The creeping dictatorship of the Left... 

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

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


28 February, 2013

Fury as 'Liberal' leader attacks journalists  for exposing sex scandal he and his party covered up

Nick Clegg launched an extraordinary attack on the media yesterday for exposing the Lord Rennard scandal. The Deputy Prime Minister accused journalists investigating a cover-up of being ‘self-appointed detectives’.

His ill-judged remarks shocked Tory and Labour MPs, who said he should focus on getting to the truth.

And Alison Smith, a former Liberal Democrat activist who went public with groping claims against Lord Rennard last week, said Mr Clegg was wrong to attack a ‘free press regarded by most as important in a democracy’.

In another twist, the Mail has learnt that senior Lib Dems were attempting to silence whistleblowers only this week.

On Monday, Lord Stoneham, who was the party’s director of operations at the height of the claims against Lord Rennard, made an ‘aggressive’ telephone call to a former party activist who claimed she saw the peer molesting a young woman a decade ago.

He was apparently furious she had contacted this newspaper to complain that her allegations had been swept under the carpet.

On another black day for the Lib Dems:

*   A former party frontbencher said she sounded the alarm about Lord Rennard directly with Mr Clegg;

*    David Cameron told him he must ‘get to the bottom’ of the allegations;

*    Lord Rennard broke his silence to insist he was innocent and claim he had never been confronted with any complaints;

*   A Lib Dem councillor claimed she had been molested and knew of nine other victims referred to as ‘Rennard’s red hot babes’;

*    Lib Dem health minister Norman Lamb was drawn into the affair by an alleged victim;

*   Party officials met  detectives who have been called in to assess whether criminal acts may have taken place.

The affair started when former Lib Dem activists went public with claims of sexual harassment against Lord Rennard, who retired as the party’s chief executive in 2009 – ostensibly on health grounds.

After initially denying he knew about the claims until shortly before three women made allegations on Channel 4 News, Mr Clegg admitted he had asked his then chief of staff Danny Alexander to probe ‘non-specific concerns’ about Lord Rennard in 2008.

It has since emerged that Mr Clegg’s office failed to act on specific and detailed allegations of misconduct by the peer made in 2010.

Yesterday Mr Clegg, speaking outside his south-west London home, called for detectives who are now reviewing the claims to be allowed to do their job.

He said: ‘I understand there are many people who appear to want to act as self-appointed detectives trying to piece together events that happened many years ago.

'But the only way that we are going to get to the bottom of the truth, the only way we are going to ensure that the women whose allegations were broadcast on television last week are properly listened to, the only way were are going to establish exactly what happened and who knew what and when, is by allowing the two investigations that I established immediately after the Channel 4 broadcast to do their job and, indeed, to allow the police, whom we have now approached, to do their job as well.

'And in the meantime I cannot – and my party cannot – provide a running commentary on every shred of speculation about events which happened many years ago.’

His intervention drew a stinging response from Miss Smith, who wrote on Twitter: ‘Clegg slams “self-appointed detectives”, otherwise known as the free press. Regarded by most as important in a democracy.’

She added: ‘They covered up a massive scandal, and now they don’t want people asking questions.’

She also dismissed the idea that the allegations had been timed to damage the party leadership ahead of a crucial by-election in Eastleigh, which will take place tomorrow.

Toward the end of last year, she and some of the other alleged victims of Lord Rennard’s unwanted advances agreed to go public with their story, and told the party at the end of last month that they had done so.

Therese Coffey, a Tory MP and member of the Commons culture, media and sport committee, said: ‘It is only through the power of the free press and TV that these allegations have come to light. Instead of trying to divert attention by blaming journalists, Nick Clegg should be focusing on getting to the unvarnished truth.’

Conor Burns, another Tory MP, said: ‘Only someone with the genius of Nick Clegg could have a sex scandal that doesn’t involve sex and turn it into a leadership crisis.

Mr Clegg would have to answer fewer questions from the press if he put out a statement that he could stick to about what he knew and when.’

Labour MP John Mann, who wrote to police asking them to investigate, claimed Mr Clegg treated the Rennard accusations as an issue of ‘political management’.

‘The real issue is why didn’t Clegg and the Liberals do the appropriate thing in dealing with this as serious allegation, rather than as political management,’ he said.

Mr Clegg’s aides insisted he had not been attacking broadcasters in his remarks but rather Conservative-supporting newspapers he believes are revelling in the scandal.


'Homosexuality is a ticking timebomb for the Catholic Church'

You forbid men from having wives and children so you get men who are not interested in that

An openly gay former Dominican friar insisted today that homosexuality is the ‘ticking time bomb in the Catholic Church’ and that homosexual men are ‘massively over-represented’ within the Church.

Mark Dowd, who is now a journalist, said research for his 2001 Channel 4 documentary Queer and Catholic suggested that at least half of people attracted into seminaries in the priesthood are gay.

His comments came as the former leader of Roman Catholics in England and Wales, Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor, said the scandal-hit Catholic Church must undergo renewal and reform.

Mr Dowd told CNN: ‘When you have this culture of secrecy and guilt and repression, you have conditions which foster the potential for blackmail and for manipulation.

‘This is a very unhealthy stage for the church, because basically when you have secrecy, you have lies - and when you have lies, people often are put in terrible pressures of being compromised.’

Meanwhile, the Cardinal said the successor to Benedict XVI would need to be able to tackle reform of the Roman Curia, the Vatican departments which govern the 1.2billion-strong global church.

Last weekend Italian newspapers published claims of homosexuality and blackmail within the Church, with one allegation centering around a secret ‘gay cabal’ of priests, reported CNN.

But veteran Vatican journalist Marco Politi said this idea was ‘rubbish’, adding: ‘Here in the Vatican, there are monsignors who have love affairs, with women and with men. But they hide it.’

Mr Dowd added: ‘I've got my own experience of being in religious life myself. And I can tell you that gay men are massively, massively overrepresented in Catholic life. There's nothing wrong with that.

‘The problem is that a lot of them are told that they are intrinsically unhealthy according to church teaching. And that's not a very appropriate state of affairs if we're talking about psychosexual health and emotional maturity.’

'I've got my own experience of being in religious life myself. And I can tell you that gay men are massively, massively overrepresented in Catholic life'



Free speech means we should all have a say about homosexuality

A tolerant country is also one that does not try to shut down debate on controversial issues

Last weekend, my wife and I went to a musical staged by an amateur company for which our youngest son performs. In truth, without that family connection, the show – called Zanna, Don’t! – is not one that we would have normally booked to see. It is set in an alternative world where homosexuality is the natural order of things and heterosexuals are discriminated against. But if this sounds like heavy-handed gay rights propaganda, it was nothing of the sort: the songs were tuneful, the lyrics thoughtful and the dance routines terrific. It was a highly enjoyable evening’s entertainment.

With what I assume is mock irony, the writers describe the musical as a fairy tale and its theme is the oldest of them all: falling in love. When a man and a woman break the taboo against different-sex relationships, they are shunned by the rest of society. You get the point. This is precisely the sort of bigotry that gay people have had to put up with for centuries.

In my lifetime, homosexuality has gone from being illegal to the acme of cool. But something else has happened, too. Everyone is now required to accept this state of affairs whether they like it or not; and if they don’t they are certainly not allowed to say so. It is the flip-side of the point the musical was seeking to make: anyone who questions the officially acceptable view is howled down. Occasionally, they are arrested and threatened with trial for expressing what is essentially an opinion, albeit one that it is no longer fashionable to possess.

Now, you might think it is right to muzzle such people because, in reality, they just don’t like gays and are hiding their disapproval behind a spurious religiosity. In some cases that may be true, but it is not the issue here: this is about free speech. Just as gays are entitled to extol their own sexual identity, so people who take another view, on whatever grounds, should be allowed to say so, shouldn’t they?

This question will tomorrow be tested in the High Court following controversy over an advertising campaign on London transport last year. In the run-up to the mayoral elections, the gay rights group Stonewall took space on the sides of London buses to run the slogan: “Some people are gay. Get over it.” A Christian ministry called Core Issues Trust (CIT) decided to pay for its own campaign with a poster that read “Not gay! Post-gay, ex-gay and proud. Get over it!” The aim was to advertise the ministry’s contention that it was possible to lose homosexual inclinations and that therapy was available for those who felt they might not be gay after all.

That is clearly a controversial statement. Yet people who have lived as heterosexuals and repressed their homosexuality are praised when they “come out”. Is the alternative, however unlikely, not possible? And even if it isn’t, why can’t you say that it might be? None the less, the CIT poster was banned by Boris Johnson, the Mayor of London, which is why the matter is going before the courts this week. Dr Mike Davidson, a director of the trust, who describes himself as “ex-homosexual”, says he has been denied the freedom to express his views on the legitimacy of therapy for those dealing with unwanted feelings of same-sex attraction. He certainly has a case: if Stonewall can have their say, then why can’t his organisation?

This is by no means an isolated affair. Official disapproval, even the criminalisation, of opinions that a few decades ago were mainstream attitudes poses a significant threat to free speech in this country. After all, who is to decide what is the “correct” view to hold? In this case it was Mr Johnson, who called the CIT poster “clearly offensive”. He added: “London is one of the most tolerant cities in the world and intolerant of intolerance.” However, this tolerance does not, it would appear, extend to free speech. Once you start to shut people up for expressing opinions that are not officially approved then you are on a very slippery slope. Transport for London might have taken the view that the Christian poster was offensive, but the same could be said of the Stonewall campaign.

A few years ago, there was another bus?based spat, this one between atheists and believers over whether God exists. Both sides were allowed their say, though the humanist poster, “There’s probably no God”, left open the possibility that there might be, just in case. Imagine if someone – Boris – had taken the decision that only the atheist poster could run, on the grounds that the scientific evidence of a deity could not be produced. There would have been justifiable outrage.

There is an argument that the CIT poster served to reinforce prejudice against homosexuals by implying they can be “cured”. But, as Dr Davidson said on the Today programme on Monday, people who say they no longer want to live as gays are being accused of “internalised homophobia” when they are merely choosing their own sexual identity. Isn’t that what the gay rights movement was all about?

We are in danger of replacing one brand of narrow-mindedness with another. Increasingly, the courts are being dragged into disputes between people who hold different opinions in what is really an attempt to close down debate on particular subjects. This is the very antithesis of free speech and unless there is an attempt to stir up hatred and violence, the fact that some people may dislike or object to what others say should not be a matter for the law, or for official censorship.


Black British judge caught in a stupid  lie

Britain's top black female judge is being investigated by police for allegedly lying about her involvement in leaking the Chris Huhne speeding points story to the press, a court heard today.

Constance Briscoe, a friend of Vicky Pryce, was arrested after telling police she had not been in contact with the media about the story, when it later appeared that she had, Pryce's retrial heard today.

Pryce, 60, denies perverting the course of justice, claiming Huhne coerced her into taking three points for him in 2003.

Last week a jury failed to reach a verdict in Pryce's trial, prompting a retrial at Southwark Crown Court which started yesterday.

The court has heard Pryce, helped by Briscoe, told journalists about the story to get revenge on Huhne after he left her for PR adviser Carina Trimingham in June 2010.

Prosecutor Andrew Edis QC today read jurors a statement from Detective Inspector Martin Passmore explaining why certain people had not been called as witnesses in the case.

'Ms Briscoe has provided statements to the police in this case but during the investigation it became apparent that she may have lied about her involvement with the press and that she denied having any contact with the Mail on Sunday or any other media organisation in relation to this story,' his statement said.

'Ms Pryce has not been arrested or interviewed in relation to that allegation. For this reason Ms Briscoe has been arrested and is currently under investigation by the police.

'Ms Briscoe could therefore no longer be relied upon as a witness of truth and on October 2, 2012 the Crown Prosecution Service took the decision not to call Ms Briscoe to give evidence in the case.'

Yesterday Mr Edis told the court Ms Briscoe was a friend and neighbour of Pryce.

'She was a neighbour of Vicky Pryce in those days and I think she had also had a difficulty in her marriage and they appear to have got closer to each other,' he said.

'The two of them appear to have cooked up a plan to go and see the press about Huhne and taking points. They started it together by approaching a man called Andrew Alderson.'

Mr Alderson was a freelance journalist working to provide the story to the Mail on Sunday, the court heard.

Mr Edis said Pryce and Ms Briscoe told Mr Alderson that Huhne had passed speeding points to constituency aide Jo White.
Vicky Pryce arriving in court today
Chris Huhne

The court heard Pryce (left), helped by Briscoe, told journalists about the story to get revenge on Huhne (right) after he left her for PR adviser Carina Trimingham in June 2010

'Vicky Pryce and Constance Briscoe went to see Alderson and the story they were giving him was it was Jo White who worked for Huhne in his constituency in Eastleigh,' he said.

'The story they were giving the papers was Jo White took points for Huhne when he had nine points.

'Well, of course, that was a complete lie because the person who took points for Huhne when he had nine points was her (Pryce).'

The jury was told about emails between Ms Briscoe and Mr Alderson, and Mail on Sunday news editor David Dillon.

One email from Ms Briscoe to Mr Dillon on December 30, 2010, explained that the 'relevant person' had been 'bullied and pressurised' into taking Huhne's points.

It said: 'Finally, you will appreciate that I have no particular interest in this story save that I have been asked to act as an intermediary on behalf of the relevant person.'

Sunday Times political editor Isabel Oakeshott - who published the story in May 2011 after Pryce confessed to her in March that year - yesterday told the court that although she knew the Mail on Sunday was aware of the story, Pryce had not told her that Ms Briscoe was acting as an intermediary for her with the rival paper.

She said she was not aware the barrister had any dealings with the Mail on Sunday, but knew she was a close friend of Pryce.

In his statement, Det Insp Passmore said neither Mr Alderson nor Mr Dillon would be called as witnesses in Pryce's trial.

'Mr Dillon and Mr Alderson have both declined to provide a statement in this case,' he said, adding that their 'journalistic material' was protected by law.

'As far as I am aware there is no basis in law for the police to compel Mr Dillon and Mr Alderson to provide a statement or to enter court to give evidence in this case.'

Former energy minister Chris Huhne pleaded guilty to perverting the course of justice and resigned as MP for Eastleigh at the start of the first trial and will be sentenced once this trial is over.



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

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of  other countries.  The only real difference, however, is how much power they have.  In America, their power is limited by democracy.  To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already  very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges.  They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did:  None.  So look to the colleges to see  what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way.  It would be a dictatorship.

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


27 February, 2013

House of Lords  dilutes Press plan which ‘threatens free speech’

Controversial plans to force newspapers to seek approval from a new regulator before printing contentious stories were watered down by peers last night.

Tabled by Labour peer Lord Puttnam this month, the proposals provoked an outcry by human rights campaigners, who warned they would have a chilling effect on free speech.

Supporters of the amendment of the Defamation Bill included some Tory and Liberal Democrat rebels, as well as Labour and Crossbench peers.

They said they wanted to use it to put pressure on ministers to bring forward plans to implement Lord Justice Leveson’s proposals for Press regulation.

But Lord Fowler, a former journalist and Tory Cabinet minister, who had backed the plans, said he now saw they went too far.

He said the Press ‘do have a genuine point’ in warning the proposal would harm free speech.

The peer said the plans were ‘anathema’ to  journalists as they raised the chance of stories being suppressed by the powerful.

‘In any story of any controversy, there will always be people out there who want to stop the story, or at the very least take the guts out of it,’ added Lord Fowler.

Peers agreed to remove the clause without a vote. But Lord Fowler said he still  supported the main thrust of Lord Puttnam’s amendment.

This would introduce Leveson-style arbitration for members of the public wronged by the Press and potentially ruinous damages for papers which refused to sign up.

But Justice Minister Lord McNally said yesterday’s change made an ‘unacceptable position’ only ‘marginally better’. He confirmed that ministers still viewed the Puttnam amendment as ‘unacceptable’.

The Bill, which contains vital reforms to libel laws, is now effectively in limbo, pending the outcome of cross-party talks on implementing the Leveson proposals for a new media regulator.

Lord McNally said a draft royal charter has been published showing how a ‘recognition body’ might be constituted to underpin a ‘tough system of self regulation’.

Tory sources have made it clear that David Cameron would rather abandon the Bill than allow Lord Puttnam’s plans to become law.


More insane British "justice"

Rapist with HIV who sparked nationwide manhunt after going on the run walks free from court because of his ill health

A convicted rapist with HIV who sparked a nationwide manhunt after going on the run has been spared jail - because of his ill health.

As a registered sex offender drifter Alan Clune, 32, was required to tell police where he lived after he was released from jail.

He went on the run after moving out of a house in Lancashire he shared with his partner without telling police.

Senior officers said he posed a risk to members of the public and he was at large for 10 days before being found 300 miles from home in London.

It emerged Clune, a former Big Issue seller, had repeatedly ignored a sex offender order demanding he tell police of his home address.

He had originally been jailed for four years for the rape an 18-year old heterosexual man whilst knowing he was HIV positive and had Hepatitis B.

At Burnley Crown Court, Clune admitted breaching the notification requirements of the sex offenders' register but was given a two year suspended prison term after his lawyer told how his client was undergoing dialysis and had skin cancer.

Passing sentence Judge Beverley Lunt said she was imposing a suspended sentence only because of Clune's health, but warned if he failed to comply with the order again, he would be locked up for a total of four years.

Judge Lunt warned him: 'It's an absolute certainty. Start obeying the rules. The trouble with you is if you go off the rails, you go off spectacularly.'

Clune who became a drug addict at 13 learned he contracted HIV in July 2002. The following September he raped his 18 year old victim following a drinking session in Swansea.

The teenager who had been visiting the Welsh city to see his girlfriend had to endure 'three months of terror' before doctors could tell him he had not contracted the disease.

In December 2002 Clune was ordered to sign on the Sex Offender register for life but after his release from jail flouted the order three times in the space of two years.

He was given a suspended jail term in December 2006 then in November 2007 was jailed for five months before being given a further three months in July 2008 for breaching the terms of the order.

He disappeared again on May 11 last year after quitting his home in Haslingden, near Rossendale.

The alarm was raised when police had gone to Clune's home in relation to a completely unrelated matter and found that he was no longer living there.

Michael Scholes, prosecuting, said Clune registered at a Salvation Army drop-in centre in the West End of London on May 16, saying he was homeless and had been sleeping rough.

On May 21, police turned up to arrest Clune but he slipped out of the door and ran off. He was detained in a nearby Apple store.

Lawyers for Clune later said his actions were 'not a precursor' to any sexual offence. He said he would 'sofa surf' from time to time when he got into difficulties.

In mitigation defence lawyer Bob Sastry said his client's disappearance was 'not necessarily premeditated.' He had been having difficulties with his then-partner and the relationship had broken down.

The barrister continued : 'He must acknowledge, particularly when he was staying at the Salvation Army, there was no difficulty in telling police where he was. By that stage, he was worried about going to prison.'


Dorset town scraps 'uncool' traditional carnival queen

A Dorset town has become the latest to ditch its annual "uncool" carnival queen procession through the streets, in a move that will end a tradition dating back more than 80 years.

Despite being synonymous with British culture as fish and chips and Morris dancers, Verwood has become the latest victim of a growing modern trend that believes the ceremony is outdated.

Organisers today announced that they would bring down the curtain on the carnival queen for this year’s summer parade after 84 years captivating locals.

They have also scrapped floats this year after fewer organisations were prepared to enter, citing high insurance costs and health and safety fears.

Instead, there will be a short walking procession through the town, which has a population of about 14,000, while any wheeled entries must be non-motorised.

Officials admitted entry numbers have dwindled in recent years and women have become increasingly unwilling to participate.

"We always have lots of potential princesses – 25 to 30 girls enter each year,” Steve Saville, one of the organisers, said today.  "But for older teenagers and young women, I'm afraid it's not cool to be a queen these days.  "It's not a beauty contest – queens have been chosen for their personalities and what they have done. But it's just not cool."

It is in stark contrast from the town’s first parade in 1929, in which dozens of excited young ladies entered desperate to wear the crown.

New committee members are now being sought to join the band of volunteers, mostly from the town's Rotary club, who have attempted to keep interest alive for the past decade.

Last year Devizes in Wiltshire announced it too was ending the tradition, first launched in the market town in 1933, where a local lovely was chosen each year to ride on a decorated float at the head of the summertime procession through the streets.

A decision to scrap the traditional pageant in Weymouth, Dorset in 2009, provoked such an outcry that the event was eventually reinstated.

Verwood’s queen-less carnival is due to take place in late June.


Not just a blob:   Brain scans reveal babies born THREE MONTHS early can recognise human speech - and even distinguish between male and female voices

Babies born up to three months premature can recognise different syllables in human speech, say scientists.

A study showed similarities in the way the brain processes language in the new-borns and adults - including specific neurological reactions to changes from the 'ba' to 'ga' sound and to a male to female voices.

Professor Fabrice Wallois, of Picardie University in Amiens, France, said the findings suggest that early in the development of the brain it begins to decipher distinct sounds or 'phonemes'.
The study showed similarities in the way the brain processes language in the new-borns and adults - including specific neurological reactions to changes from the

The study showed similarities in the way the brain processes language in the new-borns and adults - including specific neurological reactions to changes from the "ba" to "ga" sound and to a male to female voices


Using bedside functional optical imaging, Fabrice Wallois and colleagues scanned 12 sleeping 28-32-week gestation age pre-term infants.

This is the earliest age at which cortical responses to external stimuli can be recorded.

He said as early as three months before birth a baby's brain establishes neural functions that help decipher human speech.

At birth children can discriminate some syllables and recognise human speech but how these immature brain cells process it remains unclear.

Using powerful non-invasive scanners Prof Wallois and colleagues analysed 12 sleeping premature infants born after 28 to 32 weeks while playing voice recordings.

This is the earliest age for neuronal responses to external stimuli and Prof Wallois found the premature brain can perceive differences in syllables.

In addition although the tests produced responses in the right frontal region of the brain - the first part of the brain to form - syllabic changes also sparked responses in the left hemisphere.

This suggests certain linguistic brain areas exhibit a sophisticated degree of organisation as early as three months prior to full term.

Prof Wallois said: 'We observed several points of similarity with the adult linguistic network.
The research gives a new insight into the way mothers communicate with their babies - and how language skills develop

The research gives a new insight into the way mothers communicate with their babies - and how language skills develop

'First, whereas syllables elicited larger right than left responses, the posterior temporal region escaped this general pattern, showing faster and more sustained responses over the left than over the right hemisphere.

'Second, discrimination responses to a change of phoneme (ba vs. ga) and a change of human voice (male vs. female) were already present and involved inferior frontal areas, even in the youngest infants.

'Third, whereas both types of changes elicited responses in the right frontal region, the left frontal region only reacted to a change of phoneme.

'These results demonstrate a sophisticated organisation of areas at the very onset of cortical circuitry - three months before term.

'They emphasise the influence of innate factors on regions involved in linguistic processing and social communication in humans.'

The study is published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.



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

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of  other countries.  The only real difference, however, is how much power they have.  In America, their power is limited by democracy.  To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already  very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges.  They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did:  None.  So look to the colleges to see  what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way.  It would be a dictatorship.

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


26 February, 2013

Does this broomstick go with my prison stripes?

In its wisdom - and yes, I am being ironic - the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco issued a ruling Tuesday that revives a California inmate lawsuit to force the state Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation to hire a paid, full-time Wiccan chaplain. Oddly, the three-judge panel found that the complaint "did not contain sufficient facts to support a cognizable legal theory under the First Amendment." Nonetheless, the court overturned a federal judge's 2011 dismissal of the lawsuit.

It's enough to make you wonder if Samantha twitched her nose and cast a spell on the robed wonders. Or, mayhap, the jurists are wizards who found no solid legal case but still chose to conjure up a trial reset just for the fun of it. It's not as if the public has to pay for a new trial. Judicial rulings, they're like magic.

How many Bathilda Bagshots are there in California prisons? In their complaint, inmates Shawna Hartmann and Caren Hill claim that Wicca has more adherents in the Central California Women's Facility than Catholicism, Islam or Judaism.

A 2007 Corrections survey found 183 Wiccan inmates - compared with 42,666 Protestant, 28,884 Muslim, 23,160 Catholic, 8,296 Native American and 2,678 Jewish inmates. Those are the big five religions for which the department hires paid, full-time chaplains. A survey five years earlier found 598 Wiccans, which suggests witchcraft could be melting in the California prison community.

Wiccan Rev. Patrick McCollum, who has served as the prison's unpaid volunteer chaplain, told me the department skewed its survey because it "did not want to facilitate nor allow the Wiccans to practice at all."

Why? "Because they thought that they were evil." And: "They had a lot of misconceptions."

You can put me on the record as a Wicca skeptic. When I read the complaint that Wiccans aren't treated the same as adherents to mainstream religions, I figure that's what you get when you join what for some is a do-it-yourself theology. It's like atheists suing because they aren't welcome in church.

For his part, McCollum is quite serious about Wicca.

I wish the Ninth Circuit were as serious. Federal jurists complain about clogged courts. They should look at the mirror, mirror on the wall. They've created their own curse.

Inmate Hartmann first filed this suit in 2008. She since has been released from prison. The complaint is so flimsy that her attorneys actually argued that it was wrong for the judge to dismiss the case because their complaint was "unduly long or poorly written."

Hill is serving a 29-year sentence for possession of a controlled substance for sale. According to court documents, she is a repeat offender with felonies and misdemeanors dating back to 1976.

Criminal Justice Legal Foundation President Michael Rushford observed that he has seen this kind of "there are raisins in the tapioca pudding" inmate nuisance claims before. It's a game life-sentence criminals play "to amuse themselves. They play this game because stupid courts let them get away with it."

"Do you do spells?" I asked McCollum. "Yes," he answered, "a spell is a prayer." He offered up an example: "Great mother whose love encircles the earth, please let this reporter print the truth, and let her be blessed for doing so."

If I turn into a frog over the weekend, I take back this column. Until then, I'm just a chump who pays taxes so the Ninth Circuit can pull rabbits out of hats.


The gaystapo and persecution of Christians

I was recently subpoenaed as a witness in a case making its way through federal court involving a gay bar here in Chicago that’s been accused of harassing a Christian employee…which is a shocking display of hypocrisy, if you think about it, because the “Ministry of Truth” that is our national media constantly berates you with talking points that claim Christians are forever the ones victimizing gays…and no indication is given to the public that in reality it’s the gays who are the victimizers and not necessarily the victims in a lot of cases.

I’ve written about this before, while coining the term “Gaystapo” to refer to militant gays who serve as goon squads for the Left…and who are specifically charged with accusing Christians of all manner of hatred and bigotry (while simultaneously being the ones who actually rev up hatred and bigotry themselves against Christians at just about any gay-related public event held in cities like Chicago).

Well, I’m openly gay and can tell you that I’ve seen, firsthand, Christian men harassed and persecuted in the very prominent Chicago bar currently a Defendant in a major discrimination suit. I witnessed  atheist or agnostic gays deliberately targeting gay Christians for harassment as “traitors” because of their faith…and I am looking forward to the day in the near future where I can take the witness stand in federal court and put on record everything I’ve seen self-styled “leaders of the gay community” do to men in Chicago who are both gay and Christian (but who refuse to denounce Christ or turn their backs on their families because the “gay community leaders” tell them that’s what they need to do).

Honestly, this case is one of the most explosive I’ve ever encountered and has the potential to completely obliterate the Left’s ability to ever use gays as a weapon against Christians in the future…because it exposes the reality that whenever the Left accuses other people of doing something evil, it’s because subgroups of the Left are actually doing those exact same things to someone else.

This case will expose the Gaystapo for the evil it does to Christians…and it will also show the self-styled “gay community leaders” to be the real hatemongers at work in our society today.

There’s a lot more to come on this in the months ahead as the case moves through discovery and approaches trial…so be sure to stay tuned because I intend to tell you everything I am allowed to publicly reveal about the most shameless act of hypocrisy the “gay community” of Chicago has ever committed in its effort to destroy “the enemies of the gay community”.


Furious anti-Christian bigotry at CBS Sports

By Steve Deace

This column by Gregg Doyel, a national columnist at CBS Sports.com, is just the latest example of the brave new world that is coming for Christians in an American culture that is devolving right before our very eyes. Religious liberty, which is what led those first (Christian) pilgrims to settle here and found what later became these United States of America in the first place, is under open assault.  Just recently we’ve seen:

*    A Christian baker in Oregon facing potential criminal prosecution for refusing to make a wedding cake for a lesbian couple.

*   Hobby Lobby facing seven-figure fines from the federal government because it refuses to provide abortifacients to its employees.

 *   Chick-fil-a under attack for believing the Bible.

 *   Talented Mormon writer Orson Scott Card facing a boycott because he believes in marriage.

 *   The media’s failure to cover the first domestic terrorism conviction in the history of Washington, D.C.. His name is Floyd Corkin –  he’s a gay rights activist – and he attempted a mass shooting at the national headquarters of the Family Research Council.

And there’s plenty more where that came from, and unless we reverse the current course we’re on plenty more – and worse – are on the way, too.

But that’s not what has Doyel’s dander up. Oh, no. Its Tim Tebow agreeing to speak at the 10,000-member church of Robert Jeffress, whom Doyel says “does the work of the Lord sort of like Westboro Baptist does the work of the Lord.”

Right away you can see this is a smear campaign by Doyel, who leads off with the bullying tactic of linking Jeffress with the notorious Westboro Baptist. So what are Jeffress’ sins according to Doyle?

