Political Correctness Watch 
The creeping dictatorship of the Left..

THIS may be the ultimate example of Political Correctness -- from the Unhinged Kingdom  

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Sarah Palin is undoubtedly the most politically incorrect person in American public life so she will be celebrated on this blog

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."

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

The PERMALINKS to this site have been a bit messed up by new blogger. The permalink they give has the last part of the link duplicated so the whole link defaults to the top of the page. To fix the link, go the the URL and delete the second hatch mark and everything after it.

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Saturday, February 28, 2009

Protest of New York Post's Chimp Cartoon is an Attack on Rupert Murdoch, Black Activist Says

Three apologies were offered by New York Post editors and its owner, Rupert Murdoch, for an editorial cartoon said to compare President Barack Obama to a chimpanzee. None of these apologies were accepted. Project 21 Chairman Mychal Massie says it is time to recognize the protests for what they are: revenge and an attempt to silence conservatives.

"When Al Shaprton was investigated for tax evasion, it was the New York Post that broke the story. Now Sharpton seems to be blowing this cartoon out of proportion to get even. I also think others are using ambiguous allegations in a larger attempt to punish Rupert Murdoch and his media empire for not toeing the liberal line," said Project 21 chairman Mychal Massie. "There is a tenuous link, at best, between this cartoon and Obama."

In a February 18 editorial cartoon in the New York Post, drawn by Sean Delonas, two policemen have shot a chimpanzee. One cop says to the other: "They'll have to find someone else to write the next stimulus bill." Al Sharpton calls the cartoon proof of the paper's "racism" and has led two protests at the Post's headquarters. He is now asking the Federal Communications Commission to reconsider a waiver awarded to Rupert Murdoch - who as also owns the Fox News Channel - to own more than one newspaper and television station in a city.

A petition circulated by the NAACP claims: "Your publication sadly reminded me of the reality that even in 2009, when an African-American man holds the highest post in the nation, racism is alive and well in the United States." The NAACP petition also implies that the cartoon itself could encourage an attempt on Obama's life. Murdoch offered an apology to those who were offended, but noted that "[t]he only intent of that cartoon was to mock a badly written piece of legislation."

The cartoon specifically recalls a recent chimpanzee attack in Stamford, Connecticut. The depiction of the chimpanzee bears no physical resemblance to Obama. Furthermore, Obama is not the author of the economic "stimulus" legislation referred to in the cartoon. In his address to Congress on February 24, Obama noted: "I asked Congress to send me a recovery plan... I am grateful that this Congress delivered."

Project 21's Massie noted: "If these critics had tried to tie the cartoon to black congressmen such as James Clyburn or Charlie Rangel, they might have had a leg to stand on. They aimed bigger, and this misfire exposes them. Sharpton is now asking the FCC to investigate the validity of Murdoch's media holdings. It's just another step along the path to their true goal of silencing conservative speech. This is just a battle in a larger war to reinstate the so-called 'Fairness Doctrine' so liberals can impose their political agenda on a free-market-driven talk radio."

"The criticism of cartoonists and parodies is also selective," added Massie. "Why aren't Sharpton and the NAACP complaining about much more blatant Bushorchimp.com? Where was the outrage when syndicated cartoonist Ted Rall called Condoleezza Rice 'Aunt Jemima' and depicted her calling herself a 'house nigga'? How about when Jeff Danziger portrayed Rice as Prissy from 'Gone With the Wind'? Their failure to condemn those blatantly racist acts exposes the petty political motivations of their current attack on Murdoch and the Post."


Fear Of Massive Deficits And Tax Increases Is "Insensitive"

Hauling out the most overworked and overheated rhetorical weapon in the Democrats' arsenal, Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm and others accused the Republican governors who are threatening to refuse some of the "stimulus" funds for their states as, you guessed it, insenstive. Other Democratic critics weren't so, well, sensitive.
Critics such as Rep. Jim Clyburn of South Carolina say the Republican resistance is a political, even racist, ploy to withhold critical help from the nation's poorest and most hard-hit communities.
Indeed, Clyburn, the Democratic Majority Whip in the House, seems to view the Republican opposition as almost a racist conspiracy:
The governor of Louisiana expressed opposition. Has the highest African-American population in the country. Governor of Mississippi expressed opposition. The governor of Texas, and the governor of South Carolina. These four governor's represent states that are in the black belt. I was insulted by that.... All of this was a slap in the face of African-Americans.
Here's an example of the racist slap, as administred by Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (did I mention that he's not white?), as quoted on Bloomberg (linked above):
Republican Governor Bobby Jindal of Louisiana, appearing on NBC's "Meet the Press," said he is rejecting $100 million in unemployment assistance in the stimulus plan because it would force the state to raise business taxes to pay for the extra aid once the federal dollars run out. "It requires us to make a permanent change in our law," he said. "It's like spending a dollar to get a dime."
Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour said the same thing. But that just proves Clyburn's case: everybody knows that whatever Southern Republicans do is racist, no matter what they say.


Triumph for human rights and psycho jihadists

Comment from Britain by Rod Liddle

This has been an excellent week for Muslim psychopaths. First, Abu Qatada - "Osama Bin Laden's right-hand man in Europe" - has been given leave to stay in Britain by the European Court of Human Rights - and has also been bunged some money to compensate him for having been banged up in the first place.

And no sooner have we cleared the champagne flutes away and banished our hangovers after this celebration than it is reported that Binyam Mohamed is on his way back too. Binyam has been in Guantanamo Bay for a while, having been accused by the Americans of wandering around the Hindu Kush looking for infidels to murder, like a sort of well-armed Norman Wisdom with a grievance. He says he's innocent and has been tortured by America's flunkeys.

Binyam is an Ethiopian who was never awarded full citizenship here, so it's a real stroke of luck that we end up with custody of the man. Old Abu, meanwhile, is wanted on terrorism charges in half of Europe and Jordan as well, but the European Court has decided in our favour: we can keep him while it mulls things over for a while.

Qatada was the supposed inspiration and spiritual guide for the fabulously inept shoe bomber Richard Reid, the chap who tried to blow up an aeroplane with explosives hidden in his trainers but forgot to take a lighter with him and couldn't manage to strike a match properly. Qatada also believes that Muslim states should have no truck with infidel cockroach western democracies, although he seems to have quite enjoyed living here these past few years, denouncing the Jews and playing jihadist war games on his PC.

In this he is a little like the giggling, bearded Sheikh Omar Bakri Mohammed, who railed against our filth and decadence for years until he was peremptorily deported to Lebanon, whereupon he immediately pleaded to be allowed to return home to his semi in Edmonton, in case he was blown to pieces by an Israeli shell. No, mate, you stay where you are: should have been a bit nicer while you were here, shouldn't you? There is a certain train of thought that insists all these people should be either imprisoned indefinitely or deported to one or another dusty Middle Eastern satrapy, where their views might accord with those of a greater proportion of the population. My own view is that they shouldn't have been allowed into the country in the first place.

In almost all cases we knew they weren't the sort of people with whom you might share a convivial weekend, but were implacable Islamists who loathed us even more than the countries from which they fled. But in most cases we couldn't send them back because those countries might treat them in an uncivilised manner - pulling out their fingernails, shooting them in the back of the head and so on.

The fact that each arriviste yearned for regimes in their native countries even more unpleasant than the ones from which they had escaped, and also to blow us up at the same time, cuts no ice with international law. International law, then, must change. It was constructed in less barbarous times - the times of Hitler, Stalin, people like that.

Once here, though, and granted citizenship, they should be given due process. Treating people decently and with due process is about our only trump card in this wearying and debilitating battle against the jihadists. They, of course, think our adherence to the letter of the law is a weakness to be derided, which is why it is such a propaganda coup when they really are transgressed against, when they are treated differently from how we would treat any suspected criminal. So much for your democracy, they say.

Abu Qatada should not have been allowed into the country, but once here he should not have been imprisoned indefinitely when there was clearly insufficient evidence to convict; the same applies to Sheikh Abu Hamza al-Masri, still incarcerated in Belmarsh while the Americans cobble together evidence against him by fair means or foul. If we are stupid enough to let them in, then we should be stupid enough to treat them like normal human beings too.


Black Fatherhood In The Age Of Obama

Former rap producer and family policy advocate Bill Stephney asks President Obama to consider a comprehensive analysis of fatherhood in America, not just the "Deadbeat Dads," but also the "Denied Dads."

In his Father's Day speech of 2008, presidential candidate Barack Obama decried the state African-American fatherhood: "Too many fathers. are missing," Mr. Obama said, "missing from too many lives and too many homes. They have abandoned their responsibilities, acting like boys instead of men. And the foundations of our families are weaker because of it."

Mr. Obama's speech focused on those fathers not "stepping up." This "deadbeat dad" characterization winds its way effortlessly through political discourse and news coverage. Yes, there are too many fathers who have been unsupportive of their families. But what about those fathers who, while putting forth efforts to be responsible parents, are discouraged from doing so? What about the other side of the "deadbeat dad" phenomenon: the "denied dad"? What about the fathers who've had to turn themselves into a multi-tasking blend of Dr. King, Thurgood Marshall, Mahatma Ghandhi and Suge Knight just to obtain a meaningful presence in their children's lives?

Men like Chris Gardner, who transformed the challenges of being a homeless single father into tremendous success as a millionaire stockbroker and motivational speaker, inspiringly portrayed by Will Smith in the box office smash "The Pursuit Of Happyness."

Or men like Wesley Autrey, the New York construction worker - dubbed the "Subway Hero" - who jumped onto tracks to save a man from an oncoming train because he didn't want his two nearby daughters to witness a tragedy.

The president, despite growing up without his own father, the late Barack Obama, Sr., is no stranger to positive fatherhood. One needn't be too intrusive into the personal affairs of the First Family to observe from afar, the warm, mutual love between two precious daughters and a doting, devoted father.

In that Father's Day speech last year, the president missed an opportunity to discuss those fathers who do make every attempt to fulfill their moral, spiritual, ethical and financial obligations as parents. These fathers have been rebuffed by the legacies of slavery and Jim Crow, harmful government family policies, a faulty family law process, too many mothers conditioned to be indifferent and sometimes hostile to father relevance, and a popular culture that often parodies fatherhood literally into cartoonishness. My friend Donald is one of those "denied dads."

One Father's Story

Donald is currently married to a wonderfully supportive wife, and they have a precocious two-year-old boy. But Donald is also divorced. After a brief marriage, he separated from his ex-wife, with whom he had a daughter. My friend Donald did not spend any time with his daughter this past Christmas. In fact, since 2004, Donald has not spent a Christmas - or any day, for that matter - with his daughter, despite paying child support, attending court-ordered parenting classes, retaining court-ordered therapists and law guardians, and obtaining contempt orders and awards of lawyer reimbursement fees against his ex-wife. For all the lip service paid to encouraging responsible fatherhood, actually facilitating it has been another story.

Donald is a hard-working family man, an African-American father who has spent tens of thousands of dollars in legal fees (mostly with lawyers indifferent to his family's welfare or the law) attempting to remain a meaningful presence in his daughter's life. A judge last year opined over Donald's fight to co-parent his daughter: "Affirmative action needs to be taken to ensure that she is permitted to love and have a relationship with her father as well as her mother." Donald's struggle for his daughter was even featured in the July 2008 issue of Ebony Magazine. He was lucky. Most "denied dads" don't get that kind of exposure.

Thabiti Boone, a Brooklyn-based community and family activist (chosen as a "CNN Hero" in 2007), who raised his now-adult daughter alone as a struggling single father, tells stories of being turned down for support by New York social service agencies because he wasn't a mother. Harlem educator Kevin Williams was denied court-enforced child support while he was a custodial parent. In the tragic case last year of Long Island mother Leatrice Brewer, who stabbed and drowned her three young children to death, the fathers of her children had petitioned local family courts to award custody to them, citing Ms. Brewer's obvious mental illness and instability. The courts rebuffed the fathers, cementing a horrific fate for their children.

The Problem of Missing Fathers

For many African-American families and communities, father disengagement and marginalization has become not a cultural shame, but a cultural norm. According to a recent Child Trends DataBank report, 69.5% of African-American children are born to unmarried mothers, in comparison to 47.9% of Hispanic children, 25.4% of White children, and 16.2% of Asian/Pacific Islander children. Most Black, two-parent families with children don't break up - they never form to begin with.

So, when we examine the severe disparities in educational outcomes between, let's say, African-American and Asian-American children, why are we so reluctant to consider the radical difference in how families are structured?

How Public Policy Made It Worse

These problems were brewing back in 1965, when a little-known Assistant Secretary of Labor (and later New York senator), Daniel Moynihan, issued a study titled "Crisis of the Negro Family: The Case For National Action." In the report, Moynihan argued: "At the heart of the deterioration of the fabric of Negro society is the deterioration of the Negro family. It was by destroying the Negro family under slavery that white America broke the will of the Negro people. Although that will has reasserted itself in our time, it is a resurgence doomed to frustration unless the viability of the Negro family is restored."

The condition of the Black family, and of absent Black fathers, was called within the report "a tangle of pathology." Moynihan's clumsy use of the term "pathology" to describe family formation (or lack thereof) for 1960s African-Americans created a political firestorm, and undermined the harsh but incredibly accurate family observations in the report.

Responding to the Moynihan report, sociologist Herbert J. Gans declared: "The matriarchal family structure and the absence of a father have not yet been proven pathological, even for the boys who grow up in it." The theory that held sway from the 60s through the 80s - presumably from experienced sociologists, thinkers and analysts - was that Black families were more "resilient" than even their White, two-parent, middle class counterparts because of "larger-than-life" single mothers. These views may have seemed complimentary to some African-Americans at the time, but it obscured the reality - a reality that saw families drawn into deeper forms of social disconnection, poverty and violence. What soon developed was a malady not in existence even during slavery and Jim Crow: fatherless Black housing projects and neighborhoods. As communities became fatherless, they also became man-less. The removal of Black adult males from these areas (due to homicide, incarceration, unemployment, military service, drug treatment, mental institutionalization and divorce) occurred at a rate usually reserved for high-casualty wars.


In the 1992 best-selling book, "Two Nations: Black, Separate, Hostile and Unequal," author Andrew Hacker quoted the now-infamous observation of Johns Hopkins sociologist Andrew Cherlin, stating that the problem with so many black single mother families was "not the lack of a male presence, but the lack of a male income."

In essence, in Cherlin's view (and that of many others of that generation), fathers served no particular purpose to families other than to monetarily fund single mothers and their children. It was the "Daddy-as-ATM" theory. This "theory" served as the engine that still drives public policy to focus on aggressive child support collection from fathers, rather than encouraging strong, comprehensive relationship (moral, spiritual, ethical and financial) connections between fathers, mothers and children.

It has been nothing short of amazing how the 30-year campaign that essentially promoted single Black motherhood and "fathers-are-not-necessary" policy (see the Diahann Carroll/James Earl Jones classic 70s film, Claudine, for cinematic example), has almost been obliterated from our present-day discourse on family responsibility. To paraphrase the adage: Failure doesn't have a single-parent. It indeed is orphan.

For all the criticism flung directly at hip-hop (some of it valid), many rappers have revealed through song and statement, how far off the mark the social scientists of the 60s and 70s actually were. From Tupac and Biggie, to Jay Z and Juelz Santana, the "had to grow up my own `cause Pops bounced" rhyme composition has become an album staple in the genre. Tupac told MTV News shortly before his death that "growing up without a father is what made me cold and bitter."

What President Obama Can Do

Next year will be the 45th Anniversary of the Moynihan report. President Obama should consider revisiting and updating it. One highly effective move by the president would be to recruit the First Lady, Michele Obama, to lend her status legal experience and credibility to a re-examination of the report, along with a current assessment of the critical issues that have so divided many families, such as the high out-of-wedlock birthrate, and radically fatherless African-American and urban neighborhoods.

Mrs. Obama currently commands a respect that has been generally reserved for cherished figures such as Coretta Scott King and Betty Shabazz. Not only did she evidence unflagging support for her husband, she was critical to his success during primaries. (Do we truly believe that Mr. Obama dominated Black women's vote during the primary because of his smooth jumper from 15 feet out?) Their daughters, Malia and Sasha conduct themselves with a grace that seems sampled from their parents. Michelle and her brother Craig were raised to exemplary success on Chicago's South Side by her mother and late, cherished father. According to a 2008 New York Times piece, Mrs. Obama loved her father so much "that she would curl up in his lap even as an adult."

By engaging her own personal story, her advocacy on family issues could be incredibly crucial in stressing the ways in which connected fathers can positively impact the lives of their daughters, especially for communities where the majority of girls are raised fatherless - leaving them highly vulnerable in so many ways. Let the campaign for healthy family development emerge with someone who knows well the value of responsible parenthood.

Donald and Me

Back to Donald. He has more legal hearings coming up, with the hope that the courts in his area will one day commit to their statutory and compelling public interest responsibility to enforce his parenting rights, and his daughter the right to benefit from his involvement.

How do I know Donald? Well, the ex-wife denying him access to his daughter is also my ex-girlfriend, with whom I have a wonderful son, born unfortunately without the benefit of his parents being married. After several years of being denied court-ordered access to my son, I petitioned for custody in 1998. Donald and I encountered each other during those custody hearings, within which all of us were mired. He had just married my ex. At the time, we only shared an occasional, stoic glance. Yet, we held the door open for each other in the courtroom a couple of times, in a quiet attempt to show that even under the most difficult of circumstances, sometimes brothers just have to put it all behind us and cooperate. In 1999, I was awarded residential custody of our son by an African-American judge. By 2000, the court declared me my son's "permanent sole custodial parent." Donald and I would occasionally see one another when he would drop my son off after a visit. In 2003, we met up and made a pact to continue to work together for the benefit of our children, who are brother and sister. I hadn't spoken to Donald for four years when we reconnected in 2007 - only to find out that we were kindred spirits in circumstance more than even I had imagined.

I had been our son's custodial parent for nearly ten years when our mutual ex, after many legal attempts too numerous to quantify here, regained custody of him some six months ago. Despite my having a court order to split summer vacation time and the holiday season with our son, our mutual ex, once again, has refused to allow him to visit me. My entire family, which also includes his ten year-old brother and six year-old sister (who only know life with him living with us) were crushed not have him around during the holiday season for the first time in their lives. Needless to say, Donald and his young daughter were not allowed to enjoy and part of the holiday together, either. Like Donald, I'm on my way back to court, too. There are moments where I get the feeling that some would rather see us do drive-bys on one another than cooperate for the best interests of our children.

The next time the holidays roll around, hopefully Donald and I will be able to celebrate with our children without difficulty. But another lovely gift I'd like to see under our tree from our new president would be an honest and fair reform of family policy in this nation, and a return to healthier, more cohesive families and communities. Now that's a Santa you can believe in.



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, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


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Friday, February 27, 2009

Diversity is the last thing we need

To be in favor of diversity as the modern liberal defines it is to be intolerant of opposing views. The case of Ben Stein and the University of Vermont.

UVM President Dan Fogel announced that [Ben] Stein, whom Fogel had invited to address UVM's commencement in May, would not be coming after all. Fogel said that his selection of Stein generated an intense protest, that he received hundreds of angry e-mails over the weekend, and that after he shared these "profound concerns" with Stein, Stein "immediately and most graciously declined our commencement invitation."

- Burlington Free Press, 2-3-2009
If President Fogel were to receive thousands of e-mails protesting Stein's withdrawal, what do you suppose he would do? Modern liberals wield the mighty shield of diversity to deflect all manner of criticisms regarding their intentions and their results as they seek to redefine accepted behavior and speech. Liberalism's interpretation and subsequent de facto enforcement of what they call diversity has condemned some opinions and has advocated and defended others. But how can speech be limited in the name of diversity?

Obvious contradictions compel me to analyze how liberals define diversity and by what ways and means they are prone to use to enforce it.

Quite often liberals condemn the expression of dissenting opinions in the name of diversity. That's like an opponent of the death penalty sentencing those who disagree with their view to death. If one values diversity, then those who oppose should be welcome. If all parties share the same opinions, there is no intellectual diversity.

Consider colleges that resist ROTC programs and military recruitment on campus. They believe that the use of military force to settle disputes is barbaric. They prefer diplomacy and compromise. They fear that a strong military will tend to encourage imperialism and insensitivity to the needs and opinions of less powerful nations. They claim to value diversity. They believe that diversity exposes people to disparate customs and opinions that broaden one's perspective and allow for a deeper understanding of the human experience.

Liberals believe that those who lack exposure to diversity are at an intellectual disadvantage when presented with complex problems involving people with disparate backgrounds and values. They are mentally rigid and shallow because they have been sheltered by an environment with no variety of opinion and that does not value new ideas. They are less able to adapt to a rapidly changing environment because they have no experience coping with new ideas and situations because they have only associated with people who are just like them. They have lost the capability to adapt because they have never had to. They are considered the intellectual equivalent of a herd of stampeding buffalo; they travel together as a herd and dare not stray. They are regarded as souls who are more likely to be dismissive (and seemingly intolerant) of those not like them because they simply cannot see things from any perspective except their own.

Having made the case for diversity, why do they seek to silence those on campus who want to participate in ROTC or would like to encourage young people to join the military? These are people with different perspectives born of different experiences and customs; the very definition of diverse, they should be welcome, but they are not.

If something doesn't add up, check your premise. In this case we assume that liberals are being genuine when they advocate diversity. In fact, liberals have redefined diversity to mean the enforcement of a strict code that has well-defined acceptable views and behaviors, and the vigorous opposition to all those who do not comply. To advocate diversity as the liberals define it is to accept certain beliefs as untouchable. If you want to know if you meet the criteria to be defined as an advocate of diversity, you need only check your opinions against the accepted views that modern liberalism has mandated that an enlightened person must hold.

Consider what often happens when controversial conservatives such as Stein are scheduled to appear on a liberal campus; often students and faculty insist that the invitation be retracted, and at the very least they protest and disrupt the event. It's almost funny; those who believe in diversity should protest only when someone with controversial views is silenced, not when they are allowed to speak. In this case Stein is guilty of holding controversial views regarding intelligent design. Look at how this slice of academia has responded to a diverse opinion.

Take another example. Liberals believe that America is the source of most of the ills in this world. They believe that America is an imperialist nation that has unfairly dominated the world by means of violence and political oppression. They believe that had it not been for America's caustic effect on the earth, all nations would be living in harmony with each other and with nature.

Now, with this in mind, imagine that someone disparages America, admonishes it, insults it - how would a person that values diversity react? That's easy. He would agree; he would then make some statement to separate himself from America proper by using words like "they" and "it". He would not feel insulted because he does not consider himself part of the "bad" America. As a liberal, he considers himself part of the solution to the "America" problem. He would then feel a sense of superiority to those "bad" Americans who are causing the rest of the world such a problem.

How would he react to someone who instead defended America? Well, if America is bad, and a person is defending it, then he must be bad too. The diversity-acceptable response would be to disparage the America defender and express indignation at such cave-man like thick-skulled backwoods ignorance, after which the proper feeling would be one of superiority; since you get it and he doesn't.

The acceptable response is not to recognize that his opinions have just as much right to be heard as yours, it is not to use logic and reason to examine the validity of his statements, it is not to accept his views into the community of ideas, nor is it to feel pride that you live in a country where a man can speak his mind. In short, the politically correct response is to be rigid, subjective, and dismissive.

So to be in favor of diversity as the modern liberal defines it is to be intolerant of opposing views. Diversity now requires the acceptance of myriad positions regarding topics ranging from A to Z. Modern diversity demands that the only acceptable viewpoints are those that have been approved by the powers that be.

Think of the last time you heard a liberal institution announce a policy advocating diversity. Doesn't that really mean that there are certain viewpoints that are taboo? Doesn't that mean that opposition to certain accepted beliefs will not be tolerated? If a diversity policy were legitimate, the only way to be in violation of it would be to prevent someone from expressing a diverse opinion. How can someone violate a diversity policy by disagreeing with the powers that be? One can violate a diversity policy in such a manner only if said policy statement is simply a euphemism for the oppression of dissent.

What we need is the open and free exchange of ideas. When the liberal powers that be step in to be the arbiter for proper speech, they also become the oppressor of those who dissent. As the modern liberal defines it, the last thing we need more of is diversity.


Some wisdom from a man who escaped the Bolsheviks in 1919

At the Tiflis railway terminal, where Ouspensky stopped (or rather was halted) on his way from St. Petersburg, Bolshevism manifested itself as "terrifying cries and shouts. heard on the platform, quickly followed by several shots." A soldier told passengers that he and his comrades had executed a "thief." By morning they had executed three more thieves. The abuse of language is characteristic. In any case, shooting summed up Bolshevism, which, having "no constructive program," could only destroy and did so prodigiously and gleefully. Ouspensky anticipates Solzhenitsyn in identifying Bolshevism (Marxism) as a pernicious German invention seized on by Lenin and his followers to justify their orgy of violence against a world they hated because it had the temerity to exist apart from their desires and wishes. "As a general rule," writes Ouspensky in the fourth letter, "Bolshevism based itself on the worst forces underlying Russian life."

Ouspensky repeats a refrain in all five letters that Bolshevism, being barbarism with a fancy vocabulary, constitutes a threat not only in Russia, but anywhere, hence also everywhere, because it is a destabilizing condition of ordered life, so arduously achieved, always to carry with it "barbarian forces existing inside [the] society, hostile to culture and civilization." I could not help connecting a recent remark made by Sean Gabb in a Brussels Journal entry with the foregoing words by Ouspensky.

In a discussion of "hate speech" laws and their selective enforcement, Gabb notes that, "the soviet socialists and the national socialists kept control by the arbitrary arrest and torture or murder of suspected opponents," but that these methods are currently "not. acceptable in England or in the English world." Nevertheless, writes Gabb, censorious speech-legislation involving intimidating criminalization of certain words or verbal attitudes "has nothing really to do with politeness," but is, rather, "about power." So it is as well in the United States and Canada. Wherever governments and elites seek to control expression, whether or not as Gabb observes it has to do ostensibly with "diversity and inclusiveness," the real agenda is to achieve "the unlimited power to plunder and enslave us, while scaring us into the appearance of gratitude for our dispossession."

I would say that "hate crime" and "hate speech" laws represent a trial balloon of totalitarian methods. Such methods are barbarous. They betray the basic decency of the Western achievement. They take root in "the worst forces," as Ouspensky says, "underlying our life." Now "ought" is a counterfactual word. But it strikes me that if history taught only one lesson to the civilized it would be that as soon as any visibly power-hungry group succeeds in an agenda of intimidation, no matter how minor, sensible people dedicated to their own freedom ought to respond with all necessary resistance until the aggressors have themselves been intimidated into a retreat. Better indeed to quash such attempts before their first success, but that is a more difficult proposition. Ouspensky's book explains what happens when timidity rather than vigor is the keynote of response to internal barbarism. So does a great library of other books, all of which came later, however, than Ouspensky's.

Ouspensky's invocation of "The Law of Opposite Ends" also has relevance to our condition and invites meditation. The economic crisis in the United States and elsewhere has an ideological taproot - the same one that gives rise to laws that punish conscience. Whatever President Obama and Speaker of the House Pelosi think their so-called stimulus plan is going to do, it is a certainty that its measures will deepen the misery and destroy even more wealth. Ominously, the promulgation of the plan requires, to borrow Ouspensky's phrase, "loud and fierce denunciations" of those who oppose it, after due analysis, on reasoned arguments and positive principles.

"Letters from Russia" gives us a snapshot of what turned out after all to be but the beginning of Russia's long woes - and Eastern Europe's and to this day China's and North Korea's and Cuba's. Letters from Russia stands not only among the objective documents of the Russian Revolution and the Civil War; it also stands among the library of books that discuss the nature of ideology - and the practice of propaganda as the verbal aspect of terrorist coercion. One can detect certain phrases in Orwell - in his essays and in 1984 - that suggest he might have read Letters from Russia. Of direct references to the Letters, except in a biography of Ouspensky, I have seen, as best I recollect, precisely none. It is a pity.

More here

United States of Argentina: How inflation turned a rising power into a pauper

By Philip Jenkins

Anyone not alarmed by the state of the U.S. economy is not paying attention. As our Dear Leader begins his term, the theory of very big government has the support of an alarmingly broad political consensus. Despite the obvious dangers-devastating inflation and the ruin of the dollar-the United States seems pledged to a debt-funded spending spree of gargantuan proportions.

In opposing this trend, critics face the problem that the perils to which they point sound very theoretical and abstract. Perhaps Zimbabwe prints its currency in multi-trillion units, but that's a singularly backward African dictatorship: the situation has nothing to do with us. Yet an example closer to home might be more instructive. Unlike Zimbabwe, this story involves a flourishing Western country with a large middle class that nevertheless managed to spend its way into banana-republic status by means very similar to those now being proposed in Washington.

The country in question is Argentina, and even mentioning the name might initially make any comparison seem tenuous. The United States is a superpower with a huge economy. Argentina is a political and economic joke, a global weakling legendary for endemic economic crises. Between them and us, surely, a great gulf is fixed. Yet Argentina did not always have its present meager status, nor did its poverty result from some inherent Latin American affinity for crisis and corruption. A century ago, Argentina was one of the world's emerging powers, seemingly destined to outpace all but the greatest imperial states. Today it is . Argentina. A national decline on that scale did not just happen: it was the result of decades of struggle and systematic endeavor, led by the nation's elite. As the nation's greatest writer, Jorge Luis Borges, once remarked, only generations of statesmanship could have prevented Argentina from becoming a world power.

For Americans, the Argentine experience offers multiple warnings, not just about how dreadfully things can go wrong but how a nation can reach a point of no return. Not only did Argentina squander its many blessings, it created a situation from which the society could never recover. Argentines still suffer from the blunders and hubris of their grandparents without any serious likelihood that even their most strenuous efforts will make a difference. A nation can get into such a situation easily enough, but getting out is a different matter. A corrupted economy can't be cured without being wiped out and started over.

It is hard, looking at the basket case Argentina has become, to imagine what an economic powerhouse the country was before World War II. From the 1880s, Argentina was, alongside the U.S. itself, a prime destination for European migrants. Buenos Aires was one of the world's largest metropolitan areas, in a select club that included London, Paris, Berlin, and New York City. Argentina benefited mightily from foreign investment, which it used wisely to create a strong infrastructure and an excellent system of free mass education. It had the largest and most prosperous middle class in Latin America. When World War I began, Argentina was the world's tenth wealthiest nation.

Right up to the 1940s, American and European economists struggled to explain the glaring contrast between booming Argentina and slothful Australia. As many studies pointed out, both countries had begun at a roughly similar point, as agricultural producers dependent on fickle world markets. Yet Australia remained stuck in colonial status while Argentina made the great leap forward to the status of an advanced nation with an expanding industrial base and sophisticated commerce.

So what happened? Certainly the country was hit hard by the depression of the 1930s, but so were other advanced nations that ultimately recovered, and Argentina profited from intense wartime demand for primary products.

The country was killed by political decisions, and the primary culprit was Juan Peron. He dominated political life through the 1940s and ruled officially as president from 1946 to 1955, returning briefly in the 1970s. Although he did not begin the process, he completed the transformation of Argentine government so that the state became both an object of plunder and an instrument for plunder.

Peron came from a fascist and corporatist mindset, which became more aggressively populist under the influence of his second wife Eva. They aimed their rhetoric against the nation's rich, a designation that was swiftly expanded to cover most of the propertied middle classes, who became an enemy to be defeated and humiliated. To equalize the supposed struggle between the rich and the dispossessed, the Perons exalted the liberating role of the state. The bureaucracy swelled alarmingly as nationalization brought key sectors of the economy under official control. Government bought loyalty through a massive program of social spending while fostering the growth of labor unions, which became intimate allies of the governing party. Argentina came to be the most unionized nation in Latin America. Peron also ended any pretense of the independence of the judiciary, purging and intimidating judges about whom he had any doubts and replacing them with minions.

The Peronist model-a New Deal on steroids-evolved into an effective clientelism, in which party overlords and labor bosses ruled through a mixture of corruption and violence. Clientelism, in effect, means the annexation of state resources for the benefit of political parties and private networks. Right now, both the word and the concept are not terribly familiar to Americans, but this is one Latin American export that they may soon need to get used to.

As high taxes and economic mismanagement took their toll, the Perons blamed the disasters on class enemies at home and imperialism abroad, but the regime could not survive the loss of the venerated Eva. After attempting briefly to swing back to the center, Juan Peron was overthrown and driven into Spanish exile. Later governments tried varying strategies to reclaim Argentina's lost splendors and some enjoyed success, but Peron's curse endured. Even when his party was driven underground, its traditions remained: demagogic populism, a perception of the state as a device for enriching supporters and punishing foes, and a contempt for economic realities. Utopian mass movements inspired by Peronist ideas and charisma segued easily into the far-left upsurge of the 1960s, when Argentina gave birth to some of the world's most dangerous terrorist and guerrilla movements. By 1976, the military intervened to stave off the imminent collapse of the state and launched the notorious Dirty War that killed thousands.

Since 1976, Argentine economic policies have lurched from catastrophe to catastrophe. The military junta borrowed enormously with no serious thought about consequences, and the structures of Argentine society made it impossible to tell how funds were being invested. Foreign debt exploded, the deficit boomed, and inflation approached 100 percent a year. Economic meltdown had disastrous political consequences. By 1982, like many other dictatorships through history, the Argentine junta tried to solve its domestic problems by turning to foreign military adventures. And like other regimes, they found that their control over military affairs was about as weak as their command of the economy. Military defeat in the Falkland Islands destroyed the junta. By 1983, a civilian president was in power once more. But nothing could stop the nosedive. Inflation reached 672 percent by 1985 and 3,080 percent by 1989. The disaster provoked capital flight and the collapse of investor confidence, not to mention the annihilation of middle-class savings. In the words on one observer, Jose Ignacio Garc-a Hamilton, the nation became "an international beggar with the highest per capita debt in the world."

Another civilian president, Carlos Menem, took office in 1989, and despite his Peronist loyalties he initially tried to restore sanity through a program of privatization and deregulation. But events soon proved that Menem was only following a familiar pattern whereby a new regime would speak the language of reform and moderation for a couple of years before facing a showdown with the underlying realities of Argentine society. Menem could not overcome the overwhelming inertia within the country, the juggernaut pressures toward the growth of the state, to bureaucratization and regulation, and the destruction of private initiative and free enterprise. Between 1991 and 1999, Argentine public debt burgeoned from 34 percent of GDP to 52 percent. During the same decade, government public debt more than doubled as a percentage of GDP. These burdens stifled private investment so that productive sectors of the economy languished.

Economic disaster led inevitably to a collapse of social confidence and the evaporation of loyalty to the state. The more heavily the country was taxed and regulated, the more Argentines took their transactions off the books, creating a black economy on par with that of the old Soviet Union. In terms of paying their taxes, Argentines are about as faithful as the Italians to whom most have blood ties. Tax evasion became a national sport, second only to soccer in the Argentine consciousness, and provided another stumbling block to fiscal integrity. The collapse of respect for authority also extended to the law: courts are presumed to operate according to bribes and political pressure.

Systematic corruption has had horrifying implications for national security. After all, once you establish the idea that the state is for sale, there is no reason not to offer its services to foreign buyers. One spectacular example of such outsourcing occurred in 1994, when Islamist terrorists blew up a Jewish community center in Buenos Aires, killing 85. The investigation of the massacre was thoroughly bungled, reportedly because the Iranian government paid Menem $10 million. It is trivial to list the many other allegations of corruption and embezzlement surrounding Menem: what else is politics for, if not to enrich yourself and your clients?

In 2001-02, Argentine fortunes reached depths hitherto unplumbed. A debt-fueled crisis provoked a run on the currency, leading the government to freeze virtually all private bank accounts for 12 months. At the end of 2001, the country defaulted on its foreign debt of $142 billion, the largest such failure in history. With the economy in ruins, almost 60 percent of Argentines were living below the poverty line. Street violence became so intense that the president was forced to flee his palace by helicopter.

Since 2002, yet another new government has presided over an illusory economic boom before being manhandled by the ugly ghosts of Juan and Evita. Those specters were on hand to whisper their excellent advice to a new generation: if you face a crisis caused by excessive government spending, borrowing, and regulation, what else do you do except push even harder to spend, borrow, and regulate? Over the past two years, new taxes and price freezes have again crippled the economy, bringing power blackouts and forced cuts in production. Public debt stands at 56 percent of GDP, and inflation runs 20 percent. Last October, the government seized $29 billion in private pension funds, hammering the final nail in the coffin of the old middle classes. Judging by credit default swap spreads on government debt, the smart money is now betting heavily on another official default before mid-year. The Argentine economy may not actually be dead yet, but it has plenty of ill-wishers trying hard to finish it off.

We all know that deficits drive inflation, which can destroy a society. Less obvious is the political dimension of such a national suicide. Debts and deficits must be understood in the context of the populism that commonly entices governments to abandon economic restraint. No less political are the probable consequences of such a course: authoritarianism, public violence, and militarism.

The road to economic hell is paved with excellent intentions-a desire to save troubled industries, relieve poverty, and bolster communities that support the present government. But the higher the spending and the deeper the deficits, the worse the effects on productive enterprise and the heavier the penalty placed on thrift and enterprise. As matters deteriorate, governments have a natural tendency to divert blame onto some unpopular group, which comes to be labeled in terms of class, income, or race. With society so polarized, the party in power can dismiss any criticism as the selfish whining of the privileged and concentrate on the serious business of diverting state resources to its own followers.

Quite rapidly, "progressive" economic reforms subvert and then destroy savings and property, eliminating any effective opposition to the regime. Soon, too-if the Peron precedent is anything to go by-the regime organizes its long march through the organs of power, conquering the courts, the bureaucracy, the schools, and the media. Hyper-deficits bring hyperinflation, and only for the briefest moment can they coexist with any kind of democratic order.

Could it happen here? The U.S. certainly has very different political traditions from Argentina and more barriers to a populist-driven rape of the economy. On the other hand, events in some regions would make Juan Peron smile wistfully. California runs on particularly high taxes, uncontrollable deficits, and overregulation with a vastly swollen bureaucracy while the hegemonic power of organized labor prevents any reform. Thankfully, the state has no power to devalue its currency, still less to freeze bank accounts or seize pension funds, and businesses can still relocate elsewhere. But in its social values and progressive assumptions, California is close to the Democratic mainstream, which now intends to impose its ideas on the nation as a whole. And at over 60 percent of GDP, U.S. public debt is already higher than Argentina's.

When honest money perishes, the society goes with it. We can't say we weren't warned.


In batty Britain, a BALLOON is now a health & safety risk!

Alex Pearson was thrilled with the balloon she had been given while having a meal at a restaurant. She was happily carrying it as she walked into a nearby Tesco store with her mother. But the nine-year-old girl, who has learning difficulties, was left bewildered when a security guard told her she could not come inside with the helium-filled balloon because it was a health and safety risk.

Alex's mother, Marion, said: 'This whole health and safety thing is just getting silly. You keep hearing more and more reasons why you can't do this or that. 'This is just another ridiculous rule that we have to follow. Why is it that Tesco sells balloons if they are such a risk?'

Alex had been given the balloon by staff at the Chiquito Mexican restaurant on the Tower Park retail park in Poole, Dorset. She had been having a meal there with her mother and grandmother, Martha Talbot. Afterwards, Alex wanted to spend her pocket money in the Tesco superstore, which is also on the retail park. Mrs Pearson tied the balloon to her wrist so it would not blow away. As the family tried to enter the store at 5pm on Monday, they were told it was 'company policy' that the balloon could not come in.

Mrs Pearson, 44, a carer, from Upton, Poole, said: 'Alex loves balloons and she was desperate to keep it. The security guard stopped us and told us we couldn't come in because of it - some idiotic reason about security. 'Alex didn't understand why she wasn't allowed in and I told the security guard to explain it to her. He couldn't even look her in the eye - I think he was too embarrassed. 'She would have been so upset to let the balloon go, so we had to go home. I won't be using the shop again.'

A Tesco spokesman said: 'A restaurant near the store was handing out helium balloons. A number of children had come into the store and released them inadvertently or on purpose. 'Unfortunately they were getting trapped on the ceiling and blocking the sprinkler system, and they are pretty difficult to retrieve. The managers decided to use their discretion. 'There is not a set policy on helium balloons at the store - it's just common sense really.'



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, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


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Thursday, February 26, 2009

Senior citizen trying to report burglary turned away from British police HQ... as all the officers were playing POKER

They take very little interest in burglaries anyway. It takes insults to blacks, Muslims or homosexuals to get them moving

A pensioner trying to report a burglary was turned away from a police headquarters - even though officers were inside playing poker. Retired financial adviser Graham Hall, 69, walked to the head office of Thames Valley Police after discovering thieves had broken into a rental property he owns nearby. But after first asking Mr Hall if he was there for a card game involving 14 officers that was about to start in the social club, a security guard on the front desk told him no one could help.

Instead he was informed that the station was not open to the public and was handed a fridge magnet with the force's non-emergency telephone number, which he was told to ring. Mr Hall spoke to an operator who promised that a police officer would get in touch - but he was still to hear back from them, nearly a week later. The father of four said: 'When I got there a security guard popped up from behind the desk and said, "Good evening, are you here for the poker?". 'I said, "I've got it wrong. I thought this was a police station, not a casino". 'I told him I had come to report a crime, but he said I couldn't do that here. I said, "I'm sorry I wasted your time" and left.

'I was flabbergasted - you can't even report a crime at the police headquarters. 'The fact is that a crime had been committed on their doorstep but not one person could be bothered to come out and talk to me because they were gambling. At first I thought it was a joke but it really is no laughing matter. I've got no confidence in the force whatsoever.'

Mr Hall, of Oxford, discovered the break-in when he visited a rental property he owns in nearby Kidlington at 6.45pm last Wednesday. The thieves had smashed into a games room annexe and made off with hundreds of pounds' worth of snooker equipment. The semi-detached house was empty at the time after his daughter Joanna, 38, who had been letting it, moved out a few weeks earlier.

Mr Hall first went to Kidlington police station but a sign on the door said it closed at 5pm every day, so he went 150 yards down the road to Thames Valley Police HQ. The pensioner - who will have to fork out 150 pounds to replace both doors and a padlock - is furious. He said: 'Not only do I have to pay for new snooker balls and cues as well as the two doors but no one from the police has even bothered to contact me. 'I was going to leave the doors for the police to examine but it doesn't look like they're bothered. 'I feel extremely let down by the police who would rather play cards than catch criminals.'

A spokeswoman for Thames Valley police has confirmed that a poker game had taken place with a maximum stake of 2.50 a game. But she said that players at the regular event were off-duty. As for reporting a crime, she said the headquarters was not an 'operational police station' and that this was stated on a sign below the entry buzzer, along with directions to the nearest stations and opening times. The spokesman added that officers had not been dispatched to the scene as a matter of urgency because the incident is classed as a 'non-dwelling burglary'. However, an officer will now be in touch with Mr Hall as soon as possible, she added.


British policeman hauled before court and suspended for 20 months for defending himself against yob who headbutted him

Another example of British prosecutors being on the side of the criminal

A police officer told of his anger yesterday after being taken off front-line duty for a year and hauled before a court for defending himself against a suspect who he thought was about to headbutt him. Sergeant Bob Woodward spoke out after the case against him collapsed at the start of his trial when it emerged the supposed victim would not appear - because he was on the run after skipping bail over a separate violent attack.

The officer, a married father of three with 30 years' unblemished service, retires in April but said the episode had soured his last year in the force. Condemning the criminal justice system, he claimed his experience - the second time he has been wrongly accused of assaulting a drunken suspect - would make other officers think twice about confronting violent individuals.

Sergeant Woodward, 52, said Ashley Pearson had lashed out at him in July 2007 as they stood together in a custody suite at Cannock police station in Staffordshire, where Pearson had been taken after being arrested for an alleged breach of bail. The 6ft 8in policeman said he blocked the blow and pushed his attacker on to a desk, chipping Pearson's front tooth.

Pearson did not make a formal complaint but Staffordshire Police launched an investigation following an anonymous tip-off. Details were passed on to the Crown Prosecution Service which decided to prosecute Sergeant Woodward. He was taken off front line duties early last year when formally summonsed for assault and has since been doing other work or been on sick leave. The officer has now been fully reinstated after the case against him collapsed at Birmingham Crown Court on Monday.

Sergeant Woodward had previously been acquitted over an incident in July 2002 when he tried to stop a drunken yob spitting at him by pushing his face away. On that occasion, he had to endure seven months of anxiety before he was cleared.

The sergeant, from Hednesford, Staffordshire, said yesterday: 'There is something wrong when police officers end up in the dock for doing their job while thugs are left free to laugh at the justice system. They were ludicrous prosecutions. When they told me I was being charged I could hardly believe my ears. 'I had to keep it secret from my 80-year-old mother or it would have worried her to death.'

Announcing the CPS would offer no evidence against Sergeant Woodward, Zaheer Afzal, prosecuting, told Judge Sean Morris on Monday: 'Regrettably our main witness is not here today, and we have not been able to find him.'

David Mason, defending, said he found it ' staggering' that the case had taken so long to get to court, telling the judge: 'The officer thought he was going to be headbutted and was using reasonable force to protect himself from a clearly drunk, violent and aggressive man.' Pearson, from Cannock, Staffordshire, ended up in jail for an unrelated matter. He was released and has been on the run since February after being bailed on suspicion of being involved in a pub 'glassing' attack.


Review: Media Malpractice: How Obama Got Elected and Palin Was Targeted

Big Hollywood was given an exclusive first look at John Ziegler's latest documentary covering the media coverage of the 2008 presidential election. In journalistic terms it's called a "tick-tock." This is when the media crafts a news story that takes you behind the scenes of an event and breaks down, piece by linear piece, the individual acts which led up to that event. With "[1] Media Malpractice: How Obama Got Elected and Palin Was Targeted," director [2] John Ziegler ("[3] Blocking the Path to 9/11") turns the art of the tick-tock around and aims it, with damning effect, squarely at the news media. The result is not a documentary, at least not for anyone who believes in truth, fairness or journalistic integrity - the result is a horror film.

If you expect Ziegler to build his case using easy targets like Keith Olbermann [5] aping David Strathairn playing Edward R. Murrow, think again. Olbermann's a bit player in this cinematic indictment, a clown. The real conspirators run the gamut of every network (cable and otherwise), and most of the major print and online publications. Maybe it's not a horror story, after all. Maybe it's something closer to an Agatha Christie mystery where everyone's the murderer. The victim, of course, is American journalism.

Even for those of us who obsessively followed every twist and turn of the 2008 presidential election, watching Ziegler's autopsy of the grisly affair, starting with the primaries and ending with the days immediately following Barack Obama's securing of the Presidency, is to experience in a comprehensive way the breadth and scope of American media corruption.

Watching election coverage in real time last year was often frustrating to the point of outrage, and for the first half-hour of "Media Malpractice" the old outrage returns. But what Ziegler does is summarize his case like a prosecutor delivering a closing argument, bringing the disparate pieces together into something much more important than a narrative. What we see is the media's behavior in full blown context, and as the entire story comes together your outrage slowly evolves into something much more disturbing.

The real genius behind the film is in the wise choice not to use talking heads. Other than pieces of [7] an interview with Governor Sarah Palin (the full interview is included as a DVD extra) that pop up in the opening and then later during the coverage of her bid for Vice President, Ziegler understands that no matter how smart or insightful, no analyst could make as damning a case against the participants as the words and actions of the participants themselves.

Other than the director's narration to fill in the gaps and frame the context, the filmmmaker gets out of the way and allows us to witness first hand as Campbell Brown, Anderson Cooper, Brian Williams, Wolf Blitzer, Major Garrett, Katie Couric, Charlie Gibson and a troubling legion of familiar others summon audacious amounts of hypocrisy, ignorance and dishonesty to blunt any piece of news that could hurt Obama and destroy any individual who could stop him - and that includes Hillary Clinton, Palin, and an unlicensed plumber who dared to ask a question the media wouldn't.

This compelling first person approach more than makes up for the film's few flaws. The first and last ten minutes are sluggishly paced and the soundtrack is frequently intrusive and unnecessary, but once the film's narrative takes hold these issues are of little consequence. And with a run-time of 115 minutes the overall pacing is deliberate. This is a necessity, though, in order to fairly and fully make the case for an expansive and darkly effective media conspiracy.

So trained are we for the few second clip that it took a while for me to understand that the reason some clips feel longish is because the film is more interested in being fair than fulfilling the needs of our national ADD. We're not "told" what anyone said. No shady editing techniques are employed to make a subject look bad. Ziegler let's them talk. Full quotes. Full context. He knows it's not necessary to play the drive-by game on the drive-byers. They step into the noose and jump all on their own.

It's worth pointing out that "Media Malpractice" is not anything close to an anti-Obama screed. Obviously within the mission of the film, William Ayers, Jeremiah Wright and other cuts from our current President's Not So Greatest Hits get some play, but for you reasonable Democrats who were horrified by the media corruption even as it benefited your guy, there's nothing to fear here.

Palin haters will be disappointed. Included in the DVD is Ziegler's full 45-minute interview with the Governor, [9] snippets of which were released earlier in the year [10] to great media uproar for her daring to criticize the likes of Katie Couric. Ziegler has the Governor watch and comment on the harshest coverage she received, some of it for the first time, and her impressive poise, good humor, and graciousness, while witnessing the lies and attacks on her family, remains intact. Whatever effect this vicious and partisan coverage may have had on her future is yet to be seen, but that she hasn't allowed it to get under her skin is obvious.

Narrative or documentary, all good films have a moment that stay with you long after the credits roll, and there's one here that put a chill down my spine. Directly after Palin's triumphant acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention, which, in effect, made complete fools of all those involved in the coordinated three-day media attempt to destroy her beforehand, NBC anchorman Brian Williams took to the air and read, word for word, a manifesto written by Time magazine's very partisan Joe Klein demanding the media not relent in their destruction of her. His piece was littered with lies, including the scurrilous one furthered by Charlie Gibson about Palin claiming God was on our side in Iraq, even though a videotape of the event proves otherwise.

Watching Brian Williams, who up to that point had always come off as a slightly befuddled Dad right out of a 50's sitcom, trumpet a partisan character assassination and call to arms his media cohorts is a revealing look at the rancid heart that beats beneath the blow dry. It's also a warning.

In the production-values department, "Media Malpractice" may feel a bit rushed in spots but as of right now it's the most important post-election analysis released and couldn't be more timely or necessary. We're less than 20 months away from the next election and you only think you understand the magnitude of media corruption.


This is the sort of bureaucracy that the Left want to run the world

In 2001 in southern Sudan, it was a time of peace between wars. It was a time ripe for treating diseases that kill thousands of children every year. It was an opportune time for measles vaccination to halt outbreaks of one of the world's most preventable diseases. The Measles Initiative, founded by the WHO, UNICEF, the CDC and the American Red Cross, was created to address this significant challenge.

In the rural county where I ran an NGO, over 1,200 young children died of measles over four months in early 2001. The death toll was devastating to our school children and their families: local villagers did not have the resources to combat the outbreak except to bury the dead.

When we reported the outbreak to the WHO, the officials we corresponded with expressed shock and dismay that our communities had no access to a vaccination program to stop the spread. But the WHO was caught in a Catch-22 of their own devising: they were unwilling to allocate resources and send doctors unless they could be certain the outbreak was measles, but they couldn't be certain it was measles without a clinical diagnosis by qualified medical personnel.

