principle of equal treatment as key components of our liberal democratic order are being violated.”

Herrmann reserved special vitriol for Michael Stürzenberger, the chairman of Freedom Bavaria and the spokesman for the Munich chapter of PI, who is guilty of “initiating a campaign for a public petition against the Center for Islam in Europe-Munich as a platform for promoting anti-Islamic propaganda, whether on the Internet or at public events.”

Stürzenberger’s petition has garnered more than 20,000 signatures; he needs a total of 30,000 signatures to force a public referendum on the mosque project.

German intelligence began monitoring Freedom Bavaria and PI at the end of March 2013, and Bavaria is the first state in Germany to classify so-called Islam-haters as extremists, according to Burkhard Körner, the head of Bavarian intelligence.

By contrast, German intelligence stopped monitoring Benjamin Idriz — the Macedonian imam behind the Munich mega-mosque project who has unsettling links to radical Islamic elements — more than two years ago.

Not surprisingly, Stürzenberger and his supporters view the situation rather differently than do Herrmann and the powers that be. In a blog post on PI, Stürzenberger describes his predicament as “as an incomprehensible warping of reality: those who want to protect democracy and fundamental law before an anti-constitutional ideology [Islam] are now being pilloried. Does anyone question that political correctness has completely infested Germany?”

Indeed, the crackdown on Freedom Bavaria and PI appears to be part of a year-long smear campaign led by a triple alliance of German multicultural elites, sundry Muslim groups and members of the mainstream media, who have been relentless in their efforts to discredit the so-called counter-jihad movement (also known as the “Islamophobes”) in Germany.

Opinion polls show that growing numbers of ordinary German citizens are worried about the consequences of decades of multicultural policies that have encouraged mass immigration from Muslim countries.

Germans are especially concerned about the refusal of millions of Muslim immigrants to integrate into German society, as well as the emergence of a parallel legal system in Germany based on Islamic Sharia law.

In an effort to reverse this rising tide of negative public opinion, the guardians of German multiculturalism have been working overtime to regain the initiative by accusing the critics of Islam of engaging in hate speech to try to intimidate the so-called “new right” into silence.

The media campaign has been led by two financially troubled newspapers, the Berliner Zeitung and its sister publication, the Frankfurter Rundschau, as well as Der Spiegel, a left-leaning magazine based in Hamburg that has long served as the mouthpiece for German multiculturalism.

In a January 4, 2012 interview with the Berliner Zeitung and the Frankfurter Rundschau, Manfred Murck, the director of the Hamburg branch of German domestic intelligence, said the owners of anti-Islam blogs “have a disturbed relationship to the democratic constitutional state” and often promote “infringements of human rights protected under our constitution.”

Murck continued: “I also see evidence of criminal relevance, such as making threats and public invitations to crime.” He said criticism of Muslims and Islam constitutes “an attack against the freedom of religion, which is protected by Article 4 of the Basic Law.”

The Berliner Zeitung and Frankfurter Rundschau interview was conducted by Steven Geyer and Jörg Schindler, two propagandists masquerading as journalists who have been leading an ongoing effort to shut down PI, which over the years has grown into a major information resource for Germans concerned about the spread of Islam in their country.

PI’s motto reads “Against the Mainstream, Pro-American, Pro-Israel, Against the Islamization of Europe, For Fundamental Laws and Human Rights” – which encapsulates everything German multiculturalists abhor.

The Berliner Zeitung and the Frankfurter Rundschau, for example, have fomented some hysteria by publishing dozens of agitprop articles, some by Mely Kiyak, a first-generation German whose parents were Turkish-Kurdish immigrants. Kiyak, who calls herself a “political pioneer,” portrays all critics of Islam as hate-mongers.

One article, entitled, “Politically Incorrect: Vulgar, Uninhibited, Racist,” says that, “the Internet portal ‘Politically Incorrect’ is part of an international network of Islam haters and Muslim stalkers. This is confirmed by research conducted by the Frankfurter Rundschau.”

Another article, “PI News: Prototype of the New Right,” links criticism of Islam with anti-Semitism: “The ‘New Right’ has been growing for ten years and has momentum. The blog ‘Politically Incorrect’ shows what the movement looks like. The director of the Center for Research on Anti-Semitism, Wolfgang Benz, sees parallels to anti-Semitism.” Open expressions of anti-Semitism are illegal in post-war Germany; the inference here is that those who criticize Islam are guilty of committing a crime. (Never mind that PI is decidedly pro-Israel.)

Other Berliner Zeitung and Frankfurter Rundschau articles are entitled: “Politically Incorrect: Where the Internet Stinks;” “Rightwing Populists: United in their Hatred of Muslims,” and “Politically Correct Hatred.”

A frenzied article, “Politically Incorrect: Inside the Network of Islam Haters,” asserts: “PI is far more than a harmless website. It is rather a highly conspiratorial organization that works to demonize an entire faith community. It plays a vital role in an international network of those who hate Islam. It provides racists and glorifiers of violence who share the world view of the Norwegian mass murderer Anders Breivik with a forum.”

Spiegel magazine, sifting through a stock of more than 10,000 private emails stolen from PI, published an article, “Politically Incorrect Closely Knit to Far Right Scene,” in which it asserted that the people behind PI are undemocratic and pose a threat to the German constitutional order.

Yet another article, “Germany’s Anti-Muslim Scene: Authorities Debate Surveillance of Islamophobes,” asserts that right-wing populism is a new form of extremism: “There are concerns that the anti-Muslim scene is becoming increasingly dangerous. In essence, the question is whether the hatred of Muslims is enough to endanger freedom of religion and international understanding, or whether it is a radical but legitimate expression of opinion by individual authors within the limits of the constitution.”

Spiegel magazine has worked hard to portray all critics of Islam as belonging to the “far right” even though opinion polls overwhelmingly show that voters from across the political spectrum are concerned about the spread of Islam in Germany.

In Munich, the so-called progressive newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung has been leading the propaganda war against Stürzenberger and those who are concerned about the mega-mosque.

In a commentary entitled “The Dangerous Poison of Hate,” Bernd Kastner, a twenty-something apologist for Islam in Germany, writes: “At last! German intelligence has declared the enemy of Islam, Michael Stürzenberger, to be an extremist. Since late March, the Freedom Bavaria Party and the Munich chapter of Politically Incorrect are being monitored, so they are formally unconstitutional. Interior Minister Joachim Herrmann accuses them of denying the human dignity of Muslims. With their agitation they threaten the peaceful coexistence of people of different backgrounds and religions.”

Kastner, displaying his anti-democratic leanings, continues: “Should there be a referendum about the mega-mosque, it is feared that the mosque, which is so far only an idea, will become a campaign object. That will bring the extremists not only tens of thousands of signatures and addresses of sympathizers, but also votes in the upcoming elections.”

According to PI: “Our work of information is not oriented against Muslims, but against the political ideology of Islam. Muslims are its first victims, most of all women. We want to liberate them from the shackles of this ideology so that they can integrate in our free democratic society…One thing is clear: We will maintain our way consistently and continue unswervingly.”


Having a baby HELPS your social life: British women make an average of NINE new friends after they give birth

Having a baby can actually widen an increase a woman's circle of friends.

While many women report feeling isolated and lonely when their child is very young, new research has shown that they make on average of nine new friends upon the birth of their baby.

The survey showed that while childless women have an average of 13 friends, the number swells to 22 in the year after following the arrival of a child.

In fact it seems that giving birth is seem by some as enhancing to your social life with more than half of the 2,000 mothers polled said it was easier to bond with other women once you became a mother.

It found that 53 per cent of new mothers felt it was surprisingly easy to make friends after having a baby, and 70 per cent of those said it was because they had so much ‘in common’.

The study also found 16 per cent of those who took part in the poll said they had a better social life after having children as they had so much more free time to meet up with people.

Part of this increase in friendship is due to increased interaction with other mothers with nearly half of new mums made friends with other women at a mother and toddler group, while 22 per cent struck up friendships in antenatal classes and a fifth met people through other friends.

Many reported it was easier to bond with other women after having given birth

Perhaps surprisingly, the friendships formed in this time are not superficial or purely for convenience with strong bonds forming over exchanges of views, tips and shared experiences.

Sharing the experience of birth is by far the most popular topic of conversation for new mums – 73 per cent would happily regale new friends with stories about their labour.

Four in ten said they felt more comfortable sharing intimate and personal information with their mum chums who they had only recently met.

Almost four out of ten said they have discussed their post baby sex life with relatively new buddies.

And nearly 80 per cent have poured their heart out about their concerns of being good mum and the guilt over whether to go back to work after being on maternity leave.

One in five have also discussed the baby blues with their fellow mother friends, while other topics for discussion were breast feeding, sleepless nights, nappies and baby ailments.

One in three said they were worried about boring their old friends with constant baby talk – part of the reason why new friendships are formed with other women who are going through the same experience.

A spokeswoman for Natures Purest, the company that commissioned the study, said: 'There is a misconception in society that starting a family will mean you are stuck indoors but it’s simply not true.

'Our research shows the opposite – becoming a mum can do wonders for your social life as there are so many groups and activities to become involved with.

'Having a baby is a life-changing experience, especially if you are a first time mum, so it’s important to have friends in a similar position.

'You need people who can understand what you’re going through and can offer both emotional and practical support – whether you want a shoulder to cry on, a friend to offload on, or just reassurance that you are doing things right.

'Many women whose friendships evolved when their children were young go on to keep the same group of friends throughout their life and as a consequence the youngsters form strong bonds too.



Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the  incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

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 and political diversity 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.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH,   EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICSDISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL  and EYE ON BRITAIN (Note that EYE ON BRITAIN has regular posts on the reality of socialized medicine).   My Home Pages are here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here


22 April, 2013

The challenge of the UK Independence party

Normal politics is slowly resuming after the death of Lady Thatcher, and things are looking pretty grim for her old party. Tories canvassing ahead of the local government elections on Thursday week indicate they will be thrashed.

Although Labour will score some big wins, the Conservatives' most worrying threat comes from Ukip. Right across the South of England, traditional Tory voters are turning to the fringe party, attracted by its Thatcherite policies.

While its anti-Europeanism is a major factor (particularly considering the prospect of a new, uncontrolled influx of immigrants from Romania and Bulgaria in the new year), UKIP is also offering more grammar schools, lower taxes, tougher public spending cuts, fewer wind farms and more defence funding.

Indeed, UKIP leader Nigel Farage mischievously claimed this week that his party would never have been formed in 1993 if Margaret Thatcher had not been kicked out as Tory leader.

An opinion poll also showed that the Tories would be much more popular today if she were still in charge.

Of course, this is deeply depressing for David Cameron, who is under increasing pressure to change course and embark on a radical, more Thatcherite agenda.

One of the influential voices urging a change of direction is the party's chief election guru, Lynton Crosby, an Australian pollster with a long record of success and reliable instincts about voters' concerns.

He is rightly worried about the number of traditional Tories who've become disaffected by the so-called 'modernising' agenda, with policies such as the legalisation of same-sex marriages.
Any change of direction, though, won't be in time to stop the Tories' expected humiliation in next month's local elections. But it could reap dividends at the next general election.

Mr Crosby understands the importance of the party following Lady Thatcher's lead and reconnecting with working-class voters.

It can only do this by being the champion of aspiration - something that Labour, with its addiction to the Welfare State, will never be.

If, as expected, the Tories lose as many as 600 council seats on May 2, the calls for change will be unstoppable.

As a result, Mr Cameron would have to consider holding his promised referendum on Britain's membership of the EU as soon as possible, rather than waiting until 2017 or 2018.

He should also offer more incentives to the lower-paid by raising the threshold at which they start paying tax from nearly £10,000 (where it is now) to £15,000.

The Thatcherite doctrine of letting hard-working families keep more of their own money must be adopted. Iain Duncan Smith's recent brave welfare reforms should also be extended. Tactically, too, Mr Cameron must change tack. It's idiotic for him to attack UKIP supporters as 'fruitcakes' when, in truth, they are natural Tory supporters.

To avoid suffering any big electoral defeats, David Cameron must rein in the pernicious influence of the party's modernisers. And he needs to do that fast.


Totally confused modern morality

In the age of relativism, popular morality hasn’t so much disappeared as become schizophrenic

By Victor Davis Hanson

More than 500 people were murdered in Chicago last year. Yet Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel still found time to berate the fast-food franchise Chick-fil-A for not sharing “Chicago values” — apparently, because its founder does not approve of gay marriage.

Two states have legalized marijuana, with more to come. Yet social taboos against tobacco smoking make it nearly impossible to light up a cigarette in public places. Marijuana, like alcohol, causes far greater short-term impairment than does nicotine. But legal cigarette smoking is now seen as a corporate-sponsored, uncool, and dirty habit that leads to long-term health costs for society at large — in a way homegrown, hip, and mostly illegal pot smoking apparently does not.

Graphic language, nudity, and sex are now commonplace in movies and on cable television. At the same time, there is now almost no tolerance for casual and slangy banter in the media or the workplace. A boss who calls an employee “honey” might face accusations of fostering a hostile work environment, yet a television producer whose program shows an 18-year-old having sex does not. Many colleges offer courses on lurid themes from masturbation to prostitution, even as campus sexual-harassment suits over hurtful language are at an all-time high.

A federal judge in New York recently ruled that the so-called morning-after birth-control pill must be made available to all “women” regardless of age or parental consent, and without a prescription. The judge determined that it was unfair for those under 16 to be denied access to such emergency contraceptives. But if vast numbers of girls younger than 16 need after-sex options to prevent unwanted pregnancies, why isn’t there a flood of statutory-rape charges being lodged against older teenagers for having consensual relations with younger girls?

Our schizophrenic morality also affects the military. When America was a far more traditional society, few seemed to care that General Dwight Eisenhower carried on an unusual relationship at the front in Normandy with his young female chauffeur, Kay Summersby. As the Third Army chased the Germans across France, General George S. Patton was not discreet about his female liaisons. Contrast that live-and-let-live attitude of a supposedly uptight society with our own hip culture’s tabloid interest in General David Petraeus’s career-ending affair with Paula Broadwell, or in the private e-mails of General John Allen.
What explains these contradictions in our wide-open but prudish society? Decades after the rise of feminism, popular culture still seems confused by it. If women should be able to approach sexuality like men, does it follow that commentary about sex should follow the same gender-neutral rules? Yet wearing provocative or inappropriate clothing is often considered less offensive than remarking upon it. Calling a near-nude Madonna onstage a “hussy” or “tart” would be considered crude in a way that her mock crucifixion and simulated sex acts are not.

Criminal sexual activity is sometimes not as professionally injurious as politically incorrect thoughts about sex and gender. Former New York governor Eliot Spitzer — found to have hired prostitutes on a number of occasions during his time in office — was given a CNN news show despite the scandal. But when former Miss California Carrie Prejean was asked in the Miss USA pageant whether she endorsed gay marriage, she said no — and thereby earned nearly as much popular condemnation for her candid defense of traditional marriage as Spitzer had for his purchased affairs.

Critics were outraged that talk-show host Rush Limbaugh grossly insulted birth-control activist Sandra Fluke. Amid the attention, Fluke was canonized for her position that federal health-care plans should pay for the contraceptive costs of all women. Yet in comparison to Fluke’s well-publicized victimhood, there has been a veritable news blackout for the trial of the macabre Dr. Kermit Gosnell, charged with killing and mutilating in gruesome fashion seven babies during a long career of conducting sometimes illegal late-term abortions. Had Gosnell’s aborted victims been canines instead of humans — compare the minimal coverage of the Gosnell trial with the widespread media condemnation of dog-killing quarterback Michael Vick — perhaps the doctor’s mayhem likewise would have been front-page news outside of Philadelphia.

Modern society also resorts to empty, symbolic moral action when it cannot deal with real problems. So-called assault weapons account for less than 1 percent of gun deaths in America. But the country whips itself into a frenzy to ban them, apparently to prove that at least it can do something, instead of wading into polarized racial and class controversies by going after illegal urban handguns, the real source of the nation’s high gun-related body count.

Not since the late-19th-century juxtaposition of the Wild West with the Victorian East has popular morality been so unbridled and yet so uptight. In short, we have become a nation of promiscuous prudes.


Ohio air show scraps Hiroshima bombing re-enactment with ‘Great Wall of Fire’ pyrotechnics after sparking outrage

A major US air show has canceled plans to stage a re-enactment of the World War II atomic bomb attack on Hiroshima following complaints that it was 'inappropriate.'

Dayton Air Show in Ohio has featured a re-enactment of the bombing of the Japanese city - in August 1945 - for more than 30 years.

Spokeswoman Brenda Kerfoot said a planned 'Great Wall of Fire' pyrotechnic show will still go ahead - but will not be used to represent the bombing after critics said it was inappropriate for a family event.

Ms Kerfoot said the show at Dayton International Airport in June, will not now feature a B-29 bomber - used to represent the Enola Gay which dropped the bomb on Hiroshima.  The B-29 plane 'Fifi,' will remain in the show but in a separate role, she said.

Air show officials said the re-enactment was meant to highlight an historic event that helped end the war and save lives that would have been lost if it had been prolonged.

'We've taken it as more of an educational show,' Ms Kerfoot said. 'The wording that we used probably wasn't the best.'

She said organisers did not want the Hiroshima aspect to 'become a distraction to the overall quality of the show.'

The Dayton Daily News reported earlier that art curator Gabriela Pickett started an online petition to object to the 'glamorization of destruction.'

'I'm very pleased to hear that they are going to have two different events, and not the re-enacting,' she said. 'It would have been pretty much a celebration of dropping the bomb that killed hundreds of thousands of people.'

She said some 200 people signed her online petition in a little more than a day, and that she had received a number of emails from Japanese-Americans who were upset by the re-enactment.

She highlighted Dayton's immigrant-friendly 'Welcome Dayton' initiative. 'We are a city of peace,' she said.

The city has for years highlighted its role as the site of the Dayton peace accords on Bosnia negotiated in 1995. The Dayton Literary Peace Prize each year honors literature's power to promote peace.

Ron Katsuyama, a University of Dayton associate professor who was born in a US wartime detention camp for Japanese-Americans, said the show's contention that the bomb that killed so many Japanese ended up saving more lives is disputable.  He said some historians say Japan would have surrendered without the atomic bomb attacks.

'By having shows like that, it is not only in bad taste, but I think I sustains misinformation,' said Prof Katsuyama, past president of the Asian American Council.

As many as 140,000 people were killed by the atomic bomb attack on Hiroshima, with more than 70,000 more killed in an attack three days later on Nagasaki.

In 1994, Bill Clinton's White House pressured the US Postal Service into scrapping a mushroom cloud stamp planned to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the war's end, following protests by the Japanese government.

A spokeswoman at the Japanese Embassy in Washington said yesterday that it was unaware of the air show issue and had no comment.

The controversy is another setback for the show that dates to 1975 in the city that was home to the aviation-pioneering Wright Brothers.

The air show last month announced that its headline act, the US Air Force's Thunderbirds jet demonstration team, was canceled because of the cuts triggered by the failure to reach a federal budget deal in Washington.

The show normally attracts more than 70,000 people for its displays of vintage planes, aerial acrobatics and stunts. Ms Kerfoot said attendance likely will be lower this year.


Were Boston Marathon bombers followers of Harry Potter-hating Australian sheik and pro-al-Qaeda preacher?

A YouTube page reported owned by one of the Boston Marathon bombers reveals that they may have been followers of two radical Muslim sheiks - one  who preached against the 'corrupting evils of Harry Potter' and another who advocates for al-Qaeda in their native Chechnya.

A user called Tamerlan Tsarnaev - the name of the alleged bomber killed in a shootout with police in Boston last night - has posted several videos of sermons of fundamentalist sheiks.

One video is from Abdel al-Hamid al-Juhani, a Russian sheik who reportedly preaches a form of Salafist Islam that is usually associated with al-Qaeda.

Al-Juhani is 'is an important ideologue for al Qaeda in Chechnya and the Caucases,' Mary Habeck, a professor at Johns Hopkins University who studies radical Islam, told the Daily Beast.

He also posted a video about 'The Black Flags From Khorasan,' which Habeck said is shorthand for al-Qaeda.

The other holy man that Tsarnaev's YouTube page advocates is Sheik Feiz Mohammed - an Australian-born Lebanese preacher whose fundamentalist teachings include condemnations of Harry Potter for teaching paganism.  Tsarnaev posted a video of the sermon on his YouTube page.  He later labels Harry Potter an idolator and an enemy of Allah.

Tsarnaev also posted a video of Sheik Feiz Mohammed teaching that Muslims are not good followers of the faith if they don't adhere to all of the Sunnah - or rulings of Islamic scholars. These rules are not listed in the Koran.

He has also urged his followers to behead the Dutch politician Geert Wilders, for his campaigns against Islam in the Netherlands, according to a Dutch newspaper.

Tsarnaev and his younger brother Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, who are both from the Russian breakaway region of Chechnya, are believed to be behind the bombing that killed thee people and left dozens maimed and at least 170 injured.



Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the  incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

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 and political diversity 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.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH,   EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICSDISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL  and EYE ON BRITAIN (Note that EYE ON BRITAIN has regular posts on the reality of socialized medicine).   My Home Pages are here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here


21 April, 2013

Richard Wagner's Jewish Friends

Something people do not normally expect is that people's attitudes often are quite out of line with their actual behavior.  Psychologists have known of the "Attitude/behavior discrepancy" since the 1930s and it is particularly seen in anything to do with race relations. 

Going further back -- into the 19th century -- we also see there some curious combinations.  The communist Karl Marx was furiously antisemitic, even though he was himself Jewish!  His essay, "Zur Judentum", is well known in that connection but his hate of Jews  emerges powerfully in his correspondence with Engels too. 

And the man who coined the term "antisemitism" (he thought it was a good thing) -- The German Leftist Wilhem Marr -- three times married Jewish ladies, despite his furious antisemitism.

And the article below details a similar disjunction between the attitudes and behavior of composer Richard Wagner.

So what do we conclude from that?  In a word: caution about generalizing.  And no-one generalizes like Leftists.  Their scattergun accusations of all sorts of things being racist are simply empty-headed.

What I conclude is that it is only behaviour that matters. Words are just not useful as predictors of evil deeds.  So it is only a person who does actual harm to another person solely because of that person's race who is a real racist.  It is deeds, not words, that count.  Judging by his deeds, Wagner was actually philosemitic, rather than antisemitic

Richard Wagner, the 19th Century German composer of opera, has long been noted for his strident expressions of anti-Semitism. The most opprobrious of these has been his infamous Judaism in Music, an essay published in 1850 at the age of 37. Apart from the racist tone, it states in essence that Jews were capable of neither creating nor appreciating great art. It is with justification that he is today deemed a racist, thorough and through, with the bulk of his contempt directed at the Jews as a sub-population in his native German land.

Little noted by modern writers however is the fact that his racism seems exactly the opposite of the modern variety. Post Hitler almost no one admits to harboring such tendencies, even the many exhibiting obvious racial or religious prejudice in their daily lives. It was the opposite with Wagner. He expressed in speech and writing his overt animosity toward many groups, most explicitly toward the Jews, whom he seemed to target as a group, like some amorphous entity. Strange to say, but a fact nonetheless, in his dealings with individuals, he judged by only one attribute, namely whether the individual supported him in his life’s work, or opposed him. What ultimately mattered to him was not race or religion, but the realization of his artistic goals, his concept of art. Good and bad, right and wrong, were judged by that one criterion. With many of his close associates, including many Jews, he developed warm, close, and empathetic relationships.

We might begin with one young Jewish man named Samuel Lehrs, a struggling philologist. Lehrs was one of three of Wagner’s close friends during the composer’s two year sojourn in Paris as a young man, beginning almost ten years before his infamous essay. He, like his three friends was battling for recognition and even for basic survival. Wagner, hopelessly in debt, and earning next to nothing, was helped by the labors of his wife Minna. But his empathy for his very sickly friend, Lehrs, was boundless. In April 1842, Wagner and his wife left Paris for Dresden, but his concern for his friends centered most on Lehrs, whom he felt he would not see again. In his autobiography, written about 30 years later, in his mid-50s, he credited Lehrs with his own introduction to and absorption with philosophy, and in large part with his interest in medieval poetry. It was also Lehrs who had furnished him with source material for two of his early operas.

He continued to correspond haltingly with Lehrs, and with his other Paris friends, to whom he eagerly sought news about Lehrs and his condition, chiding them when they sent what he felt to be insufficient information. He ended one of his letters with “I don’t want to know anything about you, only about Lehrs.” He finally heard again from Lehrs directly about a year after leaving Paris. Wagner responded “Be of good courage, my dear brother. Sooner or later we must be together again… enjoy the beautiful spring air which will bring you strength.” Lehrs died a few days after receiving the letter, and Wagner wrote his younger sister that the news left him dumb, speechless for almost 8 days. It was “heartbreaking… This brave wonderful and so unfortunate man will to me be eternally unforgettable.” In his autobiography, begun at age 55, he said his relationship with Lehrs “was one of the most beautiful relationships of my life.”

Another of Wagner’s unforgettable relationships began in May 1858. The 45 year old composer was living in Zurich as a fugitive from Saxony, having participated in an unsuccessful uprising. The new friend was a 16 year old Polish Jewish lad, a student of Wagner’s friend, Franz Liszt, and an extraordinarily talented pianist. His name was Karl Tausig, and he bore a letter of introduction from Liszt. He exhibited to Wagner his virtuosity on the piano. That meeting came 8 years after his infamous essay about the Jews.

Wagner was almost literally swept off his feet by what he heard. The childless composer took not only an immediate deep interested in the youth for his musical skills, but also a surprising paternal interest. He assisted in finding him nearby living quarters. The boy was a frequent visitor in Wagner’s home where they took many meals together, and together they often made mountain hikes in the towering Alps that abounded in the Swiss countryside. In letters to his wife, then living temporarily in a hospital, as well as to Liszt in Weimar, Wagner waxed most eloquently about the virtues of his new friend. They parted in August when Wagner left for Venice alone. The stark incompatibility between him and his wife, surfaced again after her release from the hospital, and finally resulted in separation.

In Paris, he also had a very close and friendly relationship with the Jewish composer Jacques Halévy, a composer, 14 years his elder. Wagner tells us in his autobiography that he had a very high opinion of his “masterly talent,” and that he enjoyed his many talks with the “peculiarly good hearted and unassuming man.” He also explained that it was Halévy’s candor, in assessing the worth or lack of it in contemporary music that “justifies the participation of all Jews in our artistic concerns.” While writing for a musical journal in Paris, Wagner’s essays were filled with laudatory comments about Halévy’s operas.

Wagner again met Tausig in May 1861in Vienna, Wagner’s residence for the next three years. In Vienna, as in Paris, he had also had three close friends, two of whom, this time, were Jewish. One was the 26 year old Heinrich Porges, a musician of some talent, but whose greater talent seemed to be writing about musical matters. The other was Tausig, at 19, no longer merely boyish but, in many respects, more an equal of his famous composer friend. Tausig soon introduced him to Peter Cornelius, the only non-Jewish member of the new triumvirate. Cornelius was then 38 and had his own plans to write opera.

About Tausig, Wagner wrote to Minna that “the confounded boy” was just as amusing as ever, but not so insolent. He wrote a little later to her that “Little Tausig… helps me now and then to a playful smile.” About a year later the three friends gave a three concert series of his music in Prague. Wagner laughingly told Porges that this was the first money he earned from his compositions.

In 1864, Wagner’s fortunes changed dramatically. One of his most ardent admirers, Ludwig II ascended to the throne as King of Bavaria upon the death of his father. Ludwig was willing, even eager to help the increasingly frustrated composer, finances being one of the means of doing so. Tausig, at this time, was heavily engaged with other matters, both artistic and romantic, but Wagner quickly wrote to both Porges and Cornelius asking them to come to Munich where he had relocated, and cast their respective lots with him. To Porges he made a generous offer of money (from the Bavarian treasury) and living quarters of his choice. His duties were to be those of secretary and copying of business matters, manuscripts, and musical arrangements, which, he wrote, would not be burdensome and would be better than the “dreary business” of giving lessons, which he was now doing. His letter to Porges, his Jewish friend, read in part: “If you accept you will make me very happy! You know of course that the secretary is merely an excuse for having my friend here with me. If you wish to bind your life to mine... you will, I hope, never have cause to regret it. And how important, how splendid, and how reassuring it will be for me to have my witty and friendly companion here beside me!”

Porges, at that time refused the offer, but shortly thereafter spent so much of his time working so closely with the composer for the balance of Wagner’s life that he might as well have.

The biggest and most daunting challenge was the production of Wagner’s grandly conceive “Ring of the Nibelung,” a four opera series, requiring the building of a new theater, and would make extraordinary demands on the artists, and on the necessary scenery. It could not be paid in its entirety by the Bavarian treasury. Financing was perhaps the most important challenge.

Wagner turned to Tausig. His young friend’s ideas for raising funds, new at the time, included the formation of “Wagner Clubs” throughout Europe and America. He worked out the idea and the details of a guarantee fund to be paid by patrons through the sale of “patron certificates,” offering free seats for all the performances. In one of his letters, Wagner described Tausig as the “life and soul of the project.” But, as happened all too frequently, in that as in earlier centuries, illness struck suddenly and lethally. In Tausig’s case it was typhus. He died in July 1871 at age 29.

Wagner was devastated. He complained to his second wife, Cosima, about the “stupidity of fate, snatching Tausig away” when he had so much to live for. That night, he dreamed about Tausig. A week later he spoke to her about the melancholy of nature and himself. “Since Tausig’s death I have no will for anything except business matters and the children’s lessons. I just cannot manage to write personal letters.” A year later he wrote a short poem as an epitaph placed on Tausig’s tombstone. It lamented his so premature death and paid tribute to his courage. In May 1873 came a 19 page report to the patrons of the Festival Theater then under construction in Bayreuth. He acknowledged the help and support of many friends and acquaintances, but only one did he mention by name: “The exceptionally talented and energetic Karl Tausig embraced the matter as a task peculiarly falling to himself.” The short poem Wagner had written for his friend’s tombstone was repeated in the report.

There were other close friendly relationships with Jews in this period, some of them spanning Wagner’s entire life. Among them should be mentioned the Lehmann women, Marie the mother of Lilli Lehmann, who made her mark in the world of music as a Wagnerian soprano, and of her other daughter, also named Marie, who was distinguished from her mother by the nickname Riezl. Wagner was friends with all three women, but his favorite was Lilli. Both sisters sang in the first “Ring” performances in the Bayreuth Theater in the summer of 1876. They were two of the three legendary Rhinemaidens in the first and last operas, and two of the Valkyries in the second opera. Lilli also sang the offstage role of the Woodbird in the third opera.


Why strict parenting 'won't harm children': Harsh discipline such as verbal threats or spanking are offset by child's feeling of being loved

Being a strict parent is good for children - as long as it is done with a little love and affection.

A study of teenagers found the painful effects of harsh discipline - such as verbal threats or spanking - are offset by the child’s feeling of being loved.

The researchers said being punished is unlikely to result in antisocial behaviour further down the line, as long as the child believes their punishment is coming from ‘a good place’.

The use of harsh discipline on youngsters is controversial with it carrying a greater risk of manifesting aggression, delinquency and hyperactivity.

However, the new findings published in the journal Parenting: Science and Practice suggest a scolding or slap can be moderated by the recipient’s feelings of being loved by their mother.

The study of a group of Mexican-American adolescents found having a loving mother - or the ‘perception of maternal warmth’ - protected against encouraging any antisocial behaviour.

And even where the child’s perception of maternal warmth was lower, it still resulted in a positive relationship between harsh disciplinary practices and later ‘externalising’ problems.

Dr Miguelina German, of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York, explained ‘attachment theory’ holds that warm, responsive parenting is the critical factor in producing happy, secure children.

The underlying belief that their parents love them protects against feelings of rejection, even when being harshly disciplined.

Dr German said the use of harsh parental discipline does not automatically result in antisocial behaviour in the child.

She added: 'The relationship between the two is conditional and subject to other factors.  'Where harsh disciplinary practices are a cultural norm, there are always other influences at play that can lessen their potential harm on the young child.'

Previous research has found children are more likely to grow into well adjusted adults if their parents are firm disciplinarians.

Traditional ‘authoritative’ parenting, combining high expectations of behaviour with warmth and sensitivity, leads to more ‘competent’ children.

It is particularly important for girls, who can suffer from a lack of confidence and may turn to drugs if care is merely adequate, according to the 2009 study by researchers from London’s Institute of Education.


9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to hear challenge to gay therapy ban

A federal appeals court is to hear arguments Wednesday on whether a first-of-its-kind law that prohibits licensed mental health professionals in California from offering therapies aimed at making gay and lesbian teenagers straight violates the civil rights of practitioners and parents.

A three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals is considering two legal challenges to the ban on "sexual orientation change efforts" that was passed by the California Legislature and signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown last fall.

The ban, which was scheduled to take effect Jan. 1, was put on hold by the 9th Circuit pending resolution of the closely watched cases. It spurred similar legislation still being considered by lawmakers in New Jersey.

The law states that therapists and counselors who treat minors with methods designed to eliminate or reduce their same-sex attractions would be engaging in unprofessional conduct and subject to discipline by state licensing boards. The activities of pastors and lay counselors who are unlicensed but provide such therapy through church programs would not be covered.

The cases before the appeals court — brought by professionals who practice sexual orientation change therapy, two families who say their teenage sons benefited from it and a national association of Christian mental health counselors — argue that the ban infringes on their free speech, freedom of association and religious rights, and in the case of the counselors, jeopardizes their livelihoods.

"The state has determined that the only permissible message (is that) same-sex attractions, behavior or identity are to be accepted, supported and understood, thus suppressing all other viewpoints to the detriment of licensed professionals and their vulnerable minor clients," lawyers for the families, several practitioners and the professional group said.

"The viewpoint of counselors who in their professional judgment determine that same-sex attractions conflict with the religious and moral beliefs of clients and are not desired, is silenced by SB 1172. This raises a serious constitutional question."

Supporters, including the governor and Attorney General Kamala Harris, say the prohibition on "reparative" and "conversion" therapy is necessary to protect children from a coercive practice that can put them at increased risk of suicide and whose efficacy has been questioned or rejected by every major mental health professional association.

Harris is refusing to defend the law in court, arguing that it "is based on a scientific and professional consensus reached decades ago that homosexuality is a normal expression of human sexuality and not a disease, condition, or disorder in need of a 'cure.'"

Reflecting the competing issues before the appeals court, the two Sacramento-based trial judges who handled the lawsuits in December reached differing conclusions on whether the ban violates the U.S. Constitution.

One refused to block the law after ruling that the plaintiffs were unlikely to prove the prohibition unfairly tramples on their civil rights and should therefore be overturned. The other said he found the First Amendment issues presented by the ban to be compelling and ordered the state to temporarily exempt the three people named in the case before him.

The panel hearing the cases Wednesday consists of Chief Judge Alex Kozinski, who was appointed by Ronald Reagan in 1985, Judge Susan Graber, a 1998 appointee of Bill Clinton's, and Judge Morgan Christen, a 2012 appointee of President Barack Obama. The judges do not have a deadline for issuing a decision.


Hot sausage ban at the BBC: Workers told they must not pick up heated food or make their own toast in case they burn themselves

BBC workers are fuming after being told they are not allowed to pick up 'hot sausages' with tongs or make their own toast - in case they burn themselves.

Workers have complained to chiefs at the Beeb after the BBC Club took over running the canteen from another provider at the Media Centre in White City in Wood Lane, north west London, last week.

The BBC Club - set up as a private members club for BBC employees in 1924 - was put in charge of the cafe on April 2.

But after just over a week in charge, BBC staff are complaining that a 'new health and safety crackdown' has meant they can no longer make their own toast or pick up hot sausages - even with the tongs provided.

BBC worker Chris Malpas, who works in technology support, said service was 'chaotic' since the BBC Club took over.  He wrote: 'I fail to see how the now-club-run canteen at the Media Centre is supposed to be an improvement on what was available in White City previously.

'Not only does the counter/till service become chaotic when there are more than two people waiting, but at almost 35 years old I am suddenly no longer deemed qualified enough to prepare my own toast at breakfast time.  'This in spite of the fact that, as far as I can recall, I have never once trapped my hand in a toaster slot, or indeed suffered third degree burns whilst picking up sausages with tongs.

'I live in hope that these are just 'teething issues' but I fear that this is perhaps the BBC's way of encouraging us in W12 to dine elsewhere.'

Other BBC workers have also complained, saying it's 'health and safety gone mad'.

One, who asked not to be named, said today: 'I was told I couldn't pick up two sausages with the tongs to put in a roll because I might burn myself.  'The sausages were hardly sizzling hot, so there wasn't much chance of that in the first place, but I resent the fact that someone in a pinny can tell me I can't take care of myself. I'm perfectly capable of making a meal at home, so can easily manage a bit of self service.'

He also said that toasters available for self-service previously had been 'moved' and that workers had to ask canteen staff for slices of 'warmed bread' rather than make it themselves.

BBC staff are notoriously 'grumpy' about canteen food, with various employees complaining or 'rock hard baked potatoes, bad tuna and cold chips' and huge 20-minute long queues to get served at the BBC's new £1bn revamped Broadcasting House HQ in London's West End.

The BBC canteen has long been the butt of jokes by comics, with Ronnie Corbett, Peter Sellers and Terry Wogan all having a pop at it in the past.

Terry Wogan calls Beeb tea 'the evil brew' and Peter Sellers once joked on the Goon show in the mid-50s: 'Lunch is now being served in the BBC canteen. Doctors are standing by.'

Commenting on catering issues previously, a BBC spokesman said that 'any staff with comments on catering' were encouraged to 'give feedback' to suppliers.



Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the  incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

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 and political diversity 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.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH,   EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICSDISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL  and EYE ON BRITAIN (Note that EYE ON BRITAIN has regular posts on the reality of socialized medicine).   My Home Pages are here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here


19 April, 2013

Mining Coal Is Good, But Burning Coal Is Bad? Struggling to Understand the Left


This isn't another blog about the Iron Lady. There have been quite enough of those already: we have, so to speak, reached Thatcheration point. Rather, it's an attempt to get to grips with why so many people react with venomous rage to her name. Some of the abuse, of course, is simply the idiotic teenage posturing that you get on Twitter (I have favorited some examples, to give you a sense of what I mean). But plenty comes from people who, in other contexts, are balanced and considerate.

I have spent three days trying to understand the intensity of their reaction. As far as I can make out, anti-Thatcherites have two main complaints. First, that the Tory leader heartlessly closed coal mines and other heavy industries. Second, that, in increasing the gap between rich and poor, she made Britain more materialistic and selfish.

Let us deal with them in turn. It's true that the UK, in common with every Western country, was going through a process of deindustrialization in the 1980s. That process had begun at least half a century earlier, and had accelerated through the Sixties and Seventies, when Harold Wilson closed nearly twice as many pits as Margaret Thatcher was to do. Of course, what we mean by 'closed' is that the Government discontinued the grants that had kept unprofitable mines in operation. Neither Wilson nor Thatcher prohibited the extraction of coal; they simply stopped obliging everyone else to subsidize it.

Why were the mines and other heavy industries unprofitable? Partly because of lower production costs in developing countries, and partly because of trade union militancy at home.

As in every age and nation, some sectors expanded while others contracted. Just as telephones put stenographers out of work, so there was a shift from heavy industry to services. Such shifts are never easy. Even the men who used their redundancy payments to build successful second careers look back painfully on the transition. I can quite understand why there were strong feelings at the time.

What I find bewildering is why the mine closures are cited now as evidence of Tory wickedness. No one, with the exceptions of the SWP and the BNP, wants to recreate a state-owned coal industry today. Indeed, the people who complain most bitterly about the pit closures are generally those who are most against burning coal.
Ah, you say, but you can't just have a service-sector economy.