Doyel writes that Jeffress has said, “It’s a fact that [AIDS is] a gay disease so there’s a reasonable reason to exclude gays from the military.”

There are really two separate questions here, one involving whether AIDS primarily infects homosexuals, and whether homosexuals should be allowed to serve openly in the military. For example, plenty of people who aren’t opposed to mainstreaming homosexuality, like Senator John McCain, have opposed allowing homosexuals to serve openly in the military for reasons that have nothing to do with AIDS such as unit cohesion.

Regarding AIDS, in May of 2012 the Centers for Disease Control – hardly a right-wing organization – reported that “gay,  bisexual, and other men who have sex with men (MSM) represent approximately 2% of the US population, yet are the population most severely affected by HIV.” The organization says men having sex with men account for 61% of all new HIV infections in the U.S. and 79% of all new infections among men. Translation: if you’re a guy and you only have sex with your wife, and she only has sex with you, there’s a better chance you’ll be struck by lightning then get HIV according to the CDC’s own data. Furthermore, over half of the 784,701 living with HIV in the U.S. are homosexual men, and white homosexual men contract HIV at roughly 10 times the rate as white heterosexual women, again according to the CDC.

This is all data that Doyel could’ve looked up for himself if he was truly interested in understanding Jeffress’ remarks and being a professional. But ready, fire, aim draws hits to your website I suppose.

Next, Doyel dips into theology, saying that Jeffress’ church preaches that “Jews and homosexuals are going to Hell.” Again, this is a bullying tactic. Doyel cherry-picks two sympathetic people groups here, but that’s not an accurate representation of Jeffress’ church. On its own website it says, “Salvation involves the redemption of the whole man and is offered freely to all who accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, who, by His own blood, obtained eternal redemption for the believer. There is no salvation apart from personal faith in Jesus Christ as Lord.”

That faith statement on salvation is shared by at least 95% of Christendom throughout the religion’s 2,000-year history, as well as clear teaching in the Bible (John 14:6 is one example)—which you’ll notice Doyel never quotes in his column.

For Doyel’s characterizations of the beliefs of Jeffress’ church to be true would require several fantastical, dare I say intolerant, things to be true. First, Doyel is essentially saying is the Gospel itself, which was born of a Jew (Jesus) and initially spread by his disciples (all Jews) hates Jews.

Billy Graham, who has been one of America’s most respected persons every year for six decades, built a lifelong ministry on the faith statement on the website of Jeffress’ church that Doyel is condemning. So apparently Billy Graham is loony tunes, too. Heck, Doyel even managed to offend Jesus Christ himself, who claims many times in the New Testament there is no salvation apart from him. While claiming to stand for tolerance, Doyel elevates himself above God. What humility!

Doyel is mad that Jeffress’ says Islam “promotes pedophilia.” Except he leaves out the part that in some parts of Iran a girl can get married as young as nine with parental permission, because that’s supposedly the age of Mohammed’s child bride Aisha when he consummated the marriage.

Doyel also says that Jeffress is a bad guy because he has disparaging remarks about Catholicism (which I don’t share) and Mormonism. Again, these issues appear to be too complicated for Doyel, so he would’ve been better off not touching them. You simply cannot briefly touch on theological debates that are hundreds of years old and have centuries of context behind them without coming across as ignorant, unprofessional, or both.

Doyel also never mentions that on the church’s calendar there are outreach events for those in mourning, the unemployed, single moms, and for those that “speak very little to no English.” Yet this is the church pastored by a man that Doyel describes as “monstrous.”

Doyel concludes his screed by saying he “despises Jeffress” so he “despises Tebow now.” Did he ever attempt to talk to Jeffress or Tebow? Is it “tolerant” to “despise” people you’ve never met? Is that what the diversity policy at CBS Sports teaches?

The article doesn’t say, but given the homework it’s obvious Doyel didn’t do before writing his column he comes across as rather intolerant, which Dictionary.com defines as “not tolerating or respecting others beliefs as in political or religious matters.”

I’d say that pretty much sums up Doyle’s piece, wouldn’t you?


Australian Labor Party has lost the plot, and the narrative

Waleed Aly says the ALP stands for nothing, which is pretty right.  A party that stood up for the worker would reject all the Greenie restrictions that keep the workers poor -- but we see no sign of that.  The trouble is that the ALP is now more the teachers' party than the workers' party

If you're inclined to take a long-term view of politics, the hand-wringing on whether Julia Gillard should stay or go is really just so much white noise.

Labor is in crisis, but not principally for the reasons that occupy the commentariat.

It's not about a bitterly divided caucus, or political miscalculations such as the ham-fisted Nova Peris saga. It's not even simply about policy missteps such as the creation of an impotent mining tax.

Labor's problems are not nearly so managerial and technocratic. They are much, much bigger than that.

Labor's problem is ideological. It doesn't really mean anything any more, and probably hasn't since Paul Keating lost power in 1996. Sure, Labor has had its moments - most notably in its campaign against WorkChoices, which jolted its ideological memory and gave it a momentary reason to exist.

But this was no ideological revival. It was reactive: a political opportunity well taken rather than a world view reborn.

Only John Howard's pro-business, anti-union zeal, unencumbered by any resistance in the Senate, made this possible. After WorkChoices, much as before it, what then?

This isn't an optional, esoteric extra. Governments ultimately thrive on narrative. Voters are not merely electing a suite of set policies. They are electing a party that will respond to future, unforeseen policy questions. They therefore need to know what you're about. That's what a clear consistent story tells them.

A party without a narrative is reduced to seeking your support as a lesser evil. Hence Labor's focus on Tony Abbott.

Every successful government can be summarised in a phrase or two. Bob Hawke: a new, deregulated, globalised economy. Keating inherited that story, then added Asia, a growing economic power in our backyard we should embrace by shedding our British skin. Howard was about nationalism, security and capital's triumph over labour. Everything - asylum seeker policy, counterterrorism, foreign affairs, even unsolicited social commentary about minority groups - was tailored to fit the story.

Exactly what story has Labor told us since 2007? It began with something about "Australian working families", but that too was a relic of the WorkChoices campaign. After that, it has been mostly a blancmange of conflicting messages. Perhaps it started when Kevin Rudd wanted to be "tough but humane" on asylum seekers. It took Gillard only a matter of days as Prime Minister to continue the incoherence, declaring both that the number of boat people arriving in Australia was much smaller than many imagined, before swiftly going on to reassure those worried about invading hordes that their concerns were legitimate, and that they're "certainly [not] racist". We learn nothing from this about how Labor sees asylum seekers. We learn only that it's trying to please everyone.

The problem persists even in Labor-friendly policy areas. Take education, where the Rudd government announced a bold new focus on literacy and numeracy, much as Howard might have. More recently, it commissioned the Gonski review, but tied its hands on the question of private school funding so the panel couldn't even consider cutting it. Then it pledged a response it is yet to detail or fund.

Indeed, its only real response to date has been a bill it hailed as the most important of last year, but which had nothing in it at all. Explicitly. It has a section specifically saying the bill creates no rights or obligations on anyone - especially the government. To paraphrase, "section 10: this legislation does not exist".

Even Labor's most significant reform, the carbon tax, merely symbolises the party's ideological malaise. The government's heftiest achievement isn't even its own policy. Indeed, it was so infamously promised not to be its policy.

Remember the citizens' assembly? That was Gillard's pledge before the last election: a random gathering of ordinary people who would somehow reach a consensus on pricing carbon. That's a process, not a policy. It's the kind of thing you do when you want to announce something but you're not prepared to commit to a compelling vision of your own.

As the opposition hammers it on Labor's broken pledge to deliver a surplus this financial year, the government seems to have found some coherence. Confronted with falling corporate profit (and therefore falling tax revenue), it had a choice: either keep finding cuts that would make lots of people unemployed and deflate the economy, or prioritise jobs and growth. It's a nice line. It sounds like a Labor line. But it follows years of saying the opposite; of elevating the surplus to some inviolable standard of good economic management; of saying the main game was giving the Reserve Bank "room to cut interest rates". And this in the face of the ever-lengthening queue of economists advising to the contrary.

In short, Labor had bought wholly into the Coalition's narrative for no discernible reason. It conceded the philosophical debate, then lost the political fight. So now, when it has finally found a Labor story to tell, it sounds convenient and insincere. Labor has become a liberal party, so it isn't even convincing when it sounds like itself.

That's not about incompetent leadership; it is the flipside of the Hawke/Keating legacy. Once Labor embraced a deregulated, liberal economy, the political landscape was forever changed, leaving a diabolical question for subsequent Labor leaders: what exactly is the point of Labor politics? The compromise has been to talk about Labor's "reforming tradition", but reform is an act, not an ideology. WorkChoices was a reform, too.

Labor has been chasing its base ever since. Often it watched helplessly as workers became small business owners and turned into Howard's socially conservative battlers. Labor cannot offer them industrial protection, and desperately doesn't want to offend their cultural sensibilities, which is why it says things like "tough but humane".

The result is that Labor cannot even compete on social and cultural politics. Hence the flight to the Greens, the party Gillard so venomously dismissed this week as a "party of protest". To which the most devastating reply is surely: "Fine. But what are you?"



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

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of  other countries.  The only real difference, however, is how much power they have.  In America, their power is limited by democracy.  To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already  very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges.  They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did:  None.  So look to the colleges to see  what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way.  It would be a dictatorship.

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


25 February, 2013

Obsessive  hate from the British Left

John O’Farrell’s best-selling book, Things Can Only Get Better, an account of his life as a Labour activist during 18 years of Conservative rule, is required bedtime reading for the Left.
O’Farrell, a ‘comedian’ who apparently wrote jokes for Gordon Brown (no, I can’t remember any either), explains in the memoir why he wasn’t cut out to be an MP. ‘I would always be in trouble for saying the wrong thing,’ he writes.

We now know how true this candid prediction was. In the book, named after the cloying pop song that served as the Labour Party theme tune during the 1997 election campaign, O’Farrell proudly writes that he wanted Argentina to win the Falklands War, in which 255 British serviceman died, because he believed that would ensure Lady Thatcher was voted out of Downing Street.

He has been publicly endorsed by party leader Ed Miliband, who joined him on the campaign trail a week ago. Miliband, grinning inanely like a poor man’s Mr Bean, described O’Farrell as ‘a breath of fresh air for this by-election and a breath of fresh air for politics’.

O’Farrell’s campaign was already faltering after it emerged last week that in the same book he had written about the IRA bomb at the Grand Hotel in Brighton during the Tory conference in 1984.

‘I felt a surge of excitement at the nearness of Margaret Thatcher’s demise, and disappointment such a chance had been missed,’ he wrote.

Just in case you didn’t fully grasp the full meaning of that sickening comment, what O’Farrell said was he regretted that the country’s greatest prime minister of the last 40 years was not blown to pieces by terrorists.

O’Farrell sheepishly offered a half-apology for that remark this week —  but, astonishingly, the Labour party made no attempt to distance itself from him. Voters in Eastleigh have also had Polly Toynbee, The Guardian newspaper’s high priestess of feminism, knocking on their doors to canvass for O’Farrell: seemingly oblivious to the fact he said he wished that Britain’s first woman Prime Minister had been murdered.

So much for the sisterhood!

When challenged about his views on the Brighton bomb, O’Farrell said: ‘A terrible thought came into my head and I immediately castigated myself for it.

‘I was honest because I said how I felt for a split second at the time.’  Hardly the most gracious of apologies. Indeed, not actually an apology at all.

Also, his semi-remorse was utterly disingenuous in its implication that his feeling was simply a momentary lapse that happened more than a decade ago. Because the truth is that O’Farrell went on to poke fun at Lady Thatcher’s brush with death in another book he wrote only three years ago.

In An Utterly Exasperated History Of Modern Britain, a supposedly comedic take on recent British history, O’Farrell returned to the ruins of the Grand Hotel in a section headlined: ‘Apart from that, Mrs Thatcher, how was your stay?’

He wrote: ‘It was the closest anyone had come to assassinating a Prime Minister in modern times and a major embarrassment for the security services.

‘Who knows what will be revealed when the official papers are released 30 years after the Brighton bomb. One bit of correspondence from the Grand Hotel has already been removed.

‘“Dear Mrs Thatcher, thank you for your letter and under the circumstances we accept that your request for a refund is a reasonable one. However, after the search of your bomb-damaged room we were still unable to locate two towels and a hotel ashtray and wonder if by chance you might have accidentally packed .?.?.”.’

The sick joke underlines 50-year-old O’Farrell’s reflexive loathing for the Tories and his insatiable desire to shock.

He writes: ‘On May 8, 1945, a misleadingly positive piece of government spin was sold to the British people.  They were told that they had won the Second World War.

‘The government dared to tell them after six years of crippling conflict, the destruction of homes, factories, the loss of the merchant shipping fleet, and the gold reserves, that Great Britain was somehow one of the winners.’

In An Utterly Exasperated History Of Modern Britain, O’Farrell — who is credited with the idea of making the Spitting Image puppet of the Tory Prime Minister John Major grey (to match the Left’s view of his dour character) — he shamelessly exploits the bizarre death in 1994 of the Tory MP Stephen Milligan so as to try to embarrass Mr Major.

Milligan’s body was found naked except for a pair of stockings and suspenders. He had a bin-liner over his head and electrical flex wrapped around his neck.

O’Farrell, without a hint of compassion for the 46-year-old’s family and friends, writes: ‘One Tory MP was found dead in his London flat, hanging from a noose of electrical flex, dressed in nothing but stockings and suspenders with an orange in his mouth and a plastic bin-liner over his head.

‘It was hard for John Major to say, “Well, we’ve all done it, haven’t we?. I mean, who can honestly say that at some time or another they haven’t masturbated while hanging by a home-made noose, sucking on amyl nitrate while wearing ladies’ lingerie. I know I have!”’

O’Farrell may now have cause to regret ridiculing Milligan, who happens to have been the popular MP for Eastleigh, the very seat O’Farrell is now contesting.

Incidentally, it won’t help his cause at all that he has arrogantly told voters that even if elected, he won’t bother to get a home in the constituency — but will commute from London.

O’Farrell’s writings also direct poisonous bile at the Royal Family, mocking the bulimia of Princess Diana and comparing the ‘contrived’ public reaction to her death in 1997 to the fervour on display at a Nazi rally.

In his Exasperated History, he writes: ‘Perhaps somewhere in a parallel universe there is another 1990s Britain where the death of the Princess of Wales was mentioned in passing as an insignificant news event, like the death of a former sitcom star or the closing of a famous London boutique.

‘The news was unimportant in the general scheme of things .?.?. but was probably worth just mentioning as it might be of trivial nostalgic interest for its own sake.’

Instead, however, ‘the sudden death of Diana was a massive news event, but only because of the way she had been built up over the previous years as one of the lead characters in the national soap opera’.

He writes that ‘the nation embarked on upon an utterly surreal week of very public mourning ..... It was a nationwide Nuremberg rally of contrived sentiment and displacement grief’.

He adds, sarcastically: ‘But what was a great comfort to all of us in this dark hour was the high quality of the souvenirs produced as a tribute to the life of the so-called “Queen of Hearts”.

‘Diana porcelain dolls that featured some of her most memorable dresses, hand-painted and individually numbered by the traditional royal potters of Taiwan.

‘Commemorative mugs, featuring that unmistakable coy smile. A children’s Diana doll which allowed you, by pulling a string on her back, to relive those favourite catchphrases: “There were three of us in this marriage, so it was a bit crowded” and, “I’d like to be a Queen in people’s hearts”.

‘The Princess of Wales Memorial plate for that tiny half piece of lettuce that could be puked up later.’

Yet still O’Farrell — who stood as the Labour candidate for Maidenhead in the 2001 General Election and was trounced by Theresa May — is feted by the Labour leadership, with Harriet Harman, the deputy leader, also joining his campaign.

Lord Tebbit, whose wife Margaret was among those injured in the attack on the Grand Hotel which left her paralysed from the neck down, characteristically cuts to the heart of the issue.

‘The question is not just whether any rational or decent Labour voter in Eastleigh will vote for this creature,’ he says.  ‘It’s a test for the Labour leader. Does he endorse O’Farrell and his disappointment that the attempt against Margaret Thatcher failed?

‘Or will he have the decency and courage to repudiate him?’

We now know the answer to that and it tells us all we need to know about Ed Miliband as well as his candidate in next week’s by-election.

More here

Conservatives go to war on 'bias’ at the BBC

A bitter battle is breaking out between senior Cabinet ministers and the BBC, with claims that the corporation is “biased” and “too close to Labour”.

Senior Conservatives frustrated with the broadcaster include Maria Miller, the Culture Secretary, Iain Duncan Smith, the Work and Pensions Secretary, and Eric Pickles, the Communities Secretary.

Grant Shapps, the party chairman, has also complained about coverage of the Coalition’s housing policy.

Ministers are angry that the BBC habitually describes reduced spending as “cuts” rather than “savings” for the taxpayer.

As a result, the Department for Work and Pensions has made more than 20 formal complaints to the BBC over the past year, with accusations of “bias” and “inaccuracies”.

Aides say coverage of welfare reforms often feature only the plight of people who will suffer most from the changes, while measures to soften the blow often go unreported.

Over the past few months, Mr Duncan Smith has been particularly angered by the reporting of the housing benefit reforms referred to as “the bedroom tax” by Labour and the BBC.

The changes will mean reduced payments for anyone living in council or housing association properties that have more bedrooms than they are judged to need.

“You could look at the BBC’s TV news coverage [of this policy] and think this was a change that would apply only to disabled people,” one government source said.

“We have allocated £155 million for local authorities to help soften the blow of the measure, but this never features in the BBC’s news coverage. How is it possible not to think that is biased?”

Details of the increasingly fractious relationship come just days after David Cameron criticised the BBC for behaving “badly” and “stupidly” in its coverage of next week’s Eastleigh by-election.

The Prime Minister berated the broadcaster for thinking its coverage was the “most important thing in this by-election” when the Tory candidate declined to attend one of its hustings events.

However, the touch paper was lit by the appointment of James Purnell, the former Labour culture secretary, to the BBC’s board. He is to be paid £295,000 a year as director of strategy.

“This gives the impression that there is a swing door policy between Labour and the BBC,” said one ministerial aide, adding that the appointment had “lit the touch paper” on a range of grievances.

The director of strategy post has been created by Lord Hall, the director-general in waiting who joins the BBC in April and who hand-picked Mr Purnell for the job, which was never advertised.

The BBC said the new director-general “did not want to waste time with a long and costly recruitment process” for the role. A similar post at a commercial broadcaster would pay more, it added.

However, a senior ministerial adviser pointed out that Lord Hall was appointed by Labour to lead the Royal Opera House in 2001.

At that time, Mr Purnell was working in Downing Street under Tony Blair, but there is no suggestion that he had a hand in Lord Hall’s appointment.

“It is beyond a joke,” the source said of the decision. “It all looks far too cosy.”

John Whittingdale, the Conservative chairman of the Commons Culture Committee, said he would ask Lord Hall about the appointment when he is next before the committee.

Mr Whittingdale will meet fellow committee members tomorrow to see if there is an appetite to investigate the circumstances surrounding Mr Purnell’s job.

Philip Davies, a Conservative MP on the committee, described the former Labour MP’s selection as “totally unacceptable” and “very provocative”, adding: “It is not as if the BBC is not already over-balanced with Left-leaning people.

“If Lord Hall thinks the answer to the BBC’s problems is picking this former Labour minister for such a senior role it shows he does not have a good grasp of what is really going wrong at the corporation.”

A further complaint has come from Mr Shapps about a report on BBC1’s News at 10 investigating the Coalition’s “new homes bonus”, a grant paid to councils that build more homes.

Downing Street also complained late last year about the conduct of Evan Davis, the presenter of Radio 4’s Today programme, when interviewing George Osborne.  He repeatedly talked over the Chancellor and was accused of “shouting down” Mr Osborne by Tory MPs.

A BBC spokesman said: “Our coverage of government policy is approached in the same independent and impartial way as our coverage of any story.”

The BBC also said an individual’s personal views did not impact on their ability to carry out their work in an impartial manner and there were strict guidelines which must be observed at all times.


RSPCA wasted 'tens of thousands' of taxpayers' money in latest case against a hunt

The RSPCA has been accused of wasting tens of thousands of pounds of taxpayers’ money after its latest case involving a hunt collapsed.

The charity had accused Keith Watson, his partner Tanya Norlander and his daughter Hannah Watson, 18, of interfering with a badger sett while assisting the Cheshire Hunt in February last year.

Within days, the family were subject to a police raid and taken individually to a police station for hour-long interviews. For a year they lived under “extreme stress” while the case came to court.  Miss Watson, now 19, was “unable to sleep” or study for her A-levels.

Almost a year later the case collapsed when the RSPCA admitted at Crewe Magistrates’ Court there was not enough evidence and the prosecution withdrew the case.  The cost of defence, paid for by the hunt and estimated to be around £10,000, will be paid by the taxpayer.

Stephen Welford, solicitor for the Watsons, said it will have cost “tens of thousands more” to the taxpayer to pay for the court and judge.  He said the RSPCA, that is funded by donations, will have spent around £30,000 on the case.

Any private individual can bring a private prosecution, and the state will pay if it collapses, but Mr Welford said charities should be more responsible about bringing cases that may fail at the taxpayer’s expense.  “It was an ill-informed decision to bring the prosecution,” he said.

The Charities Commission is already questioning the RSPCA’s use of its own funds to bring prosecutions after a judge criticised the charity for spending £326,000 prosecuting David Cameron’s local hunt the Heythrop.

Tim Bonner, Director of Campaigns at the Countryside Alliance, said the RSPCA is ruining lives and wasting money in their "vindictive" campaign against hunts.

He said the RSPCA have two more ongoing cases connected to hunts in the North West and Wiltshire, one also involves interfering with a badger sett.

“It is simply disgraceful that the RSPCA is using the criminal justice system to pursue a vindictive campaign against the hunting community. The Watson family have suffered more than a year of stress over a prosecution so unjustified that it fell apart within minutes of the trial starting.

“There is no way on earth that the police and Crown Prosecution Service would have prosecuted on such flawed and weak evidence, but the RSPCA pursued Mr Watson and his family simply because they were part of the Cheshire Hunt.

“This case only reinforces the need for proper scrutiny of a charity which is using money donated to protect animal welfare to pursue a political, animal rights campaign.”

Mr Watson said he regularly assisted the hunt by legally killing foxes at the landowner’s request. Usually this is done by chasing the fox out of the earth into a net with a single dog. The animal is then shot with a “humane” pistol.

On February 16th last year, he said he used a terrier to try to flush a fox out of an earth.  No animal was harmed but a few days later his farm was raided, buildings searched and firearms seized.

His family was taken to a police station individually to be interviewed.

Mr Watson said activists had “hidden behind bushes” to film activity at the fox’s earth.

It was claimed it was a badger’s sett but he insisted it was not being used by badgers.

The farmer said he and his family were targeted for doing nothing wrong in an effort to bring down the hunt.

“The RSPCA are not interested in animal welfare, they are just going after the hunting community. They do not have to pay the bills, it is the taxpayer.”

Mr Watson lost his firearms licence for the year and was unable to control pests on the farm.

He said his family was targeted in order to get to the hunting community.

“It is a nightmare when you know you are not guilty and you have done nothing wrong but you are being picked on to make an example of.”

Hannah Watson, who is now 19, said she suffered sleepless nights and was unable to study for her A-levels.  “I feel my family was targeted,” she said. “It was intimidating and very scary.”

The RSPCA insisted there was sufficient evidence for "instituting proceedings for an alleged offence of interfering with a badger sett", supported by independent expert evidence, as well as video footage.

However on the morning of the trial it became clear for the first time that the prosecution’s expert now had reservations as to whether the sett had been “interfered with” as is legally understood.

"As soon as the RSPCA became aware of this, it decided to offer no evidence and the case was dismissed. This was a responsible decision taken on the day in light of new circumstances that could not have been anticipated," said a spokesman.

The charity pointed out that the case was reviewed against the Code for Crown Prosecutors and at all stages leading up to the trial, it had been considered appropriate to prosecute.

"The RSPCA believes that if it is presented with evidence of alleged offences concerning animal cruelty they should be properly investigated and prosecuted where appropriate.

"It is extremely rare that RSPCA cases conclude like this. We prosecute roughly 1 per cent of the incidents we are asked to investigate and have a success rate of around 98 per cent," the spokesman added.


The Church Doesn't Need a Revolution

 Kathryn Lopez

The pope has renounced the papal throne. Long live the progressive pope! Such are the rallying cries from establishment voices wanting to see the Catholic Church loosen up now that Pope Benedict XVI has decided to step down. But maybe people should listen to the Church's actual views.

Mary Hasson from the Ethics and Public Policy Center has been doing some unique work looking into what Catholic women know and want from their Church. It's scandalous and yet not entirely surprising that she found only 13 percent of Catholic women who occasionally attend Mass accept Church teaching on contraception.

It's not a shock given that the average Catholic Mass goer is not exactly being taught the theology and even practicality of the Catholic teaching on sexual morality. Catholics all too often see Church teaching as a litany of "No"s when, in fact, it is all about "Yes." Yes to human dignity and happiness. Yes to the respect for one another that comes from truly believing you are made in the image and likeness of God.

"On the one hand, the number is small, no question," Hasson acknowledges. "That 13 percent includes not only weekly churchgoers but also women who attend less regularly, perhaps a few times a year. However, if we look only at women who attend Mass weekly, the percentage accepting the Church's teaching on contraception goes up, doubling (to 27 percent) among young women ages 18-34. That's a sign of hope -- in spite of decades of dissenting theologians, silence from the parish pulpit and distorted cultural messages about sex, these women have heard the Church's teaching and embraced it. These women form a solid core of faithful Catholics who can attest to the personal benefits of following the Church's teaching on sexuality and family planning."

And despite the current conversation about women, contraception and religious liberty that's overtaken the government's federal health-care push, the media coverage has been such that most Americans still don't quite know what all the fuss is about. Some Catholic women have a similar relationship to Church teachings on contraception: 37 percent, in Hasson's findings, were unsure about the specifics.

"The 37 percent seems to confirm the stories that abound of Catholic women who went to Mass every week for years and to confession regularly, but never heard that contraception is wrong. Similarly, how many Catholics have gone through (extensive marriage prep in the Church) by never heard word one about the Church's teaching on sexuality or family planning," she said. "Or perhaps (they) heard some general teachings, and then, with a wink, were told to follow their consciences, with no further guidance about forming their consciences."

A cover story in glossy New York magazine recently dared to question the good of the birth-control pill based on the damage it had wrought on women's lives and bodies. The one institution that proposes a radically different way might just have something to offer the world -- if it only taught it and lived it.

Pope Benedict has been a teacher, first and foremost, reintroducing a proposal that Christ himself offered. Men and women living in service for love of God are good to have around. Enough with the campaign for less Catholicism in the Catholic Church. How about a welcome mat for a good and faithful shepherd who, with confidence and humility, speaks with clarity about the teachings of the Catholic Church, "proposing the good news of Jesus Christ to a disenchanted world," as George Weigel puts it in his book "Evangelical Catholicism."

The disenchanted are everywhere, even in the pews. And they want to be fed, they want to be engaged, they want to be transformed. They don't want more of the same misery omnipresent in the secular world. The world doesn't need a Gospel of misery but of hope. The Church has it, and we should expect the next pope to teach on, infused with a generous and contagious spirit of engagement.



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

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of  other countries.  The only real difference, however, is how much power they have.  In America, their power is limited by democracy.  To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already  very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges.  They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did:  None.  So look to the colleges to see  what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way.  It would be a dictatorship.

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


24 February, 2013

‘I Don’t Debate With Israelis!’: British Leftist Politician Storms Out of Debate After Realizing His Opponent Is From Israel?

Hypocrite Galloway pictured hugging former IDF officer (that's right, Uri Geller was wounded in action as an IDF paratrooper during the Six-Day War)

At an Oxford University event, British parliamentary member George Galloway shocked attendees when he abruptly stormed out of the room after finding out that his opponent was an Israeli. After realizing the man’s nationality, the politician immediately jumped out of his seat, announced that he had been misled and told those in attendance that he doesn’t debate with citizens of the Jewish state.

“I don’t debate with Israelis. I’ve been misled. Sorry,” he said, with the audience responding in shock.

Next, he got up, grabbed his coat and headed for the door. But before walking out, he again affirmed his stance, saying, “I don’t recognize Israel and I don’t debate with Israelis.”

Galloway had already been speaking for approximately 10 minutes about his view that “Israel should withdraw immediately from the West Bank” when he realized that his opponent is Jewish, the Daily Mail reports.

The incident unfolded as Eylon Aslan-Levy, a third-year student, was responding to the politician’s statements from the podium. When Aslan-Levy used the word “we” to in his description of Israel, Galloway interrupted him and asked if he’s of Jewish decent.

“You said ‘we.’ Are you an Israeli?,” the politician asked.  The student answered affirmatively — and that’s when the situation took its shocking turn.

While many derided his comments, Galloway shared some supporters’ tweets — messages that accused Israel of apartheid and of occupying others’ lands.


How press freedom is now a “very extreme view” in Britain

A UK video journalist tells spiked why he is fighting orders to hand over protest footage to the police

Where there is a protest in the UK, it’s a safe bet that Jason Parkinson will be there on the frontline filming it. From the G20 protests in 2009, to the recent Anonymous masked street protests, Parkinson’s carefully edited footage features in a range of publications and gives a short, sharp insight into what it’s like in the heat of demonstrations.