Our NGO shipped out videotape of the infected children to one of the Measles Initiative partners. A medical doctor and global measles expert said the video was some of the best footage of children with measles he'd ever seen, but unfortunately Sudan wasn't on the list to have a measles eradication program that year and he couldn't be certain without seeing the patients. Even with the clear video footage, a senior WHO official still wouldn't attribute the children's deaths to measles nor send an investigative team. So, as far as we know, the children who died in eastern Upper Nile state in 2001 were never counted in the WHO's official measles statistics.

Worse yet, the WHO wouldn't supply vaccines to inoculate children and stop the outbreak without a refrigerator to store them, and the remote communities where we worked had no refrigerator and no reliable power source. UNICEF, we were told, would provide a fridge if the number of diagnosed deaths from measles was significant. But with no qualified medical personnel to diagnose a "significant" number of deaths in our area, we didn't qualify.

In cooperation with Save the Children (US) and funded by USAID, our NGO set up a medical clinic and put qualified African medical staff in place. Training on running a vaccination program was provided and record-keeping started. The communities waited impatiently for the vaccination program as more children died in subsequent outbreaks. There were hundreds more deaths diagnosed from measles each time. Our NGO was repeatedly told it was "near the top" of the waiting list, but years passed with no refrigerator and no vaccines.

Another outbreak of measles started in mid-2008. In desperation, our NGO raised private funds to purchase a refrigerator and fly it into the isolated area where we worked. Within a few months, our new refrigerator was in place and ready to hold the free vaccines that the Measles Initiative promised to qualified organizations. We have found that "free" is a relative term in Africa, however. We quickly learned that a small number of vaccines were available to us at a regional distribution center, a $5000 air charter flight away.

Just last week, a second refrigerator was delivered, this time courtesy of Save the Children (US), nearly seven years after the original request was made. According to locals, thousands of children have died of measles in the mean time, but the major aid agencies still cannot work together to provide truly free vaccines. Seven years later, this community has two empty refrigerators and still no means to keep their children dying from measles. The refrigerator excuse is gone but the vaccines are effectively out of reach.

Even a time between wars is not the best of times for the poor in rural Sudan. As it turned out, it has been a time of bureaucratic "defer and delay" from the UN aid agencies who failed to provide the vaccines needed to save vulnerable children dying from a preventable disease. After seven years, Save the Children (US) is making the most progress, which is disappointingly slow.

It makes me wonder if the 90% drop in measles infection rate between 2000 and 2006 claimed by the WHO is accurate, or if the children who are dying are just too much trouble for them to count.



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, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


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Wednesday, February 25, 2009

A Leftist speaks out against Islamic barbarism

About time. The writer is Ed Brayton. If it is the "fat guy from Michigan" whom I have previously mocked, I am pleased to see that he is more objective than at first appeared

On last week's Declaring Independence I had the privilege of doing a brief interview of Ayaan Hirsi Ali, the extraordinarily brave Somali-born woman who works diligently to fight against the barbaric practices of radical Islam. You can listen to that interview here.

Hirsi Ali's story is a remarkable one. She was born in Mogadishu, Somalia, into a Muslim family. At the age of 5, she was forced to undergo a clitorectomy, sometimes called a female circumcision. She was later pledged in an arranged marriage to a distant cousin, which she objected to and fled to avoid. She eventually made her way to the Netherlands where, unsurprisingly, she became a powerful advocate of women's rights.

She ran into controversy when it was revealed that she had lied on her application for political asylum in that country, which she fully admits to doing. It was necessary, she says, to make her already bad situation seem even worse at the time in order to ensure that her application for asylum would be granted. After the resulting fallout, she emigrated to the United States, where she now lives and works as a scholar with the American Enterprise Institute.

One of the issues that we discussed in our interview was the need for the left in this country to take the lead in advancing a strong and coherent critique of radical Islam. I have long detected a split on the left over this issue, a split between what I call the rationalist left and the relativist left. The relativist left often downplays the barbarism of radical Islam or fails to speak out against it as strongly as, for example, it does against the actions and beliefs of the religious right in America.

Let us start with a few indisputable facts. First, let us acknowledge that radical Islam is the most anti-liberal ideology in the world today. This ideology demeans women in a thousand different ways, denying them an education and anything like freedom or equality. It demands the public stoning of gays and lesbians. It inflicts the death penalty for apostasy and blasphemy. It is hard to imagine an ideology more contrary to the ideals of freedom and equality.

Second, let us make very clear that this is not an indictment of all Muslims. Like any large religion, there is not one Islam but many Islams. Some forms of Islam have been humanized by the acceptance and integration of liberal democratic ideas into the larger religion, just as the Enlightenment did the same to most forms of Christianity in the West.

Some of the most powerful voices against the barbarism of the radicals come from Muslim scholars like Muqtedar Khan and Louay Safi of the Center for the Study of Islam and Democracy. And they speak to and for a larger Muslim community that is really no different from the rest of us in seeking a peaceful and just society. Their work is important, and we must embrace it rather than ignore it.

Third, let us recognize that there are voices on the left making this case and that this is not a criticism of all liberals by any means. Christopher Hitchens, for example, has been outspoken both in his attacks on radical Islam and his embrace of moderate Muslims fighting against that radicalism. And while I did not agree with his support of the war in Iraq, which I think fueled the very radicalism that we both oppose, I think he is correct in recognizing both the philosophical and practical danger of that twisted ideology.

But there are others who downplay that threat in various ways. We saw it, for example, in the reaction of author John Le Carre to the Iranian fatwa against Salman Rushdie for writing "The Satanic Verses." He declared that "there is no law in life or nature that says great religions may be insulted with impunity" and that "there is no absolute standard of free speech in any society." He further claimed that Rushdie was being "colonialist" by portraying himself as an innocent victim of the fatwa on his life.

We saw it also in the reaction of some on the left to the publishing of those infamous caricatures in a Danish newspaper. One of the most popular liberal bloggers wrote that the publishing of those cartoons was nothing more than "an insult to inflame a poor minority" and that he didn't have "any sympathy for a newspaper carrying out an exercise in pointless provocation."

But this is muddled relativism at its most silly. Those caricatures were pointed criticism of the tendency of radical Islam to respond to such criticism with violence; the fact that the response from radical Islamists was to threaten the lives of the artists and firebomb embassies around the world shows both the importance and the accuracy of such criticism.

Unfortunately, the loudest and most prominent voices in critiquing radical Islam in this country are primarily from the right. Indeed, that is where Ali, who describes herself as a liberal, has found most of her support in this country and why she is employed by a right-wing think tank. This is not a good thing, in my view.

The left must take the lead in making a strong critique of radical Islam and a strong defense of liberal democratic ideals because if we allow the right to do so, that critique will inevitably be intertwined with notions of Christian chauvinism, American exceptionalism, and, in some cases, with imperialism, xenophobia and racism as well. We can and must make those arguments because we can do so in a coherent manner, not bundled up with other noxious views that present their own danger to liberal ideals.

There is no need for any mushy relativism here. The ideology and practice of radical Islam is morally repugnant. The abuse of women and the opposition to freedom and equality are nothing short of barbaric, and we need not mince our words in opposing them. The ideals of a society that respects freedom and equality really are better, they really are worth defending, and progressives should be on the front lines of that battle.


Leading British Labour party politician to attack political correctness

Hazel Blears is to attack the "creeping tendency" of political correctness which has led to Christians being targeted for practising their beliefs. In a hard hitting speech, to be made in the last week of February, the Communities Secretary will suggest that the pendulum has "swung too far" in favour of not offending minorities. Her remarks will be seen as a thinly veiled attack on Harriet Harman, the Commons leader, who has made a series of left wing speeches and announcements in recent months about equal rights for minorities. Ms Harman has faced accusations of manoeuvring herself for the leadership if Labour loses the next election.

It comes after a community nurse, Caroline Petrie, was suspended from after offering to pray for a patient. The story led to widespread criticism of her employer, North Somerset Primary Care Trust, who later offered Mrs Petrie her job back.

Ms Blears, who last week called on jostling cabinet minsters to "get a grip", will say that public policy-makers are too anxious about offending people and need to be more robust in their approach. She will point to a number of judgements recently which she feels were spurned by an overzealous commitment to political correctness. A text of her speech, released to this paper, said: "This country is proud of our tradition of fair play and good manners, welcoming of diversity, tolerant of others. This is a great strength. "But the pendulum has swung too far. It seems that every week we hear a new story - the nurse suspended because she offered to pray for a patient, the school banning Christmas decorations, the town hall reluctant to fly the Union flag - about people getting into a panic because someone, somewhere, might get offended.

"Worse, at times leaders have been reluctant to challenge absolutely unacceptable behaviour - forced marriage, female genital mutilation, or homophobia - because they are concerned about upsetting people's cultural sensitivities. "This flies in the face of another of our traditions - open debate, rational inquiry, and plain old common sense. "We would do well to be a little less anxious and a little more robust."

Ms Blears will say that minority beliefs and traditions should not go unchallenged in Britain when they break the law or harm others. "There is a line when respect for other cultures is crossed and a universal morality should kick in."

The tough stance from the former Blairite comes as a number of female ministers are said to be considering standing against the left wing Ms Harman if she does go for the leadership. Yvette Cooper, the Chief Secretary to the Treasury, was said to be one minister approached to be a "stop Harman" candidate. However some Labour insiders believe this rumour may be an attempt to disrupt Ms Cooper's husband Ed Balls, a likely candidate in a leadership contest.


British Tories pledge to end police 'caution culture'

The Conservatives have pledged to end the "caution culture" in Britain's police forces and to ensure that all youths who carry out violent attacks are prosecuted. Chris Grayling, the Shadow Home Secretary, said he will stop the practice of simply warning youths who are involved in assaults and then sending them on their way. In his first announcement since taking over in the role, Mr Grayling said all those involved in violent attacks or found with knives in city centres would end up behind bars as part of a radical shake-up of policing planned by the Conservatives.

The pledge comes after it emerged that the number of young people given cautions by the police for indictable crimes, including robbery and other violent offences, has increased by 28 per cent in the last five years. Despite Labour promises to crack down on violent attacks, the number of assaults using a knife has risen starkly. Last week, two teenagers were stabbed to death in separate attacks within hours of each other in London.

Mr Grayling said: "If you are found carrying a knife, if you attack a stranger in the street, you should end up in the courts and then behind bars. You should not get a caution, or as I heard recently, a o65 penalty notice for carrying a three foot Samurai sword around. That must stop." Mr Grayling will outline plans this week to give police charging powers of their own so that they can charge youths in custody with offences such as carrying knives rather than referring the cases to prosecutors.

The Tories are also looking to change the police targets system so that issuing someone with a caution does not count as a crime solved, and a case taken to court counts as a bigger success than a caution. Currently, cautions and prosecutions are deemed equally successful outcomes to investigations. Mr Grayling said it was "madness" that cautions for violent attacks had more than doubled since 1998.

In 2007, 60 per cent of under 18s cautioned or convicted for an offence received only a caution, up from 56 per in 2003. There were 75,300 youths cautioned in 2007 compared to 58,600 in 2003. The cautioning rate has increased in all age groups. In 2007, 90 per cent of 10-11 year old offenders dealt with by police were cautioned, compared to 84 per cent in 2003. The rate of 12-14 years olds being cautioned is up by 29 per cent while the number of 15-17 year olds cautioned has increased by 10,000.

Mr Grayling said police were issuing cautions because it meant "case closed, a tick in the box, a crime solved for the official figures to be sent to the Home Office. "That's just not good enough. Giving someone a caution should not be a way of scoring an easy win in the case closed league table. "No wonder young offenders think they can get away with it. That must become a thing of the past."

Despite claiming that there has been an overall fall in the number of people caught carrying knives and that those found guilty of possessing knives were receiving longer sentences the Government has been unable to support this with official figures. The Home Secretary Jacqui Smith apologised to Parliament two months ago for the premature release of data suggesting that police were making headway against knife crime.

In October last year, the Home Office was forced to admit that serious violent crime is much worse than they had been claiming because police forces had been failing to record offences properly. A Home Office spokeswoman said: "As the Home Secretary announced last year, anyone over the age of 16 caught carrying a knife should expect to be prosecuted. Those using knives can expect to go to prison."


An old, old story

Every now and again, some members of the Green/Left try to practice what they preach. It always ends up the same way

They thought they could change the world but what came of their dreams has haunted them ever since... The Universal Brotherhood was Australia's most celebrated alternative community attracting hundreds of young idealists who gave up everything to follow their very own New Age guru. Now 30 years later they're hosting a reunion to confront the sect's surviving leader about the paradise they created. and lost.

Compass on Sunday at 9.30pm on ABC1 charts the rise and fall of this uniquely Australian `cult' through rich film archive and the testimonies of Linda Moctezuma (nee Ward) and others as they prepare for a reunion, 30 years after it all fell apart.

The Universal Brotherhood was a home-grown spiritual movement that became Australia's most successful alternative community. Born in the early 1970s it flourished on a 300 acre farm near the small country town of Balingup, south of Perth. The movement attracted hundreds of young idealists who turned their backs on jobs, mortgages and a safe life in the suburbs. Instead, they cashed in their savings to follow their very own guru, 80-year old Fred Robinson - a self-styled eco-prophet who wanted to pioneer a model community that could save the planet, and mankind!

Robinson espoused a mixed bag of mystical teachings, New Age philosophies and old-fashioned Christian values. He'd also developed his own cosmic vision of the future involving `elder brothers' from outer space coming in UFOs with Christ to take them away if and when catastrophe destroyed the world. "They even bought a property that had an airstrip on it so that the elder brothers would have somewhere to land, and rescue us.

Now, there's only one thing more amazing than him saying that - and that's us believing it!" says Moctezuma who at 18, desperate to escape the insular world of Sydney's northern beaches, became one of the Brotherhood's first converts.

From a handful of pioneers, the Universal Brotherhood quickly grew. Within a year, it was almost completely self-sufficient: its young `disciples' putting into practice all Robinson's principles of biodynamic farming and holistic living. "And we really believed that it was a turning point for mankind. And we were going to be the spearhead, the leaders of this new age. We were creating the model that the whole world was going to be built on. And so we had this great responsibility to do it properly," says Moctezuma.

Among the followers was a young rock star, Matt Taylor. He'd just released a hit record, but sold everything to join the Brotherhood. "Because number one records weren't as important as finding out how the universe worked," says Taylor. On the farm the Brotherhood took care of everyone's food, shelter and clothing. Everything was shared, and everyone ate, played and prayed together. Life in the Brotherhood was deemed "safe and pure". The world outside increasingly viewed as dangerously corrupt.

Believing they had all the answers, the Brotherhood began cutting itself off from the rest of society. TV and radio were banned. And increasingly, control of the group was left to its governing council, a small group of advisers known as the `Centre Core', made up of Robinson's wife Mary and the Brotherhood's young co-founder, Stephen Carthew, a 23-year old from Sydney. "Mary had her belief that she slept at night and she had dreams and God spoke to her, and we then had to follow what God had said to her," says Susan Allwood who'd walked out of a promising fashion career in Melbourne to join the Brotherhood.

As time passed the Centre Core became more hardline, scrutinising the young followers' behaviour, and punishing them for minor misdemeanours or perceived weaknesses. Few dared to confess any doubt, anger or distress. The Brotherhood's utopian dream was only six years old when cracks appeared. The cult's leadership began to turn on some of its most faithful adherents.

By 1978 the New Age dream was all but over. The mood of the times had changed. Triggered by events like the Jonestown massacre, public opinion swung sharply against religious cults. "When Jonestown happened there was a moment where I thought, if Mary had said to us, `We've reached the right vibration; we don't need our bodies any more. We're all going to drink cyanide.' I wonder if we'd have done it?" asks former member Anita Chauvin.

The film follows Anita, Matt, Susan, Linda and others as they prepare for the reunion, searching for resolution to the years they put into the Brotherhood dream; years many have kept hidden, until now. Founder and former leader Carthew will also be at the reunion. He knows he has a lot to answer for and the scene is set for a dramatic showdown.



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, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


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Tuesday, February 24, 2009

British foster carers not told if babies are HIV positive 'to protect the child's human rights'

What about the human rights of others who suffer needless exposure to the virus?

Foster carers have been put at risk by not being told that the babies they are looking after could be HIV positive. Social workers decided that the human rights of a mother wanting to keep her child's status confidential were more important than protecting foster parents, it is claimed. In one case a foster mother, with three young children of her own, was given a new-born baby to look after and not told that he could have HIV. This exposed her, her husband and their children to risk of infection.

Baby J was born last November to a mother known to be HIV positive. During his birth doctors and nurses wore masks, goggles, boots, protective clothing and double sets of gloves to cut the risk of infection. His elder brother had already been taken into care, and social services did the same for Baby J when he was a few days old.

Midwife Tricia McDaid, who questioned social workers about the practice when she became aware of the case in Newham, East London, said: 'This is appalling. Both the babies, the foster carers and their families were put at risk as they were not told. 'The foster parents were asked to administer anti-viral drugs to combat the baby developing HIV but were not told what they were.' Mrs McDaid, 47, says that when she raised the issue with social services she was then moved from her job as a midwife in the community.

Although it is highly likely that babies who are born to HIV positive mothers will also be infected, it is not possible to know for sure until they are 18 months old. So as soon as he was born Baby J was given daily anti-viral drugs to boost his immunity. But crucially the foster family with whom he was placed were not told they were at risk of catching HIV. One of the three children was just two years old.

Mrs McDaid said: 'Newham takes the view that the foster parents don't need to know. 'This happens all the time and it's putting foster carers and their children at terrible risk. 'I was also told by the head of child protection at Newham Hospital that if the foster parents asked me what the drugs were for I would have to lie. 'In my opinion that is breaking the law and breaking the midwife and nursing code of conduct. It also puts the baby at risk as anyone administering drugs to a young baby needs to know exactly what they are and what dosage it should be. 'When I raised difficult questions with the council they ostracised me and tried to freeze me out as they didn't want this getting out.'

Mrs McDaid believes that the council is using Article Eight of the European Convention on Human Rights - the right to respect for one's private and family life - to protect the mother and child. She said: 'Putting the human right of the mother's confidentiality about her HIV status above the right of the foster carers to know is wrong. 'It's playing Russian roulette with people's lives.'

A Newham council spokesman said: 'Foster carers would normally be expected to be provided with full information, but we admit that this did not happen in this instance. 'The circumstances in this case are complex and we acknowledge that it could have been handled differently. 'Our procedures and protocols are now subject to revision. 'We are launching an investigation and we do not know if any other cases have occurred. 'The pan-London child protection procedures, which we are signed up to, contain guidelines that are primarily aimed at protecting children and ensuring children and their parents who may be HIV positive are not discriminated against.'


Open season on free speech in divided Britain

The right to speak your mind is under growing attack as society splits into ever more special-interest groups all too quick to take offence

It is becoming impossible to keep up with the number of groups and "communities" feeling offended nowadays. In the past week alone, Jews have been offended by Caryl Churchill's play Seven Jewish Children, and Irish and Muslims by Richard Bean's play England People Very Nice. The author Margaret Atwood has been offended by the Dubai literary festival's decision not to invite the obscure author of a novel about a gay sheikh, called The Gulf Between Us, and has pulled out of the event in protest.

As our society fragments into more and more special-interest groups - I'm sorry, I mean, as our society blossoms into an ever more vibrant and diverse "rainbow nation" - these competing groups find more and more reasons to feel offended, and to demand that the law protect them from feeling offended again. This is missing a fundamental point about a democratic state: the right to freedom of speech far outweighs the right not to feel offended. As George Orwell said, "If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear."

I criticised Seven Jewish Children last week in my review for this newspaper as a ludicrous, dishonest and grossly antiIsraeli rant. In response I have been accused of hating anything that "smells of Palestinians", of being "rabidly pro-Zionist", "lazy and stupid" and of having something called "a pan-European complex". The first two accusations are false, though I certainly have my moments of laziness and stupidity and am secretly rather proud of having a "pan-European complex".

So far, so good. Critics need to be fairly cheery and thick-skinned souls. As AA Gill put it, if you want to be loved, work with puppies. In one sense, though, Seven Jewish Children, with its outrageous portrait of modern Israel, along with all the criticism and counter-criticism surrounding it, has been quite heartening. Despite all the offence given and taken, nobody has suggested it should be banned. Even Howard Jacobson, who thought the play blatantly antisemitic, a "hate-fuelled little chamber piece" and "wantonly inflammatory", nevertheless remains strictly opposed to censorship.

Meanwhile Jacqui Smith, our dim housewife of a home secretary (is that allowed?), has been banning outspoken foreigners left, right and centre - although mostly right. First there was Geert Wilders, the unfathomably hypocritical Dutchman with the mad hairdo who insists on free speech and wants to ban the Koran.

And then last week, Smith banned Pastor Fred Phelps, the Kansas preacherman who was hoping to fly to England and picket The Laramie Project, a school play in Basingstoke. The play dramatises the true murder of, as Phelps puts it in his robust way, one of the "sodomite damned". In a rare outburst of theatre criticism, Phelps has dismissed the play as "a tawdry bit of banal fag melodrama". He hates Sweden, runs a website called God Hates Fags and believes that predatory homosexuals lurk behind every tree and bush. I suspect the pastor has unresolved issues.

What exactly is Smith trying to achieve by banning the nutter? Does she really think her own electorate are so stupid and easily led as to require protection from him? Does she really think that the good citizens of Basingstoke, if they should be exposed to Phelps in full rant, are suddenly going to think, "Golly, actually, you know, I think he might be right. Now he mentions it, I think God probably does hate fags"? There is no doubt that Phelps is full of hate, but that has never been a crime. And our tradition of freedom of speech exists precisely to allow such people to speak in public, so that we can make up our own minds.

Smith is wrong to ban Wilders and Phelps, just as Wilders in turn is wrong to want to ban the Koran. These busybodies have proven themselves enemies of free speech. Besides, there are so many better, more imaginative, more efficient and even more amusing ways of disarming the loonies than simply banning them. If Smith had thought about it for one minute, even she might have realised that the spectacle of Phelps shrieking, "God hates fags!" outside a school play in Basingstoke would not have constituted a serious threat to anyone, but on the contrary might have added considerably to the gaiety of the nation.

Our political leaders should toughen up a bit, and encourage some of the electorate to toughen up as well. There's nothing dumb about freedom of speech.


Deconstructing Darwin

Darwin seemed to have no natural enemies last week. It was the 200th anniversary of Darwin's birth. His theory was blessed in every account we saw. Everyone was on his side. As a result his ideas reproduced and multiplied until they were in practically every newspaper.

Commentators saw Darwinism at work everywhere. In the current worldwide financial meltdown, for example, they thought they saw not the beneficent "invisible hand" of Adam Smith, but the bloody claw of natural selection. "It's the survival of the fittest at work," said one opinionist.

Ideas, like rats, need predators. Otherwise, they get out of hand. Seeing none to cull the weak parts of Darwin's pens‚e, we will do it ourselves.

There are two parts to Darwinism as it is popularly understood. One part is based on observation - at which Darwin was a master. The other is extrapolation - not so much on Darwin's part, but his followers. The problem is that the part that is probably correct is child-like and obvious. And the part that is more grown up is nothing more than empty guesswork. He notes that some animals are better suited to their environments than others. If a polar bear were suddenly born to a hog here in Nicaragua, it probably wouldn't last long. On the other hand, if a mutation produced a naked polar bear at the North Pole, it wouldn't stand much of a chance either. Both would probably perish, leaving no heirs or assigns.and thus removing from the gene pool whatever crazy aberration that created them. Some things survive and reproduce; some don't. The essence of Darwinism is nothing more than that simple-minded observation, as near as we can tell.

But the application of this notion far and wide is a threat to the intellectual eco-system. Because of it, people think they know a lot more than they actually know. To the question, why is the polar bear white, rather than black, they have a ready answer: because evolution made him white. But this is no answer at all.it just postpones thinking until the next question: why did evolution make him that way?

Then, the guesses begin: because he can blend into the snowy background and sneak up on seals. Oh. They tell us, for example, that he covers his nose - which is black - with his paw, so he can get closer without being spotted.

Smart bear. But you'd think if evolution could turn hi s whole body black it could whitewash his nose too. And what about the seals? Are they morons? You'd think those that couldn't tell the difference between a bear with his paw over his nose and an iceberg would have been weeded out by now. Besides, why aren't seals white?

Of course, the biologists and know-it-alls have their answers, but they are just putting 2 and 2 together in the clumsiest way. They really don't know why polar bears are white. All they know is that nature hasn't exterminated the white polar bears - yet.

Many of these deep thinkers also believe that Darwin proved that God didn't create man. Instead, man arose by the process of evolution, they say, one accidental step at a time. Man is the product of pure chance, they claim. As if God couldn't make it look like an accident, if He wanted!


National pride rallies the Australian fire survivors

Since our ancestors rapidly transformed a wilderness into a first world country, Australians have always been quietly proud of their ability to rise to any challenge, and that traditional pride is still a source of strength. The popular song "We Are Australian" is a very compressed history of Australians and the challenges they have risen to.

How well the early British settlers built a new country after their arrival in 1788 can be gathered from a report of 1828 in "The Australian" newspaper of the day. A ship arrived from England with smallpox on board, which was immediately notified to the appropriate authorities. The ship was sent to Neutral Bay in quarantine and the Sydney population warned. Thousands of people had cowpox vaccinations as a result. After official investigations, the ship was allowed to disembark on August 5th. So Sydney was a pretty sophisticated place by that time. A "visiting English gentleman" also writing in "The Australian" around that time was surprised to find Sydney comprised of substantial brick and stone buildings instead of the mud huts and log cabins he had expected. He found it "a bustling, elegant and extensive city" with shops as good as London's but with much cleaner air. So the early settlers (many of whom were convicts) had built well in just 40 years. I personally am descended from a convict who arrived on the ship just mentioned

"We Are Australian" plays at the memorial service in Melbourne, and in Whittlesea, two Salvos stand. Slowly, uncertainly, about 300 others around them rise to their feet and start clapping. At first it is in time to the song, but soon it is applause - for themselves, for everyone.

For most of the 90-minute service, Kinglake evacuees and Whittlesea residents have listened, mostly heads down. It is respectful and expected, but they seem more bowed by the weight of thoughts. Some weep at the sight of a wreath, others at pictures of a green valley shrouded in fog, not smoke.

But a change comes near the end of the broadcast. They hold hands and smile. Behind the seating, a new mum dances with her babe in arms. The strength has come from somewhere and everywhere, from each other, Melbourne and around Australia. It is strength to go on.

From 10am, mourners at the Whittlesea service trickle in gently. One girl wears a T-shirt with the message: "Together in strength we can rebuild Victoria". Some wear wrist bands that give access to the mountain and what's left there of Kinglake. Many Kinglake residents, though, are behind roadblocks at their own service on their mount. At Whittlesea, Australian flags fly from prams and are draped over shoulders.

About 400 plastic seats are under marquees beside portable party hire cool rooms. For a fortnight life has been makeshift like that. Walker Reserve, the cricket oval, is a mass of dust and dead grass. Two Sundays earlier it was a car park for emergency vehicles and refuge from the blazes. A smoke haze still hangs over the hills and fire helicopters fly overhead.

As the many tributes end, a wiry looking bloke with a beard strokes his wife's arm. Peter Petkovski, wife Lena and boys Ricky, Paul, Tony and Mark lost their Long Gully Rd, Flowerdale, home and much more. Mrs Petkovski can't bear yet to think of returning there. She says the service was overwhelming. "This has just made me stronger," she says.

Her husband can't bear the thought of not going back. "There's too much history. A lot of my friends died there. You can't throw that away," he said after the service.



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, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


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Monday, February 23, 2009

British parents told by government: avoid morality in sex lessons

PARENTS should avoid trying to convince their teenage children of the difference between right and wrong when talking to them about sex, a new government leaflet is to advise. Instead, any discussion of values should be kept "light" to encourage teenagers to form their own views, according to the brochure, which one critic has called "amoral".

Talking to Your Teenager About Sex and Relationships will be distributed in pharmacies from next month as part of an initiative led by Beverley Hughes, the children's minister. The leaflet comes in the wake of the case of Alfie Patten, the 13-year-old boy from East Sussex who fathered a child with a 15-year-old girl and sparked a debate about how to cut rates of teenage parenthood. It advises: "Discussing your values with your teenagers will help them to form their own. Remember, though, that trying to convince them of what's right and wrong may discourage them from being open."

The leaflet suggests that parents should start the "big talk" with children as young as possible, before they pick up "misinformation" from their peers in adolescence. The best way to raise the topic may be while performing mundane tasks such as "washing the car . . . washing up, watching TV, etc", it says. The leaflet provides technical information on different forms of contraception, from condoms to implants, and will reignite the row over the government's "value-free" approach to sex education.

Simon Calvert, deputy director of the Christian Institute, attacked the leaflet, saying: "The idea that the government is telling families not to pass on their values is outrageous. "Preserving children's innocence is a worthy goal. We would like to see more of that kind of language rather than this amoral approach where parents are encouraged to present their children with a smorgasbord of sexual activities and leave them to make up their own minds."

Linda Blair, a clinical psychologist, said educating older children and teenagers about sex had to be a process of negotiation. "We do not know what is right and wrong; right and wrong is relative, although your child does need clear guidelines," she said.

Hughes said the government "doesn't bring up children but . . . it does have a role to play in supporting parents and giving them access to advice and information".

Labour's attempts to cut the rate of teenage pregnancy through education are showing signs of faltering. From 1998 to 2006, the under-18 conception rate fell by 12.9% to its lowest level since the mid-1980s. But last year it began to edge up again. New figures will be announced this week.


British police abandon anti-white racism

Police are to scrap controversial race 'diversity' targets that made it harder for white men to win jobs. The decision could end the positive discrimination which has seen ethnic minority applicants selected where white rivals were at least as well qualified. The targets were imposed after police were labelled institutionally racist in the 1999 Macpherson Report into the murder of Stephen Lawrence. Forces were told to recruit ethnic minority officers in direct proportion to the make-up of their local community. The targets, dictated by Whitehall, left many forces under severe pressure to employ thousands of black and other minority groups as soon as possible.

Some overstepped the mark into positive discrimination. Gloucestershire Police even went to the extent of 'deselecting' more than 100 potential recruits purely because they were white. The force later admitted it had acted unlawfully.

Now police minister Vernon Coaker has decided central targets can be dropped, even though few areas have met them. Individual forces will be able to decide their own recruitment pattern. The news came as the Association of Chief Police Officers insisted the service was no longer guilty of institutional racism. ACPO said repeating the charge now was 'unfair and unhelpful'.

Since the blistering Macpherson Report, ten years ago on Tuesday, the number of ethnic minority officers nationwide has doubled. But it is still only around 4.1 per cent, compared to seven per cent in the population as a whole.

Steve Otter, ACPO's lead officer on race and diversity, welcomed the decision to axe the Whitehall targets. He said: 'There is no doubt that the targets set in 1999 were very ambitious and the scale of the challenge they posed has acted as a catalyst for change across the police service. 'As with all targets, crude measures can drive output but come to the end of their usefulness eventually.'

Asked if it was still fair or accurate to describe the police service as institutionally racist, ACPO said: 'The short answer is no. 'That is not to say that racist incidents within the police service never take place. Regrettably, they do. 'But in the years since Stephen Lawrence, the police service has shown it is willing to listen and learn from past events. 'When prejudice does occur there is a firm desire throughout the service and especially among its leadership to tackle it robustly. 'As a term, "institutionally racist" attempts to sum up in two words the entire experience of thousands of men and women across the police service who daily do their best on the public's behalf. 'That is both unfair and unhelpful, and it fails to take any account of the very real progress which has been made.'

Mr Otter said he agreed with recent remarks by equalities watchdog Trevor Phillips that it was time to move on from focusing on the single issue of race and from a 'box-ticking culture' around racism law.

The tenth anniversary of Macpherson will be marked by a special conference on Tuesday. Justice Secretary Jack Straw, who commissioned the Macpherson inquiry when he was Home Secretary in 1999, will say he is 'proud' of the progress that has been made over the past ten years.

Stephen Lawrence, 18, was stabbed to death in Eltham, South-East London, in a racist attack by five white youths in April 1993. No one has ever been convicted of the murder. The Macpherson Report said the Metropolitan Police investigation had been 'marred by institutional racism'. It was accepted at the time that the charge of institutional racism applied to the police nationwide.

Today Mr Straw said Macpherson had been 'a watershed'. He added that, while recruitment had dramatically improved, there was still much work to be done on the retention and promotion of ethnic officers.

Mr Coaker said: 'We are determined to work with the police service to offer fair and equal opportunities to all its members, regardless of age, gender, ethnicity or background.'

Gloucestershire Police pursued its discriminatory recruitment policy in 2006. Chief Constable Dr Timothy Brain's force confessed it had acted unlawfully by dashing the men's hopes because of their sex and skin colour. White women who applied were not discriminated against because of a separate policy, unrelated to Macpherson, aimed at encouraging the recruitment of women.

Earlier this week, however, the Runnymede Trust said problems in the police service meant the criticism of institutional racism still applied. The report said: 'Ten years after the publication of the inquiry report, there is still significant progress to be made - notably in relation to the career experiences of black and minority ethnic officers and the disproportionate use of stop and search procedures against black groups. 'It is difficult, in light of these continued challenges, to argue that the charge of institutional racism no longer applies.'


Free speech - ACLU Style

Freedom for Leftist viewpoints only, of course

"I am for socialism, disarmament, and ultimately for abolishing the state itself as an instrument of violence and compulsion," wrote one particularly ambitious contributor in his 1935 Harvard 30th anniversary classbook. "I seek social ownership of all property, the abolition of the propertied class, and sole control by those who produce wealth. Communism is the goal."

Seventy-two years later, the American Civil Liberties Union still abides by those words - penned by its founder, Roger Baldwin, who, incidentally, also said that advancing "civil liberties" in countries like the Soviet Union or its satellite nations really wasn't all that important. Happily, most of those nations have come around to a different viewpoint. But while the rotten tree of communism has fallen around the world, there remains one last stubborn root not far from the coast of Florida: Fidel Castro's Cuba. Cuba remains the ACLU's "Fantasy Island," where - to hear them tell it - happy Marxist children play together in perfect harmony, and the state makes sure its citizens are cared for from cradle to grave.

At least that's the glorious depiction in a book titled Vamos a Cuba ("Let's Visit Cuba") that the ACLU wanted to keep on the bookshelves of a Florida school. The book makes the communist state sound like a trip to DisneyWorld. But as it did on the TV show Fantasy Island, illusion in Cuba quickly gives way to harsh reality. While the book is filled with commentaries on how Cubans enjoy chicken with rice, it neglects to mention that, under the country's subsidized ration plan, the average Cuban is allowed only 8 ounces per month. Cubans are shown "boating," but "boating" for most Cubans means trying to escape from the repressive regime on fragile, homemade rafts. And mysteriously missing is any mention of the 20-year prison sentences handed out to Cuban poets, journalists, and priests who don't fall on their knees and worship the communist regime.

When a Cuban-American parent who had escaped political imprisonment in Castro's "utopia" expressed his concern that the book only showed the Cuba its communist leaders wanted children to see, the Miami-Dade County school board evaluated the book and agreed. They pulled the book from its school libraries. That's when the ACLU - always eager to preserve delusion - got involved and sued the school district. This is the same ACLU that endorsed an amendment lifting the ban on tourist travel to Cuba - a long distance slap in the face to Cubans, who now watch foreign tourists feed corruption, pesos, and dollars to the communist government.

Thankfully, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit recently came down on the side of the school board and ruled they could remove the book. But the ACLU is not giving up, pledging "further legal action."

Now, you might be saying, why all this fuss about a little book - one more annoying gnat amid the ACLU's swarm of legal mosquitoes? Well, the irony is that even while the ACLU is suing to allow communist indoctrination into public school libraries, it is suing to keep a lot of other books - which don't line up with ACLU ideology - out. Want your child to learn about other views besides evolution? The ACLU says no. Evolution must be taught, and other options, such as intelligent design, must be silenced. Want your child to learn that marriage is the union of one man and one woman? The ACLU says no. "Alternative lifestyles" must reign supreme in the classroom - all in the name of tolerance and "diversity." Want your child to learn that abstinence is the only 100-percent effective way to prevent teen pregnancy? The ACLU says no. Schoolchildren must learn how to engage in potentially harmful sexual behaviors at any time and any place.

When it's something the ACLU wants your children to learn, regardless how inaccurate the presentation, they will sue to silence parents and force-feed their leftist view of "education" on America's children.

A majority of American parents clearly don't realize how determined the ACLU is to impose its will on them, to indoctrinate their children, and to promote its own warped legal "vision" for America. It's a vision that's closer to the harsh reality of Castro's Cuba than the fantasies books like "Let's Visit Cuba" want America's children - and grown-ups - to believe.


How to protect the guilty and endanger the innocent

Criminals allowed to hide their past in the Left-run Australian State of Victoria

Violent criminals and sex offenders are being allowed to change their names by deed poll, helping them hide their pasts and reduce the risk of revenge attacks. Criminals and sex offenders not listed on a registry can pay $58.80 and change their name by deed poll. And while the worst sex offenders face name-changing restrictions, they can still apply to authorities to hide their identities.

The Adult Parole Board said 21 of 25 parolees who had applied for a new name were approved. But the State Government and police have refused to say how many registered sex criminals and prisoners in total have been given the green light for new identities. All three agencies have refused to identify the criminals granted new identities, saying it would breach confidentiality.

But the Sunday Herald Sun understands some criminals are listing fears of revenge attacks from vigilantes as the reason for wanting to change their names. Laws were toughened after it was discovered notorious pedophile Brian "Mr Baldy" Jones wanted to change his name to Shaun Paddick, in an insult to his victims, whose hair he cut. Frankston serial killer Paul Denyer also announced plans to change his name to "Paula".

Crime victims' advocates have slammed the process as a free ride and warned name-changing criminals could easily strike again. The revelations came amid concerns that a serial pedophile jailed this month could be out by October. Jamie Armstrong, 28, of Mt Duneed, pleaded guilty in Geelong County Court to 30 counts of sexually assaulting seven children under 16, and two counts of assault with intent to rape. Armstrong's victims were aged two to 11 and he told police he was always in danger of reoffending, the court heard. He had previously been placed on a community-based order and completed the sex offenders' program, after admitting to indecently assaulting a girl at a pool in 1999. He was sentenced this week to four years' jail with a minimum of 18 months. But having served 10 months on remand he could be out in October.

Anti-child abuse campaigner Hetty Johnston said child sex criminals should be given life sentences on their second offence and no sex offenders should be able to change their names. Parole Board spokesman David Provan said police were notified when criminals changed their names.



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, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


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Sunday, February 22, 2009

Britain's heavy-handed "welfare" State again

'My baby was put in care after I was wrongly accused of abuse': Mother's nightmare after a foreign doctor misdiagnosed a medical condition. There should surely always be an immediate second opinion from a top expert in such grave matters. All it needed in this case was an internet search to reveal that the foreign doctor had got it wrong!

A young mother was arrested and her ten-day-old baby taken into care after doctors misdiagnosed a bump on his head as a sign of abuse. Dee Crawford, 19, contacted her health visitor and midwife for advice after her son, Michael, suffered a fall at home. She was told to take the baby - who was otherwise healthy after being born by caesarean section - to hospital to be examined. The lump was later found to be a cephalohematoma - a common condition which often results from a problematic labour.

However, the foreign doctor who examined Michael at the University Hospital of North Durham believed it was a `new' injury and called in police and social services to investigate. The first-time mother then had her baby taken away before being arrested on suspicion of assault. Police later allowed her to read the doctor's report about her son's injury, which claimed that cephalohematoma could not occur with c-section births. Back home in Chester-le-Street, County Durham, Miss Crawford researched the condition on the internet and discovered that the doctor had got his facts wrong. She pressed for an expert's second opinion - even offering to pay the four-figure fee herself

Eventually - after two-and-a-half weeks separated from her baby - a paediatrician at Newcastle's Royal Victoria Infirmary concluded that the swelling was `without a doubt' the result of a difficult labour and not suspicious. Mother and baby were then reunited. Durham Police have now formally dropped the inquiry.

Miss Crawford said midwives had pointed out that Michael - who was born on January 19 weighing 9lbs 8oz - had a bruise on his head shortly after the birth but said it was nothing to worry about. `What happened to me I wouldn't wish on my worst enemy,' she added. `I have lost so much time with my baby when I should have been bonding with him. `The experience of being torn apart so soon after the birth was so traumatic it was as if he had died. I couldn't eat or sleep until my name was cleared.

`I'm furious with social services and the police for putting me through this unnecessarily. If they spent more time on cases like Baby P and less on things like this then more babies would be alive.' She added that Michael had been on the Child Protection Register because she had suffered from depression, but claimed her mental health has been made worse by her treatment.

A Durham Police spokesman said: `We can confirm that a 19- year-old woman was arrested on suspicion of assault but no further action has since been taken.' A spokesman for Durham County Council said: `We would never remove a child in the context of a suspected injury without first taking expert medical advice.'


Australia: Children in foster care of prostitute

What has happened in this particular case would seem to be in part the fault of government racism: The policy that black babies must not be given to white carers. They would rather that the kids be badly treated than abandon racial segregation. The standard mantra of child welfare agencies is that "We put the interests of the child first". What crap! They put their Leftist ideology first

Child protection authorities in Western Australia were warned last May that a foster carer of four children was working as a prostitute, gambling heavily and using her taxpayer-supplied vehicle to drive to work at a suburban brothel. But nine months later, the Department for Child Protection has not removed the four children, who still live in the woman's house with a male lodger, who sleeps in a queen-size bed in the living room. The woman's brother, who has convictions for serious criminal offences, also stayed at her house until a departmental officer told the woman he had to leave, The Weekend Australian has confirmed.

The case has emerged as a glaring example of flaws in Western Australia's Aboriginal child placement principle, which gives priority to placing indigenous children in state care with family or people from within the child's indigenous community. The policy has been adopted in all states and territories, but the Barnett Liberal Government has vowed to review the policy.

Last December, an Aboriginal corporation in NSW was stripped of federal and state funding after foster children in its care were deemed to be at serious risk. A review of the Redfern-based Aboriginal Children's Service found that many children were living in overcrowded homes across NSW, with foster parents neither registered nor trained.

The four Aboriginal children in Perth -- three girls aged nine, 11 and 13 and a boy of 2 1/2 -- cannot be identified because they are state wards. They were removed by DCP from their mother in October 2006, after a long series of domestic disputes involving the children's father. The department placed the children in the care of their maternal grandmother, but after a few months she could not cope. She drove the children to their natural mother's house and left them alone in the backyard while the mother was at work. A second placement was formalised early last year with the children's paternal ex-step-grandmother. The department provided her with a $34,000 eight-seater van to transport the children, plus her own two youngest sons. It also promised an upgrade to a five-bedroom state rental house, but the woman, six children and a male lodger still live in her three-bedroom house in an outer Perth suburb.

The Weekend Australian has obtained an affidavit, signed on Tuesday, by a family friend who said she became concerned about the children's welfare after the foster carer admitted to her that she was still working as a prostitute, despite receiving around $700 per week in foster care allowance. The friend, a former youth worker who is training to be a prison officer, said she told the children's case worker last May that the carer was regularly working in a brothel and leaving the children with other people. She was also concerned welfare payments for the four children were being used for gambling. Departmental officers visited the carer's house a week later.

Yesterday, DCP director-general Terry Murphy confirmed that a complaint last May was investigated. "It was found (the carer) had worked as a cleaner in a brothel before the children came into her care. She has not worked in that capacity since caring for the children." [In other words, the chump believes what he has been told by his officials -- and they wouldn't have a clue] He said a vehicle had been provided by the department, and it was in the process of screening the woman's male paying boarder. He dismissed the allegations, saying: "This appears to be a successful example of placing Aboriginal children with an Aboriginal relative carer."

The DCP relies heavily on relatives to act as foster, or kinship, carers of indigenous children taken into care. Of 1250 kinship carers in Western Australia caring for relatives' children, about 460 or 37 per cent are indigenous households. The state Government's review into indigenous child placement is due to report at the end of next month.

Mr Murphy said last week that the policy raised concerns as it encouraged workers to place Aboriginal children with immediate or extended family "even when that family itself may be struggling". He said case workers too often misunderstood the principles and attempted to place Aboriginal children with their immediate or extended family "when in fact the children would be better placed elsewhere".


Rudd's attack on the market: A failed pretence at being an intellectual

The Australian Prime Minister's only expertise is in Mandarin Chinese -- and it shows

By Michael Duffy

Being a successful prime minister is tough. Not only do you have to put in the hard work of running the joint, you need to write the self-justifying book afterwards, to counter the onslaught on your reputation from the ungrateful knaves and fools who replace you. This is the position in which John Howard now finds himself. His speech at the Menzies Research Centre on Thursday was the first salvo in a battle whose main advance will be the book he is writing.

It was, of course, done in response to Kevin Rudd's assault on capitalism, which has been bubbling for a few years but burst out recently in a baroque essay in The Monthly magazine. Anyone who's tried to read this will have been struck not just by its hubris and confusion, but by its hypocrisy. The Rudd family is the wealthiest to have occupied the Lodge, thanks to the success with which the Prime Minister's wife embraced the very values he is now denigrating. People notice these things. They're going to start asking what, if anything, Kevin Rudd really stands for.

One of his motives in the essay seems clear. He wants to create a story in which the Coalition badly damages the economy through excessive market freedom, and Labor saves it with government intervention. There's nothing wrong with telling stories: Howard used to do it all the time with references to the high interest rates that Australia suffered under Paul Keating.

Mind you, now that Howard is engaged in writing history rather than the grubby business of political survival, he'd probably rather forget this. On Thursday night he said: "I have always given the previous Labor government credit for implementing changes to our financial system and also tariff reform." Well, only if you were listening carefully. He did acknowledge it from time to time, but the great rhetorical battering ram he swung for many years was the image of Labor's unique incompetence where interest rates were concerned.

That image was false but effective, thanks to the repetition with which it was swung, and possibly it's this example that has emboldened Rudd to embark on his crusade against free markets. The problem is that, with all his references to Hayek and Keynes, he's talking to a much smaller and better educated audience than Howard was with his rubbish about interest rates. And that audience can tell that Rudd's arguments are embarrassingly incoherent.

It's no exaggeration to say The Monthly essay would not have received a pass mark in most undergraduate courses. Its fundamental problem is that the PM's portrayal of recent history, in particular the claim that markets were pretty much unfettered, is largely imaginary. It is completely imaginary when it comes to Australia, which under the Howard government experienced unprecedented levels of regulation and government spending.

Not the least strange thing about all this is that Rudd himself has often acknowledged the strength of the economy he inherited from Howard. And despite what Rudd would have us believe, it was comprehensively regulated. Take the banks, which sit at the heart of current events. Howard correctly noted on Thursday that his government "resisted pressure to relax the so-called four pillars policy whereby the four major trading banks were not allowed to merge with each other. Ironically, the argument used by many in the financial sector, wanting this policy changed, was that a change was needed to strengthen the relative position of Australian banks against banks in other parts of the world.

"Yet as everyone now knows, because our banks were stronger, better supervised and better managed than others, their relative position compared to other banks has improved significantly as a consequence of the financial events of recent months. There are only 15 banks in the world which now have a AAA credit rating. The four major Australian banks are among them. Given the size of our economy this is a remarkable tribute to Australia and her banking system. The four did not need to become two in order to survive in a hostile world."

What lies at the heart of Rudd's ramblings? One can't be sure, but The Monthly essay suggests he's mistaken the market truth that what goes up must come down with the Apocalypse. This is a serious case of category confusion. It's difficult to know whether it would be worse if he believes this or is just pretending. Is it panic or pretence?

Writing in The Australian Financial Review yesterday, Mark Latham called Rudd a practitioner of "zigzag economics" who tailors his rhetoric according to his audience. Referring to a speech in which Rudd previewed the ideas in The Monthly essay, Latham wrote: "It is rare for an Australian prime minister to talk this way about capitalism. Rudd's speech was perhaps the strongest attack on the ideals and purpose of private enterprise by a national leader since Ben Chifley's attempt to nationalise the banks in 1947."

If Kevin Rudd does believe what he's been saying, and it influences his policies even more, the future looks gloomy. We face the melancholy prospect that Australia's most recent three governments will come to resemble in their effects on the economy the pattern of rise and fall seen in some wealthy families. The first generation (Hawke-Keating) establishes the fortune. The second (Howard) consolidates it. And the third pisses it up against the wall.


Brazilian Government Says 99% of Citizens Are "Homophobic" and Must Be Reeducated

The Brazilian government has determined that 99% of its citizens are "homophobic," and therefore must be reeducated, according to the Brazilian newspaper O Globo. The results are taken from a study that tested for "homophobia" by asking people to comment on such statements as "God made men and women with different sexes so that they could fulfill their role and have children." The 92% of Brazilians who agreed partially or completely with the statement were labeled "homophobic."

Another test question for "homophobia" was, "Homosexuality is a sin against the laws of God." Fifty-eight percent of Brazilians agreed.

Those who agreed partially or completely that "Homosexuality is an illness that should be treated" (41%) were also labeled "homophobic," as were those who objected to homosexuals kissing and hugging in public (64%).

According to O Globo, Brazil's federal government will use the data "to plan new policies, and warns that it has now detected a dark consequence of so much prejudice: intolerance." The study was performed by an organization linked to the socialist Labor Party, which currently occupies the nation's executive branch and predominates in the legislature. "There's no way [for the government] not to involve itself, because intolerance must manifest itself in crimes, including crimes committed by agents of the government," said Paulo Biagi, coordinator of the government's official "Brazil Without Homophobia" campaign.

Biagi says that the government will now begin to "rearticulate" the case for its proposed "anti-homophobia" law, which would make it illegal to criticize homosexual behavior in Brazil. In addition, the government will be launching the National Plan for the Promotion of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgendered Citizens in May. It will also soon initiate a television campaign to combat "homophobia" in conjunction with ten other Latin American countries.

"What is surprising is how a population that is 99% against homosexuality is accepting passively that its 100% pro-homosexuality government is lifting homosexual acts to the level of inviolable sacredness," wrote Brazilian pro-family activist Julio Severo on his blog, Last Days Watchman, "and at the same time it is lowering 99% of Brazilians to the class of 'ignorant mob' that should be forcefully condemned to state policies of reeducation,"



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, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


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Saturday, February 21, 2009

Nation of Cowards?

So says Eric Holder, but what’s really cowardly is racial dishonesty

Attorney General Eric Holder, a Clinton administration retread, wants to revive Bill Clinton’s National Conversation on Race. (What’s next? Hillarycare?) Holder recently told his Justice Department employees that the United States was a “nation of cowards” for not talking more about race. “It is an issue we have never been at ease with and, given our nation’s history, this is in some ways understandable,” Holder said. “If we are to make progress in this area, we must feel comfortable enough with one another and tolerant enough of each other to have frank conversations about the racial matters that continue to divide us.”

Is he nuts? Leave aside for a moment Holder’s purely decorative call for a “frank” conversation about race. The Clinton-era Conversation also purported to be frank, and we know what that meant: a one-sided litany of white injustices. Please raise your hand if you haven’t heard the following bromides about “the racial matters that continue to divide us” more times than you can count: Police stop and arrest blacks at disproportionate rates because of racism; blacks are disproportionately in prison because of racism; blacks are failing in school because of racist inequities in school funding; the black poverty rate is the highest in the country because of racism; blacks were given mortgages that they couldn’t afford because of racism. I will stop there.