Maybe. But why is building cars for a living more valuable than driving them? Why is making boilers more important than installing them? The expansion of the service sector has improved our lives immeasurably. It has given us better medical care, more convenient shopping hours, wider leisure activities.

Don't get me wrong, making things is wonderful. We are the eighth largest manufacturing economy on Earth, selling tea to China and vodka to Poland, and exporting more cars than we import for the first time since the early 1970s. And we're doing it all without subsidy. Despite - or, rather, because of - the removal of state aid, manufacturing output was 7.5 per cent higher when Margaret Thatcher left office than when she entered it. The nostalgia, in other words, is not for making things per se, but for particular industries: coal, shipbuilding, steel.

It is a nostalgia which, I confess, I simply can't grasp. My grandfather worked in the Clyde shipyards between the wars and, like many of his workmates, died in his sixties. He never wanted that life for his grandson.

What, then, of the second charge, that we became more heartless as our social cohesion loosened? It's certainly true that the gap between rich and poor widened, but this has been happening all over the industrialized world since the 1960s, for reasons which social scientists dispute. The two most popular explanations, as far as I can understand, are greater social mobility, which drains poor areas of their ablest inhabitants, and the tendency of wealthy people to marry each other - a tendency that followed the large-scale entry of women into the workforce.

I don't know what the explanation is. What I do know, though, is that the gap between rich and poor widened further under Labour. I know, too, that charitable giving doubled - over and above inflation - during the Thatcher years. By that most empirical of measures, we have become less selfish. Certainly less selfish than the Lady's trade union adversaries, who never lost their belief that the world owed them a living.

I've tried, I really have, to understand the anger, but it eludes me. I know that this blog is followed by many tolerant, reasonable, Labour-voting readers. Maybe one of you chaps could help.


EU uses public cash to back groups that want to stifle Press freedom

Brussels is pumping millions of pounds of public money into groups dedicated to stifling a free Press, it emerged yesterday.

The European Commission is helping to fund groups seeking state-backed regulation of newspapers, including key allies of Hugh Grant's Hacked Off campaign.

One - called Mediadem - has a mission statement to `reclaim a free and independent media' and is demanding tougher sanctions than `an apology or correction'.

The EU has spent £2.3million on the previously unpublicised project.

The commission says it wants to be a `moral compass' against press misconduct and is seeking new national and Europe-wide regulatory powers against newspapers.

But critics say it is only taking such a stance because of the unfavourable coverage that European institutions get in the Press.

Philip Davies, a Tory member of the Culture Select Committee, said: `Given the scandals in the EU and revelations of its misappropriation of funding, it is no surprise that Europe wants to restrict the free press which can uncover its corruption.

`And it shows up exactly the sort of body that Hacked Off is if it wants to ally itself with these sorts of people.'

A policy brief for Mediadem, co-authored by its lead British researcher, Rachael Craufurd Smith, says it is `simplistic' to see state influence over the Press as `inherently stifling'.

Mediadem recently produced `recommendations for the UK' demanding the `imposition of sanctions beyond an apology or correction' on errant media outlets and the `co-ordination of the journalistic profession at the European level'.

Dr Craufurd Smith, from Edinburgh University, also called for further chilling action against the Press to ensure `that neither the media, nor those individuals who own or work for the media, enjoy an absolute right to freedom of expression'.

The recommendations demand the Press be controlled by the same body and on the same basis as broadcasters, who currently face stricter regulations including statutory `balance' obligations that do not apply to newspapers.

Dr Craufurd Smith told the Sunday Telegraph that the EU funding may have been prompted by Brussels' belief that the Press treats it unfairly.

As well as Mediadem, there are at least five other initiatives backed by Brussels to increase its powers over the media. One, MediaAcT, has channelled about £100,000 of European cash directly to a key Hacked Off ally, the Mediawise campaign group.

Bob Satchwell, executive director of the Society of Editors, said last night: `It is `strange if the EU is investing in ways to set up bureaucratic interference with the free Press'.


I left my son at four months old to go back to work. 37 years on, he's still paying the emotional price: One mother's startling and courageous confession

A couple of days after my first son was born, I remember watching him sleep. His parachute-silk eyelids dropped over his eyes. He was full from his last feed, his breathing scarcely more than a contented whisper. He looked so assuredly at peace with the world.

There was a lump in my throat from the overwhelming love I felt for this new person who I had nurtured and protected inside me for nine months, and was now out in the world.

As each week went by, I felt more and more attached to Zek as we formed an incredibly close bond.

But all that changed when the four-month-long paid maternity leave from my newspaper job came to an end. I loved my work, needed the money, and therefore didn't feel I had a choice over whether or not to go back.

So I did what every mother at this difficult moment does: I found a good childminder and convinced myself my son would be fine.
Zek. Over the years I have felt the need to prove to him that he is important to me and unconditionally loved.

Over the years Angela has felt the need to prove to Zek (r) that he is important to her and loved

And was he fine? Physically, yes. Emotionally, however, I'm not so sure. In fact, I am convinced that the abrupt break in the bonding process between us had a profound and enduring effect, and may still be having an effect - even though he's a now a 37-year-old father himself.

I am also convinced that because I never left my younger son, Cato, born four-and-a-half years later in 1980, and was a constant presence throughout his childhood, he is the secure, loving and easy-going man he is today.

I have found myself recalling those difficult, guilt-ridden days as a young working parent as debate rages about George Osborne's recent budget.

A host of tax allowances that favour working over 'stay-at-home' mothers has provoked fury, and I think rightly so.

Forcing mothers back to work when they do not feel their child is ready, is cruel and destructive for all concerned. What has become lost amid the political battle is what it means for a child to have their mother with them, rather than a stand-in who, however loving, can never understand and love them as much.

When my maternity leave was up and I returned to work in February 1976, Zek became clingy and fretful, crying anxiously if I so much as left the room. It didn't just happen when he was left with the childminder when I went to work; at weekends it was the same when I was only moving from room to room.

As he grew into a toddler, there were tantrums and fits of defiant anger that continued for years.

During his school days, he would stamp around declaring he was 'rubbish'. Other times he just seemed sad and withdrawn.

Leaving Zek was not, I now see, simply a matter of finding high-quality childcare. He was certainly well looked after - and is still in contact with his childminder.

It was, I realise, a double whammy. Not only did he lose me when I was at work, he also lost me, in a sense, when I was at home. You see, Zek did not have me, the person who had represented fundamental security since his birth, the person he relied on, to help him navigate this big, overwhelming and sometimes frightening new world.

Exhausted from my demanding newspaper job, I often arrived back home drained and frazzled and not up to empathetic parenting.

At this point, my husband Olly was also working long  and unpredictable hours in the film business.

At the time, I didn't know much about the meaning of attachment. But writing about children's psychological problems and researching for my book A Home For The Heart, I came to understand it is vital for children to feel bonded to the person ultimately responsible for caring for them.

If you don't, as my personal experience shows, children can suffer for the rest of their lives. I believe it is crucial for a mother or a father, who has been very involved from the beginning, to provide a loving, secure and constant presence while babies navigate that first year.

I started working from home as a freelance writer when Zek was two-and-a-half. I made the difficult decision to sacrifice my job to care for him, with help, at home because I had begun to fear that Zek's worrying behavioural traits were caused by my lack of time for him.

But even though we began to spend more time together, he remained guarded and, as he became articulate, fiercely critical of me. It was as though the abrupt severing of the bond we had developed so early on continued to be an unconscious force.

He, of course, is unaware of any damage done. But the point about damaged attachment is that it is unconscious

How different all this was with my second son. Cato, who was born four years after Zek, when I was already working from home.

He slotted into a life where I was  virtually a constant presence. Yes, we had au pairs or helpers who came in during the day, but I could be around if needed and I broke from work at tea time to be with the boys until they went to bed. If necessary, I worked into the night to meet deadlines.

I believe the attachment Cato had with me - without a sudden break - gave him an entirely different quality of security.

Etched on my memory is a lovely image of him as a baby in his bouncy chair in the garden with me working contentedly alongside him.

He was so at ease, and unlike Zek, not at all worried if I came or went. He was benignly accepting, secure and good natured. I can  never recall feeling seriously concerned about him in the way I had with Zek during his childhood. Zek was far more often a worry.

Cato's deep sense of security enabled him to become independent of me and Olly at his own pace, to develop sociability and the desire to be with other children, and be without me.

He has always been trusting and emotionally open, whereas his brother is far less so, even to this day. Zek has always been cautious and secretive with us. I knew nothing of the relationships he might have had as a young man, and it was only when things were serious between them that he introduced his future wife.

Cato on the other hand wrote 'I love Emily' behind the bath when, aged six, he was infatuated with a girl at school.

Since then he has poured out tales of passions, sobbed on my shoulder at big break-ups and is demonstrably loving with his fiancee in front of us.

Most importantly, Cato has always seemed to trust that his world was a happy place and I know deep down that is because I didn't abandon him to get back to work too early in that precious first year.

So I believe fervently that we must not penalise mothers who want to stay with their children until they judge they are ready to be left.

Thankfully, there is a happy ending to my story with Zek. Over the years I have felt the need to prove to him that he is important to me and unconditionally loved.

As he has grown to adulthood, I have discussed this with him - apologised in fact - for what I believe was a traumatic event for a four-month-old to endure.

He, of course, is unaware of any damage done. But the point about damaged attachment is that it is unconscious. Even now he can suddenly become emotionally unsettled for no apparent reason.

Our relationship has grown much stronger and warmer over recent years.

Then, a couple of years ago when his wife was pregnant he asked if they might rent the first floor of our home because they would like to be near family. We all live together to this day.

Their daughter, Isana, is almost two and I watch my son, so involved with her, so close and loving, and when he said to me the other day how happy he is that she has a warm and affectionate relationship with me, I felt that finally I could relax. Things have come right.

But it has been a long and painful journey, which is why I feel so strongly that the Government must learn to value mothers who stay at home with their children.

The job they do is invaluable. And lasts a lifetime.


Australia 'most comfortably racist' country, says ignorant British blow-in

If he had talked to police in Sydney's Middle East Crime squad he would have known why Australians are leery of Lebanese Muslims

A BRITISH comedian who will soon host hugely popular program The Daily Show has branded Australia the "most comfortably racist" place he had been.

English reporter John Oliver, who has worked as a correspondent for the influential Comedy Central show created by Jon Stewart, has spent the past few days filming in Australia.

Oliver, who will present the show later this year while regular host Jon Stewart directs a film, says in The Bugle podcast that the country is a "coastal paradise surrounding a rocky hell".

"Australia turns out to be a sensational place, albeit one of the most comfortably racist places I've ever been in. They've really settled into their intolerance like an old resentful slipper," Oliver said.

"You can say what you like about Australian racism, it is undeniably specific. I had a couple of Australians - more than one - complain to me about all the Lebbos in the country, referring apparently to the Lebanese. Who the f-- is annoyed by Lebanese people?

"In a way you have to admire the attention to detail. Not just all those Arabs, but the Lebanese."

However Oliver also lavishes praise on Australia during the undoubtedly tongue-in-cheek podcast.

"Australia is a sensational place and it really begs the question: why the f-- did we make that our penal colony when its nicer than where we live? We should have said to criminals at the time 'you're all staying here, we're off to go live in paradise'."



Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the  incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

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 and political diversity 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.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH,   EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICSDISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL  and EYE ON BRITAIN (Note that EYE ON BRITAIN has regular posts on the reality of socialized medicine).   My Home Pages are here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here


18 April, 2013

Is Christianity Homophobic?

That "loving Jesus means hating gay people" is "proclaimed in Christian churches and on Christian television and radio broadcasts."

So declares Dan Savage in his review of Jeff Chu's "Does Jesus Really Love Me: A Gay Christian's Pilgrimage in Search of God in America" -- on page one of The New York Times Book Review.

Who is foremost among those who have made "anti-gay bigotry seem synonymous with Christianity"? The Family Research Council and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

So says Savage. And who is he? A cradle Catholic who says he "was in church every Sunday for the first 15 years of my life. Now I spend my Sundays on my bike, on my snowboard or on my husband."

One gets the point. And in handing this review to an apostate Catholic and atheist homosexual, the Times was nailing its anti-Catholic colors to the mast. Yet what Savage alleges and the Times published is a lie.

No true Catholic church can preach that Jesus hates gays. "Love your enemies" is the message of Christ. Hate the sin and love the sinner is taught as gospel truth in Catholic schools.

This has been Catholic doctrine for 2,000 years.

Yet, in contending that America is reaching a "cultural tipping point," Savage is not all wrong.

Undeniably, the Christian view, though mislabeled "homophobia," alienates millions. Many of America's young have come to accept that homosexuality is a natural preference of a significant minority and ought to be accommodated, and same-sex unions ought to be treated as traditional marriages.

Case in point. At George Washington University, two students have demanded that Father Greg Shaffer of the Newman Center be removed for creating an environment hostile to gays.

The priest's offense: When Obama endorsed same-sex marriage, Shaffer posted a blog restating Catholic teaching condemning homosexual acts as unnatural and immoral. In private sessions, Father Shaffer also counseled gay students to remain celibate for the rest of their lives.

One senior, Damian Legacy, says he was shaken by Father Greg's admonition that he was risking his soul and by his ouster from the Newman Center after the priest learned he was in a relationship with a male student.

Legacy and his partner have filed complaints against the Rev. Shaffer with the university Office for Diversity and Inclusion, alleging his homophobia has had a detrimental effect on the emotional health of gay students. They are asking the Student Association to cut funding to the Newman Center.

Though a minor collision in the culture war, this clash at GW may be a harbinger of what is coming, as the homosexual community seeks to have its agenda written into law and fastened onto the nation.

For traditional Christianity's view that homosexual acts are immoral and same-sex marriage an absurdity cannot be reconciled with the view that homosexuality is natural and normal and gay marriage a human right.

The issue is pulling the Republican Party apart. It is pulling Christian communities apart. It is pulling the nation apart.

Like abortion, it is an issue on which both sides cannot be right. Yet it is an issue of paramount importance both to devout Christians and to the homosexual rights movement.

What happens if the gay rights movement, as it appears it may, succeeds politically on same-sex marriage, but many Christians refuse to recognize such unions and continue to declare that American society has become ungodly and immoral?

Gay rights advocates often compare their cause to the civil rights struggle of half a century ago. But there is a fundamental difference.

When Martin Luther King Jr. called on the nation to "live up to the meaning of its creed," he heard an echo from a thousand pulpits. Treating black folks decently was consistent with what Christians had been taught. Dr. King was pushing against an open door.

Priests and pastors marched for civil rights. Others preached for civil rights. But if the gay rights agenda is imposed, we could have priests and pastors preaching not acceptance but principled rejection.

Prelates could be declaring from pulpits everywhere that the triumph of gay rights is a defeat for God's Country, and the new laws are immoral and need neither be respected nor obeyed.

The issue is acceptance. We know of how America refused to accept Prohibition and, in good conscience, Americans broke the laws against the consumption of alcohol.

Imagine the situation in America today if priests and pastors were telling congregations they need not obey civil rights laws. They would be denounced as racists. Church tax exemptions would be in peril.

Something akin to this could be in the cards if the homosexual rights movement is victorious -- a public rejection of the new laws by millions and a refusal by many to respect or obey them.

The culture war in America today may be seen as squabbles in a day care center compared to what is coming. A new era of civil disobedience may be at hand.


Yobbish behaviour is getting worse, say eight in ten Britons: Figures raise concerns over lack of police action to combat problem

More than 80 per cent of the public think anti-social behaviour is on the rise across the country.  In an official survey, four-fifths of those questioned said the problem was getting worse in England and Wales, citing drunken loutishness, gangs of yobs loitering on the streets, vandalism, verbal abuse and drugs.

Worryingly, nearly half said they thought the problem had increased significantly in recent years.

Nearly one in three had been a victim of, or had witnessed some form of, anti-social behaviour in the previous 12 months.

The figures, published by the Office for National Statistics, will prompt further concerns over the lack of police action to combat the problem.

Only last week, a survey found more than one in three people who called the police over anti-social behaviour said it made `no difference'.

Officers also stand accused of wasting time `trying to please pressure groups' after one force, Greater Manchester Police, said it would class incidents involving emo and punk groups as hate crimes.

Max Chambers, head of crime and justice at think-tank Policy Exchange, said it was clear anti-social behaviour was a `serious and widespread problem'.  He said: `We've got to make it easier for the public to report crime and express concerns about teenagers drinking in the street or threatening our neighbours.

`This means protecting the visibility and availability of uniformed police officers. We also need the police to take complaints of yobbish behaviour seriously.'

The figures come from a new question within the Crime Survey for England and Wales, which surveys around 40,000 people.

For the first time, the public were asked about the `perception of the level of anti-social behaviour in England and Wales over the past few years'.

Only 3 per cent said they thought it had gone down and 15 per cent said it had stayed `about the same'.  However, 32 per cent said they thought anti-social behaviour had gone up `a little', and 49 per cent said they thought it had gone up `a lot'.

More than one in three said they thought the problem had got worse in their local area, and 30 per cent said they had experienced or witnessed an incident in the past 12 months.

The most common problem was with drunken louts or other alcohol-related disorder.  People also complained about groups hanging around on the streets, inconsiderate behaviour, loud music, vandalism, verbal abuse, littering and drug dealing.  A small proportion also cited begging, dangerous dogs and people having sex in public.

More than one in seven adults said they had experienced high levels of anti-social behaviour in the past year. One in eight business premises experienced problematic behaviour in 2011/12.

Chief Constable Simon Cole, from the Association of Chief Police Officers, said: `Police take a risk-based approach to dealing with crimes of this type, prioritising those most at harm.  'As this continues, forces will get better at identifying vulnerable victims and tailoring their response.'

A Home Office spokesman said: `We are turning the current system on its head, empowering people to come forward and the police to respond quickly and effectively.'

Ministers have abolished the Anti-social Behaviour Order, which was often worn as a `badge of honour' by criminals. New simplified powers will result in stricter punishments if they are breached.


Political Correctness and Fascism

Political correctness is like a tsunami in that no one understands the extent of its danger until after the massive wave sweeps across the land and then recedes.

Early on, in the first term of the Obama administration, we felt the rumblings of the earthquake that always precedes the storm, when President Obama set the tone for how he expected sensitive issues to be handled. It wasn't long before the Global War on Terror was renamed "Overseas Contingency Operation." The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) quickly followed suit when it redefined terrorist attacks as "man caused disasters." A case of trickle-down idiocy, I suppose, considering that changing a name only makes for a temporary fix.

I learned that lesson as a kid, having been blessed with two sets of teeth, requiring a number of dentist visits to remove the stubborn baby ones. After the first disastrous visit (for all parties involved) because I kicked the dentist when he gave me a shot, my mom decided to change the name "dentist office" to "ice cream stand" to get me in the car. It worked once, just up until our car pulled into the dentist office parking lot rather than the ice cream stand. Fool me once...

That night, my parents had a grownup conversation with me, (at me, really) explaining it was going to be unpleasant, but had to be done. To their credit, I have a decent smile today, but still get a weird feeling inside when I see an ice cream stand. Although I didn't realize it then, that experience taught me a valuable lesson about political correctness, in that switching labels doesn't change traits.

Currently, there is a strong push by the left to change America into the opposite of everything that makes this country exceptional. They are using political correctness to get there by relabeling things once considered honorable and wholesome as inappropriate, and things once considered immoral as good. What they do not realize is they are trapping themselves in the process. Exchanging God-endowed freedoms for man-made rules is never a fair trade.

This was recently on display in a smaller, but still toxic, military reservist sensitivity training workshop in Pennsylvania that would make Bill Maher proud (here) when the person in charge listed Jews, Catholics, and Christians as religious extremists alongside al Qaeda and the KKK. As you can see, inclusivity is not always a good thing.

The military was quick to respond promising it was an isolated event, but it seemed a bit misplaced considering the magnitude of faith-filled military veterans out there who have managed to love God and serve their country without pulling a "Nidal Hasan" on fellow soldiers. In the name of political correctness, Hasan's alleged heinous act was kindheartedly labeled "work place violence" by the Obama administration, which also denied Purple Hearts to well-deserving soldiers at Fort Hood. Rather than calling it for what it is, the administration treated the massacre as if it were a mass pencil stabbing.

It works both ways. Obama had the opportunity to taste his own bitter medicine when he recently complimented California's Kamala Harris by telling her she is "by far the best looking attorney general in the country." The PC police swarmed, demanding Obama take gender sensitivity classes. He apologized, and the tsunami grew... and increased when free speech was culled after news journalists were told they can no longer use certain terms like "illegal alien" And the tide will expand further, if the two gay students at George Washington University, who demanded the ousting of a Catholic priest because he spoke about his church's not-so-politically correct teachings about homosexuality, get their way.

The monstrous PC wave will continue to rise until it can no longer contain itself, and then will explode across America, drowning our freedom and leaving fascism in its wake.


Twitter, hate speech, and the costs of keeping quiet

Greg Lukianoff

Last month was a bittersweet seventh birthday for Twitter. The Union of Jewish French Students sued the social-media giant for $50 million in a French court in light of anti-Semitic tweets that carried the hashtag #unbonjuif ("a good Jew"). In January, Twitter agreed to delete the tweets, but the student group now wants the identities of the users who sent the anti-Semitic messages so that they can be prosecuted under French law against hate speech. Twitter is resisting. It claims that as an American company protected by the First Amendment, it does not have to aid government efforts to control offensive speech.

Internationally, America is considered radical for protecting speech that is highly offensive. But even in the U.S., Twitter should not be surprised to discover ambivalence and even outright hostility toward its principled aversion to censorship, especially in that once great institution for the open exchange of ideas: American higher education.

"Hate speech" is constitutionally protected in the United States. But the push against "hurtful" and "blasphemous" speech (primarily speech offensive to Islam) is gaining ground throughout the world. Last fall, for example, when many thought a YouTube video that satirized Mohammed caused a spontaneous attack on our consulate in Benghazi, academics across the country rushed to chide America for its expansive protections of speech. And as someone who has spent more than a decade fighting censorship on American college campuses, I run into antagonism toward free speech on a regular basis, most recently last month, when I spoke at Columbia Law School. After my speech, law professor Frederick Schauer criticized his American colleagues for not being more skeptical about the principle of free speech itself.

This has become a fairly standard refrain, in my experience, as academics who want to limit free speech often paint themselves as a beleaguered, enlightened minority struggling against the unquestioned dogma of free speech. Free speech is certainly alive in U.S. courts. For example, since 1989 more than a dozen courts have declared different politically correct college speech codes unconstitutional. Nevertheless, the idea that hurtful or offensive speech should be banned prevails on American campuses: approximately 63 percent of over 400 top colleges maintain codes (PDF) that violate First Amendment principles. Meanwhile, prominent professors, such as Jeremy Waldron and Richard Delgado, attempt to seize the moral high ground for "enlightened censorship," and some students even paint themselves as heroes for tearing down campus "free speech walls."

What strikes me about the arguments academics make against free speech is how shallow they tend to be. The critics somehow miss that First Amendment jurisprudence is an extraordinarily thoughtful exposition on what limits are appropriate in a free and diverse society -- and, contrary to the meme of America's mindless approach to speech, there are limits (including, for example, libel, as well as threats or incitement to imminent illegal action).

The authors of the Constitution also realized that people -- flawed, imperfect humans, with biases, blind spots, shortcomings, and agendas -- will decide what speech is and is not acceptable. Part of the wisdom of First Amendment law is that it recognizes that we flawed humans will be tempted to ban speech for no better reason than that officials (or voters) simply dislike or disapprove of an idea or a particular speaker. That's why First Amendment doctrine forbids the use of highly subjective standards, which would invite arbitrary punishment of dissenters, oddballs, satirists, or the misunderstood. Too many scholars seem to think a robot could simply apply such standards to produce a perfect outcome every time.

A common academic argument against free speech relies on the idea that the primary, if not sole, justification for freedom of speech is that it is necessary in order for society to discover "objective truth" -- what I will call "Big T" Truth. But now, so the fashionable argument goes, the academy has found that objective truth does not exist, so we are free to regulate harmful, hurtful, or hateful speech because the benefit of unfettered speech -- revelation of Truth -- is illusory. (A revealing preview of today's anti-free speech arguments can be found in the oft-overlooked dissent to Yale's famous 1975 pro-free speech, pro-academic freedom "Woodward Report" [PDF].)

No doubt the open, anarchical, epistemological system that was celebrated in the Enlightenment -- which Jonathan Rauch dubbed "liberal science" in his classic work on the value of freedom of speech, "Kindly Inquisitors" -- has resulted in a flowering of creative and scientific thought. It has helped reveal what we consider to be objective facts (e.g., the Earth is an oblate spheroid; gravity is a fundamental force). But the free exchange of ideas benefits society not only by unearthing "Big T" truths; more importantly, it continually exposes mundane yet important pieces of information about the world. I will call this "Little t" truth. "Little t" truths include: who disagrees about what and why, what people feel about a particular issue, what events the newspapers think are important to report. The fact that "Argo" is a movie is truth, whether or not it represents an accurate view of history, as is the fact that some topics of discussion interest no one, while others are radioactive.

Twitter provides a powerful way to view the world. Never before have human beings been able to check the global zeitgeist with such immediacy and on such a massive scale. Its primary service is not to dispense the Platonic ideal of Truth ("the form of beauty = x"), but rather to provide unparalleled access to the peculiar thoughts, ideas, misconceptions, genuine wisdom, fetishes, fads, jokes, obsessions, and problems of a vast sea of people from different cultures, classes, countries, and backgrounds.

In order to be an effective mirror to global society, Twitter thinks of itself primarily as a platform and does its best to get out of the way. Therefore, we know things we simply would not know otherwise -- from the trivial to the serious. The people who want to scour mass media and cleanse it of all hateful or hurtful opinions miss that their purge would deny us important knowledge. Simply put, it is far better to know that there are bigots among us than to pretend all is well. As Harvey Silverglate, co-founder of FIRE (the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, where I serve as president), likes to say, he supports free speech because he thinks it's important that he know if there's an anti-Semite in the room so he can make sure not to turn his back to that person.

The idea that society achieves something positive by mandating that people with bad opinions must hide them, or discuss them only in forums of the like-minded, is not only extraordinarily naive, it can be dangerous. Bigots driven into echo chambers may only become more extreme, as discussed in Cass Sunstein's book, "Going to Extremes." Meanwhile, what does society gain from such quarantining? A coerced but false silence that, if anything at all, plays into the hands of the paranoid and dangerous who already believe that there is a global conspiracy to shut them up. Forcing hate speech underground by banning it is like taking Xanax for syphilis. You may briefly feel better about your horrible disease, but your sickness will only get worse.

Simply making bigoted speech illegal results in two distortions of reality. First, it can create an overly rosy picture of public sentiment, thus preventing real and festering social problems from being addressed. Or second, paradoxically, it may lead people to believe that they live in a far less tolerant society than they actually do. John L. Jackson, an anthropology professor at the University of Pennsylvania, teased out this idea in his 2008 book "Racial Paranoia: The Unintended Consequences of Political Correctness." Jackson argues that if a minority group believes that only the threats of formal or informal punishments are preventing people from constantly shouting racial slurs at the top of their lungs, the minority may conclude that those other people are far more hateful and bigoted than they may, in fact, be. In this way, attempts to police hateful or hurtful speech may be making people more paranoid than they need to be about the feelings most people actually hold in their hearts.

The only lasting fix to the real problem of racism or anti-Semitism is cultural. A necessarily incomplete attempt to suppress bigotry may well have far worse unintended consequences, as legal regimes that try to ban hate speech drive social resentments underground, thus preventing the right allocation of resources to address social problems openly.

Twitter lets us see people as they are -- a mixed lot on any given day, to be sure. But it is especially important for a free society to learn not just the good news but the bad news as well.



Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the  incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

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 and political diversity 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.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH,   EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICSDISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL  and EYE ON BRITAIN (Note that EYE ON BRITAIN has regular posts on the reality of socialized medicine).   My Home Pages are here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here


17 April, 2013

Margaret Thatcher was a "Daddy's girl"

Which goes a long way towards explaining her self-assurance

The four years that separated Margaret Hilda Roberts from her elder sister, Muriel, are perhaps one reason why, despite Margaret's public protestations, they were never close.

Muriel was closer to her mother, Beatie. By contrast, and it is perhaps the best-known fact about Margaret's early life, the younger daughter was her father Alf's favourite, and he hers.

Perhaps Alf had wanted a son. Certainly, the kind of attention he devoted to her and the values and ambitions he inculcated in her would suggest so.

Much has been made by practitioners of psychobabble of Margaret's attitude towards Beatie. They draw attention to the  daughter's refusal to say anything notable about her mother at all.

Yet the assumption that this wall of near-silence concealed hostility seems wide of the mark. Margaret Thatcher would never be very interested in people's personalities as such, only in their actions - and specifically those of their actions that directly concerned her.

When it came to psychology, on the individual level at least, she was profoundly unimaginative, and this applied in respect of her family just as much as it did in respect of her colleagues.

The truth is that when she was asked what she thought of Beatie, she simply did not know, for the very good reason that the two had no common tastes or interests, at least beyond Alf Roberts's welfare.

It has been suggested that Beatie starved her younger daughter of affection and that this explains Margaret's apparent chilliness. But there is no evidence that this is so, nor did Margaret's later  private conversation ever hint at such a thing.

It is, indeed, most unlikely. Beatie was a kind and sweet-natured person, with a strong sense of duty to her husband and both her daughters. Margaret did not dislike her mother. Rather, she pitied her.

Beatie's life seemed to her daughter an example of everything she intended in later life to avoid. `Drudgery' was the word that most often came to her lips to describe it; `poor mother' she murmured in unguarded moments, whenever the subject was raised.

And what of her father? Alf  Roberts was tall, blond and blue-eyed and had a certain presence. Born poor, yet intellectually precocious, he had once wanted to be a teacher, but his family could not raise the money to keep him long enough at school.

So he had to take jobs where he could find them. Being extremely industrious - and very thrifty - he saved enough money to buy that now celebrated Grantham grocery store. Margaret was born in the flat above the shop.

More than any other British  premier, she was made what she was by her early life, and she knew it. She never forgot her origins and often alluded to episodes in her childhood.

The deeper truth, however, was that she reacted against her background more than she reflected it. Once she had the chance to leave, she rarely returned. She escaped to a better life than the one she knew as a child - and in her heart she rejoiced in it.

One of the qualities that made escape possible was her extraordinary strength of purpose. From the time she went to school to the time she left Downing Street, people were astonished at Margaret's unrelenting drive to impose her will, to attain her goals. She learned this from her father.

The key to his philosophy, and later hers, was hard work. For both of them, work was a `virtue', not just a means to an end. Alf's motto was `never waste a minute' and he applied it to everyone around him.

From an early age, Margaret was weighing out goods in the shop, taking orders from customers and accompanying her father on deliveries.

The store was open from early morning until late into the evening; to ensure the business never faltered, Alf and Beatie always took separate holidays, albeit usually in the same place, Skegness.

The broader outlook she gained from Grantham and from her father was a strong sense of individualism. She remembered vividly his scorn for following the crowd. `Don't do something just because everyone else does' he imbued in her. Think for yourself. Rely on yourself. Strive harder than anyone else. And make no excuses.

Yet, for all that she admired him and was inspired by him, life under his roof could be remarkably grim. Alf Roberts may have had a healthy income and high status in the town - he served as a councillor for 25 years, including a term as mayor - but he was extremely mean.

The family lived in uncomfortably constricted accommodation, which could possibly be excused by the demands of living over the shop. Even the outside lavatory was not unusual at that time. But the failure to install running hot water and the meagreness and dullness of the food they ate were her father's choice, not necessity.

Alf prided himself on selling quality produce, but the quality was enjoyed by his customers, not by his loved ones.

Conspicuous consumption was frowned upon, too, by the family's severe brand of religion. Among Methodists like the Robertses there was a kind of competition to avoid waste.

Even the cotton used to tack up the hems of the girls' dresses was re-used and to say that someone `lived up to the hilt', that they spent everything they earned and more, was a deadly insult.

Mrs Thatcher later applied the same frugal philosophy in Downing Street, to a sometimes ludicrous extent. She refused to have the carpet under her desk repaired though her feet had worn a hole in it. She had a patch inserted instead.

It was widely remarked of her as an adult that she had no sense of humour. That is not strictly true - she could enjoy a joke, but unless it was obvious it had to be explained to her.

She also had a capacity for mimicry, and liked on occasion to imitate the upper-class accents of men she thought feeble.

But she distrusted frivolity and thought prolonged bouts of humour a distraction: she would cut them short by telling people to get back to serious matters.

That said, as she grew into her teens, it must have been increasingly galling to live at such close quarters with the family in such spartan conditions, with such an excess of religion and such a dearth of fun.

That is why the prospect of Oxford, rather than nearby Nottingham University, proved so attractive to her. It is why in her 20s she so quickly and so thoroughly cut herself off from Grantham and most of those she had known there.

SHE went on a scholarship to the fee-paying Kesteven and Grantham Girls' School.

A hard-working pupil, considerate and generous, she was also  perhaps a bit too eager and intense, inclined to be a know-it-all, her hand always up first in class, but not so outstanding as to inspire jealousy. An inspiring science mistress, Miss Kay, was instrumental in her decision to specialise in chemistry. It was an unusual choice for a girl, but Margaret, determined not to end up like her mother, knew she wanted to pursue a career, and chemistry offered the prospect of a job in industry.

She narrowly failed on her first attempt to get into Somerville  College, but then a vacancy unexpectedly arose and she went up to Oxford in October 1943. She was barely 18 and had no real idea of what to expect.

Initially, life there was thoroughly uncongenial. The college was a cold, austere place and many of the people she met seem to have been prigs who looked down on her.

Miss Roberts was regarded as a bore, and worse still a Tory bore. She was ridiculous and quite incomprehensible to those at ease with the prevailing self-satisfied, socialistic atmosphere.

Her chemistry tutor at Somerville, the Nobel-Prize-winning  scientist Dorothy Hodgkin, thought her competent though uninspired. Nonetheless, Hodgkin was helpful in obtaining for her various grants - in later years Mrs Thatcher did not like to admit that she had needed them.

The truth is that without such help she would have been in some financial difficulty. She received  little help from home. Her mother sent cakes, but her father, true to his principles and his prejudices, does not seem to have sent much money.

In her last two years at university, she shared lodgings with two other girls rather than living in college, and was better able to appreciate Oxford's social life. She proved an excellent ballroom dancer.

If there were no boyfriends in the usual sense of the term, let alone any sexual liaisons, there were  certainly men friends - and not surprisingly, for, though slightly plump, she was undeniably pretty.

Beyond work, the main focus of her university life was Conservative politics.

Fired by her father's principles, she became a member of the Oxford University Conservative Association (OUCA) as soon as she arrived, and in her final year became its president. At home during the vacation in that last year, she made a momentous decision.

As she was holding forth on some political topic, someone remarked to her that she ought to go into Parliament. The monologue stopped, because suddenly she knew that this was indeed exactly what she wanted.

By then she was looking to a future that did not include Grantham. She was in the process of leaving her home town behind - including even, finally, her father.

Alf, for his part, campaigned and even spoke for her when she was a Tory candidate in Dartford a few years later in 1950. But her parents disapproved of Denis Thatcher, the businessman she met there, who was a divorcee. Relations cooled after her marriage to him in 1951, and Margaret Thatcher's children barely knew their grandparents.

Alf remained proud of his daughter's political success and was listening to her speaking on the radio when he died in 1970. Significantly, though, he left her nothing in his will. The old magic of their bond had vanished long before. She had outgrown him, and she had outgrown Grantham.

When she left, she was quick to lose her Lincolnshire accent, adopting a tone that the uncharitable described as posh. But her roots were not so readily denied.

In particular, the impact of the Methodism she grew up with remained very deep, though not perhaps in the way that might have been expected.

It did not leave her an obviously spiritual person, and she did not feel any obligation to forgive, for example, Michael Heseltine for what he had done to her. But it did make her extremely moral, by giving her a set of rules by which to live.

At home in Grantham she had as a child a religious publication called Bibby's Annual, which had been given to her by her parents. Its improving verses remained a favourite of hers, and there was one in particular she liked to recite:

One ship drives east, and  another west,

By the self-same gale that blows;

'Tis the set of the sail, and not  the gale,

That determines the way she goes.

The conclusion was clear: we make our own lives out of the circumstances that prevail; circumstances do not make us. It was pure Grantham and pure Thatcher.


Social services search mother's home after nasty bitch reported her for 'not doing enough when her child suffered coughing fit'

When her daughter started coughing while she shopped in Boots, Kiya Pask thought little of it, taking baby Amelia out of her pram and comforting her until she calmed down.

Little did she know that an over-zealous pharmacist was taking note and that the episode would lead to social services searching her home and investigating her ability to look after her child.

Although she has now been cleared of any wrongdoing, Miss Pask is furious at the way she was treated, saying it is unacceptable that Boots passed on her details to authorities.

Miss Pask, 20, had taken 15-month-old Amelia to the store in Skegness, Lincolnshire, on March 4 to buy over-the-counter antihistamines to help control a bronchial virus, which had hospitalised the child the day before.

But when Amelia swallowed the medicine, she started coughing and Miss Pask explained to pharmacy staff that her daughter often struggled to take medication because of her condition.

A female pharmacist, however, shouted that the baby needed oxygen and despite Amelia's swift recovery, later phoned social services to say Miss Pask did not do enough to help her child and that the baby was at risk.

Ten days later, social workers arrived at Miss Pask's home in Ingoldmells, Lincolnshire, and demanded to see Amelia, who is deaf and registered disabled with a chronic bronchial virus.

They then searched the house thoroughly, looking in cupboards, inside the fridge, and checked plug sockets before quizzing Miss Pask as she looked after her child for an hour.

Lincolnshire Social Services has now written to say she is no longer under investigation, but Miss Pask is furious she was ever deemed a risk to her daughter.

She said: `The pharmacist started shouting "she's choking" and "someone get her some oxygen".  `I took her out of the pram and said to the woman: "She was in hospital yesterday with bronchitis, all she's done is swallowed the medicine the wrong way."

`Amelia started breathing normally and I put her back in her pram and took her home and didn't think any more about it.'

Miss Pask said her child's virus, which causes wheezing, cannot be treated with antibiotics but doctors have said she will grow out of it by the time she is four. She frequently has to take Amelia to hospital as a result.

Miss Pask added: `The social workers said there had been a report made about the incident in Boots pharmacy that I left my daughter laid on her back and she turned blue. I felt like I was being interrogated. I do a good job looking after my daughter.

`It's had a massive impact on my life. I'm scared about the slightest thing my daughter does - if she does something unusual someone's never seen before, that I am going to be reported.'

Miss Pask also claims the pharmacist breached patient confidentiality to get hold of her details.

Boots has come under fire in recent weeks after a shop assistant in Spalding, Lincolnshire, smacked a child's bottom and called her a `naughty girl' for knocking over a bottle of disinfectant from a shelf.

Boots defended the pharmacist who reported Miss Pask, saying she acted in Amelia's best interests. A spokesman said: `Our pharmacists are required to apply their professional knowledge and judgment and take appropriate action if they have any concern about patients' health and safety.

`We take patient confidentiality seriously and, having conducted a thorough investigation, are confident our pharmacist acted properly and professionally.'

Janice Spencer, assistant director for children's services at Lincolnshire council, said: `When a referral is made to us and information suggests that a child may be at risk of harm, the responsible action is of course to make enquiries.'