It seems, however, that such insights are too short and sharp for the police, who have demanded that Parkinson hand over all his footage of an English Defence League march and United Against Fascism (UAF) counter-demonstration he filmed in Bolton in 2010 to help them with an unspecified investigation they are carrying out. Parkinson, rightly, has refused, and this week appeared in court to fight a production order the Greater Manchester Police have applied for under the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984. ‘They claim my footage may or may not be of relevance to their investigation’, Parkinson told spiked. ‘I was not told what they were investigating.’

His reasons for refusing are both principled and pragmatic. As Parkinson explains: ‘Journalists are not evidence gatherers for the police.’ But he also recognises that, ‘if we are seen to be handing over footage to the authorities we will be viewed as just that and our safety covering such situations in the future we be jeopardised’.

Parkinson’s concerns are understandable. Should the police begin to make a habit of demanding footage from journalists at protests, any idea of journalistic independence will disappear. In spite of the intention of the journalist, the footage could be used to spot troublemakers, or even just to make a list of people who had attended. The video-journalists’ lens ceases to be neutral, and becomes instead a means through which the state can spy upon protesters. Should this become known, any trust between journalist and protesters would be lost, and hostile situations are bound to arise. Parkinson is right to fear for the future of his profession - and is equally right to fight the case.

This is not the first time the police have attempted to co-opt journalists’ material in such a way, and neither is it the first time demands have been made of Parkinson. As Parkinson explains, ‘production orders were becoming routine procedure in 2010, as opposed to being issued as the last resort, which is how they are supposed to be implemented’. It sounds like the police were beginning to use footage shot by journalists as part of a trawling exercise, rather than to investigate a particular serious crime.

As Parkinson has observed previously, this appears to have coincided with a decline in the once-prominent police ‘forward intelligence’ teams who, in the early 2000s, would zealously film everyone attending protests. Relationships between journalists and police improved. ‘It was almost as if they wanted us there’, Parkinson told Journalism.co.uk . Starting notably with the student protests at Millbank in 2010, ‘[at] every public-order incident since then, one news outlet or another has had the proverbial knock at the door’.

This reached a head in 2011, when Essex police requested footage from all journalists and broadcasters who filmed the eviction of the Dale Farm travellers’ site over a two-day period. As Parkinson told spiked: ‘It was clear from the start this was not about proving any specific incidents of criminality, it was about seizing all material for intelligence purposes against protestors.’ To Parkinson, this amounted to ‘the biggest assault on press freedom and independence we had seen for many years’. Despite the evident amount of time and energy it would take, there was, he says, ‘no choice but to fight it’.

Over an eight-month period Parkinson, with the backing of the National Union of Journalists (NUJ), fought the production order despite repeated chastisement from lawmakers. The prosecuting counsel at Chelmsford Crown Court accused him of having a ‘very extreme view’ for insisting that journalists should be able to report free from state interference. To his credit, however, Parkinson stuck to his guns and won a resounding victory in the Court of Appeal in May 2012, when the production order was overturned.

For a time following that, police requests from journalists slowed, with the latest order served on Parkinson from Greater Manchester Police being the first he had heard of since he won the case. Should the police win the case, the floodgates could once again open for the police to make a wealth of demands from journalists.

In an ideal world, Parkinson says, ‘the police would respect press freedom and leave our material alone… [But] at the very least, the police need to follow and implement the law correctly and to the letter, not just use the law as they wish’.

At a time when the Leveson Inquiry looks set to bring about state regulation of journalism - legally enforced or through royal charter - attempts by the police to casually commandeer journalists’ research and footage play a dangerous role in further eroding press freedom. Through the simple act of attempting to undertake their profession, the role of the journalist becomes warped. Instead of simply attempting to report observations or facts, journalists would be forced to become ancillaries of the state. Little could do more to erode faith in journalistic integrity.

Far from being ‘extreme’ in arguing that the state should respect press freedom and leave journalists’ material alone, Parkinson is making an argument that anyone who believes in democratic society should support. Just as the state should have no influence over the content of what a journalist writes, so it should be kept well away from ordering journalists to hand over material.


British proposals to penalise the press 'are against the law and would have chilling effect on free speech'

A key plank of Lord Justice Leveson’s plans for Press regulation breaches European human rights laws, leading barristers have warned.

The joint opinion by three QCs concludes the judge’s proposal to punish newspapers that refuse to join a new Press regulator with exemplary damages would violate Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which protects freedom of expression.

Lord Pannick, Desmond Browne and Antony White found that the proposals would have a ‘chilling effect’ on free speech which was ‘obvious and unjustifiable’.

The breach is so ‘striking’ ministers would be unable to sign off legislation that incorporates the proposal as being compatible with human rights laws, the QCs say.

Lord Justice Leveson recommended the threat of exemplary damages as a way of providing an incentive for newspapers to voluntarily come within the remit of the new regulator.

The proposal is included in a draft Bill published by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport and is taken even further in controversial plans for an arbitration system that have recently been inserted into the Defamation Bill by the Labour peer Lord Puttnam.

The new opinion, which was commissioned by the newspaper industry, warns the proposals are ‘objectionable in principle due to their arbitrary extension of what is widely regarded as an anomalous feature of English law’.

It also said the proposals single out a particular category of defendant rather than a particular kind of conduct.

‘To punish the Press for what others may do without punishment is inconsistent with the special importance that domestic and Strasbourg jurisprudence attach to freedom of the Press,’ the lawyers said.

Their opinion was challenged by Hugh Tomlinson QC, chairman of the Hacked Off campaign, who said it was ‘misconceived’.

The revelation came as ministers brace themselves for a showdown with peers over the Puttnam amendment to the Defamation Bill.

The amendment introduces a Leveson-style arbitration backed by law. But, in a further controversial step, it also threatens ruinous damages against papers that fail to get prior approval for publishing contentious stories.

The eminent QC Lord Lester, architect of the Defamation Bill which is designed to reform Britain’s notorious libel laws, said the Puttnam proposals would curb the Press in a way ‘never seen in any democratic country’.

Downing Street has made it clear that the Prime Minister will not allow the Puttnam proposal to become law, even if it means the entire Defamation Bill has to be scrapped to prevent it.


Australia: Senate inquiry rejects 'offends and insults' law

A Senate inquiry has rejected the Federal Government's plans to prohibit conduct that offends or insults, saying the move could limit freedom of expression.

The inquiry has been considering a draft bill that wraps together five existing human rights and anti-discrimination laws.

The aim of the bill is to provide a clearer definition of what behaviour is considered unacceptable and how people can make complaints.

The draft includes a clause stating that unfavourable treatment of another person includes conduct that offends, insults or intimidates.

The Coalition and legal groups have raised concerns that would curtail freedom of speech.

Media organisations including the ABC, Fairfax and News Limited also argued against the clause, saying many media organisations publish or broadcast material that some members of the public will find offensive at times, ranging from satirical programming to political commentary.

Last month, former attorney-general Nicola Roxon acknowledged the concern and made the clause optional rather than mandatory.

But the Senate inquiry, which received more than 3,000 submissions, has recommended the clause be removed altogether.

The inquiry says the clause may have unintended consequences, including making it illegal to offend someone.

The Federal Government is not making any promises about agreeing to any of the recommendations.

Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus says there is a lot in the report for the Government to consider.

"Public views, which are going to help the Government identify whether its intention of consolidating these important laws," he said.

"But it's an extensive report. It will require close consideration and a full response will be made shortly."

But shadow attorney-general George Brandis says the draft legislation is so flawed it cannot be fixed.

"It creates a scheme in which Government would be much more intrusive, much more invasive, effectively establish itself as an arbiter for community standards in a way we don't think is the role of the state at all," 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, AUSTRALIAN POLITICSDISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL  and EYE ON BRITAIN (Note that EYE ON BRITAIN has regular posts on the reality of socialized medicine).   My Home Pages are here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here


22 February, 2013

"Ethnic" jury unprecedently dumb, says British judge

10 out of 12 jurors were of African or Pakistani origin.  Another triumph of multiculturalism in Britain

The jury in the trial of Chris Huhne’s ex-wife Vicky Pryce was discharged today after the judge expressed grave concerns that they had not understood the case.

Mr Justice Sweeney was forced to send the 12 jurors home without reaching a verdict, saying they had demonstrated ‘absolutely fundamental deficits in understanding’.

There will now be a retrial starting on Monday.

The judge spoke out after the jury sent him an extraordinary list of ten questions about key aspects of this relatively simple case, which they did not understand, and said they were ‘highly unlikely’ to reach a verdict.

Jurors had reached a stalemate over the allegation that Pryce, 60, perverted the course of justice by taking her then-husband Huhne’s speeding points a decade ago.

Pryce, a former government economist, admitted taking the points but argued she was forced into it because of ‘marital coercion’.

The eight women and four men retired on Thursday but remained deadlocked, even after they were told the court would accept a majority decision agreed by at least ten of them.

Their list of questions included: ‘Can a juror come to a verdict based on a reason that was not presented in court and has no facts or evidence to support it, either from the prosecution or defence?’

The question flew in the face of the jury’s oath – sworn by every juror in every trial in Britain – to try the case solely on the basis of the evidence presented in court.

Another question asked if ‘religious conviction’ was a satisfactory reason for a wife to obey her husband, because it was included in her wedding vows.

Prosecutor Andrew Edis QC said the jurors had shown an ‘unparalleled’ failure to understand ‘very basic concepts of jury trials’. He told the court: ‘This is a jury which hasn’t, it appears, understood its function.’

He added: ‘I don’t recollect getting to this stage in any trial – even far more complicated trials than this – and after two days of deliberation getting a list of questions of this very basic kind, illustrating that at least some of the jurors don’t appear to have grasped it.’

Jurors were asked to decide if Huhne, the former Energy Secretary and MP for Eastleigh, had bullied his ex-wife into taking his speeding points in 2003.

The case hinged on the comparatively straightforward question of whether the jury believed she had no choice but to accept.

The judge gave the jury lengthy written guidance about the meaning of marital coercion, and said the prosecution had to prove its case ‘beyond reasonable doubt’.

Despite those directions, the list of jurors’ questions included requests for definitions of both marital coercion and reasonable doubt.

Mr Justice Sweeney responded: ‘A reasonable doubt is a doubt which is reasonable. These are ordinary English words that the law doesn’t allow me to help you with.’

Their questions were handed to the judge on Tuesday but could not be reported until he decided if the jury should be discharged on the basis they had not understood the case.

He ruled they should be given further instructions in the hope they could continue and eventually reach a verdict, without the need for a costly retrial. They couldn’t.


Give suspects in rape cases anonymity to prevent the innocent becoming 'stigmatised', says top barrister

The identities of men accused of rape and other sex crimes should be kept secret unless they are found guilty in court, a leading lawyer said yesterday.

Maura McGowan, a deputy High Court judge and chief of the professional body for barristers, said the law should protect the identity of those charged with sex offences because the crimes ‘carry such a stigma’.

‘Until they have been proven to have done something as awful as this – I think there is a strong argument in cases of this sort, because they carry such stigma with them, to maintain the defendant’s anonymity, until he is convicted,’ she said.

‘But once the defendant is convicted then of course everything should be open to scrutiny and to the public.’

Miss McGowan, who is chairman of the Bar Council, acknowledged that there were arguments in favour of allowing suspects to be named.

‘There is obviously a public interest in open justice,’ she said. ‘People would say that they are entitled to know not simply who has been convicted but who has been accused.’

She added that if Jimmy Savile had been accused of sex crimes when he was alive he should have been named.

‘In a case like that, people would say, if one complainant comes forward against a person it might give other people who don’t know her, but who went through the same experience, the courage to come forward as well.’

The idea of anonymity for rape defendants was a surprise inclusion in the list of promises made by David Cameron and Nick Clegg when the Coalition was formed in 2010.

But the plan was dropped by the end of that year in the face of criticism and fears that protection for some defendants would mean secrecy could be extended in future to others.

John Cooper, a human rights barrister, said: ‘Anonymity for sex crime victims is unworkable.  ‘Why should somebody who is accused of a sex crime receive anonymity?

‘Why don’t we broaden that out to include people who are accused of beating children or murdering children? There’s no distinguishing case for sex crimes to be singled out, it has to be anonymity for all or anonymity for none.’

Victims and alleged victims of rape have been granted anonymity since 1976 to spare women from humiliation and encourage more victims to report attacks.

The law originally gave the same protection to those charged with rape.  But anonymity for defendants was withdrawn in 1988 after judges protested that it prevented police from appealing for witnesses.

Judges also said that the acquittal of a man charged with rape was enough to clear his name and reputation.

But Terry Harrison, who was falsely accused of rape in 2007, told the BBC: ‘If the person has done a crime as heinous as that, then they should be named and shamed, I agree, but not until they’ve actually been done for it.

‘Innocent until proven guilty is a load of rubbish. I was guilty until I was proven innocent, and even when I was proven innocent I’m still getting judged.  ‘I ended up going to jail for something I didn’t do.

‘I was in the paedophile wing, the rapists’ wing, the grass wing. I was there for three months before the DNA results finally came back negative.’

The woman who falsely accused Mr Harrison, 42- year-old Shirley Prince, was jailed for three months in 2008 for perverting the course of justice.


Mansion tax: The Labour Party shows its true colours with this spiteful tax on homes

If the two Eds get their way, an Englishman’s home will not be a castle, but a leaky ruin

Boris Johnson

Whoa there, I hope you haven’t just spent a happy weekend of pottering about and improving your home, in the way of British families for hundreds of years. Forget about the conservatory, folks. Stuff the new kitchen. You want my advice, you will let it all slide.

If you see one of those damp patches appear on the ceiling – about the size and colour of a poppadom – you should just lie back and watch it grow. If the floorboards yawn open, just cover the gap with cardboard. Never mind the state of the downstairs lavatory. A faint aroma of ammonia never hurt anyone. Drip from the ceiling? Shove a bucket under it.

I tell you why I offer these household tips: they are the only sensible response to the first policy Ed Miliband has offered the British people. Under a Labour government, it is now clear, you would run a risk in making any improvements whatever to your home – because any such effort might lift you over the limit for Ed’s so-called “mansion tax”.

At which point the state would fine you viciously for any increment in value over a certain threshold. It is always a relief when your opponent stops ducking and weaving, and announces what he actually believes in.

At last we can see exactly what kind of a Labour leader Ed Miliband proposes to be – and he is taking his party right back to the politics of envy and nihilistic class war that kept them out of office for a generation. The proposal for a new tax on people’s homes is ill-thought-out, unjust and un-British. It is colossally unfair on Londoners, since the vast majority of homes that would currently qualify are in the capital; but then there are plenty of other properties dotted around the country – family farms, for instance – where the notional cash value of the buildings would incur a mansion tax far beyond the ability of the family to pay.

The proposed tax is unfair on those who may be asset-rich – the elderly widow springs to mind – but whose income is low. If Labour were to pursue the policy announced last week, and set the threshold at £2 million, the result would be bizarre – from discontinued improvements to deliberate vandalism: anything to help the home owner limbo dance under the danger area. It is peculiar to try to raise money for the state by taxing this one particular form of wealth, and in this one particular way.

What about someone who owns several houses, all of them worth £1.9 million: why should he or she pay nothing, while someone who owns just one pricey home gets totally clobbered? What about someone who lives in a home worth a million, but happens to have a load of Van Goghs and Cézannes on his kitchen wall, or gold bars under his bed? Why should he get away with paying nothing, while the taxman pulverises the little old lady still living in the former family home next door?

The pressure to be fairer between households, and to reduce the sudden severity of the tax, would be very great. If Ed and Ed came to office – a very big if – they would almost certainly modify the mansion tax, so that it was less of a blatant disincentive to doing up a home. They might have several bands for the new tax – hundreds of bands, thousand of bands (or Milibands, as they will be known).

They might decide to solve the elderly widow problem by going with the even more demented Liberal Democrat proposal, and taxing fixed wealth of all kinds. So we would have a new race of ghastly beady-eyed officials tasked with feeling under our beds for gold bars and running an expert eye over the pictures on the wall, or rifling through the jewellery box. An Englishman’s home, to put it mildly, would no longer be his castle.

Every property owner in the country would be engaged in an undignified haggle with the authorities to persuade them that their home was under this or that threshold. The end result would be in many cases to force sales, and to reduce the value of property – and for a country whose wealth is, for better or worse, so tightly tied to property, that would not be a good outcome.

Yes, of course we need people to be able to afford to live in Britain. But the answer is not to make it even more punishing to own a home in an expensive part of the country. The answer is to get going with a massive programme of house-building on the many brownfield sites. Here in London we have a crying need for homes — hundreds of thousands of them over the next 10 years.

We could build about 80 per cent of them on the 18 brownfield opportunity areas that have already been identified across the city, and all we need is a steady stream of funding to be able to get on with it. That could be found by simply earmarking, for London, the £1.3 billion that the London residential market already raises in stamp duty. And with one in four small and medium businesses in construction, that programme would get huge numbers of people into work.

If you listen to Nick Boles, the housing minister, you can see that he understands the urgency of the problem. The Treasury understand it, and George Osborne knows that Tories win elections when they help aspirant people get the homes they need – and it is time to return to the great Tory building programmes of the Fifties, but with beautiful standards and on brownfield sites.

As for Labour, they have shown their true colours. The Blairites in the party must be watching with incredulity and despair. Never mind the individual injustices – the message of the Miliband policy is that Labour is once again hostile to one of the deepest instincts of the British people: to show the energy, enterprise and ambition to want to improve your own home and to raise its value. I cannot believe Miliband will pursue this policy through to the election. If he does, he will have signed his political death warrant.


The false rape allegations keep coming in Britain

Feminists say there is no such thing

A teenager who put a man through two months of torment by falsely accusing him of rape has been spared jail.

Sophie Hooper, 19, told police she had been forced to have sex against her will with a man she had only just met in the pub.

But two months later her conscience got the better of her and she wrote a letter to the police confessing she had lied about the allegations.

Hooper had claimed she went with the unnamed man to his home where he held her down by the neck on his bed and raped her.

After she called police, who came out in the middle of the night, the man was arrested and held in custody for more than seven hours.

But there was no truth in Hooper's allegations. She didn't admit this for over two months, before she eventually told police she was lying.

Southampton Crown Court heard how police began investigating and found inconsistencies with her version of events.

Hooper accused the man of raping her in June 2011 but by August that year officers told him he wouldn't face prosecution.

A short time later police received a letter from Hooper, who has just become a mum, in which she said 'maybe calling it rape was wrong'.

The teenager from Eastleigh, Hampshire, was later arrested in September 2011 on suspicion of perverting the course of justice.

But it wasn't until January 2012 that 'she fully accepted the lies she had told' said prosecutor Carolyn Branford-Wood. Hooper revealed how, in fact, the pair had gone to his home from the pub, began kissing and the sex 'just happened', adding she didn't say yes or no.

When she left his home she returned to the pub run by friends of her family who told her she had been raped and to call 999.

In court Hooper apologised by saying 'I shouldn't have lied, I am sorry' and added that if she could turn the clock back she would.

The court was told how the man described in a victim impact statement feeling 'sick to the stomach' and anxious following the accusation.  He was also unable to go out because, even though he knew he was innocent, he felt he would be tarred.

He said he could not sleep properly and resorted to taking anti-depressants.

Mitigating for Hooper, Fern Russell said it was not a sophisticated plot - she was in a state and made a bad decision out of stupidity rather than malice.

Recorder Stuart Jones QC handed the teenager an eight-month prison term suspended for two years.

He told her she was lucky not to have gone to jail for what the court deems a very serious offence.

Mr Jones said: 'The consequences for the man accused must have been traumatic in the extreme.'

He added that Hooper had just come out of a difficult period of adolescence and her mental health was far from robust.

The teenager was ordered to carry out 200 hours of unpaid work.



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

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of  other countries.  The only real difference, however, is how much power they have.  In America, their power is limited by democracy.  To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already  very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges.  They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did:  None.  So look to the colleges to see  what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way.  It would be a dictatorship.

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


21 February, 2013

BBC reveals huge scale of honour attacks in Britain, fails to mention the word ‘Islam"

All right. I’m not going to make this difficult. The families giving the orders, as well as the victims, are, in the overwhelming majority of cases, Muslim. Surprised? No, of course you’re not. Honour attacks ranging in brutality from beatings to murder are commonplace in many parts of the Muslim world.

Since Britain, like many other European countries, has imported sizeable Muslim communities, which are to a significant degree unassimilated, the cultural practices of the old country have survived the transition to the new.

Finally, the figure of 2,823 attacks is almost certainly a gross under-estimate since, apart from anything else, it is drawn from only 39 of 52 UK police forces.

Got it? In just over 150 words (including title and summary) you now know all the basic information, and as intelligent, informed citizens you can have a discussion on what to do about it. That’s what journalism is for.

Propaganda, on the other hand, is intended for something else. It is designed to present a politically charged narrative held to with a fanaticism that will allow no mention of facts that contradict it. It is thus deliberately intended to lower the quality of the discussion by erasing key pieces of information.  

Enter the BBC, which reported on the matter in a lengthy, 700-plus word article and failed to mention the words “Muslim”, “Islamic” or “Islam” even once.

As I write this I am flicking back to the story itself so I can double check using the Find function. Could I be mistaken?

Here goes: “Islamic”? “No Matches”. “Muslim”? “No Matches”. “Islam”? “No Matches”.

This is how societies go down: when matters of the profoundest significance to their character, and potentially their very existence, have been rendered undiscussable by the people that set the terms of public debate.

Clearly the people who wrote and edited that story should be dismissed.

They won’t be of course because the mind-numbing, multiculturalist narrative that demanded censorship of the salient evidence is effectively institutionalised as the dominant narrative across the BBC as well as the wider liberal establishment.

So be it. Go ahead and have a conversation about deep-seated problems inside the fastest growing demographic group in Europe without mentioning what that group is. The quality of your discussion will be moronic. But you reap what you sow.

It would be nice to leave it at that on the grounds that these people are too narrow and boring to be bothered with.

Unfortunately we can’t because the BBC is the most powerful media outlet in the English speaking world and it sets the British news agenda.

I have been watching SKY News for at least three hours today and, unless I coughed when the word was mentioned, they’re not reporting that the story is about Muslims either despite multiple repetitions of the news item, and interviews.

Turning to the Daily Telegraph (the UK’s flagship, right-leaning, “quality” newspaper) its report is openly parasitic on the BBC’s, meaning that they also make no mention of Islam.

So you can see the problem. The power of the BBC is such that it is not only capable of influencing what is said, it can also influence what is not said.

And, when the whole organisation has been captured by politically correct ideology, that means that it’s not just a problem for the BBC, it’s a problem for Britain as a whole.


Unspeakable British bureaucrats get a just reward from the public

Not a glimmer of remorse over their evil deeds, apparently

Baby P social worker forced out of her home, court hears
Baby P's social worker was forced out of her home and branded a “murderer” by members of the public in the wake of the toddler’s death, a court heard.

Maria Ward was advised to wear a disguise and forced to move house as people gathered at her front door, with the public labelling her a killer, she claims.

She was one of the women charged with the care of Peter Connelly when he died in August 2007 after months of abuse, but maintains that she was unfairly sacked as a result of the “hysterical outcry” which followed the toddler’s horrific death.

Ms Ward, who was his nominated social worker at the Haringey Council from February 2007 until his death, and Gillie Christou, her team manager, took their case to the Court of Appeal today in the latest battle against their sacking.

Peter's mother Tracey Connelly, her boyfriend Steven Barker, and his brother Jason Owen were jailed in May 2009 for causing or allowing the child's death.

After the convictions "there then followed a media outcry, a hysterical outcry", said Karon Monaghan QC, representing both Ms Ward and Mrs Christou.

Ms Ward had to permanently move home and "was advised to disguise herself", she told London’s High court:

"She had members of the public and press outside her house with members of the public calling her a murderer.

"Mrs Christou was subjected to similar, albeit less severe harassment."

A Watford employment tribunal concluded in 2010 that the local authority acted reasonably in dismissing them because of serious failings in their care of the toddler.

The women then challenged that ruling at the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) in central London, but their appeals were dismissed in May last year.

The EAT ruled that the employment tribunal did not "err in law or come to perverse conclusions" in rejecting their claims for unfair dismissal.

Peter, who was originally known as Baby P before his name became public, was 17 months old when he died in Tottenham, north London, on August 3 2007.

He had suffered more than 50 injuries despite being on the at-risk register and receiving 60 visits from social workers, police and health professionals over eight months.

Ms Ward and Mrs Christou were sacked after an investigation which discovered there was a period in mid-2007 when they did not know where the child was.


The joys of "multiculturalism" again

A man dubbed the 'Hounslow Slasher' is facing jail today after confessing to random knife attacks on two women.  Sasha Masamba, 20, grabbed the victims from behind and cut then across the neck or face as they walked in the street.

The first, 19 year-old Kaja Zablocka, was slashed across the neck in Hanworth Road, Hounslow, and ran away laughing shortly before midnight on 7 August last year.

Ten days later Masamba slashed the face of Deserilyn Aurelio, 26, after grabbing her in Whitton Road, Hounslow, at around 1.30am.

He was arrested on August 21 by a police officer on a high-visibility patrol at Hounslow train station.

Masamba, of Hounslow, west London, was charged with two counts of attempted murder.

He appeared at the Old Bailey to plead guilty to the alternative charges of grievous bodily harm with intent.

The prosecution accepted the pleas after consultation with the victims.

Masamba will be sentenced on April 9 after a psychiatric report is prepared.

Sasha Masamaba was snared after a police officer with only four weeks service spotted him at Hounslow train station on August 21.   The un-named woman police constable recognised him from CCTV images she had seen and he was arrested.

DCI Amanda Hargreaves of the Homicide & Serious Crime Command said: ‘Although we do not fully understand Masamba’s motive for these senseless attacks, I have no doubt that he would have continued to pose a serious threat to women had he not been caught.

‘Masamba was not previously known to police, but he was caught through the hard work of detectives, the availability of CCTV footage and the diligence of the additional officers on patrol in Hounslow.’


When discounts are incorrect

We have all been there: a nice restaurant, a quiet evening, a companion of the opposite sex — only to have the experience shattered by loud, ill-mannered, or unruly kids.

From coast to coast, some restaurants have begun placing signs on their doors and menus saying things such as, “We love children, especially when they are tucked in chairs and well behaved,” or “Kids must use indoor voices.”

There are message boards, websites, and even petitions that promote child-free dining.

An online petition was once started in North Carolina to establish “child-free restaurants.”

One “upscale casual” establishment near Pittsburgh, McDain’s Restaurant, recently banned children under 6 strictly in response to customer complaints because the noisy children have become “too much of a bother for the other customers.”

Even the usually family-friendly Disney has a no-child policy at its Victoria and Albert’s restaurant in the Grand Floridian Resort.

And it’s not just restaurants. In 2011, Malaysia Airlines banned infants from the first-class sections of its Boeing 747 jumbo jets. Then last year it banned children under 12 from the upper-deck coach-class section of its Airbus A380s.

But one restaurant in Kingston in Washington state — an Italian restaurant named Sogno di Vino — instead of banning children, has taken to rewarding parents of well-behaved children. After a recent dinner of pizza and pasta, the King family — which includes three children ranging in age from 2 to 8 — noticed a discount of four dollars on their check for “well behaved kids.” “Our server came to our table and just really thanked us for having exceptionally behaved children,” said Mrs. King. One of the family’s friends posted an image of the receipt online where it went viral. The owner of the restaurant, Rob Scott, who said he fondly remembered the King family and its well-mannered children, said he “routinely offers complimentary desserts to customers with well-mannered children, but this was the first time he had actually typed the discount on the receipt.” He further explained, “Sogno di Vino means ‘to dream of wine’ (in Italian); it doesn’t mean Chuck E. Cheese. We love Chuck E. Cheese; they do a great job. That’s why you go to Chuck E. Cheese, so the kids can play.”

Although this is an unusual reason to receive a discount at a restaurant, other factors that result in discounts at restaurants and other places of business are quite common. Some restaurants offer senior-citizen discounts. Others allow children to eat free on certain nights. Many hotels offer discounts to members of AARP. Most companies give their employees discounts. Many bars have a ladies’ night where ladies can drink for free. Some businesses have discounts for paying in cash. By far the most prevalent type of discount is the military discount. Business establishments of all kinds — from restaurants to storage facilities to theme parks — offer discounts to active-duty military personnel. Some sporting events even offer free admission to members of the military.

So it comes as a surprise that not everyone appreciates businesses’ offering discounts — especially when the discounts concern religion.

A little more than a year ago, Prudhomme’s Lost Cajun Kitchen in Columbia, Pennsylvania, began offering a 10 percent discount to diners who presented a church bulletin on Sundays. This upset a local atheist, John Wolff, who then filed a complaint in April 2012 with the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission, alleging that the practice discriminates against him because he does not attend church. “I did this not out of spite, but out of a feeling against the prevailing self-righteousness that stems from religion, particularly in Lancaster County,” said Wolff, a retired electrical engineer, who said he was considering eating at the restaurant but never did. He merely saw the discount offer on the restaurant’s website.

Wolff also contacted the Freedom from Religion Foundation of Madison, Wisconsin, which sent a letter to the restaurant’s owners telling them that the church-bulletin discount was “discriminatory” and “a serious civil rights concern” that violated both the federal Civil Rights Act and the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act.