Not only do colleges, law schools, almost all of the nation’s elite public and private high schools, and the mainstream media, among others, have “conversations about . . . racial matters”; they never stop talking about them. Any student who graduates from a moderately selective college without hearing that its black students are victims of institutional racism—notwithstanding the fact that the vast majority of black students there will have been deliberately admitted with radically lower SAT scores than their white and Asian comrades—has been in a coma throughout his time there.

Education bureaucrats maintain an incessant harangue on white racism because they see the writing on the wall: most students are indifferent to race and just want to get along. If left to themselves, they would go about their business perfectly happily and color-blindly, and the race industry would wither on the vine. Thus the institutional imperative to remind black students constantly about their victimization and the white students about their guilt. Last month, the elite Phillips Academy at Andover proudly announced a student presentation on White Privilege: A History and Its Role in Education. Would the student have come up with such a topic on her own without the school’s educators deliberately immersing her in such trivial matters? Of course not.

But if Attorney General Holder is really sincere about wanting a “frank” conversation about race, he should put the following items on the agenda:

The American electorate. The country just elected its first black president. And it actually didn’t talk a lot about Barack Obama’s race during the election, thank heavens, because most Americans were more interested in the candidate’s ideas than in his skin color. There were undoubtedly hundreds of thousands of people who wouldn’t vote for Obama because of his race. I would guess that their average age was 75. There is no question that a great many geriatric Americans continue to harbor the rankest racism for blacks, but guess what? They’re not going to be around for much longer. Young people growing up in the last 30 years live on a different planet when it comes to racial attitudes—until the educrats start playing with their minds.

Crime. Holder told his Justice Department employees that they had a special responsibility to advance racial understanding, according to the Associated Press. Uh-oh. Before and during Holder’s first stint at Justice, when he served as Clinton’s deputy attorney general, the department’s civil rights division specialized in slapping onerous federal consent decrees on police departments. Its assumption was that racial disparities in cops’ stop-and-arrest rates reflected police racism, not racial disparities in crime rates.

Before Holder and his attorneys revive that practice, they should study certain facts that remain taboo in the mainstream media. For instance, the homicide rate for black men between the ages of 18 and 24 is well over ten times that of whites. And disparities in other violent-crime rates are just as startling. In New York City, one of the nation’s safest large cities, 83 percent of all gun assailants were black during the first six months of 2008, according to victims and witnesses, though blacks make up only 24 percent of the city’s population. Add Hispanic perps, and you account for 98 percent of all shootings in New York City. The face of violent crime in cities is almost exclusively black or brown. That explains why someone might feel a sense of trepidation when approached by a group of black youths. That’s not racism; it’s the reality of crime. And it’s that reality that determines whom the police stop, frisk, and arrest.

Education. Commentators on NPR’s “black” show, News and Notes, recently groused about the lack of black policy experts on the Sunday talk shows but ignored the possibility that the education gap might have something to do with it. Blacks, they said, need to be twice as qualified as whites to get a job. Let’s look at the evidence. The black high school drop-out rate approaches 50 percent. On the 2006 SAT, the average score in the critical-reading section was 434 for blacks, 527 for whites, and 510 for Asians; in the math section, 429 for blacks, 536 for whites, and 587 for Asians; and in the writing section, 428 for blacks, 519 for whites, and 512 for Asians. America’s lousy showing in international math, science, and reading tests compared with Japan and Western Europe is influenced in large part by the low scores of blacks and Hispanics. If blacks and Hispanics performed at the level that whites do, the U.S. would lead all industrialized nations in reading and would lead Europe in math and science, according to a study published in the Phi Delta Kappan in 2005.

Likewise, after their first year of legal education, 51 percent of blacks labor in the bottom tenth of their class; two-thirds reside in the bottom fifth. Blacks are four times as likely as whites to fail the bar exam on the first try. Until such achievement disparities are eliminated, any allegations of racial discrimination in the absence of proportional numbers of black policy wonks—or law partners, chemists, engineers, or investment bankers—is absurd, especially when the nation’s elite institutions are doing everything they can to recruit black students, professors, and employees. Perhaps Holder could confront the stigma against academic achievement in the black community, which derides studying and staying out of trouble as “acting white.”

The family. Closing the educational achievement gap will be difficult as long as the black illegitimacy rate is nearly 71 percent, compared with a white rate of 26 percent. Taxpayers foot the bill for this family breakdown—when fatherless children who never learned self-control and self-discipline disrupt classrooms and prevent other children from learning, and when the same fatherless children get sucked up into gang life and fail to connect with the world of work and responsibility. Many poor single mothers work heroically to raise law-abiding sons, but the odds are against them.

When communities resist an influx of Section 8 housing-voucher holders from the inner city, say, they are reacting overwhelmingly to behavior. Skin color is a proxy for that behavior. If inner-city blacks behaved like Asians—cramming as much knowledge into their kids as they can possibly fit into their skulls—the lingering wariness towards lower-income blacks that many Americans unquestionably harbor would disappear. Are there irredeemable racists among Americans? To be sure. They come in all colors, and we should deplore all of them. But the issue of race in the United States is more complex than polite company is usually allowed to express. If Eric Holder wants to crank up our racial preoccupations even further, let him at least do so with a full airing of the facts.


Tear it up! The British Labour party's welfare reform isn't working

A new generation are growing up jobless. If they haven't worked, they should receive less benefit than those who have

By Frank Field (Frank Field is Labour MP for Birkenhead and the former Minister for Welfare Reform)

The main force of the recession is yet to hit us but unemployment is surging. In its Pre-Budget Report the Government predicted that at the end of 2010 the number of unemployed on benefits would have reached 1.55 million. That total looks as if it will be passed a year and a half early. The recession calls for a totally new, two-stage programme of welfare reform. But first we must acknowledge that the Government's New Deal and "making work pay" strategies have failed to get many unemployed people into work, even at the height of the boom. It has been an expensive failure - various tax credit schemes and New Deal projects have cost the taxpayer œ75billion since 1997.

The results are derisory. In ten years, the number of jobless people of working age has fallen by only 400,000, down from 5.7 million. The record of each of the New Deals is depressing, in particular the Government's flagship New Deal to end youth unemployment. In the early years more than half of those on the New Deal for Young People landed a sustainable job (one that is held-down paid employment for 13 weeks or more). But at the top of the boom two thirds of New Dealers - 30 per cent of them "retreads" of the scheme - failed to find such a job. This failure can be seen in the increased number of Neets ("those not in education employment or training"). There are now 1.1 million in Britain, more than when Labour took power in 1997.

There are many young people in my Birkenhead constituency anxious to work. But others have never worked and tell me that, as they are given 100 pounds a week or more (with housing benefit) as a right, they wouldn't take a job for less than 300. When I suggest to them that no employer will offer them that kind of money because they can barely read or write, they tell me to take it or leave it.

It is terrible that we have abandoned a generation who believe they have got a pension for life. I once interviewed a group of unemployed youngsters who were anxious to work. Their contempt for the New Deal surprised me. Little wonder - it does not lead to work, it does not teach the skills that they need, and for many it is just an excuse to mess around.

After six months on benefit all those under 25 are enrolled on the New Deal. First, they must negotiate what is called a gateway. Up to four months are spent getting claimants ready for the world of work. If no job is forthcoming, they must choose one of four options: employment, membership of an environmental task force, voluntary placements or full-time training All the New Dealers I spoke to had, through lack of choice, to take training. Whether it was suitable or not, the only training was for IT work. But there were not enough workstations to go round, making a mockery of the exercise.

Sanctions against bad behaviour or not turning up were conspicuously absent. Certainly there was no incentive for trainers to take a tough line; they risked losing their fees if they sent recalcitrant new dealers back to the Jobcentre. A key change that the Government wants to make is to pay New Deal contractors by results. But with programmes failing in the boom years, it is understandable that providers are squealing at such an idea. With unemployment rising, they want more of the old New Deal that gives them their fees upfront.

So what should be done? First, scrap the New Deal for Young People and recycle the money saved into green community programmes that lead to actual jobs. These locally run projects would take young people who cannot find work and offer them training. It could be fairly simple: learning how to be a park warden or to insulate the roofs of pensioners. It should also teach new skills: the chance to earn plumbing qualifications by working for companies installing new, more efficient central heating. When they are trained, they could become full-time workers, paid the minimum wage, on these green projects

One of the biggest lessons the Government has yet to learn is that these schemes must be run locally. It is still drawing up mega-contracts with big companies for large-scale New Deal schemes like the ones that the disgruntled New Dealers described. Mega-contractors are replacing the sort of local providers I have met who were brilliant at tailor-making schemes that were relevant to New Dealers' needs. We need more schemes run by them.

The second prong of a new strategy must be directed at those now joining the dole queues. Many registering at Jobcentres for perhaps the first time in their lives are shocked that, after decades of making national insurance contributions, they are entitled to a mere 60.50 a week. This is the same sum that would be paid to someone who has never worked. It hardly reinforces the culture of work. The jobseeker's allowance ought to be graded according to the number of years that a claimant has worked. It could be doubled to 121 for those with, say, ten years' of NI contributions and increased to 181.50 for those with 15 years. Work is part of their DNA - a more generous benefit payment will not stop them returning to work as soon as they can.

But more can be done to help these workers. Last year more than 120,000 skilled foreign workers came to work in Britain filling jobs that were not first advertised locally. Employers should register all skilled vacancies at Jobcentre Plus. Only then, when it is clear that a company cannot find suitable local labour, should permits be granted for non-EU skilled workers. The Government must seize the initiative now. If it doesn't, joblessness could become permanent for this older generation and the generation to come.


The Nazis were human!

Stupid Leftists have to demonize Nazis to avoid confronting the fact that the Nazis were very much like them. Movie review below reveals the discomfort with regarding Germans of the Nazi period as human

The makers of period drama The Reader insist it is not a Holocaust film. Of the five films nominated for best picture at the Academy Awards next week, none is more problematic than The Reader. Nor, according to its screenwriter, the English playwright David Hare, is any of the movies less likely to win the coveted prize. "It's a controversial film and the other four, which are excellent, are more ameliorative," he suggests. "They're more familiar." And he's not particularly bothered if his film, directed by Stephen Frears and featuring Kate Winslet, doesn't win. "I don't think we're concerned about that," he says with a smile.

Such a statement is unlikely to please Harvey Weinstein, the formidable head of the film's US distributor, the Weinstein Co. He pushed hard for Oscar recognition for The Reader, and his efforts seem to have paid off. Winslet, deservedly, is a frontrunner in her category (she has already won Golden Globe and BAFTA awards for acting), and Daldry and Hare have also received nods.

But the film has received mixed reviews in the US and been loudly condemned from some quarters for its depiction of Germany's past. The accusations, according to reports at the weekend, have been circulated by supporters of rival films vying for Academy Awards.

Based on the best-selling novel by German author Bernhard Schlink, The Reader tells the story of Michael Berg (David Kross) who, as a 15-year-old in Germany in 1958, is given a sexual initiation by an older woman, Hanna Schmitz (Winslet), to whom he reads aloud great works of world literature. The relationship comes to an abrupt end when Hanna suddenly disappears, leaving Michael heartbroken.

Their paths cross again in the 1960s when Michael, now an undergraduate law student, is taken to a Nazi war crimes trial and discovers one of the women in the dock is his former lover. He learns that not only did she work as a guard at Auschwitz but that during the subsequent death marches she participated directly in the mass murder of 300 prisoners in a burning church. She confesses to her crimes (without apparent understanding of the enormity of them), but conceals what she appears to believe is an even greater shame than murder: that she is illiterate.

Michael realises he has evidence that could help her case but ends up wrestling with his own feelings of shame and guilt, betrayal and emotional confusion. Years later, he is still traumatised by the effects of their relationship.

Although the Holocaust looms large over the characters, especially in the film's second half, The Reader is not a Holocaust film, Daldry and Hare insist, when I meet them at the Berlin Film Festival in advance of the film's German premiere.

"It's a post-Holocaust film," says the writer. "It's that subject of how do you live in the shadow of the great crime which you're not personally responsible for but in whose shadow you live?"

The shadow is evident in The Reader but, problematically, Daldry refused to dramatise Hanna's crimes. These are reported, not visualised, and we see more of Winslet's naked flesh than we do of the horror perpetrated by her character. "What is especially repellent about The Reader," wrote American critic Charlie Finch, "is the use of Kate Winslet's nubile body to create sympathy for a repellent character." The head of the Simon Wiesenthal Centre in New York, Mark Weitzman, has said The Reader is one of several films guilty of "Holocaust revisionism".

The question of whether Daldry discussed filming moments from Hanna's time as a guard appears to make him uncomfortable. "We did," he says tersely, as if hoping to terminate the inquiry. Pressed a little, he explains that because the story is seen through Michael's eyes, he could not work out whose perspective we would see those moments from. Moreover, he was not convinced we needed to see images which -- after 252 Holocaust movies, by his reckoning -- are now "etched on our retina". "I don't think it's necessary. (And) I didn't want to film it anyway. I think it's disgusting. Why would I want to get into that?"

Daldry's direction, with the help of Winslet's thoughtful performance, has the effect of humanising a character who is accused of monstrous acts. We inevitably feel some sympathy for her, says Daldry, because we are primarily perceiving her from Michael's point of view. "So the audience is bound to have a complicated roller-coaster relation to her, as he does, from not understanding her to being in love with her, then finding out what she was involved in, then not understanding what either his emotional relationship is or what his responsibility to her is, right the way through to the end of her life."

Hare suggests it is worthwhile to strip away the demonic image of people such as Hanna in order to try to understand how atrocities such as the Holocaust happen. The aim, presumably, is not to sacrifice one's moral authority in the endeavour.

"The film doesn't justify Hanna, it doesn't forgive Hanna and it doesn't redeem Hanna, partly because Hanna herself never comes to an understanding of what she's done," the screenwriter says.

"But it does say perfectly ordinary people got caught up in these events and then after the war found ways of living with these events. Now to begin to confront that, and confront what that means, seems to me the grown-up thing to do."

Thus the filmmakers treat their viewers like adults and give them tough questions to chew on while providing no answers. This non-judgmental approach sometimes worried one of their former producers, Anthony Minghella. He had bought the rights to Schlink's book intending to write and direct an adaptation himself. But years passed and when it was clear he would never get around to it, he gave The Reader to his friend Daldry.

"(Minghella) had a different view of it to me," says Hare. "I think his film of it would have been very different. He was occasionally nervous at the degree to which we felt ourselves wanting to leave the audience's reaction entirely up to the audience. But I feel very strongly that's what contemporary filmmaking has to be about."

He points to elements in The Reader that he says break the rules of Hollywood filmmaking and confound expectations, making it confrontational. This is one reason why he doesn't think the film will win best picture at the Oscars.

Needless to say, Hare considers the film's outsider status at Tinseltown's top awards practically a badge of honour. He also thinks time, and the public, are on his side.

"Films like this and The Hours (which Hare also wrote) are the future. I really believe that. And I believe that genre picture-making that just follows the same old tracks is looking very, very tired.

"The audience has been manipulated up to here," he says heatedly. "They are sick to death with it. Sick to death of story arcs and character journeys and tenth acts and all that UCLA bollocks. All the good films for the 21st century are the ones that tear the rule book up."


Australia: Now some killjoys even want to ban glowsticks

Even the Brits have not gone this far, I gather. First it was fireworks, then sparklers and now glowsticks. What about banning twisty globes too? They contain that fearsome mercury pollutant. Somebody needs to tell these attention-seekers that EVERYTHING can be dangerous. Even drinking too much water can kill you. Do we want official regulations to prevent excess water drinking?

Campbelltown Council is in danger of becoming the "fun police" if glow sticks are banned from all future council events, Mayor Russell Matheson said. Councillors are considering a proposal to ban the sale of glow sticks at council-organised events following an incident at December's Christmas Carols at Campbelltown Arts Centre. Cr Mollie Thomas, who proposed the ban, said a child needed to be taken to hospital when liquid from a broken glow stick came into contact with the child's eyes. The council confirmed St John Ambulance staff needed to treat "some attendees" at the carols after glow stick liquid came in contact with their skin. There were no details on the ages of the children.

The proposed glow stick ban follows the council ceasing its Christmas lights competition in 2005 and banning Home Ice Cream vans from the area in 2007. Both decisions followed concern over public liability issues.

Cr Matheson said the council needed to determine if the glow sticks sold at the event were faulty before a blanket ban of the item was considered. "Hopefully it's just a one-off incident, but we've gone to Consumer Affairs to see if it's a safe product," he said. "Also it's a bit hard to police. "We don't want to become the glow stick police. "We don't want to over-react to things. If it's a safe product it should be allowed to be used."

But Cr Thomas said the council had to ensure there were no problems with glow sticks in the future. "The recommendation is council should not have them at council events right across the board," she said. "Because just one child is one too many (if they are hurt). A lot of parents don't realise the dangers, I know we didn't."

The council's business services director Michael Sewell confirmed there were a small number of incidents at the carols event. "There were reported cases of liquid from the glow sticks coming into contact with the skin of some of the attendees, who were then attended to by St John's staff on site," he said. Mr Sewell will contact Sunrise Rotary, who sold the glow sticks, in regard to the product being referred to Consumer Affairs.



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, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


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Friday, February 20, 2009

The creeping loss of liberty in Britain never stops

Britain's descent into the world of V for Vendetta has been building for a long time. There have been creeping restrictions on free speech, closed-circuit TV cameras on every corner, national ID cards on the way, and the like for many years. But over the past two weeks ... Well, let's just look, shall we? The Daily Mail reports:
A secret police intelligence unit has been set up to spy on Left-wing and Right-wing political groups. The Confidential Intelligence Unit (CIU) has the power to operate across the UK and will mount surveillance and run informers on `domestic extremists'. Its job is to build up a detailed picture of radical campaigners.

Targets will include environmental groups involved in direct action such as Plane Stupid, whose supporters invaded the runway at Stansted Airport in December.

The unit also aims to identify the ring-leaders behind violent demonstrations such as the recent anti-Israel protests in London, and to infiltrate neo-Nazi groups, animal liberation groups and organisations behind unlawful industrial action such as secondary picketing.
The paper based its report on "[a]n internal police job advertisement," and it didn't take that much effort to find an expired (but still cached) relevant job listing at Experteer.co.uk.
Head of Confidential Intelligence Unit (CIU) National Public Order Intelligence Unit (NPOIU

City London

Career Level Senior Manager / Head of Department

Industry Public Sector/Public Authority, Local Government, State/Internal Security, National Security

Job Description Organisation: ACPO Business Area: Terrorism and Allied Matters Job Title: Head of Confidential Intelligence Unit (CIU) National Public Order Intelligence Unit (NPOIU) Rank: Detective Chief Inspector Reports to: D/Supt Head of NPOIU Salary: Chief Inspector range + allowances Type: Full time police officer Location: London Main purpose of Role: To manage the covert intelligence function for domestic extremism, and the confidential intelligence unit. The post carries membership of NPOIU Senior Management Team and you will be expected to make a significant contribution to the overall performance of the police service of England and Wales
Rather chillingly, The Daily Mail reports,"The CIU will also use legal proceedings to prevent details of its operations being made public."

Britain, like the U.S. has a history of such domestic spying, and it always ends badly. Intelligence units tasked with watching terrorists inevitably include mere radicals among their targets, then simple political protesters and, ultimately, pretty much anybody who says something critical about the government. Among the past targets in the UK of domestic surveillance were Ewan MacColl, a Pete Seeger-ish folk singer with communist sympathies, John Lennon, and the band UB40. The new British unit actually appears to be starting out with that far-reaching mission.

Then there's The Daily Telegraph's report that pending legislation would allow just about every governing body in the UK to see who is communicating with whom, and how often.
Towns halls, along with police, security services and other public bodies will be able to view "communications" details of any one suspected of crime. But critics fear the move will simply pave the way for authorities to spy on millions of citizens and taxpayers. ...

Bodies will not be allowed to see the content of communications but will have access to data such as who was called or texted and when or which websites were visited. ... Since 2007, phone companies have had to retain data about calls for 12 months and hand it over to more than 650 public bodies. Parliament approved the powers, described as a vital tool against terrorism, under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000. But under the latest order that is to be extended to all communications, including the internet.
The move appears to be a revival of an effort to extend electronic surveillance powers that was shelved amidst public fury back in 2002. At the time, press reports described the retreat as "a humiliating climbdown," but the state is nothing if not patient. Speculation at the time was that the government was dissuaded as much by technical hurdles as by widespread resistance. The new bill suggests that technology has advanced enough in seven years to make the surveillance scheme more feasible.

And electronic surveillance is at least as popular with British authorities as with their American counterparts. The European Court of Human Rights ruled last summer that the UK government went too far with its years-long wiretapping of civil rights groups.

If you were planning to keep tabs on the domestic snoops and wiretappers in Britain, don't plan on including photographs in your files. Taking snapshots of police officers is about to become a serious crime. According to the British Journal of Photography:
Set to become law on 16 February, the Counter-Terrorism Act 2008 amends the Terrorism Act 2000 regarding offences relating to information about members of armed forces, a member of the intelligence services, or a police officer. The new set of rules, under section 76 of the 2008 Act and section 58A of the 2000 Act, will target anyone who 'elicits or attempts to elicit information about [members of armed forces] . which is of a kind likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism'. A person found guilty of this offence could be liable to imprisonment for up to 10 years, and to a fine.

The law is expected to increase the anti-terrorism powers used today by police officers to stop photographers, including press photographers, from taking pictures in public places. 'Who is to say that police officers won't abuse these powers,' asks freelance photographer Justin Tallis, who was threatened by an officer last week.
The Home Office doesn't deny the possible application of the new law to photographers, saying that interpretation will be up to police and the courts. Even before the new law, photographers have been challenged in Britain (as in America) by police officers unhappy about being the target of a lens. Last year, photographer Lawrence Looi was forced to delete images from his memory card by a police sergeant, and Andrew Carter was actually dragged off to jail for a similar "offense." Such incidents are bound to increase when police officers can point to new legal authority.

I'd like to say that's it, but it's not. There's the small matter os the creeping national ID program in the UK. And then Dutch rabble-rousing politician Geert Wilders was detained at Heathrow airport before being ejected from the country for his political views.

After years of depressing civil liberties violations here in the United States, it's astonishing to be able to say that the UK makes America look good. Just what kind of country is the British government trying to create? And is it time to break out those Guy Fawkes masks?


Another step forward for the British police state

Colleges told to monitor students' web use. Political crimes are all that the British police are interested in. Things like car theft are too boring to bother about

Lecturers have criticised government anti-extremism guidance that says colleges must monitor what staff and students look at on the internet and report it to the police if necessary. The University and Colleges Union said that it could lead to the arrest of innocent people carrying out genuine academic research.

Last year Rizwaan Sabir, 22, a student at the University of Nottingham, was arrested and detained for six days after downloading an al-Qaeda handbook and sending it to a member of staff in connection with his dissertation on terrorism.

A spokesman for the union said: "The last thing we need is people too frightened to discuss an issue or research a subject because they fear being arrested or institutions panicking and calling in the authorities."

The guidance says that colleges should do all they can "to prevent staff or students from accessing illegal or inappropriate material through college ICT systems". It adds: "Using college computers to e-mail terrorist publications to others could be a criminal offence. "There have been examples of groups linked to violent extremism trying to use college premises for campaigning or other events. Colleges should be aware of this risk."

The guidance highlights examples of concern at colleges, including a student challenging fellow Muslims on their un-Islamic clothes and telling them not to mix with non-Muslims. Similar guidance was issued to schools and universities last year.


North Dakota lawmakers vote that 'personhood' starts at conception

North Dakota has become the first US state to move towards passing a law that defines "personhood" as starting at the moment of conception, which would effectively outlaw abortion, pro-life groups said. Lawmakers in the North Dakota lower house voted 51 to 41 on Tuesday to pass the Personhood of Children Act, which confers the same basic rights on "all human beings from the beginning of their biological development, including the pre-born, partially born." "This is the first state legislature that has actually acted in a positive way" on a personhood law, Judie Brown, president of the American Life League (ALL), said. "As of today there are 19 states that have laws proposed, but no other state has got this far," she said.

Voters in Colorado rejected by three-to-one a personhood amendment to their state constitution in a referendum in November.

The North Dakota Bill is expected to go before the state senate in around two weeks. If passed, it would be used to challenge the Supreme Court's 1973 Roe versus Wade decision, which legalised abortion in the US and gave the country some of the least restrictive abortion laws in the world, experts said. Roe v Wade states that women have the absolute right to terminate a pregnancy during the first three months and a qualified right to do so up to six months. Personhood laws are crafted to challenge Roe v Wade and return the decision-making process on whether or not abortion is legal to the states, Brian Rooney of the Thomas More Law Centre said.

"The purpose of these laws is to challenge Roe v Wade. Once Roe v Wade is overturned, it doesn't mean abortion is illegal in all 50 states but it says that the states decide what to do with abortion,'' Mr Rooney said.


The usual feminist hypocrisy

"Feminist" = "angry Leftist female" -- where "Leftist" comes first and the interests of women a distant last. They often say that they ignore Muslim oppression of women becuase it is in other countries. But they ignore it in their own country too


Last week the National Organization for Women issued a press release on an important topic:
The recent arrest of R&B star Chris Brown, who reportedly assaulted and threatened singer Rihanna, preventing her participation in the Grammys, has brought the ever-present issue of violence against women into the public spotlight once again. "Everyone is talking about this case because it involves two popular recording artists, but the sad reality is that domestic violence and dating violence happen every day, even among young teens, and the impact is both far-reaching and under-reported," said Gandy.
We actually had not heard of Chris Brown or Rihanna, but we're willing to take NOW's word for it that they're popular. Gandy certainly has a point, though: Domestic violence is a big problem, and one that affects not only celebrity-Americans. Just surveying recent news articles, one can find lots of shocking cases involving the less well known. Here's an example from suburban Buffalo, N.Y., reported in the Buffalo News:
Orchard Park police are investigating a particularly gruesome killing, the beheading of a woman, after her husband--an influential member of the local Muslim community--reported her death to police Thursday. Police identified the victim as Aasiya Z. Hassan, 37. Detectives have charged her husband, Muzzammil Hassan, 44, with second-degree murder. "He came to the police station at 6:20 p.m. [Thursday] and told us that she was dead," Orchard Park Police Chief Andrew Benz said late this morning. . . . "Obviously, this is the worst form of domestic violence possible," Erie County District Attorney Frank A. Sedita III said today.
CNN reported yesterday that police say Mr. Hassan has confessed. NOW's statement on Mrs. Hassan's beheading was short and to the point: .

There is an irony to this story that goes unremarked by NOW: As the Buffalo News explains, "Muzzammil Hassan is the founder and chief executive officer of Bridges TV, which he launched in 2004, amid hopes that it would help portray Muslims in a more positive light." Those who portray Muslims in a negative light often point out that Islamic culture tends to treat women unfairly, even brutally. If Mr. Hassan beheaded his wife, it may have the effect of perpetuating the very stereotypes he hoped to combat.

The Associated Press reports from Murietta, Calif., on another shocking domestic-violence case:
A self-proclaimed polygamist was sentenced Friday to seven consecutive life prison terms for torturing seven of his 19 children, abusing four others and imprisoning two of his three wives. Mansa Musa Muhummed, 55, also was sentenced to additional terms totaling 16 years and eight months by Riverside County Superior Court Judge F. Paul Dickerson III, who said Muhummed's treatment of his family amounted to "a reign of terror over defenseless children."
This report from New York's Daily News is appalling too:
Mohammed Fagirad, 30, a vice consul at the Afghanistan Consulate, brutalized his wife inside their Flushing home from about 8:30 a.m. Wednesday until nearly midnight, Queens District Attorney Richard Brown said. During the attack, Fagirad bit, slapped, choked and beat the 22-year-old woman with a belt, pushed her down a flight of stairs and sat on her chest, prosecutors said. At one point, prosecutors said, Fagirad threw his wife up against a wall, held her there by the neck and then let her drop to the floor, where he beat her with a belt. Fagirad told police his "wife was a dog and he was going to treat her like a dog," prosecutors said.
Here are NOW's statements on the Muhummed and Fagirad cases, in their entirety and edited only for spelling and punctuation: .

Hey, come to think of it, when Gandy complains that people don't care about domestic violence when it doesn't involve celebrities, she speaks from direct knowledge.



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, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


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Thursday, February 19, 2009

UK: Terrorist threat "exploited to curb civil liberties"

Dame Stella Rimington, the former head of MI5, has accused the Government of exploiting public fear of terrorism to restrict civil liberties. Her comments came on the same day as a report published by international jurists suggested that Britain and America have led other countries in "actively undermining" the rule of law and "threatening civil liberties" in the guise of fighting terrorism.

In an interview with the Spanish newspaper La Vanguardia, Dame Stella said that a series of increasingly draconian policies have led British citizens to "live in fear and under a police state". The 73-year-old said: "Since I have retired I feel more at liberty to be against certain decisions of the Government, especially the attempt to pass laws which interfere with people's privacy. "It would be better that the Government recognised that there are risks, rather than frightening people in order to be able to pass laws which restrict civil liberties, precisely one of the objects of terrorism: that we live in fear and under a police state."

Dame Stella, who became the first female head of MI5 in 1992 and held the position until 1996, has long been a vocal critic of the Government's plans to introduce ID cards and lengthen the amount of time terror suspects are held without charge to 42 days. In the interview yesterday, she also criticised the United States. She said: "The US has gone too far with Guantanamo and the tortures. MI5 does not do that. Furthermore it has achieved the opposite effect: there are more and more suicide terrorists finding a greater justification."

The former MI5 chief chose to air her views on the same day as a three-year study called for urgent measures to stop the erosion of individual freedom by states and the abandoning of draconian measures brought on with the "War on Terror". The International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) said the legal framework which broadly existed in democratic countries before 9/11 was "sufficiently robust to meet current threats".

Instead, a series of security measures were brought in, many of which were illegal and counter-productive, instilling anger and resentment expressed through violent protests. One worrying development, says the report, was that liberal democracies such as the UK and US have been at the forefront of advocating the new aggressive policies and that has given totalitarian regimes the excuse to bring in their own repressive laws.

The ICJ panel, which included Mary Robinson, the former Irish president and United Nations Human Rights Commissioner and Arthur Chaskelson, the former president of the South African constitutional court, gathered their evidence from 40 countries. They took testimony from government officials, ministers, and people in prison for alleged terrorist offences.

The actions of the US has immense influence on the behaviour of other countries, the study maintained, and the jurists called on President Barack Obama to repeal policies which came with the "war on terror paradigm" and were inconsistent with international human rights law. "In particular, it should renounce the use of torture and other proscribed interrogation techniques, extraordinary renditions, and secret and prolonged detention without charge or trial". The report stated: "The framework of international law is being undermined... the US and UK have led that undermining."

The jurists examined cases which included "individuals abducted and held in secret prisons, where they have been tortured and ill-treated; terrorist suspects held incommunicado for extended periods before being charged and before they have access to lawyers; a culture of secrecy (in which) suspects are being placed beyond the basic protections afforded by... international humanitarian laws".

The ICJ "received evidence that intelligence services... effectively enjoy impunity for human rights violations. In addition... state secrecy or public interest immunity have been used to foreclose civil suits and hence remedies to the victims of such abuses."

Mr Chaskelson, chairman of the panel, said: "... we have been shocked by the extent of the damage done over the past seven years by excessive... counter-terrorism measures..."

A Home Office spokesman said: "We recognise clearly our obligations to protect the public from terrorist atrocities while upholding our firm commitment to human rights and civil liberties. Our policies strike that balance."


UK: Hundreds of photographers join police picture protest

HUNDREDS of photographers protested in London on Monday against a new law which makes it illegal to take pictures of the police. Section 76 of the Counter Terrorism Act 2008, which came into force yesterday, allows for the arrest of anyone who takes photographs of police officers, police stations and other public servants which are "likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism."

Some 300 angry snappers gathered outside the Scotland Yard headquarters of the Metropolitan Police to flout the new law by taking photos of the building. The demonstration, organised by the National Union of Journalists (NUJ) and the British Journal of Photography, issued a demand - backed by Labour MP Austin Mitchell - that the Home Office draws up guidelines to prevent photojournalists being searched by police and even prosecuted, merely for doing their job. In contrast, police have the right to photograph citizens engaged in legal public protests.

NUJ vice-president Peter Murray described the law as "bizarre." He said: "Even if the officer happens to be in the background, the photographer may end up on the wrong side of the law."

Amateur Photographer magazine news editor Chris Cheesman said that his readers were being stopped at a rate of two or three each week. Speaking at the protest, he said: "It seems that, if you have a professional-looking camera or you are using a tripod, the police feel they have to stop you. The law is being misinterpreted more and more often."

Comedian and civil rights campaigner Mark Thomas said that, unless new guidelines are issued, Section 76 will make work "hazardous" for photojournalists. "In a democracy, the government should be accountable to the people. This law is putting the reverse into practice, making the people accountable to authority."

The Home Office denied that the law would be used to prevent legitimate photography. But Metropolitan Police Federation chairman Peter Smyth said later that his organisation shared the concerns of the photographers and backed the call for a photography code to "facilitate photography wherever possible, rather than seek reasons to bar it. "As things stand, there is a real risk of photographers being hampered in their legitimate work and of police officers facing opprobrium for carrying out what they believe are duties imposed on them by the law," he added.


Zionism and the global anti-Semitic frenzy

The Inter-Parliamentary Coalition for Combating Anti-Semitism is meeting today in London in the wake of the Gaza campaign, which ignited an exponential eruption of global anti-Semitic frenzy unprecedented since the Nazi era. The intensity of the anti-Jewish rage, frequently accompanied by acts of violence, has engendered fear and anxiety among Diaspora Jews and obliged many to seriously ponder their long-term future.

On every continent and in virtually every city, enraged demonstrators have railed against Israel and indulged in anti-Semitic calls to "boycott Jews," "gas" them and "dismantle the Nazi Israeli state." The anti-Jewish offensives, usually initiated by Arabs, have been supported by wide spectrums of indigenous citizens.

Jew-baiting is especially intense in the UK. Prominent Jews encounter death threats. Students at Oxford University have gleefully proclaimed that in five years, their campus "would be a Jew-free zone." A high-ranking British diplomat was arrested after publicly launching a foul-mouthed anti-Semitic tirade. The London-based Royal Court Theatre is staging a viciously anti-Israeli play by Caryl Churchill that Melanie Phillips described in the Spectator as reminiscent of anti-Semitic plays performed in the Middle Ages portraying Jews as demonic Christ-killers.

In many European cities, Jews encounter violence in the streets. In Italy, a labor union has called for a boycott of all Jewish businesses. In France, synagogues have been attacked and cars belonging to Jews firebombed. A Swedish school has refused to accept Jewish students. A leading Norwegian TV entertainer was sufficiently insensitive to jokingly express regret for the billions of innocent lice killed with Jews in gas chambers. The Barcelona municipality canceled a Holocaust memorial because "making a Jewish Holocaust ceremony whilst a Palestinian Holocaust was taking place was not right"; simultaneously, 30,000 Barcelonans marched in support of Hamas.

Elsewhere, the deputy South African foreign minister was obliged to apologize after making a statement railing against Jewish money that controlled America; in Turkey, in the wake of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's histrionic outbursts against Israel, Jewish institutions were vandalized and calls were made to boycott Jewish businesses; there were violent anti-Jewish riots at York University in Toronto, Canada.

The onslaught against the Venezuelan Jewish community by President Hugo Chavez, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's ally, included demands for the Jews to condemn Israel and calls to boycott Jewish enterprises. There is now concern that other Latin American governments like Argentina, imbued with anti-Semitism bolstered by Iranian-sponsored Arab migrants, could also embark on anti-Jewish campaigns.

Even in the United States, where public opinion remains overwhelmingly supportive of Israel, the blatantly anti-Semitic demonstrations in major cities have shocked many American Jews hitherto confident that unlike in Europe, anti-Semitism would never reassert itself in their country. The increasing dominance of anti-Israeli elements on most campuses provides additional grounds for concern because ultimately many of these youngsters will become leaders of the nation.

THE USE of holocaust inversion to demonize Israel, and the bracketing of Israelis with Nazis, have extended from the Arab arena into the mainstream and are now sanctioned as legitimate political discourse. Today, much of what purports to be criticism of Israel even in the "respectable" media is reminiscent of Nazi anti-Semitic propaganda.

The role of renegade "non-Jewish Jews" seeking to delegitimize Israel has also dramatically escalated, and extends beyond calls to boycott Israel. For example, the Web site of the notorious Norman Finkelstein recently reproduced 40 horrific photographs displaying Nazi atrocities juxtaposed with images of purported Israeli atrocities in Gaza. It was titled "The grandchildren of the Holocaust survivors are doing to the Palestinians exactly what was done to the Jews in Nazi Germany." This obscenity was widely distributed throughout the Internet by left-wingers, Arabs and radical right-wingers like Pat Buchanan. It was also promoted by a Norwegian diplomat in Saudi Arabia, who transmitted the vile collage on her embassy's e-mail.

There appear to be no limits to the depths to which these despicable Jewish foes of Zion are willing to stoop to demonize their own people. In an article published in the purportedly respectable London Review of Books, Henry Siegman, a former director of the American Jewish Congress, hailed Hamas as an Arab national liberation movement comparable to the pre-state Zionist underground movements. British Labor parliamentarian Gerald Kaufman exceeded his previous foul outbursts by proclaiming that Israeli soldiers reminded him of the Nazis who had cold-bloodedly murdered his grandmother while she was in bed. "My grandmother did not die to provide cover for Israeli soldiers to murder Palestinian grandmothers," he said.

Jonathan Freedland of the Guardian, after reassuring his readers that he had consistently and unequivocally condemned Israel for its Gaza campaign, pleaded with them not to blame Jews for the atrocities committed by Israelis any more than Muslims who were not guilty "because the killers of 9/11 and 7/7 had been Muslims." In many European countries, including the UK, the media provide greater exposure to the marginal Jewish anti-Zionists than to official Jewish community spokesmen.

WHAT IS especially chilling is that in most countries, hatred of Jews at the grassroots level is far more intense than government policy. The talkbacks from even the more sophisticated Internet and media publications reflect a dramatic escalation of ferocious hatred of Jews. A recent Anti-Defamation League survey disclosed that 40 percent of Europeans consider Jews to have too much power, and 31% believe Jews are to blame for the current global financial meltdown. Needless to say, the broad acceptance of such rabid views at the people's level bodes ill for the future.

It is especially galling to witness this anti-Semitic pandemic after the extraordinary efforts Israel made to avoid a conflict despite all the years in which their civilians have been targeted by missiles. Hamas's systematic and calculated exploitation of women and children as human shields was effectively disregarded. Israel's efforts - unprecedented in the history of warfare - to minimize civilian casualties, were ignored. Yet the brutal means employed to suppress terrorists in Bosnia, Iraq and Afghanistan (not to mention Chechnya) and the killings in Congo, Zimbabwe and especially in Darfur, where hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians have died, are hardly mentioned. There is little doubt that the Gaza campaign merely provided a pretext to unleash pent-up anti-Semitism.

Regrettably, the frenzy will undoubtedly increase as perfidious allegations of Israeli war crimes are intensified and the newly elected government is demonized for being "intransigent and racist."

ALAS, THE ZIONIST DREAM that a Jewish state would eradicate anti-Semitism has proved to be a delusion. Ironically, today, Israel itself is being exploited as a vehicle to promote anti-Semitism.

Yet the Zionist vision of a Jewish state representing a haven for Jews in distress is a reality. Diaspora Jews can at least feel reassured that if they are unwilling to live like pariahs in societies that revile them, there will always be a Jewish state willing to embrace them. They will never face the nightmare that confronted Jews prior to the Holocaust when their desperate pleas for entry visas to escape from Nazism were nearly always denied.

Indeed, it would now be timely for Jews domiciled in countries in which the hatred surrounding them is undermining the quality of their lives, to undergo genuine soul-searching. The future for Jews in some European countries is bleak, as resentment against them is transformed into hatred and accompanied by violence. The United Kingdom has already reached this level, and Anglo Jews who deny the reality of the anti-Semitic cesspool surrounding them are truly in denial.

Diaspora Jews should now honestly contemplate the practicality of creating new lives among their own people. Many may conclude that there are insurmountable obstacles to packing up and coming to Israel. But if they remain in anti-Semitic countries, they should at least weigh the crippling impact on their children and consider encouraging them to make aliya.

Anti-Semitism has always escalated during periods of economic upheaval, and as the financial meltdown intensifies, the problem will undoubtedly be aggravated. In addition, aside from the wealthy, many who regard Jewish continuity as important will find it increasingly difficult to afford the prohibitive school fees required to provide children with a Jewish education. That may represent an additional incentive to consider aliya.

The escalation of anti-Semitism must be a wake-up call for Diaspora Jews. They should be aware that notwithstanding the difficulties facing those wishing to settle in Israel, the standard of living here today is a far cry from what it was half a century ago when the Jewish state was still struggling to establish itself. For some Jews, it is imperative that they review their options now, not at some future date when further deterioration could transform aliya into a stressful evacuation rather than a choice.


British Labor Party figures support ban on a film they haven't seen

I have a piece up at Pajamas Media on the British government's appalling decision to ban Geert Wilders from entering the UK. In it I mention that the idiotic Labour MP Keith Vaz appeared on the BBC's Newsnight to condemn Wilders and his film Fitna, but then admitted he hadn't seen the film. Also in the piece, responding to Foreign Secretary David Miliband's claim that Fitna contained "extreme anti-Muslim hate" I wrote:
If Miliband has seen the film, then he's lying; if he hasn't seen it, he's guessing.
Turns out he was guessing. From Harry's Place, via Andrew Stuttaford at The Corner:
Miliband, having watched Fitna, obviously feels it does 'stir up hate, religious and racial hatred'. But, hold on. When asked by the interviewer if he had actually watched Fitna he responded that he had not and didn't need to as he already knew what was in it! Fitna is a 16 minute film, easily accessible online. Is it really so much to ask that our political overlords bother to watch a film before condemning it and supporting its creator being barred from the country? How is Miliband any better than Muslims who screamed about The Satanic Verses without bothering to read it?
Also at The Corner, Mark Steyn has a good post on the subject:
If young Muslim girls are being kidnapped and forced into marriage with their first cousins, the British Home Office minister will suggest that these matters are best handled discreetly and informally. If young Muslim girls are being murdered in "honor killings", the Chief Commissar of the Ontario "Human Rights" Commission will explain that they're a "small commission" and they have to be able to prioritize and that Mark Steyn is a far greater threat to the Queen's peace than killers of Muslim women.

But, if you don't threaten violence, if you don't issue death threats, if you don't kill anyone, if you just make a movie or write a book or try to give a speech, the state will prosecute you, ban you or (in the case of Ayaan Hirsi Ali) force you to flee your own country.

In their appeasement of thugs, buffoons like Miliband and the Tory squishes across the House of Commons on the Opposition benches are making it very clear that the state accords more respect to violence than to debate.
It's truly terrifying that Britain is being run by people this ignorant, and this arrogant. With the Tories apparently not offering much more in the way of backbone than the fascist bureaucrats of Labour, it's hard to see how Britain can pull out of this tailspin towards what Steyn calls 'civilizational suicide'.



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, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


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Wednesday, February 18, 2009

United Nations' threat: No more parental rights

Expert: Pact would ban spankings, homeschooling if children object

A United Nations human rights treaty that could prohibit children from being spanked or homeschooled, ban youngsters from facing the death penalty and forbid parents from deciding their families' religion is on America's doorstep, a legal expert warns. Michael Farris of Purcellville, Va., is president of ParentalRights.org, chairman of the Home School Legal Defense Association and chancellor of Patrick Henry College. He told WND that under the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child, or CRC, every decision a parent makes can be reviewed by the government to determine whether it is in the child's best interest. "It's definitely on our doorstep," he said. "The left wants to make the Obama-Clinton era permanent. Treaties are a way to make it as permanent as stuff gets. It is very difficult to extract yourself from a treaty once you begin it. If they can put all of their left-wing socialist policies into treaty form, we're stuck with it even if they lose the next election."

The 1990s-era document was ratified quickly by 193 nations worldwide, but not the United States or Somalia. In Somalia, there was then no recognized government to do the formal recognition, and in the United States there's been opposition to its power. Countries that ratify the treaty are bound to it by international law. Although signed by Madeleine Albright, U.S. ambassador to the U.N., on Feb. 16, 1995, the U.S. Senate never ratified the treaty, largely because of conservatives' efforts to point out it would create that list of rights which primarily would be enforced against parents.

The international treaty creates specific civil, economic, social, cultural and even economic rights for every child and states that "the best interests of the child shall be a primary consideration." While the treaty states that parents or legal guardians "have primary responsibility for the upbringing and development of the child," Farris said government will ultimately determine whether parents' decisions are in their children's best interest. The treaty is monitored by the CRC, which conceivably has enforcement powers. According to the Parental Rights website, the substance of the CRC dictates the following:

* Parents would no longer be able to administer reasonable spankings to their children.

* A murderer aged 17 years, 11 months and 29 days at the time of his crime could no longer be sentenced to life in prison.

* Children would have the ability to choose their own religion while parents would only have the authority to give their children advice about religion.

* The best interest of the child principle would give the government the ability to override every decision made by every parent if a government worker disagreed with the parent's decision.

* A child's "right to be heard" would allow him (or her) to seek governmental review of every parental decision with which the child disagreed.

* According to existing interpretation, it would be illegal for a nation to spend more on national defense than it does on children's welfare.

* Children would acquire a legally enforceable right to leisure.

* Teaching children about Christianity in schools has been held to be out of compliance with the CRC.

* Allowing parents to opt their children out of sex education has been held to be out of compliance with the CRC.

* Children would have the right to reproductive health information and services, including abortions, without parental knowledge or consent.

"Where the child has a right fulfilled by the government, the responsibilities shift from parents to the government," Farris said. "The implications of all this shifting of responsibilities is that parents no longer have the traditional roles of either being responsible for their children or having the right to direct their children."

The government would decide what is in the best interest of a children in every case, and the CRC would be considered superior to state laws, Farris said. Parents could be treated like criminals for making every-day decisions about their children's lives. "If you think your child shouldn't go to the prom because their grades were low, the U.N. Convention gives that power to the government to review your decision and decide if it thinks that's what's best for your child," he said. "If you think that your children are too young to have a Facebook account, which interferes with the right of communication, the U.N. gets to determine whether or not your decision is in the best interest of the child."

He continued, "If you think your child should go to church three times a week, but the child wants to go to church once a week, the government gets to decide what it thinks is in the best interest of the children on the frequency of church attendance." He said American social workers would be the ones responsible for implementation of the policies.

Farris said it could be easier for President Obama to push for ratification of the treaty than it was for the Clinton administration because "the political world has changed." At a Walden University presidential debate last October, Obama indicated he may take action. "It's embarrassing to find ourselves in the company of Somalia, a lawless land," Obama said. "I will review this and other treaties to ensure the United States resumes its global leadership in human rights."

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has been a strong supporter of the CRC, and she now has direct control over the treaty's submission to the Senate for ratification. The process requires a two-thirds vote. Farris said Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., claimed in a private meeting just before Christmas that the treaty would be ratified within two years.

In November, a group of three dozen senior foreign policy figures urged Obama to strengthen U.S. relations with the U.N. Among other things, they asked the president to push for Senate approval of treaties that have been signed by the U.S. but not ratified. Partnership for a Secure America Director Matthew Rojansky helped draft the statement. He said the treaty commands strong support and is likely to be acted on quickly, according to an Inter Press Service report.

While he said ratification is certain to come up, Farris said advocates of the treaty will face fierce opposition. "I think it is going to be the battle of their lifetime," he said. "There's not enough political capital in Washington, D.C., to pass this treaty. We will defeat it."


Root of nation's economic crisis is moral crisis

A travesty of justice has occurred in Oakland, California. But realities surrounding this local issue point to how the economic crisis in our nation is symptomatic of and flows from a deeper fundamental moral crisis.

A black pastor awaits sentencing, which could amount to two years in prison and $4,000 in fines, for standing outside an inner city abortion clinic holding a sign saying "Jesus Loves You & Your Baby, Let Us Help You," and offering pro-life literature. Walter Hoye, founder and chairman of the Issues4Life Foundation, was found guilty of "unlawful approach" under the "Access to Reproductive Health Care Facilities Ordinance" enacted in Oakland in 2008. Under the ordinance, it is prohibited, within 100 feet of the entrance to a "reproductive health facility," to approach within eight feet of a client "for the purpose of counseling, harassing, or interfering" with that person. "Harassing" means holding up a sign, passing out literature or offering counseling.

The "reproductive health care facility" in question is Family Planning Specialists in Oakland. Looking over their Web site, it's clear that there is only one kind of reproductive health care they provide. Abortions. According to testimony of the facility's executive director, they perform about one hundred abortions per week. Assuming an average of $600 per abortion (from the fee schedule on the website), that's about $3 million a year in revenue. Not bad for an inner city neighborhood business.

Pastor Hoye's conviction is strange in that no "victim" testified against him -- there was only testimony from those with an interest in the clinic -- employees and volunteers, no specific incident was cited, videotape showed Hoye standing peacefully holding his sign and materials, and the convicting jury was given no instructions regarding the definition of "approach." Nevertheless, Hoye has been convicted and may wind up in jail and liable for thousands of dollars in fines.

But beyond the troubling details of this trial and conviction, circumstances surrounding the case convey the realities of our deeply confused and lost nation. Abortion clinics such as Family Planning Specialists strategically locate to optimize their deadly business. This means in poor black neighborhoods.

More here

Perverted British justice again

Father-of-three jailed after confronting drug dealer who sold heroin to his family

Father-of-three Peter Drummond was so angry when he discovered someone had sold heroin to his family that he took matters into his own hands. He confronted John Nellies in his home and flushed five of the drug dealer's bags of heroin down the toilet. But yesterday it was Drummond - not Nellies - who found himself being jailed in court. The 26-year-old shook his head in disbelief as he was ordered to serve two months for breaching the peace by barging into Nellies's home and threatening him.

The court heard that Drummond had reached the end of his tether after watching his family 'torn apart' by heroin. When he learned on Sunday that his brother-in-law had visited Nellies to buy heroin, he went there later that day to take action.

Perth Sheriff Court heard that while he was in Nellies's flat a drug addict arrived to buy heroin and reported Drummond to the police who arrested him shortly after. Drummond admitted a breach of peace, telling police: 'It was a spur-of-the-moment thing.' He added: 'I shouldn't have done it but these people are ruining my family by supplying heroin. 'It is causing a family crisis and everyone is going through hell. Things have been so bad that I lost it and decided to try to stop the drug dealing going on. 'I know I have done wrong. I'm sorry. I know I went about things the wrong way, but things just got on top of me.'

Last night Drummond's younger brother Mark, 22, said he was astonished by the sentence. 'I can't believe that he has been jailed for this,' he said. 'He's not the criminal here. Peter is a real family man. He loves his wife and kids and would do anything to help out his sister and brother-in-law.'

Steve Lafferty, defending, asked for his client's punishment to be limited to a fine due to the case's 'quite unusual' circumstances. He said Drummond had no other criminal charges against him and had acted out of desperation.

But Sheriff McCreadie told the defendant: 'If you were concerned about matters you should contact the police, not enter a house and threaten to kill someone. 'You can't take matters into your own hands the way you did.'