South Korean Anti-Discrimination Law Faces Conservative Pushback

Korea has a large Christian minority, mostly Presbyterian.  Why?  One answer:
God largely used a Korean man by the name of Suh Sang-Yoon to introduce the gospel to Korea back in the 1800s. He was converted by Scottish missionaries and went on to be a Korean pastor and the man who first translated the Bible into Korean. Around the same time, American Presbyterians sent missionaries to Korea.

So I don't believe it was a matter of distinctly Presbyteran doctrines appealing to the culture. I think it was a matter of Presbyterian missionaries being faithful to their call, going there, and bringing the gospel. When that gospel took hold, the Korean Christians naturally became Presbyterians.

Since that time, the (largely Presbyterian) Korean church has sent out many of its own missionaries and has been a powerful witness for the gospel all over the world, particularly in the Eastern Hemisphere. My niece is currently studying in Tasmania and looked for a Presbyterian church to attend while there. She's found some sort of Australian Presbyterian church that's mostly made up of Koreans.

South Korean conservative groups are mounting a fierce resistance to a proposed anti-discrimination law in South Korea that would prohibit discrimination based on based on religion, political ideology, or sexual orientation.

The comprehensive bill, which was drafted after receiving recommendations from the United Nations Human Rights Council, was introduced to the country's legislature early February 2013 and it is now pending review from the Legislation and Judiciary Committee-just a few steps away from becoming effective.

The possible legal changes it could bring include banning all forms of corporal punishment, toughening measures on sexual violence against children, and stepping up the monitoring of discrimination against migrant workers. However, the law still excludes any changes to the the controversial, anti-communist National Security Law as well as the death sentence.

The country first attempted to pass anti-discrimination legislation in 2007 when the justice department suggested a similar law was needed. But the bill was thwarted [ko], with its clause prohibiting discrimination based on someone's "education and medical record" being panned by corporations as "limiting corporate's free business activities" and Christian groups opposing the part protecting sexual minorities.

This latest incarnation of the law is attracting much of the same criticism. Christian groups threaten that the law can be used to support gay marriage.

Furthermore, right-wing groups interpret the part of the bill that defends freedom of political expression as "handing power over to dangerous pro-North commie groups [ko]" - a derogatory term the ruling conservative party falls back on when referring to liberal groups or South Koreans who are taking dovish stances on North Korea.

About 200 groups [ko] from political, educational, and civic sectors staged a protest in Seoul (a photo can be seen here) against the proposed law. The South Korean Presbyterian Coalition released a statement [ko] claiming the law could create unnecessary conflicts between religions and interfere with the content of their sermons.

Young net users, however, have strongly defended the law and pushed back at the conservative criticism online.


'To be a submissive woman shows real strength': Former volleyball star Gabrielle Reece's causes furor after revealing how she brought her marriage back from the brink

She's never been afraid to get aggressive during a game. But former pro volleyball star, model and fitness advocate Gabrielle Reece says that she believes women being submissive in relationships is a sign of strength - not weakness.

In news that may come as a shock to the legions of female fans who view her as an icon, Reece tells NBC News that she's happy to 'serve' and have an 'old-fashioned family dynamic' at home.

Reece, who married surfer Laird Hamilton 17 year ago in Hawaii, says 'I'm clearly the female; Laird's clearly the male. I'm willing and I choose to serve the family which means dinner and laundry and organizing his schedule as well as my schedule and other things.'

However, she told The Today Show, 'he's not saying, "dinner on the table at six."'  'I'm saying I'll lift up my side and do it happily and also the expectation would be or the hope would be that he comes with the same attitude,' she explains.

In her new book, My Foot is too Big For This Glass Slipper, Reece writes that 'to truly be feminine means being soft, receptive, and - look out, here it comes - submissive.'

Reese explains that, although she appeared to have everything - beauty, success and a family - her marriage was far from a fairy tale.  'We didn't even make it to our fifth anniversary before our sexy fairy tale turned into one of those unwatchable Swedish domestic dramas that makes the audience want to throw themselves off the nearest bridge,' she writes.

Fed up with 'glaring at each other over green smoothies,' Reece filed for divorce. A few months later, the couple reunited, and worked hard to overcome their differences. That's when she got in touch with her more submissive side.

'That's the whole point of the book, which is the happily ever after,' Reese says. 'Maybe what's typical is that you slam into a wall, but then what are you going to do when you do get to that wall?'

Reece took ten years off from a busy career of playing volleyball and modeling to raise her children - two daughters with Hamilton and one from his previous marriage - and tackles women's obsession with having it all.

'We don't worry about (men) having it all, so I don't know where we got this idea to have it all', she says, adding that 'you've got to choose what you're going to work really hard at'.

She also believes that fairy tale happily-ever-after stories are 'pure bullshit'.

'Nothing makes you superficially more happy than the first flushes of love, but in the ever after it's all about dealing with your lover... surviving his crappy moods, and working together, always, to preserve what you've got and nurture a deeper, more profound and grounded love into the future.'

She also stressed the importance of communication - on her man's level. 'I think the language that men understand and they receive - is through food and through sex.' she says.



Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the  incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

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 and political diversity 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.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH,   EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICSDISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL  and EYE ON BRITAIN (Note that EYE ON BRITAIN has regular posts on the reality of socialized medicine).   My Home Pages are here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here


16 April, 2013

Homosexual marriage: A case study in conformism

Anyone who values diversity of thought and tolerance of dissent should find the sweeping consensus on gay marriage terrifying

I have been doing or writing about political stuff for 20 years, since I was 18 years old, during which time I have got behind some pretty unpopular campaigns and kicked against some stifling consensuses. But I have never encountered an issue like gay marriage, an issue in which the space for dissent has shrunk so rapidly, and in which the consensus is not only stifling but choking. This is the only issue on which, for criticising it from a liberal, secular perspective, I’ve been booed during an after-dinner speech and received death threats (‘If you’re dead, you can’t talk shit about gay marriage’). It’s the only issue on which both hard right-wingers and the wettest leftists have told me to STFU. It’s the only issue on which even friends have said, ‘Stop writing about it. It isn’t worth it.’

Many are commenting on the juggernaut-like rise to respectability of the gay marriage issue. Christopher Caldwell of the Weekly Standard says gay marriage has gone ‘from joke to dogma’ in a decade. Time magazine says there has been a ‘seismic social shift’ on gay marriage, which has been ‘as rapid and unpredictable as any turn in public opinion [in history]’. Another gay-marriage supporter says ‘the pace and scale at which acceptance of marriage equality has shifted is breathtaking’, which he puts down to the efforts of the warriors for ‘marriage equality’. There has been a ‘sea change’ in attitudes, commentators tell us, especially in political circles, where everyone who’s anyone (or who wants to be) now genuflects at the gay-marriage altar. Even Bill O’Reilly of Fox News, scourge of liberals everywhere, now accepts the idea of gay marriage, leading one observer to tell gay-marriage proponents: ‘Lay down your guns… the enemy has surrendered.’

How do we account for this extraordinary consensus, for what is tellingly referred to as the ‘surrender’ to gay marriage by just about everyone in public life? And is it a good thing, evidence that we had a heated debate on a new civil right and the civil rightsy side won? I don’t think so. I don’t think we can even call this a ‘consensus’, since that would imply the voluntaristic coming together of different elements in concord. It’s better described as conformism, the slow but sure sacrifice of critical thinking and dissenting opinion under pressure to accept that which has been defined as a good by the upper echelons of society: gay marriage. Indeed, the gay-marriage campaign provides a case study in conformism, a searing insight into how soft authoritarianism and peer pressure are applied in the modern age to sideline and eventually do away with any view considered overly judgmental, outdated, discriminatory, ‘phobic’, or otherwise beyond the pale.

The shift on gay marriage has truly been remarkable. Not only is gay marriage now fulsomely promoted by the ruling parties of both America and Britain, and in numerous other nations, but is also accepted even by those who once stingingly slated it. So David Frum, right-wing journalist turned speechwriter for President George W Bush, spent the late 1990s arguing against the newly emerging idea of allowing gays to get hitched; yet now, in the words of one columnist, he is ‘energetically urging Republicans to embrace the redefinition of marriage he once warned against’. American Republicans, especially young ones, are among the most effusive supporters of gay marriage.

In liberal political circles, there has been almost a lemming-like lining up behind gay marriage. So last month, when Hillary Clinton, following Barack Obama, came out in support of gay marriage, there was a domino effect, or what one commentator called a ‘remarkably rapid shift’, in the US Senate. In three weeks, 14 senators ‘followed suit’ with Clinton, which ‘amounts to a senator changing position on same-sex marriage on average every day and a half’, as one report put it. Such is the expectation that every decent politician will embrace gay marriage that this week the Guardian published an article headlined ‘The final three: the Democratic senators against gay marriage’. It demanded to know when these three, whom of course it named and shamed, will ‘toe the party line’. Yes, that’s right – such is the entrenched respectability of gay marriage that we now see articles about the peculiar people who oppose it rather than about what would once have been seen as the weird people promoting it. Opponents of gay marriage are now treated by the press in the same way queer-rights agitators were in the past: as strange, depraved creatures, whose repenting and surrender to mainstream values we await with bated breath.

There have also been massive shifts in public opinion. In the US, a recent ABC poll found that 58 per cent of Americans support gay marriage, compared with just 37 per cent a decade ago. A recent British poll found 62 per cent in support of gay marriage and 31 per cent against. A new book by Michael J Klarman, From the Closet to the Altar: Courts, Backlash and the Struggle for Same-Sex Marriage, documents the extraordinary rise of the gay-marriage idea in the US, where since 2009 there has apparently been a four-point rise in support for gay marriage every year. Some see this as a good thing; but I’m more inclined to agree with Christopher Caldwell, who says: ‘Public opinion does not change this fast in free societies. Either opinion is not changing as fast as it appears to be, or society is not as free.’

Certainly, the idea that the ‘seismic shift’ in political and public opinion is down to the fighting of gay-marriage campaigners is spectacularly unconvincing. One Guardian columnist, liberally borrowing from the black civil-rights movement, says the ‘breathtaking’ progress of the gay-marriage issue shows that Martin Luther King was right to say ‘the arc of history is long but it bends towards justice’; it shows what campaigners can achieve when they combine ‘idealism with action’. What action? Where? Bringing King into the picture only highlights the unusualness of the gay-marriage campaign: there has been no mass march on Washington for same-sex marriage; no streetfighting; no getting water-cannoned by the police, mauled by dogs, chased by the KKK, thrown in jail. There has been no real public action at all, certainly not of the sort that might have terrified the US Senate so much that its members felt the urge to bow one by one before the issue of gay marriage. If gay MLK-style campaigners are responsible for the transformation of gay marriage ‘from joke to dogma’, then they must have achieved it through osmosis, since they certainly didn’t do it through any kind of mass, messy uprising.

In truth, the extraordinary rise of gay marriage speaks, not to a new spirit of liberty or equality on a par with the civil-rights movements of the 1960s, but rather to the political and moral conformism of our age; to the weirdly judgmental non-judgmentalism of our PC times; to the way in which, in an uncritical era such as ours, ideas can become dogma with alarming ease and speed; to the difficulty of speaking one’s mind or sticking with one’s beliefs at a time when doubt and disagreement are pathologised. Gay marriage brilliantly shows how political narratives are forged these days, and how people are made to accept them. This is a campaign that is elitist in nature, in the sense that, in direct contrast to those civil-rights agitators of old, it came from the top of society down; and it is a campaign which is extremely unforgiving of dissent or disagreement, implicitly, softly demanding acquiescence to its agenda.

So for all the comparisons of the gay-marriage movement to the civil-rights movement, in fact the most striking thing about gay marriage is its origins among the elite. As Caldwell says, ‘never since the Progressive Era has there been a social movement as elite-driven as the one for gay marriage’. In his new book, Michael Klarman describes how judges, not streetfighthers, spearheaded the gay-marriage campaign; he even bizarrely calls judges a ‘distinctive subculture’ of the cultural elite, which ‘tends to be even more liberal than the general public on issues such as gender equality and gay equality’. Another favourable account of the rise of gay marriage notes how it was led by ‘lawyers and professors’, who counselled against engaging with the public since making ‘open demands for gay marriage [could] trigger a backlash’ (1).

The gay writer John D’Emilio has critiqued gay campaigners’ reliance on the courts, arguing that this ‘conviction that [the law] is the way to change the world… would have been considered unusual for much of American history’ (2). Yet this is where gay marriage emerged – in courtrooms and later in political committee rooms, among those apparently ‘more liberal than the public’ – and as Caldwell says: ‘When elites rally unanimously to a cause, it can become a kind of common sense.’ This was the first stage in the great conformism over gay marriage: its transformation into common sense through being adopted and promoted by a legal and political class keen to demonstrate its liberal credentials and to assume an historic, MLK-style posture in our otherwise flat, uninspiring and illiberal political era.

With gay marriage turned into ‘a kind of common sense’, opposing it became more difficult, potentially even threatening one’s social and moral standing. The ‘common sense’ of gay marriage has been turned into something like a dogma of gay marriage, in a very subtle way. So the very act of debating gay marriage has been implicitly demonised, since in the words of one observer, ‘The fact that there is a debate over whether to deny a group of people their civil rights is unacceptable’. Here, through further linking gay marriage to the old civil-rights movement, even discussion itself can be branded ‘unacceptable’.

Others say there should be no ‘acknowledgment of subtleties and cultural differences’ on gay marriage, since ‘there is a right answer’ on this issue. Those who insist on possessing ‘cultural differences’ on gay marriage – or even worse, opposing it – feel the fury of campaigners. A chicken restaurant in America was boycotted after its owner criticised gay marriage, while voters in American referendums who have said no to gay marriage have been called every name under the Sun by the respectable political and media classes: ‘ill-informed’, ‘deceived’, ‘plain ignorant’, ‘knuckle draggers’. This has the effect of beating down critical questioning. Gay marriage supporters actually boast of using moral pressure over political debate to win people’s acquiescence. Scientific American magazine recently discussed the apparently brilliant way that social media is being used to influence people’s ‘attitudes and behaviour’ on gay marriage. Everyone is ‘susceptible to the powers of peer pressure’, it said, so constantly saying favourable things about gay marriage on social-media websites can be a way of ‘send[ing] out a message about what’s acceptable, appropriate and… well, normal’. That is – never mind convincing someone with reason; just heavy-handedly let them know it’s normal to support gay marriage, and thus presumably abnormal to oppose it.

This is how conformism is forged and enforced today: elites devise an idea or campaign, far away from what one gay-marriage proponent calls ‘the tyranny of the majority’; that idea or campaign gets disingenuously depicted as something that protesters and campaigners demanded and actually put pressure on the elites to come up with; and through a process of debate-demonisation and pathologisation of dissent, through the treatment of acceptance as normal and criticism as abnormal, the idea or campaign is spread more widely through society. Eventually, in the words of Caldwell, even those who are unsure about gay marriage ‘quell their natural misgivings’. Indeed, when I interviewed the British pop star Dappy recently, and asked him if he supported gay marriage, he said: ‘I want to say no… but I get so much stick already. So say “yes”. Definitely say “yes”.’ How many other people are saying ‘yes’ not because they believe in gay marriage, but because they don’t want, in Caldwell’s words, to be thought of as ‘losers’ who have failed to ‘emulate their betters’?

The conformism around gay marriage cannot be put entirely down to handfuls of campaigners, of course, and certainly not to any conscious attempt on their part to enforce political and moral obedience. The fragility of society’s attachment to traditional marriage itself, to the virtue of commitment, has also been key to the formulation of the gay-marriage consensus. Indeed, it is the rubble upon which the gay-marriage edifice is built. That is, if lawyers, politicians and our other assorted ‘betters’ have successfully kicked down the door of traditional marriage, it’s because the door was already hanging off its hinges, following years of cultural neglect. It is society’s reluctance to defend traditional views of commitment, and its relativistic refusal more broadly to discriminate between different lifestyle choices, that has fuelled the peculiar non-judgmental tyranny of the gay-marriage campaign, which judges harshly those who dare to judge how people live.

Through a combination of the weakness of belief in traditional marriage and the insidiousness of the campaign for gay marriage, we have ended up with something that reflects brilliantly John Stuart Mill’s description of how critical thinking can cave into the despotism of conformism, so that ‘peculiarity of taste, eccentricity of conduct, are shunned equally with crimes, until by dint of not following their own nature, these [followers of conformism] have no nature to follow’.


Stay at home mothers revolt: British mothers unite with Tory MPs to demand family-friendly tax policy

Stay at home mothers have accused the Government of forcing them to abandon their children and return to work.

The attack comes as David Cameron faces a fresh headache with his own MPs threatening to derail Budget legislation unless he introduces a tax break for married couples.

Pressure group Mothers at Home Matter warned ministers that their policies on childcare and tax are ‘misguided’ and risk the ‘cohesion of society’ by undermining the family.

Spokesman Laura Perrins, who recently confronted Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg on his radio phone-in, said: ‘This Budget is a misguided attempt to force mothers to leave their children and return to work.

‘Survey after survey reveals that many women who work full-time would prefer to reduce  their hours. Nothing in this Budget helps women to do this.

‘Many children, infants in particular, need the loving care and attention a mother provides.

'Not only does this Budget ignore this but it is actively putting barriers between a mother and her child. The Coalition are willing to support all care given to a child, other than that given by its mother.’

Former children’s minister Tim Loughton plans to table amendments to the Finance Bill – which puts Budget changes into law – to force Chancellor George Osborne to introduce a tax break for married couples.

Dozens of Tory MPs are set to back the move, piling pressure on the Prime Minister to act.

Last month’s Budget confirmed the Government’s plans to slash child benefit from families with a single earner on £50,000 and axe it altogether for those with one on £60,000.

Those plans discriminate against couples where the mother stays at home with the children – since two earner couples who each earn a little under those thresholds keep on claiming.

Family groups are also angry that the Government is offering childcare subsidies to parents who both work but no equivalent allowance to households with a stay-at-home mother or father.

There are 2.2million households where one member is in full-time work and the other is not earning. 1.2million or 53 per cent of these households contain children.

Mr Cameron has repeatedly promised to introduce transferable tax allowances for married couples by 2015, which would save them around £150 a year.

But Mr Osborne, who is privately cool about the idea, has ignored demands by Tory MPs to bring in the measure now, sparking speculation that couples will have to wait until a few months before the general election before it is introduced.

Seeking to turn the screws, Mrs Perrins last night urged MPs to amend the Finance Bill to force the Government’s hand – a move that is usually frowned upon in Parliament since the Finance Bill contains all the measures outlined in the Budget.

She also took aim at the other measures in the Budget. ‘Universal child benefit was a fair way of recognising the contribution mothers made when they choose to care for their children themselves.

'The removal of this provision from some families and its replacement with a child-care allowance which only applies to those with external child-care costs is clearly discriminatory.

‘If the Coalition want to be remembered as family-friendly and wish to make Britain a more cohesive society they should start treating the family as a co-dependent team and do away with the legal and economic fiction that parents of children work in an individual and isolated way.’

Mr Loughton said: ‘It is essential we don’t create a two-tier system between stay-at-home mothers and mothers who go out to work.

'Both are valuable but we must make sure we don’t discriminate between them in the tax system. Mothers at Home Matter have a strong point and the Chancellor needs to sit up and take notice.’

While the Finance Bill cannot be amended when it has its second reading today, Mr Loughton is set to put down amendments demanding a marriage tax allowance at the report stage of the Bill.

The Institute of Fiscal Studies has shown that 70 per cent of the benefit of a marriage tax allowance will go to those in the lower half of the income distribution.

A Treasury spokesman said: ‘The Government remains committed to recognising marriage in the tax and benefit system. We want to show we value commitment and will consider a range of options and make proposals at the appropriate time.’


Policeman who tried to censor local paper for criticising a councillor

A police sergeant has been accused of attempting to censor stories in a local newspaper about a ‘controversial’ town councillor.

Paul Beale challenged the weekly paper over its ‘editorial policy’ after the councillor was upset by a critical article.  The officer telephoned the newspaper and later visited its offices where he spoke to an editor about its style of reporting.

Bob Satchwell, executive director of the Society of Editors, said the incident was a direct consequence of the Leveson Inquiry into Press standards.

He said: ‘It’s outrageous that a police sergeant should think it is part of his role to question the editorial policy of a newspaper. But is not surprising given the attitude of some politicians and police to the Press. Since the Leveson Inquiry, people think it is fair game to try to interfere with legitimate reporting by newspapers.’

The New Milton Advertiser described Tory councillor Goff Beck as ‘controversial’ and revealed he had been accused of making homophobic remarks to an openly gay colleague. It also said he had been reprimanded for bullying a female councillor.

Mr Beale, of Hampshire Police, initially telephoned staff at the newspaper to say Mr Beck, 80, was ‘not happy’ with the article, adding: ‘To be fair, he has got a point.’

Days later he visited the newsroom and said the councillor was dissatisfied that the story had ‘raked over previous stuff’.

Mr Beale told the newspaper he did not want to be made out as a ‘guardian’ to Councillor Beck but added: ‘He feels his credibility as a person of good standing is being undermined.’

But the actions of the police officer were condemned last night.

Conservative MP Conor Burns, a member of the Commons culture select committee, said: ‘It’s not the role of the police to take it upon themselves to question editors of newspapers about any particular line they take in a story. To do so steps way beyond the legitimate role of the police.’

Padraig Reidy, of the freedom of speech campaign group Index on Censorship, said: ‘It’s not the sort of thing that should happen in any democratic country. It’s political policing.’ Mr Satchwell added: ‘Hopefully, before it’s too late, people at the top of politics and policing will wake up to what is happening in what is supposed to be one of the most revered democratic countries in the world.’

The New Milton Advertiser ran the article about Mr Beck, who was also a member of the Hampshire Police and Crime Panel, last October. It didn’t complain about the approach by Mr Beale at the time but a resident subsequently raised the issue with the police.

John Caine, 53, a software engineer from New Milton, has been involved in a dispute with Mr Beck over a planning issue. He said: ‘You don’t expect the police to get involved in what appears in newspapers. It is more akin to a fascist or communist regime.’

Hampshire Police said Mr Beale has since been given ‘suitable advice’ by a senior officer for his ‘poorly judged comments’ and ‘perceived lack of neutrality’. A spokesman for the New Milton Advertiser and Lymington Times said: ‘Clearly the police must be seen to be independent and free from any suggestions of favourable treatment for certain people.’

Mr Beck has since stood down from his role as chairman of New Milton Town Council’s amenities committee. It came after half of the 18-strong Tory council signed a motion in a bid to force him to resign from the authority. They claim his previous behaviour had brought the council into disrepute


Now chief of free information in Britain  calls for secret arrests

The row over secret arrests deepened last night as Britain’s data watchdog claimed that naming crime suspects breaches their human rights.

Christopher Graham, the Information Commissioner, said there was no ‘pressing social need’  for the public to be told who was being held by the police.

He warned that identifying suspects risked them being denied a fair trial and would leave them exposed to ‘media intrusion into their private lives’.

His comments have been echoed by senior judges and lawyers, including a barrister at the forefront of the Hacked Off campaign to introduce state regulation of the press.

There are now fresh fears that police will press ahead with a draconian plan, recommended by Lord Justice Leveson in his landmark report, to keep secret the identities of people suspected of serious offences.

Under guidance being drawn up by the Association of Chief Police Officers, revealed by The Mail on Sunday last week, forces across England and Wales would be banned from confirming the names of those they have arrested when talking to journalists.

The guarantee of anonymity has been branded an attack on open justice that could allow criminals to keep offending by preventing victims or witnesses coming forward with evidence.

The Government’s own legal reform advisory body, the Law Commission, has said that reporters should be able to check names with police forces.

But in his strongly worded response, the Information Commissioner has claimed that a policy of identifying all suspects would breach the Data Protection Act, which concerns the handling of personal information, and Labour’s notorious Human Rights Act, long described as a criminals’ charter.

Mr Graham, a former BBC employee who previously ran the Advertising Standards Authority, wrote: ‘The European Court of Human Rights has recognised the state’s positive obligation to protect individuals from media intrusion into their private lives ...... due consideration will need to be given to the right of the individual to a fair trial and the right to respect for privacy.

‘It is not clear that there is a pressing social need to divulge the details of those individuals who have been arrested.’

Mr Graham, 62, who is paid £140,000 a year, questioned what the ‘pressing social need’ and ‘public interest’ could be in naming suspects. He added: ‘These judgments must be made in a context where once a name is released it may be impossible to retract it.’

His view has been echoed by the country’s senior judges. And Hugh Tomlinson QC, a leading figure in the Hacked Off campaign, wrote last week that if the name of someone who has been arrested is published, ‘many members of the public will assume that “there is no smoke without fire” and that, if a person is arrested, they must have done something wrong’.

Bill Waddington, chairman of the Criminal Law Solicitors’ Association, said: ‘It is important that, unless there are exceptional reasons, an arrested person is not identified by the police to the press.’

The Law Society said: ‘While it is arguable that the police should never be permitted to release the name of a person who has not been charged with an offence, we accept that in many cases there is a legitimate public interest in this information.’



Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the  incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

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 and political diversity 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.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH,   EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICSDISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL  and EYE ON BRITAIN (Note that EYE ON BRITAIN has regular posts on the reality of socialized medicine).   My Home Pages are here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here


15 April, 2013

Why dull, dumpy, divorced men are the new sex gods

I think Rachel Johnson exaggerates a lot below but colourful ways of putting things are her birthright, of course.  She is the sister of Boris Johnson.  I must admit however that when my wife left me when I was 49, I did have some rather good times subsequent to  that, despite being an "egghead" -- JR

According to solicitors, couples have rushed in droves to divorce ahead of the cuts to the £2 billion legal aid budget that came in this month.

May – when the wedding season traditionally gets going – is around the corner, but this year we seem to have fewer weddings and a funeral on Wednesday – and a lot of accelerated divorces.

Meanwhile, Tom Cruise reportedly told German TV last week that he never expected to be divorced at 50 (a comment he later denied making). But I can’t worry about Cruise. He’s a fun-sized movie star and, like many men, he can arise phoenix-like from the ashes of his marriage.

The ones I worry about are the ex-wives, who often can’t.

For where I live, there must be five available, attractive and lively divorced women to each available – if ever so slightly dull – divorced man. It wouldn’t matter if he was a wife-beater, serial killer or had sex at Premier Inns with strangers he met online: the male of the species is still a trophy guest and the woman, generally, isn’t.

As my husband [Eton-educated journalist Ivo Nicholas Payan Dawnay]  jests, if we ever split up, I would join the ranks of predatory females in their forties, flicking my blow dry in desperation as I trolled the internet for a mate, whereas he, handsome and with all his own hair, would be a total catch at sixty.

Indeed, he would never have to cook a meal again, he reckons, so swamped would he be by competing invitations. All he would need to do is coast majestically through the remaining ocean of his life, like a large whale, opening his jaws for female plankton only when he felt like it.

This problem is endemic. There is even a column in a national newspaper called The Plankton, ‘written by a divorcee at the bottom of the sexual food chain’, which tells you all you need to know about the different value society places on single men and single women.

Wherever you live, a nice, normal ‘extra man’ is a semi-mythical creature of rare report, like a snow leopard in the mountains of Bhutan, whereas a nice, normal single woman is often just excess baggage.

Now, for some reason (divorce), a few more male singletons have suddenly been released on to the market, which is causing great excitement among local hostesses. One – nice, normal, ie not Tom Cruise – came to ‘kitchen supper’ last week so I had an opportunity to test out my husband’s theory.

‘Frank,’ I asked (not his real name. He started sweating with panic during our exchange that I would use it). ‘What’s it like, you know, OUT THERE?’

‘Vibrant,’ Frank said, glugging his red wine. ‘Go on,’ I said, pouring him more.

‘Well, what happens is, you meet someone and you jump into bed with them immediately, and then, if you like them .... um ... you try to find intimacy afterwards.’

This may be too much information for you but it wasn’t enough for me. ‘You mean you have sex with people you’ve only just met?’ I shrieked. I am old-fashioned that way.

‘Yes,’ Frank said.  At this point a student listening said: ‘The middle-aged dating scene sounds exactly like the first year at Edinburgh.’

But this doesn’t work both ways. As I’ve observed, if you’re a newly-single man, you’re a prime cut of Fresh Meat. But if you’re a newly-single woman, of the same vintage, you’re ‘not wanted on voyage’. But back to Frank’s sex life.  ‘Do you do it a lot?’ I asked.

‘I could do it every night if I wanted to,’ he said.

Why is this? Well, all the obvious things. A man who is reasonably presentable, and not actively psychopathic, has his pick of women of any age. Women generally have a more limited range to choose from (their age and older). As poor Ms Plankton has written, ‘all I want is a companionable, kind, age-appropriate person who can string two words together, is largely heterosexual and preferably doesn’t live in Auckland.’

But the real rub is, divorced women aren’t just short of social capital, but actual capital, too. According to the LSE’s Professor Stephen Jenkins, who’s conducted a major study on the financial impact of divorce, men on average get richer after splitting up and women get poorer. The ex-husband’s income goes up by around one third, while the ex-wife’s drops to one fifth of its previous level. The women who survive divorce best, he says, are those who are either in paid work or who find a new partner.

This must explain, then, why many divorced women are still so keen on what Mrs T called the ‘weaker sex,’ and why men are so sought after. It’s a case of supply, demand, and dosh too.

‘So, what sort of women do you meet?’ I asked Frank over pudding. “Divorced women my age. Younger women, singles .... but they’re even more frightening,’ he added. ‘Why?’ I asked.

‘Because they want to get married,’ he replied, with a  little shiver.

It does seem to appear that my husband has a point, which is annoying.


Which of these PMs sacked the most miners? (Clue: It wasn't Lady Thatcher)... The amazing facts that make a mockery of the rabble who want to wreck her funeral

As ever, it was Winston Churchill, our greatest of wartime Prime Ministers, who put it best. ‘I am ready to meet my Maker,’ he wrote, but ‘whether my Maker is prepared for the great ordeal of meeting me is another matter.’

There will be many who will be thinking that the sentiment could equally apply to Lady Thatcher, albeit for different reasons. Her achievements were primarily about economic policy, and therefore remain the object of bitter controversy.

But while Wednesday’s funeral will be a solemn send-off for a Prime Minister who we can at least all agree transformed Britain, rather than a day of national mourning for the passing of a war hero, let us also hope that the country is allowed to judge her on her actual accomplishments, uncontaminated by her opponents’ propaganda.

Judging by some of the recent coverage, Thatcher’s enemies have successfully spread a series of damaging myths about her. Many of these sound plausible, and are even accepted by some of her supporters, but few stand up to proper scrutiny.

Take the myth that Thatcher was deeply unpopular. The truth is that she won 43.9 per cent of the vote in 1979, 42.4 per cent  in 1983 and 42.2 per cent in 1987 – landslide results of which  contemporary politicians can only dream.

Yet her defeated opponents, such as Michael Foot and Neil Kinnock, are rarely described as ‘divisive’ or ‘toxic’, even though they were routed on Election night and were demonstrably far less popular.

Today, Thatcher’s opinion polls are even more spectacular. YouGov finds that she is deemed the greatest post-1945 Prime Minister, and that 52 per cent  of the public believe she was a great or a good PM. Yes, many hated her – often with an intensity that defies rational analysis – but many loved her.

It has also become fashionable to blame one of her greatest  triumphs – the sale of council homes to tenants – for today’s horrendous housing crisis and long waiting lists.

Britain’s social housing sector was almost Soviet in size before Thatcher’s right-to-buy scheme was introduced, accounting for a third of all homes. Yet today, even after the sell-offs, it is a little-known fact that it remains much larger than in most other countries – worth up to a fifth  of the total. That’s more than Denmark, Sweden, France, Finland, Ireland, Belgium, Slovenia, Germany and Italy.

Yet these countries clearly do not all suffer from the same problems that we do. There is no reason why the State should  own the homes in which it houses the poor. The UK’s insufficient supply of homes is directly attributable to the fact that the Thatcherite revolution sadly left untouched the post-1945 planning system, one of Britain’s last bastions of socialist thinking.

We need the private sector to build more homes to make sure there are enough for everybody, at affordable prices, not hark back to a dystopian vision of the government as a super-landlord.

Modern anti-Thatcherites tend to dislike coal mining for environmental reasons. But that doesn’t prevent them from hypocritically pinning the demise  of a once great industry on her policies.

That, too, is nonsense: the industry had been in crisis for decades, crippled by excessive costs and international competition. Far more miners lost their jobs in the Sixties than in the Eighties. No government, be it Labour or Tory, could afford to keep propping up unviable mines indefinitely.

The slow demise of coal mining has been a tragedy for many communities, and the cause of much suffering. But more mines were closed during Harold Wilson’s two terms in office than in Thatcher’s three – and yet he remains a Left-wing hero.

What her detractors still cannot accept is that Thatcher’s supply-side reforms may have been painful but they worked.

Tax cuts encouraged work, reduced inflation and made it easier for business, and a new generation of entrepreneurs began to create jobs. The UK soon started to close the gap with the US and eventually overtook France and Germany in terms of national income per person.

Our economy grew by 2.07 per cent annually in the Seventies and 3.09 per cent in the Eighties, before expanding by 2.77 per cent in the Nineties (when Thatcher’s legacy remained largely intact) and by 1.77 per cent in the 2000s, when it was wrecked by Gordon Brown. Manufacturing production rose 7.5 per cent during her time in office (demolishing the myth that she destroyed British industry), while services boomed.

Of course, manufacturing’s relative importance declined – but the same shift happened in every developed economy. Partly because of the credit crunch, manufacturing output performed far worse during the Blair-Brown years, ending slightly below the levels seen at the end of Thatcher’s time in office.

Britian's economic rebirth was fuelled by spending restraint and mass privatisations. Total expenditure rose modestly in real terms, partly because of higher spending on the NHS, but the rate of increase was kept below that of the economy, ensuring that the State’s overall grip was substantially loosened.

Public spending fell from  44.6 per cent of national income in 1979-1980 to 39.4 per cent in 1990-91. Entire chunks of the economy – including British Telecom and BP – were moved into the private sector, transforming loss-making bureaucracies into world-class firms.

The real extent of the fall in public spending under Thatcher is masked by the recession of the early Eighties as the UK was weaned from sky-high inflation. Spending rose to a peak of  48.2 per cent of national income by 1982-83, the economy battered by soaring unemployment, before embarking on a dramatic decline.

The peak-to-trough reduction in spending was a remarkable 8.8 per cent of national income, though this was exaggerated in the last couple of years by Lord Lawson’s cheap money bubble.

Another reason for the rebound was that tax rates were slashed. Some point to the fact that total receipts increased from 33.7 per cent of national income in  1979-80 to 34.9 per cent as proof that she wasn’t a real tax-cutter. That is nonsense. She raised value-added tax, but her massive cuts to income and corporation tax were hugely significant.

The increase in the tax take was caused primarily by the rebound in economic growth.

Thatcher made many mistakes, of course, but most of her critics’ arguments have little basis in fact. She saved the economy and country from terminal decline and transformed British society for the better.

She was a truly great Prime Minister, the peacetime equivalent of a Churchill.  If there is any justice, that will be her epitaph.


Even an angry feminist can see that women can't "have it all"

But with no evidence she seems to think that a society could be devised in which they could.  That both a career and childrearing require constant, obsessive attention and that "no man can serve two masters" she seems to forget.

Sad to see her so full of anger.  I know lots of happy ladies  -- all with children.

The angry one (Clementine Ford)

Without a doubt, one of the most intellectually bereft concerns of modern society has been the question of whether or not women can have it all. Posed repetitively and endlessly, in mawkish op eds and hand wringing television segments, it involves middle-class and mostly white women (a demographic in which I sit firmly) attempting to tease out the threads of an entirely useless concept with the regularity of a studiously high fibre diet.

As a query, 'having it all — can even we?' is perpetuated as the most pressing and central concern of feminists today. So vital is it to the Woman Question that I was surprised it didn't come up on Q and A's special lady fest earlier this week (although that may be because the panellists were forced to address the age old quandary of whether or not the sinister motivations of feminism have resulted in men no longer being able to open doors for women — binders and lobbies, full of women just trying to get out!)

Drew Barrymore, a woman of strength and vitality who overcame childhood trauma to succeed in a culture with far fewer happy endings for girls with tales similar to hers, weighed in on the topic earlier this month in an interview for People.

“It sucks when you've worked really hard for certain things and you have to give them up because you know that you're going to miss out on your child's upbringing, or you realise that your relationship has suffered," she told People magazine at a conference on Thursday. For her, that has meant giving up directing projects in favour of spending more time with her baby.

Barrymore gave birth to her first child six months ago, which in tabloid terms means she's officially 'made it'. Never mind the fact that she crawled her way out of drug addiction to become a respected actor, producer and director. Never mind that she's parlayed her considerable clout into other business pursuits, or that she has a vested interest in combating the devastating effects of poverty .

It's abundantly clear that women — particularly the middle class, pretty white ones — aren't considered to have ascended to the status of accomplished human being until they shuck off that amateur mantle of 'woman' and become mothers. And it's here in this meaningless vacuum where the principal pursuits of feminism have become warped, degraded and made reprehensible in their navel-gazing glory.

A hierarchy of oppression needn't discount the validity of less threatening concerns. But the pernicious fixation on whether or not women can maintain professional careers rather than simply jobs (because the woman working out of necessity and not career ambition lacks that privilege of choice which has become the bugbear of women with greater means) while also wringing every last drop of the supposed joy that comes from rearing children is almost startling in its circular self indulgence and privilege. The question of whether or not women can 'have it all' steadfastly ignores the fact that many women can't and don't even have anything, let alone enough capital to begin staking their claim on the rest of the pie. To therefore witness the endless debate of this ridiculous question, as if it's the final frontier in the pursuit for women's liberation, is an exercise in mind-numbing stupidity and one that I'd argue actually reinforces regressive and limited stereotypes of women.

I'm not even really sure what 'having it all' is supposed to look like. Is it being enabled to have a meaningful, satisfying career and a family to go home to at the end of the day? Because that seems to take a rather limited and stultifying view of the complexities of human existence. For a supposedly feminist preoccupation, it ignores the diverse interests and realities of large proportions of women and those for whom children and/or career were either undesirable or an impossibility. According to this definition, as a child-free, unmarried woman in her early 30s, I would appear to fall rather short of having much of anything at all. But as someone rapidly coming to terms with the idea that the children I've been taught to want may not actually form part of my desires at all, I feel so much closer to having the kind of life I want without them — having 'it all' on my terms — than I surely would with them.

Similarly, I know many women of means, age and opportunity who are also child-free (I'm a feminist, after all — my phone book is filled with the numbers of witches and sorceresses) and have not suffered for it. For them, the question of 'having it all' never included the fundamental pursuit of work/life/family balance that is assumed to be innate to our gender. I also know single mothers for whom the idea of balancing career and family is less an aim than a pipedream. And speaking of single mothers, there are more women still who would view the concept of 'career' as a middle-class luxury — who are caught now in the grips of poverty due to a lack of options and a lack of government support. For these women, the daily concerns of their autonomy and dignity have rather less to do with whether or not they can continue to work as CEOs, senior account executives or small-business owners and rather more to do with whether or not they can put food on the table.

Cast your mind further to women in the developing world. The ones for whom 'choice' when it comes to family extends to which child gets to wear clothes or go to school (usually the boys), and who are denied the opportunities to control their fertility and therefore family sizes because of a lack of institutional support, medical options or funding. Or the women who travel from the Philippines to work as domestic labourers for the wealthy families who more often than not pay them a pittance, are denied labour rights and who may see the children, parents and extended families they're working tirelessly to support only once a year. Spending any more than a few seconds trifling over whether or not an uneven distribution of housework prevents women from achieving true liberation seems like an insult.