Sharon Prudhomme, one of the co-owners of the restaurant, said she created the discount program to bring more traffic into the restaurant on what was traditionally a slow day. “I thought it would be nice to do something for Sunday dinners and encourage people to come in,” said Prudhomme, who doesn’t attend church herself. The church-bulletin discount was a marketing tool, not a religious outreach. “We’re the kind of place where everybody can come,” she said of the restaurant. In the past she has offered discounts to senior citizens, early-bird diners, shoppers at local businesses, and Columbia High School students. The restaurant currently offers a free meal on Tuesday evenings to children 12 and under who order from the kids’ menu. Prudhomme has made it clear that she is not discriminating because diners don’t actually have to attend church to get a bulletin. She said area religious leaders told her that anyone can walk into a church building and obtain a bulletin. She considered the investigation of the complaint against her to be “a waste, to actually give it merit.” “I’m an American,” she added, “This is an independent restaurant. I can do as I wish and I’m going to continue to offer the church-bulletin discount.”

Well, it turns out that while Prudhomme is continuing to offer the church-bulletin discount, she can’t exactly do as she wishes.

The Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission approved a Conciliation Agreement with the restaurant in September. According to the Terms of Settlement,

Respondent will continue to give a discount for any bulletin from any group oriented around the subject of religious faith including publications from the Freedom From Religion Foundation as long as they maintain the Sunday discount program.

The restaurant’s attorney commented that the complaint was “a frivolous thing.” “It was really not in keeping with the really noble purposes behind the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act,” he added. “I can’t imagine that those who passed the act contemplated that somebody would try to use it in the future for something like this.”

So what do discounts offered by restaurants have to do with a free society? Everything.

There are two sides of the coin to look at here. On the one side is what we can call moral freedom and on the other side is what we can label economic freedom.

Complaints about church-bulletin discounts have been made before. They are clearly the result of some religious bias, since no such complaints are ever made about senior-citizen discounts or military discounts. But there should be no difference in one’s attitude toward discounts targeted to religious people. Complaining to some government agency about a company’s peaceful and beneficial activity should be the last thing on anyone’s mind.

As the twentieth century’s great champion of individual liberty and a free society, Leonard Read, put it, government should not interfere with anything that’s peaceful. Not only because the costs associated with stopping peaceful activity always outweigh the benefits, but also because it is immoral for governments to prohibit anything but fraud and violence. In a free society, individual persons and businesses have the natural right to favor or not favor the members of any particular group, class, organization, race, or religion by providing or prohibiting a discount or anything else that’s peaceful.

The same principle applies when it comes to economic freedom. Contrary to popular opinion, the United States does not have a free-market or laissez-faire economic system where unbridled capitalism reigns supreme. That is a caricature of liberals and a pipe dream of conservatives. Government intervention in the economy — on both the federal and state levels — is the norm. In some sectors of the economy, government intervention is so strong and pervasive that one would think it was modeled after the central planning of the Soviet Union.

For example, about two-thirds of the milk in the United States is produced under the watchful eye of the federal government. The rest is produced under heavy state regulation. In Louisiana last month, the Department of Agriculture and Forestry forced a supermarket chain to stop its weekly promotion of “a gallon of skim, 1 percent, 2 percent or whole milk for $2.99 on Tuesdays, limiting the quantity to four per customer.” It turns out that the Dairy Stabilization Board oversees milk prices in Louisiana. Retailers must mark up milk “no less than 6 percent of the invoice cost after adding freight charges.” So, discount your milk too much and the bureaucrats from the Department of Agriculture and Forestry will send in the milk police.

But it’s not just milk. If the government determines that the price of something is too high, then a firm is charged with the non-crime of price gouging. But if the government determines that the price of something has been discounted too much, then a firm is charged with the non-crime of “predatory pricing.” But under the philosophy of “anything that’s peaceful,” what matters is not whether some government bureaucrat thinks a price is too low or too high, but whether there is a voluntary transaction between a willing buyer and a willing seller. Offering a discount to only one party does not aggress in any way against another party.

The ability to offer discounts on any product or service, at any time, and in any amount, to the general public, or just to certain persons on the basis of their age, sex, religion, or membership in some group is essential to any free society.



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

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of  other countries.  The only real difference, however, is how much power they have.  In America, their power is limited by democracy.  To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already  very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges.  They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did:  None.  So look to the colleges to see  what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way.  It would be a dictatorship.

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


20 February, 2013

Perform criminal background checks at your peril

Should it be a federal crime for businesses to refuse to hire ex-convicts? Yes, according to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which recently released 20,000 convoluted words of regulatory "guidance" to direct businesses to hire more felons and other ex-offenders.

In the late 1970s, the EEOC began stretching Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act to sue businesses for practically any hiring practice that adversely affected minorities. In 1989, the agency sued Carolina Freight Carrier Corp. of Hollywood, Fla., for refusing to hire as a truck driver a Hispanic man who had multiple arrests and had served 18 months in prison for larceny. The EEOC argued that the only legitimate qualification for the job was the ability to operate a tractor trailer.

U.S. District Judge Jose Alejandro Gonzalez Jr., in ruling against the agency, said: "EEOC's position that minorities should be held to lower standards is an insult to millions of honest Hispanics. Obviously a rule refusing honest employment to convicted applicants is going to have a disparate impact upon thieves."

The EEOC ignored that judicial thrashing and pressed on. Last April, the agency unveiled its "Enforcement Guidance on the Consideration of arrest and Conviction Records in Employment Decisions," declaring that "criminal record exclusions have a disparate impact based on race and national origin."

Though blacks make up only 13% of the U.S. population, more blacks were arrested nationwide for robbery, murder and manslaughter in 2009 than whites, according to the FBI. The imprisonment rate for black men "was nearly 7 times higher than White men and almost 3 times higher than Hispanic men," notes the EEOC. These statistical disparities inspired the EEOC to rewrite the corporate hiring handbook to level the playing field between "protected groups" and the rest of the workforce.

Most businesses perform criminal background checks on job applicants, but the EEOC guidance frowns on such checks and creates new legal tripwires that could spark federal lawsuits. One EEOC commissioner who opposed the new policy, Constance Barker, warned in April that "the only real impact the new Guidance will have will be to scare business owners from ever conducting criminal background checks. . . . The Guidance tells them that they are taking a tremendous risk if they do."

If a background check discloses a criminal offense, the EEOC expects a company to do an intricate "individualized assessment" that will somehow prove that it has a "business necessity" not to hire the ex-offender (or that his offense disqualifies him for a specific job). Former EEOC General Counsel Donald Livingston, in testimony in December to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, warned that employers could be considered guilty of "race discrimination if they choose law abiding applicants over applicants with criminal convictions" unless they conduct a comprehensive analysis of the ex-offender's recent life history.

It is difficult to overstate the EEOC's zealotry on this issue. The agency is demanding that one of Mr. Livingston's clients—the Freeman Companies, a convention and corporate events planner—pay compensation to rejected job applicants who lied about their criminal records.

The biggest bombshell in the new guidelines is that businesses complying with state or local laws that require employee background checks can still be targeted for EEOC lawsuits. This is a key issue in a case the EEOC commenced in 2010 against G4S Secure Solutions after the company refused to hire a twice-convicted Pennsylvania thief as a security guard.

G4S provides guards for nuclear power plants, chemical plants, government buildings and other sensitive sites, and it is prohibited by state law from hiring people with felony convictions as security officers. But, as G4S counsel Julie Payne testified before the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights this past December, the EEOC insists "that state and local laws are pre-empted by Title VII" and is pressuring the company "to defend the use of background checks in every hiring decision we have made over a period of decades."

The EEOC's new regime leaves businesses in a Catch-22. As Todd McCracken of the National Small Business Association recently warned: "State and federal courts will allow potentially devastating tort lawsuits against businesses that hire felons who commit crimes at the workplace or in customers' homes. Yet the EEOC is threatening to launch lawsuits if they do not hire those same felons."

At the same time that the EEOC is practically rewriting the law to add "criminal offender" to the list of protected groups under civil-rights statutes, the agency refuses to disclose whether it uses criminal background checks for its own hiring. When EEOC Assistant Legal Counsel Carol Miaskoff was challenged on this point in a recent federal case in Maryland, the agency insisted that revealing its hiring policies would violate the "governmental deliberative process privilege."

The EEOC is confident that its guidance will boost minority hiring, but studies published in the University of Chicago Legal Forum and the Journal of Law and Economics have found that businesses are much less likely to hire minority applicants when background checks are banned. As the majority of black and Hispanic job applicants have clean legal records, the new EEOC mandate may harm the very groups it purports to help.

Naturally, the EEOC will have no liability for any workplace trouble that results from its new hiring policy. But Americans can treat ex-offenders humanely without giving them legal advantages over similar individuals without criminal records. The EEOC's new regulatory regime is likely to chill hiring across the board and decrease opportunities for minority applicants.


A curb on a free Press never seen in a democracy: Leading peer attacks Labour attempt to shackle media

Labour-inspired proposals on media law would curb the free Press in a way ‘never seen in any democratic country’, a senior peer warned last night.

Eminent QC Lord Lester said controversial amendments to the Defamation Bill pushed through with Labour support this month would damage free speech and break European human rights laws if they were allowed to stand.

He accused Labour of ‘hijacking’ the legislation in an attempt to force the Government to implement Lord Justice Leveson’s plans for regulation of the Press in the wake of the phone hacking scandal.

Ministers are said to be so concerned by the proposals that the entire piece of legislation could be abandoned.

But Lord Lester, the architect of the Defamation Bill, said this would be a travesty, as vital reforms of Britain’s notorious libel laws would also be lost.

His intervention comes amid growing Government anxiety about an amendment pushed through the Lords by 272 votes to 141 earlier this month.

The amendment, put forward by Labour-supporting film director Lord Puttnam, would introduce an arbitration service for members of the public wronged by  the Press.

The legislation would mean that newspapers that did not join the system could be punished by courts awarding potentially ruinous damages and costs.

Crossbench peer Lord Skidelsky, who is backing the move, yesterday suggested the arbitration system could help prevent the publication of ‘things which may be true, but whose publication has no sufficient reason’.

He suggested newspapers should face exemplary damages if they failed to get approval from the new regulator before publication.

But Lord Lester said this form of ‘prior restraint’ – which was demanded by former Formula One boss Max Mosley – was only used in a handful of former Soviet states.

Lord Lester said the impact of the Puttnam amendments would be to introduce ‘a form of coercion I have not seen in any democratic country’.

He told the Daily Mail: ‘The scheme they are recommending would be totally incompatible with human rights and free speech. Instead of having self-regulation, which I believe strongly in, you would have a coerced system of arbitration.’

Lord Lester, a Liberal Democrat  peer, said the amendment was ‘inappropriate’ as it tacked controversial privacy issues on to legislation on libel reform which has cross-party support, including the stated support of Labour.

He added: ‘They have taken the Bill hostage in order to put pressure on the party leaders and the Press over the implementation of the Leveson reforms.

'But Leveson wasn’t interested in libel law, he was interested in privacy.

‘I very much hope that when the Bill comes back to the Commons we can get agreement across the parties to release the Bill from the limbo it is now in so  that we can get these reforms onto the statute book.’

The Defamation Bill, which has all-party support, would bring in long-overdue reforms to Britain’s antiquated libel laws.

The political parties are still locked in stalemate over how to implement Lord Justice Leveson’s reforms.

Labour is demanding new laws to back up a new independent Press regulator.

But David Cameron has warned that legislation could prove to be the thin end of the wedge and allow future politicians to interfere with Press freedom.

He wants a new regulator to be established by Royal Charter.


Don't muzzle our 'cruel' lawyers - I'll need one to keep me out of jail

By Peter Hitchens

I genuinely fear that I will go to prison before I die, for writing or saying something that is no longer allowed. I have met quite a lot of people who hate me and my views so much that they would very much like this to happen.

Our society is already a hundred times more intolerant than it was when I was born. In recent years, police officers have actually questioned prominent people because of opinions they have expressed, a thing unthinkable even 30 years ago.

Of course the main threat to free speech is not prison but the loss of your job, as anyone in the public sector knows very well.

But the limits on what can be said shrink all the time, and the powers of the police and prosecutors grow.

At some point these two curves may meet, and I may find myself on the receiving end of one of those nasty, well-publicised dawn raids that the police like so much.

My only hope, if this happens, will be in the courtroom. That is one reason why I urge you not be seduced by calls to limit the freedom of defence lawyers.

Witnesses do lie and make things up. Juries are often pretty feeble and too easily led. Since they abolished the property qualification and brought the age limit down to 18 (it may soon be 16), the chances of having your case heard by educated or experienced people have shrivelled.

And since the disgraceful introduction of majority verdicts, one or two wise jurors cannot hold out for long against a lazy, bored majority who think there’s no smoke without fire, and want to go home.

So unless defence lawyers have full freedom to question prosecution witnesses, the defendant in a modern British trial might as well go straight to jail and get on with his sentence.

Like any civilised person, I grieve at the death of Frances Andrade, who killed herself after giving evidence against Michael Brewer, during which she was vigorously cross-examined.

May she rest in peace. But I object strongly to the way in which many people have used this event to argue for limits on the freedom to cross-examine.

We do not really know why she took her life, though I would point out that, like a frightening number of suicides, she was taking so-called ‘antidepressant’ drugs, which are known in some cases to promote suicidal feelings in those who take them.

Think of this another way. A trial is not just an argument after which everyone goes home. If the accused is found guilty, he goes to prison and – if he has until then been a respectable person, who will suffer greatly in jail – his life is more or less at an end. Some people deserve this. But their guilt must be proved first. If trials become mere formalities, in which we go through the motions of justice while forgetting its principles, we will be a tyranny.


Attempt to kill Danish Free speech advocate

The assassin came to his home dressed as a postman. When the historian and journalist Lars Hedegaard opened his front door, the man — whom Lars describes as ‘looking like a typical Muslim immigrant’ in his mid-twenties — fired straight at his head. Though Hedegaard was a yard away, the bullet narrowly missed. The mild-mannered scholar (70 years old) then punched his assailant in the head. The man dropped the gun, picked it up and fired again. The gun jammed and the man ran off. More than a week later, he has yet to be found.

Hedegaard has had to leave his home and is under police protection at an undisclosed location. A week after the attempt to murder him we manage to speak by phone.

‘We have had quite a few attempts to silence people here. [The Danish cartoonist] Kurt Westergaard was almost killed a couple of years ago by a man from Somalia who came to his house and broke into it with an axe and tried to kill him. We still have prominent politicians under police guard, the former leader of the Danish People’s Party Pia Kjærsgaard, and also the former Conservative politician Naser Khader, who is of Syrian descent, a liberal Muslim. And now me.’

A well-known figure in Denmark, Hedegaard’s profile rose after the mainstream media’s capitulation in the wake of the Mohammed cartoons affair. He set up the Free Press Society, an organisation which campaigns for the rights of journalists and cartoonists to express themselves without fear of murder. When I addressed them in Copenhagen a couple of years ago, I was given a thank-you present of a mug with the cartoon of Mohammed’s face on the side: a Mo mug. Hedegaard recently launched a newspaper called Dispatch International, which aims to break the silence of the Scandinavian media over issues to do with the EU, climate change, immigration and Islam. Two years ago Hedegaard was put on trial for ‘hate-speech’. He was unanimously acquitted.

But given the areas he has dealt in and what has happened to his colleagues, did he not guess that something like this might -happen?

‘I never speculated about that, because you can’t live your life that way. If every time you sit down to your computer to write something you have this idea in the back of your head, “I may be killed if I write this”, then of course you won’t be as good as you could be. You’ve got to distance yourself from fear if you want to be a true writer and a true intellectual, which is what I’m trying to be.’

And why do people keep trying to silence such defenders of free speech in Denmark, Holland and across Europe? He paraphrases the historian Bernard Lewis: ‘The leaders of the Ummah [Islamic nation] now evidently believe, or want to demonstrate, that Sharia law has already gained force in places like Denmark. In other words it has supplanted our constitution in their minds. Of course it didn’t use to be that way, it used to be the way that you could draw Mohammed or paint him or say whatever you wanted in the Dar al-Harb [‘The Land of War’ — as opposed to the ‘Land of Islam’] because this was outside what Islam considered to be its territory. Now they are implicitly claiming that we are already under Sharia law.’

But what of those who say, ‘Well, he ought to have known. This is what happens if you upset or provoke people’?

‘I don’t want to brag and put myself on a level where I don’t belong, but you could have said the same thing about the White Rose in Germany, the resistance group. They ought to have known that if they said something about Nazism, they would be killed. Or you could say the same thing about the Danish resistance movement during the German occupation. It was said to them: do not go out and sabotage. Collaborate and shut up, otherwise you’ll get to a concentration camp and you’ll be executed. You could have said the same thing to Winston Churchill or the British Army — why the hell make trouble? You know what’s going to happen if you resist — you’ll be killed. Yes, and many of them were.’

‘It’s not because I’m a hero or I want to be a martyr. Far from it. I take it seriously that people, Danish taxpayers many years ago, paid for me to get a university education at a very good university in Denmark, where I learnt about history, humanities, logic and philosophy, and English by the way. I feel an obligation to use my education for what it was meant to be. If not, then you don’t deserve to be educated. If your education is to be used to shut up, placate, downplay, sweet talk, then you are better off being a carpenter.’

And what of the media, which — particularly after the smears around the failed prosecution — have regularly portrayed him as a bigot? Do they have any culpability in this? Hedegaard is reluctant to apportion secondary blame, but finally says this:

‘You can certainly say that if you are constantly presented as an enemy of the people, as I have been, then you are fair game for any lunatic. You cannot blame some lunatics for thinking that you can easily come and kill me, because if you read all this day in and day out, year in and year out, the man is an absolute lunatic and full of lies and bile and what not, you can get him with impunity. Yes, of course I think it plays a role.’

And what happens now? ‘Well, the paper survives, we are more determined than ever that they should not take us down, come what may. What happens to me, I don’t know. I am fully prepared to stay alive to the best of my ability and I am more eager than ever to write my opinion and try to bring it across. Somebody must not like what I’m saying, so that’s all the more reason to continue saying 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, AUSTRALIAN POLITICSDISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL  and EYE ON BRITAIN (Note that EYE ON BRITAIN has regular posts on the reality of socialized medicine).   My Home Pages are here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here


19 February, 2013

Subway franchise closes in France after outcry at Valentine's Day special which was offered to heterosexual couples only

A French branch of the sandwich chain Subway has caused outrage after offering a Valentine's Day special to heterosexual couples only.

The franchise in Angers, in the north-west of the country, has been forced to close after the owner's poster went viral and sparked widespread condemnation on Thursday.

Subway's corporate offices swiftly intervened and the shop was closed the next day.

The poster advertised a meal deal which included a footlong Subway sandwich, a drink and a dessert each for 14 Euros for 'couples' on Valentine's Day.

But in brackets next to the word 'couples' were the letters 'H/F' to indicate that this was defined as a man and a woman only.

It was also marked with an asterisk which explained: 'Discrimination (?) No, the marriage for all law has advanced, but has yet to be ratified by the Senate. Until then, I'll use my freedom of expression.'

France is in the midst of approving a bill to legalise gay marriage but it has yet to be ratified by the Senate.

The law was approved by the National Assembly on Tuesday and will go before the upper house of French Parliament on April 2 and is expected to pass.

But as in Britain, the issue has proved to be divisive for some and the Subway poster sparked a backlash of negative comments.

The storm began when a Facebook user posted a picture of the advert with the tag: 'If this isn't homophobia, I don't know what is!'

Subway France's official Twitter responded to individuals who made angry comments about the offer on Friday saying: 'We have been made aware of this poster and it has been immediately removed from the Subway in Angers.'

The company later tweeted: 'We are committed to diversity/integration, we are working with the owner of the restaurant to reinforce our values/politics'.

According to the French website Ouest-France, another Subway in the Angers area also came under fire online after the poster went viral.

It was reportedly forced to close its Facebook page because of 'abusive comments' and later issued a press release dissociating itself from the other Subway and the heterosexuals only offer.

A statement issued on Subway France's Facebook page yesterday said: 'The Subway brand is strongly committed to maintaining the values ??of diversity and inclusiveness in its restaurants around the world and does not endorse in any discrimination of any kind.

'We apologize to all those people who felt offended by the individual promotional initiative for Valentine's Day of a restaurant in Angers, France.'

Subway described the owner as a 'marginal case' and said it was looking at possible sanctions.


Some British Public lavatories to become 'gender neutral'

A city council has scrapped male and female public lavatories in favour of “gender neutral” facilities so as not to alienate the transgender community.

The move was described as “political correctness gone barmy” by opponents who warned that the vast majority would prefer to use single sex loos.

Brighton and Hove City Council disclosed in emails that it wished to promote the term “gender neutral” and build facilities which are open to all, regardless of sex.

They believe such facilities will be more accessible for those who do not identify with the male-female binary.

The block, will include four new lavatories and a café. Images depicting a man, a woman and a child will be fitted to the doors.

Lynda Hyde, a Tory councillor in the Rottingdean ward, in which the new facility is being built, said: "This does seem to be a case of unnecessary bureaucracy and political correctness.

“Local residents, particularly women with children, would much prefer to use separate facilities as apart from anything else, it is safer.

“If the male/female symbols, rather than any text, are to be used on the toilet then this avoids any confusion so why is the council muddying the waters by insisting they are called gender neutral, which will mean nothing to most people?”

The £140,000 refurbishment of the lavatories on Rottingdean seafront in Brighton is due to begin this week and is being funded jointly by Rottingdean Parish Council and the city council.

Mrs Hyde said she understood the city council planned to gradually phase out all male and female lavatories in order to cater for the minority group.

The move follows the establishment of a working group to examine issues faced by transgender residents in the city.

Last year, the Trans Equality Scrutiny Panel recommended that titles such as Mr, Mrs, Miss and Ms be banned so as not to offend the community and force them to “choose between genders”.

Green Party deputy leader Phelim MacCafferty backed the proposal saying: “Trans people aren't necessarily male or female and sometimes they don't want to be defined by their gender.”

The 37 recommendations made by the panel also included “removing the need to identify as male or female” when arriving at a doctor’s surgery, more training for council staff, police and health workers and appointing a “Trans champion” within the council.

A city council spokeswoman decline to comment on the decision to promote the term gender neutral.  She said: “When producing signs for public toilets in the city we use standard images rather than words.  “This is particularly beneficial to the many tourists from overseas visiting our city.”

The lesbian, gay and transgender population in Brighton is estimated to be around 40,000.

In a 2006 a survey of the community, around five percent of respondents identified themselves as transgender.


Furore over drone toy

The Maisto Fresh Metal Tailwinds 1:97 scale die cast United States military aircraft.

It's the real thing that is the potential problem, not the toy

Maisto International's model Predator drones are selling out on Amazon.com's website as parody reviews highlight how the toys can help children hone killing skills, mocking a controversial US practice.

As of Monday none of the $US49.99 military-style toy jets were available for purchase on Amazon's site, which is brimming with assessments laced with dark humour. "You can't spell slaughter without laughter," one pithy joker wrote.

US President Barack Obama's targeted use of drones to kill suspected terrorists has come under fire from both Democrats and Republicans who view the practice as inhumane. While Obama didn't mention drones in his State of the Union address last week, he said he will continue a policy of "direct action" and vowed to make the anti-terrorism program more transparent.

"Nothing teaches my child about how to murder enemy combatants silently and invisibly from the sky with no risk," one review on Amazon begins. "Teaching our children to be familiar with a silent, faceless killing machine is the way to educate our children about the importance that is war."

As protest movements adapt to the digital age, Amazon is just one of many vociferous anti-drone forums on the internet. Groups on Facebook's social network such as Question Your Government, while protesting the policy, are also posting links to the critiques on Amazon's site. Posts on Twitter's micro-blogging service, including one from TechCrunch founder Michael Arrington, are also drawing attention to the reviews.

Change.org, a grass-roots community activism website that rose to prominence during Obama's first presidential campaign, is gathering signatures on a petition asking Maisto, a maker of die-cast replicas, to discontinue the Fresh Metal Tailwinds Predator Drone toy.

"I will not buy this shameful toy, nor teach children to hate," the petition says. "There is no glory in murder."

Rick Berman, a director of product development at Maisto, declined to comment. Craig Berman, an Amazon spokesman, didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

Amazon's conditions of use posted on its website say that the Seattle-based company reserves the right to remove or edit reviews, which it doesn't regularly examine.

Consumers have flocked to Amazon's review section as a forum for political satire before. In October, the user comment section of an Avery Dennison binder listed on the e-commerce site became the subject of a similar outbreak. Reviewers used Amazon to make light of a comment made by then-Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney during a debate. Romney had said he drew upon "binders full of women" to help fill cabinet seats as governor of Massachusetts.

The following month, Occupy Sandy, an offshoot of the Occupy Wall Street encampment in lower Manhattan's Zuccotti Park during the financial crisis, created wedding registries on Amazon to solicit gifts of everything from blankets to batteries to aid victims of Hurricane Sandy.

This time around, Amazon users are addressing the drone controversy with sarcasm. Notes one review rating Maisto's toy five out of five stars:

"A must for every American child. I only wish this toy came with small appendages to scatter about the back yard to make it more life-like."

Recommended on Amazon for children age 3 and older, Maisto's model military drone has a 6-inch wingspan, and would scale up to an aircraft with wings stretching 48.5 feet. The toy is a replica of the RQ-1 Predator, an unmanned aircraft that the US Air Force has used in combat over Afghanistan, Pakistan, Serbia, Iraq and Yemen, according to the product description on Amazon.

"It's like I'm sitting in the White House with my very own kill list," another five-star review reads.


Nothing to fear from me, says Geert Wilders

See the interview here.  Wilders acquits himself well

CONTROVERSIAL right wing anti-Islamic Dutch politician Geert Wilders says Australia has nothing to fear from him when he visits the country next week.

Mr Wilders, speaking on the ABC's Lateline on Wednesday, said he was on a global jihad to preserve freedom.

He said he wants to warn Australia against allowing the mass immigration of people from Muslim countries "because Islam and freedom are incompatible".

"I believe with mass immigration into our free societies, those societies will change, and they will change for the worse," Mr Wilders said.

The leader of the Party for Freedom holds the balance of power in the Dutch parliament after receiving around 10 per cent of the national vote.

He wants to tell Australians that we must learn from the mistakes they made in Europe and be vigilant of Islam.

"It is not a religion of peace - it is a totalitarian ideology," Mr Wilders said.

He conceded that the majority of Muslims living in Europe were moderates but their religion of Islam was totalitarian that has no room for anything but Islam.

Mr Wilders said that when he visits Australia next week he not only wanted to talk to people who agreed with him but to those who did not.

"I am a lawmaker not a law breaker," he said.

When asked if he would be accompanied by Dutch Security Service he said that he could not talk about security arrangements or he would make himself more vulnerable.



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

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of  other countries.  The only real difference, however, is how much power they have.  In America, their power is limited by democracy.  To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already  very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges.  They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did:  None.  So look to the colleges to see  what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way.  It would be a dictatorship.

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


18 February, 2013

Sam Tanenhaus’s Fevered Historical Imagination About the Racist GOP

Where to begin with the screed in The New Republic, “Original Sin: Why the GOP is and will continue to be the party of white people,” mislabeled “an historical investigation”?

In his claim that racism is the original and irredeemable sin of Republicans, Tanenhaus sets up the contrast to “the civil rights pageantry of the [Obama second] inauguration—Abraham Lincoln’s Bible and Martin Luther King’s, Justice Sonia Sotomayor’s swearing in of Joe Biden, Beyoncé’s slinky glamor [sic], the verses read by the gay Cuban poet Richard Blanco.”

In his enthusiasm, Tanenhaus missed the irony of using the word “pageantry,” which the dictionary defines as “mere show” or “an ostentatious display,” even as he indicts the GOP for its “history of long-standing indifference, at times outright hostility, to the nation’s diverse constituencies—blacks, women, Latinos, Asians, gays.”

Perhaps it was the lilting lines of Blanco’s inaugural poem, “All of us as vital as the one light we move through / the same light on blackboards with lessons for the day: equations to solve. . . .” that to Tanenaus conveyed “an assertion of Democratic solidarity.”

Like many other white liberals, he lectures the blacks, women, Latinos, Asians, and gays who vote Republican by presumably giving them a history lesson on John C. Calhoun, vice president under Andrew Jackson.

To Calhoun’s ideas of nullification (code for the right to own slaves) Tanenhaus links today’s “resisters—most glaringly Tea Partiers.” Today’s “most recent immigrants,” according to Tanenhaus, sense the “’hidden hand’ of Calhoun’s style of dissent, the extended lineage of rearguard politics, with its aggrieved call, heard so often today, ‘to take back America.’” This is all part of the lingering infatuation with the ‘lost cause.” Even “a new cast of GOP leaders—Ted Cruz, Nikki Haley, Bobby Jindal, Marco Rubio” have become “tethered to movement ideology.” Cruz, especially because he urged a “partial government shutdown” at the recent National Review Institute conference, cannot understand how his participation harkens back to the segregationist policies of Calhoun, George Wallace, and Barry Goldwater, who resisted the inevitable ushering in of the “egalitarian” one-party system of big government and majority rule.