His wife Elizabeth, 27, speaking at their flat in Blairgowrie, Perthshire, said Drummond had previously tried to reason with the dealers. She said: 'He asked the boys, pleaded and begged them to stop dealing to his sister and brother-in-law. But they just carried on doing it. Peter was sure the police would not do anything about it if he told them about the dealers. He doesn't like to see his family being hurt so it was the last straw for him and he took matters into his own hands. 'I can't believe it. Peter has had a really tough time of it lately. We lost a baby in December.'

Outside court, family friend Thomas Brown said: 'Jailing him for what he did is ridiculous. It is a ludicrous decision and even the lawyer was shaking his head. 'Heroin is killing the community and I know for a fact that it has been tearing Peter's family apart.' It remained unclear last night whether police were taking any action against Nellies.


But people who really do harm in Britain are let off lightly

Family's fury as Portuguese heavy vehicle driver who wiped out couple and four children is jailed... but he will be free in 14 months

The justice system has been condemned as a circus after relatives of a family killed in a road crash by a foreign lorry driver were told he will be free in a year. David Statham, 38, his wife Michelle, 33, their three sons, Reece, 13, Jay, nine, Mason, 20 months and ten-week-old baby daughter Ellouise died when the HGV smashed into the back of their car on the M6.

Portuguese-born Paulo da Silva, 46, was arrested at the scene and charged with six counts of causing death by dangerous driving. The judge called the crash 'one of the most serious offences of its kind'. But da Silva was convicted of the lesser charge of causing death by careless driving and sentenced to just three years - although the maximum term is five years. As he has spent time on remand and must serve only half his sentence under parole laws, da Silva will walk free in a year.

Relatives of the victims and road safety campaigners condemned the sentence. Mrs Statham's father Peter Hagans, 56, said: 'From the night of the accident when Mr da Silva butchered our family it was not possible for us to get justice in a British court. In our opinion what we sat through this week was no more than a circus.'

Road safety charity Brake said: 'For the judge to say that this was one of the most serious offences of its kind begs the question of why the sentence given was not nearer the maximum, especially when multiple deaths have occurred, which must, at the very least, act as an aggravating factor when taking sentences into account.' Michelle Owen, of Speed Kills, said: 'This is a total disgrace. The family have every right to be angry. 'What is the point of changing the law if you fail to use it as a deterrent. Six people were killed in this horror show so how many people need to be killed in a crash for the maximum sentence to be given?'

The collision happened in Cheshire, last October, as Mr Statham, a chef, his wife and their children, returned home to North Wales after spending the weekend with family in the Midlands. Their Toyota Previa was hit by the lorry as it slowed to a stop in a traffic jam. The impact forced their car into the back of another lorry and the family died before emergency services could reach them.

Chester Crown Court heard that da Silva may have taken his eye off the road to study a satellite navigation system on his laptop computer. Andrew Thomas QC, prosecuting, said: 'Officers who searched the interior of his cab found a laptop computer fitted with a GPS (Global Positioning System) on the console alongside his seat, with the screen turned to face the driver. 'Only the defendant knows the truth about why he did not see a queue of traffic which would have been visible to him for a about a mile or so before point of collision. The use of the laptop to work out a new route would explain it.'

Oliver Jarvis, defending, had claimed Mrs Statham, a financial adviser, had already crashed into the rear of a lorry before da Silva hit their car. But the possibility that the family had been killed by an earlier collision was ruled out by a pathologist, who said the fatal injuries were consistent with an impact from the rear.

Mr Justice Irwin told da Silva: 'No one can put what has happened right. The overwhelming aggravating feature in this case is the number of those killed. 'You were an experienced professional lorry driver with a 40-ton lorry. This is a combination always to be regarded as a potentially lethal weapon. You ignored and failed to take account of a whole series of signs. You simply did not watch for them over a long stretch of road with good visibility. 'Of course you intended harm to no one, but clearly this was a bad failing on your part, sustained and obviously risky. 'In my view the facts of the driving in this case, the level of warning, size and weight of your lorry and your sustained and gross failure to look out carry this case to the boundary of causing death by dangerous driving. 'I bear in mind the maximum sentence is five years. Although six deaths, this was one episode and the prison sentences must be concurrent. This was one of the most serious offences of its kind.'

Da Silva made no reaction as the verdicts were delivered but his son, sitting in the public gallery, burst into tears. The case was the first big test of new charges aimed at handing down tougher sentences to drivers whose careless driving kills other road users. Under old laws, judges were restricted to handing down fines of up to 2,500 pounds for careless driving. The new charge of causing death by careless driving gives them the power to jail offenders for up to five years.

The court case was a 'circus', Mr Hagans said: 'The only difference being, the man in charge of a circus wears a top hat, not a wig.


Australia: Conservative Senator says nation can't afford maternity leave

In Sweden, which has very "generous" maternity leave laws, the great majority of young females work for the government. Few others can risk hiring them

QUEENSLAND Senator Barnaby Joyce says the nation can no longer afford paid maternity leave and business would stop hiring females if forced into it. Senator Joyce said Prime Minister Kevin Rudd's $42billion economic stimulus package had drained the coffers and paid maternity leave was now a casualty of the nation's newly acquired debt.

The Productivity Commission last year proposed a $450million-a-year paid parental leave scheme that would pay mothers 18 weeks' leave at the minimum wage. The commission's final report is due within weeks. Deputy Prime Minister Julia Gillard said the Government would respond to the final report but paid maternity leave had not been ruled out of this year's Budget. "Paid maternity leave will be considered in the Budget context," Ms Gillard told Channel 9 yesterday. "Obviously things that amount to expenditure, particularly ongoing expenditure for the nation, will be dealt with in the Budget context."

Finance Minister Lindsay Tanner was preaching the same message yesterday on Channel 10's Meet the Press. "That along with a range of issues (including) our commitment to increase the living standards of the pensioners of Australia, other important issues that are on the table, they will be in the mix for the Budget," Mr Tanner said. "There's a lot of issues within the paid maternity leave question that have to be dealt with as well. "It's not a simple matter by any means."

Meanwhile, Senator Joyce said increasing the base rate of the aged pension was more important than having paid maternity leave. He said businesses would stop hiring female employees if they were forced to fund their own maternity schemes. "They will just start employing blokes," Senator Joyce said. He said Mr Rudd's stimulus package was to blame. "The money is no longer there. In its place is a silo of debt," he said.



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, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


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Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Government was behind Jim Crow too

Something to ponder during Black History Month: In the long dark night that followed Reconstruction, what was the engine that drove Jim Crow? Did segregationist laws codify the existing social practice, or was it the laws themselves that segregated the South?

Many people might intuitively assume that Southern racism had led to entrenched public segregation long before Southern legislatures made it mandatory. Not so. Separate facilities for blacks and whites were not routine in the South until the early 20th century. Racism there surely was, but as C. Vann Woodward observed in The Strange Career of Jim Crow, his influential history of post-Civil War segregation, the idea of formally separating the races in places of public accommodation initially struck many white Southerners as daft. In 1898, the editor of South Carolina's oldest and most conservative newspaper, the Charleston News and Courier, responded to a proposal for segregated railroad cars with what was meant to be scathing ridicule:
"If we must have Jim Crow cars on the railroads, there should be Jim Crow . . . passenger boats," he wrote. "Moreover, there should be Jim Crow waiting saloons at all stations, and Jim Crow eating houses. . . . There should be Jim Crow sections of the jury box, and a separate Jim Crow dock and witness stand in every court -- and a JimCrow Bible for colored witnesses to kiss."
Tragically, what the Charleston editor intended as mockery would soon become reality across the South -- "down to and including the Jim Crow Bible," as Woodward noted. But it wasn't an overwhelming grassroots demand for segregation that institutionalized Jim Crow. It was government, often riding roughshod over the objection of private-sector entrepreneurs.

Far from craving the authority to relegate blacks to the back of buses and streetcars, for example, the owners of municipal transportation systems actively resisted segregation. They did so not out of some lofty commitment to racial equality or integration, but for economic reasons: Segregation hurt their bottom line. For one thing, it drove up their expenses by requiring them -- as the manager of Houston's streetcar company complained to city councilors in 1904 -- "to haul around a good deal of empty space that is assigned to the colored people and not available to both races." In many cities, segregation also provoked black passengers to boycott the streetcars, cutting sharply into the companies' revenue.

In a notable study published in the Journal of Economic History in 1986, economist Jennifer Roback showed that in one Southern city after another, private transit companies tried to scuttle segregation laws or simply chose to ignore them.

In Jacksonville, Fla., a 1901 ordinance requiring black passengers to be segregated went unenforced until 1905, when the state legislature mandated segregation statewide. The new statute "was passed by the Legislature much against the will of the streetcar companies," reported the Florida Times-Union. So well-known was the companies' hostility to the law that when a group of black citizens mounted a court challenge to overturn it, their attorney felt compelled to deny being "in cahoots with the railroad lines in Jacksonville."

In Alabama, the Mobile Light and Railroad Company reacted to a Jim Crow ordinance by flatly refusing to enforce it. "Whites would not obey the law and were continually . . . refusing to sit where they were told," the company's manager told a reporter in 1902. In Memphis, the transit company defiantly pleaded guilty to violating a Tennessee segregation statute, explaining that it believed the law to be "against the wishes of the majority of its patrons." In Savannah, the local black paper noted that streetcar officials "are not anxious to carry into effect the unjust laws . . . requiring separate cars for the races," since it would put them "to extra trouble and expense."

Eventually, of course, the government got its way, as companies surrendered to pressure from city hall and the statehouse. In a victory of government regulation over the free market, Jim Crow took hold across the South, where it would cruelly hold sway for the next 60 years.

Many Americans know that it took strong government action in the 1950s and 1960s to end segregation and bring civil rights to the South. Fewer realize that it was government action that established segregation in the first place. Today, when the power of the state is being aggrandized as never before, the history of Jim Crow offers a cautionary reminder: When the political class overrides the private sector, what ensues is not necessarily an improvement. It may even be a national disgrace.


Update: An email from Chris Hoey [CHRISHOEY@aol.com]

That hit upon a sore point with me. I was the Labor and Employment Counsel for the F. W. Woolworth Co. (USA) from 1967 to 1994, and had, as part of my duties, the handling of the fall out from the infamous lunch counter sit-ins. I need not remind you of the notoriety inflicted upon Woolworth as a result of the publicity from those incidents.

The unpublicized fact in the original “sit-ins” was that Woolworth had no choice in the matter, since local laws required there be segregated lunch counters. There were counters for blacks (or “Colored” as the statutes called them in those days), but Woolworth could not have integrated facilities under threat of fines or closure. It also had to provide separate facilities for its employees, both lounges and rest rooms as well. In short, segregation was a result of fiat, and was not the policy of Woolworth.

Another fact that never reached the public was that the arrests and mishandling of the students who started the original “sit-in” in Greensboro, NC, was not as a result of Woolworth’s summoning the authorities, but were initiated by the local sheriff, who was zealously enforcing the Jim Crow laws.

So ingrained was the separate facilities mentality in our Southern employees and customers, the only way Woolworth could end the practice was to close the “Colored” restrooms, lunch counters, and employee lounges (the latter to the vigorous complaints of our black associates.)

The truth of the matter never deterred the black activist community, who kept urging the segregated counters in its Southern stores as “proof” of Woolworth’s discriminatory bias in unfounded complaints in the decades following. The real culprit was the "Jim Crow" laws mandating discrimination in facilities and accommodations.

I still get rankled when I think of the times when the Greensboro incident was thrown in my face when I was defending against discrimination charges with the EEOC, sometimes by the investigators, sometimes by the Charging Party, and sometimes by both, as proof of a systemic bias on Woolworth's part. This continued well into the 80's.

Book challenging atheism rockets up Amazon

I personally don't even think the word "God" is meaningful but I am perfectly comfortable with Christians and usually defend them. I think that anti-Christians are probably well described in the book reviewed below

Ray Comfort's new book debunking atheism, "You Can Lead an Atheist to Evidence but You Can't Make Him Think," has rocketed up the Amazon.com rankings on its first day of release, moving from No. 69,572 to No. 38 in 24 hours. The book is sure to push the buttons of atheists, with Comfort opining that God deniers actually know they are wrong. The book, released on the 200th anniversary of the birth of Charles Darwin, contends atheists hate God because he does exist. "Atheists don't hate fairies, leprechauns, or unicorns because they don't exist," writes Comfort. "It is impossible to hate something that doesn't exist. And that makes the point."

The book was No. 1 in both atheism and apologetics categories under religion. It ranked No. 2 in spirituality and No. 6 in Christianity. "We don't have to prove that God exists to the professing atheist," he writes. "This is because he intuitively knows that He exists. Every person has a God-given conscience. The Bible tells us that this is the 'work of the law written on their hearts.' Just as every sane human being knows that it's wrong to lie, steal, kill and commit adultery, he knows that God should be first in his life."

Comfort's new release, published by WND Books, a division of WorldNetDaily.com, was standing at No. 69,572 on Amazon last night just before its official release. By midnight, Eastern Time, it was at 28,987. Eight hours later it was at No. 7,855, and it was at No. 410 before mid-day.

Comfort, author of dozens of books and co-host of the award-winning TV show, "The Way of the Master" with Kirk Cameron, star of the hit movie "Fireproof," uses a question-and-answer format to address issues raise by those still faithful to Darwin's beliefs: that of a Creation without a Creator. "Ray Comfort has once again laid hold of the greatest power on earth, the power of the Gospel," R.C. Sproul Jr. said of the book. "Here he brings that power to bear, makes that light to shine in the darkest corners of our times, among fools. He proclaims with fidelity and winsomeness, remembering that such were once we, walking in the paths of darkness."


The firing of Carol Thatcher, and why liberals don't believe in tolerance

One of the dangers in studying history is that it can lead us to believe that the past is a foreign country. When we think of East Germany or the Soviet Union - totalitarian states famous for networks of informers whose tip-offs could ruin lives - we invariably assume they were so culturally different from us that their abuses seem incomprehensible. But one of the advantages in studying the present is precisely that it helps us understand how other countries made their mistakes.

Our country is a long way from being an informer state such as those that existed behind the Iron Curtain. But the fact that Carol Thatcher was sacked by the BBC for an offensive remark made in private sets a dangerous precedent that recalls the denunciation society of East Germany. Thatcher is not alone. Geert Wilders, a Dutch MP, was refused entry to Britain last Thursday on the grounds that his anti-Muslim opinions are too dangerous to be expressed here. Somerset nurse Caroline Petrie was temporarily suspended for offering to pray for a patient. Last year a couple were prevented from fostering children because as Christians they disapprove of homosexuality. Even Prince Harry has been ordered to attend a 'diversity awareness' course. The Equality And Diversity Code Of Practice has now penetrated into every sphere of public life.

All these cases have one key element in common - an element they share with totalitarianism: they have been supported by people who think of themselves as progressives. Ever since the French revolutionaries proclaimed 'no liberty for the enemies of liberty' - and used that slogan to justify genocide - it has been self-consciously progressive regimes, not conservative ones, that have evolved into totalitarianism.

We think of communism now as a gerontocracy - government by old people - which was as socially reactionary as it was economically backward. That is not how communists saw themselves. They believed they were progressive radicals. Like today's liberals, they loathed colonial oppression, imperialism and nationalism. The reason states such as East Germany were able to set up such terrifying informer networks was that the people running them believed their model of society was threatened if people did not positively affirm their belief in it. And it was in the name of policing speech that the Stasi tried to police thought itself.

Progressivism was even the ideology of the Nazis. They were moved to commit their worst atrocities by what Winston Churchill called 'the lights of perverted science'.

In Britain, multiculturalism has become an ideology similar to these other progressive ideologies that seek to change the way things and people are. Progressives think instinctive forms of behaviour are bad because they have not been designed by a process of rational thought or implemented by the self-appointed guardians of progress. Progressives think of politics as a constant struggle - usually against an unenlightened populace. They always have to be 'moving forward', pushing the people further to make them conform to their ideas.

This is why the totalitarianism in Eastern Europe was set up incrementally and over time - and why it is important to be aware the same thing could happen here. Starting with good ideas about ending oppression, communist regimes in Eastern Europe were not totalitarian at first. It took decades before the apparatus of state terror was set up. Although the German Democratic Republic was founded in 1949, the Berlin Wall was not built until 1962.

In Britain, a similar pattern is emerging. The 'diversity' project constantly demands new capitulations from the conservatively minded. The idea of tolerance has been abused and turned into the pretext for an intrusive threat to people's livelihoods and liberty. It has been transformed into the ideology of 'multiculturalism' that demands Britain renounce all traditions in favour of those of newcomers. You can now lose your job if you do not share this ideology - if you do not think in the right way.

Many in Britain have protested at these attempts to police private opinions and free speech. Our instincts are still sound - and progressives can't stand that. Public outrage has not changed the fact of Carol Thatcher's dismissal, so a dangerous precedent has been set. People are now afraid about what they say in the privacy of their own homes, in emails or on the phone.

Obviously, liberalism is preferable as an ideology to communism or fascism. But it has similar contradictions and totalitarian tendencies. Multiculturalists may say you cannot impose your views on others, but they are frighteningly good at imposing theirs on all of us. British liberals claim to hate prejudice: in fact they have nothing but snobbish contempt for large swathes of the population, particularly those who live outside big cities and are over the age of 30. Public moralising has become the hallmark of those who otherwise excoriate old-fashioned morals.

Although hypocritical themselves, liberals demand 'sincerity' from their enemies, for instance when someone is forced to make a public apology. Ultimately this is all gesture politics, but it is a sign of the decadence of a society if it is forced to become obsessed with signals that have little to do with reality.

In that respect, too, modern liberalism is distinctly Soviet, demanding as it does public assent to a series of propagandistic ideals, however absurd. The sooner we realise the greatest virtues in politics are prudence, realism and honesty, the better.


The most politically incorrect man in the world?

The Top Gear live stage show in Sydney last week caused waves in Britain that we barely noticed. Iconic British host Jeremy Clarkson had barely alighted from his plane when he called his prime minister, Gordon Brown, a "one-eyed Scottish idiot". Since Brown does have only one eye, disabled groups in Britain were outraged, as were Scots, Labour supporters and idiots. Clarkson, 48, was lambasted in front-page stories in his homeland until he apologised - which he did, to all but the idiots.

For Australian audiences who packed the Acer Arena from last Thursday for 10 live performances of the top-rating SBS show, such Clarkson irreverence rated a chuckle rather than a scolding. Such is the relaxed Australian attitude to politician abuse, he could have said whatever he liked about Kevin Rudd and no one would have minded.

But the furore illustrates what is the key to Top Gear's success: Clarkson's brazen political incorrectness. He will bag Audis with one breath and greenies with the next. He has no sacred cows. The British version of Top Gear, which attracts as many as 1million Australian viewers each week, is an exuberant thumbing of noses at climate alarmists and safety Nazis. It is a relief valve from a politically correct world full of admonitions and tongue-biting. Just when cars were being targeted as dangerous, polluting anachronisms, Top Gear became one of the world's most popular television shows. Women make up more than 40 per cent of its audience.

Paradoxically, as environmental alarmism grows, so too does our attachment to cars, with Top Gear's popularity one indication. We've just had Clint Eastwood's movie Gran Torino, about a retired auto-worker and his most precious possession - his red 1972 muscle car, the Ford Gran Torino. Next month we will have the ultimate car lovers' movie, Eric Bana's Love The Beast, starring his red Ford GT Falcon Coupe. A documentary charting Bana's 25-year love affair with his car, it also features his three best friends, Jay Leno, Dr Phil and, of course, Jeremy Clarkson.

Apart from great cars, Top Gear's appeal is about three middle-aged men having unrestrained blokey fun, and insulting each other and everyone else, in classic pommy style. Clarkson once had a custard pie thrown in his face by green protesters; his advice to cyclists was: "Do not cruise through red lights. Because if I'm coming the other way, I will run you down, for fun."

At his Sydney press conference last week he slammed environmentalist critics of the show. "We don't have a carbon footprint. That's because we drive everywhere." And he claimed Britain's current cold snap was caused by "too many green people in the world . not buying enough Range Rovers to warm it up."

Then he insulted his British studio audiences of his Top Gear live show: "You should see some of the apes that turn up." He obviously hasn't been to a WWF wrestling match. It was quite a different crowd last Friday at the ACER Arena from the one I got to know a little too well when my sons were wrestling fanatics. Fewer tattoos, shorter hair, no John Cena T-shirts. Top Gear drew families from middle Australia, in Holdens and Fords, Audis and Subarus. The most flamboyant young men wore Holden jackets or T-shirts with such slogans as "Own the road" and "I am the Stig" - in reference to Top Gear's test driver.

The live show came to Sydney on the last part of its tour to South Africa, Hong Kong and New Zealand, "a tour of countries we used to own," said Clarkson, before joking about his first sightseeing adventure in Sydney last week. "Coogee Bay Hotel - chocolate chip heaven", referring to last year's faeces in the ice-cream scandal. "I'm sure there was sweet corn in there," quipped his sidekick Richard Hammond.

There were brunettes in tight red jumpsuits, and French stunt motorcyclists performing death-defying feats inside a giant mesh sphere which Clarkson called "the colander of death". "They're only French," said Clarkson. "If something goes wrong it will just be corned beef," said Hammond.

There was also ritual audience humiliation. Clarkson singled out one hapless man and called him a "cock" for owning an Audi and a "poor cock" because it was an A6. "You can tell he's an Audi driver because he's wearing a branded shirt." The audience squirmed as the man, sitting with his young son, turned beetroot red with embarrassment. We mightn't care about politicians but perhaps British schoolyard bullying of the type Clarkson practises isn't enjoyed in Australia. And it's just as well the audience didn't know some of the cars were fakes. Car soccer went down rather better, with six little cars pushing a giant inflatable soccer ball around the stadium, with only one fender bender and many close misses in a display of superb stunt driving.

There is something about Top Gear's unabashed celebration of human ingenuity, technological precision, speed, snazzy styling, comfort and independence that ignites the passions of car fans and car agnostics alike. Killjoy car-haters: eat your hearts out.



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, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


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Monday, February 16, 2009

'We can't move on... they're our children,' say the Websters as they reveal the appalling anguish that arrogant British social workers have visited upon them

Last Wednesday morning, a letter arrived at Mark and Nicky Webster's house. It was a report of sorts about their five-year-old son, telling them that he was doing well at school, had just learned to ride a bicycle without stabilisers and that he wasn't fond of sprouts. The timing could hardly have been more poignant. Such newsletters arrive on their doormat sporadically, as do separate ones relating to his older brother and sister. For Mark and Nicky, they are what passes for `contact' with their three eldest children. They always make agonising reading. But last week's update arrived on the morning the couple received a Court of Appeal judgment that could mean they never see their children again.

It is a bitter blow to their long-running battle with the legal system that saw their children, who can only be known as Child A, B and C, taken and forcibly adopted in what has since been described as a `gross miscarriage of justice'. The medical evidence on which the adoptions relied has been discredited and the proceedings - heard in just one day in 2004 - described as `cursory'.

Yet last Wednesday, Lord Justices Wall, Moore-Bick and Wilson concluded that the Websters, from Cromer, Norfolk, are `too late' to appeal to clear their names and that the `peculiar finality' of adoption means it is not in their power to overturn the order. The court cited only two circumstances under which an adoption might be reversed - if the adoptive parents had won the child fraudulently, or if the natural parents had not been properly informed. As it stands, Mark and Nicky have been the victims of neither fraud nor a slip-up in bureaucratic niceties. Their parental rights, they were informed, have been `extinguished'.

Speaking exclusively to The Mail on Sunday, Nicky says: `Wednesday was a very difficult day for us. It was like bereavement after a long illness. You know it's coming and you try to be prepared but when it happens, the reality of it hits you. I just wept as I read the judgment. `We just found it so puzzling and disappointing. How can they say there's been a miscarriage of justice but there's nothing you can do about it? It's as though we're in prison and we've been acquitted of the crime but then told we've got to stay where we are and serve out our sentence. `The judges and Norfolk County Council are already talking about what lessons can be learned from this. The judges say that if they overturned the adoption, it will lead to some sort of social chaos, as if we have to be sacrificed and "get over it" for the greater good. `They are all so keen to draw a line and move on. Well we can't move on from this. We can't "move on" from our children.

`And on another level, not being able to clear our names means that Mark and I are both listed as Schedule 1offenders. That can cover anything from smacking a child to murder. `We only discovered this when Mark was looking into being self-employed as a taxi-driver. He was told that an advanced Criminal Records Bureau search would be done, it would bring up the Schedule 1 listing and he wouldn't be allowed to drive children unaccompanied. `This isn't over for us. Not by a long shot.'

The appeal court judgment is as troubling to read as each judge professes it was to write. It affects not three but four children. Soon it will affect five as Mark, 35, and Nicky, 29, are expecting their fifth in less than two months. Until then, their shattered `family' consists of Child A, B and C - now nine, seven and five respectively - and their youngest brother, Brandon, almost three.

In his lengthy explanation of his reasons for denying the Websters' application, Lord Justice Wall describes the council's `belated recognition that they are fit and able to care for Brandon', as, `the only mitigation from [the Websters'] point of view'. He writes: `The children concerned have been denied the opportunity to argue that they should grow up together with their parents as a family. That is deeply worrying...

`For Mr and Mrs Webster...the case has been a disaster. For Norfolk County Council...the case has been a worrying and deeply regrettable experience, not least because in the result a family which might well have been capable of being held together has been split up.

`For the medical profession, the case has been a painful learning experience and a further illustration of the proposition that things may not always be what they seem...for the Family Justice System in general, and for this court in particular, any miscarriage of justice - or potential miscarriage of justice - is both regrettable and embarrassing.'

Mark and Nicky have several rather more robust turns of phrase to suggest. According to Nicky: `What's happened isn't embarrassing or regrettable. It's outrageous. We know that Social Services have a difficult job to do but something went catastrophically wrong here and it's not good enough to conclude that nobody is accountable.' Side by side in their living room, a space cluttered with Brandon's toys and bulging legal files amassed over the years, the Websters are a couple consumed not only by their desire to reunite their children - for their children's sake - but by their compressed rage at the council's refusal to admit any error or offer any apology.

Mark says: `They've been asked directly, if you knew then what you know now would the children have been adopted? `And they will not answer. They say it's impossible or inappropriate. I want Lisa Christensen [Director of Norfolk Children Services] to answer it straight. Does she now think we are child abusers?'

As for Nicky, she says: `We've had the courts and the social services saying that they have massive sympathy for us. Well we don't want sympathy. We want justice. `I can understand the children's interests coming first but it seems to us that the adoptive parents' interests come before ours and that we're the bottom of the heap. `We're told the children are loved and I do feel for the adoptive parents. `But it beggars belief that social workers can just take our children and we can never see them again when we have done nothing wrong.'

Mark adds: `Perhaps it would be easier if the adoptive parents would work with us in some way over contact but they won't. They said in court that the children have been in their adoptive home for three years now and it would be emotionally harmful for them to go back to us. `But our daughter was with us for four years before she was taken. She's spent more of her life with us than the adoptive parents.'

The family's ordeal began in October 2003 when Nicky took their second son (Child B) to hospital with a painful swollen leg. He was found to have several metaphyseal fractures - a type of break doctors said could be caused only by physical abuse. A nightmare of council intervention followed. Though the police pressed no charges, the family had no Social Services record and none of the others were injured, all three children were placed in foster care.

Barely six months later, in a hearing lasting just one day, the children were permanently removed from their parents' care. They were swiftly put up for adoption, with the youngest being placed with one family and the older two with another.

But it was the imminent birth of the fourth child, Brandon, that brought the shocking realities of that original case to light. Terrified that Brandon would be taken into care at birth, the Websters fled to Ireland. The council followed them, sending social workers to Ireland even though they had no jurisdiction on Irish soil. The next month, the couple returned to Britain, having agreed to care for Brandon in an `assessment centre' where the way they looked after him would be observed by social workers. But as soon as the family touched down on British soil, the council sought a gagging order preventing all media coverage. The Mail on Sunday, along with the BBC, launched and won a landmark legal battle to be allowed to report what followed.

In November 2006, two legal victories were won. They would, the Websters firmly believe, determine Brandon's fate if not that of his siblings. The first was Mr Justice Munby's decision to lift the gagging order, the second was to allow the Websters to instruct new experts. In February 2007, an interim court hearing informed the council it could not rely on the previous abuse findings to prove that Brandon was at risk and further expert witnesses were sought.

Just days before the hearing in June 2007, the council dramatically withdrew its application for a care order for Brandon. Had Mr Justice Holman been happy to rubber-stamp their request, that would have been the end. None of the findings of those experts would have been aired and the paucity of the original evidence would have remained buried. Instead, he heard arguments for all parties and the truth about Child B's fractures and the unforgivable extent to which the Websters were let down by medical professionals, social workers and lawyers emerged - and with it the dangers of a closed-door system of justice.

The solitary medical expert called as a witness was, the judge noted, `not really the right man'. The health visitor who was the only care worker with direct experience of the family was not called, or even asked to make a report. She opposed placing the children on the `at risk' register. But, shockingly, her view was quashed. Her team leader informed her the `medical evidence was overwhelming', and she should agree with her. In fact, the overwhelming medical evidence now shows that Child B's fractures were the result of normal handling of a child with an underlying bone fragility caused by scurvy. This was not due to neglect but to Child B's eccentric diet. He was lactose intolerant and suffered a severe food aversion disorder, which meant he refused solids. As a result, his diet consisted almost entirely of soya milk, woefully nutritionally inadequate but, crucially, sanctioned by the family GP. The consequences for his developing bones - and ultimately his family - were devastating.

Today, Mark and Nicky depend on those sporadic letters from the adoptive parents for news of their eldest children's lives. They haven't seen photographs of them, though Nicky is certain she would know her own children. The children themselves have `sibling contact', three times a year. Nicky says: `I find it very difficult to think of the little one by himself. From birth, all he had known was life with his brother and sister. It must have been so awful for him to be by himself. The two older children have each other. But how can it be in their interests to see each other so rarely? What must they think? What are they being told?'

On the sunny June day in 2007 that the Websters took Brandon home, they vowed they would keep fighting for their children. Mark described that victory as `partial vindication'. Mr Justice Holman concluded: `The gravity of the case is obvious. People will say, "How could this have happened?"' Yet almost two years later, this modest couple find themselves once more in that awful limbo of `partial vindication'.

They have taken on the might of the Establishment but they are no closer to a satisfactory answer as to how this could have happened and perhaps one step further away from their children. The court of appeal has acknowledged an injustice but offered no judicial remedy.

In his judgment last week, Lord Justice Wall was critical of Judge Barham, who heard the original case, saying anyone `might be forgiven for thinking [he] had already made up his mind'. He said he was `unimpressed by a number of arguments advanced by the local authority' and acknowledged that Mark and Nicky `will not have the opportunity to clear their names', referring to this as `unsatisfactory'. Yet he concluded: `In any system operated by human beings, mistakes will occur, whatever systems are put in place to reduce or eliminate them. In the present case, I am satisfied that everybody acted in good faith.'

Put bluntly, the conclusion seems to be that much went wrong but nobody was really to blame. Three children have been wrongly taken from their innocent parents and from each other, while a fourth and fifth have been denied knowing their siblings. But it can't be fixed.

The professionals on whose opinion these children were taken, the lawyers who failed to seek the correct expert witnesses and the social workers who refused to consider any option but non-accidental injury and suppressed alternative opinion, are all protected by the cloak of anonymity. Their questionable judgment cannot, in effect, be questioned.

Norman Lamb, Liberal MP for North Norfolk, who has championed the Websters' case, says: `The justice system must be capable of clearing the name of these parents. It is wholly wrong, immoral and unacceptable that it cannot. Make no mistake on this. There must be no doubt that, had the plethora of medical reports been available then, those children would not have been taken from their parents. `It is just intolerable that the county council will not concede this point. There needs to be a full apology. If it chooses to say "we acted in good faith" but recognises in light of further evidence that a grave injustice has occurred and that this family has been pulled apart unjustly and "for that we are deeply sorry", then so be it. 'But it appears to be acting defensively, as if its interests are more important than those of the family. `This is an ordinary couple and they are owed that very basic recognition of the injustice dealt to them.'

Last night, speaking to The Mail on Sunday, Lisa Christensen stopped short of the apology for which Mark and Nicky long. But, asked whether she still believed that they were abusers she conceded: `We will never know conclusively what caused Child B's injuries. However, the judgment makes it clear that there may have been a miscarriage of justice and I share that view.'

Mark and Nicky are considering their position. Mark says: `We're so grateful for all the support we've had from the public. `We don't believe we would have got Brandon if it hadn't been done in public with their support and scrutiny. `We are fighting for our children to know the truth, to know us and to know each other. Every day we talk about the reality that we might not see them until they're 18 and they come looking for us. 'One day there might be a knock on the door and our children standing on the doorstep. What will it do to them to learn the truth then? `But we'll welcome them in and we'll show them all the paperwork and they'll know we fought every day until we saw them.'


Women less tolerant of each other than men are, study finds

So much for the "Sisterhood"

Women are less tolerant of each other than men are, according to a new study which may explain why some women prefer to have a male boss. The research, published in the US journal Psychological Science, found that women formed a negative view of their peers much quicker than men did. The team from Emmanuel College in Boston asked male and female college students to rate their room-mates under different scenarios.

When asked to judge how they would rate their room-mates if they carried out a single fictional act of negative behaviour, after they had been otherwise completely trustworthy, women were far more likely to be critical of them. Men, on the other hand, were much more tolerant. Women were also more likely to switch to a new room-mate than men were.

The authors, led by associate professor of psychology Joyce Benenson, concluded that women were harsher on their peers because they expected more from their same-sex relationships than men did. They wrote: "Women may simply weight negative information more heavily than men do, because negative information disrupts the establishment of intimacy, which serves a more important function in same-sex relationships for women than for men."

While the study did not take place in the workplace itself, it would appear to back up previous surveys that have found women prefer to work for a male boss


The Persistence of Ideology: Grand ideas still drive history

Noting the Leninist elements in Islamism, the evangelical elements in Environmentalism and the psychological needs that drive them all

By Theodore Dalrymple

In 1960, the sociologist Daniel Bell published The End of Ideology, in which he argued that ideology-understood in the sense of a coherent, single-minded philosophical outlook or system of abstractions intended as much as a lever to change society as a description to explain it-was dead, at least in the West, and in the United States in particular. A combination of democracy and mass prosperity had "solved" the political question that had agitated humanity since the time of Plato. There were to be no more grand and transformative, if woefully erroneous, ideas; all that remained was public administration, with, at most, squabbles over small details of policy. The new version of the old saw, mens sana in corpore sano, a sound mind in a sound body, was a capitalist economy in a liberal democratic polity. That was the lesson of history.

In 1989, as the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe were reforming-indeed collapsing-so rapidly that it became clear that Communism could not long survive anywhere in Europe, Francis Fukuyama went one step beyond Bell and wrote an essay for The National Interest titled "The End of History?" In this soon-to-be-famous article, later expanded into a book, Fukuyama suggested that the end of ideology that Bell saw in the West was now global. By "the end of history," he did not mean the end of events, of course; one team or another would continue to win the Super Bowl, and there might yet be wars between national rivals. But broadly, history had given its lesson and mankind had taken it. Henceforth, those who resisted the march of liberal democracy were like the Luddites, those English workers at the beginning of the Industrial Revolution who smashed machines, blaming them for destroying the independent livelihoods of workers at home.

At the end of his essay, however, Fukuyama-more concerned to understand the world than to change it, by contrast with Marx-implicitly raised the question of the role of ideology in the world's moral economy. With no ideological struggles to occupy their minds, what will intellectuals have to do or think about? Virtually by definition, they like to address themselves to large and general questions, not small and particular ones: as Isaiah Berlin would say, by temperament, they are hedgehogs, who know one large thing, not foxes, who know many small things. Fukuyama admitted that he would miss ideology, if only as something to oppose. "I have ambivalent feelings for the civilization that has been created in Europe since 1945, with its North Atlantic and Asian offshoots," he wrote. "Perhaps this very prospect of centuries of boredom at the end of history will serve to get history started once again."

As it turned out, of course, we did not have long (let alone centuries) to suffer existential boredom. Our dogmatic slumbers-to use Kant's phrase for the philosophic state from which reading David Hume roused him-had barely begun when a group of young fanatics flew commercial airliners into the Twin Towers and the Pentagon, thus demonstrating that pronouncements of the death of both ideology and history were somewhat premature.

In truth, we should have known it, or at least guessed it, without needing to be reminded. Fukuyama's concluding sentences contain a hint of the psychological function that ideology plays. It is not just disgruntlement with the state of the world that stimulates the development and adoption of ideologies. After all, disgruntlement with society there has always been and always will be. Dissatisfaction is the permanent state of mankind, at least of civilized mankind. Not every dissatisfied man is an ideologist, however: for if he were, there would hardly be anyone who was not. Yet ideology, at least as a mass phenomenon, is a comparatively recent development in human history.

Who, then, are ideologists? They are people needy of purpose in life, not in a mundane sense (earning enough to eat or to pay the mortgage, for example) but in the sense of transcendence of the personal, of reassurance that there is something more to existence than existence itself. The desire for transcendence does not occur to many people struggling for a livelihood. Avoiding material failure gives quite sufficient meaning to their lives. By contrast, ideologists have few fears about finding their daily bread. Their difficulty with life is less concrete. Their security gives them the leisure, their education the need, and no doubt their temperament the inclination, to find something above and beyond the flux of daily life.

If this is true, then ideology should flourish where education is widespread, and especially where opportunities are limited for the educated to lose themselves in grand projects, or to take leadership roles to which they believe that their education entitles them. The attractions of ideology are not so much to be found in the state of the world-always lamentable, but sometimes improving, at least in certain respects-but in states of mind. And in many parts of the world, the number of educated people has risen far faster than the capacity of economies to reward them with positions they believe commensurate with their attainments. Even in the most advanced economies, one will always find unhappy educated people searching for the reason that they are not as important as they should be.

One of the first to notice the politicization of intellectuals was the French writer Julien Benda, whose 1927 La trahison des clercs-"the treason of the clerks," with "clerk" understood in its medieval sense as an educated person distinct from the uneducated laity-gave a phrase to educated discourse. Today, people most frequently use the phrase to signify the allegiance that intellectuals gave to Communism, despite the evident fact that the establishment of Communist regimes led everywhere and always to a decrease in the kind of intellectual freedom and respect for individual rights that intellectuals claimed to defend.

Benda meant something much wider by it, though support for Communism would have come under his rubric: the increasing tendency of intellectuals to pursue lines of thought not for the sake of truth, or for guiding humanity sub specie aeternitatis, but for the sake of attaining power by adopting, justifying, and manipulating the current political passions of sections of humanity, whether national, racial, religious, or economic. The political passions that Benda most feared when he wrote his book were nationalism, xenophobia, and anti-Semitism, which then had plenty of intellectual apologists, and which indeed soon proved cataclysmic in their effects; but really he was defending the autonomy of intellectual and artistic life from political imperatives.

That ideological ways of thinking have survived the collapse of Communism in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union would not have surprised Benda. The collapse did severely reduce Marxism's attractiveness, and despite decades of attempts by intellectuals to dissociate the doctrine's supposed merits from the horrors of the Soviet system, it was only natural that many people believed that the death of Marxism meant the death of ideology itself. But as Benda might have predicted, what resulted instead was the balkanization of ideology-the emergence of a wider choice of ideologies for adoption by those so inclined.

The most obvious example of an ideology that came into prominence-or better, prominently into our consciousness-after Communism's fall was Islamism. Because of its emphasis on returning to Islamic purity, and its apparent-indeed noisy-rejection of modernity, most people failed to notice how modern a phenomenon Islamism was, not just in time but in spirit. This is evident from reading just one of Islamism's foundational texts: Sayyid Qutb's Milestones, first published in 1964. The imprint of Marxism-Leninism is deep upon it, especially the Leninist component.

Qutb starts with cultural criticism that some might find eerily prescient. "The leadership of mankind by Western man is now on the decline, not because Western culture has become poor materially or because its economic and military power has become weak," he writes. "The period of the Western system has come to an end primarily because it is deprived of those life-giving values which enabled it to be the leader of mankind." Since, according to Qutb, those "life-giving values" cannot come from the Eastern Bloc, he thinks (like Juan Domingo Peron, the Argentinean dictator, and Tony Blair, the former British prime minister) that a Third Way must exist: which, he says, can only be Islam.

Just as in Marx only the proletariat bears the whole of humanity's interests, so in Qutb only Muslims (true ones, that is) do. Everyone else is a factionalist. In Qutb's conception, the state withers away under Islam, just as it does-according to Marx-under Communism, once the true form is established. In Marx, the withering away comes about because there are no sectional material interests left that require a state to enforce them; in Qutb, there is no sectional interest left once true Islam is established because everyone obeys God's law without the need for interpretation and therefore for interpreters. And when all obey God's law, no conflict can arise because the law is perfect; therefore there is no need for a state apparatus.

One finds a unity of theory and praxis in both Qutb's Islamism and Marxism-Leninism. "Philosophy and revolution are inseparable," said Raya Dunayevskaya, once Trotsky's secretary and a prominent American Marxist (insofar as such can be said to have existed). And here is Qutb: "Thus these two-preaching and the movement-united, confront `the human situation' with all the necessary methods. For the achievement of freedom of man on earth-of all mankind throughout the earth-it is necessary that these methods should work side by side."

Like Lenin, Qutb thought that violence would be necessary against the ruling class (of bourgeois in Lenin's case, unbelievers in Qutb's): "Those who have usurped the authority of God and are oppressing God's creatures are not going to give up their power merely through preaching." Again like Lenin, Qutb believed that until human authority disappeared, the leader's authority must be complete. Referring to "the Arab" of the Meccan period-an age whose moral qualities he wants to restore-Qutb says: "He was to be trained to follow the discipline of a community which is under the direction of a leader, and to refer to this leader in every matter and to obey his injunctions, even though they might be against his habit or taste." Not much there with which Lenin could have disagreed. The British Stalinist historian Eric Hobsbawm wrote of himself: "The Party had the first, or more precisely, the only real claim on our lives. . . . Whatever it had ordered, we would have obeyed."

Qutb is as explicit as Lenin that his party should be a vanguard and not a mass party, for only a vanguard will prove sufficiently dedicated to bring about the revolution. And like Leninism, Qutb's Islamism is dialectical:
[Islam] does not face practical problems with abstract theories, nor does it confront various stages with unchangeable means. Those who talk about Jihaad in Islam and quote Qur'anic verses do not take into account this aspect, nor do they understand the nature of the various stages through which the movement develops, or the relationship of the verses revealed at various occasions with each stage.
Compare this with Lenin's Left-Wing Communism, an Infantile Disorder:
Right doctrinairism persisted in recognizing only the old forms, and became utterly bankrupt, for it did not notice the new content. Left doctrinairism persists in the unconditional repudiation of certain old forms, failing to see that the new content is forcing its way through all and sundry forms, that it is our duty as Communists to master all forms, to learn how, with the maximum rapidity, to supplement one form with another, to substitute one for another, and to adapt our tactics to any such change that does not come from our class or from our efforts.
There are many other parallels between Leninism and Qutb's Islamism, among them the incompatibility of each with anything else, entailing a fight to the finish supposedly followed by permanent bliss for the whole of mankind; a tension between complete determinism (by history and by God, respectively) and the call to intense activism; and the view that only with the installation of their systems does Man become truly himself. For Qutb's worldview, therefore, the term Islamo-Leninism would be a more accurate description than Islamofascism.

Qutb was a strange man: he never married, for example, because (so he claimed) he found no woman of sufficient purity for him. You wouldn't need to be Freud to find the explanation suspect, or to find his reaction to Greeley, Colorado, in 1950, where he spent time on a scholarship-he saw it as a hotbed of unrestrained vice-somewhat hysterical, a cover for something seething deeply and disturbingly inside him. Devotion to an ideology can provide an answer of sorts to personal problems, and since personal problems are common, it isn't surprising that a number of people choose ideology as the solution.

Ideological thinking is not confined to the Islamists in our midst. The need for a simplifying lens that can screen out the intractabilities of life, and of our own lives in particular, springs eternal; and with the demise of Marxism in the West, at least in its most economistic form, a variety of substitute ideologies have arisen from which the disgruntled may choose.

Most started life as legitimate complaints, but as political reforms dealt with reasonable demands, the demands transformed themselves into ideologies, thus illustrating a fact of human psychology: rage is not always proportionate to its occasion but can be a powerful reward in itself. Feminists continued to see every human problem as a manifestation of patriarchy, civil rights activists as a manifestation of racism, homosexual-rights activists as a manifestation of homophobia, anti-globalists as a manifestation of globalization, and radical libertarians as a manifestation of state regulation.

How delightful to have a key to all the miseries, both personal and societal, and to know personal happiness through the single-minded pursuit of an end for the whole of humanity! At all costs, one must keep at bay the realization that came early in life to John Stuart Mill, as he described it in his Autobiography. He asked himself:
"Suppose that all your objects in life were realized; that all the changes in institutions and opinions which you are looking forward to, could be effected at this very instant: would this be a great joy and happiness to you?" And an irrepressible self-consciousness distinctly answered, "No!" At this my heart sank within me: the whole foundation on which my life was constructed fell down. All my happiness was to have been found in the continual pursuit of this end. The end had ceased to charm, and how could there ever again be any interest in the means? I seemed to have nothing left to live for.
This is the question that all ideologists fear, and it explains why reform, far from delighting them, only increases their anxiety and rage. It also explains why traditional religious belief is not an ideology in the sense in which I am using the term, for unlike ideology, it explicitly recognizes the limitations of earthly existence, what we can expect of it, and what we can do by our own unaided efforts. Some ideologies have the flavor of religion; but the absolute certainty of, say, the Anabaptists of M_nster, or of today's Islamists, is ultimately irreligious, since they claimed or claim to know in the very last detail what God requires of us.

The most popular and widest-ranging ideology in the West today is environmentalism, replacing not only Marxism but all the nationalist and xenophobic ideologies that Benda accused intellectuals of espousing in the 1920s. Now, no one who has suffered respiratory difficulties because of smog, or seen the effects of unrestrained industrial pollution, can be indifferent to the environmental consequences of man's activities; pure laissez-faire will not do. But it isn't difficult to spot in environmentalists' work something more than mere concern with a practical problem. Their writings often show themselves akin to the calls to repentance of seventeenth-century divines in the face of plague epidemics, but with the patina of rationality that every ideology needs to disguise its true source in existential angst.

For example, a recent column in the Guardian, by the environmental campaigner George Monbiot, carried the headline the planet is now so vandalised that only total energy renewal can save us. Monbiot, it is true, does not offer us heaven on earth if we follow his prescriptions; only the bare-and by no means certain, for "we might have left it too late"-avoidance of total biological annihilation. But behind Monbiot's urgency, even hysteria, one senses a deep lust for power. He cannot really believe what he says, for starters. "Do we want to be remembered," he asks rhetorically, "as the generation that saved the banks but let the biosphere collapse?" If it is really true that we must either have "total energy renewal" or die, however, we cannot be remembered as the generation that let the biosphere collapse, for if we let it collapse, ex hypothesi no one will be around to remember us. This reminds me of patients I used to see who would threaten suicide, in the clear expectation of a long life ahead, unless someone did what they wanted. And though Monbiot says that it is uncertain that anything we do now will make any difference, he nevertheless proposes that every human being on the earth follow his prescriptions.

The environmentalist ideology threatens to make serious inroads into the rule of law in Britain. This past September, six environmentalists were acquitted of having caused $50,000 worth of damage to a power station-not because they did not do it but because four witnesses, including a Greenlander, testified to the reality of global warming.

One recalls the disastrous 1878 jury acquittal in St. Petersburg of Vera Zasulich for the attempted assassination of General Trepov, on the grounds of the supposed purity of her motives. The acquittal destroyed all hope of establishing the rule of law in Russia and ushered in an age of terrorism that led directly to one of the greatest catastrophes in human history.


Australia: Lesbian case a dangerous precedent for medical profession

WHEN judges hand out damages for the birth of a child, it is a sign that society is in trouble. It suggests that some of us have become so self-obsessed that we have forgotten that the arrival of a new human being is a cause for celebration, not litigation. Many parents - and would-be parents - will be angered by this decision. But it is really a cause for pity.

What sort of mother runs off to court because she has two children instead of one? And what sort of court believes it has the capacity to restore the supposed injury caused by the arrival of a child?

Lawyers and doctors should be very worried by this ruling. It suggests that the law of negligence is in deep trouble - at least in the ACT Court of Appeal. For reasons that have not been made public, the territory's top court has taken the law of negligence and stretched it to breaking point. The Court of Appeal has overturned a compelling decision by Justice Annabel Bennett, who is also a well-regarded judge of the Federal Court. Bennett had refused to give one dollar to the greedy women at the heart of this case. Bennett based her decision on a close analysis of the facts. She found that the obstetrician in question, Sydney Robert Armellin, had conducted himself reasonably. He had not breached his duty of care.

The mother in question, Ms G, received two embryos instead of one because of flawed communication in the system used by her fertility clinic. But Armellin, in Bennett's view, was not at fault. Here's why: Ms G had changed her mind about the number of embryos she wanted implanted. And she did so in the operating theatre after earlier signing documents agreeing to have ``one to two'' embryos implanted.

When Ms G told Armellin she wanted one embryo, the doctor believed this information was not new. He thought it had previously been conveyed to the clinicians who had prepared the implant. The doctor believed Ms G would have conveyed this information during the clinic's pre-surgery procedures. In fact, Ms G had failed to take part in those procedures. It is a great pity that the Court of Appeal has not yet explained why it believes Bennett and Armellin were wrong. When it does, it had better be good.

Unless the court has extremely compelling reasons, it looks as though the real victim here is the obstetrician. If this decision stands, the ACT has a choice: change the law or accept the fact that this branch of medicine will rarely be practised in the nation's capital.



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, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


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Sunday, February 15, 2009

The intolerance towards Christians in the British public sector is an affront

By Archbishop John Sentamu

Wherever I am in the world, my day begins with prayer. It was Dom Helder Camara, after Martin Luther, who said: 'I find these days that I am so busy I have to spend at least four hours each morning in prayer.' While I cannot claim to have the discipline of Camara, I understand what he means. Prayer is important. At its best, it ushers us into the very presence of God. We come before him in our frail humanity with our worries, hopes and fears as well as our requests. Sometimes our prayer is silence, perhaps awed by the majestic and mystical nature of God, or perhaps because we have been silenced by the incomprehensible suffering of the innocent and we no longer know how or what to say.

In recent days, prayer has found its way into the headlines for other reasons altogether. Last week, community nurse Caroline Petrie was suspended as a result of offering to pray for a patient's recovery. Yesterday, Jennie Cain, a primary school receptionist, was facing disciplinary action as a consequence of sending out an email asking friends to pray for her daughter. The facts of the cases differ in their contexts and circumstances, but at their heart is a seeming intolerance and illiberality about faith in God which is being reflected in the higher echelons of our public services. In neither case was the woman in question seeking to convince others of the rightness or doctrinal purity of her religion. They were not waving placards or burning books. In their actions, they were as far away as it is possible to be from the caricature of a proselytising fundamentalism that seems to lie behind the views of those seeking to discipline them.

However, the suspension of one of these women and the continued disciplinary action faced by the other leads us to questions about how it is that those who share or express a trust in God - or more precisely, in these cases, in the Christian faith - are deemed worthy of discipline.