Gendered oppression shouldn't be a system of competitive comparison — being able to identify greater atrocities committed against women in certain sectors of the community or the wider world shouldn't negate other instances of oppression, even if they're less immediately threatening. And there's absolutely no doubt that women everywhere, from Karachi to Kew, are expected to shoulder the burden of the domestic load. But positioning this argument of 'having it all' as the last bastion of equality neglects to understand exactly how few women in the world have close to anything at all.

Under our current model of supposedly post-feminist society, can women have it all? No. Why not? Because a) we're not living in a post-feminist society and the systems of patriarchal oppression that have historically exploited women as resources are still very much in operation across much of the world; and b) the matter of women's liberation is still thought to be a concern for them alone, with the demands that any efforts to secure it be done not just independently of men but with the absence of impact on them entirely. The question therefore isn't 'can women have it all?' but 'how are women systemically denied equality and who's benefiting?' Gender inequality wasn't created by women and their unreasonable ambitions. It's vital that we shift the focus of women's oppression back to its beneficiaries rather than perpetuate the kinds of meaningless conversations that imagine these things are perplexing problems for women alone to solve.

Capitalism and poverty are two of the greatest contributors to the oppression of women in the world today. Focusing precious time and energy on examining whether or not a small proportion of those women are enabled to participate freely in the system that expressly shackles the rest of them seems to me to be entirely missing the point.


What's the difference between the women below?

Smoking and ageing.  Both pix are of Glenda Jackson, a former filmstar, presently a Labour Party member of the House of Commons and a Thatcher hater.  No woman would smoke if she knew how many wrinkles it would earn her in later life.  Jackson is now in her mid 70s.

Australian airline stays halal despite social media uproar

Qantas is weathering an attack on social media over its decision to ditch food containing alcohol or pork on its European flights through Dubai.

The decision, made out of respect for Islamic beliefs, follows the new partnership between Qantas and Emirates that came into effect on March 31.

Some of the less offensive comments on social media included the airline being referred to as "Al-Qantas" and "the flying Mosque-a-roo". "No pork or pork products, announcements in Arabic, no alcohol … who owns Qantas?" asked one user.

Qantas said on Tuesday it would not change its decision, despite the barrage of negative responses, many of them racist and some calling for the airline to be black banned.

It said alcohol was still being served on flights, but not used in food preparation.

"Our inflight catering reflects the cultural and regional influences of the international destinations that we fly to," the airline said in a statement.

Despite the pasting on social media, a spokesman said the reaction from passengers flying the route had been "positive".

The menu, written in Arabic and English, includes chicken and fish in economy, while business passengers are feted with lamb cassoulet, chicken schnitzel and even a mezze plate that the menu says is "inspired by Emirates".

"The feedback from customers on-board has been fantastic … we do have a good reputation for the quality of our food, compared with other international airlines."

However, the airline had to moderate comments on its Facebook page. "In line with our social media policy we have removed some of the inappropriate comments," the spokesman said.

Qantas' menu changes are nothing new. For years, the airline has flown to Jakarta without pork or alcohol in its inflight meals. It is common practice for airlines flying to such destinations to do the same. Those airlines include Emirates, Etihad, and Virgin Australia.



Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the  incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

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 and political diversity 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.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH,   EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICSDISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL  and EYE ON BRITAIN (Note that EYE ON BRITAIN has regular posts on the reality of socialized medicine).   My Home Pages are here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here


14 April, 2013

Labour at war: Tony Blair launches strident attack on Ed Miliband's retreat to being a 1980s-style party of protest

Ed Miliband was embroiled in a damaging row with Tony Blair yesterday over his kneejerk resistance to austerity and welfare cuts.

The former Prime Minister warned Mr Miliband he risked reducing Labour to a party of protest, out of touch with mainstream opinion.

Mr Blair insisted the Labour leader’s belief that the centre ground of British politics has shifted to the left in the wake of the financial crisis was a fantasy.

In his most significant intervention in domestic politics since leaving No 10, he said Labour must get out of ‘the comfort zone’, and that people wanted a party that offered answers to problems rather than merely being a mouthpiece for anger.

He also suggested Mr Miliband needed to be more realistic on issues such as the spiralling housing benefit bill, spending cuts and education reforms.

He was backed by former Home Secretary David Blunkett and former Business Minister Pat McFadden.

Mr Miliband, however, suggested he regarded the former Prime Minister, who won three general elections, as yesterday’s man, insisting he was not interested in ‘old solutions’.

Mr Blair’s intervention comes as Mr Miliband faces growing unrest from a section of his party over his refusal to back any of the Government’s attempts to rein in the bloated welfare budget.

He has previously been circumspect about criticising Mr Miliband, but hit out in an article for the Left-leaning New Statesman magazine.

Mr Blair insisted that ‘the financial crisis has not brought a decisive shift to the Left’ and warned that politics was returning to that of the 1980s – with the Tories offering fiscal responsibility and Labour simply opposing austerity measures.

Labour must not become simply a ‘repository for people’s anger’, the former Prime Minister wrote. ‘Parts of the political landscape that had been cast in shadow for some years, at least under New Labour and the first years of coalition government, are illuminated in sharp relief.

‘The Conservative Party is back clothing itself in the mantle of fiscal responsibility, buttressed by moves against “benefit scroungers”, immigrants squeezing out British workers and – of course – Labour profligacy.

Mr Blair said the scenario was more ‘menacing’ for his party than for the Tories.  ‘They are now going to inspire loathing on the Left. But they’re used to that,’ he said.

‘They’re back on the old territory of harsh reality, tough decisions, piercing the supposed veil of idealistic fantasy that prevents the Left from governing sensibly...

‘For Labour, the opposite is true. This scenario is more menacing than it seems.’

In an apparent swipe at Mr Miliband’s policy vacuum,  Mr Blair warned the public wanted to ‘know where we’re coming from because that is  a clue as to where we would go, if elected’.

Mr Miliband insisted: ‘I always take Tony Blair very, very seriously, but... I am leading in my own way. Political parties have to move forwards not backwards, not going back to old solutions.’

However, Mr Blunkett said: ‘He [Mr Blair] is right to remind us that the pendulum did not swing leftwards and there is much to do.’

Mr McFadden said: ‘Advice from a three-times election-winning Prime Minister should always be taken seriously.’

Tory chairman Grant Shapps said: ‘Tony Blair is right to warn that Labour aren’t a credible party of government under Ed Miliband.

'The only plan Labour have is more of what got us into this mess in the first place – more spending, more borrowing and more debt.’


The nasty side of Labour that proves it's unfit to govern

Tony Blair’s broadside in the New Statesman magazine against Ed Miliband for being out of touch with mainstream opinion could not be more timely, given the distasteful, ungenerous and unChristian attacks on Lady Thatcher by so many on the Left.

In his article, the former Prime Minister identified one key reason for the Labour Party’s current failings: its bovine adherence to the out-of-date and dangerous policies that were destroying Britain before Mrs Thatcher became Premier.

Blair understands how her brave and imaginative ideas rescued the country by destroying the power of the unions, encouraging aspiration — and helping to liberate millions of people from state control.

He appreciates that Lady Thatcher understood the values of the British nation — a people inherently conservative and who abhor the undemocratic, anti-aspirational aspects of socialism.

He can see, too, that Miliband is reverting to old Labour ways — and panders to the Left who so hated Lady Thatcher for destroying their power base and keeping their party in opposition for 18 years.

The Labour leader’s incessant whingeing about ‘the cuts’ is intended to please the old Left and the union barons who elected him. But because he does not offer any solutions to the problem of the debt engulfing Britain, he is reducing Labour to being merely a party of protest as opposed to a responsible alternative government.

What’s more, the vulgar rage of the past few days has exposed  the deeply ugly side of this old-style socialism that Blair is warning about — a shameful lack  of humanity.

I’m not talking about those ignorant teenagers (who weren’t even born when Mrs Thatcher rebuilt this country) who are buying the song Ding Dong The Witch Is Dead. No, it is a rump of Labour MPs and peers who are insulting her memory.

These men and women must never be allowed to forget that they were defeated by Lady Thatcher in three general elections, through the democratic process.

Equally galling for them is that they realise Labour won in 1997 only because the Labour Party chose as its leader a virtual  conservative — Mr Blair.  He recognised the genius of Mrs Thatcher’s transformation of Britain and accepted her new anti-socialist consensus.

Thus he ditched the socialist nonsense of Clause Four with its commitment to public ownership. He also rejected his party’s support for penal levels of taxation. In this way he made Labour electable again.

But when the Labour government under Gordon Brown returned to its old, discredited policies after 2007, it paid the price — as it did in 1979 — for running Britain into the ground.

Mr Miliband and his shadow ministers still fail to understand the values and aspirations of Britain’s hard-working families. This failing is combined with a meanness of spirit.

You have only to examine the behaviour of John Prescott, who cheered Glenda Jackson for her bilious attack on Lady Thatcher, or Lord Kinnock (a man whose absurdity was exposed by his acceptance of a peerage after a lifetime of demanding that the House of Lords be abolished) who has grandstanded his refusal to attend her funeral.

Of course, there are those on the Left who have behaved decently following the death of a political rival. But their obnoxious colleagues have shown yet again which is the real nasty party.


Christian airport worker vows to take Muslim bullying case to Luxembourg after being granted right to appeal against sacking

A Christian worker who claims she was sacked from her job at Heathrow following a 'race hate' campaign by 'Muslim extremists' today vowed to take her unfair dismissal case 'all the way to Luxembourg' to the European Court of Justice.

Nohad Halawi allegedly weathered cruel rumours that she was 'anti-Islamist,' on top of a systematic catalogue of intimidation that included telling the 48-year-old that she would go to Hell if she did not convert to Islam.

Halawi, previously a beauty consultant for luxury cosmetics brand Shiseido, was then booted out of her 13-year-long job in Heathrow Airport's World Duty Free shop, after going to her seniors with concerns about the verbal tirades she was subjected to.

She also claims 'extremist' colleagues brought the Koran to work to try and convert people to Islam and even handed out leaflets promoting terrorism, as well as declaring that it was 'a shame' the failed July 21 London bombings did not go off.

Having taken her tribunal case to the courts in 2011, Halawi lost after it was ruled that as a part time and commissioned-based freelance she was not a staff employee.

Today, however, she won the right to appeal.

Speaking outside court, the mum-of-two from Weybridge, Surrey, told how the abuse started after she stuck up for a Christian colleague who was left in tears after Muslim staff made fun of her for wearing a cross necklace.

She said: 'At first, because I am from Lebanon, they assumed I was Muslim but when they found out I wasn't they started bullying me.'

Halawi, who came to Britain from Lebanon in 1977, continued: 'They used to say about 9/11 that it serves the American's right and that it was a shame the failed London bombings did not go off. When I asked them why they did not go back and live in their own country if they didn't like the UK, they said 'we came to the West to try and convert as many people to Islam as we can.'

She also revealed insider knowledge on life within Heathrow: 'They keep coming to the airport and many of them work in security. It is terrible there. If they see that you are a Muslim they wave you through. One time they thought my husband was Muslim and said 'don't worry he is one of us' and let him through without checking him. And you're telling me this is safe security.'

Mrs Halawi said she once found extremist leaflets in one of her Muslim colleague's drawers but the airport turned a blind eye. She said: "Management told him to throw them away. I later found out he had been sacked from other terminals for handing them out and inciting religious hatred, but duty free covered it up as they are scared of labelled Islamophobic."

She was fired in July 2011 after five Muslim colleagues complained she was anti-Islamic followed a heated conversation in the store.

After her sacking 28 colleagues, some of them Muslims, signed a petition calling for her reinstatement claiming she was dismissed on the basis of "malicious lies", but it was unsuccessful.

Having lost her first unfair dismissal campaign, Halawi received help from the Christian Legal Centre to further her case and has subsequently won a right to appeal.

She added: 'I am not and have never been racist or anti religion. I have many Muslim friends. I am doing this because I want to show that people It's not fair to use the religion card. They've ruined my life. They've ruined my family's lives. I can't get work and am relying on friends and family to get by'

A spokesperson for World Duty Free refused to comment because of the 'ongoing legal proceedings.'


Australia: Leftist do-gooders condone violence and impose apartheid on blacks

Leftists are always trying to gloss over the fact that Australian Aboriginal communities are extraordinarily dysfunctional by civilized standards.  Leftists don't care about the suffering of Aboriginal women and children -- JR

At what point does autonomy slide into apartheid? Do the rights of a culture outweigh those of its people? Why can't we talk about this?

The Aboriginal war memorial in Canberra is a small bronze plaque pinned to a rock in scrubby bush, 10 minutes - a universe - from official Australia's pompous mausoleum and inscribed with words you have to squat to read.

It's almost like deliberate symbolism: "We tolerate you blacks but, basically, what goes down in the bush, stays in the bush."

We are people of conscience. Every week we're shocked by another Indian rape, sharia stoning or fresh evidence that the German people "must have known".

As Anzacs we stand (and fall) for decency and truth. A fortnight hence we will honour the fair go, the level ground, the open heart, the unforked tongue and the clear eye. So we like to think.

Yet there is a snake writhing in our midst that we cannot bring ourselves to see or even name.

To the pack rapes, genital mutilation, arranged marriages, wife beatings and routine child sex at the heart of our continent we turn a blind, terrified and - truly - conscience-stricken eye. A recent Sydney Institute talk by academics Stephanie Jarrett and Gary Johns laid it bare. Indigenous violence, they argued, is not "our" fault. Although alcohol-exacerbated, it is endemic to pre-contact indigenous culture.

They are not the first. Many distinguished writers including Peter Sutton, Louis Nowra and Nicolas Rothwell have documented these horrifying stories, supporting observation that goes back to the First Fleet's Watkin Tench. These writers had nothing to gain. They must have known they'd be reviled by their own demographic, so it's hard to impute motives other than frankness.

In Another Country (2007) Rothwell wrote that "a pathology of violence, pornography, promiscuity and sexual abuse has taken hold", in remote indigenous communities. The book shone with a love of Aboriginal people and culture, yet Rothwell was accused of being an assimilationist-sympathiser.

The same year, English teacher Jenness Warin and UNSW mathematician James Franklin wrote a paper entitled Aboriginal Communities: Why the Trade in Girls and Other Human Rights Abuses Remain Hidden. Warin was accused of trying to empty Aboriginal lands.

Also in 2007, Nowra wrote Bad Dreaming, his unflinching omnibus of misogynist violence and routine child rape in central Australia. Reviewers, although shocked, continued to blame European impact and insist that Nowra's white-male view was inherently skewed.

What, does rape look different if you're brown? Does it feel different? Matter less? Is that what we're saying?

Reviewer Jan Richardson voiced the standard view. Rather than seek the root of violence, she argued, we should try to improve indigenous men's grasp of capitalism, hoping that "social inclusion and … positions that bring men the kind of esteem and authority they earned when their cultural milieu was unhindered by a foreign philosophy might promote fulfilment and reduce anger". Our fault, our responsibility.

But Nowra's question - whether indigenous male violence was intrinsic to pre-contact tribal culture - is core, and should shape our entire policy approach to indigenous development.

If violence is endemic, self-determination emerges as an error of tragic proportions.

White liberalism habitually sees all criticism of indigenous culture as right-wing racism. This effects a self-censorship that is profoundly racist - talk about anything, just not this - and, argue Jarrett and Johns, breathtakingly cruel.

We've had the stories. With a care and acuity one can only wish was more typical of academia, Jarrett and Johns array the evidence. Sadly, it is compelling.

Alice Springs politician Bess Nungarrayi Price, who writes the foreword in Jarrett's Liberating Aboriginal People from Violence (Connor Court Publishing 2013), was raised in traditional culture and has the scars to prove it. "Men had the power of life and death over their wives," she recalls. "Young girls were forced into marriage with older men."

Jarrett documents many current instances of the "customary rape of young women (often as part of a group deflowering ceremony) and sexual abuse of children".

Official statistics show black-on-black violence to be three times higher in remote communities than urban, and four times higher against women than men. Hospitalisation for family-related violence is 30 times more likely for an indigenous person than a non-indigenous.

There's also paleopathology showing that cranial injury from attack was almost four times higher, pre-contact, in women than in men.

It's not just booze. Indigenous alcohol consumption is falling, but the violence rises. Men who are peaceable in the city revert to routine violence in remote cultures. Women who are young and successful in the city return to tribal culture, becoming trapped in violence and coercion.

Therefore, argues Johns in Aboriginal Self-Determination, the Whiteman's Dream (Connor Court Publishing 2011) current "self-determination" policies are not only massively wasteful - throwing billions of dollars into a black hole of impossible service provision in remote areas - but condemn women and children to lives of unconscionable brutality.

They could be wrong. This could be a massive conspiracy. There could be other explanations of the damaged skulls, the violence, the abuse.

If so, these counter-arguments should be put. Instead, we have emotion, ridicule and snide personal attack.

The Monthly's John van Tiggelen wrote a snarky, gossipy review dissing Jarrett ("tremulous", "slightly posh"), her PhD ("human rights before cultural rights"), Johns ("a Howard man"), their publisher ("a bush operation") and their audience ("white-haired white men"), as though ipso facto outing their secret belief that, in his words, "once a savage, always a savage".

But to talk truthfully of violence is not to undermine Aborigines. Two centuries ago white Australia was also violent and abusive. It is the rule of law that dragged us out, protecting weak from strong.

And that's the crux. Endemic or not, this violence is illegal. Condoning as "customary law" what we would never countenance for ourselves is not autonomy. It's apartheid.

As Price notes, "the best thing about acknowledging … our own traditional forms of violence is that … we can fix ourselves. We don't need to be told what to do by the white man."

So let's have the discussion without the ridicule, since if it can't be discussed, it can't be fixed.



Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the  incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

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 and political diversity 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.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH,   EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICSDISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL  and EYE ON BRITAIN (Note that EYE ON BRITAIN has regular posts on the reality of socialized medicine).   My Home Pages are here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here


12 April, 2013

British law of insult which made it illegal to call a police horse 'gay' is to be changed

A law which has been used to try to convict a student who said “woof” to a police dog, or called a police horse ”gay” is to be changed

Home secretary Theresa May said the Government will accept a House of Lords amendment to remove the word 'insulting’ from Section 5 of the Public Order Act.  The amendment had been promoted in the House of Lords by Lord Dear, a former HM Inspector of Constabulary.

Six years ago police tried to prosecute Oxford student Sam Brown after he said to a mounted officer: “Excuse me, do you realise your horse is gay?"

Mr Brown, who made the comment during a night out with friends in Oxford after his final exams, was arrested under section 5 of the Public Order Act for making homophobic remarks.

However, after he refused to pay a £80 fine, the Crown Prosecution Service declined to pursue the case.

The following year Kyle Little, a 16-year-old from Newcastle, was fined £50 with £150 costs for saying “woof” to a Labrador dog in front of police officers.

Eventually the magistrates’ decision was overturned by a crown court. He had been arrested and charged under the Public Order legislation.

The amendment had been pushed for by comedian Rowan Atkinson who had warned that criticism, unfavourable comparison or “merely stating an alternative point of view” could be interpreted as an insult and lead to arrest.

Writing in The Daily Telegraph last month, Lord Dear, said that the law had “no place in our country” because the law was being “used to undermine free speech because of the way it is framed”.

Last month House of Lords vote saw peers vote overwhelmingly by 150 to 54 in favour of the change. Campaigners welcomed the change. Simon Calvert, Reform Section 5 campaign director, said he was “very pleased” by the Government’s statement.

He said: “This is a victory for free speech. People of all shades of opinion have suffered at the hands of Section 5.

“By accepting the Lords amendment to reform it the Government has managed to please the widest possible cross-section of society. They have done the right thing and we congratulate them.”

A ComRes poll commissioned last year by the RS5 campaign showed that 62 per cent of MPs believed it should not be the business of government to outlaw “insults.”


Teachers of hatred: The drama mistress and the master from Miliband's school who helped organise the Maggie 'death parties'

Two teachers are today unmasked as key architects of the vile Thatcher ‘death parties’.

One is employed at Labour leader Ed Miliband’s old school and has worked with the youngest and most impressionable pupils there, while the other teaches troubled and vulnerable children.

Yet both were behind disgraceful ‘celebrations’ to mark the passing of Baroness Thatcher.

Craig Parr, a teacher at Haverstock School in north London – nicknamed ‘Labour’s Eton’ – was pictured parading with a sick placard which read: ‘Rejoice. Thatcher is dead.’

The 27-year-old special needs teacher and union activist led chants of ‘Maggie, Maggie, Maggie, dead, dead, dead’ at a death party he organised in Brixton, south London, on Monday night which ended in violent scenes.

Meanwhile, drama teacher Romany Blythe, 45, used the internet to encourage thousands to take part in the tasteless celebrations. Miss Blythe, who specialises in teaching troubledchildren at schools in Brighton, wrote of Lady Thatcher: ‘Who wants to p*** on her grave?’

She urged more than 5,000 people to attend a death party in central London by creating an internet page called: ‘The witch is dead.’

Last night critics condemned  the pair’s behaviour as ‘revolting’ and ‘offensive’.

Douglas Carswell, Tory MP  for Clacton in Essex, said: ‘We must not have teachers working in schools with young people at the public’s expense who think it’s acceptable to behave like this. Such behaviour is wrong.’

The fresh revelations about  those behind the death parties emerged as:

÷ Sir Mark Thatcher said his mother would be ‘greatly honoured as well as humbled’ by the Queen attending her funeral;

÷ Left-wing MPs, including Glenda Jackson, used a Commons debate to launch vicious attacks on  Lady Thatcher;

÷ David Cameron led tributes in the house, saying: ‘She made the political weather, she made history, and – let this be her epitaph – she made our country great again’;

÷ Union leader Bob Crow provoked outrage by saying he hoped Lady Thatcher would ‘rot in hell’; and

÷ Police stepped up their operation to thwart efforts by anarchist groups to disrupt the funeral.

Mr Parr, a member of the Socialist Workers Party, joined Haverstock School in September last year and was given the sensitive role of teaching children with special needs.  He was also made a form teacher for Year 7 children, who at the ages of 11 and 12 are the youngest and most impressionable pupils.

Mr Parr is a member of the Lambeth branch of the National Union of Teachers and has previously urged fellow teachers to strike.

Last night headteacher John Dowd said he condemned Mr  Parr’s behaviour ‘in the strongest possible terms’. Mr Dowd said Mr Parr had resigned from his post in February after concerns were raised about his conduct.  However, he is still employed by the school and will officially remain a teacher at Haverstock until the end of this month.

The school, situated in the  fashionable London district of Camden, has been described as a  finishing school for the Labour  politicians of the future.  Its former pupils include Ed Miliband’s brother David, former Labour MP Oona King, Tom Bentley, who is a special adviser to Australia’s Labour prime minister Julia Gillard, and the author Zoe Heller.

Mr Parr, who was brought up in a modest home in Oxford, will have little or no memory of Lady Thatcher’s time in power given that he was just five when she left office.

The teacher was invited to  speak at a House of Commons committee two months ago on the issues within schools surrounding same-sex marriage.

Mr Parr, a member of Schools OUT, an association for gay and lesbian teachers, said pupils should be given a ‘balanced view’ of  the world. 

Wearing a suit and tie, he told MPs that his own beliefs ‘take a back foot’ when teaching.  He said: ‘We have a duty to treat pupils with dignity and build up relationships of mutual respect, and we must also show tolerance and British values.’

Such noble words appeared to be forgotten in the hours after Lady Thatcher’s death on Monday.  Dressed in black, he was reported as saying: ‘We’re here to rejoice the death of Thatcher, but her legacy lives on today.  ‘We can see that here in Brixton the poorest are suffering with the bedroom tax and benefit caps.

‘If Thatcher was a good Christian woman then maybe she’ll go to heaven, but I’m an atheist so I won’t worry about that.’

A snapshot of his Facebook page also provides a disturbing insight.  A message written in large letters, which any of his students could find, reads: ‘We don’t need sex, the Government f**** us!’

Mr Parr describes himself as  a ‘revolutionary socialist’ and appears to support various anarchist groups who have caused unrest in the past.

When asked about his actions at his two-bedroom flat in a  semi-detached Victorian house in West Norwood, south London, he said: ‘Why does it matter if I’m a teacher?’

Last night Mr Dowd said: ‘Craig Parr was employed from September 2012 as a teacher of Special Educational Needs on a one-year fixed term contract.  ‘He resigned his post in February 2013 due to concerns that I  raised with him about his conduct and he has not attended school since that time.  ‘His views and actions are  his alone, but I would condemn  this action in the strongest  possible terms.

‘Our approach to the teaching of politics and indeed to developing an objective understanding of  the range of political positions,  doctrines and views are fundamental to our ethos.

‘Margaret Thatcher’s death has clearly led to a polarisation of views about her role as prime minister.  As a school community we would offer her our respect and offer our condolences to her family as we would for any of our families suffering bereavement.’

Meanwhile Mr Parr’s fellow rabble-rouser Miss Blythe, 45, stoked up anger by creating a Facebook page called ‘The witch is dead’.

On it she called for ‘demonstrations of disapproval’ across  the country.  She wrote: ‘So the old bag has copped it finally! Party in the square tomorrow then! Come and celebrate our liberty and freedom from tyranny! On the day Maggie stands down, once and for all!’  A number of places on the list were the locations of the sick ‘death parties’, including Bristol, London and Glasgow.

Miss Blythe is a drama teacher with a workshop company that visits secondary schools.  She specialises in ‘facilitating workshops for young, excluded  and potentially criminalised  individuals and uses drama  techniques she has developed to explore resolution of conflict and oppression’, according to the company’s website.

On Facebook she appears in  photographs holding a hammer  and sickle flag and posing alongside  the former Cabinet Minister  Tony Benn.

Miss Blythe, of Worthing in West Sussex, could not be reached for comment yesterday.  However, in an interview last year, she said her dislike of the former prime minister came from being told she might never find work on leaving school in 1984.


U.S.  Army Email Allegedly Labels Christian Organizations That Oppose homosexual Marriage as ‘Domestic Hate Groups’?

 In a new report alleging anti-conservative bias in the military, Fox News Todd Starnes claims that a U.S. Army officer sent an e-mail to subordinates, listing the American Family Association and the Family Research Council as “domestic hate groups.” The basis for this label? Both organisations oppose same-sex marriage and homosexuality.

The message, apparently sent by Lt. Col. Jack Rich at Fort Campbell in Kentucky, also instructed those who received the e-mail to be on the look-out for fellow soldiers who might be supporters of the organizations (or who, at the least, aren’t upholding “Army Values”).

“Just want to ensure everyone is somewhat educated on some of the groups out there that do not share our Army Values,” the note read, according to Starnes’ report. “When we see behaviors that are inconsistent with Army Values — don’t just walk by — do the right thing and address the concern before it becomes a problem.”

Starnes has more about the controversial e-mail in question:

    "The 14-page email documented groups the military considers to be anti-gay, anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim. Among the other groups mentioned are Neo-Nazis, Racist Skinheads, White Nationalists and the Ku Klux Klan.

    "The Family Research Council and the American Family Association were listed as being anti-gay.

    “The religious right in America has employed a variety of strategies in its efforts to beat back the increasingly confident gay rights movement,” the officer wrote. “One of those has been defamation.

    "The officer accused the “Christian Right” of “engaging in the crudest type of name-calling, describing LGBT people as ‘perverts” with ‘filthy habits’ who seek to snatch the children of straight parents and ‘convert’ them to gay sex,” he wrote."

Some cultural warriors would likely look at this, teamed with some of the other incidents unfolding of late, and assume that there’s a war on Christianity — one that has worked its way into the U.S. military. Of course, others would dismiss such a notion as silly and unfounded. While Tony Perkins, who heads FRC, called the e-mail evidence that the military has become anti-Christian in nature, a Pentagon spokesperson denied such allegations.

“The notion that the Army is taking an anti-religion or anti-Christian stance is contrary to any of our policies, doctrines and regulations,” said Army spokesperson George Wright. “Any belief that the Army is out to label religious groups in a negative manner is without warrant.”

Wright told Starnes that the military is looking into the e-mail’s origins, who commanded it be sent and other surrounding details.

This story follows another from last week in which a U.S. Army training instructor listed Evangelical Christianity, Catholicism and even “Islamophobia” as examples of “religious extremism” during a training brief.


Wash. State Suing Christian Florist After She Refuses to Provide Flowers for homosexual Wedding?

Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson has filed a consumer protection lawsuit against a business that refused to provide services for a same-sex wedding. Arlene’s Flowers & Gifts, located in Richland, is the focus of the legal drama, after its owner cited Christian views and apologized for an apparent inability to offer up flowers for the nuptials.
Wash. State Files Lawsuit Against Florist After She Refused to Provide Flowers for Gay Wedding | Arlene’s Flowers & Gifts

SeattlePI.com reports that the choice to file a lawsuit came after Ferguson attempted to get owner Barronelle Stutzman to reconsider the refusal to provide wedding flowers to a customer named Robert Ingersoll. The incident began on March 1, when the client first learned of Stutzman’s views.

After a March 28 letter from the attorney general failed to sway the business owner, legal action has been taken. The outlet explains:

    "An employee at Arlene’s Flowers and Gifts said late Tuesday that Stutzman was not present, adding:  “None of us will have any comment.”  Last month, Stutzman told KEPR-TV in the Tri-Cities:

    “He (Ingersoll) said he decided to get married and before he got through I grabbed his hand and said, ‘I am sorry.  I can’t do your wedding because of my relationship with Jesus Christ.’  We hugged each other and he left, and I assumed it was the end of the story.”

    Ingersoll and his partner, Curt Freed, were decade-long customers of Arlene’s Flowers & Gifts.  They went online with the refusal and the story went viral.  Stutzman refused to change her position, saying:  “It’s a personal conviction.  It’s not a matter of being right or wrong.  It’s my belief.”

Ferguson’s office is seeking an injunction that would permanently require Arlene’s Flowers & Gifts to provide services to gays and lesbians. Should the company continue to avoid compliance, a $2,000 fine would be imposed for each failure to abide by the law.

“As attorney general, it is my job to enforce the laws of the state of Washington,” Ferguson said in a statement. “Under the Consumer Protection Act, it is unlawful to discriminate against customers on the basis of sexual orientation. If a business provides a product or service to opposite-sex couples for their weddings, then it must provide same-sex couples the same product or service.”

Stutzman seems ready to fight, though, with her lawyer responding to the challenge and claiming that non-profit legal groups are ready to represent the florist’s interests in court.

As the AP notes, the state’s anti-discrimination laws were expanded in 2006 to include sexual orientation, which is why the incident is being handled in this manner.



Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the  incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

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 and political diversity 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.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH,   EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICSDISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL  and EYE ON BRITAIN (Note that EYE ON BRITAIN has regular posts on the reality of socialized medicine).   My Home Pages are here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here


11 April, 2013

Weaned on the Beeb's hatred, no wonder the young rejoice at her death

Because the BBC had a series of run-ins with Margaret Thatcher in the 1980s, and is hardly well disposed towards the Tory-led Coalition, I had expected it to pour buckets of cold water over the memory of the Iron Lady.

To begin with, I was pleasantly surprised. The tone of BBC News 24 on Monday afternoon was slightly awed, even reverential, as is befitting when any great figure dies. Some of the newscasters even wore a black tie. A picture of  Margaret Thatcher was shown as silence was observed.

Of course, as was only right and proper, lots of people who did not at all admire Lady Thatcher were interviewed, such as Labour leader Ed Miliband and former Labour deputy leader Roy Hattersley, but they were almost always measured, respectful and reasonable.

Thank God for the BBC, I began to murmur to myself. For all its faults, the Corporation knows how to behave on these occasions. It is capable of setting aside its prejudices, and rising above party politics.

But as the evening wore on, and the new day dawned, I began to change my mind. In many of the television and radio news bulletins, it seemed that Margaret Thatcher was on trial, and the case for the prosecution was subtly gathering force.

Again and again we were shown the same footage of 1990 poll tax riots, and familiar pictures of police grappling with miners during the 1984-85 miners’ strike. The clear message was: This is how it was under Thatcherism. Words such as ‘divisive’, ‘polarised’ and ‘out of touch’ began to be bandied about freely by BBC journalists describing the events of the 1980s. Charges were made against her which weren’t explained or placed in context.

For example, Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams was interviewed stating that Lady Thatcher had inflicted ‘great hurt’ on Northern Ireland. Now that Mr Adams represents himself as a democratic politician it is right he should have his say. But shouldn’t the BBC have mentioned that at the time of the Brighton bombing in 1984, which very nearly killed Margaret Thatcher, and did kill five others, the judgmental and seemingly virtuous Mr Adams was leader of the IRA’s Army Council?

Equally, Lady Thatcher’s opposition to sanctions against ‘apartheid South Africa’ was repeatedly cited by BBC television news, and her isolation among Commonwealth countries over the issue dwelt on.

What was not mentioned, at any rate while I was watching, is that she opposed sanctions largely because she believed they would harm black people most, though the BBC did grudgingly concede that she wasn’t in favour of apartheid.

Nor did the Corporation recall that after he was let out of prison in 1990, Nelson Mandela, the leader of the African National Congress, visited No?10 to thank Margaret Thatcher for her part in securing his release. These caveats should have been entered. Why weren’t they? I suggest the reason is that they do not accord with the Corporation’s historically distorted depiction of her as an inflexible extremist.

And then, of course, there were countless interviews of people who claimed they or their families had been victims of Lady Thatcher’s allegedly draconian economic policies which supposedly ‘decimated’ British manufacturing. The similar (or sometimes worse) experiences of other advanced economies were not mentioned.

I don’t deny she was a ‘divisive’ figure – not in the sense of intending to divide people, and deliberately setting them against one another, but because she sometimes had this effect. It is therefore perfectly reasonable to interview people who believe they suffered as a result.

But on such a massive scale so soon after her death? It was when I was listening to the BBC World Service in the early hours of yesterday morning, and heard a disgruntled Welshman having a swipe at her over the Falklands War, that I decided I’d had enough, and the BBC was being unfair.

If anything, radio was worse than television, despite the repeated use of TV footage implying that the 1980s were one continuous riot. On Radio Five yesterday, I heard a young woman being interviewed who had taken part in a celebration of Margaret Thatcher’s death in Brixton.

Although she admitted she knew virtually nothing about Lady Thatcher’s record as Prime Minister, and was relying almost wholly on what her Liverpudlian parents had told her, this ridiculous person was taken seriously.

Perhaps the nadir of radio coverage came yesterday evening when the BBC World Service unearthed someone called Mark, who had been promoting a song, Ding, Dong, The Witch Is Dead, taken from the film Wizard Of Oz. This was not simply unfair. It was in appallingly bad taste to give airtime to someone capable of pushing such a song about a woman who had died the previous day. Let him sing it in his bath, if he must, but this poison should have been kept off the airwaves.

God knows what foreign listeners to the often admirable BBC World Service will have thought when they heard a just deceased great stateswoman being referred to in this way. I don’t suppose it could happen in any other country on earth.

Nor can I remember any major political figure being so treated by the BBC so soon after his or her demise.

You may say Margaret Thatcher was unusual in being so divisive, and so is bound to be dealt with in an unusual way. But every statesman who has ever lived made lots of mistakes.

When Winston Churchill died, the BBC could have chosen to make much of his many cock-ups, and the evidence of his extremism: his controversial involvement in the bloody Sidney Street siege in 1911; the disastrous Gallipoli expedition, which he proposed in the First World War; his return to the Gold Standard when Chancellor; and his reactionary opposition to Indian Home Rule in the 1930s.

But the BBC rightly dwelt on his wartime achievement (itself not without blemishes) and left it to historians to write about his failings. That is the natural, humane and sensible thing to do when a great figure dies. So it should have been with Margaret Thatcher.

For all her faults and errors, it is widely agreed, even by people such as Tony Blair, that she managed to save Britain from economic calamity. That is a wonderful thing to have done.

She would not have received such treatment from the BBC had she been of the Left. No, the shortcomings of Leftists are usually indulged. On a much smaller scale, when the ex-Marxist historian and former sympathiser of Stalin, Eric Hobsbawm, died, the BBC kindly drew a curtain over his support for a totalitarian regime.

My submission is that an intelligent young person knowing little or nothing about the 1980s, who watched and listened to as much BBC coverage as I have, would come away with the false impression that she was a destructive leader who did more harm than good.

I would like to tell this young person that she won three elections, two of them with very large majorities, and that she achieved some great things, not least of which were liberating many working-class people in Britain, and helping to destroy Soviet communism. This democratically elected leader was not such a divisive and polarising person as the BBC pretends.

But that is how it often represented her when she was Prime Minister. The BBC hated her in life. The evidence of the past couple of days is that it still hates her in death.


British Labour Party eminence shoots at a footballing fascist - and scores an own goal

By Peter Hitchens

I should have thought fascism had a lot in  common with football. Both like huge mass  rallies in ugly, grandiose buildings, in which the enraptured mob chants gormless, unpleasant slogans and sings unpleasant songs.

Both have personality cults. Both involve the worship of strutting, violent, dishonest and selfish people. Both are almost wholly masculine in a boozy, sweaty, muscle-bound way that sometimes makes me wonder if Germaine Greer doesn’t have a point about men.

The enthusiasts of both are, among other things, very  boring conversationalists, if you don’t happen to share their passion.
Common goals: A recent football match between West Ham and Chelsea where West Ham fans threw a Hot Dog thrown at Chelsea's John Terry

Common goals: A recent football match between West Ham and Chelsea where West Ham fans threw a Hot Dog thrown at Chelsea's John Terry

Both demand the adulation of youth and strength, and both require a great deal of very bad acting, shouting, posturing, eye-rolling and fake injuries or at least fake grievances. Both are based on an angry intolerance of rivals and both spill rapidly into serious violence, given half a chance.

So the only surprise about the revelation that Paolo Di Canio once said he was a fascist is the honesty involved. Mind you, why did it take so long for it to come out? Wasn’t poor old Swindon important enough for anyone to care that its football team was run by a man who liked giving straight-arm salutes?

But here comes the really funny bit: the resignation of the supposed political giant David Miliband from his posts at Sunderland Football Club, because he couldn’t bear to be linked with this totalitarian monster.

Now, I know from personal experience that the supposedly brilliant Mr Miliband isn’t that clued up about life (he survived some years as Foreign Secretary without even knowing that this country had conferred a knighthood on Robert Mugabe). But there’s something else here that needs to be remembered. In October 2012, a man called Eric Hobsbawm died. Professor Hobsbawm was at least as fine a historian as Mr Di Canio is a footballer.

But, alas, he was a lifelong supporter of communism, an unapologetic defender of the Soviet Union in the days of purges, mass murder and the slave camps of the Gulag. I’ve no doubt he gave the occasional clenched fist salute in his time, but I’ve seen no pictures.

Soon after his death, the other Miliband issued a statement saying that Hobsbawm was ‘a man passionate about his politics and a great friend of my family’. So did the young David Miliband stalk righteously from the room when this grisly old Stalinist apologist came round for comradely tea and buns, as I believe he did quite often?

Of course not. Mr Miliband only objects to one sort of violent, murderous political creed. The other sort is fine by him. The British Left-wing elite has hopeless double standards about dictators, and for some reason always gets away with it.

What do you think would happen if the Nazi Horst Wessel Song were sung at the funeral of a Tory politician? Yet the Internationale, the anthem of world communism, was sung at the Edinburgh funeral of Labour’s Robin Cook in 2005, and nobody fussed. It was played at the memorial service of Tony Benn’s wife Caroline in 2001 (and one very senior Labour apparatchik was heard to sigh: ‘Great to hear language we aren’t allowed to use any longer’).

The same suspect song was played at the Glasgow obsequies of another Labour Minister, Donald Dewar, in 2000, and the congregation joined in. They knew the words.