Were he not so obsessed with proving “a politics of frustration and rage . . . most evident within the GOP’s dwindling base—its insurgents and anti-government crusaders, its ‘middle-aged white guys,’” Tanenhaus might have had time to do some historical checking, like reading one short speech by Senator Barry Goldwater. It would have helped to recall the 1964 smear campaign by segregationist Democrats who understood which way the political winds blew. They had shifted toward integration, often in sacrifice of the Constitution. Lyndon Johnson, former segregationist, is reported to have promised “to have these n*****s voting Democratic for the next two hundred years.”

Barry Goldwater understood this and noted it in his speech explaining why he voted against the 1964 Civil Rights Act, an action Tanenhaus misrepresents. (The speech is reproduced in The Story of the Draft Goldwater Movement and other books about the 1964 presidential campaign.)

Goldwater, contrary to Tanenhaus’s casting, begins his speech:

“There have been few, if any, occasions when the searching of my conscience and the re-examination of my views of our constitutional system have played a greater part in the determination of my vote than they have on this occasion.

“I am unalterably opposed to discrimination or segregation on the basis of race, color or creed, or on any other basis; not only my words, but more importantly my actions through the years have repeatedly demonstrated the sincerity of my feeling in this regard.”

Goldwater mentioned his twelve years as a member of the Senate Labor and Public Welfare Committee when he “repeatedly offered amendments to bills pertaining to labor that would end discrimination in unions” (a Democratic-stronghold with entrenched segregationists repeatedly criticized by Goldwater supporter, journalist George Schuyler).

Goldwater reminded Congress that “repeatedly those amendments have been turned down by the very members of both parties who now so vociferously support the present approach.” Those presuming to do “historical investigations” should read histories that reveal Goldwater’s lifelong support for civil rights.

For example, Lee Edwards’s well-known biography:
As a member of the Phoenix City Council [elected in 1949], Goldwater had voted to desegregate the restaurant at Sky Harbor Airport. As chief of state for the Arizona Air National Guard, he had pushed for desegregation of the guard. As a businessman, he had opened his doors to everyone. As senator, he had desegregated the Senate cafeteria in 1953, insisting that his black legislative assistant, Katherine Maxwell, be served along with every other Senate employee. As an individual citizen, he had donated generously to the Arizona NAACP, including a $200 check in 1952 to its legal defense fund to speed integration of the public schools.

Goldwater was a member of the Phoenix and Tucson chapters of the NAACP, until that organization, infiltrated by radicals, started attacking him politically. He was also a strong supporter of the Phoenix Urban League and in 1991 received their Humanitarian Award “’for fifty years of loyal service.’”

But Goldwater—unlike progressives—did not brag.

In his speech he only reminded Congress of his support for the 1957 and 1960 civil rights bills, opposed by many of the same Democrats clamoring for the 1964 bill.

Goldwater stated, “My public utterances during the debates on those measures and since reveal clearly the areas in which I feel that federal responsibility lies and federal legislation on this subject can be both effective and appropriate.”

Goldwater felt the 1964 bill was “effective and appropriate” except for Titles II and VII regarding public accommodations and employment. “I find no constitutional basis for the exercise of federal regulatory authority in either of these areas,” he went on. “The attempted usurpation of such power,” he said, was a “grave threat to the very essence of our basic system of government” and to the “freedoms of the very persons whose feelings and whose liberties are the major subject of this legislation.”

Goldwater would not compromise his oath to uphold the Constitution, an act that was supported wholeheartedly by the great journalist and black civil rights advocate George Schuyler. His amendments were not accepted, so with a reluctant heart and knowing that his vote would be “misconstrued” Goldwater voted against the act.

His vote was not only “misconstrued,” but used in a smear campaign against him, started by fellow Republicans like William Scranton. At the 1964 Republican Convention in San Francisco, 40,000 civil rights demonstrators picked up the ball and denounced Goldwater as Hitler. CBS reporter Daniel Schorr then spread a false report that Goldwater was to meet with Nazi holdovers on an upcoming trip to Germany. Schorr would go on to pontificate regularly at taxpayer-funded NPR—until his death in 2010—the same station that gave Tanenhaus a platform to expand on his lies.

Goldwater’s vote against the 1964 bill was misrepresented by his opponents, and by historians and textbook writers ever since.

The civil rights movement had been hijacked by the New Leftists (“communists with a small ‘c’”). The majority of blacks and old-line civil rights leaders rejected these (white) radicals’ demands for redistribution of property and loose sexual mores (“smashing monogamy”) under the cover of civil rights.

Nevertheless, Tanenhaus claims that any objections to excesses are mere excuses. Shamefully, Tanenhaus writes that Goldwater “joined the Dixie contingent . . . when he opposed the Civil Rights Act of 1964.” He quotes Richard Rovere, Depression-era communist and writer for the New Masses, and then writer for the Nation and the New Yorker:
“for Goldwater the opportunity had been all but foreclosed by Brent Bozell—or some other hand guided by the ‘guiding hand’—in The Conscience of a Conservative. In that book, Goldwater allowed himself to be committed to a states’-rights position that Jefferson Davis could hardly have found acceptable.”

Ah, yes, the magical ‘guiding hand’ of Brent Bozell!

Tannenhaus brings readers to the present, to the ominous Calhounists of the Tea Party and the “Tea Party-inflected House of Representatives,” who “speak in the bitter tones of denial, as modernization and egalitarianism go forward.” “Nullification” is a threat and a code from those who challenge “’Obamacare.’”

“We see it as well,” continues Tanenhaus, “in Senator Rand Paul’s promise to ‘nullify anything the president does’ to impose new gun controls.”

For Tanenhaus upholding the Constitution is synonymous with racism. For him, disagreements over healthcare and gun control are not a “practical attempt to find a better answer,” but a ‘Constitutional’ demand for restoration of the nation to its hallowed prior self. It is not a coincidence that the resurgence of nullification is happening while our first African American president is in office.”

Of course, there are no “coincidences” for those like Tanenhaus. It must be the ghosts of Brent Bozell and John C. Calhoun that guide the racist hearts of those who disagree with the pure-hearted, perfectly egalitarian guardian of “blacks, women, Latinos, Asians, gays,” Sam Tanenhaus.


That good ol' double standard

 Paul Kengor

Liberals are apoplectic over remarks by Dr. Ben Carson at the National Prayer Breakfast. Carson, a prominent pediatric surgeon from Johns Hopkins University, dared to weigh in on healthcare—something he knows something about. In the liberal mind, Carson committed a grave transgression; he disagreed with President Obama on healthcare at a faith venue, and in Obama’s presence.

In discussing Carson’s moral effrontery, Candy Crowley, host of CNN’s “State of the Union,” asked panelists if they were offended by Carson’s comments. “He [Carson] was talking about the idea of, you know, weaving the Bible into some objections he appears to have with the president’s approach,” said Crowley. Count Democratic Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky among the offended. She told Crowley: “I think it’s … not really an appropriate place to make this kind of political speech and to invoke God as his [Carson’s] support for that kind of point of view.”

In truth, what the likes of Crowley and Schakowsky object to is the mere fact that Carson publicly disagreed with Obama on healthcare, especially in the context of faith. For liberal Democrats, conservative Republicans should never use their faith to disagree; only liberal Democrats enjoy such freedoms. I could give a thousand examples illustrating the point; I’ve written entire books doing so. For now, however, here are some particularly salient examples involving Obama, liberals, and healthcare reform:

From the first year of Obama’s presidency, the religious left (Obama included) incessantly claimed God’s support for their vision of healthcare reform.

In August 2009, Obama addressed a “virtual gathering” of 140,000 religious left individuals—a huge conference call to liberal Christians, Jews, and other people of faith. Obama told them he was “going to need your help” in passing healthcare. Obama penitently invoked a period of “40 days,” a trial of deliverance from conservative evildoers. He lifted up the brethren, assuring them, “We are God’s partner in matters of life and death.”

Like a great commissioning, in the 40 days that followed the religious left was filled with the spirit. A group called the Religious Institute—led by Rev. Debra Hafner and representing 4,800 clergy—went wild stumping for Obamacare. Other religious left faithful joined the crusade.

A group of 59 leftist nuns sent Congress a letter urging passage of Obamacare. This was in direct defiance of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, which insisted the bill “must be opposed” because of its refusal to explicitly ban abortion funding. The liberal media cheered on the nuns, gleefully exaggerating their influence. In a breathtaking display, the Los Angeles Times beamed, “Nuns’ support for health-care bill shows [Catholic] Church split.” Amazingly, the Times reported that the nuns’ letter represented not 59 nuns—but 59,000! Like Jesus with the loaves, the Times (normally militantly secular) had demonstrated miraculous powers of multiplication.

The nuns’ brazenness was matched by Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, a Roman Catholic, who, in March 2010, invoked the Solemnity of the Feast of St. Joseph on behalf of Obamacare. She urged American Catholics to “pray to St. Joseph” for Obamacare.

That was prelude to what happened March 21, 2010, A.D., a rare vote not merely on a Sunday—God’s day—but the final Sunday in Lent, the week before Palm Sunday that initiates the Lord’s Passion. Obama’s healthcare bill was passed by his Democratic Congress. To Obama, Pelosi, and the religious left faithful, Jesus had gotten his healthcare package, and they had been his loyal handmaidens.

If all of that seems hypocritical enough from liberals, in light of their castigation of Dr. Ben Carson, consider this glaring double standard:

At the National Prayer Breakfast two years ago, February 3, 2011, Obama stated: “Sometimes what I can do to try to improve the economy or to curb foreclosures or to help deal with the healthcare system—sometimes it seems so distant and so remote, so profoundly inadequate to the enormity of the need. And it is my faith, then, that biblical injunction to serve the least of these, that keeps me going and that keeps me from being overwhelmed.”

Yes, Barack Obama, at the National Prayer Breakfast, invoked his faith and the Bible on behalf of healthcare reform—much like he has done on behalf of gay marriage and other liberal agenda items.

Question for Ms. Crowley and Rep. Schakowsky and liberals everywhere: Was this appropriate? Are you offended?

But now, here comes one Ben Carson, pediatric surgeon with more than 50 honorary doctorates, named one of America’s 20 foremost physicians by CNN and TIME, and winner of the Presidential Medal of Freedom—the nation’s highest civilian honor. He disagreed with Obama and the liberal faithful. His price: political excommunication. In Alinsky fashion, he will now be isolated and demonized. How dare he bring up healthcare at the National Prayer Breakfast.


Conspiracy of silence on value of marriage: Politicians frightened to admit fathers are vital, says top British family lawyer

Marriage is as important to the future of the nation as climate change and poverty, a senior family lawyer said yesterday.

Baroness Deech said the growing numbers of families without fathers was doing more harm to the next generation than other factors such as smoking, alcohol, poor diet and lack of exercise.

And she warned that a conspiracy of silence surrounded the issue because political leaders were afraid to say married families were better for children than cohabiting families or single parent families.

Lady Deech, who is head of the Bar Standards Board, made her remarks at a conference organised by the Marriage Foundation, a pressure group led by High Court family judge Sir Paul Coleridge. She said marriage was based on a public promise and evidence showed married parents were twice as likely to stay together through a child’s early years as cohabiting parents.

Children of single mothers have greater problems than those of cohabitee parents, and children of cohabitees have greater problems than those of married parents.

‘Since this is so incontrovertible, why is it so brave, as Sir Humphrey would put it, to tackle the desirability of marriage over cohabitation, both for adults and children?’ Lady Deech asked. 

‘The topic has become a no-go area.

‘We live in a world where we are encouraged to take care of our own and our children’s health: we are constantly admonished to take exercise, eat healthily, wear a cycle helmet, study the side of the package, stop smoking, recycle, combat global warming, brush our teeth, control our drinking habits and have health checks.

But when it comes to the one issue that does more harm to the next generation than any of these – the absence of a father in the family – there is a conspiracy of silence.

‘Politicians fear to address it. It is time to place marriage issues up there along with climate change, poverty and peace as a topic pre-eminently relevant to the present and future happiness and health of all people.’

Lady Deech said those who favoured cohabitation often said marriage was ‘only a piece of paper’, adding: ‘It is clearly a very important piece of paper, nonetheless, of the utmost significance to life, equal love and happiness, say the gay community, when gay marriage is on the agenda.’

Other kinds of relationship are seen as lesser than marriage, she added.

‘Children deserve natural parents who are prepared to make the act of commitment and aspiration found only in marriage, in order to demonstrate to those children that they intend to be there for them, without question, as they grow up.

‘The wedding ceremony highlights the fact that marriage is the strongest bond ever invented to link together two people and two families, for now and posterity – intimately, legally, politically, religiously, civilly and publicly.’

Lady Deech added that same-sex couples who have entered civil partnerships are pressing to have marriage, which is seen as a ‘better alternative’.


Same-sex fertility: Depriving a child of mother and father is 'abuse', say British pro-life campaigners

Access to NHS funded fertility treatment is to be extended under new guidance from the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence despite experts warning that the health service is facing its biggest ever financial crisis.

The NHS is having to find £20bn of efficiency savings over four years to cope with increasing demand at a time of flat rate increases in budgets.

However Nice does not have to consider budgets when setting guidelines and is updating its 2004 fertility advice to take into account medical advances and changes in society.

The guidance due out on Wednesday will recommend that same sex couples be offered artificial insemination on the NHS for six cycles before moving on to IVF if that fails.

Anthony Ozimic, communications manager for pro-life organisation Society for the Protection of Unborn Children was critical of the new guidance.

"The decision ignores biology in the name of politically correct social engineering," he said.  "Children are being abused by being deliberately deprived of either a father or a mother."

However, James Taylor, health officer for gay rights campaign group Stonewall, rebutted such claims as he welcomed the move.

He said: "There is no research that shows being brought up by two dads or two mums puts you in any worse position than being brought up by a mum and a dad."



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

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of  other countries.  The only real difference, however, is how much power they have.  In America, their power is limited by democracy.  To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already  very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges.  They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did:  None.  So look to the colleges to see  what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way.  It would be a dictatorship.

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


17 February, 2013

Town torn over celebrations of Enid Blyton's 'racist' work

Blyton will still be delighting children long after the nonentities criticizing her are dead.  She was not a social critic.  She just wrote as a person of her times --  times that were not as hypersensitive as Leftist do-gooders have made them today

 Enid Blyton's home town is split over a planned festival to celebrate her books, with some locals claiming they are racist and offensive.

Organisers are planning a week of activities honouring the writer who died in 1968, aged 71, and want to erect a plaque where her house once stood.

But critics are opposing the move to honour the woman who became famous for her Noddy and Famous Five books.

Many of her 600 books have, since her death, been branded as racist or sexist and have had to be updated.

The golliwog owner of the Toytown garage in her Noddy Books has been replaced by a "Mr Sparks," while her work The Three Golliwogs is now The Three Bold Pixies.

The festival is being held in June in Beaconsfield, Bucks to mark the 75th anniversary since she moved to the town.

One opponent is architect Anthony Mealing, 63, who has described some of Blyton's work as "racist and offensive."

He is campaigning to stop the festival going ahead.  He said: "My grandmother, Annie Grigg, taught at a school near here where they had rather racist Enid Blyton stories issued free by the author to all the pupils in the 1950s.

"The moral of one of the stories is: Don't leave any money around if there are any black children about as they will steal it. "She was anti-semitic and very racist. People don't believe me because she is too high an icon, but she was."

Mr Mealing, from High Wycombe, said he did not want to see a plaque erected. He urged residents: "Research the subject as you might find things you did not expect."

Mr Mealing's view was criticised on the internet, with one resident writing: "Enid Blyton was a fantastic story writer who deserves her place in history.

She should be celebrated." But a supporter of Mr Mealing wrote: "For years there have been persistent rumours, based on recollections by some now elderly folk, that Enid B wasn't a very nice lady.

"One of her daughters also had a lot to say, criticising her too. Two TV documentaries about her also cast doubt about her character." Former librarian Kari Dorme, the coordinator of the festival being organised by the Beaconsfield Society, says Blyton's original works should be accepted for the time in which they were written.

She said: "In the early 1990's, some of her publishers made certain text changes - mostly to bring her stories into line with modern thought and sensitivities, particularly with regard to what some construed as snobbish, racist or sexist attitudes.

"Even names were modernised. You have to accept them in the time in which they were written, which was at least 60 years ago.

"Her books still sell at the rate of six to seven million copies a year, in more than 40 languages. Enid Blyton is a marvellous story teller -- a real page turner.

"I feel that recognition should be given to the great contribution that she has made to children's literacy."

Blyton first moved to a house in the town called Green Hedges with her husband, Major Hugh Pollock.

The author, who later divorced and remarried, spent most of her life there until she moved into a London nursing home, where she died.

The house was demolished in the early 1970s and the site is now called Blyton Close.


I resigned for linking Nazism to Socialism... but it's true

Rachel Frosh resigned earlier this week for linking Nazism to Socialism, but here she makes the case that it remains very much a valid view.  Rachel Frosh has been a doctor in the NHS for over 20 years. Until her resignation, Frosh was also the Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner in Hertfordshire

I have been frustrated in the last two days that I have not been fully able to answer the press and Twitter enquiries about that retweet – where I retweeted someone else’s link to Nazism and Socialism.

I am conscious that the Police and Crime Commissioner needs to have constructive working relations with local politicians of all parties. Working for him has made it difficult to answer the questions about why I retweeted the comment in the first place. So I have therefore resigned – because he needs to get on with his job, and I want to answer these questions, and also be able to comment on national political issues.

So, my full answer is this:

First of all, I don’t remember retweeting it, and I do believe most Labour politicians to be honourable decent people who do not have any truck with the politics of hate. The modern Labour party bears no resemblance to the BNP or similar parties.

However, there is an accepted mainstream view that the origins of Nazism lie in Socialism, or that they have common roots. Nobel Prize winning economist Friedrich Hayek described this his book “The Road to Serfdom”. Even the Wikipedia entry says on the topic “Hayek challenged the general view among British academics that fascism was a capitalist reaction against socialism, instead arguing that fascism and socialism had common roots in central economic planning and the power of the state over the individual.”

The subtitle of the 1976 edition of The Road to Serfdom, is “A Classic Warning Against the Dangers to Freedom Inherent in Social Planning.” Hayek argued that socialism undermines human liberty and, if pursued far enough, must result in tyranny.

Other articles on the roots of Nazism and Hayek’s commentary are here, here, here and more on Hayek himself here.

This matters because in recent years we have seen some electoral gains by the BNP, even winning two European parliamentary seats. It is important to understand why, to prevent it from happening again. Commentators state that most BNP votes come from disaffected Labour supporters, not from other parties. It is important to make sure that this doesn’t happen again.

Others such as Iain Dale argue that the BNP is a left wing fascist party. His full comments on it in 2009 were:

"In a Tweet earlier this morning Plaid Cymru AM Bethan Jenkins described a comment by Michael Rock., chairman of Conservative Future, that the BNP is “left wing”, as a “disgrace”. I looked up Rock’s comments and can’t really see how any sane person could disagree with them.

"The consistent miss-labelling of extremist parties is very damaging to liberal democracy, as it creates false tensions and misaligns people with causes they do not understand fully. I’ve yet to meet a Tory who believes in clamping down on free-trade and the nationalisation of private companies. The BNP are both racist and fascist: all fascist parties have left wing tendencies as they predominantly believe in nationalisation, collectivism and forbid free expression, which makes fascism the very antipathy of right-of-centre politics."

I can understand why those on the left don’t wish to be branded in the same political mindset as the BNP. Now they know how those of us on the right feel. But the fact remains that BNP beliefs DO have more in common with Socialism than with Conservatism – centralised command control, trade tariffs, state owned businesses … I could go on. I struggle to think of a single issue which joins the BNP and mainstream conservatism. The Nazis were called National Socialists for a reason. Fascism is invariably described as a creed of the right. It isn’t. As with the BNP, fascism has far more in common with the left, at least in political theoretical terms.

I say this not to whip us some “you’re more fascist than me” type argument between left and right, but merely to explain to Bethan Jenkins why I am bemused by her disgust."

Iain Dale has a point.

My considered view is that the origins of Nazism do lie in traditional socialism, and when the BNP do well, it is with disaffected Labour voters.

That does not mean that people in the Labour party or any other mainstream party have views that are in any way akin to the BNP or other racist parties. They should be placed apart from other parties on the spectrum – but it is still important to understand the origins of any support they have, or used to have to ensure such parties never gain power again.


Yes to free trade with the US – no to all the other EU guff

An EU trade deal with America would demonstrate the pointless nature of European bureaucracy

No wonder the British economy is struggling. Aggregated figures released yesterday by the European Commission show that even the mighty German economy contracted by more than ours in the final quarter of last year, with the eurozone as a whole down 0.6 per cent on the previous quarter.

Desperate for initiatives that might provide growth and jobs, European politicians are prepared to clutch at anything. The prospect of a “game-changing” trade pact with the US is one such straw. Anyone would think they’d found the Holy Grail, to judge by the squeals of delight emanating from the EU’s high command. “Together we will form the largest trade zone in the world,” trumpeted José Manuel Barroso, president of the European Commission. “It is a boost to our economies that doesn’t cost a cent of taxpayer money.” That there might actually be opportunities for growth that don’t involve hosing the economy down with vast amounts of public money seems to have come as a revelation to Mr Barroso, but let’s not be churlish.

Free trade with the US is a goal Britain has long championed, and with the breakdown of more global, multilateral trade liberalisation talks, this seems a very welcome second best. To see the EU finally back the cause with such enthusiasm is indeed a breakthrough. From an inward-looking, defensive approach to the challenges of globalisation, Europe seems finally ready to embrace the 21st century.

Yet even assuming the talks are successful, don’t expect anything transformational. The European Commission estimates that agreement “could” bring an overall increase in EU GDP of 0.5 per cent a year by 2027. This is plainly not to be sneezed at, but it is hardly going to revolutionise Europe’s prospects, still less is it going to lift either continent out of the present economic funk.

As it happens, the sort of full-frontal trade barriers immortalised by the notorious Smoot-Hawley tariffs of the inter-war years don’t exist any more – at least between Europe and the US. Today’s protectionism takes subtler forms; it’s mainly in discriminatory regulation and state subsidy. To get genuine free trade, you need common regulation and either an end to subsidies for agriculture and industry or at least a shared framework for them. Understandably this has proved hard to achieve – or as Simon Evenett, Professor of International Trade at the University of St Gallen in Switzerland, puts it: “There has never been much appetite from business for bearing the costs of switching to a rival set of rules.”

What gives some reason to suppose the talks might succeed this time is that both sides have broadly agreed to park the more sensitive issues. Agriculture, traditionally one of the big sticking points, will essentially be ignored, and the two have agreed to learn to live with each other’s regulatory regimes, so that they become interchangeable. The benefits from such a limited degree of trade liberalisation are probably pretty marginal in the short term, but if the two jurisdictions can find ways of harmonising future business regulation, which is the intention, then in the long run there is plainly a bigger prize to be had.

In any case, a free-trade pact with the US seems at last to be within Europe’s reach, and two cheers for that. This in turn raises some interesting questions about the European Union. If it is possible to have free trade with the US without the paraphernalia of common government, or even completely harmonised rules and regulations, why do we need all this guff in order to have a functioning internal market in Europe? Or is it the case that without the clout that Europe gains from negotiating collectively on behalf of its 27 member states, it wouldn’t be possible to reach a mutually beneficial agreement with the US? You can read it either way.

Whatever the answers, this seems to be a case of putting the cart before the horse, for the EU is still struggling to achieve a functioning single market across key service and utility sectors – energy, finance and so on – even within its borders, let alone with the US. Part of the problem Britain has with Europe is that the rules seem to conspire to exploit UK weaknesses in traded goods, where the internal market reigns supreme, while denying it the opportunity to play to its strengths in services, where the single market still doesn’t really exist.

By far the largest part of Britain’s seemingly permanent current account deficit is with Europe. In fact, we enjoy a very substantial current account surplus with the US, so on the face of it, it would suit Britain better to cosy up to the US than to Europe, despite the latter’s proximity.

The more you look at what Britain actually gets out of Europe, the harder it is to justify continued participation. It’s more fear of European retribution that keeps us from pulling out than any measurable economic dividend.

Mr Cameron will have to make substantial progress over the next couple of years in genuinely opening up Europe to British business if he is to convince us of the merits of staying in. None the less, it would be the ultimate irony if, through Europe, we achieved trade liberalisation with America only to go sailing off in the other direction as far as the EU is concerned.

Free trade is an end in itself, and a highly desirable one that mutually benefits everyone who honestly engages in it. It’s only a shame that Europe seems determined to make it into so much more.


Free speech problems in Australia

Part of an opinion article by Richard Ackland is reproduced below in the interests of full and fair public discussion.  Ackland is a Left-leaning Australian lawyer and the article below reflects the ambivalence many Leftists feel about hate-speech laws.  They fear  that such laws could ensnare them in the heat of political disagreements. But Ackland appears to think that some expansion of such law is needed and that the conservative impulse to get such laws expunged is wrong.

His argument against the conservative case put by Tony Abbott is however both "ad hominem" and misleading.  The matter Abbott went to court over was a libel case -- in response to false and scurrilous allegations published about himself and a woman not his wife.  It was not a case brought under anti-discrimination law. 

Libel has always been recognized as not protected free speech in the USA despite their first amendment protections of speech so Ackland's apparent conflation of libellous speech with free speech is tendentious and misleading.  He would seem simply to be making a snide point motivated by a need to discredit conservatives rather than by any intention of making fair comparisons.  It is unworthy of Mr Ackland

Travelling on public transport can be traumatic. Particularly if you're the ABC newsreader Jeremy Fernandez with his young daughter on a Sydney bus, subjected to the racist rantings of an unhinged banshee. A French woman singing on a Melbourne bus was subjected to a similar tirade, but in that case it seemed to be more of a mob onslaught.

The law says people are not supposed to offend, insult, humiliate or intimidate because of someone's race, colour or ethnic origin - in public, of course; at home you can pretty much be as vile as you like.

The previous attorney-general, Nicola Roxon, had been howled down because she suggested in an "exposure draft" of a new anti-discrimination bill that those terms should apply across the board in all cases of discrimination by means of "unfavourable treatment".

Free-speech champion Tony Abbott has promised to repeal this part of the Racial Discrimination Act in its current form.

The new Attorney-General, Mark Dreyfus, says he'll be agonising over getting the balance right between free speech and "protecting the community".

The ABC chairman, James Spigelman, said in a speech in December to the Human Rights Commission that words such as "offend" and "insult" go too far, that they impinge on freedom of speech in ways that words like "humiliate" and "intimidate" do not.

Presumably he means the free speech protection goes a notch higher if the basic requirements of anti-discrimination protections are at the humiliation and intimidation end of the nastiness spectrum.

We're playing here with the English language and the distinctions are not always visible. In every case the line between insult and humiliation may not be clear.  But Spigelman is surely right when he says, "there is no right not be offended".

The long-serving Melbourne media lawyer Peter Bartlett recently said in an interview that "the present anti-discrimination legislation we've got is a significant problem for the media". He told the Gazette of Law & Journalism (interest disclosure: publisher is moi) that he's had to deal with discrimination complaints claiming that articles on paedophilia vilify all Catholics.

A newspaper report about a Turkish man's run-in with police has prompted a complaint that all Turks are vilified.

The Australian Financial Review had complaints from Italians in Melbourne over a drawing by Michael Fitzjames of the map of Italy which he called Berlusconia with the major cities given names like Necappi, Ponzi, Pestilenti, Spivi and so on.

It went on an on and cost the paper an enormous amount of time, energy and money. Interestingly, this case was brought under Victorian legislation, which deals with hatred and serious contempt - not offence or insult. Even at that higher standard, it still took ages to reach settlement.

Bartlett said: "Some of these complaints are ludicrous. There are more and more of them. Regulatory authorities are not looking at them and saying 'This clearly has no merit and should be dismissed.' It is very frustrating."

It's probably an unreasonable expectation that the number of ludicrous complaints will drop off if the law gets rid of "offend and insult" and just sticks with "humiliate and intimidate". Maybe, the Italians, Turks or Catholics will feel the humiliation rather than the offence.

While Abbott has pledged to get rid of "offensive" he, in his own defamation case with Peter Costello and their wives against Random House over the Bob Ellis's book Goodbye Jerusalem, was happy to be compensated for an even lower level of grief - "hurt feelings".

Hurt feelings are enough for Abbott to go running to the law but he won't allow anyone to seek a remedy for being offended or insulted.

In his free speech address last August he thought that the ancient common law offences of "incitement and causing fear" should be enough grounds for a racial vilification case.

It's not certain but he seemed to be saying that racial vilification should be left to common law, which means unelected judges.

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, AUSTRALIAN POLITICSDISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL  and EYE ON BRITAIN (Note that EYE ON BRITAIN has regular posts on the reality of socialized medicine).   My Home Pages are here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here


15 February, 2013

Official German harassment of old lady who collects signatures against mosque

Maria Frank, a 74-year-old woman, who leads an organisation called “Association for the Future of Germany” peacefully gathers signatures calling for a referendum on whether an “Islam in Europe” centre should be built in Munich. She is constantly mobbed by antifa, green and trade union activists, so her placards are hardly visible. Despite that, she is prosecuted for incitement to hatred.

In Rotkreuzplatz the 74-year-old pensioner exhibited a placard on this day, which among other thing said that after the siege of Vienna by the Ottoman empire in 1683 now “the arrogant Turks and Muslims … [are threatening] Europe again”. The accused thus established and suggested the reference to a war of aggression, at least “implicitly accepting” that fear of Islam and Turks would be generated, argued the state prosecutor. She thus disturbed the public peace.