I am grateful that in Caroline Petrie's case her employer has seen sense and has reinstated her, and that the North Somerset Primary Care Trust said that it recognised she had been acting in the 'best interests of her patients' and that nurses did not have to 'set aside their faith' in the workplace. I am hoping that Jennie Cain's employers may take a similarly enlightened view.

Asking someone to leave their belief in God at the door of their workplace is akin to asking them to remove their skin colour before coming into the office. Faith in God is not an add-on or optional extra. For me, my trust in God is part of my DNA; it is central to who I am and defines my place in the world. It informs my whole life, not just a weekly service on a Sunday. It is the failure to grasp this basic understanding of what it is to be a follower of Jesus Christ that lies at the heart of the problem of which these two cases are just symptoms.

There is a deep irony at work here, and not simply because the first free schools and hospitals operating in this nation were run by the churches in our land. Those who display intolerance and ignorance, and would relegate the Christian faith to just another disposable lifestyle choice, argue that they operate in pursuit of policies based on the twin aims of 'diversity and equality'.

Yet in the minds of those charged with implementing such policies, 'diversity' apparently means every colour and creed except Christianity, the nominal religion of the white majority; and 'equality' seemingly excludes anyone, black or white, with a Christian belief in God.

This was strikingly illustrated in the recent case of the dedicated foster mother who had cared for foster children for more than 20 years, but who was recently struck off by her local council. What was her crime? Did she harm or allow harm to be caused to her ward? No. Rather because her 16-year-old foster daughter decided - of her own volition - to convert from Islam to Christianity, the local authority struck the foster mother from its list of approved carers.

Of course, as a modern, forward-looking nation, we should be able to work and live together, black and white, male and female, without fear of harassment or indignity based on gender, ethnicity or disability. However, such policies also rightly point to the fact that neither should a person's religion be the basis upon which they are subjected to any prejudice.

Why then, while our children are encouraged to celebrate the religious festivals of all the major faiths, are there those in public office who seem to be ignorant of how this country's established religion gave birth to this nation?

In the 8th century, the Venerable Bede, the father of English history, wrote not only of how the English were converted to Christianity, but how the Gospel played a major social and civilising role in this country by uniting a group of warring tribes and conferring English nationhood upon them.

The opening clause of Magna Carta in 1215 acknowledged the importance of the Church and its right to propagate its views. Christianity has been at the heart of the history of this nation. British history, customs and ethos have been gradually shaped by Christianity. A recent correspondent suggested that, like it or not, Britishness is rooted in the Christian religion. Consider our national anthem beginning with the word 'God'; consider the English flag: designed using the Christian cross. Its red colour symbolising the blood of Christ shows it is not simply a cruciform by chance.

Go back a century or more and the church will be found at the centre of English village life. The definition of a city was that it had a cathedral. People were born, married and buried in a Christian setting. Then there are the British architects, artists, explorers and scientists whose faith gave them a basis. Christianity is the tapestry upon which our country's heritage was woven. All of this is lost to those who would deny Christianity any place in our nation today.

Those employed as public servants and charged with running our local services, be they schools, hospitals or councils, receive their public authority only under a system of governance which is constitutionally established from the 'Queen in Parliament under God'. For public servants to use their authority to deny the legitimacy of the Christian faith, when they receive such authority only through the operation of that same faith, is not only unacceptable but an affront.

For the millions of people in this country who profess a trust in God, these recent stories represent not only an insult to their common sensibility but also a sign of a growing gap between the mindset of the governing and the governed. The requirement of common consent that underpins any operation of the democratic contract is being placed under strain by those who, with the best of motives, are making the worst of mistakes.

My challenge, then, to the 72 per cent of this nation who marked themselves as 'Christian' in response to the census of 2001 is that if they wish to safeguard that same Christian tradition, they must renew their faith and become actively involved in their local church. For those who despair at the treatment meted out to these Christian women, the message is clear: wake up, Christian England!


Modern Segregation Has an Islamist Face

In the twentieth century, minority groups such as African-Americans struggled and sacrificed to achieve integration with the societies that had excluded them. In the twenty-first century, some Muslims hope to run history in reverse, demanding separation from their Western neighbors. Three news items highlight different stages and aspects of this phenomenon.

First, it has been revealed that a primary school in Sheffield, England, holds weekly Muslim-only assemblies. The arrangement became known due to the head mistress being forced out after she insisted on mixed gatherings instead:
A teacher, who asked not to be named, said: "The head inherited the separate assemblies and she took careful advice on what to do. "But when she tried to stop them, she was accused of being a racist. She wanted to hold assemblies for all the pupils. That is what happens in most schools but some parents wanted things to stay as they were."
Accommodating separatism only serves to encourage the adherents of Islam described in the second article.

Based on a new poll, many UK Muslims "want to create their own communities and remain segregated from British society," with 44% believing that "they should be free to develop along separate lines." The numbers are similar to those of previous surveys indicating that four in ten British Muslims would prefer to be governed by Shari'a law. Responding to the revelation, English Democrats' chairman Robin Tilbrook said, "If people don't want to integrate, they shouldn't be here. It's not at all right to have what's really a sort of ghetto situation developing - it's going to lead to trouble."

The third story illustrates the "trouble" stemming from one such "ghetto situation." Specifically, a study has found that "radical Islamists have a stranglehold" on a section of Malmo, Sweden:
"Families who have just moved into the neighborhood and who have never been particularly religious or traditional claim that they led freer lives in their home country than in Rosengaard," the report said. Muslim women who did not wear the veil in their home country were, for example, obliged to don it, according to the study. The authors also singled out "cellar mosques" whose members serve as a kind of "thought police."
Abraham Lincoln warned that "a house divided against itself cannot stand." A century and a half later, the West must relearn this lesson - or risk similarly catastrophic results.


Why, instead of chasing criminals, are British police asking children to write essays about 'gay pride'?

It takes pride in its reputation as one of the most gay-friendly employers in the country. But the Kent Police force has been accused of going too far after inviting children under the age of 14 to write about their feelings on homosexuality and transsexuality as part of a competition. The force is offering a 25 pound prize to the child who submits the best 200-word essay on the subject. Its website says: 'Join us to celebrate lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) history month.'

Children are told the essay title must be 'All Different, Same Respect' - the slogan for a series of events being organised by the force to mark LGBT history month. There is also a dinner dance with a gay or transsexual 'artiste', a gay quiz night and a seminar dubbed 'From Outcast To Out'.

But it is the essay-writing competition that has provoked the ire of campaigners, who accuse the force of demonstrating a blind obsession with the politically-correct agenda. Ann Widdecombe, Conservative MP for Maidstone and the Weald, said: 'I would have thought the police had other things to worry about, like catching burglars. 'Why don't they get kids to write an essay on combating crime? It strikes me as an extraordinary waste of police resources.'

The essay-writing competition has an under-14s, 15-to-17s and an 18-plus section - with the winners receiving a o25 book token and a Kent Police shield. There is also a category for Kent Police staff.

Matthew Elliott, chief executive at the TaxPayers Alliance said: 'While this initiative is no doubt well-intentioned, the job of the police is to fight crime, not run essay competitions or organise dances with a politically-correct agenda. 'It is a question of spending priorities. All available resources should go to frontline policing.'

Kent Police is ranked the fourth most gay-friendly employer in Britain by gay campaign group Stonewall. It rose 22 places this year for its 'proactive lesbian, gay and bisexual support network that meets regularly with the chief constable and other chief officers to discuss relevant issues'. On its website the force proudly displays the Stonewall logo and explains it has set up a 'new equality and diversity structure'. For the whole of this month it will be holding an exhibition of LGBT history in its training college for young recruits to study.

A spokesman for the Campaign Against Political Correctness added: 'Police can get very obsessed about this sort of thing. 'To have even one event to mark the month would be bad enough but to have a whole series is a waste of police time and resources. I am sure the people of Kent would have different priorities if they were asked how the money should be spent.'

But Stonewall last night backed the force. A spokesman said: 'One in five gay people has been a victim of homophobic hate crime in the last three years. 'Stonewall encourages the police to work with communities to drive down all crime.'

Last night Kent Police was unable to offer a convincing explanation of what the competition has to do with policing. Deputy Chief Constable Adrian Leppard said: 'This contest complements work being done in schools around diversity through the national curriculum. 'It is also part of Kent Police's wider diversity programme to raise knowledge and awareness, and increase respect and understanding of LGBT issues.'


Aftermath of the Australian fires: Eight bodies huddled to protect a baby

Adoring kids as I do, the story below was deeply upsetting to me. But I do find it redeeming as proof that normal human nature survives the constant Leftist attacks on it -- Leftists who regard the killing of babies in abortion as just another medical procedure and Leftists who try to force equality on everybody in the name of "diversity" (of all things!) and Leftists who, with their love of bureaucracy, PREVENT normal human nature from operating (See, for instance, my Charters Towers story)

Disaster victim identification teams combing Victoria have found large groups of bodies, including one with eight bodies huddled to protect a baby. Australians have been warned to brace for more bad news about the bushfire death count as more shocking details of the tragedy are revealed.

DVI experts are still combing the worst-affected areas and Det-Inspector Bob Sitlington said patience was needed to enable accurate records of victims to be collected. "It is slow but we want to positively identify victims, the last thing we would want to do is misidentify," he said.

Insp Sitlington said he had been with team members in Kinglake yesterday, where earlier in the week experts found horrific sites, including eight bodies huddled around a baby's body. "There was a multiple death in a group, and from what I understand they were trying to protect a baby," he said. "We don't know exactly what happened. Imagine what people naturally do, they tend to cuddle ... and to protect each other, and with the intensity of the fire we do find sometimes bodies are fused together."

The total death toll from the blazes that ripped through the central highlands and Gippsland last Saturday still stands at 181 but is expected to jump above 300. On Friday, police said 1831 houses had been destroyed and more than 7000 people had been made homeless.....

Victorian Premier John Brumby yesterday appointed former Supreme Court judge Justice Bernard Teague to chair the Royal Commission into the bushfires. Mr Brumby said the Royal Commission would be a central part of the "healing process" with victims and relatives of the dead from Kinglake, Marysville and the rest of the state to provide eye witness evidence about the tragic events of February 7 and its horrible aftermath. "It is so important that everybody has their say," Mr Brumby said.

Kinglake couple Joanne Jordan and Greg Holloway picked through the ruins of their property yesterday, but are just happy to have escaped with their lives. "We were so lucky, we lost everything we had, but not each other," Mr Holloway said. Ms Jordan said the significance of Valentine's Day meant little since they escaped Kinglake's raging inferno. "Every day's Valentine's Day when it's six days since you almost died," Ms Jordan said.



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, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


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Saturday, February 14, 2009

Banned Dutch MP flies in to Britain ... and is sent straight home again

Thick British politicians give Geert Wilders a goldmine worth of publicity. He has used it well to expose their spinelessness and duplicity

A far-right Dutch MP was turned back at Heathrow as he tried to defy a ban on entering Britain. Geert Wilders was barred earlier this week after Home Secretary Jacqui Smith learned that he was planning a trip to show his controversial film which links the Koran to terrorism. Mr Wilders, 45, was classed as someone considered likely to incite hatred and his visit a threat to 'community harmony and therefore public security'.

He was seized by border guards after his aircraft touched down, and questioned for more than an hour before flying back to the Netherlands. As he left he vowed to keep trying to come to Britain and revealed that he is going to Italy and the U.S. in the coming weeks to screen his film, which sparked violent protests around the Muslim world last year. He said: 'I am not a terrorist, but I am being treated like one. I did not come here for attention, I came to make a point about freedom of speech. 'Even if you do not like me, if you do not agree with my views, in the name of freedom of speech I should be allowed to hold a debate with others on those views. 'This just shows the Islamification of the UK.'

Mr Wilders accused the Government of cowardice and compared its decision to the policies of Neville Chamberlain, whose appeasement of Adolf Hitler in the run-up to the Second World War allowed the Nazis to invade neighbouring countries. Mr Wilders said: 'This is the beginning of the end of freedom of speech, of democracy in Britain. 'No other government has stopped me going anywhere. This is weak, it is cowardice and it is a blow for freedom of speech. 'It is sad that the ghost of Chamberlain still resides in the British Government instead of the Churchill way of acting. 'I am a democratically-elected representative of the third-biggest elected party in the Netherlands, yet I am being treated like a crazy extremist.'

Mr Wilders had been invited by UK Independence Party peer Lord Pearson to show his film entitled Fitna - Arabic for 'strife' - and hold a question and answer session in Parliament on Thursday. He has urged the Dutch government to ban the Koran and warned of a 'tsunami' of Islam swamping the Netherlands. His 17-minute documentary features verses from the Koran - which it brands a 'fascist book' - alongside images of the 9/11 and 7/7 terrorist attacks. It equates Islam's holy text with violence and ends with a call to Muslims to remove 'hate-preaching' verses.

It emerged that Mr Wilders, who is facing prosecution in the Netherlands for incitement to hatred and discrimination, visited Britain in December and met with no opposition. But on that occasion he did not show his film.

On Thursday he was allowed to board a flight to Heathrow from Amsterdam after the airline bmi admitted it had no legal powers to refuse a passenger with a ticket. Flanked by two Dutch police officers, Mr Wilders boarded the flight with a broad smile and gave an impromptu press conference to scores of British and Dutch reporters on the plane.

At Heathrow, Mr Wilders was met by a UK Border Agency representative who led him away for a ' discussion' which lasted just over an hour before he was ordered to board the next flight home.

His removal provoked an angry response from Dutch Foreign Minister Maxime Verhagen, who said the Netherlands would press for a reversal of the ban. But Foreign Secretary David Miliband said the Home Secretary was following the law. He said Mr Wilders' work was a 'hate-filled film designed to stir up religious and racial hatred and is contrary to our laws'. Mr Miliband admitted, however, that he had not seen the film.

Downing Street said: 'The Prime Minister fully supports the decision taken by the Home Secretary.' Lord Pearson and crossbench peer Baroness Cox said in a joint statement that they were ' promoting freedom of speech' and accused the Government of 'appeasing' militant Islam. They added: 'Geert Wilders' Fitna film, available on the web, is not a threat to anyone. It merely suggests how the Koran has been used by militant Islamists to promote and justify their violence.'


How Britain, the cradle of liberty, is sleepwalking towards cultural suicide

If anyone had doubted the extent to which Britain has capitulated to Islamic terror, the banning of Geert Wilders should surely open their eyes. Wilders, the Dutch member of parliament who had made an uncompromising stand against the Koranic sources of Islamist extremism and violence, was due to give a screening of Fitna, his film on this subject, at the House of Lords on Thursday. This meeting had been postponed amid claims that Lord Ahmed had previously threatened the House of Lords authorities that he would bring a force of 10,000 Muslims to lay siege to the Lords if Wilders was allowed to speak. Lord Ahmed denies this report and said his lawyers are investigating those he blames for spreading it.

To their credit, the Lords authorities had stood firm and said extra police would be drafted in to meet any threat and the Wilders meeting should go ahead. But now the government has announced that it is banning Wilders from the country. A letter from the Home Secretary's office to Wilders, delivered via the British embassy in the Hague, said: '...the Secretary of State is of the view that your presence in the UK would pose a genuine, present and sufficiently serious threat to one of the fundamental interests of society. 'The Secretary of State is satisfied that your statements about Muslims and their beliefs, as expressed in your film Fitna and elsewhere would threaten community harmony and therefore public security in the UK.'

So let's get this straight. The British government allows people to march through British streets screaming support for Hamas, it allows Hizb ut Tahrir to recruit on campus for the jihad against Britain and the west, it takes no action against a Muslim peer who threatens mass intimidation of Parliament, but it bans from the country a member of parliament of a European democracy who wishes to address the British Parliament on the threat to life and liberty in the west from religious fascism.

It is he, not them, who is considered a `serious threat to one of the fundamental interests of society'. Why? Because the result of this stand for life and liberty against those who would destroy them might be an attack by violent thugs. The response is not to face down such a threat of violence but to capitulate to it instead. It was the same reasoning that led the police on those pro-Hamas marches to confiscate the Israeli flag, on the grounds that it would provoke violence, while those screaming support for genocide and incitement against the Jews were allowed to do so.

The reasoning was that the Israeli flag might provoke thuggery while the genocidal incitement would not. So those actually promoting aggression were allowed to do so while those who threatened no-one at all were repressed.

And now a Dutch politician who doesn't threaten anyone is banned for telling unpalatable truths about those who do; while those who threaten life and liberty find that the more they do so, the more the British government will do exactly what they want, in the interests of `community harmony'.

Wilders is a controversial politician, to be sure. But this is another fateful and defining issue for Britain's governing class as it continues to sleepwalk into cultural suicide. If British MPs do not raise hell about this banning order, if they go along with this spinelessness, if they fail to stand up for the principle that the British Parliament of all places must be free to hear what a fellow democratically elected politician has to say about one of the most difficult and urgent issues of our time, if they fail to hold the line against the threat of violence but capitulate to it instead, they will be signalling that Britain is no longer the cradle of freedom and democracy but its graveyard.


Central Michigan university is being sued by a former player, who claims her heterosexuality was a factor in losing a scholarship

Brooke Heike said she fell out of favor with Sue Guevara immediately after the coach was hired in 2007. Heike said Guevara told her she wore too much makeup and was not the coach's "type." That meant she wasn't a lesbian, according to a lawsuit filed last week in federal court in Bay City.

The former Romeo High School star lost her scholarship after the 2007-08 season. "I didn't feel that she did anything to improve herself after being told over and over what she needed to do," Guevara told an appeals committee last June.

Heike's lawsuit claims the appeals panel "simply rubber-stamped defendant Guevara's bad-faith decision to deprive plaintiff of her scholarship and dismiss her from the team" for reasons unrelated to basketball.

Central Michigan spokesman Steve Smith said the allegations have no merit, and the university will "vigorously defend its position in court."

Guevara, a former coach at Michigan, was hired by the Chippewas in 2007. Heike was recruited by the previous coach, Eileen Kleinfelter. Heike played in 11 games as a freshman but only six in her sophomore season under Guevara.

"I had faith in CMU. I liked CMU. I wanted to give it everything I could," Heike told Guevara during the meeting on her appeal. "I wasn't going to give up. You gave up on me." Heike has been attending community college since leaving campus, her lawyer, Cindy Rhodes Victor, said. "She was so traumatized by the experience," Victor said Tuesday.

The lawsuit seeks a jury trial and an unspecified cash award.


A "caring" socialist government in action during the recent huge floods in Northern Australia

During the floods, all road access to the historic inland town of Charters Towers was cut off. All road bridges were underwater. But the railway bridge was still above water and functioning. So the Queensland government sent in needed supplies by rail, right? No way! The government railroad REFUSED repeated requests to send in any supplies at all. And when pressure was brought to bear on them while food was running out in the town, what did they finally do? Instead of food they sent in beer and a lawnmower! I kid you not. I have relatives in the town who vouch for the fact. Below is the speech given in the State Parliament by Shane KNUTH (Charters Towers-LNP) on the matter. One notes with sadness how the dead hand of bureaucracy has destroyed the natural inclination of Australians to do all they can to help one-another in emergencies. Can you be a human being and a bureaucrat at the same time? It seems doubtful

I rise to bring to the attention of the House the very serious matter of the lack of cooperation from Queensland Rail during the recent flooding of the Burdekin River over the Macrossan Bridge.

I was employed by Queensland Rail for more than 20 years. I attended many washouts, many floods and a lot of maintenance and bridge and line repairs. During these events we recognised the plight of stranded travellers and those who needed to attend medical appointments and so on in the city. There was a great Aussie spirit as we transferred trapped travelers from one bridge to another. We prided ourselves on our ability to be there to help. We used section cars, rail motors and flat tops to get the job done. This was an automatic and natural response. People were in need and we had the resources to meet their needs.

During the recent floods, the Burdekin River at Macrossan rose to a staggering height of 20.75 metres-the highest reading since 1946. While the Macrossan Bridge was closed, the road between Charters Towers and Mount Garnet was closed and the road between Charters Towers and Clermont was also closed. Charters Towers was isolated except for the still-functioning railway line, which runs parallel to the Flinders Highway.

At a time when basic necessities such as medication and food to supply our three colleges, the elderly and the general public were being depleted, Queensland Rail hierarchy resisted appeals for help with freight transport. The local disaster management committee approached Queensland Rail for assistance in a crisis but, lo and behold, QR flatly refused to provide the required help. No-one could understand why QR had developed such a resistant attitude. But since QR has stopped all small freight and now concentrates on bulk haulage, it seemed determined not to help with the carting of small freight necessities, even in the time of emergency.

During the closure of the Macrossan Bridge there was great stress amongst stranded travellers and people needing to keep their medical appointments and catch flights to their destination. Some travellers were stranded for days before being forced to find accommodation and to buy what little food remained in the town. Queensland Rail, however, threatened to prosecute desperate people who attempted walking across the rail bridge to finally get to their destination. Many felt that they had no choice but to risk prosecution and took off across the rail bridge.

That was the extent of Queensland Rail's offer-- prosecution, no section cars, no rail transport, no support, no contingency plan, nothing! The attitude was, `We don't transport small freight. The town can starve.'

However, recognising the error of its ways after appeal by the mayor, the state member, the local disaster committee and the media, QR thought it could sweeten the community by providing seven pallets of grog and a lawnmower-which turned up by rail from nowhere!

Finally, after sufficient prodding, Queensland Rail finally gave in and sent the basic necessities by rail on Saturday afternoon. All of the time QR was trying to set the perception that it was being helpful, but this is a lie. Trains continued to operate throughout the crisis carrying ballast, so no-one could understand why the basic supplies could not be brought in.

But wait! It does not finish there. The Inlander [passenger train], which was held up at Hughenden, unmanned and unstaffed, passed through to Townsville by stealth in the early hours of Saturday morning hoping that stranded passengers in Charters Towers would not see it pass by. Queensland Rail knew that passengers where stranded but did not want to fly out personnel at a cost to escort stranded passengers to Townsville.

This is a shocking disgrace and a far cry from my days of service in Queensland Rail when we felt privileged to look after people. It is all right for the state government and Queensland Rail to take a special gravy train to entertain a group of party hacks and pay all expenses to tour Brisbane with drinks and snacks provided and then wind up with a lavish lunch at Roma Street Parkland, but when it comes to a crisis which affects people and their welfare, Queensland Rail is nowhere to be seen.

What has happened to the once-proud Queensland Rail that was renowned for its excellent service to Queenslanders? It has become a heartless, profit-making, cost-cutting corporation whose aim is to service the mining industry to the exclusion of the towns and the people who have made Queensland what it is today. I call on the minister to recognise that there has been a downturn in the mining industry and that now is the time to get back to the basics of providing a freight service and looking after people in times of crisis such as we have just experienced in the major floods in north Queensland.


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, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


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Friday, February 13, 2009

7 black Houston firefighters sue, say city exam biased

There appears to be agreement below that blacks are not in general good at doing ability tests but nobody even dares to think that they really are as dumb as the tests say. The aim of the lawsuit below is to put unqualified blacks into positions of great responsibility so is of real concern

Seven black firefighters are suing the city, contending that the Houston Fire Department's test for officer promotions adversely affects blacks. "This is systemic discrimination," said the firefighters' attorney, Dennis Thompson. "Selection rates for African-Americans are abysmally smaller than for white candidates." City Council on Wednesday delayed consideration of a request by the city attorney's office to spend up to $197,000 on an outside law firm to defend the city against the federal lawsuit, which was filed in August. The council is expected to take up the request next week.

Firefighters trying to attain the rank of captain and above in the Houston Fire Department must take a 100-question multiple-choice test. Numerous studies show that blacks as a group do less well on high-stakes tests, Thompson said. He said fire departments should use cognitive tests only as a pass-fail benchmark and also should focus on performance exercises and other criteria. "We don't do as well on these multiple-choice tests," said Capt. Otis Jordan, president of the Houston Black Firefighters Association. Jordan and the HBFA are not part of the suit. "I compare fighting a fire, riding an apparatus, to playing football. Your best athlete might not be the straight-A student." HFD has about 4,200 firefighters and paramedics. Roughly 700 are black, Jordan said.

Senior Assistant City Attorney Timothy Higley declined to comment on the substance of the lawsuit, but he said the case was complex. "It's all about the testing system in the Fire Department, so it's going to require quite a bit of analysis," Higley said. "Analysis about the validity of the testing program (and) whether the testing program is valid in the sense that it tests people for what is necessary in order to be (an officer)."

Kevin Michael Foster, an education anthropologist at the University of Texas at Austin's College of Education, agreed that research has demonstrated a test score gap between blacks and whites. There are several theories about why, but a primary explanation has to do with minority students disproportionately receiving inferior educations compared to whites, he said. "If you are African-American, there is a greater likelihood that throughout your academic career you have been taught by teachers of less experience, you have been taught in settings of low-performing schools," Foster said.

During standardized tests, minorities are also vulnerable to performance anxieties that stem from cultural stereotypes, Foster said. The result, he said, is that historically marginalized groups often do worse on tests, especially "high stakes" tests that affect one's livelihood or future life path.

While officer promotions once heavily emphasized the written test, HFD's system was adjusted in 2005 as part of a collective bargaining agreement, said Jeffrey Caynon, president of the Houston Professional Fire Fighters Association Local 341. There has been only one testing cycle since the change, he added.

The new system ranks candidates based on a 122-point system: 100 points possible from the multiple-choice test, and other points awarded based on seniority, college or graduate education, and level of state fire certification. When vacancies occur, candidates are promoted from the top of the list. Promotions in the lower ranks still use the old system of 100 points for a written test and 10 points for seniority, for a maximum of 110, according to Assistant Fire Chief Bill Barry.

The lawsuit seeks promotions to captain or senior captain for the plaintiffs, back pay and damages.


The English must not publicly celebrate their own national day

England's biggest St George's Day parade is facing the axe after councillors said many of those attending it were racist. For the last decade up to 15,000 have assembled in the town of West Bromwich under the slogan 'Forever England, For Everyone'. Children and parents from all over the country parade through the Black Country town waving St George flags and marching to rousing anthems such as Jerusalem. Organisers say one of the aims is to reclaim the Saint George Cross from Right-wingers and make it a source of pride for all.

But last night the local council, Labour-controlled Sandwell, voted to withdraw its support for the parade. Funds will go to support a Party in the Park instead. It leaves parade organisers with what they say is the impossible task of raising 10,000 pounds to cover their costs with only a few weeks to go.

In a letter to the organisers, one councillor, Yvonne Davies, said the parade created an 'unhealthy atmosphere' and inspired young boys to be racist. She wrote: 'It is not only the parade which is the problem, but the tribal excitement it creates.'

The West Bromwich St George's Day parade started in 1998 and began as a fairly modest affair with 5,000 turning up. Now three times that attend the two-mile parade in April. Fire Service and Scout Association bands have played, the British Legion lends its support and each year ex-servicemen attend. A volunteer dresses up as St George and rides with the marchers, children paint their faces with the St George Cross and there are activities such as medieval jousting. There have been some problems - last year organisers had to clamp down on drinking in the street and a band with hard-Right roots joined in without their permission.

Councillor Davies wrote in her letter: 'I am sure most are very respectful and law-abiding, however some are distasteful in the extreme and wish to divide and separate people from each other.' She said she had once been abused by youths who 'had been emboldened by the parade and thought racist chants were funny'. 'I have seen first hand how the parade (albeit unintentionally) creates an unhealthy atmosphere.'

At a meeting of Sandwell council cabinet last night, her colleagues sided with her and decided against backing the parade. Instead there will be the Party in the Park, a concert in the Town Hall and St George Flags will be flown on all of the council's buildings.

Trevor Collins of the Stone Cross Saint George Association, which organises the parade, said: 'To suggest the parade is racist is ridiculous and offensive. When you see the kids, the dogs, everyone out having fun, it's really a beautiful sight. It doesn't matter if you're black, white, green, brown or whatever, everyone's welcome. 'The council's decision means we have to foot the bills for insurance and security. We've got to come up with 10,000 pounds in two months which seems impossible.'

Another organiser Mark Cowles said the parades had raised 7,000 pounds for charity. He added that, as well as losing out on council support, they had probably missed the deadline for applying for road closures. 'All we wanted to do was organise a fun, family-friendly day for everyone that celebrates being English,' he said. 'We have been approached by extreme Right-wing groups and we have turned them away.'


More official hatred of Christians in Britain

A primary school receptionist, Jennie Cain, whose five-year-old daughter was told off for talking about Jesus in class is now facing the sack for seeking support from her church. Mrs Cain sent a private email to close friends to ask for prayers for her daughter after she was called into the school where she worked in Crediton, Devon, to be reprimanded. Her daughter Jasmine had been overheard by a teacher discussing heaven and God with a friend and had been pulled to one side and told off.

Mrs Cain contacted 10 close friends from her church by email but the message fell into the hands of Gary Read, the headmaster of Landscore Primary School where she works. The 38-year-old mother of two is now being investigated for professional misconduct for allegedly making claims against the school and its staff. Mrs Cain has been told she may be disciplined and was warned she could face dismissal.

Her case is being supported by the Christian Institute who said Mrs Cain was the latest example of a Christian being persecuted by society. Last week, nurse Caroline Petrie was told she could go back to work having been suspended for two months for offering to pray for a patient.

Yesterday, Mrs Cain said both her daughter and son were confused about what to say about their faith. She told The Daily Telegraph: "I think there is something about what I represent, about what the three of us represent. "This action that has been taken against me, how it has escalated, how trapped I feel - it is overwhelming. "The speed at which it has got to a place where I am being investigated for misconduct and could be dismissed, it is shocking."

Mrs Cain, who has worked part-time at the school for two and a half years, describes herself as a "quiet Christian" who would never force her beliefs on others. But she said she was angry about the way she had been treated: "I felt embarrassed that a private prayer email was read by the school - it felt like someone had gone through my personal prayer diary. "I feel my beliefs are so central to who I am, are such a part of my children's life. "I do feel our beliefs haven't been respected and I don't feel I have been treated fairly. I don't know what I am supposed to have done wrong."

On January 22, Mrs Cain went to pick up her children from the 275-strong primary school. "My daughter burst into tears, her face was all red and she was clearly upset. "She said 'my teacher told me I couldn't talk about Jesus' - I couldn't believe what I was hearing. "She said she was taken aside in the classroom and told she couldn't say that. I was so shocked, I didn't know what to do."

Mrs Cain said she decided to wait until she wasn't working to discuss the issue with the teacher Sharon Gottelier as a parent rather than an employee. But she was called into Mr Read's office the next day over another matter before he started discussing Jasmine. "He started talking about my daughter about how he wasn't happy about her making statements about her faith. "At that point I froze, I felt very small and I felt trapped as I was a junior member of staff."

That weekend, she emailed a prayer request from her personal computer at home to 10 trusted friends from her church. "I asked them to please pray for us, please pray for Jasmine, please pray for the school and pray for the church."

A few days later she was called back into Mr Read's office. "I didn't think at this point I could be more stunned. He had in his hand a copy of my private, personal email and it was highlighted all the way through. "He said that he was going to investigate me for professional misconduct because I had been making allegations about the school and staff to members of the public."

Mrs Cain, who was not suspended, said he refused to tell her where he had got the email but said two independent governors would be taking statements and calling witnesses. "He said the investigation could be followed by disciplinary action up to and including dismissal because of this private email." Mrs Cain said she still did not know how Mr Read came into possession of the email but she said the school was sending mixed messages by allowing carols at Christmas and celebrating the Hindu festival of divali. "If my children can go to school and sing a song which mentions Jesus, how are they meant to know that they are then not allowed to talk about God?"

Mike Judge, from the Christian Institute, said children should be allowed to discuss religion with each other without interference from teachers. "This is the latest in a series where Christians are being persecuted for their religious beliefs. "It is really getting to a point where it has to stop. I think the Government has got to start looking at its legislation. "Christians are in the firing line, not other minority groups."

Mr Read said: "An investigation by the governors of the school is being held into the conduct of a member of staff and at this stage I cannot comment any further."

As The Daily Telegraph disclosed on Monday, teachers now face being disciplined if they discuss their religious beliefs in school. The profession's regulator, the General Teaching Council, has drawn up a new code of practice that states classroom staff must "promote equality and value diversity". It was an alleged lack of commitment to this requirement that was used to suspend Mrs Petrie.


Drugs: Come down off your high horse

The [British] government's drug tsar, Professor David Nutt, has caused a furore by commenting in a scientific journal that the club-drug Ecstasy is about as dangerous as riding a horse. He's probably right. I've seen the lives of young girls ruined through an addiction to ponies. Their minds seem to turn to equine mush. And of course falls from horses can and do kill or paralyze people - as in the case of Superman actor Christopher Reeve.

But I'm not proposing that horse riding should be made a Class A activity. (I'm sorry I mentioned that idea: it can't be long before the government starts banning dangerous sports and withdrawing NHS care from those who ride motorbikes or go mountaineering.)

Professor Nutt might have been unwise to mention the comparison, but some rationality in the debate on drugs is devoutly to be wished. When I thought that my teenage son might be taking drugs at school, I asked a neighbour, a clinical psychologist, for advice. His view was that schools were rife with drugs, but that most of them were far less harmful than alcohol and cigarettes. It put things into perspective.

It's only when we can actually discuss the real risks of drugs that we will be able to advise young people on how to handle them. But the government seems to be more concerned by the outrage of the Daily Mail than the facts. It spreads the misconception that all drugs are as bad as heroin or crack - driving the others underground and making them more difficult to control. As a policy, it's failed.

True, many modern drugs haven't been in common use very long, so it's difficult to know their full medical and psychological effects. Even with drugs that have been around for years, like cannabis, we are still learning the full physical, psychological and social consequences. So maybe we are right to be cautious about them. But let's be honest: because then, at least, we can steer people away from the most damaging drugs by giving them a genuine profile of the risks.



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, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


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Thursday, February 12, 2009

Controversial anti-Muslim MP banned from the UK

A controversial right-wing Dutch politician and controversial anti-Islam campaigner has been banned from entering Britain

Geert Wilders has been refused entry to the United Kingdom to broadcast his controversial anti-Muslim film Fitna in the House of Lords. Mr Wilders said he had been told that in the interests of public order he will not be allowed to come to Britain. He responded to the decision in fighting mood, telling reporters that he still intended to travel to London. He said: "I shall probably go to Britain anyway on Thursday. Let us see if they put me in chains on arrival. It is an unbelievable decision made by a group of cowards."

Mr Wilders is under 24-hour police protection because of his anti-Muslim stance. He has been receiving death threats from Muslim groups outside Holland since the anti-Koran film appeared on the internet earlier this year. The film features verses from the Koran alongside images of the terrorist attacks in the US on 11 September 2001, Madrid in March 2004 and London in July 2005. The film equates Islam's holy text with violence and ends with a call to Muslims to remove 'hate-preaching' verses from the Koran. It provoked protests in Muslim-majority countries including Indonesia and Pakistan.

Last night, Dutch Foreign Minister Maxime Verhagen said he had called British foreign secretary David Miliband to protest against the decision. He said: "It is disgraceful that a Dutch parliamentarian should be refused entrance to an EU country." A spokesman for the Lords said that the invitation to show his film remained open.

Home Office sources confirmed Mr Wilders had been refused entry to the UK. A Home Office spokesman told The Daily Telegraph: "The Government opposes extremism in all its forms. "It will stop those who want to spread extremism, hatred and violent messages in our communities from coming to our country. "That was the driving force behind tighter rules on exclusions for unacceptable behaviour that the Home Secretary announced on in October last year."


A British "health and safety" measure that might really be helpful gets knocked on the head by absurd bureaucracy

The food standards watchdog was accused yesterday of a "heavy handed abuse of power" in banning a new low-alcohol wine in the face of Government policy urging people to drink sensibly. The Food Standards Agency argues that the drink, with an alcohol content of just eight per cent, is wrongly labelled "wine" in breach of European regulations. But lawyers for its manufacturers, Sovio Wines, told a High Court judge that the official ban by the Agency of its semi-sparkling Spanish white and ros‚ had "paralysed" the company's business. Stocks worth tens of thousands of pounds, held at a bonded warehouse since the 2007 banning order, had been rendered undrinkable and therefore unmarketable because of the wine's short storage life.

Sovio, "devastated" by the effect on its 1 million pounds venture, would seek to recover its losses from the FSA if it succeeded in overturning the ban, Fergus Randolph, the company's counsel, said. He told Mrs Justice Dobbs that in the words of the company's chairman Tony Dann: "This wine would interest and was produced in particular for a certain section of the market". The judge said: "Women."

Mr Randolph said: "Yes, my Lady, but it doesn't have to be exclusively for women." The wine, he said, was aimed at greater social responsibility. It was a palatable alternative to modern high-alcohol New World wines. The trouble was that, at only eight per cent, it did not qualify as "wine" under EU regulations.

Sovio, based in Farnborough, Hampshire, argued that it had a "legitimate expectation", from what it had been told in the past by the FSA, that the wine would be allowed on to the UK market. The company also contends that since the product was not officially "wine", it was a matter for local trading standards and no business of the FSA, which therefore had no power to ban it. In its defence, the FSA argues that the very fact that the drink was labelled as wine in contravention of EU law gave the agency jurisdiction over its distribution - as it would have over water labelled as wine. The agency also denies giving any indication that Sovio's product would remain immune from enforcement under the EU's wine regime.

At 8% proof, the wine is well below the strength of conventional modern wines, which are up to 15%. It is produced using a technique called "the spinning cone column" that reduces the level of alcohol and yet ensures the wine retains the aroma, flavour and body of regular wines.

Mr Dann said before the hearing: "It's crazy that this product, which is pure undiluted premium wine, and combines total integrity of flavour with a much lower alcohol content, is somehow illegal. "The Government is urging the drinks industry to provide a wider range of lower alcohol products, consumers want to drink them and yet the FSA is seemingly trying to kill a product that everyone wants". Mr Dann has looked at producing the wine in California because it would be allowed into the UK under separate trade agreements covering wine imports from the USA.

But he said that even this hit a wall of bureaucracy. The FSA said that as the wine was below 9% alcohol it could not be legally called a wine and must be labelled a "wine-based drink".


A tiny island of sanity in "elf 'n safety" Britain

Kids must have scrapes says Royal Society for Prevention of Accidents

Children must get bumps, bruises and cuts to teach them how to cope with pain, the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) has said. The guardian of public safety has formed a coalition with the National Children's Bureau (NCB), to encourage children to take risks and learn about hazards in the playground and outside of school. Peter Cornall, head of leisure safety at RoSPA, said: "Parents stop their children doing activities, like sledging, that with a little bit of training and encouragement they might be able to do." In the past week two children have died and several more have been injured while playing out in the wintry weather. [Britain's "elf 'n safety" obsession obviously did nothing for them]

"I think we have started to go down the route where we have dumbed down playgrounds to make sure that toddlers are safe but we have lost the challenge and excitement for older children," Mr Cornall told The Times. Approximately 40,000 children are taken to hospital as a result of injuries obtained in playgrounds every year. [Britain's "elf 'n safety" obsession obviously did nothing for them]

The Child Safety Education Coalition (CSEC) announced today and supported by a 1.6 million pound government grant, will look at ways to teach children how to avoid danger, deal with fire in the home and take calculated risks. "We want to equip young people with skills so they can live healthy, adventurous, active lives," Mr Cornall said. "It is as important that they go outside and climb trees as it is they play computer games. We don't want 12-year-olds going to secondary school having never climbed a tree or walked to school on their own. "It's promoting minor accidents to prevent major accidents, so falling over in a playground, bumping your head, knowing what hurts or stings, will help you. "We don't want kids getting fractured skulls on playgrounds but we have to let them learn that bumps and bruises aren't going to be the end of the world. They can be positive and give people a coping mechanism and an understanding of the consequences."

Britain already has a number of permanent safety education centres and a range of annual safety events run under the banner of Learning About Safety by Experiencing Risk (Laser). They allow children to experience scenarios like roads, water, smoke-filled rooms and unsafe kitchens in a controlled environment. The new coalition will try to raise the profile of such activities. Sophie Wood, of NCB, said the coalition would encourage and support high-quality activities to help to reduce unintended injuries to children.

Francesca Anobile, 16, was fatally injured while sledging with friends in Rotherham last Tuesday. Ben Newell, six, died on Saturday after he fell through ice on a pond near Pontefract. His 12-year-old brother Dylan was pulled from the pond and survived. [Britain's "elf 'n safety" obsession obviously did nothing for them]


A portrait of a successful Leftist politician

Australia's Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, has no principles, only a love of power, the usual Leftist defect. Unlike his conservative predecessor, John Howard, he just goes with the flow, displaying neither courage nor convictions

During question time last week, as debate frothed about the Rudd Government's $42 billion spending package, a voice in the background made a plea: "Will the real Kevin please stand up?" It was one of the more astute observations amid the orchestrated pronouncements and intervening pandemonium of parliament.

True prime ministerial character can never be judged before taking office or in the honeymoon period that follows. It emerges over time in shaping policy and responding to events. Worryingly, the emerging Kevin Rudd persona has at its core the convictionless pursuit of power.

It is difficult to construct a firm set of Rudd principles. As Prime Minister, he has mastered the art of slippery politics. He speaks with hyperbole to suggest conviction that, on closer scrutiny, is not there. He darts from one piece of Rudd rhetoric to the next, only to move away from each of his sweeping pronunciamentos with alarming speed.

There are two tests of political conviction. The first is one of consistency, delivering on promises made and adherence to core beliefs over time. The second test of conviction is courage: whether a politician has held beliefs before they emerged as the orthodoxy or simply jumped on a bandwagon only when it was popular and safe to do so. So who is the real Rudd? You be the judge.

Rudd was the Labor politician opposed to a broad-based consumption tax who rose in parliament on June 30, 1999, speaking with apparent passion to declare the passing of the GST legislation "a day of fundamental injustice. It will be recorded as the day when the social compact that has governed this nation for the last 100 years was torn up." In 2006, he wrote about John Howard's "regressive consumption tax". Rudd's heartfelt belief opposing the GST has not been aired since he became Prime Minister. GST keeps all the states afloat.

Rudd was the Opposition leader who described global warming during the last federal election as "the great moral issue of our time". It was a vote winner. Kyoto was signed with the conviction that climate change was "the defining challenge of our generation". And then the Rudd shuffle. By last December, the great moral issue was reduced to a meaningless carbon emissions reduction target of 5 per cent by 2020. Rudd ignored the findings of the UN panel he once lauded, which laid down a minimum target of 25 per cent to 40 per cent below 1990 levels by 2020 as necessary to prevent the sort of catastrophic climate change that Rudd once believed in. In October 2006, Rudd wrote his "light on the hill" Labor agenda for Australia was "taking the lead on climate change." Now, there is no mention of leadership at Copenhagen 2009.

As Opposition leader in October 2007, Rudd committed a Labor government to taking "legal proceedings against President [Mahmoud] Ahmadinejad on a charge of inciting genocide" when the Iranian President spoke about wiping Israel off the map. The tough language of conviction was followed by inaction. Last December the Rudd Government announced it would not pursue legal action.

There was more tough-guy talk about Japan's annual whaling hunt during the final term of the Howard government. As Opposition leader, Rudd spoke in grave tones about taking Japan to the International Court of Justice or the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea. That promise has evaporated into the political ether of office.

In addition to dumping promises, Rudd has a knack for discovering beliefs only when they are politically popular. Rudd boarded the responsibility agenda of indigenous politics only after it was politically safe to be on that side of the ideological divide, buffered by black leaders such as Noel Pearson and Warren Mundine. By contrast, John Howard staked out his ground on the dangers of victimhood politics and the need for practical reconciliation long ago, attracting scorn and derision for not kowtowing to the then accepted orthodoxy of symbolism and treaties.

Similarly, as Labor leader, Rudd morphed into an economic conservative when it was electorally popular to carve out those credentials. His language of fiscal prudence wooed voters as he assured us not a "sliver of light" separated Labor and the Coalition on fiscal policy. Now, amid a global financial crisis, when it is fashionable to attack the free market, Rudd's stripes have changed. Now he is a social democrat who writes tomes about a conspiracy in Australia of neo-liberals who have left the country financially wrecked. As his more astute critics have asked, which social democratic country would Rudd rather govern in place of neo-liberal Australia, where a handy surplus enabled him to turn into a big-spending Keynesian PM? While he still claims to be an economic conservative, saying so does not make it so. Billions on cash handouts and "social" spending look like Rudd's down payments on the next election dressed in the slippery language of "stimulus".

Since his elevation to the ALP leadership in 2007, Rudd has sought to be taken seriously as a responsible leader with philosophical underpinnings and core beliefs. Writing in The Monthly in October 2006, Rudd said his mentor, German theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer, would "caution against inflammatory rhetoric that seeks to gain political advantage". Rudd attacked Howard's "radioactive language". Hypocrisy, thy name is Kevin. Bonhoeffer's dictum has been dumped. Again and again, Rudd has conjured up the imagery of crisis to pump prime his political leadership: saving future generations from climate change, rescuing Australia from Howard's "Brutopia" and now liberating Australia because "the great neo-liberal experiment has failed". His war-footing language serves to undermine the confidence that is sorely needed and by not negotiating with the Opposition he exposes the emptiness of his language, given that a true economic emergency would demand genuine co-operation.

Rudd's hyperbole serves only to make his undelivered promises and inconsistencies even more pronounced. Strip away the big words and solemn phrases and an empty edifice of unfulfilled promises and shifting opportunism remains. Rudd reminds one of the way 1920s US Democratic Party leader William Gibbs McAdoo described president Warren Harding's speeches: "an army of pompous phrases moving across the landscape in search of an idea".

Confidence in a leader comes from knowing who they are and what they believe. Love him or loathe him, Howard was known to friend and foe. His political beliefs remained steady and he pursued them often against the orthodoxy of the time. Pragmatism was, of course, part of Howard's political make-up. For example, he rejected a GST only to later embrace it as part of much needed tax reform, despite the political risks. But Rudd is an entirely different leader. There is not a single instance of Rudd taking a responsible but unpopular decision. With philosophical principles impossible to pin down, his only consistent and coherent belief is in political power. Every Rudd position has been determined by how to get it and, now, how to keep it.



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, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


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Wednesday, February 11, 2009

As a successful playwright this woman should have the world at her feet but at 36 she feels bitterly unfulfilled

Though I never thought I would be saying this, being a free woman isn't all it's cracked up to be. Is that the rustle of taffeta I hear as the suffragettes turn in their grave? Very possibly. My mother - a film-maker - was a hippy who kept a pile of dusty books by Germaine Greer and Erica Jong by her bedside. (Like every good feminist, she didn't see why she should do all the cleaning.) She imbued me with the great values of choice, equality and sexual liberation. As a result, I fought with my older brother and won, and at university I beat the rugby lads at drinking games. I was not to be messed with.

But, at nearly 37, those same values leave me feeling cold. Now, I want love and children, but they are nowhere to be seen. When I was growing up, I was led to believe by my mother and other women of her generation that women could 'have it all', and, more to the point, that we wanted it all. To that end, I have spent 20 years ruthlessly pursuing my dream of being a successful playwright. I have sacrificed all my womanly duties and laid it all at the altar of a career. And was it worth it? The answer has to be a resounding no.

Ten years ago, I wrote a play called Paradise Syndrome. It was based on my girlfriends in the music business. All we did was party, work and drink. The play sold out and I thought: 'This is it! I'm going to have it all - success, power - and men are going to adore me for it.' In reality, it was the beginning of years of hard slog, rejection letters and living on the breadline.

A decade on, I have written the follow-up play Touched For The Very First Time, in which the character of Lesley (played by Sadie Frost) is an ordinary 14-year-old from Manchester who falls in love with Madonna in 1984 after hearing the song Like A Virgin. She religiously follows her icon through the years, as Madonna sells her the ultimate dream - 'You can do anything, be anything, Go girl!'. Lesley discovers, along with Madonna, that trying to 'have it all' is a massive gamble. I wrote the play because so many of my girlfriends were inspired by this independent woman who allowed us to feel we could be strong and feminists and have careers and still be sexy. I still adore Madonna, and always will, but she has turned out not to be able to 'have it all'. The same goes for those of us who idolised her - and it's a huge disappointment.

I may be an extreme case. My views may not represent those of other women of my generation. Perhaps I am just a spoilt middle-class girl who had a career and who has now changed her mind about what she wants from life. But I don't think so. I would argue that women's libbers of the Sixties and Seventies put careerism at the forefront of women's lives and, as a result, the traditional role of women was trampled underneath their crusading Doc Martens. I wish a more balanced view of womanhood had been available to me. I wish that being a housewife or a mother hadn't been such a toxic idea to middle-class liberals of those formative decades.

Increasing numbers of my strongly feminist contemporaries are giving up their careers and opting for love and children and baking instead. Now, I wish I'd had kids ten years ago, when time was on my side. But the essence of the problem, I can see in retrospect, is not so much time as mentality. It's about understanding what is important in life, and from what I see and feel deep down, loving relationships and children bring more happiness than work ever can.

Natasha Hidvegi, 37, who recently left her job as a surgeon in order to look after her son, told me: 'I don't want to judge other women in similar jobs, but I found it impossible to be both a good surgeon and a good mother. Giving up my career was a terribly hard decision, but I don't regret it.' It's one thing to give up your career and have children before it's too late with the right man, but it's another issue altogether if you haven't yet found that man. Because, as my generation have discovered to their cost, men don't appear to like strong women very much. They are programmed to like their women soft and feminine. It's not their fault - it's in the genes.

Holly Kendrick, 34, who holds a high-status job in theatre, agrees: 'Men tend to be freaked out if you work as hard as them,' she says. 'It's like being the smart kid in the class: no one likes them.' This is why many of my girlfriends are still alone. Perhaps men haven't accepted women's modernity. (By modernity, I mean being the strong alpha woman who never questions her entitlement to the same jobs, fun and sexual gratification as men.) And this is the crux of the problem. Modernity has made women stronger, and that consequently means that we have higher standards; we want more. I am extremely capable, I really don't need a man. Seriously - it scares me how much I don't need a man. But that doesn't mean I don't want one. I am lonely, and terrified of being alone.

I have tried everything to stop the clocks, to stall time and find my ideal partner. I've considered the whole 'Let's adopt a baby from an African orphanage' thing. I have even had my eggs frozen (yes, really!) in the hope that if I do meet the right man, I will be in a position to have the children I now long for.

The problem is this: now I have decided I am ready for a new relationship, I am well prepared and I am totally efficient at running my life. But efficiency is not a very endearing quality; men find me daunting, and I can see that. It's not as if I'm famous or anything. It's just - like other women of my age - I seem to know it all. I do. And that's a massive turn-off for a bloke. This is why I say: do it early, girls - do it before you get cynical and jaded. Do the whole 'falling in love thing' when you honestly can embrace that joie de vivre. And, for goodness' sake, have children when you are young enough to enjoy them and to have more if you want them.

I feel a great pressure from other women of my generation who have husbands and children to join their club. In their eyes, I am not the trailblazer but the failure. My friend Rita Arnold, who's 36, works in marketing, says: 'It's not men who judge me for being a careerist - I find they are more accommodating of "modernity" - it's other women. The claws come out.' This leaves a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach. We are letting each other down, but there is a worse betrayal even than that. Apparently, I am a failure in my own eyes. Somewhere deep inside lurks a women I cannot control, and she is in the kitchen with a baby on her hip and a ball of dough in her hand, staring me down. She is saying to me: 'This is happiness. You can't deny it, this is what it's all about.' It's an instinct that makes me a woman; an instinct that I can't ignore, even if I've tried to for 15 years.