The excuse was offered: ‘It’s a grand tune, whatever you think of the politics.’ The Hitlerite Horst Wessel Song also has a fine tune, but I doubt the Edinburgh or Glasgow mourners would have stood by and let it be sung.

As far as I am concerned, anyone who is prepared to apologise for either fascism or communism should be a pariah, in football, politics or anywhere else. But you cannot scorn the one and be soft on the other.


‘God Is Great, Hang the Atheist Bloggers!’: Hundreds of Thousands Rally in Bangladesh for Anti-Blasphemy Laws?

No free speech in Islam

Hundreds of thousands of hardline Islamists rallied in Bangladesh’s capital on Saturday to demand authorities enact anti-blasphemy laws punishing bloggers and those believed to have insulted Islam.

“God is great – hang the atheist bloggers!” some chanted, according to the Agence France-Presse and Al Jazeera.

“I’ve come here to fight for Islam. We won’t allow any bloggers to blaspheme our religion and our beloved Prophet Mohammed,” Shahidul Islam, an imam who reportedly walked 20km to be at the rally, said.

International reports indicate the bloggers have been stirring controversy by seeking punishment for Islamist leaders found guilty of war crimes during the nation’s 1971 independence war against Pakistan.  Bangladesh says as many as 3 million people were killed and 200,000 women raped by Pakistani troops and local collaborators during the horrific war.

The bloggers also want a ban on Jamaat-e-Islami, the country’s largest Islamic party, for campaigning against Bangladesh’s independence more than four decades ago.  But they deny the allegation that they are atheists.

“Wrong information has been spread out by some of the activists,” Shakil Ahmed of Ekattor television in Bangladesh told Al Jazeera.

The Islamist group Hefazat-e-Islam, which helped organize the rally, listed listed 13 demands of the government and the nation’s people.

They include putting “absolute trust and faith in the Almighty Allah” in the nation’s constitution, which is largely secular, and passing a law providing for capital punishment for maligning Allah, Islam and its prophet Muhammad.

They also want to declare the minority Ahmadiya sect living in the country non-Muslims and banning “all foreign culture, including free mixing of men and women.”

Al Jazeera sources say the government is unlikely to accommodate all the protesters’ requests — though four online writers were arrested on charges of hurting religious sentiment last week — but the economy will take a hit no matter what.

As is, a blogger or online commenter can reportedly face up to ten years in jail for writing determined to be defamatory to Islam.


Social conservatism in Germany

Kristina Schroder could one day be her generation's Angela Merkel. After all, the 35-year old conservative is Germany's youngest female minister.

But for many German women, this powerful politician is a very bad mother. Last year, Schroder gave birth to her firstborn, Lotte Marie. She returned to her day job as family minister 10 weeks later, to find that some Germans thought she had done the wrong thing.

"I got a lot of hate mail," Schroder told a German newspaper last year. "[People wrote] wishing they hoped I missed my daughter's first steps or her first laugh."

Even today, old cultural attitudes on motherhood persist among a significant number of Germans. Schroder complains she was labelled a "Rabenmutter", a raven mother. The insult describes selfish career women, who flit off to work soon after birth, leaving babies squawking in the nest.

One of those whom Schroder offended was Eva Herman, once Germany's favourite newsreader and now a best-selling author on motherhood. In a public letter to Schroder, Herman accused the minister of being more interested in doing what she enjoyed (her job) than in caring for her newborn.

"If Ms Schroder had made the same decision as I did, she would have given up her job and looked after her baby," Herman told Daily Life. "That would have been best, she would have been a role model for thousands and thousands of women."

For German feminists, stories like Schroder's show just how present old-fashioned ideas on men and women are here. Take a closer look at sleek economic superpower Germany, they say, and you'll find a country run by men, for men.

Statistics show that career woman Schroder is an exception in Germany. Merkel, who is likely to win a term in September, may tower over German politics. But as a woman in a leading role, she is still a unique phenomenon in Germany.

For example, few of her peers have made it to the top of German business. Just 4 per cent of German companies have a woman on their boards, a recent study by think tank DIW Berlin found. It's just the latest study of its kind. Three years ago, a McKinsey study on equality placed Germany equal last among 11 major economies, due to its low number of female managers.

And German bosses aren't concerned about statistics like those, complain businesswomen. In 2011, then Deutsche Bank CEO Josef Ackermann said he would welcome more women on his board. Because women make company boards "more colourful" and "beautiful", he said.

"When Ackermann made those comments ... the uproar came from America, because that's just not PC any more," says businesswoman Monika Schulz-Strelow. "In large part the view [from German business] is that women have their place, but they aren't equal business partners."

For that reason, German feminists and Brussels bureaucrats are fighting for a female manager quota at public companies. But Angela Merkel has reportedly vetoed Europe's attempts to have a quota introduced.

Instead, her government has passed a law offering payments for parents to stay home and mind their under-threes. Feminists call that payment a "stove" bonus, designed to put women back in the kitchen.

Indeed, Merkel, say confidants, may be the world's most powerful woman, but she's not a fighter for women's rights.

"In the eight years since she's been in government, [Merkel] has hardly ever said anything about women's issues," says Merkel biographer Margaret Heckel.

Despite that, Merkel's nickname among men in her party is Mutti ("Mummy"). Her biographer says Merkel may have attracted that nickname because she wears the suit pants among German conservatives.

"Merkel has had her way in the party. She's the unquestionable number one and all the men who have tried to stop that from happening have failed," Heckel says.

But Merkel's supremacy in Berlin and Brussels hasn't helped other female pollies, complain MPs.

As politicians, "women are still judged on their appearance much more than men", says Silvana Koch-Mehrin, a European MP for the Free Democrats, a minor party in Merkel's coalition government.

A leader of Koch-Mehrin's party, Rainer Bruderle, inadvertently started a big debate over sexism in Germany two months ago.   Bruderle, 67, caused what Germans call a "shitstorm" in cyberspace by reportedly taking a 29-year old female journalist's hand and telling her that she'd look great in a dirndl, a traditional blue-and-white-checked low-cut Bavarian dress.

After the journalist published her article recounting Bruderle's remarks, thousands took to Twitter to denounce sexist experiences they'd suffered.

Meanwhile other top leaders in Bruderle's party attacked Stern, the magazine that published the story on sexual harassment, for printing trivialities and "twisted journalism".

"Unfortunately, the debate has become about what it's like to be accused of sexual harassment as a man," says Nicole von Horst, one of the instigators of Germany's Twitter anti-sexist movement.

Still, for many feminists, any debate over sexism in Germany is taboo breaking. Because, they argue, Germany is a conservative society, one that clings to old behaviour and habits. And to dated concepts like "raven mother".

"If the attitude that something is good, that it's worth keeping just because it's been around for a long time, then: Hell yeah! Germany is old-fashioned," says von Horst.



Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the  incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

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 and political diversity 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.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH,   EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICSDISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL  and EYE ON BRITAIN (Note that EYE ON BRITAIN has regular posts on the reality of socialized medicine).   My Home Pages are here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here


10 April, 2013

Margaret Thatcher stood up for ordinary Britons - that's why the Left loathe her

By almost every standard, Margaret Thatcher was one of the greatest political leaders in modern history. She led Britain to victory in the Falklands, tamed the power of the unions, kick-started an economic revolution and unleashed the energies of aspiration and initiative.

None of this, of course, came without a cost. And since many industrial communities were badly scarred by the economic transformation of the Eighties, it is hardly surprising that not everybody remembers her fondly.

Yet it was profoundly shocking to read some of yesterday’s comments on the death of an 87-year old mother and grandmother who, as our first woman Prime Minister, earned a high place in the history books.

Only minutes after the announcement of Lady Thatcher’s death, the Respect MP George Galloway took to Twitter, declaring: ‘Tramp the dirt down’ — a sickening reference to Elvis Costello’s 1989 protest song about the Iron Lady, in which he sang: ‘When they finally put you in the ground, I’ll stand on your grave and tramp the dirt down.’

And late yesterday afternoon, evidently regretting that his earlier abuse had not gone far enough, he tweeted: ‘May she burn in the hellfires.’

Mr Galloway’s contemptible effusions are now depressingly familiar. But he was not alone. The comedian Frankie Boyle tweeted a link to the YouTube video of Kool and the Gang’s song  Celebration, while David Hopper, general secretary of the Durham Miners’ Association, declared that it was a ‘great day’, even describing it as ‘one of the best birthdays I have ever had’.

On Facebook, a campaign to take Judy Garland’s Wizard Of Oz song Ding Dong! The Witch Is Dead to No.1 attracted thousands of supporters — many of them not even born when Mrs Thatcher left office.

It beggars belief that anybody could react in such a boorish way to the death of an elderly woman.

I can understand why people who spent the Eighties in the Welsh coalfields, Scottish shipyards or industrial North are unlikely to remember Lady Thatcher with great affection. But I suspect most of them would be appalled by the crude and tasteless abuse of Mr Galloway and his cronies.

It is a myth, by the way, that everybody in the Labour Party hated Mrs Thatcher. Inside Parliament, many of her political opponents openly admired her.

When the former Grantham grammar-school girl became Tory leader in 1975, Labour’s Barbara Castle wrote in her diary of her pride and excitement that a woman had reached the top.

And only a few weeks ago Denis  Healey, one of Lady Thatcher’s most bruising Labour opponents in the  Seventies and Eighties, told the New Statesman magazine that he always considered Mrs Thatcher ‘good-looking and brilliant’. Outside Parliament, however, the trendy Left often loathed her.

Much of this was rooted not in ideological disagreement but in the most odious kind of social snobbery.

Margaret Thatcher was, after all, the most famous grocer’s daughter in history. Her values were those of the middle-class shopkeeper and the Methodist chapel — and the highbrow Left hated her for it. To the well-heeled, well-connected boarding-school products of the Labour Left, who were smug in the knowledge of their own righteousness, the prospect of an ordinary middle-class woman leading the nation seemed unthinkable. A classic example was the theatre director Jonathan Miller, a notoriously pretentious Hampstead intellectual who described her as ‘loathsome, repulsive in almost every way’.

The very superior Jonathan Miller

He hated, he said, her ‘odious  suburban gentility and sentimental, saccharine patriotism, catering to the worst elements of commuter idiocy’. It is hard to read those words without gagging at the stench of patrician snobbery. What, after all, is so bad about being suburban or patriotic? Or, indeed, a commuter?

Alas, many of Mrs Thatcher’s Left-wing critics simply could not contain their condescension. Born and bred in their gilded little enclaves, they believed they knew what was right for ordinary people — even though they knew nothing at all about what the common man and woman actually wanted.

So it was that in the Seventies, when tenants pressed for the right to buy their council homes, the Labour Left blocked attempts to sell them. They simply could not  understand that ordinary people wanted homes of their own, instead of having to take what the State gave them.

Nor could they understand that people were sick of trade-union militancy, sick of the strikes that had made Britain an international laughing stock, sick of the double-digit inflation and sick of the  managed national decline. Today the high-minded Left still peddles the canard that Mrs Thatcher appealed only to the rich. But this is nonsense. When she won power in 1979, it was courtesy of a massive 11 per cent swing among skilled manual workers and 9 per cent among unskilled workers — usually so loyal to Labour.

Yet even as Mrs Thatcher continued to win elections, the trendy Left seethed with snobbish contempt. They sneered at her supporters — who were often ordinary working men and women trying to build better lives for themselves and their families — as ‘spivs’ and ‘Essex men’.

And where Mrs Thatcher herself was concerned, their condescension was boundless. One Left-wing commentator called her ‘Mike Yarwood in drag’, after the comedian and impressionist who used to mimic politicians, while the playwright and TV critic Dennis Potter wrote that with her ‘small pawing gestures’ and ‘glossy head tilted at a rather too carefully alert angle’, she reminded him of ‘everyone’s favourite celluloid b****, Lassie’.

It is hard to miss the repellent sexism here. Indeed, I have always thought that the Left would never have treated a man as cruelly as they did the Iron Lady.

Even today, in our supposedly post-feminist age, dozens of commenters on Twitter and the Guardian website see nothing wrong in describing Lady Thatcher as a ‘witch’, ‘hag’ or ‘b****’. Would they talk about a man in the same way? I doubt it.

The extraordinary thing, though, is that even though Lady Thatcher won three elections, transformed our country and spoke for millions of ordinary people, hatred of her is absolutely ingrained in great swathes of our academic and media classes.

What really infuriates, them, of course, is the fact that she appealed to so many ordinary voters.

Indeed, her real skill lay in her instinctive understanding of the ambitions and anxieties of the British people.

She would have known that most decent people would be horrified by the childish jibes of her critics.

And she would have taken comfort from the fact that in the long run, history will hold her in high regard.

She was not, of course, perfect — and, like any politician, she made her share of mistakes. But she helped to bring down the Berlin Wall, ended Britain’s long slide into irrelevance and spoke for millions of people who dreamed of a better life.

Perhaps above all, as Britain’s first woman Prime Minister, she became an icon of aspiration, social mobility and self-improvement. She did not so much break the glass ceiling as smash her way through it.

For my money, she stands alongside Winston Churchill and Clement Attlee as the greatest Prime  Ministers of the last century. By  comparison, today’s politicians — as well as Lady Thatcher’s childish  critics — are pygmies, squabbling in her shadow.

As long as Britain endures, Margaret Thatcher will be remembered. And that, of course, is why the Left hates her.


Now there really is no such thing as society

Back in 1987, Mrs Thatcher was monstered over an interview in which she said: ‘There is no such thing as society.’ The Left seized on this remark as evidence of her heartless indifference to the plight of ordinary people.

What she was actually doing was condemning the use of ‘society’ as a convenient shorthand excuse for individual deficiencies, disappointments and delinquency. A quarter of a century ago, as in some quarters today, there was a knee-jerk readiness to blame ‘society’ for everything from drug addiction to violent crime.

Mrs Thatcher was also criticising the automatic tendency of people to look to the State as a cure for all ills.

She was of the firm conviction that society is the sum of its parts — individuals, families, churches, voluntary organisations, businesses. It was her belief that people expected too much from government, concentrated too much on their ‘rights’ and ‘entitlements’ and not enough on their obligations.

We all have a duty to help ourselves and our neighbours. Hers was a vision of a liberated, bottom-up society, not the bureaucratic top-down version favoured by Socialists.

It is especially relevant to today’s ferocious debate over welfare — safety net versus cradle-to-grave lifestyle option. Labour naturally favours a system in which the State Will Provide, even if it traps people in dependency.

If you make idleness a worthwhile career choice, why should anyone look for a job? It’s not their fault, is it?

After the Left lost the economic argument, following Thatcher’s third general election victory, they realised there was no future in brute force collective industrial action. So they embraced the notion of individual ‘rights’ as a way of furthering their agenda.

Labour decided it could no longer rely on white, working-class trades unionists to secure power. So it set about building what by then had become known as a ‘rainbow coalition’ based on the notion of victimhood.

Rather than ‘society’ the Left fastened on to ‘community’ as their buzzword. This didn’t mean community in its traditional sense, it meant ‘minority’.

It involved carving up society into myriad client groups and stoking their grievances, real or perceived, which could only be assuaged by new laws and lashings of taxpayers’ money.


Another  champagne socialist at the heart of the British Labour party

Labour's Comrade Cruddas and the beautifully remote THIRD home on the Irish Coast where he is writing Miliband's manifesto

The Labour Election chief who lambasted Tony Blair for failing to provide enough cheap homes is planning to write the party’s manifesto from his latest new home – one of three he owns worth a total of £1 million.

The latest addition to MP John Cruddas’s portfolio is a self-designed holiday cottage overlooking a beach on a scenic isle off the coast of Ireland.

He has had an office added to the building so he can use it to write Ed Miliband’s General Election manifesto – in between ‘exhilarating’ walks and kite-surfing on the beach.

Regular flights from nearby Knock International Airport mean Mr Cruddas and his wife, Labour peer Baroness Healy, can ‘commute’ the 500 miles to Westminster.

The four-bedroom retreat in County Mayo is in addition to Mr Cruddas’s mansion block flat in West London’s fashionable Notting Hill and a third home in his constituency in Dagenham, East London.

Former union official Mr Cruddas fiercely criticised Tony Blair’s Government for chasing middle-class voters and claimed a ‘lack of affordable social housing’ was its ‘outstanding public policy failure.’

His outspoken views led to Mr Miliband putting Mr Cruddas in charge of a shake up of the Party’s policies and designing and writing its election manifesto.

Mr Cruddas designed his latest home on the beautiful island of Achill and had it built to his specifications, including an open-plan kitchen, dining room and an office.

From there he will be able to work on Labour’s manifesto overlooking a sandy beach instead of hectic Westminster or his tough urban constituency.

‘I am going to bring some of my colleagues here to do a bit of work and get away from it and sort out a few things,’ Mr Cruddas told an Irish journalist. ‘We have quite a big agenda ahead of us over the next couple of years but this will be the perfect place to get things done.’

He said the island setting is ‘one of the most beautiful places you can come across ....  a strange type of beauty because it is a wild and ferocious type. There is nothing as exhilarating as walking along the beach, especially on Christmas Day’.

The holiday home, worth about £180,000, is also ideal for two of Mr Cruddas’ other hobbies, golf and fishing. He joined the exclusive, £1,500-a-year Walton Heath golf club in Surrey, once captained by the Duke of Windsor.

His new home is close to the greens of Achill golf club, which promises members ‘beautiful, ever-changing scenery and invigorating Achill air’.

The area, one of Ireland’s most popular holiday destinations, claims to have ‘the best fishing waters in Ireland’ with mullet, mackerel and skate. It also offers scuba-diving.

Ireland’s Atlantic coast is one of the furthest points in the British Isles from Westminster. In Mr Cruddas’s own words: ‘Next stop New York.’

While speaking out for Labour’s traditional supporters, Mr Cruddas, 51, and wife Anna, who both have Irish roots, are part of Labour’s ‘aristocracy.’ Mr Cruddas was Mr Blair’s union fixer in No. 10 and his wife was given a peerage after advising John Prescott and Harriet Harman.

As an MP, he earns a salary of £65,000 a year, while peers can claim a £300-per-day attendance allowance.

It is not the first time the couple have been involved in controversy over property. In 2007, Mr Cruddas was accused of using his MP’s second-homes expenses to fund a London flat which enabled him to obtain better schooling for his son.

The couple bought a home in Notting Hill for £375,000 and claimed more than £80,000 in expenses on the property, which fell within the catchment area of elite Catholic Cardinal Vaughan Memorial School in nearby Holland Park. Pupils are required to learn Latin and attend weekly Mass.

The MP was able to make the second-home claims because he nominated his constituency home in Dagenham, worth about £200,000, as his ‘main home’ for expenses purposes.

At around the same time as he bought the Notting Hill flat, now worth up to £650,000, his son began attending Cardinal Vaughan School, known for its excellent results.

The secondary school nearest to Mr Cruddas’s constituency home, Dagenham Park Community School, is one of London’s poorest in terms of results.

Mr Cruddas denied he had moved simply to get his child into the school and said he had ‘always supported Catholic comprehensives’.

He provoked ridicule when he described Labour’s policy review as ‘not policy as such, rather the search for political sentiment, voice and language; of general definition within a national story. Less the Sprit Level, more What is England’.

A spokesman for Mr Cruddas declined to comment.


Did rising Labour star Chuka Umunna use a fake identity to edit his Wikipedia entry?

First he came under fire after it emerged he was a member of an exclusive social networking site for so-called ‘jetrosexuals’.

And now Labour’s Chuka Umunna is facing a new internet row, amid allegations he doctored his own Wikipedia page to include flattering comparisons with Barack Obama.

Mr Umunna, a rising star who is tipped to become party leader one day, is alleged to have created his own profile on the online encyclopedia in 2007, using the pseudonym ‘Socialdemocrat’.

At the time he was searching for a safe Labour seat for the next general election.

Over the years someone has tweaked his profile using the same pseudonym, adding flattering articles including one which described 34-year-old Mr Umunna as ‘the British Obama’.

But in public the MP for Streatham has played down the comparison, claiming ‘it annoys me a bit’.

Shortly after being elected he said: ‘You get lazy journalists and the odd blogger who’ll suggest that I fancy myself as “Britain’s Obama”, and that I seek to encourage the comparison.

‘It’s never been something I’ve encouraged. I want people to look at me as me, not through the prism of someone else’s personality.’

‘Socialdemocrat’ created Mr Umunna’s Wikipedia page on October 27, 2007, and appeared to have a highly detailed knowledge of his career.

That user has only edited two other Wikipedia pages, one of which belongs to Compass, a left-wing pressure group. Mr Umunna was on its management committee.

The other was the entry for columnist Kelvin Mackenzie, who had a robust exchange with Mr Umunna on the BBC’s Question Time.

Mr Umunna has used the term ‘social democrat’ to describe himself several times, and once told the Black Socialist Society that it was time to change its name as ‘the Labour Party today is not socialist but social democratic’.

Mr Umunna, a former lawyer and DJ, was forced to apologise last week after it emerged that he had described patrons of London’s nightclubs as ‘trash’ and ‘C-list wannabes’.

He made the remarks as a member of ASmallWorld, an invitation-only social networking site which has been described as MySpace for millionaires.

Conservative MP Nigel Adams said: ‘Comrade Chuka’s not doing his credibility much good this week. Like most champagne socialists, they talk a good game about standing up for the working man but are as transparent as a Gucci shop window.’

A Tory source said: ‘The only thing Chuka Umunna seems interested in is shameless self-promotion. It’s laughable for him to compare himself to Obama.

‘He says one thing in public and does another behind closed doors. Who is ever going to believe a word he says ever again?’

Mr Umunna told the Telegraph: ‘I don’t have any recollection of that log in or any of the changes. But I can’t say for certain that someone with my campaign did not set up that log in.’

He added that while he does not edit his own Wikipedia page, ‘my staff have had to correct it when it has been vandalised by racists and people of that type’.



Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the  incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

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 and political diversity 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.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH,   EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICSDISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL  and EYE ON BRITAIN (Note that EYE ON BRITAIN has regular posts on the reality of socialized medicine).   My Home Pages are here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here


9 April, 2013

'Secret arrests' fear as police seek ban on naming suspects: Plan threatens to turn Britain into a 'banana republic'

Fears were growing last night that a draconian crackdown on the public’s right to know who the police are arresting was close to being finalised.

Police chiefs are looking to ban the Press and public from being told the identity of a crime suspect who has been arrested.

The Association of Chief Police Officers is drawing up the plans as it considers implementing a recommendation by Lord Justice Leveson in which all police forces would be banned from confirming the names of suspects to journalists.

Critics yesterday called the plan an assault on open justice and said it threatened to turn Britain into a ‘banana republic’.

They suggested that such a move could, in theory, lead to people being arrested and locked up in secret as is the case in brutal totalitarian regimes.

The plan for ‘secret arrests’ is being opposed by the Law Commission, the Government’s own adviser on law reform. It believes that it is in the interests of justice that the police release the names of everyone who is arrested, except in very exceptional circumstances.

It argues that there are cases of clear public interest in which arrests should be reported, and it opposes a blanket ban on releasing names.

Trevor Sterling, the lawyer representing Jimmy Savile’s victims, said the publication of a suspect’s name helps to encourage other potential victims to come forward. ‘It is difficult to strike a balance, but if someone like Savile’s name is not published, victims of sexual abuse would not have the confidence to come forward,’ he said.

Padraig Reidy, of Index On Censorship, a civil liberties organisation, said: ‘You can very quickly find yourself in a situation where you have secret arrests. We have a concept of open justice.

‘What is being proposed is very scary because if you do not know who has been arrested or why, people can be taken off the streets without anyone knowing and the police would not be accountable or properly scrutinised.

‘This sort of thing happens in other countries. People are arrested, they disappear and no one ever knows why.’ Under current arrangements, police release basic details of a person arrested. In some cases police will confirm a name to journalists, but this practice varies from force to force.

Some forces have effectively introduced the new practice in the aftermath of Lord Justice Leveson’s recommendations.

It has led to a situation where a well-known celebrity arrested as part of Operation Yewtree, the investigation into the Savile scandal, cannot be named by the media, although he has been widely identified on the internet.

The 83-year-old was arrested on March 28 in Berkshire on suspicion of sexual offences, but the Metropolitan Police refused to release his name to the Press.

By contrast, the names of other suspects accused of historical sexual offences have been published in the Press after their names were confirmed by other forces or by lawyers.

Members of the Law Commission and ACPO will meet in the coming weeks in an attempt to find common ground.

Yesterday Law Commissioner David Ormerod, QC, said: ‘It is imperative that we have confidence that our legal process is transparent.

‘In drafting our provisional proposals, we considered freedom of expression under the Human Rights Act, which covers the Press’s right to report and the public’s right to know.

‘Clearly this has to be balanced with an individual’s right to privacy. But it is not hard to imagine cases of clear public interest in which arrests should be reported.’

Andy Trotter, chief constable of British Transport Police and the lead officer on media policy for ACPO, disagrees with the Law Commission’s position because it does not take account of the circumstances of a suspect whose reputation was damaged by identification but who was later found to be innocent.

He said: ‘It is not correct to say police are looking to keep arrests secret, but rather protect the public in line with Lord Justice Leveson’s recommendations.

‘A member of the public could be arrested and then have no further action taken against them.  ‘An arrest does not mean someone is guilty and their release might not achieve the same publicity.

‘There will most likely be exceptions to this in the interests of justice and to prevent and detect crime. We are still in the process of drafting guidance and we are still talking to a range of parties and any decision will have to be approved with the College of Policing.’


A chilling new threat to the right to know

The old East Germany will always live while there's an England.  Not quite the England of old, however

In the latest disturbing example of the State’s ruthless assault on the public’s right to know, it yesterday emerged that police could soon be banned from identifying people they have arrested.

Chief constables have been driven down this secretive route by a recommendation of the Leveson Inquiry, supposedly designed to protect the innocent from publicity.

Yet isn’t it the innocent who will suffer most from this chilling plan, which is opposed by both the Index on Censorship campaign group and the Law Commission?

If the public are not allowed to know a person is being held in custody, how are they supposed to come forward with any information they hold which could clear them, such as a cast-iron alibi?

Sweeping people off the street and secretly throwing them in a cell is the terrifying hallmark of totalitarian regimes – not mature democracies like Britain.

However, the brutal truth is that, post-Leveson, such secrecy is becoming the norm in the state sector.

Consider the Home Office edict – certain to deter officers from speaking to the Press – which says that senior police should record all their contacts with journalists in an official log.

Or the plan to change the law to make it easier for police to seize confidential material given to reporters and force them to reveal the identity of whistleblowers.

Or the demand by Lord Justice Leveson that public sector whistleblowers should report their concerns only to their employers – and NOT the media.

Steadily, the State is assuming the power to crush all dissent, cover up wrongdoing and corruption, carry out arrests in  secret and even convene secret courts. The implications for democracy, accountability and our open society could not be more grave.


Migrants get jobs because Britons are  not prepared to work as hard

By Boris Johnson (Trust Boris to tell it like it is)

Do you know what, I think the longest, coldest winter I can remember is finally on the verge of packing it in. I can see a pretty little vixen gambolling in the garden. Some pigeons are doing heavy petting in the tree. And the pedestrians of London are getting more talkative as I pass by on my bike.

For months they have had their noses in their scarves, heads down, eyes weeping. Now they are shouting at the traffic lights again, and revealing the most interesting things. The other day a woman came up to me, as I waited religiously for green, and gave me a clear insight into why Labour doesn’t deserve to win the next election — and why, indeed, it almost certainly won’t.

She was called Katie and she was a recruitment consultant for a group of swish restaurants. In other words, she was on the lookout for people to be chefs, waiters, sommeliers, hat-check people: that kind of thing. The restaurant business is one of many in which London now leads the planet, and I was keen to know how things were going. If the tables at London’s top-end eateries are full of people chomping through foie gras, then that is good news for many hundreds of thousands of families, on modest incomes, who depend on a thriving catering industry.

As the top chef Raymond Blanc pointed out the other day, the catering world has amazing opportunities for young people to get started on good careers, and Raymond is helping, with Tim Campbell, to lead our campaign to create 250,000 new apprenticeships. A booming restaurant trade is potentially very good news for the 100,000 16 to 24-year-olds who are currently out of work and on benefits. So I was agog to hear from Katie. “How’s business?” I asked.

Katie said that things were very good — never better, in fact. She had 20 vacancies in just five restaurants, and her services as a talent-spotter were much in demand. “Fantastic!” I said, and made a mental note that this chimed with recent statistics showing that employment in London was now at 70.3 per cent, an all-time high.

Then a thought occurred. “Er, tell me,” I said, “what proportion of the people you employ are, you know, from London? I mean, how many of them are, ahem, British?”

Katie looked embarrassed. She knew exactly what I was driving at.

“To be honest, about 10 per cent,” she said. “But why?” I asked. “Why is it that these jobs are not being done by London kids? What can I do about it?” The restaurant recruitment consultant looked thoughtful. “It’s the schools, I think,” she said. “They teach the kids that they can earn all this money but they don’t explain that they will have to work hard. The people I recruit — they have a different work ethic.”

Now we all know that what Katie is saying is true, and we all know that it isn’t enough to blame the immigrants. For starters, we can’t kick people out when they are legally entitled to be here under EU rules. Second, and much more important, it is economically illiterate to blame Eastern Europeans for getting up early and working hard and being polite and helpful and therefore enabling the London catering trade to flourish.

There isn’t some fixed “lump of labour” that means these jobs would otherwise be done by native Britons. The chances are that there would be fewer restaurants, since the costs would be higher and the service less good and the reputation of London as the world capital of posh tucker would be less exalted than it is today.

The failing lies with the last Labour government, which did not do enough to reform our education system and to make sure that young people were prepared for the jobs market.

London schools have been getting better — and it is a fact that even in some of the poorest parts of the city, schools are now performing better than those in many other parts of the country. Some good work was done by Tony Blair and Andrew Adonis in trying to free up education — and yet they were blocked at every turn by Gordon Brown and the teaching unions. As Blair once said, he had the scars on his back to prove it.

The result is that huge numbers still leave primary school — about one in four — unable to read or write properly or to do basic maths. No wonder they will lose out, in the jobs market, to industrious people from Eastern Europe who can take down a telephone message correctly.

Labour spent its time in government — a long period of economic plenty made possible by the Thatcherian supply-side reforms — on a protracted borrowing binge.

They borrowed people from other countries to fill this country’s skills gap and to keep costs down — and did nothing like enough to reform our education system to enable young people to cope with that competition. They borrowed astronomic sums to maintain the welfare state and all its bureaucratic appurtenances — and did absolutely nothing to reform the system so that we could cope when money was scarcer.

All these reforms must now be carried out, by Conservatives, against a tough economic backdrop. It is not easy, and it means saying some hard things. We need to explain to young people that there can be glory and interest in any job, and that you can begin as a waiter and end as a zillionaire. And it is time, frankly, that London government — boroughs and City Hall — had a greater strategic role in skills, so that we can work with business to make sure that (for instance) catering gets the home-grown talent it needs.

Above all, we must support Michael Gove in driving up standards in schools — and what does Labour have to say? Nothing, except to join the chorus of union-led obstructionism. What does Labour have to say about welfare? Nothing, except apparently to support every detail of the system that gave Mick Philpott the equivalent of £100,000 a year. Well, nothing will come of nothing.

Why would anyone give the Treasury back to the people who wrote these vast blank cheques against the future? Why give the key back to the guys who crashed the car?


The mutinous anger of Labour voters over benefit scroungers: A disturbing dispatch from a Manchester estate

Let me introduce you to two women I met on Friday. The first is Kathy Barratt, 33, a jobless hairdresser.

She looked tired as she told me of her tough life, perhaps unsurprisingly as she is bringing up alone six children aged three to 17; the fathers are not around.

She ran up £2,000 debts buying the children games consoles and televisions at Christmas and says she struggles to get by on benefits of £300 a week.

'I would love to work,' she insisted. But she then revealed she was recently offered a job in a supermarket – and turned it down as she would have been £10 a week worse off.

'I would have been pleased to take the job but there's no point working if you lose money.'

So what if it had been £50 more than her benefits, I asked. 'Maybe if you make it £100,' she replied with a smile.

Then there was a friendly woman a decade or so older who I will call Mary. I met her just down the road in the market at Wythenshawe, a sprawling suburb of Manchester.

A mother of two, she lives on her own after fleeing an abusive relationship three years ago. Mary also looked tired, again unsurprisingly given she gets up every day before dawn for her part-time post with the city council.

For this, she earns £440 a month – of which £50 goes on getting to and from work.

'It's all bloody wrong,' she said. 'I have to get up at three in the morning to get to work, my bus fare has just gone up, and there are all these scroungers around the place who do nothing and get more than me.

'The bloke living in the flat above me lies in bed all day, yet his girlfriend can afford a car.'

She has a point. Indeed, in a perverse way both women have a point – for the pair perfectly illustrate the way our benefits system has spun out of control.

This week we learned that Mick Philpott, the depraved man who killed six of his children in a house fire, was receiving so much in benefits for his brood of 17 kids by five women that he would have been in the top two per cent of earners if his cash came from a taxed salary.

This revelation exploded like a bomb on the political frontline, coming in the week the Left was raging over a range of benefit cuts introduced by the Coalition.

Chancellor George Osborne said that the case raised issues for society over why taxpayers were subsidising this workshy man's lifestyle – a fair question that provoked a furious response from Labour, accusing him of cynically exploiting a terrible tragedy.

Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls launched a bitter attack on Osborne yesterday on Radio?4's Today programme, spluttering with rage yet again over Tory welfare reforms and accusing the Chancellor of 'nasty, divisive, sectional politics'.

Yet the truth is that Labour has been flailing around on this issue. Indeed, it has looked so timid and out of touch that it is possible we may look back at this week as when the party failed to win the Election.

For one thing is clear from my trip to Wythenshawe – those angriest with the iniquities of the welfare system are the working people who have traditionally been the bedrock of Labour support. People such as Brenton Thomas, a greengrocer whose earnings have fallen to £120 a week – yet sees others on the dole drinking all day in the pub.

Or Paul Brooks, a firefighter who earns only slightly more than the £26,000-a-year benefit cap despite his risky job and long hours. Or Lianne Burns, a young mum who puts in 15-hour shifts at a care home to provide for her only child – but who sees other women having endless babies at the State's expense.

Perhaps most dispirited of all was a shaven-headed taxi driver out shopping with his son. 'My friends ask me who is the fool: them doing nothing and getting all the cash they need or me working 60 hours a week? They might earn a little less, but they have a very good life and ask why they should ever work.'

Wythenshawe was the place where David Cameron urged us to hug hoodies, but it is far from Tory terrain. A garden city filled with two- storey semi-detached houses, it is home to 70,000 people – with more than half on benefits in the most deprived areas – and is rock-solid Labour.

Yet there was no sympathy for the party's complaint that benefits are rising only one per cent, well below the inflation rate. Indeed, most people thought the Coalition was still too soft, suggesting those who refuse to work should get all benefits stopped – an idea that would make a Guardian leader writer blanche.

Even some of those on benefits took a tough line. Sarah, a jobless veterinary nurse, supported the Government's stance, saying: 'It would be so easy to have more babies, but I have two kids and no work so I should not have any more. I don't go out, have cut out Sky TV and spend everything on the kids.'

One other point was made repeatedly: the failure of politicians to set a decent example. As one tracksuited man put it: 'If they are stupid enough to let us have all this money, we'd be stupid not to take it – as they did with their duck houses.'

In many ways the rhetoric of some on the Right belittling everyone on benefits is almost as absurd as the Left's refusal to face the reality of a country with a bloated welfare system that has tripled in cost in 35 years.

The key message from Wythenshawe is the need to put pressure on those who will not work – while protecting people with disabilities and genuine job seekers.

This is essential to restore faith in a fair welfare system.

And this is where the Coalition is getting it wrong. Not just by protecting wealthy pensioners from giving up their bus passes and free TV licences – while hitting impoverished people on disabilities keen to work and failing to tackle the feckless.

But also with the new bedroom tax that penalises people on benefits with spare bedrooms.

In an area such as Wythenshawe, where most homes are much the same, it is difficult to downsize.

Go back to those two women at the start of this story. Which one of the pair has been hit by the Coalition's benefits clampdown?

It is not the single mother of six who turned down decent work to stay on the dole. Instead it is Mary, the council worker, who is being stripped of £10.50 a week from her housing benefit as officials deemed a room in her flat used for her younger son's weekend visits a spare room, surplus to her requirement.

As she says, it's all bloody wrong.



Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the  incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

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 and political diversity 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.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH,   EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICSDISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL  and EYE ON BRITAIN (Note that EYE ON BRITAIN has regular posts on the reality of socialized medicine).   My Home Pages are here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here


7 April, 2013

U.S. Army instructor Labeled Evangelicals as Religious Extremists?

A U.S. Army training instructor listed Evangelical Christianity and Catholicism as examples of religious extremism along with Al Qaeda and Hamas during a briefing with an Army Reserve unit based in Pennsylvania, Fox News has learned.

“We find this offensive to have Evangelical Christians and the Catholic Church to be listed among known terrorist groups,” said Ron Crews, executive director of the Chaplain Alliance for Religious Liberty. “It is dishonorable for any U.S. military entity to allow this type of wrongheaded characterization.”

The incident occurred during an Army Reserve Equal Opportunity training brief on extremism. Topping the list is Evangelical Christianity. Other organizations listed included Catholicism, Al Qaeda, Hamas, the Ku Klux Klan, Sunni Muslims, and Nation of Islam. The military also listed “Islamophobia” as a form of religious extremism.

Army spokesman George Wright told Fox News that this was an “isolated incident not condoned by the Dept. of the Army.”

“This slide was not produced by the Army and certainly does not reflect our policy or doctrine,” he said. “It was produced by an individual without anyone in the chain of command’s knowledge or permission.”

Wright said after the complaint was lodged, the presenter deleted the slide, and apologized.  “We consider the matter closed,” he said.

The incident was made public by a soldier who attended the briefing. He asked for copies of the presentation and sent them to the Chaplain Alliance.

“He considers himself an evangelical Christian and did not appreciate being classified with terrorists,” Crews told Fox News. “There was a pervasive attitude in the presentation that anything associated with religion is an extremist.”

The Archdiocese for the Military Services was shocked to learn that the Army considered Catholicism to be an example of extremism.

“The Archdiocese is astounded that Catholics were listed alongside groups that are, by their very mission and nature, violent and extremist,” the Archdiocese said in a statement.

They want the Dept. of Defense to “ensure that taxpayer funds are never again used to present blatantly anti-religious material to the men and women in uniform.”

“In the notes it was clearly stated that the presenter was not a subject matter expert, and produced the material after conducting Internet research,” Wright said.

So if the presenter was not an expert, what were they doing presenting the material, Crews asked.

He said he had a chance to speak with the officer who conducted the briefing and she told him that she got her information from the Southern Poverty Law Center.

“Why is there such dependence upon the work of the SPLC to determine hate groups and extremist groups,” Crews said. “It appears that some military entities are using definitions of ‘hate’ and ‘extreme’ from the lists of anti-Christian political organizations. That violates the apolitical stance appropriate for the military.”

But Mark Potok, a spokesman for the Southern Poverty Law Center, told Fox News they did not provide the military with any list about religious extremism.

Crews said he is extremely disappointed in the military’s handling of the incident and said they need to fix the “gross distortions presented in the briefing.

“Those soldiers who were presented this material – they need to have a new briefing with corrected materials,” Crews said. “They need to undo the damage that was done.”

He also wants the military to consult with chaplains about matters involving religion.

“All religious issues of this sort in the U.S. military should be channeled first through the Chiefs of Chaplains offices for review,” he said. “Do they really want to classify evangelicals and the Catholic Church as extremist groups?”