Maria Frank was given a warning  and ordered to pay 1000 euros to Amnesty International.  She said she doesn’t like this organization and asked to be allowed to pay the money to a charity for persecuted Christians instead. The judge said no, it had to go to Amnesty International!

In addition the judge warned Frank, who has made numerous negative statements about Turks and Muslims on the internet, sometimes in a much more drastic way than on the placard. “You need to stop that and become aware of what is acceptable and what isn’t.”

If she commits a similar “offence” within the next three years, she has to pay a fine of 3,600 euros.


Some advice on women in combat from a female veteran

I’m a female veteran. I deployed to Anbar Province, Iraq. When I was active duty, I was 5’6, 130 pounds, and scored nearly perfect on my PFTs. I naturally have a lot more upper body strength than the average woman: not only can I do pull-ups, I can meet the male standard. I would love to have been in the infantry. And I still think it will be an unmitigated disaster to incorporate women into combat roles. I am not interested in risking men’s lives so I can live my selfish dream.

We’re not just talking about watering down the standards to include the politically correct number of women into the unit. This isn’t an issue of “if a woman can meet the male standard, she should be able to go into combat.” The number of women that can meet the male standard will be miniscule–I’d have a decent shot according to my PFTs, but dragging a 190-pound man in full gear for 100 yards would DESTROY me–and that miniscule number that can physically make the grade AND has the desire to go into combat will be facing an impossible situation that will ruin the combat effectiveness of the unit. First, the close quarters of combat units make for a complete lack of privacy and EVERYTHING is exposed, to include intimate details of bodily functions. Second, until we succeed in completely reprogramming every man in the military to treat women just like men, those men are going to protect a woman at the expense of the mission. Third, women have physical limitations that no amount of training or conditioning can overcome. Fourth, until the media in this country is ready to treat a captured/raped/tortured/mutilated female soldier just like a man, women will be targeted by the enemy without fail and without mercy.

I saw the male combat units when I was in Iraq. They go outside the wire for days at a time. They eat, sleep, urinate and defecate in front of each other and often while on the move. There’s no potty break on the side of the road outside the wire. They urinate into bottles and defecate into MRE bags. I would like to hear a suggestion as to how a woman is going to urinate successfully into a bottle while cramped into a humvee wearing full body armor. And she gets to accomplish this feat with the male members of her combat unit twenty inches away. Volunteers to do that job? Do the men really want to see it? Should they be forced to?

Everyone wants to point to the IDF as a model for gender integration in the military. No, the IDF does not put women on the front lines. They ran into the same wall the US is about to smack into: very few women can meet the standards required to serve there. The few integrated units in the IDF suffered three times the casualties of the all-male units because the Israeli men, just like almost every other group of men on the planet, try to protect the women even at the expense of the mission. Political correctness doesn’t trump thousands of years of evolution and societal norms. Do we really WANT to deprogram that instinct from men?

Regarding physical limitations, not only will a tiny fraction of women be able to meet the male standard, the simple fact is that women tend to be shorter than men. I ran into situations when I was deployed where I simply could not reach something. I wasn’t tall enough. I had to ask a man to get it for me. I can’t train myself to be taller. Yes, there are small men…but not so nearly so many as small women. More, a military PFT doesn’t measure the ability to jump. Men, with more muscular legs and bones that carry more muscle mass than any woman can condition herself to carry, can jump higher and farther than women. That’s why we have a men’s standing jump and long jump event in the Olympics separate from women. When you’re going over a wall in Baghdad that’s ten feet high, you have to be able to be able to reach the top of it in full gear and haul yourself over. That’s not strength per se, that’s just height and the muscular explosive power to jump and reach the top. Having to get a boost from one of the men so you can get up and over could get that man killed.

Without pharmaceutical help, women just do not carry the muscle mass men do. That muscle mass is also a shock absorber. Whether it’s the concussion of a grenade going off, an IED, or just a punch in the face, a woman is more likely to go down because she can’t absorb the concussion as well as a man can. And I don’t care how the PC forces try to slice it, in hand-to-hand combat the average man is going to destroy the average woman because the average woman is smaller, period. Muscle equals force in any kind of strike you care to perform. That’s why we don’t let female boxers face male boxers.

Lastly, this country and our military are NOT prepared to see what the enemy will do to female POWs. The Taliban, AQ, insurgents, jihadis, whatever you want to call them, they don’t abide by the Geneva Conventions and treat women worse than livestock. Google Thomas Tucker and Kristian Menchaca if you want to see what they do to our men (and don’t google it unless you have a strong stomach) and then imagine a woman in their hands. How is our 24/7 news cycle going to cover a captured, raped, mutilated woman? After the first one, how are the men in the military going to treat their female comrades? ONE Thomasina Tucker is going to mean the men in the military will move heaven and earth to protect women, never mind what it does to the mission. I present you with Exhibit A: Jessica Lynch. Male lives will be lost trying to protect their female comrades. And the people of the US are NOT, based on the Jessica Lynch episode, prepared to treat a female POW the same way they do a man.

I say again, I would have loved to be in the infantry. I think I could have done it physically, I could’ve met almost all the male standards (jumping aside), and I think I’m mentally tough enough to handle whatever came. But I would never do that to the men. I would never sacrifice the mission for my own desires. And I wouldn’t be able to live with myself if someone died because of me.


Did the Associated Press BAN the use of 'husband' and 'wife' to describe people in civil unions and same-sex marriages?

The Associated Press is under fire by gay rights groups after the wire agency released a memo directing its reporters to refer to legally wed homosexual couples as 'partners' rather than 'husbands' or 'wives.'

'We were asked how to report about same-sex couples who call themselves "husband" and "wife,"' the memo states. 'Our view is that such terms may be used in AP stories with attribution. Generally AP uses couples or partners to describe people in civil unions or same-sex marriages.'

Media critic Jim Romenesko posted the memo on his blog and it was quickly circulated among gay rights groups. Romenesko later removed the post.

AMERICAblog called the directive a 'ban' on using the words 'husband' and 'wife' to describe the members of a homosexual couple.

'So clearly AP is admitting that it has a different standard for legally-wed gay couples than it has for legally-wed straight couples,' John Aravosis wrote on AMERICAblog. 'It’s almost as if AP is squeamish, or somehow, uncomfortable with the notion that a man might marry another man, even though it’s now legal in many states and countries.'

Gawker claimed the directive was a form of 'separate but equal.'

'This particular style choice makes a jarring "separate but equal" standard for married couples,' Gawker's Robert Kessler wrote. 'As we learned with segregation, a separate standard is inherently unequal.'

As the controversey grew surrounding the directive, the AP released a second memo to clarify the first.

'Our view is that such terms may be used in AP content if those involved have regularly used those terms ("Smith is survived by his husband, John Jones") or in quotes attributed to them,' reads a sentence added to the memo.

So if  the legally-wed subjects of a story refer to themselves as husbands or wives, than the reporter should follow suit.

But generally speaking, the AP recommends using the terms 'couples' or 'partners' to describe people in civil unions or same-sex marriages.

As the leading global authority on journalistic standards, the AP regularly publishes memos regarding its style, punctuation and grammar rules.


Religious Discrimination

Do churches and other religious organizations have the right to discriminate? Even advocates of discrimination laws in general are usually willing to make an exception for churches and religious organizations to practice discrimination in employment based on religious creed, sex, marital status, or sexual orientation.

Thus, a church of a particular denomination is free to limit offers of employment to ministers of that particular denomination and discriminate against all others; a church that considers homosexuality to be a sin is free to hire only heterosexuals and discriminate against homosexuals; a church that believes in having only men in leadership positions is free to hire only men and discriminate against women; and a church that believes in having an unmarried priesthood is free to employ as priests only those who are unmarried and discriminate against those who are married.

Regardless of our personal feelings about religion and morality, that is what we expect. That is, we expect a Jewish community center to be staffed by Jews, we expect a Catholic mass to be said by an unmarried male priest; we expect the minister of a theologically conservative church to be a heterosexual; we expect a Baptist church to be pastored by a man who is a Baptist; and we expect a Christian school to have Christian teachers.

Yet a Christian school in Thousand Oaks, California, and two former teachers are fighting over that very point.

Calvary Chapel, a Christian church in Thousand Oaks, purchased the previously secular Little Oaks School in 2009. According to the Ventura County Star,

While the vast majority of religious schools are nonprofit and tax-exempt, church leaders said they organized Little Oaks as a for-profit because they were on a tight deadline. They said forming a tax-exempt corporation is a lengthy process. They said the school is operated not as a profit-generating entity but as a spiritual arm of the church. Its students include about 130 children in preschool through fifth grade.

In 2012, the church requested from all employees a statement of faith and a reference from a pastor in order to have their contracts renewed. Two teachers, Lynda Serrano and Mary Ellen Guevara, refused to provide the documents and lost their jobs.

“We’re a Christian school,” said the Rev. Rob McCoy, pastor of the church and headmaster of the school. “We were coming to the point where we were establishing a Christian curriculum. We wanted to make sure teachers subscribed to that faith.”

The teachers retained a law firm in Los Angeles and were prepared to sue, but asked for $150,000 apiece from the school to settle the case. “They did not believe they should be required to obtain a pastoral reference in order to continue their employment,” their attorney wrote in a letter to the church.

The church and school say their right to hire teachers who share their beliefs is protected by civil rights laws, the U.S. Constitution, and the California Constitution, which says in its Declaration of Rights in Article I,

SEC. 4. Free exercise and enjoyment of religion without discrimination or preference are guaranteed. This liberty of conscience does not excuse acts that are licentious or inconsistent with the peace or safety of the State. The Legislature shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion. A person is not incompetent to be a witness or juror because of his or her opinions on religious beliefs.

The teachers cite the California Fair Employment and Housing Act, which, although it has some religious discrimination exemptions, supposedly don’t include for-profit religious groups.

But instead of settling, church and school leaders filed their own lawsuit in U.S. District Court seeking an injunction to prevent the teachers from filing their lawsuit in a different venue because they wanted to make sure litigation took place in federal court. Their suit alleges that the Fair Employment and Housing Act is unconstitutional when used to restrict a religious school’s hiring practices, even if the group is for-profit.

The lawyers for the teachers maintain that the “Fair Employment and Housing Act has been upheld in hundreds of cases in state and federal courts.” They described the school’s lawsuit as a desperate attempt to “avoid the consequences of their illegal and discriminatory practices.”

But the lawyer representing the church and its school believes “the question is ultimately, do the nondiscrimination rights of the teachers under state law trump the religious rights of the school under federal law?”

There is no question that California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act outlaws discrimination in employment as a matter of public policy:

12920. It is hereby declared as the public policy of this state that it is necessary to protect and safeguard the right and opportunity of all persons to seek, obtain, and hold employment without discrimination or abridgment on account of race, religious creed, color, national origin, ancestry, physical disability, mental disability, medical condition, genetic information, marital status, sex, gender, gender identity, gender expression, age, or sexual orientation.

It is recognized that the practice of denying employment opportunity and discriminating in the terms of employment for these reasons foments domestic strife and unrest, deprives the state of the fullest utilization of its capacities for development and advancement, and substantially and adversely affects the interests of employees, employers, and the public in general. Further, the practice of discrimination because of race, color, religion, sex, gender, gender identity, gender expression, sexual orientation, marital status, national origin, ancestry, familial status, source of income, disability, or genetic information in housing accommodations is declared to be against public policy.

It is the purpose of this part to provide effective remedies that will eliminate these discriminatory practices.

This part shall be deemed an exercise of the police power of the state for the protection of the welfare, health, and peace of the people of this state.

Therefore, according to section 12921(a), “The opportunity to seek, obtain, and hold employment without discrimination because of race, religious creed, color, national origin, ancestry, physical disability, mental disability, medical condition, genetic information, marital status, sex, gender, gender identity, gender expression, age, or sexual orientation is hereby recognized as and declared to be a civil right.”

But there is also no question that the Fair Employment and Housing Act contains a religious exemption: “12922. Notwithstanding any other provision of this part, an employer that is a religious corporation may restrict eligibility for employment in any position involving the performance of religious duties to adherents of the religion for which the corporation is organized.” And, as it states in section 12964(b)(5)(j)(4)(B), “Notwithstanding subparagraph (A), for purposes of this subdivision, ’employer’ does not include a religious association or corporation not organized for private profit, except as provided in Section 12926.2” (which has to do with religious entities that operate health-care facilities that are not restricted to adherents of the religion that established the entity).

The problem is that a religious organization not organized for profit (Calvary Chapel) operating something as a for-profit entity (Little Oaks School) is not something that was envisioned by the writers of the California Fair Employment and Housing Act.

But there is an even bigger problem here: the folly of discrimination laws in the first place.

First of all, if discrimination is wrong; if discrimination is bad; if discrimination is mean-spirited; if discrimination is hateful; if discrimination is bigoted; if discrimination is immoral; if discrimination is racist, sexist, xenophobic, and homophobic; if discrimination “foments domestic strife and unrest, deprives the state of the fullest utilization of its capacities for development and advancement, and substantially and adversely affects the interests of employees, employers, and the public in general,” then it doesn’t suddenly cease to be or do those things because the entity doing the discriminating is religious instead of secular, or nonprofit instead of for-profit.

Second, it would be madness for employers not to discriminate in hiring. People with physical disabilities are discriminated against by owners of coal mines. People without accounting experience are discriminated against by owners of accounting firms. People without a driver’s license are discriminated against by owners of taxi companies. People without typing skills are discriminated against by executives looking for secretaries. Any company that requires a college degree is discriminating against those without degrees.

Third, “discrimination” is not a dirty word. Discrimination is not necessarily something bad. Discrimination is not something inherently evil. To discriminate is simply to distinguish, differentiate, or make a distinction. Discrimination involves choosing between or among options. We used to say that a man had discriminating taste.

Fourth, to discriminate against someone is not an act of aggression against him. The underlying premise of libertarianism is the nonaggression principle; that is, it is wrong to threaten or employ violence against someone unless in defense of one’s person or property. No one of any race, religion, sex, color, national origin, or sexual orientation has the right to be employed by anyone else. Not hiring or not promoting someone on the basis of any of those things — however undeserved or irrational it might be — is not aggressing against him.

And fifth, to outlaw discrimination is to outlaw freedom of thought and freedom of association. Every man has the natural right to think or not to think whatever he wants about any other man. Every man has the natural right to associate or not to associate with any other man who is willing to associate with him. It doesn’t matter if those decisions are or are not based on someone’s identification with a group. It doesn’t matter if the decisions are unwise, unreasonable, or ridiculous. It doesn’t matter if they are based on prejudice, bigotry, or racism. Every free man has the right to think or not think what he wants about anyone else and associate or not associate with anyone else on any basis and for any reason. At least in a free society he does.

A free society must be free of discrimination laws altogether, not just laws without exceptions for religious discrimination.



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

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of  other countries.  The only real difference, however, is how much power they have.  In America, their power is limited by democracy.  To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already  very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges.  They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did:  None.  So look to the colleges to see  what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way.  It would be a dictatorship.

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


14 February, 2013

French Assembly passes homosexual marriage, adoption bill

France's lower house of parliament on Tuesday approved a sweeping bill to legalize gay marriage and allow same-sex couples to adopt children, handing a major legislative victory to President Francois Hollande's Socialists on a divisive social issue.

The measure, approved in the National Assembly in a 329-to-229 vote, puts France on track to join about a dozen mostly European nations that allow gay marriage and comes despite a string of recent demonstrations by opponents of the so-called "marriage for all" bill.

Polls show most French support legalizing gay marriage, though that backing softens when questions about the adoption and conception of children come into play.

The Assembly has been debating the bill, and voting on its individual articles in recent weeks. The overall bill now goes to the Senate, which is also controlled by the Socialists and their allies.

With the vote, France joins Britain in taking a major legislative step in recent weeks toward allowing gay marriage and adoption -- making them the largest European countries to do so. The Netherlands, Belgium, Norway and Spain as well as Argentina, Canada and South Africa have authorized gay marriage, along with six states in the United States.

The issue exposed fault lines between a progressive-minded leftist legislative majority in France, and its conservative roots. Critics -- among them many Roman Catholics -- railed that the bill would erode the family. The Socialists, however, sought to depict the issue as one of equal rights, and played off France's famed Revolution-era motto of "Liberty, Equality and Fraternity."

"This law is going to extend to all families the protections guaranteed by the institution of marriage," Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault said before the vote. "Contrary to what those who vociferate against it say -- fortunately they're in the minority -- this law is going to strengthen the institution of marriage."

As with many major and controversial reforms in France, the issue drew its share of political grandstanding over weeks of debate: Conservative opponents forced a discussion of nearly 5,000 amendments, a move derided by Socialists as inconsequential stalling tactics. But by the final vote tally, the government rank-and-file rolled out grand, solemn statements of victory.

"This law is a first necessary step, a social evolution that benefits society overall," said Socialist representative Corinne Narassiguin, announcing her party's support for the measure. "Opening up marriage and adoption to homosexual couples is a very beautiful advance ... It is an emblematic vote, a vote that will mark history."

The government didn't get all it wanted: Hollande's Socialists backed off plans to link the measure to relaxed restrictions on fertility treatments after catching political heat for its stance on assisted reproduction. The issue is expected to come up in a separate bill later this year.


Society and State in Modern Britain

 Former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher once famously declared that there was “no such thing as society.” Her remarks referred to the nonexistence of a collective entity.

No Society, Lady Thatcher?

Many on Britain’s left attributed a kind of moral bankruptcy to these remarks. Unfortunately, taken out of context, the phrase provides ammunition for collectivists who wish falsely to portray libertarians as uncaring, egotistical individualists interested only in maximum economic efficiency (or worse—profit). According to such critics, libertarian-minded individuals believe, contra John Donne, that each man is an island, and that what “society” exists at all is only a disconnected assortment of competing atoms, zealous only for their own interests at the expense of all others.

This straw man has proven to be a dangerously effective way of scaring many into collectivist thinking. In reality, any sound description of practical liberty places great importance on the role of society. Society consists of a complex array of fundamental structures, such as the family, as well as myriad other voluntary associations and institutions that tend to grow up organically—that is, without central planning. In fact, the path of modern history demonstrates that unwarranted and immoral State intervention has been the actual cause of social atomization.

Welfare State Atomization

While both classical liberals and conservatives stressed the importance of separate roles for society and State, the twentieth century saw tremendous growth in the latter at the expense of the former.

One prominent—but by no means solitary—example of this diminution of society is the replacement of private charity with the welfare state. From 1987 to 2012, in Britain, State funding of charities rose to such an unprecedented level that some 27,000 charities are now dependent upon the government for more than 75% of their incomes. The so-called “voluntary” sector receives more money from the State than from private donations.

This unnatural intervention weakens the sense of duty, custom, and manners which animate an organic system of civil society. State intervention has not only debased the very concept of charity, but reduced individual responsibility to others to what Kenneth Minogue has called mere “politico-moral posturing.” Such involves merely the desire to project one's decency. By having the correct socially approved opinions, one needn’t act at all. The morality of crowds is replaced by the burgeoning of bureaucracies. Once we have signaled our rectitude, we can go on behaving as atoms.


Proponents of the welfare state tend to ignore the plain evidence that wherever State interference hasn't cramped or enervated them, voluntary assistance and mutual aid have been the norm. Before the advent of the welfare state, this assistance came in the form of charity and mutual associations called friendly societies.

In 1911, the year the Liberal government introduced compulsory national insurance, around 9 million people (of the 12 million covered by the scheme) were already members of such mutual aid associations. That’s 75 percent. During the 19th century, there had been a vast proliferation of friendly societies, which sought to provide social security and sometimes medical assistance to their members. Sadly, the imposition of the welfare state, particularly with the post-World War II Labour government, helped undo much of this positive work. (There are similar stories of crowdout in the voluntary sector in the United States.)

The Coalition currently governing Britain has just reached the halfway point in its term. In that time, there has been much debate over the respective roles for society and the State. Prime Minister David Cameron has made much of his flagship policy (known as “The Big Society”), which is ostensibly aiming to “create a climate that empowers local people and communities” that will “take power away from politicians and give it to people.” While this policy sounded to many like a refreshing change, few commentators cottoned onto the inherent contradiction in a bottom-up, grassroots movement being started by a Prime Minister.

Despite the quasi-Burkean rhetoric, the “Big Society” still places the State in role of Nudger. Like most political approaches, it ignores the very edifice upon which a genuine functioning society truly rests: liberty. People do not require prodding from the State to fulfil the roles that society has traditionally performed. Left alone, people in “society” will function entirely naturally because they are capable of crafting effective civil association from the bottom up. Whenever the State assumes a role in this sphere it will have the opposite effect: Voluntary service will be viewed as superfluous, local non-State authorities redundant, charity itself corrupted.


It is remarkable how a once-liberal (i.e., liberty-loving) country could be so steadily inculcated with social democratic ideals. What was once considered healthy and good has come to be seen as aberrant and alien. Thankfully, a persistent germ of the individualist spirit still remains in Britain. Given adequate support, liberty could flourish once more. If Britain is to recover its former freedoms, the voting population must be informed and convinced of the superiority of spontaneous order over statist planning. The Big Society notwithstanding, government will not likely inspire its people to voluntarism.


Democratic Rep. Joins Atheists in Push for Congress to Celebrate Evolution With Annual ‘Darwin Day’?

A storm in a teacup

Today marks evolutionary biologist Charles Darwin’s 204th birthday — a noted holiday for atheists, humanists and non-believers who wish to see the famed scientist gain increased respect and adoration. In fact, the American Humanist Association (AHA)’s International Darwin Day Foundation seeks to reserve Feb. 12 each year as a day to celebrate “science and reason.”

While there are events planned across the globe to celebrate Darwin’s life, Rep. Rush Holt (D-NJ) also introduced House Resolution 41 today, an effort to officially designate Feb. 12 as “Darwin Day.”

If successful, atheists believe the action would send an important message to the nation and world. In working with Holt on the bill, the AHA was also able to help get seven co-sponsors on board with the bill. The organization lists them as follows: Rep. Michael Capuano (MA), Rep. Mike Honda (CA), Rep. Ed Markey (MA), Del. Eleanor Norton (DC), Rep. Jared Polis (CO), Rep. Charles Rangel (NY), and Rep. Louise Slaughter (NY).

“The passage of Rep. Rush Holt’s proposed resolution in Congress would send a strong message to the world that the United States supports science education,” said the organization’s executive director Roy Speckhardt. “Charles Darwin’s significant contributions to the advancement of science and our understanding of the world deserve recognition.”

Below, watch Holt speak in favor of Darwin, praising him as “one of humankind’s greatest thinkers”:

The event’s intention is to honor Darwin’s scientific accomplishments, notably his creation of evolutionary theory. The AHA press release describing the initiative explains, in part:

    "Charles Darwin’s evolutionary discovery of natural selection as the basis for biological transformations responsible for the diversity of life on earth is the foundation of modern biology, genetics, and medicine. Other areas of science and the humanities can also trace advancements to Darwin’s ideas. Since his publication On the Origin of Species in 1859, additional advances in knowledge have fine-tuned and repeatedly verified his insights."

Previously, the AHA attempted to get Darwin Day passed, but former Rep. Pete Stark (D-CA) was unsuccessful in moving Congress to do so.


Multiculturalists bury heads in sand

In a speech in January to the Menzies Centre for Australian Studies in London, Scott Morrison, Shadow [conservative] Minister for Immigration and Citizenship, signalled that if the [conservative] Coalition wins this year’s election, an Abbott Government will make social integration and the promotion of Australian values its priority.

Morrison also indicated that an Abbott Government would move away from the emphasis that the official multicultural policy currently places on the promotion of cultural diversity. Morrison justified the Coalition’s approach by pointing to growing community concerns about multiculturalism. A 2012 Scanlon Foundation report found that people residing near areas with high-concentrations of residents who are culturally disconnected from mainstream Australian society were more likely to be lukewarm, at best and understandably, about cultural diversity.

Cultural dis-integration is a real issue in South West Sydney. The predominantly Lebanese-Muslim community that lives in and around the suburbs of Bankstown and Lakemba experience a range of social problems, including low educational attainment, welfare dependence, and crime. Religious extremism is also a problem, as was alarmingly demonstrated by the Islamist riot in the Sydney CBD in September 2012.

Morrison’s speech prompted this reply by Geoff Gallop, former Western Australian Premier, now Sydney University academic, which downplayed the significant challenge the Islamist riot posed to the idea of a peaceful and tolerant multicultural society.

Gallop maintained that if social harmony was under threat due to ‘putting differences ahead of unity,’ we should not focus on those groups who practice a self-imposed form of divinely-inspired, anti-Western and anti-women cultural apartheid, but should instead remember the ‘Australian-born and bred nationalists’ who rioted at Cronulla in December 2005.

Gallop ran a familiar multiculturalist line. Multiculturalists have always attributed community reluctance to embrace multiculturalism to racist attitudes among ‘non-ethnic’ Australians. Politicians who pander to so-called ‘populist’ concerns about multiculturalism have always been accused of seeking to return ‘open’ and modern Australia to the ‘closed’ attitudes of earlier times.

The reality, however, is that defenders of multiculturalism who are willing to discuss the disgraceful Cronulla riot, but who prefer to overlook the appalling Islamist riot, are ignoring the real issues of social cohesion that multiculturalism raises for liberal-democratic societies.

By refusing to discuss the significance of the violent protests orchestrated by local Islamists, they are not only burying their heads in the sand about multiculturalism, they are also endangering community support for Australia’s long-running and overwhelmingly-successful non-discriminatory immigration program.

For a mass immigration program to be politically feasible, it must have broad-based community support. Legitimate concerns about immigration leading to ethnic or religious-based social division need to be addressed — not dismissed as racist.

Politicians who seek to reassure the community that government policy is to integrate migrants irrespective of colour and creed into Australian society are hardly seeking to revive the bad old days of the White Australia policy. They are in fact establishing the policy framework that will help build popular support for Australia’s large and ongoing annual intake of migrants from around the world



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

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of  other countries.  The only real difference, however, is how much power they have.  In America, their power is limited by democracy.  To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already  very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges.  They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did:  None.  So look to the colleges to see  what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way.  It would be a dictatorship.

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


13 February, 2013

You can't rely on a bureaucracy:  Nobody cares and nobody takes responsibility

And no negligence will get anybody fired:  A council left 81-year-old widow to starve to death in her own home after being warned by police that she needed urgent care.  Elderly  Britons without close family are at great risk

A council was warned by police that an 81-year-old woman needed urgent care but failed to act - leading to the woman starving to death in her own home, it has emerged.

Stroke victim Gloria Foster depended on agency nurses who visited her home four times a day for food, water and medication.

But after the agency was closed down last month – for allegedly employing illegal immigrants – her council did nothing to look after her.

It has now emerged that on the day the raids took place, Surrey County Council was given a list of all the agency's clients and contact details by the Metropolitan Police. According to the Daily Telegraph, this included Mrs Foster.

But the council failed to provide any alternative arrangements for the widow's care and she spent nine days alone at home.

When someone eventually went to her home, in Banstead, Surrey, on January 24, they found that Mrs Foster had all but wasted away.  She was severely dehydrated, suffering kidney failure, had serious bed sores and only a faint pulse.  She was taken to Epsom Hospital but died on Monday.

Detectives from Surrey Police are now investigating Mrs Foster's death and have seized her care register as evidence.

She had been receiving help in her own home from Carefirst24, but Surrey County Council became responsible for her care after a number of its workers were arrested last month following a UK Border Agency (UKBA) raid

The care register shows that Mrs Foster last received care on January 15. The nurse wrote that she gave Mrs Foster spaghetti bolognese and fruit juice.

She also wrote that she put on the washing machine and left Mrs Foster watching TV.

Mrs Foster was then found at home on January 24 with her walking frame out of reach in the lounge. The washing which the nurse placed inside the machine was still inside.

Speaking to The Daily Telegraph, Jo Wood, Mrs Foster's god-daughter, said: 'Can you imagine just lying there not being able to move for nine days? It must have been horrific. What happened to her is simply unforgivable.'

Her friends have previously said that what happened to her had been ‘appalling’ and demanded answers from Surrey County Council, the local authority responsible for her care.

Ann Penston, from Sutton, said: ‘How on Earth could this have been allowed to happen?  ‘How can they just close this thing down and not identify the people they were supposed to be taking care of?

‘She did not deserve to go out like this – in agony with a total feeling of being lost.’

Mrs Foster’s MP, Conservative Crispin Blunt, described her ordeal as ‘horrific’.  He said: ‘Clearly there are questions to answer and I would expect a comprehensive investigation between all of the agencies involved.’

Mrs Foster, a lover of classical music and the theatre who is believed to have worked as a stenographer, had no children. Her husband Bob, an accountant, died in a car crash in Saudi Arabia about 30 years ago.  She had suffered a stroke and lived alone in the £200,000 house she had owned since 1984.

Private agency Carefirst24 had a lucrative contract from the council to look after her.

But the agency was suspected of employing illegal immigrants and six people were arrested by UK Border Agency officials when its Sutton headquarters was raided.

Alternative arrangements should have been made but Mrs Foster did not get any replacement care.  She had no idea the agency had closed and was unable to call for help.

A district nurse visited her by chance and found her in a critical condition.

Miss Penston, who had known Mrs Foster since the 1980s, said she ‘couldn’t imagine’ how her friend would have felt after being left alone for nine days.  ‘I don’t know how she survived. She had a glass of water by her bed.  'I don’t know if she managed to get up and get it but my assumption is that for she was just lying there waiting for someone to come.’