Had I had this understanding of my inner psyche in my 20s, I would have mentally demoted my writing (and hedonism) and pursued a relationship with vigour. There were plenty of men and even a marriage offer from someone with whom I would have happily settled down. But no, I wasn't prepared to give up my dreams, the life I had been told was the right and proper one for a modern woman.

Struggling to understand my confusion, I went back and talked to the girls who were the subject of my play Paradise Syndrome in 1999. Sas Taylor, 38, single and childless, runs her own PR company. 'In my 20s, I felt as if I was invincible, unstoppable,' she says. 'Now, I wish I had done it all differently. I seem to scare men off because I am so capable that I just don't appear to need them, but I do. I have business success, but it doesn't make me happy in the core of myself.'

Nicki P, 35, single and also childless, works in the music industry and adds: 'It was all a game back then. Now, it's serious, and I am panicking. No one told me having fun isn't as much fun as I thought.' As I write this, I feel sad, as if the feminist principles my mother brought me up to have are being trashed. Am I betraying womanhood? No, I am revealing a shameful inner truth. Women are often the worst enemies of feminism because of our genetic make-up. We only have a finite time to be mothers, and when that biological clock starts ticking, we receive the most enormous reality check. That's why we suddenly abandon all our strength, forget all talk of deadlines and Powerpoint presentations, and start keeping ovulation diaries.

Of course, not all women want children. But I challenge any woman to say they don't want loving relationships. I wish I had been given the advice that I am now giving to my sister, who is 22. If you find a great guy, don't be afraid to settle down and have kids because there isn't anything to miss out on that you can't go back and do later - apart from having kids.

In the future, I hope there can be a better understanding of women by women. The past 25 years has been confusing for our sex, and I can't help feeling I've been caught in the crossfire. As women, we should accept each other full stop, rather than only appreciating professional 'success'. I have always felt an immense pressure to be successful, to show men I am their equal. What a waste of time that was. The traditional role of wife and mother should be given parity with the careerist role in the minds of feminists as well as men.

My mother has managed to juggle a career as a film-maker and being a great mother. She was part of the generation that overlapped in the sense that they had feminist values, but still had children early. She hasn't had the career opportunities that my generation of women have had because she had to make sacrifices and take lesser jobs so she could be there at parents' evenings. That is not a clash of priorities that I or most of my friends have ever faced.

Before the sisterhood rise up in fury, I would say this: I am not betraying feminism at all. Choice and careers are vital, of course, but they shouldn't be held up as a Holy Grail and pursued relentlessly. I love being a writer, but my career hasn't made me feel as fulfilled as I had imagined it would. So, now I am facing facts. The thing that has made me feel best in life was being in love with my ex-boyfriend - whom I was with for five years from the age of 30 - and the thing that makes me feel the most centred is being in the country with other people's children and dogs, and, yes, maybe in the kitchen.

Of course, I still have time to find a man and have children, but it doesn't often work like that, does it? I don't want to be an old mother whose arthritic knees don't allow her to run in the park with her little ones. It's all about now, now, now. And sod's law says that every day, minute, hour that goes by makes you older and more desperate. It might as well be tattooed on my forehead.


Resentment of mothers by the foolishly shallow and self-centred

That motherhood might actually be a more important, profound and valuable experience than a "career" seems to be overlooked by those who have been brainwashed by feminism. One can now only laugh at those whose chief topic of conversation up until recently was real-estate

Don't you just hate mothers? They're always droning on about breast pads and lack of sleep and those darn kids. Unlike, you know, the normal people who don't have children and aren't, well, boring. The Observer's Rachel Cooke has noticed. "…I might as well be honest and say that, right now (I am 39), my refusal to have children is also connected to the sense of horror and fear that I feel when I encounter a certain kind of mother." That mother is the kind who bangs on about antenatal classes. The kind who sighs and says she doesn't have time to see movies anymore. The kind that isn't interested in Cooke's recent trip to Yemen.

Let's not make excuses for boring mothers, even taking into account the hormones, the exhaustion and the relative isolation of early motherhood that means you can temporarily forget how to talk to other people. Like Cooke, I've met my fair share of women with mummy-on-the-mind-fulltime. The one at a dinner party who couldn't quit talking about weaning; the one I'd considered previously sane who insisted that babies are literally little angels (instead of tiny humans).

It IS irritating when parents make the same old tired jokes about "I haven't slept for the past 2 years ha ha" or women you previously considered comrades in the workforce suddenly quit and spend their time organising playdates and coffee mornings that you inevitably can't attend. But let's face it, there are bores everywhere, prattling on about their celebrity obsessions, their diets, their latest shrink sessions, their training regimen for the marathon (tell me again about the carb-loading!).

Cooke's exasperation with the reactions of mothers - overly focussed on their children, concerned that Rachida Dati's speedy return to work will become a template for "successful" working motherhood - occurs precisely because she isn't a mother, as many of her acquaintances so irritatingly point out. (Sorry, Rachel, but in this case it's true.) The reason why new-mummy talk is so boring to Cooke is precisely because it's niche. Motherhood temporarily takes over women's lives. It's a physical event that - Dati's silhouette notwithstanding - takes a year from which to fully recover, and psychologically it divides a woman from her old life in which she could unabashedly be her own top priority and one in which she must prioritise the needs of another person uniquely dependent on its parents.

Or perhaps Cooke just needs to find a more stimulating circle of friends. There are plenty of mothers out there who are interested in talking about good graphic novels or David Mamet plays or holidays in Ethiopia (it's the new Yemen, I'm told).

So why are mummies making such nuisances of themselves by blathering on so? For one, parenthood has become a much more visible topic these days, incorporating our larger societal angst about everything from the dynamics of the workplace to youth crime. We've also left behind the era of power suits and having to pretend that young children haven't changed our lives at all. Additionally parents are a lot more visible because of the internet - where their conversations flourish, their pictures are posted and their daily activities tweeted.

Cooke smirks at those silly mums who join in a discussion of, for example, the funny things kids say. Who would want to spend their time on something like that? Well, someone like the writer John Dunne, late husband of Joan Didion, who kept slips of paper with amusing phrases their young daughter said. Or the humorist Art Linkletter, whose book Kids Say the Darndest Things has become a best-seller and inspired a television series. She should be grateful for the message boards she disdains - at least these parents are talking amongst themselves, rather than ruining the cocktail party for everyone else. Visiting them then bemoaning the conversations there is a bit like going to a Trekkie convention then complaining when everyone dresses like Spock. Alpha Mummy even got a mention as the kind of place that warns Cooke off parenthood:
For all that I love my girlfriends, then, it's no wonder that, whenever one announces that she is pregnant, I am wary until I know the lay of the land. I visit them, I dandle their adorable new babies on my knee, and I watch and I wait. Only when they ask me a proper question (and really listen to the answer), or make mention of the outside world and their own temporary absence from it, do I know that they haven't turned, overnight, into the kind of person who actually posts chummy comments on the Alpha Mummy blog (just think about the phrase "Alpha Mummy" for a moment: assuming you are with me thus far, doesn't it make you, on every possible level, about as mad as you can be?).
Getting past the misinterpretation of name, I wonder whether Cooke actually has taken the time to read a blog she condemns for its friendly conversations. Our most popular post last year was about foreign correspondent Christina Lamb and the issue of mothering from the front line of war. It's a blog of ideas, not updates about what we fingerpainted that morning. It seems to represent the kind of motherhood she champions. There are plenty of mothers out there with more on their minds than nappies. There are loads who can talk about their kids without meaning it as a judgement on those without kids. At least Cooke can take solace in the most basic fact of babyhood for children, parents and the people they sit next to at dinner: at some point they get over it.


A rare display of spine in the Church of England

Bishops oppose political censorship

Church of England clergy could be barred from membership of the far-right British National Party under a controversial motion to be debated this week, The Times has learnt. The move, which coincides with intense public debate over race and equality, is backed by Sir Ian Blair, the former Metropolitan Police Commissioner, who will attend the General Synod to support a policy borrowed from the Association of Chief Police Officers, which bans officers from joining the BNP....

It is likely to rekindle the dispute over racism, and what defines public and privately held views, less than a week after the BBC dropped Carol Thatcher from one of its programmes for using the word "golliwog" in an off-air conversation.

However, the motion will be opposed at the Synod by bishops and lawyers who will argue that banning individuals from membership of political organisations would infringe their human rights. William Fittall, Secretary General to the Synod, has circulated a paper which states that the Church's legal advice was that the policy could not be enforced. He wrote: "Since the BNP is not a proscribed political party, it is lawful to be a member. Merely being a member of it could not, therefore, provide a basis for disciplinary proceedings against a member of the clergy." Mr Fittall added: "Cases outside the Church concerning the BNP have seen employees bringing claims against their employers arguing that their less favourable treatment is an interference with their human rights."

Vasantha Gnanadoss, the proposer of the motion and a civilian member of staff with the Metropolitan Police, argues that the policy should be adopted to "carry a clear message to society at large". She said: "It will make it much more difficult for the BNP or similar organisations to exploit the claim that there are Anglican clergy or church representatives who support them."

Simon Darby, deputy leader of the BNP, said: "It is not a very Christian thing to do to say that because you belong to a political party you cannot work for the Church of England."

The BNP debate is one of a number which are likely to prove divisive at the Synod. Traditionalists are expected to resist plans to create "complementary" bishops who would look after opponents of women's ordination if women are consecrated bishops. However many parliamentarians and the thousands of women priests that the Church now depends on to sustain its ministry, along with their male supporters, will also be dismayed if Synod members turn their back on women bishops. Proposals to ordain women bishops depend on thenew class of bishop being accepted.

Anglo-Catholics are expected to resist the idea because the complementary bishops will ultimately be answerable to women bishops. A two-thirds majority will be needed when the final vote on women bishops takes place three or four years from now, after dioceses and parishes have been consulted. Wednesday's debate on complementary bishops will require only a simple majority but will signal whether the final measure will go through as traditionalists marshall their forces once more against women's ordination. Some bishops fear a re-run of the 1992 vote on women priests, when just one change of mind by an opponent of women priests secured the two-thirds majority that let the measure through.

In a third debate likely to set traditionalists against the liberal wing of the Church, the Synod will be asked by an evangelical lay member, Paul Eddy, to affirm the "uniqueness of Christ" in a multi-faith society. This motion, if passed, would implicitly confer a duty on Church of England clergy and laity to proselytise Muslims, Jews and other minority faiths.


LOL: Australian do-gooders found to be "racist"!

And indeed they are. There are few policies more blatantly racist than "affirmative action", for instance. But that is usually supposed to be OK. The reason I voted for Pauline Hanson three times was that I agreed with her that there should be one law for all Australians, regardless of colour. She even named her political party "One Nation" to stress that message. But the political elite across the spectrum supported the racist laws. You will find no mention of it below but: "From the outset, the Labor Party has extended full bipartisan support to the NT intervention, reflecting its agreement with the underlying economic and social agenda". The Rudd-led Labor party in fact made a pre-election promise to not roll back the intervention

There is little in the eyes of the international community more serious than a nation being found to have racist laws and policies. This was the claim made last week against Australia by 20 Aborigines. Their complaint to the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination about the Northern Territory intervention has a strong prospect of success. If this proves correct, enormous pressure will be put on the Rudd Government to reform the intervention.

The complaint pulls no punches. It describes the intervention as a "flagrant breach" of Australia's obligations under the Convention for the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination. While its authors acknowledge the legitimate aim of improving the well-being of Aborigines in the Northern Territory, they argue that Australian law breaches the convention on two grounds. First, the law uses "punitive and racist measures" that "have led to serious, massive and persistent discrimination". Second, Australia has breached the convention by suspending the protections found in the Racial Discrimination Act.

The Howard government's intervention laws were passed in August 2007 to exclude the Racial Discrimination Act. The reason was clear. Parts of the intervention are racially discriminatory. For example, it quarantines 50 per cent of welfare income to be used for food and other essentials only for people living in Aboriginal communities. There is no exception even for people who can demonstrate they are responsible spenders of their income.

This and other problems are well known. After a year, the Northern Territory Emergency Response Review Board conducted an independent inquiry. Its October 2008 report found the situation in the Northern Territory was a "national emergency" and that the intervention should continue. However, it needed to be "recalibrated to the principle of racial equality".

Against this background, it will be no surprise if the UN committee finds that Australia must take immediate action to end racial discrimination in the Northern Territory and restore the Racial Discrimination Act. The committee need only follow the lead of the Australian Human Rights Commission, which has found the intervention contains a number of provisions that are discriminatory and removes protections against that discrimination

More here


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, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


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Tuesday, February 10, 2009

High-ranking British diplomat arrested over anti-Semitic tirade

There has long been a lot of antisemitism in Britain's Foreign Office. It may not be the case in this instance but in general, it is said to be a homosexual thing. Arabs understand concealed homosexuality and concealed homosexuality is said to be common in the FO. FO people mostly come from "Public" (fee-paying) school backgrounds, where homosexuality was traditionally tolerated

A high-ranking diplomat at the Foreign Office has been arrested after allegations that he launched a foul-mouthed anti-Semitic tirade. Middle East expert Rowan Laxton, 47, was watching TV reports of the Israeli attack on Gaza as he used an exercise bike in a gym. Stunned staff and gym members allegedly heard him shout: 'F**king Israelis, f**king Jews'. It is alleged he also said Israeli soldiers should be 'wiped off the face of the earth'. His rant reportedly continued even after he was approached by other gym users.

After a complaint was made to police, Mr Laxton was arrested for inciting religious hatred through threatening words and behaviour and bailed until late next month. The maximum penalty for inciting religious hatred is a seven-year prison term or a fine or both.

Mr Laxton, who is still working normally, is head of the South Asia Group at the Foreign Office, on a salary of around 70,000 pounds. He is responsible for all the UK's diplomacy in that area and for briefing Foreign Secretary David Miliband, who is Jewish. Mr Laxton has worked extensively in the Middle East - he married a Muslim woman in 2000 - and has been deputy ambassador to Afghanistan. The case could not have come at a worse time for the Foreign Office. Next week, Britain is hosting an international summit on combating anti-Semitism, with politicians from 35 countries.

Mr Laxton had gone to the London Business School's gym in Regent's Park after work on January 27. An onlooker said: 'I was in the gym around 9pm and I heard this guy shouting something about "f**king Israelis". 'This bald guy was cycling away on his machine in the middle of the exercise room. When another guy approached him he shouted "f**king Jews, f**king Israelis". 'The gym was pretty full and everyone looked totally shocked. ' That sort of racist language is totally unacceptable. The gym staff called security and I think the guy was asked to leave.'

Mark Gardner, deputy director of the Community Security Trust which monitors anti-Semitism, said: 'There were an unprecedented number of anti-Semitic incidents during the Gaza conflict. 'This alleged case is particularly shocking, given the position held by the civil servant in question. 'We must not allow an overseas conflict to cause racism here in Britain and especially not among civil servants. 'The Jewish community will be rightly appalled to hear of these allegations against such a senior figure. 'We hope that the appropriate disciplinary actions will be taken forthwith, as they would be if these comments had been made against any other section of society.'

A Foreign Office spokesman said: 'It is too early to comment in detail on a matter that is currently the subject of police enquiries. But we take extremely seriously any allegation of inappropriate conduct on the part of our staff and continue to follow developments closely.'

When contacted by the Daily Mail, Mr Laxton denied his comments were anti-Jewish but refused to answer when asked if they were anti-Israeli. The Oxford graduate joined the diplomatic service in 1993 and rose rapidly through the ranks. He ran the British High Commission in Pakistan for three years before moving to Afghanistan in 2001. He stayed in Kabul for two years, then returned to London. He was appointed head of his section last year. Mr Laxton is believed to be separated from his wife, a banker who is working in the United Arab Emirates.

The Israel page of the Foreign Office website says: 'The Government has a shared responsibility to tackle anti-Semitism and all other forms of racism and prejudice'.


Never OK to say anything bad about blacks. But Jews -- now that depends

The writer below, Dominic Lawson, has not made his point as strongly as he might -- perhaps because he himself has some Jewish ancestry

In the normal course of events, it should not be difficult to distinguish between Pope Benedict XVI and Carol Thatcher. The former Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger is a startlingly intelligent, multi-lingual ex-university professor; Carol Thatcher . . . isn't. Yet the two are now serendipitously linked as this week's joint occupants of the doghouse in which we place those deemed to have offended against public decency. While Margaret Thatcher's daughter has been sacked by the BBC from its One Show for referring, over a post-programme drink or three, to a mixed-race tennis player as a "golliwog", Pope Benedict stands accused of endorsing anti-semitism, by revoking the excommunication of a British-born bishop who espouses Holocaust denial.

The fact that Benedict is a German who, as a teenager, was an (admittedly unwilling) member of the Hitler Youth has lent this affair a similar potency to that generated here by Thatcher's own accidental connection with notoriety: in the British public sector (of which the BBC is part) her mother is widely considered as wicked as Adolf Hitler.

Enough has been said about whether Thatcher's remark was "racist in intent" or merely what in other circumstances we might describe as an off-colour joke. Having met her on a couple of occasions, I'm almost certain it was the latter. It doesn't matter what I think, however: by making such a remark in the heart of the BBC she was committing a monumental social faux-pas.

The controller of BBC1, Jay Hunt, justified her sacking by saying that the One Show prided itself on its production team's "diversity" - code for the fact that it strives to employ as many as possible from ethnic minorities. Some of those people were in the room as Carol Thatcher made her remark. In such circumstances one can understand the consternation it caused.

What is socially acceptable does not just depend upon the sensibilities of the age - The Black and White Minstrel Show is unlikely to return to the BBC's schedules - but also on the immediate audience. If Thatcher had made the same remark over a gin and tonic in a rural pub, it would scarcely have been noticed. If she'd said it in a bar in Brixton she might have found her next port of call was a hospital A&E department.

For similar reasons the BBC thinks it perfectly acceptable for a comedian on Mock the Week to make a "joke" about the condition of the Queen's pudenda: it dismissed complaints with the statement that "the programme's audience have a very clear expectation of its bold and sometimes provocative humour". This is the BBC's way of saying: "Stop complaining, old farts, you wouldn't understand." The fact that the over-75s do not pay the licence fee might be partly responsible for this attitude, although the BBC would deny it.

So is the Pope, a German in his ninth decade, brought up in enthusiastically pro-Nazi Bavaria, equally unable to understand the mentality of the modern world? It's not nearly as crude, or as bad, as that. First of all, Benedict genuinely regards Holocaust denial as abhorrent. He has made a number of visits to Auschwitz. He spoke there of the "brutal massacre of millions of Jews, innocent victims of a blind racial and religious hate . . . I renew with affection the expression of my total and indisputable solidarity with our brother recipients of the First Covenant".

These are not the sort of words you could imagine being said by any of the bishops of the Society of St Pius X, whose excommunication was revoked by Benedict a week ago. The organisation was set up by the French archbishop Marcel Lefebvre in opposition to the ecumenism of the Second Vatican Council. The official Catholic rapprochement with Judaism stemmed from that and is one of the doctrinal shifts that the Lefebvrists find abhorrent; Bishop Richard Williamson has not been the only leading figure within the Society of St Pius X to have given expression to antisemitic remarks of unreconstructed medievalism.

The cause of their split with Rome, however, was a refusal to abandon the old Tridentine mass and rituals, as they were ordered to do under the reforms of "Vatican Two". In this they do have the sympathy of the present Pope, who has an aesthetic preference for the old mass, and who has infuriated the "modernists" by making this clear. He has long wanted to entice back into communion with Rome the hundreds of thousands of ordinary members of the Society of St Pius X, and the revocation of the excommunication of their four bishops was an attempt to promote this.

It's equally clear, however, that the Vatican bureaucracy has been either appallingly lazy or stupid in its anxiety to satisfy Benedict's wish to bring the Lefebvrists back into the fold. This was horribly exposed when Swedish television broadcast last week an interview with Williamson in which he said the "so-called Holocaust" was a Jewish racket to extort billions from the gullible German state by way of reparations for something that never happened. This interview took place, most provocatively, in Regensburg - where Ratzinger spent many years as a professor and where as Pope he delivered a lecture that caused a furore in the Islamic world.

It is a criminal offence in Germany to deny the Holocaust, which helps to explain why Angela Merkel made the remarkable decision to demand that the Pope personally condemn Bishop Williamson and force the creepy Englishman to retract. The BBC failed to persuade Carol Thatcher to display contrition, but the Pope, amazingly, buckled to the pressure to conform to the purely secular requirements of politics (perhaps he had also read the leader in the conservative Die Welt, which pointed out with brutal realism: "Antisemitism is not only reprehensible; it is also social suicide").

The day after Merkel's demand, the Vatican declared that "the positions of Bishop Williamson on the Shoah are absolutely unacceptable and firmly rejected by the Holy Father . . . Bishop Williamson, in order to claim admission to episcopal functions in the church, must distance himself in absolutely unequivocal and public fashion from his positions regarding the Shoah, which were not known by the Holy Father when the excommunication was lifted".

Even if he didn't know, his advisers must have had some idea. Last March The Catholic Herald, aware of the negotiations with the Society of St Pius X, ran a front page story denouncing Williamson as a "dangerous antisemite" and revealing his endorsement (on an official Society of St Pius X website) of "the Protocols of the Elders of Zion", a notorious forgery which The Catholic Herald described as "a manual in Hitler's campaign to exterminate the Jews".

Now, you might be thinking insensitivity to Jewish feelings is characteristic of the most reactionary elements within Catholicism, but would be as unacceptable here as, well, referring to a black man as a golliwog; in which case you would need to explain why it's merely funny when Rowan Atkinson dresses up as a caricature of the malevolent Jew, Fagin, in the acclaimed stage revival of Oliver!. As the Israeli newspaper Haaretz has noted, "the publicity posters on the London subway have the L from the Oliver logo refashioned into a long, protruding nose".

A few weeks ago this newspaper's theatre reviewer observed that "you might as well chuck in a black character who goes around eating watermelon, stealing chickens and grinning his head off". The show, naturally, must go on. I don't have a problem with that; but if so, let's not look down our own noses at Carol Thatcher and Pope Benedict XVI or deny that the causing of offence is about manners rather than morality.


Targeting Religious Broadcasters

Democratic plans to revive government censorship of the radio and TV airways will strike hardest at religious broadcasters who stand in the way of a liberal social revolution. Christian broadcasters tell HUMAN EVENTS they will be targeted once President Obama's appointees gain control of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) this year. "The Left Wing, I think, will immediately start filing complaints, and it will in short order shut Christian broadcasting down," says Warren Kelley, president of "Point of View," the first Christian talk show to go on the air via satellite 37 years ago. "I think it will so limit what they say that, in essence, they will cease to be Christian broadcasters."

A number of prominent congressional Democrats, among them House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, want the FCC to bring back the so-called Fairness Doctrine. Until its abolishment by President Ronald Reagan, the doctrine gave the five-member FCC the right to demand that broadcasters present contrasting views or risk losing their broadcast license.

What is even more troubling to Christian talk show hosts is a left-wing movement to use regulatory boards like the FCC to cancel broadcast licenses and to stamp out free speech altogether. Such government power is already being exerted in Europe and Canada, where those at the microphone cannot criticize Islam or homosexuality without risking a blackout. "Our founders believed the most important liberty was religious liberty," says Frank Pastore, whom some have dubbed the "Christian Rush Limbaugh" for his daily radio talk show in Los Angeles. "They enshrined that belief in the First Amendment. And now that religious liberty is threatened. We need to just look at Canada and Europe and see what liberals have in mind. I don't want to be France. I don't want to be Canada. I want to continue to be America."

Says Bruce Fein, the FCC general counsel during the Reagan administration, "The whole purpose of the Fairness Doctrine is to force contrasting views even if it violates the broadcaster's scruples. The overall objective is to try to make it sufficiently expensive, so it isn't worth it so I'll say nothing at all. The alternative is not to have more views but to have fewer."

History tells Pastore and his colleagues they have has good reason to be concerned. Religious broadcasters were the most targeted during the Kennedy-Johnson administration. In perhaps the most infamous case -- the FCC crackdown on Christian fundamentalist Carl McIntire and his radio station, WXUR -- the commission leveled a series of complaints for McIntire not presenting "contrasting views." Finally, it refused to renew his license. McIntire, big on Christian values and anti-communism, was off the air in 1973.

Perhaps coincidentally, Christian broadcasting has grown since the Fairness Doctrine went away, producing some of the great conservative voices. Men like Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell and James Dobson became a major pillar within the Republican Party. Their flocks help elect a Republican Congress in 1994 and George W. Bush in 2000. Their association, the National Religious Broadcasters, meets in Nashville's Opryland this weekend for an annual convention, just as Democrats in Congress mull how to bring back a doctrine that would stifle the family values message.

The convention features a panel of lawyers and broadcasters discussing possible threats from the new Obama administration. "Will hate crimes and the Fairness Doctrine now threaten the broadcasting landscape?" the convention program states. "Where can you expect attacks on your religious programming content. What is the prospect for religious liberties in America.?" One panel speaker is the host of "Janet Parshall's America," a daily popular show on the Salem Radio Network. Some congressional Democrats have talked of specifically targeting Salem and its 95 radio stations by challenging its license renewals. In all, there are over 2,000 Christian radio stations in America and 100 TV stations. "What we want to do is tell the message of Jesus," Parshalls tells HUMAN EVENTS. "What the Fairness Doctrine would have us do is give equal time to Buddha, Allah and [scientologist] L. Ron Hubbard."

Indeed, the issues the conventioneers tackle especially rankle the Left. Christian broadcasters oppose same-sex marriage, abortion, rampant illegitimacy, teen pregnancy, strict teaching of evolution and the liberal secular movement. They promote marriage, home schooling, prayer in school and homosexual-to-heterosexual conversion. "These are things that would make religious broadcasters prime targets," Fein said.

When voters in California last November approved Proposition 8, which defines marriage as between a man and woman, religious broadcasters may have made the difference. "We were a large mouth piece that kept the base informed," Pastore says.

The party holding the White House enjoys a 3-2 commission majority, meaning the Obama FCC merely has to draw up a new Fairness Doctrine and vote to institute it.

The Dallas-based "Point of View" is an example of a talk show that uses the Christian world view to discuss public policy issues. A second category of Christian broadcasting is the pastor who goes on the air to preach the Gospel. For both, the Fairness Doctrine "is going to have a chilling affect," Kelley tells HUMAN EVENTS. The process would work this way: a Muslim group such as the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) or a homosexual rights group such as the American Civil Liberties Union would file a complaint with the FCC because, for example, "Point of View" did not provide a contrasting view.

This would spur a formal FCC investigation involving the 370 radio stations who relay the show to an estimated two million listeners. The commission would be empowered to force the station to present pro-gay rights programing or lose its license. Some stations might opt to cancel the show to avoid the controversy -- and the legal expense.

"For the teaching ministry in today's culture I think they will be dramatically affected," Kelley says. "If you have a pastor who talks of salvation through Jesus, then Muslim clerics will want equal time and to force Christian broadcasters to provide time to competing world views and religions." "If 'Point of View' does a program that deals with the problems of homosexuality, then any station that carries us would be forced to give air time to homosexuals, and I think that most broadcasters, rather than being forced into that situation, would restrict their broadcasters in the content they would put on the air."

Pastore has doubts the Democrats and Obama will be so blatant. He believes a Democratic-controlled FCC will turn to the concept of "localism" to hamstring Christian broadcasters and deny license renewals. "We are going to take back the airways and give it back to local ownership," is the way the Left will begin the movement, Pastore says.

Under Pastore's scenario, liberal groups will organize against certain broadcasters under the premise that the public airways should devote more time to local issues of importance. They then file complaints against radio stations across the country. The FCC interprets these complaints as a public outcry and establishes rules requiring stations to devote more time to pressing local issues. The end result: talk show hosts such as Pastore must relinquish air time.

"Lets get a Christian host saying something that a gay listener is offended by," explains Pastore. "Just say that's wrong. He complaints. You have rally cry on the Left. this will set up the case for localism. Barack comes on and says, 'I can hear the voices of the people.'" Parshalls believes the FCC itself will set up panels across the country to monitor talk shows and report to Washington that station X if violating "localism" and needs new ownership. "So you dilute, dilute, dilute the message of the Gospel until there is no Gospel message left," Parshalls says. "What they want to do is have us sell all kinds of good [but] we believe them to be false except the Gospel of Jesus Christ."


An Arab journalist tells it like it is

Khaled Abu Toameh: When I finished high school the PLO offices hired me as a correspondent, and I worked for a PLO newspaper for seven years during which time I attended university in Jerusalem. After I graduated I had to make a decision: do I go back and work for the PLO, or do I try to become a real journalist? It took me about two seconds to make that decision. I decided to work with the international media and the Israeli media....

I find it ironic that as an Arab Muslim living in this part of the world that I have to work for a Jewish newspaper or for the international media in order to be able to practice any kind of real journalism. Why? Because we don't have any free media. In the Palestinian areas we didn't have it when I was working there in the 1970s and 1980s, we didn't get one when we brought Yasser Arafat in to start the Palestinian Authority, and of course we don't have a free media today under Fatah, Hamas, and the rest of the gangs that are running the show out there. And this is very sad.

Sometimes I wish the problem with the media was the only problem that we have over there, but as you all know it's a very messy situation. I'm one of those who has been arguing for the past fifteen years that things have been going in the wrong direction in this part of the world. For a few months after signing Oslo we reached the point where many Jews and many Arabs missed the good old days before the peace process began.

Now, what do I mean by that? Oslo was not bad. Oslo was based on the idea of a two-state solution and ending the military occupation in one way or another. So the idea of Oslo was not bad. Separation between Jews and Palestinians who did not want to live together. And as such I supported it. I thought it was a good idea.

But the way Oslo was implemented brought disaster on both Jews and Arabs. The assumption back then in the U.S., in Israel, and in many places in Europe, was that if you bring the PLO and thousands of PLO fighters and you dump them into the West Bank and Gaza and you give them millions of dollars and guns that they will do the dirty job of policing the West Bank and Gaza. They would replace the occupation and fight Hamas and Islamic Jihad. They would do all these wonderful things. Why? Because they're on our payroll.

So the international community and Israel gathered all these PLO fighters from around the world, released thousands of PLO fighters from Israeli prisons, gave them uniforms and guns, and called them security forces. And the result was the people who had never received any basic training, people who had never finished high school, became colonels and generals in Yasser Arafat's Authority. He established sixteen different security forces with the help of the Americans, the Europeans, and the Israelis. And they started pouring money into this regime that they called the Palestinian Authority. Billions of dollars with the hope that Arafat would deliver.

Now, there's no need to elaborate. As you all know, Arafat turned out to be a crook. Most of the money that was sent to the Palestinian Authority literally went down the drain and supported the shopping sprees of Arafat's wife who was living in Paris. Instead of building us a hospital, Arafat built a casino in Jericho, as if the Palestinian revolution aspired for forty years to get us a casino. And the chutzpah was that he built that casino across the street from a refugee camp. So Palestinians did not see the fruits of peace.

My argument is as follows. The fact that Arafat was crooked didn't surprise us Palestinians. We were only surprised by the fact that the international community kept giving him money and refused to hold him accountable when he stole our money. Why didn't they invest something? They didn't want to believe it.

When I tried to alert my foreign colleagues in 1995, 1996, and 1997, to the fact that there was corruption in the Palestinian Authority, many of them asked me if I was on the payroll of the Jewish Lobby. I wanted to know where was this Jewish Lobby? If there was one maybe they would pay me.

I told them: "This is what I am hearing. The writing is on the wall. Come and listen to what Palestinians are saying." And they told me they weren't interested in that story. They told me they wanted anti-Israel stories because it made their lives so much easier. They told me they didn't want to write anything bad about Palestinians, that Arafat was a man of peace and should be given a chance. I heard this from major American journalists, by the way. Leading American journalists. I don't want to give you their names right now, but I was really frustrated. And angry.

Listen. For all these years we've been attacking the military occupation. So why is it that when I tell you something that Arafat is doing, suddenly you don't want to report it and think it's Jewish propaganda? Most of these journalists did not even want to make any effort.

By depriving these people of money, what did Arafat do? He radicalized the Palestinians who did not see the fruits of peace. So that's reason number one why Palestinian society is radicalized. But there are other reasons. Reasons number two is that you gave Yasser Arafat guns so that he could kill Hamas and Islamic Jihad, but instead he directed those guns against anyone who said they wanted reform or democracy. Arafat used your guns, your weapons, provided by the United States of America, to suppress the leaders of a new leadership.

Let me give you an example. In 1997, 29 Palestinian professors signed a petition demanding Yasser Arafat end the corruption. They found themselves either shot or killed or thrown into jail or they had to run away from the country. And of course this is not a story you would see on CNN. I don't think even the New York Times reported that.

So Arafat cracked down on the reformists and the democrats and the people who wanted good government. And he sent the rest of the people into the open arms of Hamas. He cracked down on the reformists and he refused to crack down on Hamas and Islamic Jihad.

Reason number three. You gave Yasser Arafat money to open a TV and radio station. And on this TV and radio station Arafat said "Jihad, jihad, kill the crusaders, kill the Jews, kill the infidels, kill everyone but me." Now you may ask yourself why Arafat was inciting against his peace partners in Israel, why was he inciting against the Americans and Europeans who were feeding him? It doesn't make sense.

Well, to us it does make sense. This is how our Arab dictators survive. They constantly blame the miseries of our people on the Jews and the West and the Crusaders and the infidels and the Zionist lobby and the imperialists. They use all these slogans. Arab leaders always need to make sure that their people are busy hating somebody else, preferably the Jews and the Americans. Otherwise their people might rebel, and God forbid they might demand reforms and democracy.

This is exactly what Arafat did, but he did it in Arabic. The international community - and even Israelis - did not want to listen to what Arafat was saying in Arabic. They only cared what he said in English. They said that what he said in English was good. I said "Excuse me, folks, but in Arabic Arafat is telling people to kill you." But they did not want to listen to the incitement. They underestimated it. They said "you Arabs are all corrupt and don't know anything about democracy so you deserve a dictatorship."

This incitement drove people into the open arms of Hamas. Arafat was telling people how evil the Jews are, and people then said "Hamas is right, Jews are the sons of monkeys and pigs. Why should we make peace with them?"

A fourth reason, which is a lot less important in my view, is that Israelis brought the PLO into the Palestinian areas, armed the PLO, helped create all these security militias and gangsters and mafias, and then said they needed to protect themselves from their peace partners. And how did they protect themselves? By imposing restrictions and curfews, by surrounding Palestinian communities with checkpoints. Why? Because they needed to protect themselves from the militias and mafias that they brought into the West Bank and Gaza. So Palestinians lost faith in the peace process.

All this radicalized Palestinian society to the point that when Hamas decided to run in free and democratic elections under the banner of "change" and "reform" they won. It was all very obvious. The writing was clear on the wall that anyone who challenged Arafat back then....believe me that if even Ehud Olmert had run in the Palestinian elections promising change and reform and democracy he would have won. Because in January of 2006, the parliamentary elections that were held in the Palestinian Authority were largely about internal reforms in the Palestinian areas. Hamas was ready to deliver. What did they do? They came to the Palestinians and said "Listen, folks. You've tried all these PLO people. They're corrupt. They're bad. Arafat was a thief. Abu Mazen is also a total failure. These guys stole your money. These guys are US agents, they are CIA. Why don't you try us now? We will show you that we can establish good government. And, by the way, look at what we've done for you since 1988. We've established a vast network of educational, social, health, and economic services. Arafat built a casino, and we built two universities. Arafat gave his wife 100,000 dollars a month so she can do her shopping while we gave poor people money. Arafat built bars and restaurants in Ramallah while we built orphanages and charities." So the Palestinians said "Let's try Hamas. If they come to power there is nothing left to steal. They can't be more corrupt than the PLO."

That was the basic line. I'm not saying all those who voted for Hamas in 2006 were registering a vote of protest. We have to be very careful. Hamas does have a lot of supporters. What I'm saying is that had it not been also a vote of protest against the PLO , Hamas would not have won. Why? Because I know Christians who voted for Hamas. I know centrist Palestinians who voted for Hamas. I even know PLO people who voted for Hamas because the name of the game back then was "Let's punish the PLO." And how do you do it? By voting for Hamas, their main rivals. And it worked. And Hamas came to power.

What has been happening since then is also very interesting. The U.S. government, with the help of some Europeans and some Israelis, after Hamas won the election, they went to the guys who lost the election and said "folks, here are guns and here is some money. Go bring down this democratically elected government." And what was the result of this U.S. meddling in Palestinian affairs? It backfired. It played into the hands of Hamas and even boosted Hamas' popularity on the street.

What did Palestinians think when they saw Condoleeza Rice and George W. Bush openly campaigning against this democratically elected government? Their sympathies went to this democratically elected government even though it was Hamas. And when Palestinians see PLO people, the Fatah people, openly conspiring with the Americans and the Israelis to bring down a democratically elected government, they're going to hate the PLO even more.

So U.S. and European meddling in Palestinian affairs in the aftermath of the Hamas victory further strengthened Hamas to the point where in June 2007 Hamas says "Everyone is trying to bring me down. No one is giving me a chance. The whole world is against me. You corrupt PLO people are conspiring against me. I won in a free and democratic election. If you don't believe me, ask Jimmy Carter. He supervised the election. What does everyone want from me?" And they staged a coup. Some people call it a coup. They threw the Fatah people out of Gaza. Fewer than 10,000 Hamas fighters defeated more than 70,000 American-backed Fatah policemen. The question is, how did they do it?

The answer is very simple. As soon as Hamas started shooting, these people did not fight. They ran away. They surrendered to Hamas. They basically went to Hamas and said "No, no, Hamas, please. We will give you all the guns, everything. Just leave us alone." And they ran away. First they tried to run away toward Egypt. But Mubarak is not stupid. He sealed the border. I was there when it happened.

Israel was the only country in the world that sent troops and helicopters and gunships and ambulances to save Muslims from being slaughtered by Muslims, to save the PLO people from being slaughtered by Hamas. Israel took them and dumped them in the West Bank.

And where are we standing today? I told you before that I'm one of those people who support a two-state solution. I think it's a wonderful solution. But in the end we're getting a different kind of two-state solution. We have two separate entities. One in Gaza, and one in the West Bank.

The one in Gaza is an Islamic state run by Hamas and supported by Ahmadinejad, Syria, Hezbollah, and some people say Al Qaeda and the Muslim Brotherhood. It's a very dangerous situation, and as a moderate Muslim that's the last place I want to live on this earth.

What we have in the West Bank is the secular, corrupt, powerless regime of the PLO. Abu Mazen, Abu Shmazen, all these Abus. The Arafat cronies who failed their people over the past fifteen years. Who lost the election in January 2006 because of the corruption. Who were kicked out of Gaza because they failed. Who have lost control over half the Palestinians who live in this part of the world. And they are sitting in Ramallah. These people are in power only thanks to the presence of the IDF in the West Bank. If the Israeli army were to leave the West Bank tomorrow morning these PLO people would collapse in five minutes and Hamas would take over.

The question we should ask ourselves in the wake of this scenario is whether or not there is really a partner on the Palestinian side for any deal, let alone a peace agreement. Any kind of deal. Is there really a partner on the Palestinian side? And the answer is simple. No.

Hamas is not a partner for any peace agreement because Hamas is not going to change. All these people who believe that Hamas will one day change its ideology, that pragmatic leaders will emerge in Hamas, these people are living under illusions. Hamas is not going to change. To their credit we must say that their message has been very clear. It's the same message in Arabic and in English. They're being very honest about it. They're saying "Folks, we will never recognize Israel. We will never change. We will not abandon the path of the resistance." They're very clear about it....

I don't know how to solve this problem. Talking about a Palestinian state today is a joke. Where would that state be established? Israel controls nearly half of the West Bank. These PLO people can't deliver. If Israel gives up the West Bank, you will have to go to Cairo or Amman to take a flight back to America because snipers will be sitting on the hilltops above Ben-Gurion airport.

More here


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, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


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Monday, February 09, 2009

British foster parent who has looked after 80 children struck off...because a Muslim girl in her care became a Christian

Horrible Left-indoctrinated British social workers in action again. It takes publicity and/or legal action to squeeze decency out of them

A foster mother has been struck off by a council after a teenage Muslim girl in her care became a Christian. The carer, who has ten years' experience and has looked after more than 80 children, said she was `devastated' by the decision. `This is my life,' she revealed. `It is not just a job for me. It is a vocation. I love what I do. It is also my entire income. I am a single carer, so that is all I have to live on.'

The foster mother said she had recently bought a larger car and had been renting a farmhouse, with a pony in a field, so that she could provide more disadvantaged children with a new life. `That was always my dream and then suddenly, bang, it was gone. I am now in a one-bedroom flat,' she added.

The girl is understood to be back with members of her family, who have not been told of her conversion. A second girl the woman was fostering has been moved to another carer. The woman insisted that, although she was a Christian, she had put no pressure on the Muslim girl, who was 16 at the time, to be baptised. But council officials allegedly accused her of failing to `respect and preserve' the child's faith and tried to persuade the girl to reconsider her decision.

The carer, who cannot be named for legal reasons, is now preparing to take legal action against the council with the support of the girl, now 17, who also cannot be named. Her case follows the controversy over Caroline Petrie, 45, the Christian nurse in Somerset suspended without pay in December for offering to pray for an elderly woman patient. She was reinstated this week.

Yesterday, Christians expressed outrage over the foster carer's treatment, saying that it was a basic right for people to be able to change their religion and the woman should be praised, not punished. Mike Judge, a spokesman for the Christian Institute, a pressure group which is funding her case, said: `I cannot imagine that an atheist foster carer would be struck off if a Christian child in her care stopped believing in God. `This is the sort of double standard which Christians are facing in modern Britain. In recent months, we have seen grandparents, a nurse, adoption agencies, firemen, registrars, elderly care homes and now a foster carer being punished because of the Christian beliefs they hold. It has got to stop.'

The carer, a mother-of-two in her 50s, has worked with young children for much of her life and became a foster parent for the local authority in the North of England in 1999. In 2007, she was asked to look after the girl, who had been assaulted by a family member. She told council officials that she was very happy to support the girl in her religion and culture. `We had a multicultural household and I had no problems helping the young person maintain her faith of birth,' she said. `I have always prided myself in being very professional in what I do. If something works for a young person, whether I agree with it or not, I am happy to support them in that.'

But the girl, whom the foster mother describes as caring and intelligent, defied expectations by choosing not to wear overtly Muslim clothes or to eat Halal food. The girl, whose interest in Christianity had begun at school some time before her foster placement, also made it clear that she wanted to go to church. The carer, an Anglican who attends a local evangelical church, said: `I did initially try to discourage her. `I offered her alternatives. I offered to find places for her to practise her own religion. I offered to take her to friends or family. But she said to me from the word go, "I am interested and I want to come." She sort of burst in.'

The carer said that the girl's social workers were fully aware that she was going to church and had not raised any objections. The girl had told her auxiliary social worker of her plans to convert before she was baptised in January last year, and the social worker had appeared to give her consent. `At that point the brakes were off,' the carer said. `I couldn't have stopped her if I had wanted to. She saw the baptism as a washing away of the horrible things she had been through and a symbol of a new start.'

Three months later, however, senior officials complained that they had not been fully informed of the girl's intentions to become a Christian. They said that she should have undergone counselling to ensure that she understood the implications, especially as such conversions are dealt with harshly in some Muslim countries.

The foster carer said, however, that the girl had thought about her decision very carefully and was aware that members of her family might react strongly, so she was adamant that they should not be told. The carer said that as the auxiliary social worker knew about the baptism, she had not thought it necessary to tell the fostering team as well. But she received a phone call from the fostering manager who was `incandescent with rage' that the baptism had gone ahead. The carer said: `Up to that point, we had had a good relationship, so I was quite taken aback. I was very shocked.'

In April, council officials told the girl that she should not attend any church activity for six months, so that she could reconsider the wisdom of becoming a Christian. The carer was also instructed to discourage the girl from participating in any Christian activities, even social events. The council then told the carer there had been a breakdown of trust and in November removed her from the register.

`It never occurred to me that they would go that far,' she said. `I was concerned that the council seemed to view Christianity in such a negative light. I wonder whether if it had gone the other way - if one of my Christian young people had decided to embrace another faith - there would have been this level of fuss.' She added that the girl has been devastated by the experience.

The carer's solicitor Nigel Priestley said: `There is no doubt that the event that provoked the council was the decision by the girl to be baptised. This girl was 16 and has the right to make this choice, so for the council to react in this way is totally disproportionate. Even at this late hour, we hope that the council will resolve the issue.' A council spokesman said: `From the details provided, we believe that this information relates to a child who is the subject of a final care order in favour of the council. In those circumstances, we are unable to pass any comment. `We would never be able to comment on sensitive issues surrounding a child in care. `To do so would be irresponsible and in this particular case may put the child at risk of harm.' [They are hiding behind legalisms, in other words]


British "Men only" party incorrect

The invitation, which reads "men only", suggests a night of pleasure for the City's leading investment bankers. It shows nine scantily dressed models stuffing themselves with grapes as they paw both men and each other. A memento from the City's testosterone-fuelled past? No, it has been sent out by 3i, Britain's oldest and biggest private equity house which stands accused of sexism over the party to be held by Agent Provocateur, the lingerie firm, in London's West End this week.

Bankers from several City institutions - including Rothschild and Lazard - are on the guest list. The invitation reads: "3i and Agent Provocateur request the pleasure of your company at a special instore preValentine's men-only evening. Drinks and canap‚s will be served during a short lingerie presentation with sexy Agent Provocateur models." Critics say it is a throwback to the boom years when young City dealers had a culture of Porsches, easy money and strip clubs. Banks have tried to clean up their act after being hit by a number of high-profile compensation demands from women claiming sex discrimination. Female bankers said they were asked to leave dinners so their male colleagues could go on to lap-dancing clubs. 3i says it is holding the party at the request of its advisers to help support Agent Provocateur, in which it has invested, and to boost its sales.

"I could see people seeing this as exciting, but we are supporting business," said a spokeswoman. "We held three similar female-only events before Christmas." She said the lingerie would be modelled on mannequins. A spokeswoman for Agent Provocateur said: "It will be very intimate and quite personal. We are giving them what we call our mini trunk show." An insider at Agent Provocateur said: "We are expecting about 30 men, all of them bankers. There are going to be some models showcasing lingerie and some of the girls will be serving drinks and wandering around with canapes."

The irony is that 3i's chairwoman is the formidable Baroness Hogg, a former financial journalist who was head of John Major's policy unit when he was prime minister. Hogg answered the telephone at her London home but, when she was asked to comment, her husband Douglas Hogg, the former Tory minister, came on the line and said she was unavailable. She has already been embarrassed by internal problems at 3i. Last month it ousted Philip Yea, its chief executive, with a 773,000 dollar pay-off after a poor run. In his four-year reign its share price plummeted from 601p to 210p during trading last month. The new chief executive is Michael Queen, a former nonexecutive director of Northern Rock.

Some of the bankers invited have balked at attending. One said: "How it ever seemed a good idea to put forward a sexist, outdated marketing idea is beyond me, but given 3i's current state it seems particularly ill-conceived." It is potentially embarrassing for those who do attend. Rothschild has faced claims of sex discrimination by women staff in London in recent years, while William Cohan, a former Lazard banker, wrote a book two years ago exposing some of the nonbanking activities at its offices in New York's Rockefeller Center. One banker was found having sex in his office, forcing his boss to yell: "Why don't you go to a hotel room like the rest of my partners?" Another former partner, Edouard Stern, who was famed for eating 70 pieces of sushi at a single sitting, was shot dead by his girlfriend in his Geneva apartment clad in a skin-coloured latex body suit linked to sadomasochistic sex.


British Christian care home victorious in homosexual dispute

A Christian care home has won a victory against a council that cut its funding because it refused to ask elderly residents about their sexual orientation every three months

Brighton and Hove council agreed to restore the funding after Pilgrim Homes launched a legal action for religious discrimination. The council had cut the 13,000 dollar funds after accusing the home - which has former missionaries and a minister among its residents - of "institutional homophobia". Officials had told Pilgrim Homes to ask the pensioners about their sexual orientation four times a year under its "fair access and diversity" policies developed from New Labour's equality laws. It also wanted the home, which has 39 single Christian residents aged over 80, to use elderly gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people in its leaflets.

The home, run by a 200-year-old charity that cares for older Christians, has now agreed to withdraw its legal action after the council said it would restore the funds, which paid for a warden, retract the homophobia accusation, and drop the request for details of residents' sexual orientation. Andrew Jessop, chief executive of the charity which has 10 Christian homes across the UK, said he was "delighted" and "relieved" that the council had backed down. "We are a Christian organisation for older Christians, and our chief concern has always been to protect their best interests," he said. "When they come into residential care or even sheltered housing they deserve the peace, comfort and security of an organisation that supports their dearly-held religious beliefs. "We do not think our Brighton home - and others like it - should be denied access to public funding just because of those beliefs."

Mike Judge, spokesman for the Christian Institute which supported the home's battle with the council, said: "Elderly Christians shouldn't be penalised just because of their religious beliefs. Christians pay their taxes too and they should have equal access to public grants without being required to drop their Christian ethos. I hope other councils take note. "There have been a number of recent cases where Christians are being treated less favourably than others. "Nurses, grandparents, firemen, registrars, adoption agencies, care homes are all finding themselves in the firing line for nothing more than holding the same harmless beliefs that Christians have had for 2,000 years." Mr Judge said Christians were "beginning to find their voice and discovering that a lot of people - Christian or otherwise - are agreeing with them."

Tom Ellis of Aughton Ainsworth, solicitors for Pilgrim Homes, said the council had shown "a total disregard and lack of respect for orthodox Christian beliefs and values" when it decided to cut the funding. "Pilgrim Homes has a right to provide its services within the context of its doctrinal belief without interference from the council."

Mr Jessop added: "We are willing to ask potential residents about their sexual orientation when they apply for a place at our home, on the understanding that they have the right to refuse, and that we will not be required to act in a way which goes against our doctrinal beliefs," he said.

The row began last year when the council sent a questionnaire to the Pilgrim Home in Brighton. It was part of a move to make organisations it supported financially "comply" with the Equality Act 2006 and the Equality Act (Sexual Orientation) Regulations 2007. Care home officials were told to ask residents if they were lesbian, gay, bisexual, heterosexual or "unsure". But the residents described the council's orders as "intrusive" and "inappropriate" and refused to fill in the forms. The council criticised the home's "negative response" and said that its Christian ethos might deter gay people from applying.

The council stopped the grant because there had been only "limited progress" in making the home "open to the gay and lesbian community". It said residents could choose whether to answer questions about their sexuality. The home replied that had given places to gay Christians and accused the council of being "institutionally discriminatory".


Australia: Truth-telling top cop accused of racism

Even using the euphemism "Middle-Eastern" instead of what he really means -- Lebanese Muslim -- does not let him off the hook. And in a way that is right. "Middle Eastern" tends to unfairly condemn Lebanese Christians -- who have been remarkably successful at integrating into Australian life -- and have in fact been making a large and positive contribution for at least 100 years. So the Leftist nonsense about it being wrong to call a spade a spade can hurt people who do not deserve it at all

A new underworld documentary series, in which a senior police officer claims Middle Eastern gangs in Australia have "perfected" crime, has become embroiled in a row over racism and ethnicity before it has even aired. Channel Seven's Gangs Of Oz has already been labelled "damaging" by Australia's race discrimination commissioner. His concern has been echoed by legal experts, a former detective and a leading group involved in community diversity which called on the network to re-edit the documentary before broadcast.