Air France fined for forcing non-Jewish passenger off flight

They were just trying to be realistic.  Israel would not have allowed a pro-Palestinian activist to land  -- and made the airline take her back on board to return to France

A French court on Thursday ordered Air France to pay a 10,000 euro ($A12,400) fine for having ordered a pro-Palestinian activist off a flight to Tel Aviv because she was not Jewish.

The court also ordered the French flagship carrier to pay 3000 euros in damages to the passenger and her legal fees.

Horia Ankour, a nursing student, had attempted to fly to Israel from France last April to take part in the "Welcome to Palestine" campaign, which saw hundreds of activists seek access to Israel in a bid to travel to the Palestinian territories.

Europe's main airlines faced a wave of passenger fury during the campaign after cancelling some 300 tickets following heavy Israeli pressure.

Ankour was taken off the plane in the southeastern city of Nice after an Air France employee asked whether she had an Israeli passport and then, when she replied "no", whether she was Jewish.

When the 30-year-old answered "no" again she was escorted from the flight.

French prosecutors had backed her in the case, saying it was a clear case of discrimination.

Air France had said her name was on a list of undesirables provided by Israeli authorities and it was certain she would not be allowed into the country.


And now it's a crime in Britain  to hate the Sex Pistols

Greater Manchester Police have revised their definition of what constitutes a ‘hate crime’ to include violent incidents involving punk rockers and heavy metal fans.

Not before time, you might think. Round up the lot of them and throw away the key. Or, as my Geordie mate Black Mike always jokes when he spots a Sid Vicious lookalike gobbing his way down the High Street: ‘Gi’ us a stick and I’ll kill it.’

But that isn’t what the bold Plod have got in mind. The new rules aren’t designed to protect society from gangs of punks and heavy metal headbangers.  They’ve been drawn up to protect them from the rest of society.

GMP is becoming the first force to extend ‘hate crime’ status to those with ‘alternative sub-culture identity’. In future, these groups will be granted the same special treatment as racial, religious, gender identity, disabled and sexual minorities.

The police are also pressing for a change in the law which would mean anyone accused of violence or abuse towards one of these ‘vulnerable minorities’ would receive a stiffer sentence.

Which in the case of Black Mike could mean five years in The Scrubs if his trademark ‘Gi’ us a stick and I’ll kill it’ crack is ever overhead by a passing off-duty copper or vigilant member of the public.

The absurd GMP Assistant Chief Constable Garry Shewan said: ‘The launch of this new strand of recordable hate crime is a major breakthrough.  ‘We must recognise the impact that alternative sub-culture hate crime has on its victims and the wider community, we can offer better support and risk assess the potential for repeat victimisation.’

Manchester cops are to be given special sensitivity training in handling complaints from punks, ‘metallers’, goths and ‘emos’.

I’ve been trying to imagine the training session at GMP headquarters.  ‘Now then, listen up. OK, yesterday we learned about goths. This morning we’re going to talk about dealing with emos.’

‘Emus? Has one escaped from Chester Zoo, guv? Isn’t that a job for the RSPCA?’  ‘Not emus, Hollis, emos.’

For the uninitiated, goths look like they’ve just wandered off the set of a Hammer horror movie.

Think Morticia from the Addams Family. Emos look pretty much the same to me, but they’re said to be a lot more sensitive. Emotional, geddit?

I’m assuming most people can spot a punk a mile off. The heavy metal brigade dress like Lemmy from Motorhead; long hair, dirty jeans, scruffy T-shirts and leather jackets.

If you’ve ever been to a heavy metal concert, the audience won’t have struck you as all that ‘vulnerable’. Upset one of them and you’ll probably end up with a motorcycle chain wrapped round your head. And that’s just the women.

According to the latest figures available, in January there were 25,411 crimes reported in Greater Manchester, including 2,500 burglaries, 10,800 incidents of anti-social behaviour and another 2,500 involving violence.

I wonder how many victims of violent crimes were drawn from the goth, punk, heavy metal or emo communities? Precisely. So why this sudden emphasis on members of ‘alternative identity sub-cultures’?

All this was sparked by the tragic death of 20-year-old Sophie Lancaster, who was attacked along with her boyfriend in a park in Bacup, Lancs, by a mob who took exception to her goth clothing and stark make-up.

That was back in 2007. Since then, her courageous mother has been campaigning tirelessly for such senseless attacks on people with ‘alternative lifestyles’ to be treated as ‘hate crime’.

It is perfectly understandable that a grieving mum would want her precious daughter’s memory kept alive. But there is always a danger in changing the law on the basis of a single case, however horrifying.

This is not to belittle the sad loss of Sophie Lancaster — or the sheer barbarity of the attack on her — but the laws to prosecute her killers were already on the statute book.

Are we now saying that attacks on punk rockers, goths and emos are more heinous than, say, a violent mugging of someone who doesn’t belong to a ‘vulnerable minority’. Is one life worth less than another?

Violent attacks on anyone because of their skin colour, religion or sexual proclivity are repellent.

Those responsible deserve exemplary punishments. The motivation behind the crime is something a court can take into account when passing sentence.

But once you start giving preferential treatment to people on the basis of their dress sense or musical tastes, how many other ‘alternative sub-culture identities’ will this be extended to include — mods, teddy boys, New Romantics, skinheads? That’s the problem when you single out any individual group under the law. There’s no limit.

To be honest, I’ve always been uncomfortable with the idea of a ‘hate crime’ statute. How do you decide what is a ‘hate crime’ and what isn’t? More to the point, who decides what is a ‘hate crime’?

Increasingly, the definition is being expanded to include ‘hate speech’, which the Left pretend covers any criticism — however legitimate and justified — of the behaviour of one of their favoured client groups.

The truth is that most ‘hate speech’ comes from the Left these days, as they seek to demonise, prosecute or ruin professionally anyone who challenges their intolerant orthodoxies.

You would expect this new initiative to find favour with the former Met Police chief Ian Blair, who worshipped at the altar of ‘diversity’ and embraced every passing Left-wing political fashion.

Yet, speaking on London’s LBC Radio yesterday, he said trying to equate crimes against punk rockers and heavy metal fans with hatred directed at genuine minority groups was a bridge too far.

And when even Ian Blair says it’s bonkers, trust me. It’s bonkers.


The Great British Welfare Myth: The chattering classes are peddling a poisonous myth - that the poor cannot survive without the soul- deadening embrace of welfarism

It was the week the battle over benefits exploded into life as liberals howled about Tory cuts. But here a leading Left-wing thinker says the chattering classes are peddling a poisonous myth – that the poor cannot survive without the soul- deadening embrace of welfarism.

The thing about receiving incapacity benefit is that you really start believing you’re incapable. The Government tells you you’re incapable, and it sinks in: I’m useless, I can’t work, I must be looked after.’

So says an old friend of mine who lives in the most deprived ward in Barnet, North London, where we both grew up. After suffering anxiety attacks, he’s been ‘on the sick’ — that is, receiving some form of sickness benefit — for nearly five years. It is, he assures me, an unpleasant existence.

‘You get sucked into a life of uselessness. The Government gives you enough money to live on, but you don’t live. You do the same thing day in, day out. See the same people, watch the same TV, drift off to sleep in mid-afternoon.’
The welfare system subjugates the poor, ensnaring them in a trap of dependency, and crushing their horizons

The welfare system subjugates the poor, ensnaring them in a trap of dependency, and crushing their horizons

He says he’s pleased Iain Duncan Smith is shaking up benefits paid to ‘the incapable’, alongside other forms of welfare. More than two million Brits receive sickness-related benefits, and my friend reckons many of them must be like him: not really sick, but simply treated as sick by a welfare system with more money than sense.

He agrees with Grant Shapps, chairman of the Conservative Party, who says of the army of sickness claimants: ‘It is not that these people were trying to play the system, so much as these people were forced into a system that played them.’

This is the side to the welfare debate we rarely hear about, at least not from Left-wing politicians and commentators: how the welfare system subjugates the poor, ensnaring them in a trap of dependency, and crushing their horizons.

Over the past week, as IDS’s welfare reforms have kicked in, we’ve heard quite the opposite from middle-class liberals who have been tearing their hair out over the fact that the poor aren’t rising up against them.

They’re bamboozled as to why the down-at-heel haven’t peeled their eyes away from the Jeremy Kyle Show, got off their subsidised sofas and marched to Whitehall to demand: ‘Leave our welfare payments alone.’

Where well-off, Left-leaning do-gooders in Britain’s leafier suburbs are weeping into their macchiato coffees over the Tories’ trims to welfare spending, the poor seem unmoved. What is wrong with these ungrateful urchins, plummy-voiced radicals wonder?

What the posh warriors for welfarism don’t understand is that the poor do not share their enthusiasm for the welfare state, for one very simple reason: like my friend, they know what the welfare state is like, and what a corrupting influence it can have on individual ambition and community life.

They have seen with their own eyes what the intrusion of welfarism into every nook and cranny of poor people’s lives can do.

They know it is not a liberating force, but a soul-deadening one, which doesn’t improve less well-off communities but rather turns them into ghost towns, maintained by faraway faceless bureaucrats rather than by the community’s own members.

The chattering classes now refer to Monday, April 1, when the Government’s benefit reforms were enacted, as Black Monday. They call IDS a ‘Tory toff’ who is launching an ‘ideological war’ against the poor. Guardian columnist Polly Toynbee has said that the poor will be hit by an ‘avalanche of cuts’ which will propel them into ‘beggary’.

In this lip-smackingly Dickensian view of what will become of Britain, we might soon expect to see women in shawls selling soap on London Bridge and children in torn trousers going back up chimneys.

IDS might only be putting a cap on the annual increase in benefits people can receive, slightly reducing some people’s housing benefit, and rethinking Disability Living Allowance, yet his increasingly shrill critics paint a picture of him turfing the downtrodden out of their homes and into a gutter-based life of Oliver Twist-style precariousness.

When the pro-welfare lobby isn’t wildly exaggerating the severity of IDS’s chopping, it is demonising those who dare to raise questions about the impact welfarism has had on poor communities.

So anyone who suggests that Mick Philpott’s decadent, deeply unproductive lifestyle in Derby may have been a product of welfarism, of the thoughtless casting of the welfarist net across entire poor communities, is shot down in flames.

Some commentators, and now the Chancellor George Osborne, have said that the Philpott case raises questions about the way the state has sustained, ad infinitum, those who don’t work or contribute to society.

But they’re mercilessly attacked by pro-welfare activists, who treat any attempt to critique welfarism as tantamount to committing a hate crime against the poor and ‘vulnerable’.

Yet no matter how much these observers ramp up the rage, still they fail to inspire those who are actually on benefits to join them in their battle.

In fact, far from wanting to fight in defence of welfarism, less well-off people seem positively suspicious of the welfare state, and this drives middle-class campaigners crazy.

John Harris, a columnist for the Guardian, this week expressed his dismay that anti-welfare ‘noise’ always gets ‘louder as you head into the most disadvantaged parts of society’.

Indeed, earlier this year a study by the Left-leaning Joseph Rowntree Housing Trust found that poor families, including those affected by welfare cuts, take ‘the harshest anti-welfare line’.

The study’s lead researcher was thrown by this. "Logically, I’d expect those at the sharp end of things to be pro-welfare,’ she said. ‘But if anything, many had internalised a Thatcherite every-man-for-himself mentality.’"

Other studies make for interesting reading, too. A British Social Attitudes Survey in 2003 found that 82 per cent of people on benefits agreed that ‘the Government should be the main provider of support to the unemployed’, but by 2011 that number had fallen to 62 per cent.

The proportion of working-class people in work who agree with that statement has fallen from 81 per cent to 67 per cent in the same period.

In 2003, 40 per cent of benefits recipients agreed that ‘unemployment benefits are too high and discourage work’; in 2011, 59 per cent agreed. So a majority of actual benefits recipients now think the welfare state is too generous and fosters worklessness.

Surely those well-off welfare cheerleaders, when shown these figures, would accept that perhaps they don’t know what they’re talking about. But no, they have simply come up with a theory for why the poor are anti-welfare: because they’re stupid.

The Trades Union Congress says the little people have been ‘brainwashed by Tory welfare myths’.

They claim the masses have been duped by Right-wing politicians and newspapers that spread myths about ‘welfare scroungers’. Consequently, ordinary people are apparently consumed by ‘prejudice and ignorance’ about welfarism.

One commentator says the problem is that not enough people read the Guardian. In a column for that paper on why the less well-off aren’t fans of the welfare state, she said: ‘Are the public stupid, or simply people who don’t read the Guardian? Well, yes ..."

This is a spectacularly patronising view. The idea that the only reason the poor are critical of welfarism is because they’ve been ‘brainwashed’ suggests a view of those people as utterly gullible.

In truth, there’s a far simpler explanation. Most of those who have experienced a life reliant on benefits have come to understand the detrimental impact it has had on their lives. The cult of welfarism also fosters divisions in less well-off communities.

Those who work, who leave the house at 7am to earn a wage for themselves and their families, start to feel antagonistic towards those who don’t work, whose curtains remain firmly closed well into the late morning.

Three of my brothers work in the building trade, and the one political issue that riles them is what one of them calls ‘subsidised laziness’.

This isn’t because they hate the poor, or think everyone on the dole could magically get a job tomorrow morning if they got their fingers out.

Nor is it because they’ve been brainwashed by anti-welfare tabloid newspapers, as liberal campaigners would have us believe.

Rather it’s because they recognise that the exponential expansion of the welfare net, the transformation of welfare-reliance into a permanent state of existence for many of the poor, makes worklessness into a way of life rather than a temporary predicament.

It actively encourages people to give up, to stay home, to be ‘kept men’ rather than working men. And naturally, working men don’t like that.

Indeed, there’s a long-standing tradition of poor communities expressing profound hostility to welfarist assistance, even when they have needed it.

In the Thirties, when early forms of state welfare were introduced, many of the unemployed came to resent their ‘new status as citizen beneficiaries of state welfare’, as one academic study put it. They found claiming state welfare humiliating.

In 1945 — the year the modern welfare state was born — a former cabinet-maker from the East End of London published a book about his life, titled I Was One Of The Unemployed. He described how, in Thirties and Forties Britain, he and many others who found themselves out of work felt an ‘innate morbid sensitivity’ towards ‘having to depend upon state welfare’.

The poor experienced a ‘sense of wounded pride at being driven by hunger to ask for cash benefits’, he said.

Even the most radical old Leftists, unlike today’s uncritical, poor-pitying Leftists, issued cutting criticisms of the welfarist ideology.

In 1850, Karl Marx described very early forms of top-down ‘welfare measures’ as a ‘disguised form of alms’ that were designed to make people’s less-than-ambitious lives seem ‘tolerable’.

That is, welfare was a way of placating the poor, lowering their horizons and acclimatising them to a life of mere survival.

As Pat Thane, a professor of history at King’s College, London, pointed out in a 1999 essay on early forms of state welfare, the less well-off were suspicious of welfarism that seemed ‘to imply that poor people needed the guidance of their “betters”

The end result of this propping-up of communities is the kind of world Mick Philpott lived in

Working-class mothers hated the way that signing up for welfare meant having to throw one’s home and life open to inspection by snooty officials, community health workers and even family budget advisers.

They didn’t want ‘middle-class strangers’, as they called welfare providers, ‘questioning them about their children’. They felt such intrusions ‘broke a cultural taboo’.

And the use of welfare as a way of allowing society’s ‘betters’ to govern the lives of the poor continues now. Indeed, today’s welfare state is even more annoyingly nannyish than it was 80 years ago.

As the writer Ferdinand Mount says, the post-war welfare state is like a form of ‘domestic imperialism’, through which the state treats the poor as ‘natives’ who must be fed and kept on the moral straight-and-narrow by their superiors.

Mount describes modern welfarism as ‘benign managerialism’, which ‘pacifies’ the lower orders.

Working-class communities feel this patronising welfarist control very acutely. They recognise that signing up for a lifetime of state charity means sacrificing your pride and your independence; it means being unproductive and also unfree.

The cultivation of such dependency on the state has a devastating impact on community life in poor parts of Britain. Because if an individual’s or family’s every financial and therapeutic need is being met by the state, then what need is there for those people to turn to their own neighbours for help or advice?

Welfarism doesn’t only destroy individual pride and independence — it also eats away at social solidarity, the glue of local life, by encouraging people to become more reliant on the state than on their friends and neighbours.

The end result of this propping-up of communities is the kind of world Mick Philpott lived in, where a sense of entitlement to state cash overpowers any feeling of personal moral responsibility for improving one’s life, or any sense of duty to the community.

So to my mind, there’s no mystery as to why the poor are refusing to join the fight to preserve the massive and unwieldy welfare state: it’s because they live in the very areas where welfarism has wreaked its worst horrors.

It is the bleeding heart campaigners fighting to defend welfarism who are spreading a poisonous myth: that the less well-off could never survive, far less thrive, without financial assistance,



Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the  incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

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 and political diversity 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.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH,   EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICSDISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL  and EYE ON BRITAIN (Note that EYE ON BRITAIN has regular posts on the reality of socialized medicine).   My Home Pages are here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here


7 April, 2013

Another Leftist hypocrite who despises those he claims to represent

In public he’s a hard-working man of the people, a rising star from South London tipped to become Labour leader one day.

In private, however, it seems Chuka Umunna – hailed by his admirers as Britain’s Barack Obama – is happy to be a man of the social elite, with a distinct taste for the high life.

The former DJ, now Labour’s shadow business secretary, belongs to an exclusive online club for so-called ‘jetrosexuals’, where he asked for tips on the best nightspots to avoid the ‘trash and C-list wannabes’ of London’s West End.

Fellow members of ASmallWorld, which has been described as MySpace for millionaires, reportedly include Tiger Woods and Naomi Campbell.

The invitation-only website, which was founded by Swedish investment banker Erik Wachtmeister, currently features an article about ‘mile-high hook-ups’ on private jets. It has also been described as a hunting ground for ‘sugar daddies’.

Mr Umunna, the 34-year-old centre-left MP for Streatham, South London, is registered on the social network with his middle name, Harrison.

In July 2006 Mr Umunna was still working as an employment lawyer, but was beginning to make a name for himself as a left-wing commentator.

On ASmallWorld, however, he was bemoaning the lack of ‘decent’ clubs in London’s West End, writing: ‘Is it just me or is there a serious lack of cool places to go in central London at the weekends.

‘Most of the West End haunts seem to be full of trash and C-list wannabes, while other places that should know better opt for the cheesy vibe.’

Praising a club he had recently visited in Kensington, he asked for suggestions for ‘a trash-free, decent night’.

Two years later, when he was hunting for a safe Labour seat, Mr Umunna turned to the website for more advice, this time for ‘what’s hot right now’ in Miami. He said he was spending ten days in the city, and listed a string of exclusive clubs he had visited during a previous trip.

These included Mynt Lounge, which boasts of having the ‘tightest door policy and the most fabulous crowd’.  It is visited by ‘A-list celebrities’ including Ricky Martin, Paris Hilton, Lindsay Lohan and Britney Spears.  Its owner Romain Zago says: ‘Mynt is for the famous and fabulous’.

Mr Umunna’s other favourite, Mokai, promotes ‘Sexy Bitch Wednesdays’ which are reputed to attract ‘A-list celebrities’.

It also runs Weekend Warrior Fridays, where ‘everyone is beautiful after 4am’. He also took time to visit Nikki Beach, an oceanfront ‘sexy South Beach nightclub’ and Forge, which holds champagne happy hours.

A PR for the elite Opium string of clubs contacted Mr Umunna through the social network and offered him VIP passes, but last night the MP said he had not accepted the freebies.

But he did accept an invitation to a private party for ASmallWorld members at the British Luxury Club in London, which features a bar made of Swarovski crystals.

Tory MP Chris Heaton-Harris said: ‘In public [Mr Umunna] likes to portray himself as a man of the people. Yet we know in private he has a lack of respect for the public.

‘Chuka, or should I say Harrison, has been outed as the ultimate champagne socialist who revels in living the high life, brands the public C-list celebrities and trashes our capital city. You can’t get more out of touch than that.’

While he has not posted on the site since he became an MP, Mr Umunna last night confirmed that he is still a member of ASmallWorld.

When contacted by the Mail, he apologised for any offence caused by the comments.

A spokesman for Mr Umunna said: ‘Chuka used the ASmallWorld social network in the past, which is similar to Facebook.

‘Though his user account on the site still exists, he has not posted a thread on the site for many years, since long before he was elected as a Member of Parliament.’

The spokesman also said that Mr Umunna’s interest in ‘house music’ was well known, as he used to be a DJ.

He added: ‘In terms of the post from 2006, these were comments made on a private social network well over half a decade ago.

‘Though light-hearted in tone and context, and made long before he became an MP, Chuka accepts the choice of words used were not appropriate and apologises if any offence may have been caused.’


Another rich Leftist

All in it together? Clegg swaps austerity Britain for his family's £7million, 20-room Swiss ski chalet

Three days earlier, he sat stern-faced through the Coalition’s latest ‘we’re all in it together’ Budget.

But with a flatlining economy and the  row raging over benefits cuts, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg knew exactly where he needed to be – at his family’s £7million, 20-room, Swiss ski chalet.

Leaving the stress of austerity Britain behind, he jetted out with his family for an Easter getaway at the luxury villa nestling between fashionable Klosters and the resort of Davos.

His family’s retreat – which comes complete with its own chef – has a large wooden balcony for sunbathing and magnificent views through the pine trees towards Lake Davos.

Mr Clegg, 46, is enjoying his second holiday there this year with his wife, commercial lawyer Miriam Gonzalez Durantez, the daughter of a Spanish senator, and their three young sons.

They flew out last Saturday and were enjoying the millionaires’ playground – a favourite of the Royal Family – days before the benefits cuts, which are due to come into force on Monday.

The Deputy PM’s chalet – which would cost around £10,000 a week if it was available to rent – has been owned by his Dutch mother Hermance and her relatives for decades, and he has been skiing there since infancy.

It was built by his maternal grandfather, who loved the area so much he became a Swiss citizen.

This week, Mr Clegg was seen on the slopes in a Dainese designer helmet, Killy ski gloves and a trendy Patagonia jacket in ‘Lib Dem orange’.  He was spotted gallantly carrying both his and his wife’s skis, balancing them on his shoulders like a pair of hunting rifles.

On Thursday, on the way back to his villa, he stopped his people carrier and wound down his window when he saw some photographers, and asked: ‘Are you looking for me?’ Then he drove off.

He had earlier driven to the Jakobshorn mountain, where the family took a cable car up to the 8,000ft peak.

They spent three-and-a-half hours enjoying the slopes, rubbing shoulders with the super-rich. The warm weather saw many of his fellow skiers abandon the snow to sunbathe at mountaintop restaurants, where lunchtime bottles of wine sell for £70.

One skier told Mr Clegg outside a restaurant that he was a fan of his and thought that he was doing a good job. Mr Clegg replied: ‘It’s very difficult at times.’

As well as the Swiss hideaway, Mr  Clegg, who is estimated to be worth £1.9million, also uses his father’s chateau in Bordeaux.


And a poor Conservative

Memories of the days he spent pounding the streets of London looking for work have played heavily on Iain Duncan Smith this week.

When he casts his mind back to 1981 he sees himself as a very different man — an unemployed soldier returning home each day to his girlfriend’s tiny bedsit in a bleak Victorian house, trying not to lose hope at a time when unemployment levels were nudging to a post-war high of 3 million.

Then a 26-year-old former lieutenant in the Scots Guards, with active service in Rhodesia and Northern Ireland under his belt, Duncan Smith had completed an HGV drivers’ course in his final fortnight in the Army to help prepare him for ‘Civvy Street’.

The reality, he says, was tougher than he had ever imagined — but he survived it.  ‘There is always the lofty assumption that Tories like me don’t know what it’s like to live in the real world,’ he says.  It is an assumption that clearly riles him.

Indeed, this week, during a heated interview about his cuts to the welfare state on BBC Radio 4’s flagship news show Today, the Work and Pensions Secretary found himself challenged to live on £53 a week.

Ambushed live on air by 51-year-old market trader David Bennett, who was complaining about cuts to his housing benefit, Duncan Smith was asked if he could survive on such an amount — roughly equivalent to the lowest rate of jobseekers’ allowance.

When the question was put to him directly by the BBC’s John Humphrys, the 58-year-old former Tory leader refused to side-step the question and replied: ‘If I had to, I would.’

Critics of his bid to trim Britain’s monstrous welfare bill swiftly pounced on the idea: an online petition calling for him to forego his £134,565 salary and live on Mr Bennett’s income for a year attracted more than 25,000 signatures on its first day.

But the reality is that Duncan Smith, the son of a World War II RAF hero, doesn’t feel the need to cave in to such cheap publicity stunts.

He’s already been there and done that and learnt valuable lessons about Britain’s benefit system from his own experiences.

In the 20 years I have known Duncan Smith, I have never seen him so animated about any subject as he was this week when I interviewed him in his constituency.

Today, he may be comfortably off, but he told me that as an unemployed ex-serviceman caught up in Britain’s Eighties economic crisis he has already faced the worst of times and learnt how to tighten his belt accordingly.

During those days of hardship, he would leave the house each morning and go looking for work, only returning in the evening after his future wife, Betsy Fremantle, had arrived home from her secretarial job.  He wasn’t even meant to be living there — because he couldn’t afford to pay any rent.

‘The honest truth is that I lived illegally with Betsy in the bedsit, trying to pretend I was not there. I didn’t have any money, which is why I tried to avoid the landlady,’ recalls Duncan Smith.

Inevitably, he was rumbled by the formidable Mrs Fair, who spotted him creeping into the house.  He was allowed to stay after agreeing to do jobs, from wiring plugs to changing light bulbs, and general maintenance.

Duncan Smith and Betsy were living in one room with a one-ring gas oven. ‘We had to keep the meter fed otherwise the gas ran out halfway through cooking dinner,’ he says.

The furniture was tatty, the carpet threadbare, and there was no television but they did have a radio.  They shared the bathroom with three other bedsits.

‘They say love makes everything work,’ recalls a rueful Duncan Smith, who has been married to Betsy for 30 years.

‘Back then, a lot of people didn’t approve of people living together before marriage but we loved each other, we wanted to be together, and we were saving up for a proper wedding.’

Each day he put on his only suit and went to the nearest job exchange and, after another fruitless search, he went to the library .

‘I had the Stock Market Year Book so I could bombard all manner of company directors with letters. I was looking for a job, not benefits, and I wasn’t complaining.’

His cold calling paid off when GEC Marconi offered him the post of junior marketing executive. 

‘It was such a relief as I thought I would get a job more quickly,’ he recalls. ‘It took months. I never claimed benefits so the little bit of money I had when I left the Army was running out. We lived economically — there were  no treats.’

Betsy bought clothes in second-hand shops, a practice that would stand her family in good stead when unemployment came calling again — more of which later.

It is his experience all that time ago of being unemployed, of scraping by on scarce funds, that today gives Iain Duncan Smith such a sense of empathy with those he is determined to help in his role as Work and  Pensions Secretary.

The job is the most difficult in government — a poisoned chalice as he freely admits, not least because under the last government, Britain’s welfare bill soared to £180 billion a year.

It was inevitable that any bid to cut it would provoke an outcry from certain quarters, although perhaps even he did not anticipate the extent to which the Left would try to demonise him as the living embodiment of the so-called evil Conservative government.

This week’s life sentence for Mick Philpott for killing six of his children in a house fire has hardened Duncan Smith’s determination to go even further and limit child benefit to the first two children.

Philpott, who claimed £60,000 in benefits a year, had 17 children by five different women.

According to Duncan Smith: ‘It is my view — which has not changed, but we couldn’t get Coalition agreement — that we should limit it to two children.

'It’s not just child benefit but there are also the tax credits and huge and expensive properties the taxpayer has to maintain for these sorts of families.’

Not surprisingly, his hardline stance has focused attention back on his own life.

Fortunately for his enemies, he makes an easy target because he lives today in a £2 million 16th-century house in acres of farmland in Buckinghamshire.

He does not own the house, which belongs to his in-laws Lord and Lady Cottesloe, nor will he inherit it. He moved in a decade ago when Betsy’s parents, who are in their 80s and in frail health, couldn’t manage the property.

‘The personal vilification we have endured over where we live is outrageous,’ he says. ‘I am not involved in the property and Betsy does not have a financial interest. We don’t get a bean from the farm and have never drawn any income from her parents.’

Betsy’s older brother is the heir and he lives abroad doing charity work in India. The house, which is run-down and in need of modernisation, has been in Betsy’s family for centuries.

It was home to Sir Thomas Fremantle, an admiral who served with Lord Nelson in the Napoleonic wars, and whose son, also called Thomas, was a Conservative politician and the first Baron Cottesloe.

Betsy’s grandfather, the 4th Lord Cottesloe, was the unpaid chairman of the Arts Council and instrumental in the creation of the National Theatre. One of the National’s three theatres bears the Cottesloe name.

Duncan Smith says: ‘It is upsetting when they keep on about our privileged lifestyle. When times got tough we adjusted our spending accordingly.’

A case in point is when Duncan Smith left GEC to go to work for a property company called Bellwinch. It was 1988 and the height of the property boom. His timing could not have been worse.

The market crashed and Duncan Smith was unemployed again.

At the time they were living in a flat in Fulham, bought on a mortgage, long before the area became fashionable. Iain had gone to work and Betsy was at home looking after their son and two-month-old daughter.

‘Everything had been going so well. I remember looking out of the office window and seeing the director parking his car.  'He was not expected at the office. I was puzzled and began talking to him about some of the projects we had started.  ‘He wasn’t interested. He said: “We are going to have to let you go.” I felt like I had been punched in the stomach.’

There was hardly any pay-off.

‘I couldn’t bring myself to telephone Betsy. I went back to Fulham, walked through the door and said: “I’ve lost my job.” To her credit she said: “We are going to have to work very hard to get you back into work.”

‘I was depressed and felt a failure, like it was all my fault. I couldn’t bring myself to tell anyone so went through the pretence that everything was OK. My pride had been knocked to hell. I thought: this isn’t supposed to happen to someone who is keen to get on.’

They invested their meagre savings in an Amstrad computer and started writing letters. Unemployment was rising again and as their savings dwindled, Duncan Smith contacted the building society to reschedule payments on his mortgage.

‘It was an incredibly difficult time. I was running up debts as we were trying to eke out the little bit we had left.’

A lifeline came in the form of a job as publishing director of Jane’s Information group, the defence specialists.

Fast forward two years and Duncan Smith — who had been the Tory candidate in Bradford West at the 1987 General Election — was selected for the plum Conservative constituency of Chingford, succeeding Norman Tebbit, who is one of his great admirers.

In 2001, he became Tory leader but was deposed after two unhappy years.

He might then have given up on politics — in the way that David Miliband who, just over two years after failing to secure the Labour leadership, quit Parliament, triggering an unnecessary and expensive by-election.

Miliband is taking up a post in New York paying a £300,000 salary, having already earned more than £1?million on the international speaking circuit.

After announcing his departure, he was lionised on BBC news programmes without so much as a suggestion that he might have let down his constituents in South Shields.

Duncan Smith, on the other hand, moved on from his disappointing tenure as Tory leader by choosing a very different path, setting up the Centre For Social Justice think tank to examine ways to alleviate poverty and homelessness.

It was while he was leader that his moment of epiphany came, when he visited Glasgow’s sprawling Easterhouse estate where he witnessed generations of families who were locked by welfare dependency into poverty, joblessness and drug addiction.

He was moved to tears by what he saw and embarked on a personal mission to find ways of reaching out to deprived communities.

‘Easterhouse was important,’ he explains. ‘but it was when I was Shadow Social Security Secretary under William Hague that I became wedded to the idea that we had to change the benefits system to reward people who want to work rather than those who want to stay on benefits.’

His determination to see this through was why, when the Coalition came to power, he took on the thankless task of welfare reform as Work and Pensions Secretary.

He clearly believes passionately in the work he is doing, although he despairs at how the Conservatives’ austerity programme is reported — above all, by the BBC.  ‘The BBC is always negative, never explains, never talks about why we are reforming, or the fact that national debt is rising to terrifying levels,’ he complains.

‘All the BBC case studies are hard-luck stories like that of the £53-a-week market trader. They never focus on a family stuck on a housing waiting list or in bed-and-breakfast accommodation.’

He is clearly exasperated, too, at how removing the Spare Room Subsidy — which will see housing benefit-payment cuts to council house tenants with surplus spare rooms — has been labelled the ‘bedroom tax’ by Labour.

When the BBC employed the same phrase, Duncan Smith complained. ‘Now they call it the “so-called bedroom tax”. It’s a disgrace.’

He points out that there are 390,000 tenants with two or more extra bedrooms in their homes — bedrooms that could be used to help to alleviate pressure on the 250,000 tenants in overcrowded accommodation, and almost 1.8 million people on the housing waiting list.

Duncan Smith knows the personal abuse will continue and that the Left will continue to exaggerate his wealth. In fact, the only property he owns is a one-bedroom former council flat in London.


Phoenix recruits minorities who can't swim well as lifeguards, endangering lives

The City of Phoenix thinks that swimming ability isn't very important for a lifeguard, and that "diversity" matters more than the ability to save lives. When it comes to the minorities it's recruiting, it says it's "not looking for strong swimmers." As George Mason University law professor David Bernstein notes, discussing a recent NPR story about this:

You can’t make this stuff up. The city of Phoenix, concerned that “too many” of its lifeguards are white and that kids in non-white neighborhood pools can’t relate, is recruiting black and Hispanic kids who are not strong swimmers. A [recruited] student featured in the article tells the NPR reporter, “Honestly, I have a little bit a fear of the water,” . . . It would be one thing if the city was promising to get only hire kids who could be trained to be strong swimmers by the Summer. Instead, pool staff will work with underqualified kids on their swimming schools “all Summer.” And what if someone is drowning on Memorial Day? NPR seems to want to put a happy-face “City of Phoenix reaching out to minority kids for lifeguard jobs” spin on this story, but as a Facebook friend put it, “If I wrote a job ad, ‘Looking for weak swimmers to be life guards for minorities,’ you would think it was some sort of racist joke.”

Racial preferences are generally forbidden by the Constitution and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, but the Supreme Court has occasionally countenanced exceptions allowing the use of race, such as to promote "diversity" in college admissions (in its 2003 Grutter decision), or affirmative action by private employers to eliminate "manifest racial imbalances" (in its 1979 Weber decision).

But what Phoenix is doing is unconstitutional, and is motivated at least partly by a legally-forbidden customer-preference rationale (the idea that patrons of neighborhood pools want a lifeguard who looks like them and can't "relate" to lifeguards of a different race, like whites), rather than any legally legitimate remedial affirmative action rationale. That's putting aside the fact that it's just plain foolish and unsafe for patrons of city pools.

Currently, the Supreme Court is weighing the constitutionality of racial preferences in college admissions (in the Fisher v. Texas case) and a challenge to a Michigan state constitutional amendment banning racial preferences in college admissions, government contracts, and public employment (in the Schuette v. Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action case).

Discriminating against job applicants based on customers' supposed preference for members of one group (as Phoenix is doing) is generally forbidden even in the context of gender discrimination, which is less forbidden than racial discrimination, and which (unlike racial discrimination) is occasionally permissible as a bona fide occupational qualification. See Diaz v. Pan American World Airways, 442 F2d 385 (5th Cir 1971). This invalid rationale for minority preferences renders them unconstitutional even if the preferences could theoretically have been justified based on another rationale (which does not appear to be the case here, in any event). A City must show that a legitimate rationale for using race was its “actual purpose” for using race, and cannot rely on a purpose that “did not actually precipitate the use of race.” (See Shaw v. Hunt, 517 U.S. 899, 908 n.4, 910 (1996)).



Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the  incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

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 and political diversity 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.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH,   EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICSDISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL  and EYE ON BRITAIN (Note that EYE ON BRITAIN has regular posts on the reality of socialized medicine).   My Home Pages are here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here


5 April, 2013

U.K. Independence Party finds its voice amid growing anti-immigrant wave

The American Left often see a wiser world on the other side of the pond.  Will they adopt the trend below too?

For the United Kingdom Independence Party, defeat has never looked  this much like victory.

After a Liberal Democrat member of the House of Commons was jailed on criminal charges, this struggling railroad town near the English Channel held a special election to pick his successor. The anti-immigrant U.K. Independence Party (UKIP) took up the challenge, setting up offices next to a Turkish kebab shop and narrowly losing its bid to win its first elected seat in the British Parliament.

Its best-yet showing in a national race has, nevertheless, thrust into the national limelight a political movement that is part of a wave of anti-immigrant populism surging across Europe. The outcome of the Feb. 28 vote, coupled with national polls showing UKIP support at an all-time high, seemed to terrify Britain’s three traditional parties. In response, the Conservatives, the Labor Party and the Liberal Democrats are suddenly tripping over each other in a race to see who can more closely echo the Independence Party’s hard-line pledge to get tougher on immigration.

UKIP’s ability to spark a policy stampede without even winning a seat in Parliament underscores the increasing capability of anti-immigrant forces to set the agenda amid Europe’s economic malaise. An issue at the core of the party’s platform is the withdrawal of Britain from the European Union to stem the tide of immigration — as an E.U. member, Britain is legally bound to allow the citizens of 24 other European countries to resettle here with few restrictions — which speaks to the concerns of a continent where a debt crisis and high employment are increasingly making foreigners the target of popular rage.

That fear is surging as countries including Britain, Germany and France prepare for new flows of migrants from two of Europe’s poorest countries — Bulgaria and Romania, whose citizens will win unlimited access to the E.U.’s labor market as of Jan. 1.

With concern growing that the Independence Party will poach more and more voters from the political right, Prime Minister David Cameron, a Conservative, last week announced a plan to make it tougher for recently arrived immigrants to claim welfare benefits. The government additionally announced a dramatic makeover of the U.K. Border Agency to deal more expeditiously — and harshly — with illegal immigrants.

Not to be outdone, Nick Clegg, the deputy prime minister from Cameron’s junior coalition partner, the Liberal Democrats, announced his own plan to control illegal immigration. In a speech less than three weeks after the vote in Eastleigh, Clegg vowed to force visitors from countries with high numbers of visa violators to post a $1,500 bond — with the cash returnable only upon their departure from Britain.

At the same time, Ed Miliband, leader of the opposition Labor Party, has offered a mea culpa for lax immigration policies during his party’s rule from 1997 to 2010, a period when net migration to Britain soared. In an apparent reference to then-Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s campaign gaffe in 2010 — when the Labor leader was caught off camera describing an elderly white woman as “bigoted” for complaining about immigration — Miliband said: “It’s not prejudiced when people worry about immigration. It’s understandable. And we were wrong in the past when we dismissed people’s concerns.”

Although not wholly new — Britain’s top parties have for years been leaning toward tougher immigration policies— observers say the steps taken since the Independence Party’s surge have amounted to some of the most aggressive yet.

“There is no doubting the influence of UKIP is now being felt in our immigration debate, partly because the main parties have refused to have a debate about this before,” said Keith Vaz, a Labor Party lawmaker. “We should stamp out illegal immigration, but we also need to avoid an arms race between the parties as they react to UKIP support.”

With a debt crisis and deep austerity entering their fourth year, Europe is facing a period of record unemployment that has allowed unpredictable political forces to take root. By comparison to some of these unconventional movements — such as the neo-Nazi Golden Dawn in Greece — the U.K. Independence Party is relatively mild.

The party was founded in the 1990s by British politicians furious about London’s acceptance of the Maastricht Treaty, which created the European Union. Today, the party is led by the spiffily dressed Nigel Farage — a savvy, speaks-in-sound-bites politician known for his dry sense of British humor. Although he is campaigning heavily for Britain to leave the E.U., his wife is a German national. Under his leadership, the party has largely avoided the racially and religiously tinged jabs against Muslim immigrants taken by, say, the Nationalists in France.