Paul Burstow, Liberal Democrat MP for Sutton and Cheam, said the council needed to get to the bottom of why its procedures did not work properly.

The UK Border Agency said it had warned the council of plans to shut Carefirst24.

All those arrested in the raid on Carefirst24 have been bailed until dates in March.

Two British women aged 48 and 52, a 52-year-old British man and a 34-year-old Mauritian man were held on suspicion of conspiracy to defraud and conspiracy to facilitate foreign nationals.

They are alleged to have employed illegal workers using former workers’ identities.

Carefirst24 is owned by Mahen Caussyram. The company’s website says: ‘Mahen is a family man who takes his responsibilities quite seriously. He enjoys spending time at home with family and friends.’

Mr Caussyram is a registered nurse who ‘developed an interest in human resource management’ and worked as an ‘activities coordinator’, the website adds.

A spokesman for the council said: 'This is now the subject of a police investigation and it would not be appropriate to comment further other than to say we will cooperate fully.'


An unfree press — by appointment to the Crown?

The Tories’ ‘alternative’ to statutory press regulation is to get the monarch and Privy Council policing freedom of expression once again

Some might be wondering if they imagined the whole year-long Leveson Inquiry into the ‘culture and ethics’ of the UK press, and the brouhaha that met the publication of Lord Justice Leveson’s report in November, so little has been heard of it lately. And even if it did happen, they could be forgiven for thinking that Leveson’s proposals for a powerful ‘independent’ statute-backed press regulator had already been forgotten, given the apparent lack of political progress towards agreeing the new system.

But they would be wrong. In fact, there have been intense negotiations and arguments over what exact form the new regulatory system should take. We have not heard much about these machinations, because the authorities do not believe that the public has any real part to play in deciding what sort of media we should be allowed to read, see and hear.

Instead, from the start the Leveson Inquiry operated as a closed shop for the political, legal and media elites, with the rest of us reduced to largely bored spectators. In the same oligarchic spirit, the post-Leveson political debate has been an invitation-only affair confined to the leaders of the main political parties, lords, lawyers – and the pro-regulation lobby group, Hacked Off.

There are, of course, differences of emphasis between these parties – notably over Leveson’s proposal that the new regulator be underpinned by law, which was rejected by Tory prime minister David Cameron but backed by Labour, the Liberal Democrats, the House of Lords and Hacked Off. However, what is much more important is that they all accept the central myth that has informed the debate since the phone-hacking scandal: the myth that the British press has been too free to run wild, and that the naughty newspapers need the firm hand of a new regulator to smack them into line.

The pro-liberty argument, that in fact the press is already neither free nor open enough, has unsurprisingly not featured in their deliberations. That pro-regulation consensus makes it also unsurprising that the main players have apparently begun to move closer to a deal on how the press should be restrained, behind the closed doors of their smoke-free rooms.

The lack of visible political progress on press reform has this week led the frustrated denizens of the House of Lords to put more pressure on the government by passing their own version of a ‘Leveson law’ – a bill to create a low-cost arbitration system, as proposed in the Leveson report. Before anybody starts cheering this latest act of ‘rebellion’ by their lordships, we might recall that Leveson’s proposed ‘voluntary’ arbitration body is in fact an indirect form of coercion on the press: the flipside of his financial ‘incentives’ for newspapers to sign up to the system is the threat of ‘exemplary’ damages being awarded against publications that refuse to bend the knee to the new regulator-arbitrators. This is just one way in which the ‘Leveson principles’ for a statute-backed regulator threaten further infringements on press freedom (see Leveson: a licence to police press freedom).

But while the lords were right to complain about a virtual ‘news blackout’ on the political negotiations over Leveson, they were wrong to suggest that nothing has been happening. In their desperation to escape from the corner they have painted themselves into – wanting to implement Leveson, but having rejected his key proposal for statute – the Tories have come up with an extraordinary ‘alternative’. They now want to see the new regulator established, not by parliamentary law, but by Royal Charter. And what is more, their opponents have lately shown signs of coming round to this dangerous idea.

Acting as the prime minister’s voice on earth, Tory Cabinet minister Oliver Letwin reportedly sprang the idea of a regulator backed by Royal Charter on to the other political leaders during cross-party talks. The details of this extraordinary proposal remain unclear, though the government has promised to announce them soon and has already begun lining up the great and the good – a top judge, a former Labour cabinet minister, etc – to play a part in judging the press.

What is clear, however, is that the Tories want to avoid going through parliament and instead set up the regulatory system using the Royal Prerogative. This is the historical constitutional device which gives Her Majesty’s Government, acting in the name of the Crown, the power to do anything from signing treaties and launching wars to appointing lords and judges, without consulting parliament, never mind the public. The Royal Prerogative is a permanent menace to democracy which ought to be abolished – indeed, it is the main argument against the monarchy. Instead, the Tories now plan to introduce this authoritarian instrument into the affairs of our supposedly free press.

A Royal Charter has to be agreed and overseen via the Privy Council. This is the ancient secretive body of advisers to the monarch, officially known as Her Majesty’s Most Honourable Privy Council. Largely made up of senior politicians, the Privy Council formally advises the sovereign on the exercise of the Royal Prerogative and the issuing of Royal Charters. In practice, this means that such executive decisions are taken by government ministers. And as the Privy Council Office’s own website makes clear, there is a strict limit to the ‘independence’ of any body set up by Royal Charter:

‘[O]nce incorporated by Royal Charter, a body surrenders significant aspects of the control of its internal affairs to the Privy Council. Amendments to charters can be made only with the agreement of the Queen in Council, and amendments to the body’s by-laws require the approval of the Council (though not normally of Her Majesty). This effectively means a significant degree of government regulation of the affairs of the body.’

So much for no political interference in the press.

Anybody with a passing knowledge of the history of the struggle for press freedom in Britain should recoil from the merest suggestion of the Crown and the Privy Council becoming once more involved in press regulation, however formal their role. It evokes grim shadows of the old system of Crown licensing of the press, started by Henry VIII in 1529 and expanded under successive monarchs, under which nothing could be published without official permission. The central body of censors enforcing that system was the Star Chamber, a secret court made up of judges and Privy Councillors. Those who dared to defy these crude early attempts to ‘regulate’ the press faced more than a slap on the wrist; an insolent author had his writing hand cut off at the wrist under Queen Elizabeth I, while a Puritan pamphleteer whose writing was less than complimentary about the wife of King Charles I had his ears removed. Even after that king has his head removed by the Puritan revolutionaries in 1649 and the Star Chamber was abolished, licensing of the press returned. As late as 1663 a printer was hanged, drawn and quartered for defying King Charles II’s monopoly of the press. Crown licensing and censorship of everything that was published did not end until 1694.

Now it seems the Conservatives want to give the Crown and the Privy Council a role in a system of regulating the press once more. There is no prospect of a return to the censorship and punishment of old (though some critics might like to cut a few journalists’ hands off). But it is still a dangerous form of state intervention in the press, the very thing that people have struggled against for more than 500 years, and presents no ‘alternative’ to Leveson’s proposed statutory regulation that is rightly seen as an historic danger. (Indeed, it is now suggested that the Royal Charter idea might need some sort of statute to entrench it.) Whether a new ‘independent’ regulator is supervised by the broadcasting regulator Ofcom (as Leveson wants), or by senior judges (as Labour have suggested), or by the Privy Council, it is state intervention by any other name, and bad news for press freedom.

Yet the Tories’ idea appears to be gaining what the political wonks call ‘traction’ in their talks. The Labour Party has made clear from the day Lord Justice Leveson published his report that it backs his call for a law to underpin the new regulator, and opposes Cameron’s position. Its culture spokesperson, Harriet Harman, says the argument against statutory intervention does not hold, because there are already laws limiting freedom of the press. Which sounds rather like saying things are already bad, so what’s wrong with making them worse? It never occurs to these state-dependent politicians that this might be an argument for getting rid of the legal restrictions that exist, rather than imposing more. However, Harman has only said of the Royal Charter idea that Labour is ‘unpersuaded’ – which, as lobbyists have pointed out, is not the same as unpersuadable. There is plenty of scope for some sort of deal backing some form of state intervention.

The Hacked Off campaign was initially more dismissive of the Tories’ Royal Charter idea – hardly surprising, as that celebrity-fronted lobby group has called for a law making it obligatory for all newspapers to submit to the new system. The Hacked Off complaint that Letwin’s proposal was ‘undemocratic’ might have been a bit rich, coming from the leading lobbyists for further restraining the democratic right to a free press. But it was also true – the notion of Privy Councillors and judges implementing a regulatory system is even less democratic and accountable than MPs doing it. However, this week Hugh Tomlinson QC, the lawyer who chairs Hacked Off, told a committee of MPs that the campaign was ‘prepared to consider’ a Royal Charter instead, if that was the best way to get a strict system of press regulation set up.

(The two-actors-a-hackademic-and-a-dog outfit that is Hacked Off continues to exercise a remarkable influence over the entire process. Having, as recently argued on spiked, set the terms and the tone for the entire Leveson Inquiry, and written most of the key proposals in the report, it is now apparently shaping the supposedly hostile Tories’ response. So, as Peter Preston points out in the Observer, ‘Hacked Off wanted a “present or former civil-service commissioner” and/or “a present high judicial officer” plonked on top of the appointments body who’ll choose the successor regulatory board to the Press Complaints Commission – and lo! their demands would seem to be met in full.

‘The government has asked Sir David Normington, current commissioner for the civil service – and public appointments as well – to move in and approve the appointments system that emerges. He’ll need Privy Council assent to extend his official brief. Expect this to follow in a few days. And meanwhile Lord Phillips, former president of our supreme court and thus just about the highest former judicial officer extant, has agreed to advise on the construction and running of that selfsame appointments apparatus.’)

One way or another, it appears that the main parties allowed into the elitist clique redefining press freedom are coming closer to agreeing a system described by the pro-regulation Institute of Public Policy Research (IPPR) as ‘underhand statutory underpinning’ for a new system of policing the press. No doubt there will be ructions, fallouts and U-turns ahead as they attempt the juggling act of appearing to support press freedom in principle while hobbling it in practice. But whatever arrangement they eventually agree to endorse, the writing is already on the wall, in big bold type, for the future of a more free and open press.

Already there are signs of politicians becoming bolder in chastising the press under the shadow of Leveson – whether it’s the culture ministry warning the Daily Telegraph that it should not expose the minister’s questionable expenses claims while she was considering the Leveson proposals, or another government minister demanding not only that an Observer columnist should be sacked for writing something she disagreed with, but that the editor should also go for daring to publish it (he quickly took it down). Expect more of the same.

This does not signal any return to historical forms of state censorship. But it should highlight the real threat that an ostensibly free UK press is facing today – not censorship, but conformism, the pressure to conform to an increasingly narrow you-can’t-say-that culture of what opinions and ideas and investigations are acceptable to publish. What the pro-regulation consensus wants is not a state-run press, but a more conformist, tamer, better sanitised press that has been ‘ethically cleansed’. And all done behind the banner of ‘Of course we believe in a free press, BUT….’

One question that, it seems, has been entirely removed from the agenda for debate is this: why should we need or accept any special rules or laws for regulating the press, anyway? Freedom of expression is the bedrock liberty of a civilised society, on which all other freedoms depend. A free press is the organised expression of that right. So why should we look to the Irish, Finnish or whatever other system of press regulation is fashionable with the controllers this month? Why not look to the American revolutionary tradition to which Britain gave birth, and match the spirit of the First Amendment to the American Constitution, which declares that Congress shall pass no law ‘abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press’?

The fight for real press freedom, against all the alternative systems of control being proposed, should be a major issue for 2013. The first step is to break the political oligarchy’s monopoly on this issue and start a proper open debate. The future of a free press is far too important to be left to those who think the ‘public interest’ should ultimately be policed, not by the public, but by the Privy Council.


No future for Jews in England

by Caroline Glick

In an interview with Haaretz in November 2010, British novelist Martin Amis said the following about discussions of Israel in his motherland:

"I live in a mildly anti-Semitic country, and Europe is mildly anti-Semitic, and they hold Israel to a higher moral standard than its neighbors. If you bring up Israel in a public meeting in England, the whole atmosphere changes. The standard left-wing person never feels more comfortable than when attacking Israel. Because they are the only foreigners you can attack. Everyone else is protected by having dark skin, or colonial history, or something. But you can attack Israel. And the atmosphere becomes very unpleasant. It is traditional, snobbish, British anti-Semitism combined with present-day circumstances."

After participating last week in a debate in London about Israeli communities beyond the 1949 armistice lines organized by the self-consciously pretentious Intelligence Squared debating society, I can now say from personal experience that Amis is correct. The public atmosphere in England regarding Israel is ugly and violent.

The resolution we debated read: "Israel is destroying itself with its settlement policy. If settlement expansion continues Israel will have no future."

My debating partner was Danny Dayan, the outgoing head of the Yesha Council.

We debated Daniel Levy, one of the founders of J-Street and the drafter of the Geneva Initiative, and the son of Lord Michael Levy, one of Tony Blair's biggest fundraisers; and William Sieghart, a British philanthropist who runs a non-profit that among other things, champions Hamas. Levy has publicly stated that Israel's creation was immoral. And Sieghart has a past record of saying that Israel's delegitimization would be a salutary proces and calling for a complete cultural boycott of Israel while laudingHamas.

We lost overwhelmingly. I think the final vote tally was something like 500 for the resolution and 100 against it.

A couple of impressions I took away from the experience: First, I can say without hesitation that I hope never to return to Britain. I actually don't see any point. Jews are targeted by massive anti-Semitism of both the social and physical varieties. Why would anyone Jewish want to live there?

As to visiting as an Israeli, again, I just don't see the point. The discourse is owned by anti-Israel voices. They don't make arguments to spur thought, but to end it, by appealing to people's passions.

For instance, in one particularly ugly segment, Levy made the scurrilous accusation that Israel systematically steals land from the Palestinians. Both Dayan and I demanded that he provide just one example of his charge. And the audience raged against us for our temerity at insisting that he provide substantiation for his baseless allegation. In the event, he failed to substantiate his allegation.
At another point, I was asked how I defend the Nazi state of Israel. When I responded by among other things giving the Nazi pedigree of the Palestinian nationalist movement founded by Nazi agent Haj Amin el Husseini and currently led by Holocaust denier Mahmoud Abbas, the crowd angrily shouted me down.

I want to note that the audience was made up of upper crust, wealthy British people, not unwashed rabble rousers. And yet they behaved in many respects like a mob when presented with pro-Israel positions.

I honestly don't know whether there are policy implications that arise from my experience in London last week. I have for a long time been of the opinion that Israel shouldn't bother to try to win over Europe because the Europeans have multiple reasons for always being anti-Israel and none of them have anything to do with anything that Israel does. As I discuss in my book, these reasons include anti-Semitism, anti-Americanism, addiction to Arab oil, and growing Muslim populations in Europe.

I was prepared to conduct a civilized debate based on facts and reasoned argumentation. I expected it to be a difficult experience. I was not expecting to be greeted by a well-dressed mob. My pessimism about Europeans' capacity to avail themselves to reasoned, fact-based argumentation about Israel has only deepened from the experience.

One positive note, I had a breakfast discussion last Wednesday morning with activists from the Zionist Federation of Britain. The people I met are committed, warm, hardworking Zionists. I wish them all the best, and mainly that means, that I hope that these wonderful people and their families make aliyah.

While their work is worthwhile, there is no future for Jews in England.


The Truth in Love Police

    Mike Adams

Liberal academics have been using speech codes for years. They hear an idea they don't like and it makes them angry. But they don't quite know how to defeat the idea on its own merits. So instead of either a) taking the time to cool down and offer a rational response, or b) actually changing their view, they simply give in to the impulse to censor. That is why our campus speech codes really don't reduce so-called hate speech. They simply embolden those who hate speech.

I wish I could say that this childish inclination toward censorship is unique to liberal academics within the secular university. But that isn't the case. The problem is spreading into Christian circles as well - liberal Christian circles, to be specific. It is particularly pronounced among young liberal Christian males who believe their liberal politics can be meshed with a comprehensive Christian worldview.

The liberal Christian censor has a number of verses he uses to try to silence political speech that makes him feel uncomfortable. Among his favorite verses is the Apostle Paul's exhortation that we speak the truth in love. This verse has been pulled from Ephesians and thrown my way no less than three times in the last month. See if you can detect any commonalities with the following:

1. The truth in love police called me out for saying Governor Chris Christie was "not one of us" on the issue of gun rights. (This was after Christie accused the NRA of going after Obama’s kids in the name of politics). I'm not sure why the young liberal Christian male thought “not one of us” was a hateful remark. It was made out of love. I love guns and I think Governor Christie doesn't. But I think Christie loves knives - like the one he jammed in Mitt Romney's back right before the election. And I think that helped get our rabidly pro-abortion president re-elected. Do you really want to talk about going after other people’s children in the name of politics? Or do you just want to end the conversation by quoting Scripture?

Truth. Love. Thank you, drive through.

2. The truth in love police called me out for asking pro-choice conservatives to remove themselves from my personal Facebook friend list, but only conditionally. The condition was if, emphasis on if, they could not refrain from using my wall to urge me to suppress my pro-life views. I'm not sure why the young liberal Christian male thought this was a hateful remark. It was made out of love. I love the unborn and I think those who want to legalize killing them don't.

Truth. Love. Thank you, drive through.

3. The truth in love police called me out for stating that a nation that defends itself by placing women and homosexuals in combat is on the verge of extinction. I’m not sure why the young liberal Christian male thought this was a hateful remark. It was made out of love. I love women and I think those who would expose them to gang rape in POW camps don't. I also fear that social experimentation with homosexual politics is a distraction that will get people killed. History is not silent on the veracity of my thesis. And history will someday reveal that homosexuals are treated worse by those who run Islamic prison camps than those who run Chick-fil-A.

Truth. Love. Thank you, drive through.

The commonalities in those three scenarios should be obvious. But just in case you are a liberal who is blinded by emotion, I'll gladly lay them out for you:

1. The three liberal Christians all disagreed with my political positions and that made them angry.

2. The three liberal Christians then projected their anger on to me - although I was not at all angry.

3. The three liberal Christians all reached for a verse to stop the speech that made them angry. And they all committed idolatry in the process by elevating their politics above their religion.

Had any of these young liberal Christian males read the Bible thoroughly they would have noted that calling me out in public was against Scripture. They should have reached out to me privately beforehand. So I'll refrain from calling them out by name. Instead, I'll leave them with a bold piece of advice:

A self-proclaimed liberal Christian is sitting in the White House. He supports the murder of unborn innocent children with zeal unmatched by any previous president. And he tries to use his power to force those who he says are his brothers in Christ to subsidize the murder of innocent children. He does so by stripping the conscience objector of his religious freedom. Write to him privately. And don’t forget to quote the Apostle Paul from the Book of Ephesians.

In short, liberal Christians need to stop confusing forthright honest speech with hatred. But the truth of the matter is that they aren't confused. They are simply deflecting attention from their own shortcomings. Like their fear of boldly defending their families, their country, and the innocent unborn human.

Truth. Love. Thank you, drive through.



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

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of  other countries.  The only real difference, however, is how much power they have.  In America, their power is limited by democracy.  To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already  very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges.  They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did:  None.  So look to the colleges to see  what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way.  It would be a dictatorship.

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


12 February, 2013

Homosexual marriage measure 'not enough'

Six in 10 gay people say the British government's plans would not create 'equal marriage …

The Government's gay marriage proposals do not go far enough, according to a poll of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community.

But in a survey, six out of 10 gay people said the Government's plans would not create "equal marriage", and that equality would only be achieved when churches, synagogues and mosques are required to carry out same-sex weddings.

Nearly two-thirds (62%) believed Prime Minister David Cameron was trying to extend marriage to LGBT people to make the Tories look more compassionate rather than because of his convictions.

The poll - which questioned more than 500 LGBT people - was commissioned by the Coalition for Marriage - an alliance of groups and individuals opposed to attempts to redefine marriage. The organisation's campaign director Colin Hart described the results as a "wake-up call to the Government".

He said: "These poll results should be a real eye opener for David Cameron. They show that the PM's motives are not trusted. Just 15% of LGBT people believe his claims that he is making the change out of conviction.

"They also show that Mr Cameron's plans to force this Bill through Parliament with little or no debate is not supported even by those who back the change, because they fear this might do more harm than good.


Lazy Britain uncovered: How FOUR MILLION adults have never worked in their lives
Nearly four million British adults have never had any form of paid work in their lives - more people than the population of Wales.
Figures show the scale of the problem facing British welfare system, which has been criticised for allowing jobless people to be better off than those in work.

More than a quarter of those who have never earned a living are aged between 25 to 64, and 205,000 over 65s had never worked before becoming pensioners.

The number of British people who have never worked in their lives was 3.9 million  But the worst affected group are young people, with more than a third aged between 18 and 24 having never done paid work.

More than one million 16 and 17-year-olds have left education and not found employment, or are still studying but have never had a Saturday job.

The Office for National Statistics figures, which include disabled people who cannot work, show London is the city worst affected by lifelong joblessness, with 737,000 in the capital having never worked.

Birmingham has the next highest number of adults who have never seen a payday, at 144,000.

But most of the top ten workless locations are in the North of the country. Glasgow and Edinburgh have a combined total of 96,000 people who have never been wage-earners, while Leeds has 72,000.
Manchester has 71,000 who have never been in work and Liverpool has 52,000. Bradford is next with 50,000, then Sheffield on 46,000, Tower Hamlets has 42,000 and Cardiff 41,000.

TaxPayers’ Alliance boss Matthew Sinclair told The Sun: 'These are truly shocking figures which underline the importance of reforming the welfare system in order to make work pay once and for all.
'Leaving millions to languish on benefits for life is not fair on those individuals or taxpayers.

'But the Government also has a duty to create an environment in which it is easier for businesses to take people on, which means less red tape and lower taxes.'

Earlier this year it was revealed that Britain had one of the worst workless rates in Europe, with joblessness particularly affecting single mothers in the UK.


Preachers of hate who spread their violent word on British TV channels

Muslim fundamentalists have used British television channels to preach in favour of violent crime and killing “apostates”.

The communications watchdog, Ofcom, has made a series of rulings against channels which allowed “inflammatory” material to be broadcast in breach of rules which forbid extreme opinions gaining a platform on British television.

The cases, disclosed today, include examples of an imam telling viewers that those who disrespect the prophet Mohammed should be killed, and another broadcaster saying homosexuals should be beaten and tortured.

The stations were found to have committed serious breaches of the broadcasting code by allowing the extreme opinions to be aired unchallenged.

Last night experts warned that the extent and seriousness of the broadcasting breaches raises questions over whether extreme Muslim speakers who were previously confined to small audiences in mosques are able to reach thousands more people by broadcasting intolerant teachings on television.

Although the channels have tiny audiences compared to the mainstream, they are targeted at Muslim communities, including people of Pakistani background, with some of the content being broadcast in Urdu and other languages.

The cases identified by Ofcom include:

* An Islamic scholar who told viewers: “It is your duty ... to kill those who insult Prophet Mohammed.”

* A preacher banned from coming to Britain who used the channel - which he co-owns - to say anyone who left Islam should be put to death.

* A phone-in presenter who advocated “eliminating” anyone who disrespected Mohammed.

In some cases the channels had also breached a rule which states that they must keep recordings of all their output, raising the possibility that other inflammatory material has been broadcast but cannot be traced.

With the exception of one radio broadcaster, the channels ruled against by Ofcom are broadcast on the satellite provider Sky. It has no legal responsibility for what is broadcast on the channels it carries. It is up to the stations themselves to make sure they meet Ofcom’s standards and they can be fined or taken off the air if they do not.

The disclosure of the rulings by the broadcasting regulator comes despite a report in 2010 which warned that extremist material was being broadcast.

Tala Rajab, the researcher who wrote the report for Quilliam, the anti-extremist think-tank, said the fresh findings by Ofcom raised serious questions over the regulation of broadcast material.

“Some of these recent incidents have been quite shocking,” he said.

“If this had happened in a mosque the police would be right in pursuing a criminal investigation. But because they are being broadcast on television channels for some reason there seems to be little appetite for looking into these extreme messages.

“If these kind of comments were made against black people, for example, you can imagine a channel being shut down overnight, particularly if they had incited violence against a minority.”

The 2010 report found that the Islam Channel, Britain’s largest Islamic broadcaster, had continued to ignore Ofcom rules about impartiality and allowed controversial viewpoints to be aired despite a fine and other sanctions being imposed. It is not among the subjects of the five Ofcom rulings disclosed today.

In December a Leeds radio station, Radio Asian Fever, was fined £4,000 for breaching broadcasting rules in programmes involving a presenter called “Sister Ruby Ramadan”.  She told listeners that homosexuals should be beaten and tortured.

“If there are two such persons among you, that do this evil, the shameful act, what do you have to do? Torture them; punish them; beat them and give them mental torture,” said the presenter.

Jabbar Karim, the station’s managing director, said: “We are very embarrassed. This was a one-off incident which will never be repeated.”

Takbeer TV, based in Nottingham, has been found in breach of the code twice in 18 months for programmes which denigrated the minority Ahmadi Muslim sect. Founded in the 19th century its followers are considered by some mainstream Muslims to be misguided or even heretical.

Contributors to the most recent programmes investigated by Ofcom said Ahmadis had a “disease” and “monstrous” intentions.

Ofcom said Takbeer TV had subjected the sect’s followers to “abusive treatment” and that they would now consider an appropriate sanction such as a fine.

An Ofcom spokesman said: “The majority of Islamic channels comply with our rules. However, where we identify issues through our monitoring or complaints we investigate fully and take firm enforcement action.”

He said it was Ofcom’s duty to regulate licence holders rather than the responsibility of carriers such as Sky. However, carriers are free to decide which channels they offer, he added.

A Sky spokesman said: “Sky operates an open and regulated platform. This means any broadcaster with an appropriate Ofcom licence is free to seek distribution over the satellite platform.”

There are 14 Muslim TV free-to-air channels in Britain but their audiences are not measured by BARB, the source of viewing figures.


Forbidden Advice for Plain Jane in Combat

 Suzanne Fields

American women have been cleared for combat, but the generals at the Pentagon only think they are the very model of the modern major general.

Women have been locked in combat since Adam and Eve were thrown out of the Garden of Eden. Men and women have been fighting the unending war between the sexes since, giving no quarter, but happily taking each other prisoner. It's a war nobody can win, as Henry Kissinger observed, because there's too much fraternizing with the enemy.

But when a helpful Amazonian warrior tries to shorten the odds for her side, someone invariably makes a federal case of it. The other day, an innocent volunteer at the Defense Intelligence Agency offered her sisters in the struggle a few tips on how to dress for success at work -- and in love and war.

The suggestions were unexceptional enough: Makeup makes you more attractive. Don't be a Plain Jane. A sweater and a skirt is better than a sweater with slacks. No flats. Paint your nails. Don't be afraid of color. Brunettes have more leeway with vibrant colors than blondes or redheads.

The result was indignation, not gratitude.

Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, the director of the DIA, apologized, as any government official in his position would. He seemed to be aware that he was playing out of his league. He sent a public affairs officer out with the agency's regrets.

"I'm not going to deny that (the briefing) exists," she said, "and it was bad. It was inappropriate for sure. Neither the agency nor the leadership has condoned anything that was in that briefing." The clear message, as reported by U.S. News & World Report, is that Jane is free to be as plain as she likes, with neither makeup nor painted nails.

Innocent or not, such advice was guaranteed to offend someone on the scout for something to be offended by. Even now, a lawyer without a client is nosing about the offices of the DIA, looking for business.

In his apology, Flynn called the hints intended for advantage in male-female combat "an unnecessary and serious distraction" and labeled the presentation "highly offensive." He hopes the intentions were "pure of heart and intended to help, but even smart people do dumb things sometimes. No one is going to be taken to the woodshed over this. They'll require some counseling (to be sure) on what it means to think before you act."

Still, when President Obama assumes responsibility for providing birth control help for the women of America, you have to wonder why a few beauty tips is such a big deal. Who can say anything is off the table (or under the bed)?

Stamping out slovenliness in a culture so tolerant of slobs is probably a hopeless task even for a government that can win wars on two oceans at once, tame big rivers and send a man to the moon and back. Though the tips and suggestions were the kind of advice savvy mothers once offered to their daughters, and attendance was voluntary, after all, it's true that our grandmothers could never have imagined that giving such advice is a task for someone from the government, even a volunteer.

Nevertheless, vanity is not a stranger in the boudoir. Americans -- mostly, but not all of them, women -- spend billions of dollars every year on cosmetics and other beauty aids. The Commerce Department put the figure at $33 billion for one recent year.

Corsets, bustles, push-up bras, control-top pantyhose and other intimate lingerie are meant to tone and burnish women's bodies. Women's fashions have changed since Scarlett O'Hara was laced up with a 17-inch waist, for which all women give thanks, but anyone who pages through almost any magazine can see there's an enormous market for keeping women well-armed for war duty. Spanx is the provocative name for the popular, postmodern "shapewear."

Women in the intelligence services should be the last to be offended by the suggestion that looking good is bad. Mata Hari, the glamorous Dutch spy who died before a French firing squad for service to the Germans in 1917, was faithful to the end to the fashion tradition expected of women in her craft.