In the first episode, titled Middle Eastern Gangs, Detective Superintendent Ken McKay, the head of the state's Organised Crime Directorate, makes the remarks which have sparked outrage. "The Middle Eastern groups are involved in everything. If they didn't invent it, they perfected it in terms of crime," he explains. He then adds: "The criminal, in the Middle Eastern sense, is more cowardice [sic] than your general criminal. They'd rather use a gun than stand in a fistfight."

After watching the show, federal Race Discrimination Commissioner Tom Calma said Superintendent McKay's casual use of terms such as "Middle Eastern" caused communities to feel stigmatised. "Ethnic descriptors used by NSW police, and in particular the descriptor 'Middle Eastern appearance', is seen by the community as contributing to stigmatisation."

While Gangs Of Oz claims to be an expose on organised crime, its critics suggest it only serves to illuminate Channel Seven's "sensationalist" reporting techniques. Dr Michael Kennedy, a lecturer in social justice at the University of Western Sydney, who previously spent 18 years as a detective in the NSW Police Force, said: "What Ken has said in this show is completely counter-productive to what the police are trying to achieve. "Using cliches and one-liners will only serve to alienate the community who have Middle Eastern heritage and I'm afraid it will be officers on the ground that will have to put up with the backlash from these remarks."

Yasser Solimon, executive director of Diversity International and a prominent member of Victoria's Muslim community, said: "It's very sensationalist and deliberately tries to shock. I would like to see it re-edited before going to air or at least some sort of introduction put on which attempts to balance the views in the show."

The producers of the documentary, which is set to air on Wednesday night, are former Today Tonight host Neil Mercer and veteran tabloid reporter Steve Barrett. Mr Mercer said: "Ken was calling a spade a spade." "We are so used to police officers dancing around things and not engaging in plain speaking but nobody could accuse him of that." "He's a very senior member of the NSW Police Force and experienced in talking to the media. I certainly didn't take his comments as racist and I don't think anybody else should."



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, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


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Sunday, February 08, 2009

New Undercover Video Shows Tucson Planned Parenthood Hiding Rape of 15-Year-Old Girl

New hidden-camera footage from Tucson, AZ, implicates a third Planned Parenthood clinic in a multi-state child abuse scandal. In the video, UCLA student Lila Rose and her friend Jackie Stollar enter a Tucson Planned Parenthood clinic where Rose tells the nurse that Stollar, posing as a 15-year-old, is pregnant by her 27-year-old boyfriend. The nurse disregards the age difference and even cautions Stollar not to bring her "boyfriend" before the judicial hearing required in Arizona to waive parental consent for an abortion. This negligence on the part of the Planned Parenthood staffer is punishable under Arizona law.

"Is he not a minor?" the Planned Parenthood nurse, who identifies herself as Araceli, asks. When Rose says, "He's 27," the nurse urges the girls not to bring him to the hearing: "I wouldn't take him with me, no. I mean: don't take him."

The video is the third to be released in a national undercover probe called the "Mona Lisa Project." The project, conducted by the student-led California nonprofit Live Action, records on video Planned Parenthood employees as they respond to statutory rape. Rather than reporting the rape--as the law requires--Planned Parenthood clinics hide the identity of the statutory rapist and offer secret abortions.

In the past two months, the Mona Lisa Project has exposed similar cases at two Planned Parenthood clinics in Indiana. In response, both clinics either suspended or fired employees, and state prosecutors launched investigations into Planned Parenthood of Indiana.

"These videos demonstrate that Planned Parenthood, the nation's largest abortion provider, is entrenched in an organization-wide policy of circumventing state law and covering up the sexual abuse of young girls," said Live Action's president, Lila Rose.

This is not the first time Planned Parenthood of Arizona has failed to report sexual abuse. In 2002, an Arizona judge found the abortion provider negligent for failing to report the sexual abuse of a 13-year-old girl by her 23-year-old foster brother, who brought her to a Phoenix-area clinic for an abortion in 1998. After Planned Parenthood kept silent about the abuse, the sexual relationship continued and led to a second abortion six months later.

While noting that today Arizona Attorney General Terry Goddard is scheduled to deliver the keynote address at an event sponsored by Planned Parenthood, Rose urges Arizona prosecutors to follow the lead of Indiana state authorities and investigate the full extent of Planned Parenthood's sexual abuse cover-up. "Our footage gives the Arizona public and law enforcement a rare window into Planned Parenthood's careless abortion-first ideology," Rose stated. "With abortion as their first and only solution for the abused victim, Planned Parenthood assists sexual predators by violating the very Arizona state laws that protect children." Rose adds, "Planned Parenthood is not above the law. They must cooperate with Arizona state authorities to reveal the full extent of their lawbreaking."


Taxachusetts thinks its citizens are its captives

Battle lines have been drawn between tax-free New Hampshire and "Taxachusetts" - and the line is at the states' border. Bay State officials said New Hampshire businesses should be collecting Massachusetts' 5 percent sales tax from residents who cross the border to shop - and save money. Massachusetts is suing Connecticut-based Town Fair Tire for allowing its residents to purchase tires at New Hampshire stores and not charging them the 5 percent Massachusetts sales tax. The lawsuit is based on the state's use tax, which is applied to items bought outside Massachusetts that are intended to be used in the state.

The case now before the Supreme Judicial Court applies only to Town Fair Tire, but some experts think the results could be much more far-reaching. The case doesn't mean Massachusetts has new collection initiatives or will have any impact on New Hampshire's retailers, according to a statement from Richard Bliss, spokesman for the Massachusetts Department of Revenue.

But two law professors who studied the case disagree. "Taken to its logical extreme, that rule would require a nationwide retailer to determine the residence of all its customers," professors John Swain and Walter Hellerstein wrote in the trade publication "State Tax Notes."

The professors also warned that if Massachusetts forces out-of-state retailers to collect its 5 percent tax, neighbors with higher tax rates like Rhode Island (7 percent) and Connecticut (6 percent) could demand Massachusetts stores collect and give them the extra tax their own residents would have paid if they shopped at home.

Customers, business owners vocal about objections

New Hampshire business owners and customers said they won't be happy if Massachusetts chases them across the border in pursuit of tax dollars. Nancy Kyle, president of the New Hampshire Retail Merchants Association, said she's outraged by the case because New Hampshire has worked hard to fend off a sales tax. New Hampshire is the only New England state that doesn't have a sales tax. "It's not the job of New Hampshire retailers to enforce Massachusetts tax law," Kyle said. She said Massachusetts is "testing the waters" by going after a medium-sized regional retailer like Town Fair Tire and, if it's successful, it could go after big-box stores and small retailers next. "Are we going to screen every shopper to see where they're from?" Kyle said.

Rep. Norman Major, R-Plaistow, a member of the state House Ways and Means Committee, said Massachusetts would be overstepping its bounds if the state ever tried to cross the border to collect tax revenue or pressure New Hampshire retailers into charging Bay State taxes. "The person in New Hampshire selling things in his store and not delivering to Massachusetts has no idea where it's going to end up," Major said. Attempts to force New Hampshire store owners to charge the tax would be intimidating to customers from both sides of the border, he said. "I don't think we should stand for that," Major said.

Retailers don't want to be tax collectors

Jeff LaPointe, store manager at John Deere dealer James R. Rosencrantz & Sons in Derry and Kingston, said a good percentage of their customers do come from south of the border. But the store isn't responsible for charging Massachusetts sales tax if the customer picks up the tractor at either store, he said. "It's not my responsibility to make sure that you pay the tax," LaPointe said. If that responsibility did become the store's job, then it could mean fewer Massachusetts customers shopping in their stores, LaPointe said. The only time a customer is charged the 5 percent Massachusetts tax is when a tractor is delivered to a Massachusetts home or business, LaPointe said.

The same is true for Best Buy in Salem, according to store manager Don Smith. If Massachusetts suddenly demanded Massachusetts residents pay sales tax in another state, Best Buy would have to comply with the rule, Smith said. "It would be another step," he said. "But if that's what the law was, we'd take that step." A manager at Fay's Salem Tire in Salem said any changes in tax law might not have much of an effect on that business. Manager Rich Stacy said the store has a lot of loyal customers from Massachusetts who would likely still continue to shop with them, regardless of whether they had to pay Massachusetts taxes.

Stacy said he was aware of the Town Fair Tire lawsuit, but also was concerned that customers looking for a bargain might go elsewhere. "People are going to try to save as much as possible," Stacy said.

Shoppers cross the border to save

The problem with the use tax is that it's up to individual customers to file - and few people ever do. Massachusetts tax officials said they have no idea how much money the state is missing out on from residents who shop across the border. James Lefave, a Wilmington, Mass., homeowner, said he had never heard of a use tax while loading windows into the back of his pickup truck at The Home Depot in Salem yesterday. Like many Massachusetts residents, Lefave traveled north to pick up 20 windows and a garage door to avoid paying the 5 percent sales tax that would have been tacked on to his purchase if they were delivered to his home. "I didn't know you had to claim it," Lefave said.

Mary Reese, chairwoman of the Greater Salem Chamber of Commerce, said forcing local businesses to enforce Massachusetts tax law during tough economic times would harm local businesses. "My suggestion would be rather than attempt to harm our New Hampshire businesses, which border Massachusetts, the commonwealth should adopt a less burdensome tax structure, which helps their own consumers and businesses," Reese said.


British countryside Alliance jubilant as High Court ruling makes hunting ban 'even weaker'

Foxhunting supporters claimed a major legal victory tonight over the law banning their sport. A High Court judgment clarifying the definition of hunting effectively reduces the scope of the Hunting Act and makes prosecutions more difficult, they said. The hunt ban has produced just 90 prosecutions since its introduction in 2005, while hunt numbers have increased.

One reason mooted for the low number of prosecutions has been lack of clarity over the definition of hunting. The High Court had been asked to define what activities were covered by the hunting ban, following several appeals against convictions. Kerry Barker, of the Crown Prosecution Service, told the judges that 'hunt' must mean 'hunting for or searching for'. He said: 'If searching for a wild mammal with dogs is not illegal, then it is difficult to see how Parliament's intention of preventing cruelty and bringing an end to the sport of hunting can be met.'

But Sir Anthony May, president of the Queen's Bench Division, and Mr Justice Maddison ruled that hunting did not include mere 'searching for' an animal. And they said it was up to the prosecution to prove defendants were not covered by exemptions to the ban - rather than defendants having to show they were exempt.

The ruling is a victory for Tony Wright, of Exmoor Foxhounds, the first man prosecuted for hunting foxes. He had his conviction overturned after arguing that farmers had asked the hunt to kill foxes to reduce losses during the lambing season. Under the Act, there are exemptions in circumstances where animals are causing 'serious damage' and when only one or two dogs are used.

Tim Bonner, of the Countryside Alliance, called the High Court outcome 'very positive' and said: 'We have won on everything essentially. This should mean the prospect of Hunting Act offences being prosecuted will be far lower. We would expect there to have to be overwhelming evidence for a prosecution even to be launched.'

But opponents of blood sports said the law had simply been clarified and more court cases were likely to follow as a result. Douglas Batchelor, of the League Against Cruel Sports, accused the Countryside Alliance of 'trying to put the judgment wider than it goes'. He said: 'It is really a victory for clarity in the law and the backlog of hunting cases will be able to pass through the courts. 'We have been absolutely assured by our lawyers that the Hunting Act as it was intended is still in place.'

Hunts can take place legally by either laying a scent for hounds to follow or using a pack to flush a fox or another mammal out for a bird of prey to kill. The use of dogs to kill the animal is forbidden, except in certain circumstances. But critics say that in some cases they knowingly allow dogs to chase a fox after it has been 'flushed', while others lay artificial trails close to known fox habitats, then claim the animals are being 'accidentally' hunted by the pack.

More than 3,000 registered hunts in England and Wales have carried out 70,000 hunting days since the ban, while the number of people who subscribe to them is said to have increased by 10 per cent over the same period, to 44,000. The Tories have promised a free Commons vote on repealing the law if they win the next election.



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, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


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Saturday, February 07, 2009

Brains 'are hardwired to believe in God'

As Billy Graham often said: "There is a God-shaped void in people"

Religion is part of human nature and our brains are hard wired to believe in God, scientists believe. The evidence includes studies of babies and children which have shown the brain is programmed to think of the mind as being separate from the body. This distinction allows us to believe in the supernatural, to conjure up imaginary friends - and to conceive of gods, this week's New Scientist reports.

Other studies suggest our minds come with an overdeveloped sense of cause and effect, which primes us to see purpose and design everywhere, even when there is none. Children as young as seven or eight believe that rocks, rivers and birds have been created for a specific purpose. Taken together, the two traits mean were are perfectly programmed to believe in god.

Professor Paul Bloom, a psychologist at Yale University in the US, said: 'There's now a lot of evidence that some of the foundations for our religious beliefs are hard-wired. 'All humans possess the brain circuitry and it never goes away.'

As we grow older, we concentrate more on the moral dimensions of faith and less on its supernatural side, studies show. Scientists also believe that when the going gets tough, we find it harder to resist the lure of the supernatural, perhaps explaining why so many turn to religion at times of crisis.

Richard Dawkins. Britain's most famous atheist, argues in his book the God Delusion that religion is propagated through indoctrination, especially of children. Evolution predisposes children to swallow whatever their parents and elders tell them, he argues, as trust and obedience are important for survival.

Asked about the idea of pre-programming, the Oxford University professor said: 'I am thoroughly happy with believing that children are predisposed to believe in invisible gods - I always was. 'But I also find that indoctrination hypothesis plausible. The two influences could, and I suspect do, reinforce one another.'

Others argue that religion spread because it aided the survival of our ancestors. Shared religious beliefs helped our forefathers form tightly knit groups that co-operated in hunting, foraging and childcare, enabling them to out-compete others, so the theory goes.

However, none of this necessarily means that the gods we believe in do not exist. New Scientist says: 'All of the researchers involved stress that none of this says anything about the existence or otherwise of gods: whether or not a belief is true is independent of why people believe it.'


Publicity shames the Leftist fanatics: Nurse suspended for offering to pray for patient now told she can return to work

The Christian nurse suspended for offering to pray for a patient has been asked to return to work. Her NHS bosses were forced into a humiliating climbdown last night after the case provoked a national outcry.

Caroline Petrie gave their offer a cautious welcome - but insisted she should not be forced to choose between her profession and her faith. Mrs Petrie was accused of failing to show a commitment to 'equality and diversity' after the incident and faced a disciplinary hearing. But her supporters claimed she was a victim of religious discrimination. The Daily Mail led the way in highlighting her plight.

NHS North Somerset issued a statement yesterday saying it had contacted Mrs Petrie and hoped she could return to work 'as soon as possible'. But it added: 'It is acceptable to offer spiritual support as part of care when the patient asks for it. 'But for nurses, whose principal role is giving nursing care, the initiative lies with the patient and not with the nurse. 'Nurses like Caroline do not have to set aside their faith, but personal beliefs and practices should be secondary to the needs and beliefs of the patient and the requirements of professional practice. 'We are glad to make this position clear so that Caroline and other staff who have a faith continue to offer high quality care for patients while remaining committed to their beliefs.'

Mrs Petrie, a mother of two from Weston-super-Mare in Somerset, added that she knew nothing of the offer to return to work until the Mail contacted her. 'They have not told me anything directly yet,' she said. 'I'm not too sure I would go back to work until I know what the implications of that would be. 'I would want to know what the terms were before I made a decision. 'On the issue of praying for my patients I'd want to continue and if they won't allow me that I don't think I would return. 'It's very difficult for me not to ask patients if they want me to pray for them when I feel that prayer works for the sick. It's a matter of conscience to me. I should not have to choose between being a Christian or being a nurse.'

Mrs Petrie was suspended by North Somerset Primary Care Trust on December 17 last year. Two days earlier she had asked her patient May Phippen, 79, if she wanted her to pray for her at the end of a home visit. Mrs Phippen was not offended and did not make a formal complaint. But she told another nurse that she found it strange and that it might be deemed upsetting or offensive by others if they were of different faiths or felt it implied they were so sick they needed praying for.

Yesterday in the Commons, senior Tory MP Sir Patrick Cormack described Mrs Petrie's suspension as one example of the 'utter absurdities' of political correctness.

NHS North Somerset's statement offering her a return to work continued: 'We have always been keen to bring this matter to a timely resolution. 'It has been a distressing and difficult time for Caroline and all staff involved. 'We recognise the concerns raised by the many people who have contacted us about this situation.' It pointed out that NHS North Somerset offers services such as chaplaincy and prayer rooms for use by followers of all faiths.

Mrs Petrie has always insisted that she has never forced her beliefs on anyone. The Baptist, who became a Christian ten years ago after her mother died, said her supplications had real effects on patients, including a Catholic woman whose urine infection cleared up days after she said a prayer. In October last year she was reprimanded for giving a home-made prayer card to an elderly patient.


Banish Big Brother: The state's surveillance powers must be curbed, say Lords

In an increasingly Stalinist Britain, the House of Lords has repeatedly been the last line of defence for traditional British liberties

Peers will today demand a drastic curtailing of `Big Brother' surveillance powers. They will call for reforms to stamp out abuses and to safeguard Britain's traditions of democracy and privacy. Their report highlights mounting fears over the growth of the DNA database and the proliferation of CCTV networks. According to the constitution committee, mass surveillance `risks undermining the fundamental relationship between the state and citizens, which is the cornerstone of democracy and good governance'.

The 130-page report claims privacy is at threat from pervasive and routine electronic spying and mass collection of personal information. The public `are often unaware of the vast amount of information about them that is kept and exchanged between organisations'. The report said successive governments have built up an advanced surveillance system in the name of improving efficiency and tackling crime and terrorism. This amounted to `one of the most significant changes in the life of the nation since the end of the Second World War'. Peers cited the fact that more than 7 per cent of citizens are on the national DNA database, by far the highest proportion in the world.

The report also condemned covert surveillance under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act. Some councils have been using the secret spying powers to crack down on dog fouling, littering and families suspected of lying over school admissions. Among its 44 recommendations, the committee calls on the Government to `reconsider whether local authorities are the appropriate bodies to exercise RIPA powers'. And instead of the police and MI5 being allowed to authorise their own undercover operations, independent judges should be called in.

Any plans by the Government to collect or process personal data should undergo a `privacy impact assessment', the peers said. Full encryption of personal data stored on computers should become the norm, the report urges.

The committee - whose members include former Lord Chief Justice Lord Woolf - said the DNA database should be slimmed down and given a clearer legal framework. Those who volunteer their DNA to the police to help in an investigation should not have it added to the national database, they insisted. And suspects who are arrested but not convicted of a crime should not face having their genetic profile stored indefinitely

The Home Office is already under pressure to alter the rules following a high-profile defeat in European Court of Human Rights last year.

Peers also call for a new Parliamentary watchdog to stand up for the rights and privacy of citizens and a panel to supervise database and surveillance issues. The committee's chairman Lord Goodlad, a former Tory minister and high commissioner to Australia, said: `There can be no justification for this gradual but incessant creep toward every detail about us being recorded and pored over by the state. `If the public are to trust that information about them is not being improperly used there should be much more openness about what data is collected, by whom and how it is used.'

Dominic Grieve, Tory justice spokesman, said the report was `a damning indictment of the reckless approach of this government to personal privacy'. He added: `Ministers have sanctioned a massive increase in surveillance over the last decade, at great cost to the taxpayer, without properly assessing either its effectiveness or taking adequate steps to protect the privacy of perfectly innocent people.'

Today's report follows stark warnings from Information Commissioner Richard Thomas that Britain was `sleepwalking into a surveillance society'. Critics have seized on high-profile losses of personal files by the Government - including the entire child benefit database covering 25million people - as evidence that the state cannot be trusted to safeguard such material.

A Home Office spokesman said the Government was clear that surveillance and data collection `should only be used where it is necessary and proportionate'. She added: `The Home Secretary has already set out new common sense standards for use of investigatory powers and retention of DNA profiles, and has announced a consultation to open a reasoned debate about all these issues.


Homosexuality not so popular in Italy

Italian superstar Al Bano Carrisi is making headlines with his unequivocal denunciation of the homosexual rights movement. "I'm a practicing Catholic and I say only this to homosexuals: I'm not in favor of ghettos, but don't make such a show, do your things in private. I don't like gay pride demonstrations, where they parade undisguised," said Carrisi, a world-famous singer who has sold tens of millions of albums during his 40-year career. "To someone like me inoculated against [homosexual rights demonstrations], it might seem funny, unfortunately, but if I were to see it in my little daughter it would brother me. It seems to me to be an exposition of Sodom and Gomorrah."

"Gay Pride" parades, which are now routinely held in Europe, the United States, and other Western countries, often include displays of nudity and lewd behavior, including simulated and actual sex acts in full public view.

In his comments to the press, which were made today, Carrisi also opined that those who suffer from homosexual attractions should seek counseling. "If they question themselves thoroughly and want to be cured from this imperfection, they're doing well."

Carrisi's comments come in the wake of those of Giuseppe Povia, another famous Italian singer, who has composed a song about a homosexual who confronts his problem and is cured. The song, "Luca was Gay" will be performed for the first time at the Sanremo music festival this month. Carrisi will also be performing at the Sanremo Festival, adding a second voice to the event in favor of sexual morality.



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, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


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Friday, February 06, 2009

The BBC is a floundering giant with no moral sense

But of course! To Leftists "There's no such thing as right and wrong"

Adrift and too vast to control, the BBC is a floundering giant that has lost its moral compass. Hardly a week goes by without another controversy engulfing it. Chris Moyles's sick joke about Polish women making good prostitutes. . . Frankie Boyle's grotesquely obscene reference to the Queen's private parts . . a blunt refusal to give airtime to a humanitarian appeal for Gaza. . . Now Carol Thatcher's dismissal from the One Show offers yet more evidence of the yawning gap between the politically correct elite running the BBC and the great mass of the British people.

Compare Miss Thatcher's treatment with that of Jonathan Ross to see how the corporation is fumbling in a vacuum, its principles and purpose long forgotten. In Ross's case, it took days (and a public outcry) before it even crossed the BBC's mind that there might be something offensive about taunting an elderly actor with jibes about his granddaughter's sex life - and then broadcasting the stunt. Even then, Ross was allowed to return to his 6 million a year job, after a token suspension and a facetious apology - only to carry on exactly as before.

There's no such mercy for Miss Thatcher, whose very surname, of course, is enough to damn her in many BBC eyes. On the word of an informant, she is summarily dismissed for a remark she made in private whose context and tone we cannot judge. Unlike Ross's apology for an apology, the BBC rejects hers, demanding that she must publicly humiliate herself.

But then in the warped world of the BBC - in which terrorists are 'freedom fighters', love of country is 'bias' and truth lies permanently to the Left of centre - there is no crime more evil than saying anything that might be interpreted as a slur on a racial or sexual minority. Otherwise, anything goes. Ross, Jo Brand, Adrian Chiles and the rest can joke to their smug, PC hearts' content about bodily functions, the Christian church or the elderly.

Meanwhile, every under-75 TV owner in the land is obliged to pay for their filth, on pain of imprisonment. Of course, there's a temptation to lay all the blame for the BBC's degeneration on the top man, Director-General Mark Thompson. But that would be unfair. In truth, the corporation - with its 28,500 employees, its monstrous bureaucracy, and its host of TV and radio stations, websites and publications - has become far too large for anyone to control.

That must be put right. In this digital, multi-channel age, shouldn't we be thinking seriously of preserving the best of the BBC - Radio 4, the World Service and the two main TV stations - and selling the rest to the highest bidders? Wouldn't that be the surest way of slashing the licence fee, restoring the corporation to its place in the nation's hearts - and increasing the plurality of opinion in the British media?


There are still some of the old-style Brits left

Some may have used the bad weather as an excuse for not going to work. But one NHS radiographer was so determined to support his patients and colleagues that he walked 18 miles to get there. Peter Cartwright, 53, trudged through the snow in his wellies [gumboots], caught two lifts from passers-by and took a train and a Tube to reach Guy's Hospital in central London.

The father of four left home in Ashford, Kent, at 5.30am on Monday before catching a train to Maidstone for the first leg of his 55-mile trip. He then walked around ten miles to Borough Green, before stopping for a bacon roll at a cafe, then accepted a lift to Swanley. He walked a further five miles to Eltham in South-East London, before a 'kind chap' gave him a ride to Rotherhithe. Mr Cartwright then walked to Bermondsey station to catch a Jubilee line train one stop to London Bridge before eventually arriving at the hospital at 2pm. He stayed on-site overnight on Monday and Tuesday to complete two further day shifts.

He said: 'I felt I needed to make the effort. I just like the team spirit at Guy's.' He added: 'It would have taken much longer without the kindness of people around. 'I like walking, I do a lot of long distance walks and my body is used to it. I chose to wear my wellies which kept my socks and trousers dry. I was quite warm walking along.'

Mr Cartwright's wife Tina, 51, added: 'It's just typical Peter, he will always do his best to get into work. I wasn't surprised, he was just determined to get there. 'He has a responsibility to his job. He knew there would be others who couldn't get in, so if he got there if knew he could help out.'


The age of the snitch: A nurse suspended for praying. Carol Thatcher sacked for a private remark. How public sector informers are creating Stasi Britain...

Sometimes you have to pinch yourself to remember that Britain has historically always been the cradle of liberty. For today we seem to be sliding inexorably into a culture of control which would have been very familiar to the Stasi or the KGB. Carol Thatcher, the daughter of former Prime Minister Lady Thatcher, now faces being banned from the BBC after reportedly referring to an unnamed tennis player as reminding her of a 'golliwog'.

Carol, who was crowned Queen of the Jungle in the 2005 reality series I'm A Celebrity... Get Me Out Of Here!, has been a regular presenter on The One Show - a daily magazine programme on BBC One - for three years and is described as part of the family on the BBC website. But yesterday the BBC threw her out by announcing in the wake of the 'golliwog' row that it now had 'no plans' to use her again in her regular presenting slot.

Let it be said loud and clear, racially offensive language is unacceptable. Ms Thatcher maintains, however, that she made merely a jokey remark. Her friends say that all she did was to compare the player's hairstyle to the 'Robertson's Golly' which once adorned that company's jars of jam and marmalade. But without knowing the context in which she made this remark - and the tone in which it was said - none of us can judge what to make of it. And that surely is the point.

For the really disturbing thing about this episode - unlike that involving Jonathan Ross, who deeply offended millions in public, had to have an apology dragged out of him and kept his 18 million job - is not so much the remark itself but the fact that Carol Thatcher made it in private. We can't gauge whether or not this really is a hanging offence or a trivial aside of no consequence, because she made the remark after several drinks in the show's hospitality room to the presenter Adrian Chiles, who is said to have been 'outraged' by it. So outraged that it seems it is being used to hang her out to dry. But it was a remark made in the course of a private conversation - which has now been used to sack her after someone involved in that lighthearted banter passed it on to BBC executives in the form of a complaint.

It is the BBC's reaction which is really shocking and offensive, together with the behaviour of the person who turned in Ms Thatcher (would they have done so if she'd had a different mother?) to the Corporation's commissars. It is hard to think of anything more despicable than snitching like this on a private conversation. People say or do all kinds of things which are perfectly acceptable in the context of drinks with friends or colleagues, but which would cause a very different impression if they occurred in public. If we were all to be treated in this way, how many of us would remain in our jobs? Is there anyone who can honestly claim never to have uttered an injudicious remark when sharing a drink with friends?

This is the whole point of privacy. The very essence of a liberal society is to acknowledge the distinction between public and private, and to tolerate in private what might not be acceptable in public. To seek to enforce codes of behaviour in private relationships is totally coercive and illiberal. Yet that is precisely what has happened in the case of Carol Thatcher. By reporting her remark to the BBC hierarchy - and who knows whether or not it was distorted or taken out of context in the lodging of this complaint - her disloyal and sneaky colleagues took an axe to her right to privacy.

The implications are deeply disturbing. For such behaviour means that no one can ever relax with colleagues for fear that one of them might go running to the boss to complain. It destroys the freedom to speak in private for fear that this might be used to cast you into outer darkness for having a view which falls foul of some arbitrary definition of what is acceptable. After all, no offence could possibly have been given to the unnamed tennis player or the public at large because the remark was not broadcast.

This is, in fact, the second time in just a few days in which someone has found herself facing the sack for behaviour which has caused no actual offence but where charges have been laid by officious colleagues enforcing an oppressive code of behaviour. Community nurse Caroline Petrie offered to pray for an elderly patient who was being treated at home. The following day, Mrs Petrie was confronted over her offer by a nursing sister. The day after that, she was told that she was suspended while disciplinary action would be taken against her which might lead to the sack. But although the patient had turned down her offer of a prayer, she said she was not the slightest bit offended and certainly had not made a complaint.

As with Carol Thatcher, it was this nurse's colleagues who were offended that Mrs Petrie had transgressed codes of 'equality and diversity' - which apparently preclude a nurse offering the Christian solace of prayer. And it was professional colleagues, both in that NHS Trust and in the BBC, who took it upon themselves to enforce those approved attitudes from which there can be no deviation.

Mr Ross's offence is that in sick language he offended the elderly. Old, white, middle-class people don't really count for much in the BBC mindset. Ms Thatcher's alleged offence involved race - which to the BBC constitutes the most heinous crime of all.

Such political correctness is now the governing characteristic of public sector institutions such as the BBC and the NHS, along with an intelligentsia determined upon a draconian process of social engineering aimed at changing not just society but human nature itself. Ostensibly designed to protect disadvantaged groups, it is actually all about advertising the moral purity of those who enforce it. It's a dogma enforced with the zealotry of a secular inquisition and is profoundly totalitarian in character. Indeed, behaviour such as this has always been a key feature of police states and totalitarian regimes.

The Stasi or the KGB gained much of their power over the population they tyrannised by getting people to inform on each other, using such informers to bring forward evidence of 'thought crimes' from private or overheard conversations. Such use of informers sets people against each other in a climate of permanent and corrosive suspicion. Destroying the trust which is the basis of relationships, it is thus a principal means of controlling the population.

In Communist regimes, Stasi and KGB informers and apparatchiks designated dissidents, religious believers and other free spirits as enemies of the state. In politically correct Britain, BBC informers and NHS apparatchiks designate jovially gabby broadcasters and Christian nurses as enemies of society, to be summarily convicted by kangaroo courts of conformist bureaucrats and banished in opprobrium and disgust.

It's all part of a wider trend. The police 'hate crime' division urges the public to inform on anyone who expresses an opinion they deem hateful to the usual range of disadvantaged groups. An energy company invites children to become 'climate cops', reporting on parents, relatives and friends who leave TV sets on and commit other examples of 'climate crime'.

It is this combination of lunacy and coercion which leads one to think that the land of those great apostles of free thinking, John Milton and John Locke, is fast turning into a nightmare straight out of the pages of George Orwell or Franz Kafka.


NYT whitewashes Islamic murderers (again)

There's a curious omission in a New York Times report from Baghdad on the arrest of Samira Ahmed Jassim al-Azzawi, a quinquagenarian woman who goes by the nickname "Um Huda" ("mother of believers") and who confessed to Iraqi police that she had recruited at least 28 female suicide bombers for al Qaeda:
Her remarks suggested that she had to work diligently to persuade women to become bombers, speaking to them many times. She also appeared to confirm what many military and intelligence officials had asserted: that insurgents prey on women in dire social and economic situations who are often suffering from emotional or psychological problems, or abuse.
What does it mean, "she had to work diligently"? What the Times leaves out can be found in many other news accounts, such as this one from London's Times:
She has apparently confessed to helping to organise the rape of young women. She would then play on the shame associated with victims of rape in Iraqi society to convince the women to become suicide bombers as their only means of escape, according to a prison interview with the Associated Press.
The London paper notes that "it was not possible to verify independently the claims of using rape as a means to turn women into suicide attackers"--a fair disclaimer, but one that does not justify ignoring the claims altogether.

In any case, assuming the rape story is true, consider the many levels on which this is depraved. A Muslim woman is arranging for Muslim men to rape Muslim women in order to shame those Muslim women into committing suicide for the purpose of murdering other Muslim men, women and children. And all of this is done in the name of Islam.



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, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


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Thursday, February 05, 2009

"Elf 'n safety": How years of Leftist nannying have made the once-dogged British into a nation of "bedwetters"

The rot sets in with those simpering, risk-averse TV weather forecasters and their boggle-eyed melodramatics as they predict a couple of inches (sorry, centimetres) of the white stuff. They and their radio counterparts jibber about 'snow events' and tell us to 'wrap up warm' and 'travel only if your journey is absolutely necessary'. England's response to a few snowflakes on Monday confirmed everything one had feared about our once stoical, can-do country. A snowfall, trifling by the standards of many other Western countries, brought public services to a shuddering, shivering halt.

They couldn't even claim they weren't warned - for once the Met Office's predictions were spot on. The authorities assured us they were braced and ready. They had made 'contingency plans'. Yet when the snow flurries did arrive and a tiny carpet of snow started to settle on the surface of the southern counties, officialdom and its 'throw a sickie' adherents went into near total collapse.

If it had not been quite so chilly we could have called this 'Municipal Meltdown'. The South East's transport system folded like an origami artist's calling card. Railway station superintendents never seem to be happier than when announcing cancellations. These potted Mussolinis are in their element when scrawling emergency notices on whiteboards with their loopy handwriting. How puffed up the Klaxon mob become in such situations, taking to every public address system with insincere 'apologies for any inconvenience caused'.

London's bus drivers and their Fred Kites (if you recall Peter Sellers's stroppy union convenor) were quick to put work and duty in the too-hard basket. 'Nah, mate, health and safety, innit?' they said. London's Mayor, Boris Johnson, was pathetically quick to accept their verdict. How that man can call himself a leader of men, Lord only knows. The roads were deemed too slippery and buses were suddenly being described as lethal weapons which could wipe out entire communities with one careless tweak of the steering wheel. You'd never think that London buses kept going throughout the notoriously icy winter of 1963 or during the Blitz.

Hospitals cancelled operations, courts failed to open, West End theatres went dark and councils operated on skeleton staff, in some cases before the snow had actually started. Civil servants refused to walk a few hundred yards from a Whitehall department to the House of Commons 'owing to the adverse wevver condishuns'. And yet the strikers managed to reach their picket lines at the power stations.

Those of us who did actually venture out on to the roads and railways soon found that things were not nearly as bad as the broadcasters claimed. The whole hoo-hah had been ludicrously overstated. I managed to reach London perfectly easily from Herefordshire on Monday. We were delayed by an hour - pretty much par for the course. The first real sign of trouble was at Ealing, West London, where the train stopped before gingerly making its way into a near-deserted capital. Our Great Western locomotive must have weighed many tons, yet they were fretting about three or so inches of powdery snow. Elephant meets mouse and takes fright.

As one exasperated contributor to the Daily Mail website put it yesterday (thank you, 'Gaelforce' of Inverness), we have become 'a nation of bedwetters'.

Millions of workers rang in to say they were unable to make it to work - a good proportion of them, it can safely be asserted, having not even bothered to step out of their pyjamas, let alone try to reverse the car from the garage. Was it not noticeable that those who DID make it in to work tended to be the more committed members of staff? If companies are looking to make redundancies in the coming months they could do worse than to inspect the staff attendance log for the Great Blizzard (as it wasn't) of February 2009.

Schools, rather than set pupils an example by stoically carrying on, simply ran up the white flag and closed - some of them in counties almost untouched by snow. What a message to set the next generation. The old proverb of 'try and try and try again' seems to have been replaced by 'give up at the first setback'.

A London council closed its parks, determined to safeguard its residents from terrible fates that beheld them if they walked on ungritted paths. There used to be a concept of caveat emptor but it has been replaced by a system paralysed by fear of litigation. If in doubt, say no. That is today's rule of thumb.

The private sector, somehow, managed to soldier on. Self-employed taxi drivers had a field day, miraculously piloting their vehicles over the killer ice that was keeping the buses in their depots.

Down at the Commons, MPs cancelled meetings a day ahead, determined to expect the worst rather than to improvise or press on.

Good grief, it's not exactly the spirit of Captain Scott, is it? But Robert Falcon Scott might as well have belonged to a different country. If he'd known what was going to happen to Britain, he might never have bothered to go all that way to the South Pole.


Outrage as British police station ditches Union Jack... for a homosexual rights flag

A Union Flag at a police station was replaced by a gay rights flag in a move that has triggered a fresh row over political correctness. The rainbow flag was hoisted outside Limehouse police station in East London to mark Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender history month in February. Metropolitan Police rules state that only the Union Flag and its own flag can fly from force buildings.

Sir Paul Stephenson, the new Met commissioner, angrily ordered the flag to be taken down after being told of the controversy it had caused. One officer said: 'I couldn't believe my eyes when I saw it. 'The police are playing politics again. I can understand the need to show acceptance to people of all sexualities - but the Union Jack should never be taken down.'

A Scotland Yard spokesman said the decision to display the rainbow flag for the first day of LGBT history month had been taken by the borough commander, Chief Superintendent Paul Rickett. But he added: 'The Met policy is that only two flags should be flown: the Union Flag or the Met flag. The commissioner reaffirmed that he expects all staff to adhere to this policy.

Tory MP David Jones has waded into the debate describing the gay rights flag flying outside the police station as 'political tokenism' 'It would appear someone, albeit with good intentions, decided to fly the rainbow flag over a police building in suppolice-port of Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender history month.'

The spokesman went on: 'The Met is supporting LGBT history month this year through a number of events and activities aimed at encouraging victims of hate crime to report incidents to police, and to celebrate the contribution made by LGBT people in the Met.'

Earlier this week the 'gay pride' flag was flown at the North Wales headquarters of Britain's most controversial chief, Richard Brunstromto mark LGBT history. David Jones, Tory MP for Clwyd West, said: 'This is tokenism and posturing. People want to see their police force focus on fighting crime, not getting involved in political tokenism and gestures.'

Critics believe the London flag row is a legacy of Sir Ian Blair's stint as Met chief, when he was often accused of being obsessed with political correctness. At one stage he asked officers to declare whether they were homosexual - a first step to quotas for numbers of gay and lesbian officers in the Met. And officers at an exam for prospective chief superintendents were once asked how they would react if they realised a male colleague was a transvestite after seeing him dressed as a woman in a pub.

Sir Paul, keen to portray himself as a more traditional leader, has said he has no intention of being a 'celebrity' commissioner and his main focus is to fight crime and not bow to a PC agenda.


The DNA of Politics: Genes shape our beliefs, our values, and even our votes.

Some studies show the genetic contribution to political orientation to be even higher that that mentioned below. See here

James Q. Wilson

Children differ, as any parent of two or more knows. Some babies sleep through the night, others are always awake; some are calm, others are fussy; some walk at an early age, others after a long wait. Scientists have proved that genes are responsible for these early differences. But people assume that as children get older and spend more time under their parents' influence, the effect of genes declines. They are wrong.

For a century or more, we have understood that intelligence is largely inherited, though even today some mistakenly rail against the idea and say that nurture, not nature, is all. Now we know that much of our personality, too, is inherited and that many social attitudes have some degree of genetic basis, including our involvement in crime and some psychiatric illnesses. Some things do result entirely from environmental influences, such as whether you follow the Red Sox or the Yankees (though I suspect that Yankee fans have a genetic defect). But beyond routine tastes, almost everything has some genetic basis. And that includes politics.

When scholars say that a trait is "inherited," they don't mean that they can tell what role nature and nurture have played in any given individual. Rather, they mean that in a population-say, a group of adults or children-genes explain a lot of the differences among individuals.

There are two common ways of reaching this conclusion. One is to compare adopted children's traits with those of their biological parents, on the one hand, and with those of their adoptive parents, on the other. If a closer correlation exists with the biological parents' traits, then we say that the trait is to that degree inherited.

The other method is to compare identical twins' similarity, with respect to some trait, with the similarity of fraternal twins, or even of two ordinary siblings. Identical twins are genetic duplicates, while fraternal twins share only about half their genes and are no more genetically alike than ordinary siblings are. If identical twins are more alike than fraternal twins, therefore, we conclude that the trait under consideration is to some degree inherited.

Three political science professors-John Alford, Carolyn Funk, and John Hibbing-have studied political attitudes among a large number of twins in America and Australia. They measured the attitudes with something called the Wilson-Patterson Scale (I am not the Wilson after whom it was named), which asks whether a respondent agrees or disagrees with 28 words or phrases, such as "death penalty," "school prayer," "pacifism," or "gay rights." They then compared the similarity of the responses among identical twins with the similarity among fraternal twins. They found that, for all 28 taken together, the identical twins did indeed agree with each other more often than the fraternal ones did-and that genes accounted for about 40 percent of the difference between the two groups. On the other hand, the answers these people gave to the words "Democrat" or "Republican" had a very weak genetic basis. In politics, genes help us understand fundamental attitudes-that is, whether we are liberal or conservative-but do not explain what party we choose to join.

Genes also influence how frequently we vote. Voting has always puzzled scholars: How is it rational to wait in line on a cold November afternoon when there is almost no chance that your ballot will make any difference? Apparently, people who vote often feel a strong sense of civic duty or like to express themselves. But who are these people? James Fowler, Laura Baker, and Christopher Dawes studied political participation in Los Angeles by comparing voting among identical and fraternal twins. Their conclusion: among registered voters, genetic factors explain about 60 percent of the difference between those who vote and those who do not.

A few scholars, determined to hang on to the belief that environment explains everything, argue that such similarities occur because the parents of identical twins-as opposed to the parents of fraternal twins-encourage them to be as alike as possible as they grow up. This is doubtful. First, we know that many parents make bad guesses about their children's genetic connection-thinking that fraternal twins are actually identical ones, or vice versa. When we take twins' accurate genetic relationships into account, we find that identical twins whom parents wrongly thought to be fraternal are very similar, while fraternal twins wrongly thought to be identical are no more alike than ordinary siblings.

Moreover, studying identical twins reared apart by different families, even in different countries, effectively shows that their similar traits cannot be the result of similar upbringing. The University of Minnesota's Thomas Bouchard has done research on many identical twins reared apart (some in different countries) and has found that though they never knew each other or their parents, they proved remarkably alike, especially in personality-whether they were extroverted, agreeable, neurotic, or conscientious, for example.

Some critics complain that the fact that identical twins live together with their birth parents, at least for a time, ruins Bouchard's findings: during this early period, they say, parenting must influence the children's attitudes. But the average age at which the identical twins in Bouchard's study became separated from their parents was five months. It is hard to imagine parents teaching five-month-old babies much about politics or religion.

The gene-driven ideological split that Alford and his colleagues found may, in fact, be an underestimate, because men and women tend to marry people with whom they agree on big issues-assortative mating, as social scientists call it. Assortative mating means that the children of parents who agree on issues will be more likely to share whatever genes influence those beliefs. Thus, even children who are not identical twins will have a larger genetic basis for their views than if their parents married someone with whom they disagreed. Since we measure heritability by subtracting the similarity among fraternal twins from the similarity among identical ones, this difference may neglect genetic influences that already exist on fraternal twins. And if it does, it means that we are underestimating genetic influences on attitudes.

When we step back and look at American politics generally, genes may help us understand why, for countless decades, about 40 percent of all voters have supported conservative causes, about 40 percent have backed liberal ones, and the 20 percent in the middle have decided the elections. On a few occasions, the winning presidential candidate has won about 60 percent of the vote. But these days we call a 55 percent victory a "landslide." It is hard to imagine a purely environmental force that would rule out a presidential election in which one candidate got 80 percent of the vote and his rival only 20 percent. Something deeper must be going on.

All of this leaves open the question: Which genes help create which political attitudes? Right now, we don't know. To discover the links will require lengthy studies of the DNA of people with different political views. Scientists are having a hard time locating the specific genes that cause diseases; it will probably be much harder to find the complex array of genes that affects politics.

There are problems with the observed link between genes and politics. One is that it is fairly crude so far. Liberals and conservatives come in many varieties: one can be an economic liberal and a social conservative, say, favoring a large state but opposing abortion; or an economic conservative and a social liberal, favoring the free market but supporting abortion and gay rights. If we add attitudes about foreign policy to the mix, the combinations double. Most tests used in genetic studies of political views do not allow us to make these important distinctions. As a result, though we know that genes affect ideology, that knowledge is clumsy. In time, I suspect, we will learn more about these subtleties.

Further, it's important to emphasize that biology is not destiny. Genetic influences rarely operate independently of environmental factors. Take the case of serotonin. People who have little of this neurotransmitter are at risk for some psychological problems, but for many of them, no such problems occur unless they experience some personal crisis. Then the combined effect of genetic influences and disruptive experiences will trigger a deep state of depression, something that does not happen to people who either do not lack serotonin or who do lack it but encounter no crisis. Recently, in the first study to find the exact genes that affect political participation, Fowler and Dawes found two genes that help explain voting behavior. One of the genes, influencing serotonin levels, boosts turnout by 10 percent-if the person also attends church frequently. Nature and nurture interact.

The same is probably true of political ideology. When campus protests and attacks on university administrators began in the late 1960s, it was not because a biological upheaval had increased the number of radicals; it was because such people encountered events (the war in Vietnam, the struggle over civil rights) and group pressures that induced them to take strong actions. By the same token, lynchings in the South did not become common because there were suddenly more ultra-racists around. Rather, mob scenes, media frenzies, and the shock of criminal events motivated people already skeptical of civil rights to do terrible things.

Another challenge is politicized assessment of the genetic evidence. Ever since 1950, when Theodor Adorno and his colleagues published The Authoritarian Personality, scholars have studied right-wing authoritarianism but neglected its counterpart on the left. In his study of identical twins reared apart, Bouchard concludes that right-wing authoritarianism is, to a large degree, inherited-but he says nothing about the Left. This omission is puzzling, since as Bouchard was studying twins at the University of Minnesota, he was regularly attacked by left-wing students outraged by the idea that any traits might be inherited. A few students even threatened to kill him. When I pointed this out to him, he suggested, in good humor, that I was a troublemaker.

Yet if you ask who in this country has prevented people from speaking on college campuses, it is overwhelmingly leftists. If you ask who storms the streets and shatters the windows of Starbucks coffee shops to protest the World Trade Organization, it is overwhelmingly leftists. If you ask who produces campus codes that infringe on free speech, it is overwhelmingly leftists. If you ask who invaded the classroom of my late colleague Richard Herrnstein and tried to prevent him from teaching, it was overwhelmingly leftists.

A better way to determine if authoritarianism is genetic would be to ask people what the country's biggest problems are. Liberals might say the inequality of income or the danger of global warming; conservatives might indicate the tolerance of abortion or the abundance of pornography. You would then ask each group what they thought should be done to solve these problems. An authoritarian liberal might say that we should tax high incomes out of existence and close down factories that emit greenhouse gases. A conservative authoritarian might suggest that we put abortion doctors in jail and censor books and television programs. This approach would give us a true measure of authoritarianism, left and right, and we would know how many of each kind existed and something about their backgrounds. Then, if they had twins, we would be able to estimate the heritability of authoritarianism. Doing all this is a hard job, which may explain why no scholars have done it.

Genes shape, to varying degrees, almost every aspect of human behavior. The struggle by some activists to deny or downplay that fact is worrisome. The anti-gene claim is ultimately an ill-starred effort to preserve the myth that, since the environment can explain everything, political causes that attempt to alter the environment can bring about whatever their leaders desire. The truth is that though biology is not destiny, neither is it an easily changed path to utopia.


One in ten men could be victims of paternity fraud. I'm fighting for them ...not the money

There was never going to be a good time. But when the truth finally emerged, it couldn't have been at a more inopportune moment. Mark Webb was driving to work at eight in the morning when his wife Lydia rang. `I was in the fast lane of the M4 heading towards Reading,' he recalls. `I picked up the call on the hands-free and said, "Hi, what's the problem?" because Lydia wouldn't normally call so early. She said, "I've got something I need to tell you. You're not the father of Elspeth. Dave Mottram is." ' It was a shattering revelation and one that set in motion an extraordinary chain of events.

For what might have been a painful but private matter became very public when Mark took his now ex-wife and her lover to court in a bid to claim compensation for the 17 years he had spent bringing up Elspeth, believing her to be his daughter. Mark's claim failed and ten days ago the Court of Appeal refused him permission to appeal against the ruling. Since then the `paternity fraud' case has sparked a passionate debate about the rights of fathers.

In last week's Mail on Sunday, Lydia defended her actions while Mr Mottram has also had his say, claiming he did not know that Elspeth was his daughter. Yet throughout, and for all the conjecture and comment, Mark remained silent. Now, in an exclusive interview, the 47-year-old production manager for an engineering company explains why he took the controversial and much-criticised decision to try to recoup the money he had spent bringing up Elspeth. He tells how he had always believed in his marriage and how Lydia's secret and the subsequent court case have torn apart his relationship with Elspeth and another daughter, India. He also reveals that for him, at least, the battle is not over, as he intends to take his case to the European Court of Human Rights.

Clean-cut and precise, with closely shorn hair and inky-black eyes, Mark is not given to outward displays of emotion. Yet even now, seven years after that phone call, he still finds the enormity of the situation difficult to take in. `I wonder every day how anyone could keep this to themselves for 17 years,' he says. `It must eat away at you. Up until Lydia's call, I had no idea that Elspeth might not be mine. I was stunned. People say my pride's been hurt, but it's beyond pride. I suppose my dignity has been damaged more than anything else. `I'd always been proud of all our three girls and their achievements. And even though I believe in nurture, not nature, it's still hard to think that people might look on it differently - that maybe Elspeth's the girl she is because she's her "real" father's daughter. `I loved Elspeth and I still do. When you're a dad, and you do a dad's job properly, there's nothing that can shake you into feeling differently about a child.'

And he insists: `I know people have criticised me and they don't like the fact that money is involved. But it's not just about money. It's about something much bigger than that. Exactly what rights do you have as a dad? It's a very serious, complex, frightening issue. `Lord Justice Thorpe said the case raised very interesting sociological points. I don't think interesting is the right word, quite frankly. Studying Roman sewage systems is interesting, if that's what you're into. `This is not just interesting. It's something that's going to have a huge effect on people's lives over the next couple of decades. I love my children and I see what they've gone through and this could happen to another family tomorrow unless we change things.' ....

`What I thought was, I've brought up three children and it now transpires I wasn't the father of one of them. I've got to pay for these two, so should Dave Mottram now have to repay the money I've spent bringing up his child? 'I asked the CSA and they said no, that payments only start from the day you make a claim. But how could I make a claim for something I didn't know about? It seemed so unfair.'

So, in December 2004, Mark tried to sue his ex-wife for deceit. In March 2006, he added Mr Mottram's name to the claim, demanding more than 100,000 pounds in damages. Mark explains: `It's based on what would have been requested had we known Dave Mottram was the father from the outset. The lawyers worked out that it came to 100,000 plus interest.' ....

Mark now has the zeal of a convert and intends to take his case to Europe. `It is a serious debate,' he says. `At what point is a father entitled to know, for sure, that a child is his? Some statistics say that as many as one in ten men may be unaware they are not the real fathers of their children. `DNA can be used by the Government to catch a criminal and put him in prison 20 years later, but it can't be used retrospectively to make a father pay for his child.

More here


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, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


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Wednesday, February 04, 2009

British nurse who was suspended for offering to pray for a patient is lifted by a wave of support

If I were ill, I would be very glad to have nurse Petrie looking after me -- atheist though I am!

A wave of support for the nurse suspended for offering to pray for a patient gathered pace yesterday as medical and religious bodies rallied behind her cause. As health chaplains called for new NHS guidelines over spiritual care, the Christian Medical Fellowship said Caroline Petrie's removal amounted to 'religious discrimination'. The Royal College of Nursing promised to back her disciplinary case.