Rather, UKIP ascribes to a school of thought always just under the surface in Britain — that this is a nation that is culturally apart from Europe and has no business being part of that exotic world across the English Channel. Those sentiments have been exacerbated by an influx of hundreds of thousands of Europeans — mostly from the east — who over the past two decades have taken advantage of the E.U.’s open-borders policy to find jobs and resettle in Britain.

Tougher restrictions imposed by Cameron’s government have led to a decline in immigrant inflows — particularly of non-E.U. foreign students — since 2010. But Farage has tapped into a vein of thinking here that Britain’s answer needs to be more radical. Under pressure from his own party and an increasingly anti-E.U. public, Cameron has promised to hold a landmark referendum on Britain’s membership in the union by 2017 — a date that Farage says Britain must move up.


Secret Britain

£14m bill for gagging axed public officials

Almost 5,000 council workers and civil servants have been gagged at taxpayers’ expense at a cost of up to £400,000 each.

Last month the Government banned gagging orders for NHS employees after it emerged that more than £18 million had been spent on silencing 600 staff.

However, the use of similar orders is widespread for departing employees across both local authorities and Whitehall [Whitehall is the London street in which most British government offices are situated], leading to accusations that ministers are being “hypocritical”.

In Whitehall, more than 200 civil servants and officials have signed compromise agreements in the past two years, at a total cost of £14 million. Officials said it was “standard practice” for them to include confidentiality clauses.

One of the biggest payoffs was made to Philippa Williamson, a former chief executive of the Serious Fraud Office, who left on voluntary redundancy.

She received £462,000 and is thought to have signed a confidentiality agreement.

Local authorities have signed 4,562 compromise agreements with former staff, according to figures released under freedom of information laws. Most of them contain confidentiality clauses.

Eric Pickles, the Local Government Secretary, said: “For too long, local government has made departing staff sign gagging orders, often with big pay-offs attached, away from the eyes of those who get left with the bill: the taxpayer.

“When leaving a job, councils and their employees need to part ways fairly. Giving out thousands in under-the-counter pay-offs to silence departing staff is not the way to achieve this.

“Councils have a responsibility to the public and transparency is at the heart of that.

“By shining a light on these activities and introducing new democratic checks and balances to stop gagging orders being abused we are helping councils improve accountability in local government.”

In Whitehall, hundreds of officials have been given “special severance payments” with Treasury approval. Officials say that most contain confidentiality clauses.

According to its most recent accounts, the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills has signed the agreements with 83 officials over the past two years, at a cost of £2.6?million.

The Treasury has signed agreements with 64 individuals at a cost of £2.5 million, although a source said only a “small number” involved confidentiality agreements.

The Department for Transport confirmed that it had signed 40 agreements in the past three years, all of which contain confidentiality clauses.

The Department of Energy and Climate Change has signed 12 agreements containing confidentiality clauses at a total cost of £1.5 million.

The Ministry of Justice has signed 15 at a cost of £250,000, while the Foreign Office has spent £5.5?million on severance agreements in total.

Richard Bacon, a Conservative MP and member of the Commons public accounts committee, said: “These agreements are outrageous, they are using taxpayers’ money to shut people up. It reveals an approach and philosophy to the way the public service is run that is rotten to the core.”

The actual total for Whitehall is likely to be far higher. There are almost 400,000 civil servants, and many government departments do not publish figures on compromise agreements.

Jon Trickett, the shadow cabinet spokesman, said: “It is rank hypocrisy, ministers are telling others to stop doing something which is rife in Whitehall.”

Freedom of Information Act requests established that 256 councils in Britain signed compromise agreements with former staff between 2005 and 2010. Employment lawyers said the agreements almost always included confidentiality clauses. The number of confidentially agreements issued by councils rose sixfold from 179 in 2005 to 1,027 in 2010. Those subject to the orders range from social services whistleblowers to former executives who left with six-figure pay-offs. Brighton & Hove city council has signed the most, with 123 agreements. Bristol city council signed 121 compromise agreements, Coventry city council 114 and Bolton 107.

A total of 95 agreements were signed at Kent council, including one for Katherine Kerswell, the council’s former managing director, who was given a £420,000 payment after less than 20 months in the job. She is now the Cabinet Office’s director of Civil Service reform

In some cases, the agreements have been used to try to silence whistleblowers. Martin Morton, a social services manager at Wirral borough council, went to his superiors in August 2006 after receiving disturbing reports that some council care services were being run by criminals. Four men with baseball bats were reported to have demanded money from one care home manager. There were also allegations that vulnerable patients had been raped and people with learning disabilities were being routinely overcharged. He subsequently signed a £45,000 compromise agreement after being ignored, isolated and bullied.

Mr Morton, however, refused to keep his silence. After going public with his allegations, the council admitted that it had overcharged 16 adults with learning disabilities more than £500,000.

An official report commissioned by the council confirmed many of Mr Morton’s concerns. One of the carers had a conviction for assault with a deadly weapon, and the rape allegations were passed to police. Mr Morton said: “These gagging orders have a chilling effect. I was terrified about speaking out, I didn’t know what the consequences would be.”

A spokesman for the council said it had apologised to Mr Morton and admitted that it handled the claims “badly”.

The widespread use of gagging orders by local authorities was uncovered using freedom of information requests by Paul Cardin, who was silenced by a council. Mr Cardin, a former lighting engineer at Cheshire West and Chester council, was barred from even making freedom of information requests under the terms of his compromise agreement.


Britain's Justice Secretary asks: How have things gone so badly wrong?

By Chris Grayling

Britain has always been a good citizen in the world. We rightly provide a safe haven for people fleeing political persecution by brutal regimes. Our legal system is often seen as a beacon for the rest of the world, with people coming from all over to study it and embed its principles into their own systems.

So how have things gone so badly wrong with the human rights issue? When Britain cannot deport a man, Abu Qatada, who so obviously despises what we stand for? And who belongs to an ideology that would like nothing more than to do real harm to our society?

All too often politicians sign treaties in a hurry, without reading them properly, and without understanding where they will lead. The Human Rights Convention was written by Conservatives in the aftermath of the Second World War. It was designed to combat the risk of another Holocaust, and to try to stop people being sent to prison camps without trial.

In almost 50 years, the European Court of Human Rights considered only around 800 cases. It was a sensible, advisory body. Then in 1998 everything changed. Those who ran it wanted more power, and Tony Blair and other European politicians just gave it to them. And Blair wrote European human rights law into our own statute book as well.

Since then things seem to have gone mad. The court now has 133,000 outstanding cases and is hopelessly overwhelmed.

It is imposing new rules in areas that its founders would never have believed had anything to do with human rights, such as allowing prisoners to use artificial insemination.
Abu Qatada so obviously despises what we stand for and who belongs to an ideology that would like nothing more than to do real harm to our society

Why can we not deport Abu Qatada, who so obviously despises what we stand for and belongs to an ideology that would like nothing more than to do real harm to our society?

It is demanding that countries including Britain override the will of their Parliaments, and make changes like giving votes to prisoners.

Our own judges increasingly take the verdict of the human rights court as setting the rules that they have to follow. But it is much too easy to say it is their fault. Their job is to implement the law as they see it. If the law is wrong, it is for politicians to sort it out.

The problem is that those politicians, particularly Tony Blair in 1998 and Gordon Brown subsequently, casually surrendered our ability to do so by signing treaties that amounted almost to a blank cheque for others to make our laws.

All that has to change. I think we have given up far too much of our own sovereignty. We have given up too many of our own democratic rights. We need to reverse the changes.

That is what has happened in the EU too. Gordon Brown signed the Lisbon Treaty without even reading it properly. It gives those in Brussels enormous power to drive towards ever closer union, even though there is less and less of a mandate to do so.

That is the trouble with treaties that are not about a fixed concept, but give others power to make more and more rules without us being able simply to say no.

But there is a barrier to change. There are 303 Conservative MPs in the House of Commons, and more than 340 Labour, Lib Dem and other MPs. And almost all of the other parties are opposed to change that Conservative ministers and MPs want to see.

I would bring forward reforms in this Parliament and not the next. But we don’t have the votes to bring that business to the House and then deliver it.

It’s maddening, but it’s democracy.

I don’t personally understand why the other parties are so opposed to change, to bringing back the democratic rights of Parliament. I would welcome an agreement from Nick Clegg and Ed Miliband to support radical reform of our human rights laws. We would deliver those changes at the earliest possible opportunity.


Religious Freedom’s Drip-by-Drip Death

Churches will be pressured into blessing gay marriages

The end point of liberalism is a coercive secular state in which the religious have no meaningful rights. American church leaders are kidding themselves if they think the gay-marriage juggernaut is going to stop at civil marriage. It won’t. It will quickly travel past court houses to churches, demanding that all religions bless gay marriages.

Denmark casts a shadow of this future, where the gay-marriage juggernaut has smashed through church doors. Last year the country’s parliament passed a law requiring all Lutheran churches to conduct gay marriage ceremonies. “I think it’s very important to give all members of the church the possibility to get married,” said Manu Sareen, Denmark’s minister for gender equality. Reluctant bishops have to supply ministers to satisfy the right whether they like it or not.

Iceland and Sweden have similar arrangements. Since many of the bishops are in the tank for gay marriage anyways and since these churches are “state” churches, this pressure generates little news. But it is instructive nonetheless. Where gay marriage exists, religious freedom gradually disappears, to the point where ministers have to choose between serving as secularism’s stooges or facing societal oblivion.

In America, this pressure will take the form of “discriminatory” churches losing government grants, permits, and participation in programs. It will be the death of religious freedom by a thousand little cuts here and there: canceled speeches of religious figures at state universities, lost HHS grants, the refusal of city governments to recognize churches that don’t permit gay marriages, “hate crime” legislation that extends to opposition to gay marriage, and so on. All of this will have the effect of pressuring churches into blessing gay marriages. A law forcing priests and ministers to preside at gay marriages won’t need to be passed; the invisible law of indirect governmental pressure will do the trick.

During last year’s campaign, Obama said that religions will remain free to determine their own “sacraments.” Shouldn’t that go without saying? The very fact that Obama made such a declaration should scare people. Whenever a pol says “I won’t do [fill in the blank],” it usually means that very activity is on his mind. While he can’t determine the sacraments for religions, Obama will try and marginalize those religions that don’t determine the sacraments in a manner he considers “nondiscriminatory.”

Obama’s “respect” for these religions is on par with his respect for the policies of the Boy Scouts. “I think that my attitude is that gays and lesbians should have access and opportunity the same way everybody else does in every institution and walk of life,” said Obama when calling on the Boy Scouts to accept gay scoutmasters. Notice Obama’s phrase: every institution and walk of life. Surely in time that will include churches.

But for now, Obama thinks the religious should feel grateful to him that he is not busting down church doors and forcibly injecting them with contraceptives or requiring them to preside at gay weddings. That in his mind is the sum total of religious freedom. And yet even that little space can be crowded in on through laws that allow government to reward secularized religions and shun traditional ones.

The goal of the gay-marriage juggernaut is to make Christians pariahs, as irrelevant to public life as racists. It doesn’t have to pass a Denmark-style law to force churches to conduct gay marriages; it can achieve the same end through punitive political correctness.

On ABC’s This Week, George Stephanopoulos thought it appropriate to ask Cardinal Timothy Dolan, albeit in a roundabout and implicit fashion, if Catholicism could accept gay marriage for people who feel “unwelcome” in the Church: “What do you say to a gay couple that loves God and the Church, but also love each other and want to raise a family in faith?” It would have been nice to see Dolan challenge the insidious premise of the question by saying something like: So, George, you are saying that unless the Church loves the sin it can’t love the sinner?

Instead, Dolan seemed to concede the media narrative about the Church as hateful — “We have to do better to see that our defense of marriage is not reduced to an attack on gay people. I admit, we haven’t been too good at that” — while gingerly trying to uphold the Church’s teaching on marriage. His attempt at appeasement didn’t work. Gay activists pounced on him anyways, generating headlines such as “Cardinal Dolan Demeans Gay Relationships As He Says Church Should Be More Welcoming to Gays.”

The gay-marriage juggernaut only speeds up at the sight of such gestures, seeing civil marriage as just one stop on a longer road to a secularist state in which religion in general and the Catholic Church in particular fall silent and compliant out of fear if not law.



Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the  incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

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 and political diversity 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.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH,   EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICSDISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL  and EYE ON BRITAIN (Note that EYE ON BRITAIN has regular posts on the reality of socialized medicine).   My Home Pages are here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here


4 April, 2013

Conn. Baker Sees Outpouring of Support for AR-15 Birthday Cake Called ‘Insensitive’ by Others?

In mid-March a Connecticut baker was hired to make a birthday cake. But not just an ordinary yellow cake with chocolate frosting. Elizabeth Mais wanted to give her husband a realist AR-15-themed birthday cake that would be showcased at the local NRA dinner.

The NRA blog reported that Mais hired Jennifer Montalto with Jenny-Lu’s bakery in Middlebury, Conn., for the job after several other bakers simply refused to make the cake she wanted.

“Jennifer brought my vision to life, creating the most beautiful cake I have ever seen. She truly is a cake artist,” Mais wrote, according to the NRA. “My husband’s reaction when first seeing the cake was Oh my God, that’s a cake? The joy on his face was worth all the aggravation I went through.”

But in the days since the cake featuring a realistic looking AR-15 and a Gadsden flag was presented and photos of it began circulating, Jenny-Lu’s bakery saw some criticism. The Woodbury-Middlebury Patch reported a reviewer on Yelp calling it “insensitive” and said it was “ridiculing the tragedy in Newtown.” This comment and several others appear to have been removed as of April 1 and only positive comments about the bakery remain on the Yelp post.

A photo posted March 15 on Facebook of the cake with more than 2,000 likes, 600 comments and 2,600 shares similarly shows a majority of supportive comments about cake.

Montalto talked about her cake on the NRA News radio, saying she got a few “eye rolls” but overall the response was positive:

On the NRA’s blog, Mais explained that she wanted an AR-15 cake because she and her husband “love ARs” and because of the proposed gun bans.

“In light of the ridiculous gun bans proposed here in CT, I thought an AR cake with the Gadsden flag draped over the rifle case was fitting,” Mais wrote. “Both Bill & I strongly oppose any ban that restricts Americans from enjoying the best sporting rifle created. Bill has even testified at the state capital fighting against such restrictions.”

To the Patch, Montalto said she understood why some might have been upset by the cake but noted that she doesn’t involve politics in her baking.

“To each their own — if someone enjoys it, that doesn’t make them an evil person,” she told the Patch. “Don’t make someone out to be evil over a cake.”


Muslims declare victory in fight over 'anti-Islamic' Lego as Denmark promises to axe ‘Jabba’s Palace’ toy

Turkish Muslims have declared victory after toy makers Lego agreed to withdraw a Star Wars product which allegedly depicted a mosque.

Critics claimed that the Jabba's Palace model, part of Lego's Star Wars range, was offensive to Muslims as it resembled the Hagia Sophia mosque in Istanbul - one of the world's most renowned mosques.

The Lego set is based on the home of Jabba the Hutt, a central character in the Star Wars series, who lives in a domed palace, with a separated watchtower.

As well as bearing a likeness to the Hagia Sophia mosque, the Turkish group also claimed the toy was designed based on the Jami al-Kabir mosque in Beirut with the watchtower resembling a minaret.

The set of blocks featured Jabba the Hutt, a slug-like shisha-smoking alien from the Star Wars films, and an oriental domed building housing rockets and machine guns.

The character of Jabba, which features in the toy aimed at children aged from nine to 14, keeps Princess Leia in chains for use as his personal slave in the Star Wars films.

A statement posted on the organisation's website referred to Jabba the Hutt as a 'terrorist' and said that he 'likes to smoke hookah and have his victims killed'.

It added: 'It is clear that the ugly figure of Jabba and the whole scene smacks of racial prejudice and vulgar insinuations against Asians and Orientals as people with deceitful and criminal personalities.'

The statement said that the figures in the set are made to resemble 'terrorists, criminals and murderers'.

The case came to light when a Turkish man expressed his dissatisfaction with the toy after it was purchased for his son by a family member.

Lego initially refused to remove the Jabba's Palace toy from the shelves claiming it was an entirely fictional creation.

Lego's Katharina Sasse said:'We regret that the product has caused the members of the Turkish cultural community to come to a wrong interpretation, but point out that when designing the product only the fictional content of the Star Wars saga were referred to.'

But following a meeting between Turkish community leaders and Lego executives it was agreed that production of the toy would end from 2014 onwards.

Birol Killic, the president of the TCA, said in a statement: 'We are very grateful and congratulate Lego on the decision to take Jabba’s Palace out of production.'

Lego was not available for comment yesterday. There was no explanation why the game was not scheduled for immediate withdrawal.


No, comrades. Welfare reform isn't about hurting poor people. It's about trying to make them richer

By Daniel Hannan

A collective madness has seized the BBC and our Left-wing papers.   They cannot discuss the Coalition’s welfare reforms without an unfocused rage that no longer bears any relation to the facts.

‘Shameful’, was the Daily Mirror’s headline yesterday. ‘The Day Britain Changed’, announced the Guardian, listing the various benefits reductions that come into effect this month in as hysterical a tone as its self-regard permitted: housing benefit restricted for those with spare bedrooms; a universal credit to replace six existing out-of-work grants; a cap to ensure that getting a job is always more lucrative than claiming dole; and so on.

The BBC’s Today programme, meanwhile, gave Tory welfare minister Iain Duncan Smith a torrid time as he sought to defend his overhaul of the benefits system. The exchange was prefaced by an interview with a man complaining about cuts to his benefits, who now admits he was contacted after posting a very disobliging comment about the Prime Minister on the BBC website.

One Guardian comment piece called the welfare reforms ‘savage’, ‘cruel’ and — worst of all — ‘imported from the U.S.’ Another declared matter-of-factly that ‘the bedroom tax’ was ‘evidence that this government is either careless or actively cruel’.

Cruel, eh? By how much, then, do you suppose the welfare budget is being cut? Twenty per cent? Thirty? In fact, it is being slightly increased.

The total amount we spend on social protection currently stands at its highest ever: £220 billion in 2012. To give you an idea of how much that is, it more than soaks up all the revenue from income tax, council tax and business rates combined.

What the Government’s critics mean by ‘savage cuts’ is that welfare spending will increase very slightly this year.

The Left’s language is now so twisted that words have lost their ordinary meanings. The ‘bedroom tax’ is in fact a re-allocation of housing benefit away from people with spare rooms towards people without. Whatever else we call it, it’s not a tax. Yet the reduction in top-rate tax — which really is a tax — is called ‘writing a cheque to millionaires’.

Liam Byrne, the former Labour Chief Secretary to the Treasury, even has the gall to describe the 45p top rate of tax as ‘a bonanza for the rich’. But what was the rate during all but the final month of Labour’s 13 years in office? Forty per cent.

Ponder the truly eye-popping fact that, during the lifetime of the Labour government, welfare spending rose by 60 per cent during an economic boom.

What the Left-wing media means by ‘cuts’ is really ‘slowing the rate of increase’. As Mr Duncan Smith, the minister in charge, put it yesterday: ‘All those on benefits will see cash increases in every year of the Parliament.’

This is in marked contrast to what is happening in several eurozone countries, such as Ireland and Spain, where actual cuts — in the sense of handing out less money than before — have been enacted.

Many traditional Labour supporters will have more sympathy with Mr Duncan Smith than with the alarmists who speak for their party. They know that, last year, benefits rose three times faster than salaries. They don’t see why, when pay is rising by one per cent on average, working-age benefits should go up faster.

Despite the shrillness of the professionally outraged — the lobby groups, the columnists, the bishops who say these changes are immoral — public opinion remains solidly behind Mr Duncan Smith. Or, rather, ahead of him.

According to a YouGov poll, three in four people, including a majority of Labour voters, want to see actual cuts in the welfare budget, whereas all Mr Duncan Smith is doing is holding it steady. The massive increases in welfare spending under the last government had the paradoxical effect of widening the gap between rich and poor, because they made welfare more attractive than work.

At a time when 200,000 foreigners were arriving every year, and walking into jobs, 900,000 working-age Britons were permanently economically inactive. The highest cost was not to the taxpayer, but to those who, slowly and dispiritedly, became reliant on the welfare state.

Nudging some claimants back into work need not be especially harsh. Simply announcing that people on incapacity benefits should be reassessed prompted more than 800,000 to come off the benefit rather than be re-tested. Another 800,000 have been passed as fit for some form of employment.

The massive increases in welfare spending under the last government had the paradoxical effect of widening the gap between rich and poor, because they made welfare more attractive than work

Testing claimants is hardly Dickensian. On the contrary, it is a return to the original principles on which William Beveridge established the welfare state 70 years ago. Beveridge would be mortified to see the way in which benefits which were intended to be temporary have become permanent, as people arrange their affairs around receiving them.

At the end of Gordon Brown’s term of office, an astonishing one in five British households had no one in work. Two million children were growing up in such homes.

Consider, for a moment, the impact on those children, and you will see that welfare reform is not about saving money, but about saving lives. Indeed, if saving money were our sole object, we might just as well send people cheques to stay in bed. Helping people into work is often, in the short term, more expensive than doling out cash.

But, as John F Kennedy put it, before the Left lost its moral compass on welfare, ‘the best route out of poverty is a secure job’.

More people are now in work than ever before in Britain. This is, of course, good news for taxpayers: more people are paying into the pot, fewer drawing from it.

But the biggest beneficiaries are those — like the 800,000 who came off incapacity benefits — who now have the prospect of jobs.

The last Labour government tested to destruction the idea that poverty could be eliminated through higher public expenditure. In some cases, welfare spending is actively harmful, because it keeps people off the first rung of the employment ladder. In others, it keeps them off the second rung: Gordon Brown’s almost incredible expansion of tax credits — up £171?billion in six years — paid firms to keep people on low salaries.

At last in Iain Duncan Smith we have a minister who understands that poverty is not simply an absence of money. Rather, it is bound up with a series of other factors: joblessness, low aspirations, family breakdown, substance abuse, poor qualifications.

It follows that you can’t cure poverty simply by giving money to the poor, any more than you can cure a drug addict by handing him a £20 note. You have to tackle the underlying problem.

Which is what the current reforms are about. Mr Duncan Smith is trying to shift the incentives, cutting taxes for the low paid and ensuring that work is more financially attractive than the dole.

It is a pity to see church leaders attacking his motives rather than engaging with the substance of what he is doing. Look at the situation he inherited, Your Graces: households with three generations of unemployment, defeated, demoralised and resentful.

Do you suppose that increasing benefits by 2.2 per cent, as Labour had planned, rather than by one per cent, would tackle these underlying problems? Surely the real measure of a successful welfare policy is that bills fall as poverty is reduced.

‘Why do you Tories hate poor people?’ ask Leftie agitators. We don’t hate poor people, comrades. We want to turn them into rich people. It’s your lot who trapped record numbers in the squalor of dependency — and thereby increased the number of Labour clients.

In one sense, the Guardian was right. Yesterday was a day Britain changed. For decades, governments sought to tackle poverty solely by spending more. Yet, as in almost every other field of state activity, the subsidies failed. Paying people to be poor increased the number of poor people.

Now, with a combination of help and hassle, ministers are seeking to push benefits claimants into work. A Conservative approach is being tried, and not before time. The alleviation of poverty is altogether too important to be left to the Left.


Police chief attacks his officer's decision to sue garage owner over 999 call injuries saying her actions do not represent the majority of staff

The policewoman suing a garage boss after tripping over a kerb was publicly humiliated by her own chief constable yesterday.

Norfolk chief Phil Gormley said the actions of WPC Kelly Jones had undermined the public’s trust in the police.  Her claim is a ‘disappointment’, he insisted, and does not represent the attitude of the ‘vast majority’ of officers.

Mr Gormley was under pressure to discipline WPC Jones as critics said her personal injury claim ‘brought discredit’ on his force.

She was last night considering abandoning the claim after talks between senior officers and her Police Federation representatives.

Mr Gormley made it clear he does not support WPC Jones, who is on sick leave over an unrelated  medical problem.  He said: ‘This doesn’t typify the attitude and behaviour of police officers either in Norfolk or nationally.

‘I’ve got hundreds of officers who perform first-class work across the county, responding to hundreds of thousands of calls a year. ‘So it is a disappointment to us and I do understand why it has caused such a public reaction.  ‘In 27-and-a-half years in the  service, this is the first time I have ever personally come across a set of circumstances like that.

‘The vast majority of officers perform their work brilliantly well, they are aware of the risks, and in fact many people are attracted by the risk and the variety of a police career.

It is surprising and disappointing I think for the majority of our staff that an incident like this has undermined confidence in how we do our job.’

WPC Jones, a divorced mother-of-two, remains in hiding at her parents’ home in Thetford, Norfolk.  She triggered the row by asking a top London law firm to sue a garage owner after she fell over a 6ins kerb while answering a midnight call.

The officer hurt her wrist and leg and hopes to receive compensation after her lawyers accused Steve Jones of failing to ensure his premises was ‘reasonably safe’. The businessman, who is not related to her, has passed her claim to his insurers and fears his premium may rise as a result.

A former colleague of WPC Jones said: ‘We do not know how serious her injuries were. But she was  certainly able to finish her shift.’

Further questions also remain over the role of the Police Federation in brokering the civil legal action by one of its members.

The national Federation pointed the finger at the branch which represents constables, while local representatives said they simply passed paperwork to lawyers. But yesterday the Daily Mail revealed frontline officers are receiving millions of pounds every year from personal injury claims from a Police Federation-backed service.

Lawyers behind the free claimline boast they have recovered £42million in the last two years alone after suing over slips and trips, workplace accidents and negligence.

Stephen Bett, Norfolk’s police and crime commissioner, said WPC Jones’s behaviour was ‘appalling’ and ‘leaves me cold’.

WPC Jones tripped while investigating the break in at the Nunns Bridges Service Station in Thetford, Norfolk. Owner Steve Jones said it is example of the 'fallacy that someone is to blame for every accident'  He said: ‘Of course, there are officers who deserve to receive help when they are injured in the course of duty and the public would readily support this. WPC Jones, I suspect, is not one of them.’

Henry Bellingham, Tory MP for North West Norfolk, called on the Home Secretary to ‘get a grip’ of the situation immediately.

He said: ‘Will a firefighter sue because they don’t like flames or a paramedic because they can’t stand blood? This threatens the fabric of our emergency services.  ‘The public need to know they can have confidence that the police will investigate a crime without trying to sue them.’



Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the  incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

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 and political diversity 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.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH,   EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICSDISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL  and EYE ON BRITAIN (Note that EYE ON BRITAIN has regular posts on the reality of socialized medicine).   My Home Pages are here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here


3 April, 2013

Assault on Religious Liberty in the USA

Last week, I gave 12 examples of how religious liberty has been assaulted in just the past two years in the U.S. Here are about two dozen more instances just for good measure, as reported by the Family Research Council, the office of Rep. Randy Forbes, R-Va., and various media outlets.

--The following public institutions recently have joined the growing ranks of those that have banned the use of the word "Easter" in order to diminish or eliminate references to religion: East Meadow School District in New York, Prospect Heights Public Library in Illinois, Heritage Elementary School in Alabama, Manhattan Beach Unified School District in California, Flat Rock Elementary School in South Carolina and West Shore School District in Pennsylvania.

--The Colorado Court of Appeals ruled that the state's annual Day of Prayer proclamations violated the state constitution.

--Officials in Buhler, Kan., are removing a cross from the city's seal, which was placed on it four decades ago to represent the city's founders, who were immigrants fleeing religious persecution.

--The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit ruled that crosses placed on Utah roadsides to honor fallen state troopers violated the establishment clause of the First Amendment.

--A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit ruled that a cross displayed as part of the Mt. Soledad Veterans Memorial in San Diego was unconstitutional.

--The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit ruled that a North Carolina board of commissioners' prayer policy was unconstitutional because the prayers mentioned Jesus too frequently.

--The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit ruled that a Florida city commission's practice of offering an invocation at the beginning of each meeting was unconstitutional.

--For decades, the Sussex County Council in Delaware had opened meetings with the Lord's Prayer, but after a yearlong court battle challenging the practice, the council agreed to replace it with a recitation of Psalm 23.

--Other lawsuits by activist groups targeting the tradition of city and county council prayer are sweeping the nation. Here are a few more recent headlines. In North Carolina: "Prayer in public meetings debated in Greenville" (journalists Kristen Hunter and Jonathan Rodriguez). In New Jersey: "New Invocation Policy Includes Indemnification Waiver for All Council Members" (GallowayTwpNews.com). In California: "Rialto City Council defends public prayers before meetings" (The Sun). In Michigan: "Prayer at Oakland Twp. meeting draws ACLU's attention" (The Associated Press). In Georgia: "Cave Spring rethinking Lord's Prayer issue" (Rome News-Tribune). In Washington: "'Christ' ban signals apparent end to Longview council meeting invocation" (The Daily News).

--Officials at the Department of Health and Human Services denied funding for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops' successful program for sex trafficking victims because of the church's teaching on human life.

--In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, many New York synagogues and other houses of worship discovered that they were ineligible for financial assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

--Presidential administration officials refused to intervene in the closing of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom.

--Walter Reed National Military Medical Center drafted a policy that prohibited individuals from using or distributing religious items during visits to the hospital.

--Retired Army Lt. Gen. Jerry Boykin, a Delta Force war hero, couldn't speak at West Point because of his Christian faith.

--The Air Force Academy apologized for merely announcing Operation Christmas Child -- a Christian-based charity and relief program designed to send Christmas gifts to impoverished children around the world.

--The Marine Corps considered tearing down a Camp Pendleton cross meant to honor fallen heroes.

--The Navy relocated a live Nativity scene at a base in Bahrain to the chapel area.

--Air Force officials suspended a 20-year-old course on war theory because of its religious aspects.

--Yet, as reported in the Los Angeles Times in November 2011, the Air Force is building "an $80,000 Stonehenge-like worship center" for followers of "Earth-based" religions, including "pagans, Wiccans, druids, witches and followers of Native American faiths."

--The Department of Veterans Affairs censored references to God and Jesus during prayers at Houston National Cemetery.

--The Pentagon released new regulations forcing chaplains to perform same-sex weddings despite their religious objections. However, members of the Congressional Prayer Caucus worked tirelessly to ensure that the final version of the 2013 National Defense Authorization Act included key religious freedom protections for service members generally and chaplains specifically (Section 533).

--The Pentagon revoked approval to use the logo of each service branch on the covers of Bibles sold in military exchange stores.

What is going on in the U.S. military? Apparently, the military's urge for neutrality is officially and fundamentally transforming into hostility toward faith.

What is so difficult for the feds to understand about the free exercise clause in the First Amendment, which says they "shall make no law ... prohibiting the free exercise" of religion?

Long gone are the days when the commander in chief wrote the prologue to the Gideons Bibles given to service members, encouraging them to find strength and courage from the contents. That's what President Franklin D. Roosevelt did before the start of World War II: "As Commander-in-Chief I take pleasure in commending the reading of the Bible to all who serve in the armed forces of the United States. Throughout the centuries men of many faiths and diverse origins have found in the Sacred Book words of wisdom, counsel and inspiration. It is a fountain of strength and now, as always, an aid in attaining the highest aspirations of the human soul."

The only fight left is for we the people to defend our First Amendment's freedom of religion, not espouse or enable the freedom from religion. Start in your own town, and take the battle all the way to Washington.


Homosexual Activists’ Double Standard

Gay activists know they’ve lost the moral high ground when even their supporters are laughing at their double standards and hypocrisy.

Last week, Slate published a video compilation titled “Flashback: When Democrats swore they would never back gay marriage.” It showed Democrats like Hilary Clinton and Harry Reid affirming that marriage is a covenant between one man and one woman. Alex Knepper, a writer for the Huffington Post and a gay man himself, posted the video on Facebook with the caption, “Look at these bigots.”

He was being sarcastic, of course. Liberals and Democrats are never considered bigots.

The most obvious example is the double standard applied to Rob Portman, the Republican Senator from my home state of Ohio. Three weeks ago, Portman publicly switched his position on gay marriage after his son came out.

“I’ve thought a great deal about this issue, and like millions of Americans in recent years, I’ve changed my mind on the question of marriage for same-sex couples,” Portman wrote in the Columbus Dispatch. “As we strive as a nation to form a more perfect union, I believe all of our sons and daughters ought to have the same opportunity to experience the joy and stability of marriage.”

You’d think gay activists would welcome a convert to their camp. But no—it was too little, too late. Portman’s op-ed attracted hundreds of hate-filled comments on the Dispatch’s site and elsewhere.

“The senator's inability to empathize with other humans until it directly impacted him makes me puke in my mouth a little,” one wrote.

“What took you so long? Weren't gay people ‘children of God’ when you opposed marriage equality?” another whined.

Nobody said that when Barack Obama and Bill Clinton—who signed the Defense of Marriage Act—switched their positions. Instead, they were cheered for finally saying what the gay activists assumed they always believed.

Really? How do they know the Democrats’ conversions were more sincere than Portman’s? And how come Obama was never labeled a “hatemonger”?

This is nothing new. We all remember the character assassination of Miss California Carrie Prejean back in 2009. By saying that marriage should be between a man and a woman, Prejean did nothing more than restate the official position of Barack Obama, Joe Biden, John Kerry, Bill Clinton—and every other Democrat that liberals had voted into office. There’s no doubt that Prejean’s Christianity—as well as her traditional femininity—determined how the media treated her. As Miss USA owner Donald Trump said, “If her beauty wasn’t so great, nobody really would have cared.”

In her book The New Thought Police, Tammy Bruce, a self-described “lesbian feminist activist,” revisited the gay movement’s crusade against radio host Dr. Laura Schlessinger. Because Dr. Laura opposed gay marriage on religious grounds and called homosexuality “a biological error,” groups like GLAAD tried to force her off the airwaves, mostly by harassing and intimidating advertisers.

“In case you are still convinced that the attacks on Laura Schlessinger, however out of control, were motivated by genuine concern, let me tell you about one person who is not on the gay establishment’s list of people to destroy: the rapper Eminem,” Bruce wrote.

Around the same time Dr. Laura was being hounded by GLAAD, Eminem was releasing songs in which he ranted about killing gays: “Kill you, you f*ggots keep egging me on” and “I’ll stab you in the head, whether you’re a f*g or a les.” Gay activists had little to say about it.

Why the double standard? “Dr. Laura is…a member of the newly marginalized—she’s conservative and she’s religious,” Bruce wrote. “Eminem, it’s safe to say, is neither.”

Fifteen years later, nothing has changed. Gay rights activists reserve the labels “bigot” “hater” and “homophobe” for certain people and not others, even if their professed beliefs are exactly the same. Apparently, only Christians, conservatives, and Republicans are capable of spreading “hate.”


Parliament has become Britain's  worst enemy of free speech

Too many of our laws are being used simply to silence 'unacceptable’ views, writes Philip Johnston

The cause of free speech has produced some unsavoury champions down the years, but few can have been less attractive than John Wilkes. During the current debate about press regulation, this 18th-century degenerate has often been cited as an exemplar of the sacrifices made in defence of liberty. Indeed, in his time, Wilkes was a national hero. Yet today, his reputation has dwindled almost to naught, and his name and activities are highly unlikely to feature on Michael Gove’s list of historical facts that all schoolchildren are expected to learn.

But they should – because Wilkes, for all his flaws, embodied the spirit of liberty that is a defining characteristic of this nation, but which is all too easily undermined by indifference and ignorance.

By all accounts, including those of his friends, Wilkes was an unpleasant individual. He was a member of the Knights of St Francis of Wycombe, otherwise known as the Hellfire Club or the Monks of Medmenham Abbey. This libertine group made the Bullingdon look like the Mothers’ Union. It was renowned for its debauchery, its anti-Catholic ribaldry, and orgies with women dressed as nuns (during which members dressed in Franciscan robes).

Wilkes’s renown as a defender of free speech stems from an event that took place 250 years ago this month: the publication of issue No 45 of a radical newsletter called The North Briton. This was a virulently anti-government pamphlet that Wilkes, an opposition MP, penned with his friend Charles Churchill in order to torment the prime minister, the Earl of Bute. It was a scabrous riposte to a government-friendly paper, The Briton, edited by Tobias Smollett, the novelist and historian.

The North Briton was the Private Eye of its day, only without the latter’s customary restraint or attention to facts. Insults, scandal and rumour were its stock in trade, with attacks on senior members of the Establishment that were extraordinary for the time – even if they might now look uncontroversial.

But on April 23, 1763, Wilkes over-reached himself with a sustained attack on the King’s Speech for the new parliament, which was considered an unacceptable piece of lèse-majesté. Wilkes was arrested and charged with seditious libel – only to be cleared by sundry juries and re-elected to the Commons on several occasions, even when the authorities tried to bar him from standing. He was a true people’s tribune, and a hero to the Founding Fathers of the United States of America. The free speech provisions in the US constitution, and several subsequent rulings of the American courts, cite the Wilkes case; yet in his native land he is largely forgotten, save when free speech is under threat, as it is now.

Wilkes fought for the right to publish an opinion, however outrageous or erroneous it might be, without being told by people in power what to say or prevented from saying what they did not want to hear. Until relatively recently in this country, this was the accepted state of affairs. By and large, people were free to say what they thought, provided they did not incite violence; state regulation of newspapers was considered anathema.

Yet today, neither is true. People have been arrested and sent to prison for making “hateful” statements that were not physically threatening. And Parliament, for the first time in 300 years, wants to force the press to subscribe to a set of regulatory structures set up by the state.

The hate laws introduced in recent years are, in reality, the attempted prohibition of ideas that are considered inappropriate because they do not conform to the views we expect to hear expressed in a civilised society. But as long as there is no attempt or intention to provoke violence, should that be a matter for the criminal law? Some take the view that we need laws to protect minority groups from abuse; but the problem is that such laws can also be used to shut down perfectly legitimate opinion, for instance on the rights and wrongs of gay marriage.

There have been attempts to stop this slide. In January, Theresa May announced that it would no longer be an offence under Section 5 of the Public Order Act 1986 to insult someone. Yet at the same time, the Home Secretary acknowledged that this would make no difference, because the word “insulting” could safely be removed from the Act without undermining the ability to bring prosecutions.

In other words, this was not a victory for free speech at all, since the various cases that triggered the campaign to repeal this provision (like the arrest of a preacher for saying homosexuality was a sin) would still have gone ahead and will do so in future. The amended statute will allow the police to arrest people on the same basis as before – for expressing views that might be considered offensive, but which in a free country they should be allowed to say. That is why, as I argue in my new report for the think-tank Civitas, the relevant section of the Act should be scrapped in its entirety.

We have far too many laws in this area circumscribing free speech – not just Labour’s hate crimes legislation, or the Public Order Act, but also the Communications Act 2003 and the Malicious Communications Act 1988. As a result, the police and prosecutors are able to move from one to the other to close down views deemed to be unacceptable.

The fault here lies with the foe that Wilkes fought, even though he was a member of it: Parliament. The conclusion that the Americans reached when they introduced the First Amendment to the constitution was that the legislature could not be trusted to uphold free speech. It states bluntly that “Congress shall make no law… abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press”. That leaves legislators unable to interfere in any way at all with free speech, whereas here they have done nothing but meddle.

We do not have a written constitution – or rather we do not have a constitution that is codified. But as Lord Judge, the Lord Chief Justice, said in an important and insightful speech shortly before the Leveson Inquiry began its work, “the fact that there is nothing in statute which states expressly that the independence of the press is a constitutional principle does not diminish the principle”. Lord Judge also quoted Wilkes: “The liberty of the press is the birthright of a Briton, and is justly esteemed the firmest bulwark of the liberties of this country.”

As Lord Judge observed, this was a more profound observation than it at first appears. Wilkes, he said, “was asserting that the liberty of the press is the birthright of every citizen, that is, the community as a whole. It is a birthright of the citizen that the press should be independent. It is therefore not a right of one section of the community, not just a sectional right. It is the right of the community as a whole. It is, if you like, our right, the right of every citizen. And that is why, if you accept it as I do, the independence of the press is not only a constitutional necessity, it is a constitutional principle.”

So, too, is free speech. And as a constitutional principle, it must be inviolable – defended from interference not just by this Parliament, but by those yet to come.


Does religion still have a place in today’s British politics?

The recent row between Churches and state over welfare policy shows how the power of the clergy is waning, argues Paul Goodman

The Church’s report was seen as an attack on the Government, and the counter-assault from the Conservatives came quickly. “Pure Marxism,” said a Cabinet minister. A Tory MP added that it had been produced by “a load of Communist clerics”. The Prime Minister complained to a friend that the document contained “nothing about self-help or doing anything for yourself”.

The indignant vigour of that last sentiment gives the game away. The report in question wasn’t The Lies We Tell Ourselves, the recent attack on the Government’s welfare reforms produced by the Baptist Union of Great Britain, the Methodist Church, the United Reformed Church and the Church of Scotland, and the offended prime minister wasn’t David Cameron. It was Faith in the City, issued in 1985 by a special commission to the then Archbishop of Canterbury, Robert Runcie, and the leader in question was Margaret Thatcher.

Mind you, comparing and contrasting the two rows should indeed bring Karl Marx to mind. After all, they provide yet another reminder that he was wrong. For today, history is repeating itself as farce – without, as Marx claimed, repeating itself first as tragedy.

The contrast between Faith in the City and The Lies We Tell Ourselves is telling. Whatever one thinks of its conclusions – not least the idea that Thatcherism was to blame for the growing spiritual and economic poverty of Britain’s inner cities – the first was a serious and detailed piece of policy work, one capable of inspiring a follow-up report 10 years later. The second contains no recommendations. It is simply a plea on behalf of those claiming benefits – and therefore one on behalf of the benefits system itself.

Indeed, the entire dispute is artificial. The Lies We Tell Ourselves was published over a month ago. It seems to have been rehashed by the BBC over the weekend – on the verge of the Government’s changes to the welfare system going live. (Bias, anyone?). Whatever the background, the diminished vision of the report, and the muted reaction of ministers, says much about how Britain has altered.

Three big social changes have taken place since the rumpus over Faith in the City. First, churchgoing has continued to decline. Roughly 10 per cent of the population did so when that report was issued. Now it is under 5 per cent. While unvarnished attendance figures can be misleading, the long-term trend – and the ageing of congregations – is unmistakable.

Second, Britain has seen the rise of the new atheism – the polemical version mass-marketed by Richard Dawkins. The last census showed that the number of declared atheists has doubled to 14 million. The reasons for the rise are disputed, but one is unmistakable: militant Islamism has inspired a reaction against religion in general. So, too, have child abuse scandals within the Churches.

This has assisted the third cultural shift, and the biggest of all. There was no Human Rights Act in 1985, when Faith in the City was published. And there was no Equalities Act, either. Now we have both – and a human rights culture underpinned by the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.

Religion may be a protected characteristic under this new dispensation. But when faith clashes with the new secularist ethos, the former tends to lose out. So it is that Catholic adoption agencies felt they had no option but to close rather than allow children to be adopted by same-sex couples, and Lillian Ladele, a Christian registrar, lost in Strasbourg over her refusal to conduct same-sex marriages.

No wonder, then, that David Cameron is relatively relaxed about criticism from those in dog collars, whether it comes in the guise of those Reformed Churches campaigning against welfare reform or George Carey, the former Archbishop of Canterbury, complaining about same-sex marriage. These two strands of criticism combine in being reactionary, in the real sense of the word: both are reflexive protests against the way the world is changing.

Voters’ views about welfare claimants are hardening. The great wave of immigration that has broken over Britain since 1997, the largest in the county’s history, has much to do with that. Social attitudes are changing, too. On same-sex marriage, they divide between the generations. Mr Cameron’s gamble is that the Churches are often out of touch not just with opinion on the street but in the pew, too.

He isn’t always right. The bias in government childcare policy against single-earner couples risks an electoral penalty in 2015, and his backing of same-sex marriage – for which he had no manifesto mandate and for which there was no public pressure – has already cost him dear, given the scale of party resignations and defections to Ukip. And it can also be argued that the Prime Minister’s commitment to protecting Christianity’s place in the public square is shallow: appointing Sayeeda Warsi as Minister for Faith, sticking to his pledge to spend 0.7 per cent of GNP on overseas aid and sending out Christmas messages quoting St John’s Gospel doesn’t add up to a thought-through policy on faith.

But is Mr Cameron letting the Churches down, or vice-versa? The answer lies back in the early days of this Government, when Steve Hilton was in Downing Street and the Big Society was all the rage. Mr Hilton had a vision of clubs, charities, co-operatives and, yes, churches running public services.

To a degree, this has long been happening. Churches and faith communities have always been the Big Society in action – the “little platoons” that Burkean Tories revere. The Church Urban Fund, for example, supports 300 projects that tackle poverty directly.

The Cabinet Office, which contains a strong network of evangelical Christians, is funding evangelical-led projects such as the Cinnamon Network. “Christians on the ground know that Britain faces 10 years of austerity,” one church source told me, “and are bypassing the official structures, providing food banks and housing and employment advice on the ground.”

This raises questions about those “official structures” – in particular, those of Britain’s two largest ecclesiastical players, the Catholic Church and the Church of England. The former was suspicious of Michael Gove’s academies initiative. Although there have been changes at the Catholic Education Service, its energies are still directed inwards – towards preserving the Catholic ethos of its schools.

The Church of England is less centralised: the toing-and-froing between St Paul’s and the Occupy movement last year was but one small reminder of this. But like parts of the Catholic Church and the Reformed Churches, a large part of the bench of bishops harks back, in that reactionary way, to the Attlee government of the 1940s as its ideal, and to the welfare state as that government’s greatest achievement.

Mr Hilton – and the Prime Minister himself – thus have reason to be disappointed. The Churches on the Continent are not so tethered to an ageing model. In Germany, the Catholic Church runs more than 25,000 kindergartens, hospitals, homes and care facilities. Jeremy Hunt’s hospital reforms – a response to disasters such as Mid-Staffs – rely on new discipline from above and visitor pressure from below (with the latter probably to prove the more effective). Hospitals have failed elderly and frail patients because we live in a culture that doesn’t value age and experience. The ethos of the Churches contradicts that culture – indeed, it created our hospitals in the first place. There is a role here that they could revive.

We have grown used to political interventions from Rowan Williams and other churchmen that could double as editorials in the Guardian or New Statesman. But the truth is that until the Church of England and others reoccupy the ground they once held, they will be driven further out of people’s everyday lives. The more ground they are forced to abandon, the safer politicians will feel in ignoring them.



Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the  incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

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 and political diversity 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.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH,   EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICSDISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL  and EYE ON BRITAIN (Note that EYE ON BRITAIN has regular posts on the reality of socialized medicine).   My Home Pages are here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here


2 April, 2013

The importance of relationships

At this time of year it's worth pondering: many business people and economists think of themselves as Christians, but what implications does this carry for the way they view the world and conduct their affairs?

According to Michael Schluter, founder of Relationships Global and, these days, a business consultant, Christianity is a "relational" religion. If so, it doesn't sit easily with market capitalism as it is conceptualised by economists and practised by business people.

The primary emphasis of economics and business is on satisfying the wants of the individual. In this they give little priority to individuals' human relationships.

Is Christianity much different? Certainly, in the Evangelical version I grew up with, it too focuses on the individual. And you could be forgiven for wondering whether it pays much attention to relationships.

But here Schluter begs to differ. He says all of Christianity is a relational story. It starts with humankind created in God's image, but then the relationship is ruptured in the Garden of Eden. Finally, God comes to earth as a baby and ends up dying on a cross with the expressed purpose of restoring the broken relationship with humankind.

What does God require of us? Jesus summarised it: all the law and the prophets depend on two commandments - love God with all your heart, and love your neighbour as you love yourself. What could be more relational than that?

Schluter says life can be viewed from many perspectives: financial, environmental, individual, material. But "as Christians, we need to see all of reality through a relational lens if we are to look at the world as God sees it".

All of life is ultimately about relationships. For example, he says, "every financial transaction is an expression of an underlying relationship between nations, organisations or individuals".

The development of a society can be measured not in terms of economic growth but by the quality of relationships between individuals and between ethnic and other social groupings.

Education's goal can be defined as acquisition of wisdom for children to be able to serve their family and community, rather than acquisition of technical skills merely for personal career advantage.

"At a personal level, our happiness and wellbeing are determined primarily by the quality of our relationships. Arguably, financial issues - for example, debt and savings - matter to us primarily due to their relational implications," he says.

Above a certain income, wellbeing indices point to the central importance of relationships. Even for those below this income threshold it's not clear if the priority of income is for personal benefit or for group benefit, such as the care of children.

Debt is closely associated with depression and also with divorce, child abuse and social isolation, he says. Survival rates after serious illness are more closely associated with levels of relational support than with levels of income.

"It is easier to find someone financially rich and miserable than someone relationally rich and miserable," he says. "It is hard to find someone on their death bed who says, 'I wish I had spent more time in the office'."

The individualism of our culture leads us to miscalculate the significance of events because it takes little or no account of "externalities" - that is, the effects on third parties.

For example, companies and public service agencies move staff to new locations to maximise economic productivity, and economic analysis applauds their decision to do so. But no attempt is made to measure the social or relational costs of such dislocation, especially to spouses or partners, children, friends and parents and grandparents whose relationships have been disrupted.

Schluter says business, finance and public sector organisations are increasingly coming to recognise that financial evaluation of performance is insufficient.

"The purpose of companies is increasingly defined inclusively to recognise the significance of company decisions for many stakeholders, rather than instrumentally, where customers, suppliers and so on are regarded simply as means to increase shareholder profits."

Low levels of national debt - a measure of inter-generational loyalty - decrease economic instability and aid economic growth. Political stability is a foundation for economic prosperity, but depends on peaceful relations between ethnic and religious groups and between rich and poor.


Just one in eight Britons on sickness benefit is truly too ill to work: Almost a million drop benefits claim to avoid new test

Just one in eight people claiming sickness benefits has been found to be too ill to do any sort of job, it has emerged.

And almost 900,000 have dropped their claim to the taxpayer-funded benefits rather than undergo a new medical test as part of the Coalition welfare reforms.

Official figures released yesterday ahead of a string of changes to the tax and benefit system suggested the Government’s strategy is already having a dramatic effect.
reforms to tax and welfare system.jpg

Only 232,000 – one in eight of those tested so far – have been deemed by doctors to be too unwell to do any sort of work.

Another 837,000 who did take the test were found to be fit to work immediately, and a further 367,300 were judged able to do some level of work.

Some 30 people were claiming they were unfit to work because of blisters, while 60 cited acne and 2,110 said ‘sprains and strains’ rendered them unfit for employment.

The figures showed that 878,300 people – around a third of the 2.6million who were claiming incapacity benefit – have chosen to drop their claims rather than face a medical. A Department for Work and Pensions document said 1.44million Incapacity Benefit reassessments have so far been carried out by doctors.

Ministers say they are evidence of a ‘wasted generation’ of people who went on to benefits under Labour, and were never given any incentive or support to get back into work.

A series of controversial reforms to the benefits system comes into force this week.

These include an end to housing benefit subsidies for people in taxpayer-funded housing with spare rooms, an overall benefits cap limiting household claims to no more than £26,000 a year to match average salaries and a new personal independence payment to focus disability benefits on the worst off.

Working-age benefits and tax credits will rise by just 1 per cent from the start of the tax year on April 6 – the start of a three-year cap that represents a real-terms cut.

Conservative chairman Grant Shapps said the system of welfare dependency created by Labour was ‘evil’ and accused the party of using sickness benefits to ‘hide the unemployed’. He said Iain Duncan Smith’s new universal credit, which is to replace all the main out-of-work benefits, would ensure people are always better off if they take a job or increase their hours rather than continuing to depend on the state.

He told Sky News: ‘These are very big reforms – in fact the biggest since the war.

‘I think it’s really important we do have a system where people are supported into work, and where when somebody works, they always know they’re going to be better off than someone on benefits. That’s what this incredibly large reform, the universal credit, will achieve.

He added: ‘I think it’s completely unfair when people can’t work out whether they’d be better off or worse off if they work more than 16 hours or 24 hours or 30 hours, the various different limits which were in place with different benefits.

‘What we want is a system where people just know they will be better off if they’re working. And that’s what the universal credit will deliver.’ Mr Shapps said the welfare system had become ‘literally cruel, even evil to people’.

He added: ‘Nearly a million people have come off incapacity benefit before going for the test. They’ve taken themselves off. My big argument here is this is not these people were trying to play the system, as much as these people were forced into a system that played them.’

A coalition of churches, however, accused the Government of perpetuating myths about poverty in an attempt to justify welfare cuts.

In a joint report, the Baptist Union of Great Britain, the Methodist church, the United Reformed church and the Church of Scotland said that the ‘systematic misrepresentation of the poorest in society’ was a matter of injustice. Economic Secretary Sajid Javid last night wrote to Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls ahead of this week’s changes asking him to say whether Labour – which has opposed every significant spending cut – would reverse them if elected.

Mr Javid insisted the Government was ‘reforming the tax and benefit system so that it works for hardworking people’.

The letter added: ‘But since  you became Shadow Chancellor, Labour have opposed every single saving we are making to live within our means. Your only economic policy is more borrowing, more debt – more of how you got us into this mess in the first place.

‘And yet your opposition so far has not included any firm commitment as to whether you would actually reverse any of this Government’s decisions after the next election.’

Mr Javid asked whether Labour would reverse a string of measures that have a combined saving of £5billion a year for taxpayers.


Endangered: The First Amendment

The First Amendment to the Constitution was reserved for the position of highest priority of human rights in the minds of the British rebels who had founded the United States of America just thirteen years earlier.  They had just settled into something of a routine with the rebuilding of the states and the resumption of commerce.  But their perspective was as fresh as the war that won their freedom from King George III.

The First of our Bill of Rights reads, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”  Four distinct rights are identified here.  This article will address the foremost; religion.

For 300 years, the expatriation of Europeans to the new world was driven by discovery, commerce, and religious freedom.  When the Colonies opted to “dissolve the political bands” with Great Britain, one of the“causes which impel[ed] them to the separation” was the King’s ancillary titles of Supreme Governor of the Church of England and Defender of the Faith.  The freedoms for which the Founding Fathers pledged their lives, fortunes and sacred honor permeated their perspective, and nowhere more personal than this first named right of all the amendments.

Excerpts from Thomas Jefferson’s prolific writings, below, convey the advanced convictions of religious freedom that today struggles to show itself in a culture that seems to have slipped back into government centralism fit for a king.

“Had not the Roman government permitted free inquiry, Christianity could never have been introduced.  Had not free inquiry been indulged at the era of the Reformation, the corruptions of Christianity could not have been purged away.  If it be restrained now, the present corruptions will be protected, and new ones encouraged.”

“Galileo was sent to the Inquisition for affirming that the earth was a sphere; the government had declared it to be as flat as a trencher, and Galileo was obliged to abjure his error.  This error, however, at length prevailed, the earth became a globe, and Descartes declared it was whirled round its axis by a vortex.  The government in which he lived was wise enough to see that this was no question of civil jurisdiction, or we should all have been involved by authority in vortices.  In fact, the vortices have been exploded, and the Newtonian principle of gravitation is now more firmly established, on the basis of reason, than it would be were the government to step in, and to make it an article of necessary faith.”

“Reason and experiment have been indulged, and error has fled before them.  It is error alone which needs the support of government.  Truth can stand by itself.  Subject opinion to coercion: whom will you make your inquisitors?  Fallible men; men governed by bad passions, by private as well as public reasons.  And why subject it to coercion?  To produce uniformity.  …  Difference of opinion is advantageous to religion.”

“Religion is well supported to preserve peace and order; or if a sect arises, whose tenets should subvert morals, good sense has fair play; and reasons and laughs it out of doors, without suffering the state to be troubled with it.”

Statists have fought the purity of the First Amendment for decades.  The ACLU has managed to inculcate a popular belief in American culture and court systems that asserts the oppression that Thomas Jefferson railed against.  And amazingly, they have used Jefferson’s words to accomplish their deceitful deed.  In a letter of assurance to the Danbury Baptists Association of Connecticut, Jefferson wrote, “Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between man and his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legislative powers of government reach actions only, and not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should ‘make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,’ thus building a wall of separation between church and State.”

Without a Congressional debate, nor vote in the Senate, or ratification of the states, the ACLU has managed to establish “separation between church and state” as constitutional dictum.  This, from a letter that Jefferson closed with, “I reciprocate your kind prayers for the protection and blessing of the common Father and Creator of man, and tender you for yourselves and your religious association, assurances of my high respect and esteem.”

Unfortunately for 21st Century America, the throwbacks of monarchial centralism have successfully argued a reversal of the magnetic poles.  This amendment intended for our liberty has instead been boorishly coined as “The Separation Clause.”  Governments at all levels are fearful of acknowledging God while feeling obligated to advance the theories of evolution and global warming as articles of necessary faith.

But I am in awe of the concise and deliberate wording, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”  No matter the sentiment, whether supportive or restrictive, governments do not have the authority to pass any laws regarding religion - period.

But the United States was not founded on agnosticism.  And if the courts were to examine the whole of Jefferson’s writings they would find that it is wholly proper for governments to avow the existence of the God who was acknowledged at the signing of the declaration that begat the nation.  “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.”  Implied herein is that this Creator (1) is God of the laws of nature, (2) is the creator of humans, (3) intended for humans to share equal status among themselves, and (4) endowed all humans with unalienable rights which include life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.  Not every god fits this description; Sorry.

Specific theology about God are not to be advanced by governments beyond what is implied in the Declaration.  So it is arguable that governments may not fund a nativity scene.  But the acknowledgment of the existence and authority of God by government entities is no way in conflict with the First Amendment.  Otherwise, the Declaration of Independence, believed by many in 1789 to be the original Bill of Rights, would itself be categorically unconstitutional.

A citizen is incapable of violating the First Amendment.  As is evident with every one of the Bill of Rights, the First Amendment was never intended as a restriction on citizen behavior.  It is a restriction on government alone.  A valedictorian does not violate the First Amendment by proclaiming to her fellow graduates that she believes in Jesus Christ as her savior.  But a school district that establishes a rule prohibiting her statement is in direct violation of the First Amendment.

During the period that Thomas Jefferson served as President, the largest church in the United States held their services in the U.S. Capitol building.  And the man who wrote the words, “wall of separation between church and State” attended those services every Sunday that he was in Washington.  And in that great city, carved in the marble of the Thomas Jefferson Memorial are from a quote that conveys the wisdom that the Founding Fathers attempted to reflect in the beginning words of the Bill of Rights, “…the holy author of our religion, who being lord both of body and mind, yet chose not to propagate it by coercions on either, as was in his Almighty power to do, but to extend it by its influence on reason alone.”

On matters of religion, government is to remain reverent and meek as a reflection of the noble manner that the Creator invites His followers while gracing them with free will.


"Progressive" abuse of language

What constitutes news? What does the word even mean anymore? Words have gone from having specific meanings to being malleable tools used to advance a progressive agenda.

Warnings of global cooling in the 1970s became warnings of global warming in the 1990s. Then, when the facts turned out to be completely uncooperative, it became climate change, a meaningless catch-all that can be neither proven nor disproven and whose only use is to bludgeon opponents of the progressives’ “solution.” What doesn’t change is that solution. It’s always more government, more control.

All of this was done in plain sight, right in front of our noses. But like an easy mark being taken on the street in a game of three-card Monte, conservatives continued to play with barely a whimper.

This week the media focused on gay marriage. The Supreme Court heard two cases that won’t be decided for months, yet the days leading up to the hearings were plastered with stories of gay and lesbian couples designed to elicit an emotional response. The days after were filled with “analysis” about as useful as a fortune cookie. Logic, on the other hand, was absent. So was any news about the tanking economy, the lack of jobs, the failure of the progressive agenda to in any way help struggling Americans.

Opponents of gay marriage were painted as knuckle-dragging Neanderthals; supporters were portrayed as just this side of civil rights marchers staring down fire hoses and attack dogs. Progressives have been building to this moment for a decade, and the media played its part perfectly. Media bias is as much about how something is covered as what is covered.

Language is the key to communication, but it’s also the key to manipulation. This fight was won by the left the moment it introduced the words “same-sex marriage.” With that, the word was essentially redefined. Opponents played right along, adopting “traditional marriage” as their cause. Marriage always has meant one thing – the union of a man and a woman – but once it was “adjectived” a new normal was born. (I explained this and the reason for my opposition to gay marriage last year, read it here.)

But this issue is hardly the only one where language is both the first casualty and a key weapon in the battle. In fact, progressives and their media allies do this all the time and are winning because of it.

Polls show gay marriage rates about as high as polar bear attacks in Miami do on the list of concerns of Americans, but you’d think it was the key to deficit reduction and economic growth with the amount of coverage it has gotten. Similar attention inversely proportional to the concerns of the American people is being paid to other issues, and similarly weaponized words are being employed to advance them.

Immigration reform gets coverage, but little outside of handpicked sad tales of woe designed not to inform but to elicit sympathy for illegal aliens. I used that term deliberately because you’re not supposed to, yet it’s the most appropriate description of their legal status. At least for now. New terms range from “undocumented workers” to “new Americans,” neither of which makes any sense when you look at the fact surrounding their being in this country illegally. But the law and logic have no place in this fight.

Who exactly is clamoring for “comprehensive immigration reform?” We’re told illegal aliens snuck into this country to find work and send money back home to take care of their families. Were they asking for citizenship? Of course not. It’s progressives, acting “on their behalf” who are.

If our economy was in desperate need of more unskilled workers, our public education system pumps them out at an alarming rate. If we were flush with computer engineers a case could be made, but we need to import those and progressives won’t increase the number of high-skilled H1B visas without it being part of a larger package. Companies in need of skilled labor continue to move out of the country while progressives play chicken with our economic future. They don’t want high-paying jobs, they want voters – or, more correctly, votes.

The ability to work in this country could be extended to illegal aliens easily and with little fanfare or controversy, but that’s not the point. Racial politics is the progressives’ bread and butter; their quest for power was born from racism. Over the years, their tactics have changed but their object hasn’t. They obtain power by dividing – by race, by gender, by anything they can. They create victims, exploit them by claiming to be their champion, get votes, advance their agenda and gain power. But they never solve problems; they only exploit them. Ask the black community how 50-plus years of near blind loyalty to progressives has worked out for them.

The only place the tools of division are irrelevant to progressives is in their leadership. If you’re about advancing the agenda, for “the cause,” that’s all that matters. Race hustlers such as Al Sharpton fit right in, and no one says a word about Michael Moore earning tens of millions of dollars decrying the accumulation of wealth by others.

Being a progressive is a get-out-of-hypocrisy free card for damn-near anything. It’s the red queen we are constantly searching for but never finding in this never ending game of three-card Monte we keep playing with progressives. If we don’t reclaim the language we will keep losing.

PS: My friend Paolo pointed out to me how progressives used to call ex-felons “pips” or previously incarcerated persons, but now they’re called “Returning Citizens.” Felons, or even “pips,” lets you know someone committed a crime and is therefore ineligible to vote. But a “returning citizen” who is ineligible to vote, that just sounds wrong. Progressives, always in search of more votes, will win the ex-felon vote, but restoring voting rights to murders, drug dealers and the like has been a tough sell. Denying “returning citizens” the vote is an easier case to make. Forget the fact that they aren’t returning from Club Med or a stint in the Peace Corp, they’re getting out of prison, the agenda must be advanced. Expect to hear more about this in the coming years as the push to restore voting ex-felon’s voting rights continues to grow.



Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the  incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

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 and political diversity 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.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH,   EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICSDISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL  and EYE ON BRITAIN (Note that EYE ON BRITAIN has regular posts on the reality of socialized medicine).   My Home Pages are here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here


1 April, 2013

Homosexual pedophile ignored despite boy's pleas

A boy sexually abused by his adoptive father and his gay partner was labelled an ‘unruly child’ by social workers who ignored his complaints for years, a damning report has revealed.

They sent Andy Cannon, now 23, back to the couple’s home despite his protests of abuse, praising the gay man who adopted him as a ‘very caring parent’.

The report accuses Wakefield social services, in Yorkshire, of ‘folly and gross misjudgment’. Mr Cannon, who was wrongly diagnosed with mental disorders and prescribed anti-psychotic drugs, believes he would have been listened to sooner if his adoptive father wasn’t gay.

The case ended last year, after half a decade of legal wrangling, when a court ordered a £25,000 compensation payment to Mr Cannon.

Mr Cannon, who now has two children with girlfriend Redeana Hammill, was adopted by David Cannon in 1997.

He and his mother, Elaine Moss, repeatedly complained to social workers about the abuse. In 2004, he was returned to Cannon’s care nine days after running away and making a complaint about him.

Cannon, 54, and his 31-year-old partner John Scarfe were each jailed for 30 months in May 2006 for inciting sexual activity with a child.

Mr Cannon said: ‘I believe if my adoptive dad was in a heterosexual relationship then my complaints would have been listened to earlier.

‘It seems the council didn’t want to be seen as victimising gay people – they would rather look politically correct and let them get away with it to avoid any repercussions.

‘The council should have been there to prevent this from happening but they would rather just sweep it under the carpet.’ The report, conducted for Dewsbury County Court by a child welfare specialist, detailed how Cannon was allowed to adopt the boy, despite his mother accusing him of abuse at the time.

A social worker failed to report the allegations to a family court and instead called Cannon ‘a very caring parent who considered his children’s needs’.

Mr Cannon, who has waived his right to anonymity, said: ‘When I told social workers they didn’t believe me. When I got home from school, if my dad was wound up by something I would pay for it with a beating. Then later on he would sexually abuse me.

‘I never really had nightmares because I completely switched off from it all – although I get nightmares now. I let it happen and thought that one of two things would happen. Either I’d manage to get away or they’d kill me.’

Wakefield council has apologised to Mr Cannon. A spokesman said: ‘We are working with Andy to make sure that in making this apology we deal with all the concerns he has raised.’


Author Criticizes British Muslims for ‘Deeply Anti-Semitic Views’

An author and former editor at the British publication the New Statesman took the bold step of admonishing the Muslim community in his home country for its “Judaeophobia.”

Writing in the New Statesman, Mehdi Hasan addressed a recent controversysurrounding Lord Ahmed, a British Labor party peer and one of the most powerful Muslims in England,  saying, “To claim that your jail sentence for dangerous driving is the result of a Jewish plot is bigoted and stupid”

Lord Ahmed was sentenced to jail after hitting and killing a man with his car only moments after having sent text messages while driving. In a later interview he blamed a Jewish conspiracy on his having to serve jail time for the crime.

Hasan pointed out that he has defended Lord Ahmed before and that “He is not a latter-day Goebbels. But herein lies the problem. There are thousands of Lord Ahmeds out there: mild-mannered and well-integrated British Muslims who nevertheless harbour deeply anti-Semitic views.”

“It pains me to have to admit this but anti-Semitism isn’t just tolerated in some sections of the British Muslim community; it’s routine and commonplace,” Hasan wrote.

He continued: “The truth is that the virus of anti-Semitism has infected members of the British Muslim community, both young and old. No, the ongoing Israel-Palestine conflict hasn’t helped matters. But this goes beyond the Middle East.”

Hassan said that complaints from the Muslim community that they were being vilified and discriminated against were “sheer hypocrisy”  when taking into account the community’s  “rampant anti-Semitism,” adding that “We cannot credibly fight Islamophobia while making excuses for Judaeophobia.”

Hassan wrote that not all Muslims were anti-Semites,  but that as a community there is a “Jewish problem,” concluding that “The time has come for us to own up to a rather shameful fact: Muslims are not only the victims of racial and religious prejudice but purveyors of it, too.”


Realistic advice riles feminists

Susan A. Patton, a proud Princeton University alumna and the living affirmation of the meddling Jewish mother stereotype, raised some eyebrows this week after urging young women attending her vaunted alma mater to be quick about snagging a Princeton man - a man like her own son.

Patton, who was among the 200 'pioneer' women enrolled in the Ivy League school in 1973, penned a letter to the editor of the Daily Princetonean Friday addressed to the 'daughters I never had.'

In the open letter dolling out free relationship advice, the proud Princeton alumna whose younger son, Daniel, is currently attending the New Jersey institution, bluntly stated that one of the main goals for female students attending her school should be finding a husband that will be up to their high standards.

'For most of you, the cornerstone of your future and happiness will be inextricably linked to the man you marry, and you will never again have this concentration of men who are worthy of you,' Patton writes.

'Here’s what nobody is telling you: Find a husband on campus before you graduate. Yes, I went there.'

The mother of two who runs a human resources consultation business on the Upper East Side in New York City, went on to say that her older son, who also went to Princeton, 'had the good judgement and great fortune to marry a classmate of his, but he could have married anyone.'

Of her younger son, who is currently a junior at Princeton, Patton wrote that the 'universe of women he can marry is limitless.'

According to Patton, unlike men, who often opt to cast their lot with dumb women so long as they are attractive, intelligent women cannot afford to settle for a husband who is not their intellectual equal.

'As Princeton women, we have almost priced ourselves out of the market. Simply put, there is a very limited population of men who are as smart or smarter than we are,' the Tiger Mother asserts.

And according to Mrs Patton, not only do Princeton girls have to pair off with Princeton men to have a successful, fulfilling marriage, but they also must waste no time and snag them before their 19th birthday.

'As freshman women, you have four classes of men to choose from. Every year, you lose the men in the senior class, and you become older than the class of incoming freshman men.

'So, by the time you are a senior, you basically have only the men in your own class to choose from, and frankly, they now have four classes of women to choose from. Maybe you should have been a little nicer to these guys when you were freshmen?'

The unprompted advice to the 'daughters' Patton never had sparked a firestorm online, with feminist bloggers attacking her seemingly backwards, archaic stance on marriage as a focal point in a woman's life.

Some critics also took issue with the fact that in Patton's world view, there is apparently no room for same-sex relationships as she keeps hammering home the point that women must be paired off with men, specifically, Princeton men.

In a reaction piece that appeared on the influential feminist blog Jezebel, writer Katie J.M. Baker put it in more blatant terms.

'Patton could've saved herself a lot of time and energy by simply writing 'F*** my youngest son while you have the chance!"'

The letter sparked a flurry of articles brimming with sarcasm and indignation.

'It's worth noting that this embarrassing window into how Ivy Leaguers talk to each other should be as cringe-inducing to modern audiences as Patton's take on gender relations is,' wrote Maureen O'Conner for New York magazine’s The Cut.

'Some of the dumbest and most intellectually incurious people I've known were in my class at Princeton. And some of the smartest I've known went to state schools, or community colleges, or didn't go to college.'

As it turns out, the president of Princeton's 1977 class had failed to follow her own advice – and paid the price for it.

In an interview with New York magazine, Patton said that she had recently finalized her divorce after 27 years of marriage to a man who did not attend her beloved alma mater.

'He went to a school of almost no name recognition,' she said, 'a school that nobody has respect for, including him, really.'

Looking back, Patton said she regrets not practicing what she now preaches.

'Yes! Yes. Yes, I wish I married someone who went to Princeton,' she said. 'That way I could have embraced Princeton for the thirty years that I stayed away from it because my ex-husband had no respect for the hoopla, the traditions, the allegiance, the orange and black...'

Patton also marveled at the extreme backlash set off by her letter.  'Honestly, I just thought this was some good advice from a Jewish mother,' she said.

The proud alumna also rushed to set the record straight, saying that although the tone of her missive may suggest otherwise, she is not anti-feminist, and she understand that not all women want to get married or are interested in men.

'I'm just saying, if as a young [Princeton] woman, you are thinking that you would like to have not just professional success but personal success as part of your life happiness, keep an open mind to the men that you're surrounded with now,' Patton said.


Reforming the Australian  welfare state

Andrew Baker

Australia’s federal, state and local governments spent $316 billion on the welfare state in 2010-11 which includes spending on health, education, income support payments and public housing.

Of this spending, about half or $158 billion, can be classified as ‘tax-welfare churn’ – which is the process of levying taxes on people and then returning those taxes to the same people in the form of income support payments and welfare services, simultaneously or over the course of a lifetime.

Compared to other countries, Australia has low levels of churn, however, churn is still a problem as it imposes a number of social and economic costs, including higher taxes, administration and inefficiency costs from a bloated government, rent seeking from lobby groups, government paternalism and increased welfare dependency.

We can do something about the problem of tax-welfare churn in Australia.

In my new report, TARGET30: Tax-welfare churn and the Australian welfare state, I outline the churn problem and provide a number of policy reforms that are not only worthy in their own right, but have the additional benefit of reducing churn.

These reforms target, amongst other things, government support for the aged, family payments and the disability support pension.

Australia’s system of retirement savings needs to be reformed so that more people spend more of their own money for longer on their own retirement, rather than receiving the pension.

Further measures to reduce government expenditure on pensions include: raising and aligning the age pension and preservation ages; including the family home as part of the age pension assets test; and introducing a requirement to use superannuation savings to purchase an annuity.

Family payments like the $4.5 billion a year Family Tax Benefit Part B and the $1.2 billion a year Schoolkids Bonus should be abolished. FTB Part B is a badly targeted payment that goes to families that are clearly not poor and do not need the extra money while the Schoolkids Bonus is of dubious education benefit. Further savings can be found by means testing payments like the Carer Allowance and the Child Care Rebate.

The disability pension needs to be reformed by including activity test and participation requirements for those with a partial capacity to work, in order to maximise the economic benefits of the National Disability Insurance Scheme. The current cohort of Disability Support Pension recipients should also be reassessed under tougher eligibility criteria introduced last year.

These are just some of the many ways we can reform the welfare state, cut spending, cut taxes, and empower more people to look after their own welfare, rather than relying on the welfare state.



Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the  incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

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 and political diversity 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.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH,   EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICSDISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL  and EYE ON BRITAIN (Note that EYE ON BRITAIN has regular posts on the reality of socialized medicine).   My Home Pages are here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here


Examining political correctness around the world and its stifling of liberty and sense. Chronicling a slowly developing dictatorship

BIO for John Ray

Sarah Palin is undoubtedly the most politically incorrect person in American public life so she will be celebrated on this blog

I record on this blog many examples of negligent, inefficient and reprehensible behaviour on the part of British police. After 13 years of Labour party rule they have become highly politicized, with values that reflect the demands made on them by the political Left rather than than what the community expects of them. They have become lazy and cowardly and avoid dealing with real crime wherever possible -- preferring instead to harass normal decent people for minor infractions -- particularly offences against political correctness. They are an excellent example of the destruction that can be brought about by Leftist meddling.

I also record on this blog much social worker evil -- particularly British social worker evil. The evil is neither negligent nor random. It follows exactly the pattern you would expect from the Marxist-oriented indoctrination they get in social work school -- where the middle class is seen as the enemy and the underclass is seen as virtuous. So social workers are lightning fast to take chidren away from normal decent parents on the basis of of minor or imaginary infractions while turning a blind eye to gross child abuse by the underclass

Gender is a property of words, not of people. Using it otherwise is just another politically correct distortion -- though not as pernicious as calling racial discrimination "Affirmative action"

Postmodernism is fundamentally frivolous. Postmodernists routinely condemn racism and intolerance as wrong but then say that there is no such thing as right and wrong. They are clearly not being serious. Either they do not really believe in moral nihilism or they believe that racism cannot be condemned!

Postmodernism is in fact just a tantrum. Post-Soviet reality in particular suits Leftists so badly that their response is to deny that reality exists. That they can be so dishonest, however, simply shows how psychopathic they are.

Juergen Habermas, a veteran leftist German philosopher stunned his admirers not long ago by proclaiming, "Christianity, and nothing else, is the ultimate foundation of liberty, conscience, human rights, and democracy, the benchmarks of Western civilization. To this day, we have no other options [than Christianity]. We continue to nourish ourselves from this source. Everything else is postmodern chatter."

The Supreme Court of the United States is now and always has been a judicial abomination. Its guiding principles have always been political rather than judicial. It is not as political as Stalin's courts but its respect for the constitution is little better. Some recent abuses: The "equal treatment" provision of the 14th amendment was specifically written to outlaw racial discrimination yet the court has allowed various forms of "affirmative action" for decades -- when all such policies should have been completely stuck down immediately. The 2nd. amendment says that the right to bear arms shall not be infringed yet gun control laws infringe it in every State in the union. The 1st amedment provides that speech shall be freely exercised yet the court has upheld various restrictions on the financing and display of political advertising. The court has found a right to abortion in the constitution when the word abortion is not even mentioned there. The court invents rights that do not exist and denies rights that do.

Consider two "jokes" below:

Q. "Why are Leftists always standing up for blacks and homosexuals?

A. Because for all three groups their only God is their penis"

Pretty offensive, right? So consider this one:

Q. "Why are evangelical Christians like the Taliban?

A. They are both religious fundamentalists"

The latter "joke" is not a joke at all, of course. It is a comparison routinely touted by Leftists. Both "jokes" are greatly offensive and unfair to the parties targeted but one gets a pass without question while the other would bring great wrath on the head of anyone uttering it. Why? Because political correctness is in fact just Leftist bigotry. Bigotry is unfairly favouring one or more groups of people over others -- usually justified as "truth".

One of my more amusing memories is from the time when the Soviet Union still existed and I was teaching sociology in a major Australian university. On one memorable occasion, we had a representative of the Soviet Womens' organization visit us -- a stout and heavily made-up lady of mature years. When she was ushered into our conference room, she was greeted with something like adulation by the local Marxists. In question time after her talk, however, someone asked her how homosexuals were treated in the USSR. She replied: "We don't have any. That was before the revolution". The consternation and confusion that produced among my Leftist colleagues was hilarious to behold and still lives vividly in my memory. The more things change, the more they remain the same, however. In Sept. 2007 President Ahmadinejad told Columbia university that there are no homosexuals in Iran.

It is widely agreed (with mainly Lesbians dissenting) that boys need their fathers. What needs much wider recognition is that girls need their fathers too. The relationship between a "Daddy's girl" and her father is perhaps the most beautiful human relationship there is. It can help give the girl concerned inner strength for the rest of her life.

The love of bureaucracy is very Leftist and hence "correct". Who said this? "Account must be taken of every single article, every pound of grain, because what socialism implies above all is keeping account of everything". It was V.I. Lenin

On all my blogs, I express my view of what is important primarily by the readings that I select for posting. I do however on occasions add personal comments in italicized form at the beginning of an article.

I am rather pleased to report that I am a lifelong conservative. Out of intellectual curiosity, I did in my youth join organizations from right across the political spectrum so I am certainly not closed-minded and am very familiar with the full spectrum of political thinking. Nonetheless, I did not have to undergo the lurch from Left to Right that so many people undergo. At age 13 I used my pocket-money to subscribe to the "Reader's Digest" -- the main conservative organ available in small town Australia of the 1950s. I have learnt much since but am pleased and amused to note that history has since confirmed most of what I thought at that early age.

I imagine that the the RD is still sending mailouts to my 1950s address!

Germaine Greer is a stupid old Harpy who is notable only for the depth and extent of her hatreds