Committed Christian Mrs Petrie, 45, faces disciplinary action after being accused of failing to show a commitment to equality and diversity. She could be sacked after asking an elderly patient if she wanted her to pray for her. The patient, May Phippen, 79, was not upset or offended but told another nurse she found it strange and it might be upsetting or offensive to others.

Reverend Mark Stobert, vice-president of the College of Healthcare Chaplains, yesterday called for clearer guidelines to help avoid a repeat of what happened to the community nurse. He said: 'It can be argued there's a spiritual aspect to all types of care. We have been suggesting that a more organised spiritual care framework is established in the NHS in England. Such a system exists in Scotland and Wales, and we would renew our calls for something similar to be set up here too. 'It would mean individuals would be clearer about what they can and cannot do.'

Mrs Petrie, of Weston-super-Mare, North Somerset, is being supported by the RCN in the case which has been brought against her by the primary care trust for which she works as a 10 pounds-an-hour supply nurse.

The Christian Medical Fellowship's general secretary Peter Saunders said there were thousands of Christian healthcare workers and those of other faiths for whom prayer was a normal daily part of their lives. He said: 'Suspension simply for inquiring about the appropriateness of prayer is not only an act of religious discrimination but will undermine the proper provision of spiritual care in the NHS. 'Appropriate enquiries about patients' beliefs are an essential part of whole person care without which a comprehensive plan of care is less achievable. 'A sensitive inquiry as to whether a patient would value prayer may well be an appropriate part of a medical consultation especially in an NHS where some NHS trusts actually pay spiritual healers as part of the care team.

The NHS Scotland guidance states that 'while it is important that the patient's right to confidentiality is respected, it is also important to ensure this does not result in a failure to provide patients with the available spiritual or religious care'.

More here

Some comments from Richard Littlejohn

Nurse Caroline Petrie has been suspended and could even be struck off. What was her offence? Did she turn up drunk? Did she dispense the wrong medicine or forget to empty a bedpan? Was she knocking out prescription drugs to the local pusher? Perhaps she was guilty of neglect, of deliberate cruelty, or of practising a bit of freelance euthanasia.

No. Her 'crime' was to offer to say a prayer for one old lady on the ward. It's what we used to call an act of Christian charity. But that was enough to bring her to the attention of the 'diversity' nazis at the North Somerset Primary Care Trust.

Administrator Alison Withers wrote to her: 'As a nurse you are required to uphold the reputation of your profession. Your NMC (Nursing Midwifery Council) code states that "you must demonstrate a personal and professional commitment to equality and diversity", and "you must not use your professional status to promote causes that are not related to health".' She didn't explain how innocently volunteering to pray for a patient brought the game into disrepute or how it compromised Mrs Petrie's discharge of her professional duties.

The power of prayer has long been acknowledged as part of the healing process. That's why hospitals have chaplains and there are Bibles in bedside cabinets. All over the world, nuns double as nurses. So what is so heinous about Mrs Petrie praying for her patients?

The truth is that Christianity forms no part of the 'diversity' agenda. As I wrote on Friday, in relation to the gay adoption scandal in Edinburgh, the only religion that official Britain recognises is 'diversity' itself. The NHS, like every single one of our institutions, long ago fell to the Guardianistas, who pursue their agenda with a deranged zeal.

While they genuflect to Islam and 'respect' every oddball religion from paganism to devil-worship, they despise Britain's Judeo-Christian tradition and use every extent of their powers to crush it. It's only Christianity which is singled out for such vilification, as with the airport worker suspended for wearing a crucifix and the devout Christian registrar threatened with the sack for refusing to perform homosexual marriages.

Just imagine how they would have reacted had Mrs Petrie been a Muslim offering to pray to Allah for a patient's recovery. Anyone who objected would be accused of a 'hate crime' and dumped in a skip at the back of the mortuary.

What kind of sick society have we become where self-righteous sneaks can ruin someone's career? That this happened in North Somerset and not in one of the barmier inner-city boroughs only serves to illustrate the depths to which the Guardianistas have insinuated themselves into the system. This is what the small print at the bottom of all those public sector job adverts means in reality. 'Diversity' is just another way of persecuting decent people trying to go about their daily business. This is 'investing in diversity' in action. What else do you think all those equality managers do all day?

The most intolerant people in Britain are always those who preach 'tolerance' most loudly. How does victimising Mrs Petrie square with not promoting 'causes that are not related to health'? Isn't that exactly what the hospital authorities themselves are doing? Why should Mrs Petrie, or anyone else, have to 'demonstrate a personal commitment to equality and diversity'? She can harbour whatever beliefs she likes, provided it doesn't interfere with her professionalism.

There's only one word to describe hatchet-faced harridans like administrator Alison Withers and the tell-tale creeps trying to get a dedicated nurse such as Caroline Petrie sacked for dispensing a little Christian kindness. Sick.


Liberals And Free Speech

In an interesting post today, Ilya Somin criticizes President Obama's assertion, in his inaugural address, that "The question we ask today is not whether our government is too big or too small, but whether it works." Here's Somin:
This is a commonly heard argument in response to concerns about the growth of government. Who could possibly be against government when it "works"? Why not instead consider each proposed expansion of the state on a case by case basis, supporting those that "work" and opposing any that don't?

Taken seriously, this argument leads to the rejection of any systematic constraints on government power. Why should we have a general presumption against government regulation of speech or religion? Why not instead support censorship when it "works" by improving the marketplace of ideas, and oppose it when it doesn't? Think of all the misleading speech and religious charlatans that government regulation could potentially save us from!....
But, as Somin surely knows, this argument is more than "taken seriously" by liberals today. Indeed, they assert and affirm it vigorously, even to the point of arguing that government should regulate speech in a way that restricts the speech of the powerful in order to enhance the speech of the less powerful. As long ago as 2002 I noted (here):
From John Stuart Mill on one of the central commitments of liberalism was to free speech. Insofar as American liberals have had a religion, one of its central tenets had always been the sanctity of the First Amendment's free speech protections. In the late 20th Century, however, much of mainstream liberalism turned away from that formerly firm conviction. Feminists favored laws against pornography. Civil rights advocates favored punishment of hate speech. Campaign finance law reformers even favored limitations on political speech, and leading liberal academics (Owen Fiss at Yale, Cass Sunstein at Chicago) began to argue that the speech of some should be limited so that the speech of others could be enhanced....
Similarly, I began a post in 2006 on "The Degradation of American Liberalism" by quoting from the following from a George Will column:
For several decades in America, the aim of much of the jurisprudential thought about the First Amendment's free-speech provision has been to justify contracting its protections. Freedom of speech is increasingly "balanced" against "competing values." As a result, it is whittled down, often by seemingly innocuous increments, to a minor constitutional afterthought.

On campuses, speech codes have abridged the right of free expression to protect the right -- for such it has become -- of certain preferred groups to not be offended. The NCAA is truncating the right of some schools to express their identity using mascots deemed "insensitive" to the feelings of this or that grievance group. Campaign finance laws ration the amount and control the timing and content of political speech. The right to free political speech is now "balanced" against society's interest in leveling the political playing field, or elevating the tone of civic discourse, or enabling politicians to spend less time soliciting contributions, or allowing candidates to control the content of their campaigns, or dispelling the "appearance" of corruption, etc.

To protect the fragile flower of womanhood, a judge has ruled that use of gender-based terms such as "foreman" or "draftsman" could create a "hostile environment" and hence constitute sexual harassment. To improve all of us, people with various agendas are itching to get government to regulate speech of this or that sort.
I then added that I thought Will's argument
could, and thus should, have been even stronger. For the past generation the best and brightest liberal scholars - especially but not limited to those teaching in law schools - have been hard at work creating, developing, and refining highly sophisticated theories to justify restrictions on speech (see, for example, books by Owen Fiss at Yale and Cass Sunstein at Chicago)....
Here's an earlier Will column making the same points, with criticism of "a symptomatic new book, `Republic.Com,' by University of Chicago law professor Cass Sunstein. Sunstein, who is now at Harvard and who has famously called for "a New Deal for Free Speech" that would regulate speech for purposes, and in ways, similar to the way the old New Deal pioneered regulation of the economy, has recently been selected by President Obama to head the very influential Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs.
In his new position, Sunstein will oversee reform of regulations, seeking to find smarter approaches and better results in health, environment and other domestic areas, a transition source said. The office Sunstein will head is part of the Office of Management and Budget and is responsible for reviewing draft regulations and overseeing the implementation of government-wide policies aimed at making federal agencies more efficient, according to the mission statement on its Web site.
Hold onto your old First Amendment!


Where Nations Go to Die

You say "stimulus," I hear "syphilis."

By Mark Steyn

Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the House, is on TV explaining the (at this point the congregation shall fall to its knees and prostrate itself) "stimulus." "How," asks the lady from CBS, "does $335 million in STD prevention stimulate the economy?" "I'll tell you how," says Speaker Pelosi. "I'm a big believer in prevention. And we have, er, there is a part of the bill on the House side that is about prevention. It's about it being less expensive to the states to do these measures."

Makes a lot of sense. If we have more STD prevention, it will be safer for loose women to go into bars and pick up feckless men, thus stimulating the critical beer and nuts and jukebox industries. To do this, we need trillion-dollar deficits, which our children and grandchildren will have to pay off-but, with sufficient investment in prevention measures, there won't be any children or grandchildren, so there's that problem solved.

The more interviews Speaker Pelosi gives explaining how vital the STD industry is to restarting the U.S. economy, the more I find myself hearing "syphilis" every time she says "stimulus." In late September, America was showing the first signs of "primary stimulus"-a few billion lesions popping up on the rarely glimpsed naughty bits of the economy: the subprime mortgage racket, the leverage kings. Now, the condition has metastasized in a mere four months into the advanced stages of "tertiary stimulus," with trillions of hideous, ever more inflamed pustules sprouting in every nook and cranny as the central nervous system of the body politic crumbles into total insanity-until it seems entirely normal for the second-in-line of presidential succession to be on TV gibbering away about how vital the federalization of condom distribution is to economic recovery.

The rules in this new "post-partisan" era are pretty simple: If the Democratic party wants it, it's "stimulus." If the Republican party opposes it, it's "politics"-as in headlines like this: "Obama Urges GOP To Keep Politics To A Minimum On Stimulus." These are serious times: As the president says, it's the worst economic crisis since the Thirties. So politicians need to put politics behind them and immediately lavish $4.19 billion on his community-organizing pals at the highly inventive "voter registration" group ACORN for "neighborhood stabilization activities."

"Neighborhood stabilization activities." That sounds like a line item from the Baath-party budget when Saddam sends the lads in to gas the Kurds. What does it mean in a non-totalitarian sense? Do you need a federally subsidized condom to do it? If so, will a pathetic $4.19 billion be enough?

"Stimulus" comes from the verb stimulare, which is Latin for "transfer massive sums of money from what remains of the dynamic sector of the economy to the special interests of the Democratic party." No, hang on, my mistake. Stimulare means "to goad." And, on that front, the Democrats are doing an excellent job. They've managed to goad 58 percent of the American people into opposing the "stimulus" package. They've managed to goad all 177 Republicans in the House into unpacking their mothballed cojones and voting against the bill. And they've managed to goad the rest of the world into ending the Obama honeymoon in nothing flat. Headline from the London Daily Telegraph: "US-EU Trade War Looms As Barack Obama Bill Urges `Buy American.' "

That would be the provision in the Senate bill prohibiting any foreign-made goods from being used in "stimulus" projects. So, if you own a rubber plantation in Malaysia and you're hoping for a piece of Nancy Pelosi's condom action, forget it. The EU trade commissioner is outraged at the swaggering cowboy Obama shooting from the hip and unilaterally banning European goods from American soil. But so are American companies such as General Electric. Bill Lane, an executive honcho with Caterpillar (the tenth biggest U.S. investor in the United Kingdom), says, "We are students of history. A major reason a very deep recession turned into the Great Depression was the fact that countries turned inward." Ah, yes. The Buy American Act of 1933. How'd that work out?

Even without Speaker Pelosi talking STD on the evening news, there is danger here for the new administration. Setting aside the more messianic effusions ("We needed him. And out of that great need," gushed Maya Angelou, "Barack Obama came.") as unbecoming to the freeborn citizens of a constitutional republic, it seems clear that large numbers of people voted for this president because they wanted something different, something other than "politics as usual." Not just something pseudo-different like the dreary maverickiness of John McCain "reaching across the aisle" (one of those dead phrases no one outside the Beltway gives a hoot about), but something really different. But the "stimulus" package is just politics as usual with a few extra zeroes on the end. Will you notice anything? No. Don't get your hopes up. If you're broke now, you'll be broke in October. The Congressional Budget Office estimates only 25 percent of it will be spent by early next year. The other 75 percent is as stimulating as the gal in the Nancy Pelosi Pussycat Lounge telling you she had such a good time she's penciled in a second date for spring 2010. A third of all the spending won't come until after 2011.

In a media age, politics is a battle of language, and "stimulus" is too good a word to cede to porked-up statist hacks. "Stimulus" has to stimulate-i.e., it's short-term, like, say, an immediate cut in payroll taxes that will put real actual money in your pocket in next month's paycheck. That way, you don't need to wait for ACORN: You can start "stabilizing" your own "neighborhood" right now.

But, if this fraudulent "stimulus" does pass, it will, in fact, de-stimulate, and much more than the disastrous protectionist measures of the Thirties did: Back then, America was dealing with a far less globalized economy, and with far fewer competitors. "In the long run, we are all dead," Lord Keynes, the newly fashionable economist, famously said. But, if this bill passes, in the medium term, we're all dead. It's a massive expansion of the state in the same direction that has brought sclerosis to Europe. A report issued last week in London found that government spending now accounts for 49 percent of the U.K. economy-and in the Celtic corners of the kingdom the state's share of the economy is way higher, from 71.6 percent in Wales to 77.6 percent in Northern Ireland. In the western world, countries that were once the crucible of freedom are slipping remorselessly into a thinly disguised serfdom in which an ever-higher proportion of your assets are annexed by the state as super-landlord. Big government is where nations go to die-not in Keynes' "long run," but sooner than you think.


Demographic Winter: "Schools will be turned into nursing homes. Playgrounds will become graveyards."

The article below is a reasonable extrapolation of current trends but whether the trend will continue is an open question. Both in Australia and France there are some signs of a recovering birthrate in response to government incentives

Celebrated columnist and pro-family leader Don Feder gave a jaw-dropping presentation on the coming 'Demographic Winter' at the Rose Dinner which closes the official March for Life festivities every year. Speaking to hundreds of attendees, Feder suggested that the demographic problem of worldwide declining birthrates "could result in the greatest crisis humanity will confront in this century" as "all over the world, children are disappearing."

"In the Western world, birthrates are falling and populations are aging," said Feder. "The consequences for your children and grandchildren could well be catastrophic." Feder noted, "In 30 years, worldwide, birth rates have fallen by more than 50%. In 1979, the average woman on this planet had 6 children. Today, the average is 2.9 children, and falling." He explained the situation noting, "demographers tell us that with a birthrate of 1.3, everything else being equal, a nation will lose half of its population every 45 years."

Beyond an inability to pay for pensions, it is likely that euthanasia will be one looked-to solution to the aging crisis, he said.

"Demographic Winter is the terminal stage in the suicide of the West - the culmination of a century of evil ideas and poisonous policies,'" he said. Among them he listed:

"Abortion - As I mentioned a moment ago, worldwide, we're killing 42 million people a year. It's as if an invading army killed every man woman and child in Italy - then repeated the process every year.

"Contraception - For the first time in history, just under half the world's population of childbearing age uses some form of birth control. Some of us remember when births weren't controlled and pregnancies weren't planned. With all the wailing about man-made Global Warming, carbon footprints and the ozone layer, wouldn't it be ironic if what did us in wasn't the SUV but the IUD?

"Delayed marriage. People are marrying later and later. After 35, it becomes progressively harder for a woman to have children.

"The decline of marriage and the rise of cohabitation. Not surprisingly, in relationships without commitment, people have fewer children. By the way, the left's contribution to the coming population crisis is to push the one type of `marriage' (and I use the term advisedly) that can't conceivably produce children.

"But perhaps," he concluded, "the most important factor is a culture (including Hollywood, the news media and academia) that tells people that children are a burden, rather than a joy; that pushes an ego-driven, live-for-the-moment ethic; a culture that tells us that contentment comes from careers, love, friendship, pets, possessions, travel, personal growth - anything and everything except family and children. It's a culture that can look at Sarah Palin and her beautiful family and ask why she had to have 5 children and why she didn't abort her child with Downs syndrome."



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, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


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Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Social work snooping on child carers in Britain

This might make some slight sense if British social workerrs were people of sense and goodwill but the opposite is true so this poses a huge risk to innocent carers of children

Grandparents who bring up their children's children could be wrongly targeted in a campaign against unofficial foster parents, charities warned yesterday. The Government-backed initiative urges neighbours, teachers and doctors to alert social workers if children suddenly turn up next door, in the classroom or at the surgery. It also calls for children to put pressure on their friends to tell teachers if they are living with people who are not their parents.

The Somebody Else's Child campaign has been organised by the British Association for Adoption and Fostering, with funding from the Department for Children, Schools and Families. It is designed to persuade the public to tell social workers about 'private fostering' arrangements, in which children are given by their parents or carers to other people to look after.

But it has been condemned as misleading and dangerous by grandparents' groups. Charities say the campaign's posters and advertisements could mean persecution for grandparents and other relatives, who by law are fully entitled to look after their children's children. The fears come in the wake of controversy over the case of two young children in Edinburgh who have been taken from the care of their grandparents for adoption by a gay couple. Lyn Chesterman of the Grandparents' Association said: 'I am absolutely flabbergasted. You have to ask, is this using a sledgehammer to crack a nut? I hope there are no repercussions for those families who are just doing their best.'

Since the murder in 2000 of eight-year-old Victoria Climbie, killed by the couple to whom she had been given by her parents, laws and guidelines have encouraged local councils to publicise their anxiety about private fostering and redouble efforts to ensure social workers intervene in all cases. Under the 1989 Children Act, however, private fostering by close relatives need not be reported to social workers. Close relatives include step-parents, grandparents, sisters, brothers, uncles, aunts and grandparents.

Posters in the campaign, which was launched last month, ask baldly: 'Do you know someone who is caring for somebody else's child? If it's for more than 28 days they must notify their local council. Failure to do so is a criminal offence.' They do not mention that there is no legal bar to relatives bringing up children.

Miss Chesterman said: 'You don't know if the person living next door to you is a child's aunt or whatever. This is making people make assumptions as to what the family next door is doing.' A spokesman for the BAAF said that grandparents should clear up any misunderstanding by contacting social workers themselves.


Obama's pet antisemite

As Scott and John noted earlier today, President Obama has given Samantha Power a senior foreign policy job at the White House. She will be named senior director for multilateral affairs at the National Security Council. Last year, I wrote a series of posts contending that Power is anti-Israel, and at times viciously so. Here is a summary of my evidence:
In a 2002 interview, Power advocated investing billions of dollars to impose a Palestinian state. That investment would include the insertion of "a mammoth" and explicitly "military" force into the disputed territory. Last year, Power desribed this approach as "weird." But it's not that weird if you desperately want to tilt U.S. policy decisively in favor of the Palestinians.

Power's anti-Israel sentiment is further apparent in her support of slashing, if not eliminating, military aid to Israel (an ally surrounded by 300 million people who wish to destroy her) and giving it to the Palestinians, whose charters (whether the Hamas or Fatah version) advocate the destruction of Israel.

Along the same lines, Power has spoken sympathetically about the notion of "alienating a domestic constituency of tremendous political and financial import [American Jews] and sacrificing...billions of dollars, not in servicing Israel's military, but actually investing in the state of Palestine."

Power's unhappiness with American Jews extends beyond their support for Israel in issues relating to the Palestinians. Outrageously, Power has blamed deference to Israel and the "special interests" that support Israel for the U.S. intervention in Iraq. She does so in the face of evidence that Israel had no particular desire that we overthrow Saddam Hussein, and actually viewed that enterprise as a distraction from the more serious threat posed by Iran.

Power showed the depth of her dislike (if not hatred) for Israel when she blamed Israel for the tactics the U.S. has used in Iraq. She stated that our alleged "deference" to Israel has caused us "to replicate Israeli tactics, which, as the war in Lebanon last summer demonstrated, can turn out to be counter-productive." Power did not state what she thinks these tactics were, but she seems to have had in mind the bombing of civilians which caused an international outcry. In any case, Power provided no evidence that Israel is to blame for whatever U.S. tactics she finds objectionable.

Still on the subject of Lebanon, Power has expressed outrage at the way Israel has treated the U.N.'s faux peacekeepers in South Lebanon, the ones who stood by while Hezbollah gained a dominant position and used it to commit aggression against Israel. In this connection, Power quotes (with no disapproval) the statement of Sergio Vieira De Mello, the subject of her hagiography, that the Israelis are "bastards." Power also attributes Israel's incursion into South Lebanon not to the terrorism launched against it from that area, but to the existence of dispossessed Palestinians and Israeli "insecurity."

Power criticized the New York Times, which had promoted the bogus Jenin "massacre" story, for attempting to set the record straight through a headline that said "Human Rights Reports Finds Massacre Did Not Occur in Jenin.? Power thought the headline should have been about alleged "Israeli war crimes."
Fortunately, the portfolio Obama has given Power bears no apparent relationship to Israel. But Power's obsession with Israel, a nation that, in her twisted world view, is the source of so much mischief, raises the possibility of "portfolio creep." Perhaps "The Monster," Hillary Clinton, will provide a safeguard against this prospect.

UPDATE: Many of the links from my original post on Power's animus towards Israel seem to be "dead" now. I'll see if somehow I can retrieve them. Meanwhile, Ed Lasky and Richard Baehr (who along with Noah Pollak were invaluable on this subject last year) have their own summary.

Source. See also here for more.

Bush Hatred and Obama Euphoria Are Two Sides of the Same Coin

Emotion constantly trumps all else among Leftists. See here

Now that George W. Bush has left the harsh glare of the White House and Barack Obama has settled into the highest office in the land, it might be reasonable to suppose that Bush hatred and Obama euphoria will begin to subside. Unfortunately, there is good reason to doubt that the common sources that have nourished these dangerous political passions will soon lose their potency.

At first glance, Bush hatred and Obama euphoria could not be more different. Hatred of Mr. Bush went well beyond the partisan broadsides typical of democratic politics. For years it disfigured its victims with open, indeed proud, loathing for the very manner in which Mr. Bush walked and talked. It compelled them to denounce the president and his policies as not merely foolish or wrong or contrary to the national interest, but as anathema to everything that made America great.

In contrast, the euphoria surrounding Mr. Obama's run for president conferred upon the candidate immunity from criticism despite his newness to national politics and lack of executive experience, and regardless of how empty his calls for change. At the same time, it inspired those in its grips, repeatedly bringing them tears of joy throughout the long election season. With Mr. Obama's victory in November and his inauguration last week, it suffused them with a sense that not only had the promise of America at last been redeemed but that the world could now be transfigured.

In fact, Bush hatred and Obama euphoria -- which tend to reveal more about those who feel them than the men at which they are directed -- are opposite sides of the same coin. Both represent the triumph of passion over reason. Both are intolerant of dissent. Those wallowing in Bush hatred and those reveling in Obama euphoria frequently regard those who do not share their passion as contemptible and beyond the reach of civilized discussion. Bush hatred and Obama euphoria typically coexist in the same soul. And it is disproportionately members of the intellectual and political class in whose souls they flourish....

Bush hatred and Obama euphoria are particularly toxic because they thrive in and have been promoted by the news media, whose professional responsibility, it has long been thought, is to gather the facts and analyze their significance, and by the academy, whose scholarly training, it is commonly assumed, reflects an aptitude for and dedication to systematic study and impartial inquiry.

From the avalanche of vehement and ignorant attacks on Bush v. Gore and the oft-made and oft-refuted allegation that the Bush administration lied about WMD in Iraq, to the remarkable lack of interest in Mr. Obama's career in Illinois politics and the determined indifference to his wrongness about the surge, wide swaths of the media and the academy have concentrated on stoking passions rather than appealing to reason.

Some will speculate that the outbreak of hatred and euphoria in our politics is the result of the transformation of left-liberalism into a religion, its promulgation as dogma by our universities, and students' absorption of their professors' lesson of immoderation. This is unfair to religion.

At least it's unfair to those forms of biblical faith that teach that God's ways are hidden and mysterious, that all human beings are both deserving of respect and inherently flawed, and that it is idolatry to invest things of this world -- certainly the goods that can be achieved through politics -- with absolute value. Through these teachings, biblical faith encourages skepticism about grand claims to moral and political authority and an appreciation of the limits of one's knowledge, both of which well serve liberal democracy.

In contrast, by assembling and maintaining faculties that think alike about politics and think alike that the university curriculum must instill correct political opinions, our universities cultivate intellectual conformity and discourage the exercise of reason in public life. It is not that our universities invest the fundamental principles of liberalism with religious meaning -- after all the Declaration of Independence identifies a religious root of our freedom and equality. Rather, they infuse a certain progressive interpretation of our freedom and equality with sacred significance, zealously requiring not only outward obedience to its policy dictates but inner persuasion of the heart and mind. This transforms dissenters into apostates or heretics, and leaders into redeemers.

Consequently, though Bush hatred may weaken as the 43rd president minds his business back home in Texas, and while Obama euphoria may fade as the 44th president is compelled to immerse himself in the daunting ambiguities of power, our universities will continue to educate students to believe that hatred and euphoria reflect political wisdom. Urgent though the problem is, not even the efficient and responsible spending of a $1 trillion stimulus package would begin to address it.


Children 'suffering from lack of two-parent family', British study finds

There are some difficult "chicken and egg" issues in this type of research but departing from nature's arrangements is inherently risky. There is a substantial body of opinion which says that an extended family is best of all. It is certainly the most common family form in human societies

Children do best when brought up by two parents with a `longterm commitment' to each other, a major new study found yesterday. The report, produced after a two-year inquiry for leading charity the Children's Society, highlighted the trend towards mothers of young children choosing to work as instrumental in the breakdown of traditional family life. The report - A Good Childhood - also declared that the presence of a father was vital and that children suffer from a missing father long into their adulthood.

One in three 16-year-olds now lives apart from their father, the authors of the study said, warning that children of separated parents are 50 per cent more likely to do poorly at school, be unpopular with other children and suffer from behavioural difficulties, anxiety and depression.

The report produced a series of recommendations, among them that mothers should have the right to three years away from work after a birth, unpaid, with a guarantee that they can have their old job back at the end of the period. It also called for a new state-recognised birth ceremony similar to a christening so that non-Christian parents could affirm their commitment to the family after the birth of a child. It recommended the introduction of emotional report cards for children at the ages of five, 11 and 14, as a check on their development and wellbeing.

Another suggestion was that parents-to-be should get classes from the NHS on the demands of bringing up a child, while schools should give pupils lessons on parenting and relationship skills. The inquiry also pointed to the rise of `rampant individualism' in society, which it said has eaten away at personal responsibility and any sense of the common good. It called for `a radical shift away from the excessively individualistic ethos which now prevails, to an ethos where the constant question is, "What would we do if our aim was a world based on love?" '

The study also highlighted a trend towards materialism in children, instilled by increased exposure to advertising targeted at them, and noted that social networking sites such as Facebook encouraged children simply to try to accumulate as many friends as they could, rather than focusing on the strength and depth of those friendships.

The study named the most important changes which have troubled the lives of children over recent decades as the movement of women into work and the explosion in numbers of family break-ups. It found: `Compared with a century ago two changes stand out. First most women now work outside the home and have careers as well as being mothers. `In Britain 70 per cent of mothers of 9-12 month-old babies now do some paid work. This compares with only 25 per cent 25 years ago - a massive change in our way of life. Their children are cared for by someone other than their parents.'

The report added: `The second change is the rise in family breakup. Women's new economic independence contributes to this rise: it has made women much less dependent on their male partners, as has the advent of the welfare state. `As a result of family break-up a third of our 16-year-olds now live apart from their biological father.'

The damage done to children by family separation can be seen when they are as young as three, the report's authors said. They are less likely to be depressed or aggressive if their parents get on, and the more they see their father the better off they are. It added that 28 per cent of children whose parents have broken up have no contact with their father three years later, calling the absence of a father from so many families `a real worry'. The report added that the number of children without fathers is going to rise, citing `robust' evidence that children of divorce and separation are more likely to divorce or separate themselves. `More parents are cohabiting rather than marrying, and cohabiting parents are more likely to split up,' it said.

On the importance of fathers, it added: `Fathers are no less important than mothers in a child's life. The closeness of fathers to their children influences the children's well-being, even after allowing for the mother's influence. `If fathers are more closely involved, children develop better friendships, more empathy and higher self-esteem, are more satisfied with life and achieve more educationally.'

The report added that grandparents and other close relatives are the best help for children when their parents break up, and should be the first choice for help with childcare rather than nurseries. `Children in separated families fare best when they have close contact with each of their parents and all the important adults in their lives, including the grandparents,' it said.

The report by the Children's Society, which runs social work projects with runaways and other deprived children, comes against a background of growing political debate over the direction of the family. The findings throw a fresh question mark over Labour's family and benefit policies, which support and reward single parents at the expense of couples, and which have sidelined marriage as a lifestyle choice with no value for children. Tory leader David Cameron has pledged to end this `couple penalty' in the benefit system.

More here


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, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


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Monday, February 02, 2009

British religious studies course where the religion is political correctness

Pupils taking a new Religious Studies GCSE [High School course] will answer questions about homosexuality, conservation, binge drinking and drugs in sport. Instead of concentrating on the Bible and the holy books and tenets of other major religions, a significant part of the course is tied to citizenship and personal, social and health education. Academics claim, however, that the syllabus, to be taught from September, had turned a serious subject in to a "pat qualification for political correctness".

One of the topics covered is religion and relationships, which will teach pupils about homosexuality, religious attitudes to contraception and the concept and role of parenting. Another topic is "religion, sport and leisure". Pupils will study "religious attitudes towards the purpose use and importance of leisure; types and purposes of relaxation, e.g stress relief and the misuse of leisure time, e.g binge drinking."

In a sample exam paper pupils are asked, under the heading of religion and planet earth, "what is conservation?" and "is recycling good stewardship". Teenager must also give two reasons why many religious believers are against deforestation. A second paper asks candidates to name two illegal drugs, give three reasons why some people take illegal drugs and to explain the attitudes of religious believers to smoking tobacco.

The syllabus, one of a number offered by exam board the Assessment and Qualifications Alliance (AQA), is expected to be popular with schools. But Professor Alan Smithers, the director of the centre for education and employment training at Buckingham University, said it was a blatant example of the "politicisation of education". "This does not seems to be about religion and spirituality at all. There are just a lot of tenuous connections which teach the preferred attitudes and beliefs of the moment," he said. "I think it comes from the desire of politicians to stamp their influence on everything. It looks as if they are turning RE in to a pat qualification for political correctness. "How is it to benefit the students? It is not going to be a basis for the further study of RE or spirituality to a higher level. All it can do is clock up league table points for the school and keep young people occupied. One has to ask, where is the religion?"

Professor Smithers said the changes reflected those that have already been made in the core subject of science, where scientific knowledge has been replaced with the discussion of topical science-related questions. Students can choose four of six units to study for the qualification, which means they can avoid the more traditional material covered in the "worship and key beliefs" and "religious philosophy" modules.

AQA said only one of the units was designed to enable religious studies to link with citizenship and personal, social and health education. "It will contribute actively to pupils' spiritual, moral, social and cultural development and the Every Child Matters agenda," it said. Religious studies is a popular GCSE. Year on year increases have seen the number of entries rise to more than 171,000, up from 147,000 in 2006.


British nurse suspended for offering to pray for elderly patient's recovery

A nurse has been suspended from her job for offering to pray for an elderly patient's recovery from illness. Caroline Petrie, a committed Christian, has been accused by her employers of failing to demonstrate a "personal and professional commitment to equality and diversity". She faces disciplinary action and could lose her job over the incident.

Mrs Petrie, a married mother of two, says she has been left shocked and upset by the action taken against her. She insists she has never forced her own religious beliefs on anyone but politely inquired if the elderly patient wanted her to pray for her - either in the woman's presence or after the nurse had left the patient's home. "I simply couldn't believe that I have been suspended over this. I knew I hadn't done anything wrong. All I am trying to do is help my patients, many of whom want me to pray for them," she said.

Mrs Petrie, 45, is a community nurse employed by North Somerset Primary Care Trust to carry out home visits to sick and elderly patients. The incident which led to her suspension took place at the home of a woman patient in Winscombe, North Somerset. "It was around lunchtime and I had spent about 20 to 25 minutes with her. I had applied dressings to her legs and shortly before I left I said to her: 'Would you like me to pray for you?'. "She said 'No, thank you.' And I said: 'OK.' I only offered to pray for her because I was concerned about her welfare and wanted her to get better."

However, after the incident on December 15, she was contacted by the trust and asked to explain her actions. The woman patient, who is believed to be in her late 70s, is understood to have complained to the trust. Mrs Petrie will not disclose the woman's name or reveal the precise nature of her ailment because it would breach patient confidentiality. Mrs Petrie, who lives in Weston-super-Mare, North Somerset, said she was initially confronted the next day by a nursing sister who said the patient had been taken aback by her question about prayer.

"I said: 'I am sorry. Did I offend or upset her?' The sister said: 'No, no. She was just a bit taken back. You must be aware of your professional code of conduct. I would be careful.' "But the next day my coordinator left a message on my home phone and I realised this had been taken further."

Mrs Petrie said that she often offers to pray for her patients and that many take her up on it. She either prays with them or after she has left their home. The nurse has been a committed Christian since she was ten - after her mother died of breast cancer. Initially, she was Church of England but she switched to the Baptist faith nine years ago. "My faith is very important to me," she said.

Mrs Petrie had previously been reprimanded for an incident in Clevedon last October when she offered to give a small, home-made prayer card to an elderly, male patient, who had happily accepted it. On this occasion, the patient's carer, who was with him, raised concerns over the incident. Alison Withers, Mrs Petrie's boss at the time, wrote to her at the end of November saying: "As a nurse you are required to uphold the reputation of your profession. "Your NMC [Nursing Midwifery Council] code states that 'you must demonstrate a personal and professional commitment to equality and diversity' and 'you must not use your professional status to promote causes that are not related to health'."

In the letter, Mrs Petrie, who qualified as a nurse in 1985, was asked to attend an equality and diversity course and warned: "If there is any further similar incident it may be treated as potential misconduct and the formal disciplinary procedure could be instigated."

Mrs Petrie said: "I stopped handing out prayer cards after that but I found it more and more difficult [not to offer them]. My concern is for the person as a whole, not just their health. "I was told not to force my faith on anyone but I could respond if patients themselves brought up the subject [of religion]."

It is the second incident - the offer to pray for a patient - that led to the disciplinary action. She was suspended from her part-time job, without pay, on December 17. She faced an internal disciplinary meeting last Wednesday and expects to learn the outcome this week. At last week's hour-long meeting, Mrs Petrie says she was told the patient had said she was not offended by the prayer offer but the woman argued that someone else might have been. The nurse had her representative from the Royal College of Nursing present.

Mrs Petrie's husband, Stewart, 48, works as a BT engineer and they have two sons, aged 14 and ten. The couple attend Milton Baptist Church every Sunday and Mrs Petrie said: "Stuart and I have decided to put God first in our lives." Mrs Petrie, who has worked for the trust since February last year, has already taken legal advice from the Christian Legal Centre, which seeks to promote religious freedom and, particularly, to protect Christians and Christianity. The centre, in turn, has instructed Paul Diamond, the leading religious rights barrister. Andrea Williams, the founder and director of the centre, said: "We are backing this case all the way."

A spokesman for North Somerset Primary Care Trust said: "Caroline Petrie has been suspended pending an investigation into the matter. "She is a bank nurse and she has been told we will not be using her in this capacity until the outcome of our investigation is known. "We always take any concerns raised by our patients most seriously and conscientiously investigate any matter of this nature brought to our attention. "We are always keen to be respectful of our patients' views and sensitivity as well as those of our staff."


Thank goodness! Tycoon backs grandparents fighting homosexual adoption bid

There is no end to the evils perpetuated by Britain's Left-indoctrinated social workers

A multi-millionaire is funding a legal challenge to halt the controversial adoption of two young children by a gay couple. In a move brokered by the Catholic Church in Scotland, the businessman has agreed to help meet the legal costs of a court bid to block plans to hand the brother and sister to two men. The Mail on Sunday can reveal that a top law firm has been instructed to help the grandparents of the children, whom social workers ruled were too old, at 46 and 59, to offer a loving home.

With the support of the benefactor and the Catholic Church, the family hope the move will quickly lead to a judicial review of Edinburgh City Council's decision to remove the four-year-old girl and her five-year-old brother from their family. The tycoon, who has requested anonymity, was among a group of businessmen considering offering the family financial support after the adoption plans were revealed last week. His offer has received the `moral backing' of the Catholic Church, which is fundamentally opposed to gay adoptions. Last night a spokesman for the Church said: `As well as the moral issue there is also a legal question, which needs to be explored. Lawyers will be taking this forward with the family. `Allowing two men to adopt children against the wishes of their grandparents who want to care for them is positively wicked.'

The development comes after the devastated grandparents, who cannot be named for legal reasons, made an official complaint to council bosses. They have claimed they were warned they would never see the children again unless they dropped their opposition to the adoption, and again threatened with the same fate for speaking out publicly. The family claim they have been victims of `bullying' social workers and politically-correct manipulation.

The devoted couple had fought for two years for the right to care for their grandchildren, whose 26-year-old mother is a recovering heroin addict. They agreed to an adoption only after they faced being financially crippled by legal bills and were promised continued contact with the children. But they were devastated when they were told the children were going to be placed with a homosexual couple. There were several heterosexual couples on the council's books willing to offer a loving home - leading to suggestions that the council was operating a politically-correct quota system.

The move flew in the face of social-work reports that show the girl is `wary' of men. Last night the grandmother broke down in tears when told of the mystery benefactor's desire to help block the adoption. She said: `I can't believe anyone would do that for us. We are so grateful.' Her husband, a farm worker, added: `Because of the generosity of a stranger, we might have a chance to put things right, not only for our family but for others who are put in this position.'


BBC wasted legal fees to protect 'rape' personality

There once was such a thing as British justice. No more. All there is now is various classes of privilege

The BBC has spent licence-payers' money in a failed attempt to prevent The Mail on Sunday publishing a story about how one of the Corporation's personalities had falsely accused her former boyfriend of rape. Last Sunday we revealed the woman told police she had been assaulted 40 times during their relationship, before withdrawing the allegations. The officer investigating the case described her claims as `inconsistent' and `not credible'.

Yet, because of a legal loophole, the incident remains on the Police National Computer, ruining her former boyfriend's job prospects and his freedom to travel. Whereas his life has been wrecked, the Sexual Offences (Amendment) Act 1992 guarantees her anonymity and prevents him suing for damages.

Last Friday, without notifying The Mail on Sunday, which was therefore not represented at the hearing, BBC lawyers took out a court order to insist that their client was entitled to her anonymity - even though this is guaranteed by law and was at no point under threat. So secret was the court order, this newspaper was even banned from mentioning its existence. It was made by Mr Justice Eady, a controversial High Court judge often described as being at the forefront of moves to create a privacy law protecting public figures. He ruled that Formula 1 millionaire Max Mosley's right to privacy extended to his participation in a sado-masochistic orgy.

Now, after complaints from The Mail on Sunday, the order has been amended, allowing us to reveal the lengths to which the BBC will go to protect celebrities, however serious the allegations. Had the BBC's lawyers taken the trouble to contact The Mail on Sunday directly, we would have given guarantees of anonymity without any need to spend licence-payers' money. As a matter of good journalistic practice, this newspaper had already contacted the BBC personality to hear her side of the story and had informed her that her identity would not - and could not - be revealed.



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, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


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Sunday, February 01, 2009

Silenced Christian soldiers: British army chaplain bans Creed 'so services won't offend minority religions'

Sandhurst military academy has dropped the Church of England Creed from services over fears that it may offend religious minorities. The move has outraged worshippers who say centuries of religious tradition have been sacrificed for the sake of political correctness. Senior chaplain Reverend Jonathan Gough dropped the Christian declaration of faith in God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, when he took office earlier this month. Mr Gough - nicknamed the `Right On Rev' by some of his flock - says he wants avoid offending non-believers.

But Christian cadets and civilians were furious when the traditional Anglican service abruptly ended without the Creed being read last Sunday. Although no official announcement was made, a fellow Chaplain said it had been removed `to stop upsetting cadets who do not believe in God'. Last night the Ministry of Defence confirmed the Creed, which also refutes heresy, had been withdrawn from services at the Royal Memorial Chapel to make the church more inclusive. This is despite the fact that it is not compulsory for any Sandhurst cadets to attend.

Both Princes William and Harry trained at the prestigious academy in Camberley, Surrey. One senior member of the Chapel yesterday said the decision to cut the affirmation of faith was ludicrous. He said: `It's a disgrace. Nobody was told and everybody has been left shocked and angry. It's just an attempt to be "right on".'

The Creed, found in the book of Common Prayer, begins: `I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried'.

Theologian, Dr Richard Bell, from Nottingham University, said it was `something that unites most Christians and for the vast majority it is the act of stating who you are' He added: `The Creed is the central plank of the Church of England service. If you give up on that you are effectively giving up on God. Frankly I'm appalled by this decision.'

Former army officer Patrick Mercer, who went on to become the Bishop of Exeter, last night led calls for the Creed to be returned. Mr Mercer, who trained at Sandhurst, said: `If you go to an Anglican Church service you expect to hear an Anglican service. I think the good reverend is being a little too precious.'

Mr Gough, 46, is a former secretary for ecumenism for Archbishop of Canterbury and has served in the Army for 20 years during conflicts in Northern Ireland, Kosovo and more recently Afghanistan. Last night he would only say: `I had many options to choose from.'

An Army said it was common practice to alter the service from time to time. `The people who are angry should sit down with Reverend Gough for a cup of tea,' a spokesman said.


Warning from British supermarket: This milk bottle contains, er, milk

In a nation seemingly overcome by health and safety paranoia, it's only natural for shops to seek to protect themselves from litigious customers. So even the most inoffensive products can be plastered with warnings that they contain 'nuts', 'eggs', ' shellfish' or some other potential allergen. Asda, however, really is milking this trend for all it's worth. Under the heading 'Allergy advice', plastic bottles of milk sold by the supermarket carry a serious warning - 'Contains milk'. Apparently, that the product is called milk and the milk is plain to see are insufficient signals to those who are dairy intolerant.

The Asda episode is indicative of a policy by supermarkets and food manufacturers to liberally stamp warnings on products to avoid legal complications. They fear that failing to include the warning will leave them vulnerable to compensation if a shopper suffers an adverse reaction. Last week it was revealed that the Happy Egg Company was selling eggs through leading supermarkets with a warning on the box saying, 'Contains eggs'. Earlier this month, Cadbury said it was including a warning, in yellow capital letters, that its Dairy Milk chocolate bar 'contains milk'.

Regulations issued by the Food Standards Agency require manufacturers to state on the packaging if goods contain allergens - a total of 14 substances including eggs, shellfish, nuts and milk. A spokesman for the regulator said it was not necessary to have an additional allergen warning on a milk carton. 'The use of allergenic ingredients must be declared on a label, but it can be anywhere, including in the ingredients list and in the name of the product,' she said. 'In the case of milk, where it is clear the product being sold is cow's milk, there is no legal requirement for a label to contain additional allergen advice.'

Many fear the use of unnecessary warnings risks bringing the allergy warning regime into disrepute. Readers who contacted the Mail after seeing the case of the Happy Egg boxes thought the warnings have gone too far. One wrote: 'Most health and safety advice, information and warnings have nothing to do with the health and safety of anyone and is purely about avoiding litigation.' Another said: 'I'm surprised no one has put a health warning on my Sunday roast chicken - "Not suitable for vegetarians".'

Food expert Tom Parker Bowles said: 'It does get to the point when warnings go too far. 'We don't need to be told a peanut contains nuts or eggs contain egg.'

Nine-year-old Rory Poulter noticed the latest warning while using Asda's semi-skimmed organic milk to cool his breakfast porridge. 'How ridiculous is that,' said Rory, from Richmond, Surrey. 'It is a carton of milk, just milk, why would anyone need to be warned that it contains milk? It's just silly.'

Asda admitted it had got things wrong and said it will remove the warning later this year. 'Everyone knows milk is milk,' a spokesman added.


The Times's Weak-Willed Women: How else to explain female absence from the sciences?

Women, feminists proclaim again and again, are strong, indomitable, and equal in every way to men. Except, that is, when they run up against an obstacle, thrown malevolently in their path, that is too formidable even for them, such as . . . a sitcom.

New York Times science reporter Natalie Angier recently called for renewed attention to the lack of proportional representation of women in science. (In the past, Angier has made something of a specialty of discovering proper gender role models in nature, along the lines of dominatrix polyps and sexually submissive male arachnids.) The imbalance in the sciences, Angier reported, is especially bad in physics, where just 6 percent of full professors are women. After canvassing some current theories explaining the imbalance, Angier offered her own scapegoats: "Bubble-headed television shows like `The Big Bang Theory,' with its four nerdy male physics prodigies and the fetching blond girl next door."

Imagine the devastation that such a show might wreak. A 15-year-old math whiz is happily immersed in the Lorentz transformations, the basis for the theory of special relativity. She looks up at the tube and sees a fictional group of male physics students bashfully speaking to a feisty blonde. Her confidence and enthusiasm shattered, she drops out of her AP physics course and starts hanging out at the mall with the cheerleading squad.

Gender-insensitive TV shows are just the start of the barriers blocking girls' entry to the empyrean of pure science. There's also the father of modern physics himself. What self-respecting girl wants to look like Albert Einstein? "As long as we're making geek [culture] chic" under our new, science-friendly president, Angier suggests, "let's lose the Einstein 'do and moustache." We're in whiplash territory here. For years, we have been told that the patriarchy brainwashes women into excessive concern with appearance. Now, however, it turns out that girls with an innate knack for science could be turned away from their calling just because the šber Role Model is frumpy. If Einstein had looked like Tom Cruise or Angelina Jolie, apparently, girls would be clamoring to participate in the Math Olympiad and earning their proportionate share of physics Ph.D.s.

Which is it? Are women "strong"? Or can they be crushed by fears of a permanent bad hair day and inspired by something as superficial as Hollywood fashion? Given the amount of time and money that most women spend on applying makeup, blow-drying their hair, shopping for clothes, and gullibly attending to preposterous wrinkle-cream ads in women's magazines, Angier's claim that girls could be thwarted by a TV comedy is not wholly unreasonable. It just happens to contradict the usual feminist claim that women are just as tough as men.

The evidence to date suggests that the highest-level math skills-those required for research physics-aren't evenly distributed among men and women. Men greatly outnumber women at the very highest and lowest ends of the mathematics aptitude curve. As Christina Hoff Sommers has documented, men also show greater interest in abstract, non-empathetic careers than women. Of course, the conflicting demands of raising a family and pursuing pure science undoubtedly influence women's career paths as well. If scientific pursuit can be made more family-friendly without in any way damaging its essential strengths, such changes should be contemplated. But the fertility clock and women's greater involvement with their babies are not chauvinist plots; they are biological realities.

Unfortunately, Angier's conviction that sexism lurks behind women's rarity in the most abstract sciences isn't confined to the New York Times or even to academia. A congressional bill, the Fulfilling the Potential of Women in Academic Science and Engineering Act of 2008, would apply Title IX gender quotas to academic science. Barack Obama endorsed the bill during the presidential campaign; women's groups are clamoring for action.

Obama has indeed presented himself as a science president. Rejecting feminist propaganda, however belatedly, regarding sexism in science would be a strong start in justifying that title. In the meantime, stay tuned for the latest twist in feminists' contradictory-dare one say, irrational?-apologetics.


The Pope and the nutty Bishop

Pope Benedict XVI's decision to rehabilitate a bishop who recently denied that 6 million Jews were gassed in the Holocaust caused sensational headlines, but the move was partly aimed at putting an end to such controversial remarks. On Jan. 21, the Pope lifted an excommunication order on four bishops belonging to the St. Pius X Society. The four were consecrated 20 years ago by the late ultra-traditionalist Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre without papal consent, a move the Vatican said at the time was an act of schism.

So far, none of the bishops have formally accepted the teachings of the Second Vatican Council, a period of Church reform in the 1960s. Like their community's founder, Archbishop Lefebvre, they see the Council as a fruit of modernity that is secularist, anti-clerical and anti-Christian. To many, that marks them out as right-wing Catholic extremists with controversial views to match. One of the four bishops, Richard Williamson, is the most outspoken: not only does he deny that gas was used in the Holocaust, resulting in far fewer than 6 million deaths, but he has also suggested that the Twin Towers were brought down by "demolition charges" rather than hijacked airliners, and criticized the film "The Sound of Music" for a lack of respect for authority.

In the face of widespread condemnation for his latest remarks, the Vatican added its voice, calling Williamson's words "absolutely indefensible" and emphatically stating that lifting the excommunications and Williamson's anti-Semitism were in no way connected. Bishop Bernard Fellay, the head of the St. Pius X Society, also said Jan. 26th in an interview with the Swiss newspaper Le Temps that he "deplores the fact that a bishop has given the impression of implicating the Society with a viewpoint that is absolutely not ours."

The Pope has chosen to rehabilitate the bishops principally in the interests of Church unity - to bring back the bishops and their flock of around 600,000 followers into the Catholic fold. The timing of the Pope's decision, however, coming so soon after the airing of the television broadcast, has put the Vatican on the back foot. Vatican officials were clearly unaware of the interview when the decree to lift the excommunications was signed Jan. 21st. What was meant to be a courageous gesture of the Pope to further church unity has been overshadowed by Williamson's comments.

It also obscured another reason for the decree: to calm down the bishops' rhetoric and moderate their views. Like a wayward child needs to be taken home and talked to, so the Vatican views hopes these bishops, once back in the fold, will see the error of their ways - despite the fact they have shown no signs of embracing the teachings of the Second Vatican Council.

It's a big gamble, and has understandably upset those dissenting from Church teaching on the ideological left. If these bishops can be exonerated without recanting their views, why can't they? But more risky is that these bishops, because they have not been asked to change their positions, may see the Pope's move as a vindication of their dissent. So far, Bishop Fellay has hinted that to be the case, agreeing to reconciliation talks, but implying they will be on his terms.

The Williamson controversy is therefore a sideshow to more important issues at stake. Yet paradoxically, by rehabilitating these bishops, the Pope is trying indirectly to counter precisely those extremist views that have outraged Jewish groups. If the reconciliation talks are fruitful in the eyes of the Pope and Vatican officials, then all four bishops will have embraced the Second Vatican Council. That means they will have accepted the Council's documents, including its landmark declaration Nostra Aetate - a document that deplored all forms of anti-Semitism and revolutionized the church's relations with Jews. This could, therefore, signal the last time we hear Bishop Williamson spouting anti-Semitism. If it isn't, he's likely to end up in a schismatic sect - with just himself as pope.



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, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


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The Real Politically Incorrect Net Ring

This net ring exposes political correctness for the fraud that it is and advocates universal values of individual freedom, free speech, and equal rights for all.


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