When her executioners called for her at dawn for her date with the bullet, she kept them waiting while she dressed carefully, in a long black velvet cloak thrown over a silk kimono, filmy silk stockings and high-heeled slippers tied with silk ribbons about her ankles.

At last, she pulled on long, black kid gloves, and only then told her executioners: "I am ready." She knew how to dress for success.



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

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of  other countries.  The only real difference, however, is how much power they have.  In America, their power is limited by democracy.  To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already  very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges.  They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did:  None.  So look to the colleges to see  what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way.  It would be a dictatorship.

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


11 February, 2013

Last week MPs revived the corpse of the 'Secret Justice' Bill. Here we spell out the full terrifying implications of life in... Secret Britain

Even the British Conservatives seem to be looking at the old Communist East Germany as the model for Britain

While all attention at Westminster was focused on whether to allow gay marriage, this Coalition Government did something furtive – something that is not only much less liberal, but coldly terrifying.

Under the cover of the furore, it quietly disinterred the corpse of its ‘Secret Justice’ Bill. This Bill creates extraordinary new legal powers to keep official dealings hidden from us. It changes all the comforting certainties about the rule of law in Britain.

Most of us have some kind of grasp of what is officially called the Justice and Security Bill.  But it can be hard to imagine what it would actually mean  in practice.

The Government wants us to think its scope is limited to rare and arcane disputes, perhaps born of foreign battlefields. Or ones that sound as if they belong in spy novels, involving CIA ‘black ops’ and ‘dark jails’. But if it becomes law, the effects will be felt much closer to home.

The shocking outcome of the recent Hillsborough Inquiry, bringing justice at last to 97 families? If similar circumstances were to arise again, it is likely that justice would never be delivered: if the families tried to sue, alleging a bungled police operation and a subsequent cover-up, the Bill would give the authorities the ability to keep the truth concealed.

A case brought against the Ministry of Defence by families of soldiers killed in a foreign deployment, alleging their loved ones’ equipment was defective? This is not mere hypothesis. Many argue now that the British death toll in Afghanistan has been higher than it should have been because some of our military vehicles were too vulnerable to roadside bombs.

With this law enshrined, the Government could insist on a closed, secret hearing. There, it could present evidence denying such claims. No one could challenge it, because no one directly affected by the case would ever know what it was.

Or take the very real, current scandal of the women green activists who unknowingly entered sexual relationships with undercover police officers.

 Those defending such a case could be entitled to a secret hearing, at which they could claim that such tactics were entirely justified, on the basis that the women posed some kind of threat to national security.

This is the reality of a society regulated by secret justice:  a legal system weighted irredeemably in favour of those in power. The legislation had previously been watered down considerably, and wisely, by the House of Lords. Now, it is not just as bad as it was when introduced last year. It’s even worse.

Under the resuscitated Bill, matters involving State security will usually be heard at secret ‘closed material procedure’ hearings. They will be attended only by security-vetted ‘special advocates’. Those involved in cases against official bodies will be permanently unable to know about the evidence deployed against them.

The new revised draft, the product of the final session of the Bill’s committee stage, was forced through by a majority of one. The Ulster Democratic Unionist Ian Paisley Jnr cast the critical vote.

This took place at precisely the same time as the same-sex marriage debate was happening in the main Commons chamber, which is why all this went virtually unnoticed.

The consequences are draconian. The Government’s actions, prompted by intense lobbying from MI5 and MI6 security chiefs, mean there is now less than three weeks to stop the enactment of a ruthless measure that amounts to a charter for cover-ups.

A real recent example of a case that will be affected is that of Abdelhakim Belhadj. He is the Libyan opposition leader abducted with his family from Bangkok with the help of British intelligence, then  tortured by Gaddafi’s brutal regime for years.

Like other victims of ‘extraordinary rendition’, Mr Belhadj,  who has never been alleged to have committed a single hostile act against Britain, its citizens or its allies, is suing the UK Government. But the official evidence of what was done in our name will be deemed far too ‘sensitive’ to be aired in open court.

Once the Bill becomes law, his chances of success are remote. And the prospects for enforcing the merest whiff of accountability on the agencies responsible for torture cases, and, indeed, a vast range of official activity from national security to the country’s ‘economic wellbeing’, will be just as distant.

Previously, the Lords had passed two crucial safeguards to stop this. The first said judges could grant the Government a secret hearing only if other alternatives had already been considered, like, for example, asking permission from the judge in a case to withhold sensitive evidence altogether, under the longstanding system of ‘public interest immunity’. The second Lords safeguard was more fundamental.

It stated that judges could allow a secret hearing only after balancing the Government’s demand for one against the historic legal principle that justice must always be open.

Last week, with the passage of Amendment 55, moved by the junior Justice Minister James Brokenshire, both these safeguards were swept away. ‘In practice, it will now be very difficult for a judge to resist a closed hearing,’ one legal analyst said yesterday.

Under this Bill, it is now possible a prisoner in a British jail who tried to challenge his detention in the courts would remain incarcerated without hearing the evidence against him.

The battle is not over. Pending is a High Court action by The Mail on Sunday which seeks to make public a secret judgment issued in an Afghan alleged torture case two years ago, which resulted from an earlier form of secret hearing, now deemed illegal by the Supreme Court.

As this newspaper has pointed out, the Bill will inevitably lead to a body of secret law and secret legal precedents. Our case also asks the court to issue guidelines on how such secret judgments should be reviewed, and whenever possible, published.

Meanwhile both Labour and several influential Tories are determined to try to reinstate the Lords’ safeguards when the Bill returns to the full House of Commons later this month.

David Davis, the leading Conservative backbencher, said: ‘It is appalling that the Government has reneged on its promise to allow full judicial discretion as enacted by the Lords.’

Andrew Tyrie, the Tory who campaigned for years against torture and rendition, says: ‘Not only must all of the Lords’ amendments remain in the Bill, they need to be underpinned by further improvements.’

Mr Davis added: ‘What the Government did last week is a massive dilution of the protections put in place by the Lords. I can only hope they will summon up the courage to reinstate them.’

It is a hope anyone with even the vaguest interest in open justice would surely share.


British free speech campaigners condemn  Press regulation proposals as an 'unacceptable attempt to hold the Government to ransom'

Free speech campaigners yesterday condemned a House of Lords amendment to introduce statutory regulation of the Press as an ‘unacceptable’ attempt to ‘hold the Government to ransom’.

Earlier in the week, an alliance of Labour, Lib Dem and rebel Tory peers passed the proposal to introduce an arbitration service for members of the public who have been wronged by the Press.

The amendment to the Defamation Bill raised the possibility that some of the most controversial aspects of Lord Justice Leveson’s report on the Press would become law by the back door.

Prime Minister David Cameron opposes statutory regulation of newspapers.

But Index on Censorship has condemned the amendment, proposed by Labour peer Lord Puttnam, the film producer.

The group, which has been campaigning to defend freedom of speech for 40 years, warned the proposal threatens the ‘vital’ Defamation Bill.

Kirsty Hughes, CEO of Index on Censorship said: ‘It’s unacceptable for Labour Peers to hold the government to ransom by injecting statutory regulation of the Press into a vitally needed Defamation Bill.

‘These two very different issues should be dealt with separately. The government must not drop the Defamation Bill, but continue the all-party talks on Leveson.’

Index on Censorship is one of three charities behind the Libel Reform Campaign, which has fought for three years to reform the libel law.

Jo Glanville, director of writers’ rights group English PEN, also criticised the amendment, saying: ‘This would chill the Press and free speech and is exactly what we’ve tried to avoid in the Bill.  'The Government must reject these amendments and continue with the Bill.’


AR: ‘I Have the Right to Refuse Service’: Restaurant Owner Turns Away Homosexual Group After He Learns What They Advocate?

An Arkansas-based gay right’s organization is claiming discrimination after the owner of a restaurant cancelled the group’s reservations.

“It was a bump in the road, but it wasn’t a slap in the face,” River Valley Equality Center Director Erin Fowler tells
ABC 4029, explaining that they had hoped to host a fundraiser at the restaurant.

Fowler claims Sisters Gourmet Bistro in Van Buren, Ark., cancelled their reservations after its owner discovered what the group stood for.

“I called them and told them that I — we’re not going to have that at Sisters, we had no plans for that and there were no reservations to hold any kind of fundraiser or anything like that,” said owner Richard Hodo.

“I told them that I do not support their cause, that if they want to do that that’s their business. I do not care, but I don’t support their lifestyle and their cause,” he added.

Hodo told an organizer with the River Valley Equality Center that he runs a private business and that he reserves the right to deny any group or person service — whether that means saying “no” to white supremacists or a gay rights group.

“What I told the lady on the on the phone, look I said if the KKK came here and wanted to hold a fundraiser rally and all that, I wouldn’t allow that either,” said Hodo.

“It felt like he was comparing us as equals with the KKK and we’re about completely opposite things,” said Sarah Sarrubbo, an organizer with the River Valley Equality Center.

Hodo says he refuses to back down.  “This is a private club and I have the right to refuse service to anyone,” he said.

The River Valley Equality Center says that because of this incident, and the dent it has put their fundraising efforts, they will stage an “awareness event” nearby.


Senior Australian conservative, Julie Bishop, says women can't have it all

IT'S the question women tie themselves in knots over, but Julie Bishop has a simple answer: "No, you can't have it all."

The deputy opposition leader, who has no children, said she understands the dilemma facing young career women and revealed the difficult choices she has made during a high-flying career in law and politics.

As Attorney-General Nicola Roxon announced she was resigning to spend more time with her daughter, Ms Bishop said she agrees with a US academic who argues it's impossible for women to have top careers and be mothers unless they are rich, self-employed or super human.

"I'm in the Anne-Marie Slaughter school - women can't have it all," Ms Bishop said. "They can have plenty of choices, but at the end of the day, they choose something which means they can't have something else."

Ms Bishop, 56, married Perth property developer Neil Gillon in 1986, but they

split after five years. She had always expected to have children, but said the circumstances didn't arise.

"I've never been though a grieving process and now I wouldn't, because what's the point?" she says. "I'm in my mid-50s. I'm not having kids, there's no point lamenting what was or what could have been.

"I was 40 when I went into politics and the window closes pretty quickly at 40. So politics is pretty much my life.

"I feel incredibly lucky that I've had the kind of career that is so consuming that I don't feel I have a void in my life."

Ms Bishop said one friend missed her freedom after having a baby at 37.

"At 37, that's when I decided to go off to Harvard and did all these things, and it was very much about what I wanted to achieve in my life," she said. "It can be challenging either way."

In her most frank interview yet, Ms Bishop also discussed her relationship with Opposition Leader Tony Abbott, defended CSR over its handling of asbestos victims and revealed she planned a shake-up for the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.



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

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of  other countries.  The only real difference, however, is how much power they have.  In America, their power is limited by democracy.  To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already  very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges.  They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did:  None.  So look to the colleges to see  what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way.  It would be a dictatorship.

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


10 February, 2013

It isn't those who oppose gay marriage who are the bigots - it is the liberals who demonise them

Most British people are in favour of gay marriage. Those who aren’t constitute a minority, mostly comprised of people who are elderly or dim, or both. In 50 years’ time, the thought that anyone could oppose gay marriage will seem as outrageous as the fact that  people were once in favour  of slavery.

This is what I have heard on the BBC in recent days. I have listened to the often admirable Peter Kellner of the pollster YouGov asserting that those who are against gay marriage are in a minority. A man from Ipsos Mori, whose name I can’t remember, said something similar.

The BBC, too, has quoted polls which supposedly prove that most people are pro gay marriage. In its customary spirit of even-handedness, the Corporation has constantly wheeled out the Guardian columnist Polly Toynbee, who had described those against gay marriage as a ‘nest of bigots’.

And my oh my, didn’t those Tory MPs opposed to gay marriage, who were cunningly unearthed by the BBC, sometimes look gruesome? If these not always very bright or alluring people were typical representatives of the antis, did one really want to be one of their number?

After a time, even I began almost to believe that the national mood had been transformed and that there must be a strong majority of people who passionately want gay marriage — with only a bigoted minority against. Roll with the times, said a voice in my head. It’s what David Cameron believes.

And maybe, I reasoned to myself, those in favour were right. Who are we Christians to lay down the law in a country that is no longer Christian? Isn’t love what matters? Why should gays be excluded?

Isn’t Mr Cameron correct to say that marriage is such a splendid institution that it should be enjoyed by homosexuals, too?

Then I heard a Tory MP whom I hadn’t heard of speak in the Commons debate on Tuesday. David Burrowes, a leading opponent of gay marriage, described how he had been called a Nazi and a bigot and subjected to death threats because of his views. His children had been told that  their father is a bigot and a homophobe.

I thought of Polly Toynbee, and her ‘nest of bigots’. What nasty, intolerant language to use. The language of a bigot, in fact. I asked myself whether anyone I knew, or had heard, spoke about the supporters of gay marriage in such terms. I couldn’t think  of any.

Then I took another look at the YouGov poll so freely cited by the BBC. It’s true that 56 per cent of respondents said that they were in favour of gay marriage, but there were 38 per cent against. That’s a substantial minority, and perhaps the figures would be different if the question were asked in a different way.

For example, a ComRes poll commissioned by a group called the Coalition for Marriage asked whether ‘marriage should continue to be defined as a lifelong commitment between a man and a woman’. This poll found 53 per cent in favour of this proposition and 36 per cent opposed.

I wonder how often this poll was mentioned by the BBC. I’ve heard no reference to it. To a large extent, the question frames the answer. YouGov put it one way, ComRes another.

My guess — no, it is closer to a conviction —  is that only very few people are passionately in favour of gay marriage. Indeed, the YouGov survey found that only seven per cent of voters rate the issue as one of their most important concerns.

Moreover, the British are polite and tolerant people, unwilling to erect barriers against their fellow citizens. They are also terrified of being branded as ‘homophobic’, which has joined ‘racist’ and ‘Nazi’ in the lexicon of things that none of us wants to be.

I don’t think many people want gay marriage. I even doubt that the majority of gays do. Indeed, ComRes asked gays and lesbians whether they would consider entering into a gay marriage: only 31 per cent said they would. For all the noise created by campaigners, it’s not the burning issue David Cameron thinks it is.

But it does worry a significant number of people, many of them Christian, some of them Muslims, who have been demonised by secular liberals such as Polly Toynbee as bigots or loonies who won’t adapt to the times and, so it is claimed, are stuck in the past.

Is the new Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, an atavistic bigot? Are most Anglican and all Roman Catholic bishops? Are the nice people in my church congregation (few of them Tories, I suspect) also bigots?

And are the 136 Conservative MPs who voted against the Bill on Tuesday (despite some informal whipping in what was supposed to be a free vote) all bigots, along with the 22 Labour and four Lib Dem MPs? Just for believing what, until the day before yesterday, almost everyone believed, and many still do?

How brilliant the secular liberals are at stigmatising the mainstream beliefs of moderate people, and trying to frighten them into believing that they are extremists who must change their ways. But it is the liberals, in their intolerance and caricaturing of their opponents, who are the real extremists.

There’s nothing new about this. Over the past 50 years, similar tactics have been used to introduce one revolutionary social reform after another, often with undesirable consequences, though usually presented at the time in a spirit of measured reasonableness.

As a result, we’ve got abortion on demand, pornography accessible to every child with a computer, and contraceptives handed out to 14-year-old girls like lollipops, without their parents having the right to know.  What next? The legalisation of drugs, perhaps.

The social campaigners win one battle and go on to the next. The social conservatives put up a fight, and nearly always lose. So it goes on.

What was novel about this particular battle is that the Tory leadership is fighting on the side of — no, leading — the secular liberals. It marks a watershed in modern Britain when the leader of the party to which instinctively conservative people might be expected to look — that’s  still most of us — champions social revolution.

Mr Cameron has said he believes in gay marriage because he is a Conservative. The evidence of Tuesday is that many Conservative MPs have an entirely different concept of conservatism.

The Prime Minister (who couldn’t be bothered to listen to the debate in the Commons on Tuesday) may win the votes of a few ‘metrosexuals’, but he will probably lose the support of many more Tories.

More lethally, far from showing that his party is modern and ‘de-toxified’, he has succeeded in having it represented by its political enemies, and the BBC, as divided and still toxic.

And for what? David Cameron may have pleased a few fervent supporters of gay marriage, but he’s dismayed many people, not least in his own party, who see themselves as part of the mainstream.


The real problem destroying the NHS? Politicized bureaucrats

The remark was made only in passing, but it summed up the problem that has blighted our National Health Service for far too long.

I was standing next to a porter in an NHS hospital corridor. Ahead of us clustered a group of men and women in suits, sipping coffee. I had never seen them on the wards. Who were they? ‘Managers!’ the porter snorted. ‘The only time you see them is when they are hovering around the coffee shop. They never go on the wards. All they do is get in my way when I push a patient through.’

I thought of his words this week when Julie Bailey, co-founder of the lobby group Cure the NHS, described the horrors she had witnessed on the wards of Mid Staffordshire Foundation Trust. ‘You only had to open a ward door at the hospital .... to know that care was appalling. But the people in charge chose not to do that.’

Nor was it just managers who failed to take that simple step of opening the ward doors. It goes all the way to the top.

Yesterday Robert Francis QC published his second report into the failures at Mid Staffordshire, laying bare how a wide range of commissioning, supervisory and regulatory bodies in the NHS — right up to the most senior figures at the Department of Health at Whitehall — also failed to see for themselves just how their policies were playing out on NHS wards.

Had they done so, they would have seen how the Trust’s desire to be granted ‘foundation status’ — and the financial freedoms that went with it —  was causing patients ‘horrific experiences that will haunt them and their loved ones for the rest of their lives’. Those were the words of Francis in his first report two years ago.

How could our NHS have sunk so low?

I spent 10 months investigating NHS management for a think-tank report, visiting hospitals and talking to staff and patients. The failings that turn hospitals into killing fields were there for anyone to see. I fear they still are.

Because despite its excellent analysis and 290 recommendations, the Francis report does not confront the central problem: the politicisation of the NHS.

Under Labour our health service,  with its top-down, target-driven culture, became a PR machine for the government at the expense of patients’ lives. It became a bureaucratic behemoth whose hospital managers worried far more about pleasing their Westminster masters than about the sick and vulnerable in their care.

Now it is going through yet another political upheaval under the Coalition, as control over budgets is handed directly to panels of GPs. But the central problem remains the same: the NHS is still a monolithic state industry, too often impervious to the public it is meant to serve.

During my investigation, NHS chief executives and middle managers regularly complained to me that the majority of their time was spent not on their hospital and patients but on NHS central bureaucracy and responding to its sometimes hourly demands. As one chief executive said sadly to me: ‘Above all, I realise what my job is really about is politics.’

New initiatives continually cascaded from Whitehall. At one meeting of senior managers ‘compliance issues’ took up all of the agenda. How could they afford to implement the latest government initiative and pay for a manager to check compliance? Which initiative had now moved out of fashion and could be quietly dropped?

The only time they discussed what was actually going on in their hospital was over the issue of staff parking.

On the wards it was a similar story. Junior doctors and nurses came up with new ideas to streamline the system, save money or help patients. They were ignored. No one of any seniority was interested: they were too busy looking upward, not downward.

Improving your patients’ lot does not win promotion. Compliance with the latest fad from the Department of Health, irrespective of its damage to the patient, does. Yet the Francis inquiry makes no mention of Whitehall’s culpability. While civil servants continue to micro-manage our hospitals, staff will continue to put them first and patients a poor second.

In response to the inquiry’s recommendations, David Cameron announced yesterday that he was setting up one regulatory inspector for the NHS. This is certainly a step in the right direction. But will it really make the radical difference our NHS so urgently needs? Forgive me for being sceptical.

Patients continued to die at Mid Staffordshire because the countless organisations that are meant to monitor and scrutinise noticed nothing.

They, like everyone else, failed to go on the wards and see what was going on. It meant, as Francis points out, that the Trust board could rely on ‘apparently favourable performance reports by outside bodies, such as the Healthcare Commission,’ rather than ‘effective internal assessment and feedback from staff and patients’.

Perish the thought of anyone actually approaching a patient to ask their opinion.

Even those who tried to raise the alarm were ignored. Amanda Pollard, an inspector at the Care Quality Commission (CQC), specialised in the control of infections such as the MRSA superbug. At the time, this was a major concern on every trust’s radar. Inspections were carried out at Mid Staffordshire over two days and resulted in a detailed, in-depth report highlighting critical failings.

But then new initiatives came down from the centre and the focus of the trust changed. The infection teams were disbanded. As Pollard says: ‘I could not believe something so effective could be thrown away.’

Unfortunately no one informed the superbugs that they were off the agenda. They continued to kill patients on Mid Staffordshire wards. Bravely, Pollard resigned from a job she loved and went public with her concerns. The Francis inquiry now calls for a similar duty of candour to be imposed on NHS staff. But how effective can this be if the culture itself is not confronted?

Plenty of staff raised concerns at Stafford Hospital. When Pradip Singh, consultant gastroenterologist, complained, he was temporarily suspended. After that, he felt he had to consider his family and mortgage.

The truth is, it is not up to staff to implement the wholesale change the NHS needs. It is the job of government and the Department of Health.

The report also fails to acknowledge how the problems at Mid Staffs first came to light. Patients, we should remember, could still be dying in pain and squalor were it not for the Dr Foster Unit, an independent health data organisation established in 2002 at Imperial College. In 2006, it was their research which showed that the Trust had an excess death rate of 27 per cent above the national average.

Crucially, the unit was not part of the top-down culture where it is in no one’s interests to ask awkward questions for fear that it might harm your career. Far from offering thanks, the hospital board attempted to rubbish Dr Foster’s figures while a further 231 people died.

The Francis inquiry has correctly identified the institutional culture that caused so much suffering and death. But it has sidestepped calling for an overhaul of the system.

It is an opportunity lost. It means that in hospitals around the country the unreality of government-speak will continue to come up against the reality of too few staff and too many patients, to the detriment of us all.

While the careers of politicians, civil servants and managers depend on camouflaging this uncomfortable fact, we will have a health service that, as Chris Turner, a junior doctor in Stafford Hospital’s A&E, so chillingly put it, is ‘immune to the sound of pain’.


A generation of 'little savages' raised in nurseries as daycare is linked to aggression in toddlers

A rapid increase in nursery places has led to a generation of violent ‘little savages’, psychologist Oliver James has warned.

Mr James, the best-selling author of books on child-rearing, said ministerial proposals to allow childcarers to look after more youngsters would fuel aggression in the under-threes which would have lasting effects.

Shoving youngsters in to nurseries was simply ‘warehousing’ them so that the government could push mothers back to work to reap income for the Exchequer, he argued.

Nursery places in Britain have expanded at the same time as a rise in violence in primary school classrooms.

The author of How Not to F*** Them Up said: ‘We start off as Barbarians and what makes us civilised is being loved and looked after.

‘If you are an 18 month-old in a nursery, it is impossible for you not to feel threatened.  You are surrounded by savages and you are a little savage too.’

Mr James criticised Education Minister Elizabeth Truss’s proposal to allow childminders and nursery staff to care for more children with fewer employees.

He told the Mail: ‘To try and look after three young toddlers is hard but to try and look after four is just mad. How on earth do you do that well and meet their needs?’

Mr James pointed to a study in America which tracked youngsters for 15 years. It showed a correlation between the hours placed with nursery to increased aggression and bad behaviour, reported by both parents and nursery workers.

‘Studies show there is a direct link between how many hours you spend in daycare up to the age of four and a half and how aggressive you are.’

The Mail has also highlighted how 40 primary school children in England are expelled every day for assaulting their teachers.  Violence levels have soared most in the South East – rising 41 per cent from 2006/7 to 2010/11.  Some 8,030 pupils aged five to 11 received were expelled in 2010/11 – a 15 per cent rise over four years.

‘The explosion of violence in the classroom is very plausibly linked to the rise of daycare under New Labour,’ Mr James said.

‘Since this generation of primary kids are the ones who are reaping the harvest of Harriet Harman and her colleagues’ plans of turning SureStart into a giant creche, it is not surprising that we are seeing more violence.

‘No one can deny that daycare increases aggressiveness of toddlers. A toddler raised at home with a single carer is six times less likely to be aggressive than one enduring more than 45 hours a week daycare  and the more daycare a child has, the greater the aggression. This aggression is sustained and predicts greater problems in primary schools.’

Mr James pointed out that politicians often did not use day care and themselves hired nannies to care for their children.
He said there was a need for British-based research to study the long-term effects on children who are ‘warehoused’ in nurseries.

Instead of expanding nursery places or encouraging childminders to take on more youngsters, the government should create a network of nannies.

Government proposals to demand higher qualifications from nursery staff would do little to raise the standards of care, Mr James added.  He said: ‘There are armies of East European women who do not have any training in childcare at all but many are far better than indigenous childcarers who scrape through school and are doing it for the money, often spending the day texting their boyfriends.’

Fulltime nursery places in England soared from 431,600 to 721,500 between 2003 and 2011, according to official figures provided by the Family and Parenting Institute and Daycare Trust

Jill Rutter, research manager for the Family and Parenting Institute and Daycare Trust said: ‘Oliver James uses evidence from the US National Institute of Child Health and Human Development childcare study as evidence that nurseries fuel child aggression. Yes, he is right in one way: long hours of nursery care were associated with increased behavioral problems in children of four and five in this study. But the same study showed that this was a small effect compared with the quality of parenting. Moreover, children who attended high quality nurseries were much less likely to experience later behavioural problems.’

She added that nannies may be better for babies but few parents could afford the £25,000 to £30,000 cost. ‘Nurseries or registered childminders are the only affordable option for most parents. Given this reality and the findings of the US study about the effects of quality, we should be promoting quality nursery and childminder care, rather than criticising working parents.’

The charity has itself opposed any loosening of the ratios for children, warning that the quality of care would suffer.

A Department for Education spokesman said: ‘This research is about children spending time away from their parents; it is not about nursery staff: child ratios.

He added: ‘In fact, the best education systems consistently prioritise staff quality over the size of classes, as the OECD has said. Nursery staff qualifications are crucial when it comes to the quality of early education.’

Andreas Schleicher, deputy director for education and special adviser on Education policy at the OECD, said: ‘High performing education systems consistently prioritise the quality of their staff over the size of classes. OECD’s work on early childhood education underlines the importance of having staff with proper educational qualifications and that staff qualifications are the best predictor of the quality of early childhood education and care.’


No free speech for Australian army personnel?

The sacred sodomites being worshipped again

The Queensland Senate hopeful kicked out of Bob Katter's party for anti-gay comments now faces punishment from the Defence Force.

Bernard Gaynor, the former national secretary of Katter's Australian Party and a member of the Army Reserve, was suspended from the party last month after he tweeted that he would not allow gay people to teach his children.

A "hot issue brief" shows the defence force is worried about his "inappropriate" comment because media reports on the controversy mentioned his army service.

"The member's chain of command is seeking legal advice in relation to administrative action," the document says. Adverse administrative actions are "designed to admonish and correct unsatisfactory or unacceptable performance". But Mr Gaynor said on Thursday he stood by his position "that a parent should be able to choose who teaches their children".

Mr Gaynor was one of two budding politicians who had to give up their hopes of running for Katter's Australian Party after making comments about gay rights last month.

The other, Tess Corbett, withdrew her nomination for the federal seat of Wannon in Victoria after sparking controversy by claiming paedophiles would "be next in line to be recognised in the same way as gays and lesbians and get rights".



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

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of  other countries.  The only real difference, however, is how much power they have.  In America, their power is limited by democracy.  To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already  very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges.  They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did:  None.  So look to the colleges to see  what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way.  It would be a dictatorship.

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


8 February, 2013

Where evil lurks: Neurologist discovers 'dark patch' inside the brains of killers and rapists

How can that be?  Crime is caused by "poverty", don't you know?

A German neurologist claims to have found the area of the brain where evil lurks in killers, rapists and robbers.

Bremen scientist Dr Gerhard Roth says the 'evil patch' lies in the brain's central lobe and shows up as a dark mass on X-rays.

He discovered it when investigating violent convicted offenders over the years for German government studies.

'We showed these people short films and measured their brain waves,' he said.

'Whenever there were brutal and squalid scenes the subjects showed no emotions. In the areas of the brain where we create compassion and sorrow, nothing happened.'

The dark mass at the front of the brain, he says, appears in all scans of people with records for criminal violence.

He says his researches have led him to believe that some criminals have a 'genetic predisposition' to violence.

He added: 'When you look at the brain scans of hardened criminals, there are almost always severe shortcomings in the lower forehead part of the brain.

'There are cases where someone becomes criminal as a result of a tumour or an injury in that area, and after an operation to remove the tumour, that person was completely normal again.

'Or there are physiological deficits, because certain substances such as serotonin in the forebrain are not working effectively.

'But this is definitely the region of the brain where evil is formed and where it lurks.

'Of course it is not automatic. The brain can compensate somewhat for violent tendencies and it is unclear how that works.

'But when I will look at young people, and I see there are developmental disorders in the lower forehead brain, I can say that there is a felon in the making with 66 per cent probability.

'It is easy to spot this anti-social behaviour from very early on.'

Dr Roth said no two criminals are alike. He divides them into three groups for the purposes of his hunt for evil.

The first he classifies as 'psychologically healthy,' people who grow up in an environment where it is 'OK to beat, steal and murder'.

The second type is the mentally disturbed criminal who looks at his world as threatening.  'A wrong look, one false move, he can explode and become a killer,' he said.

The third group are pure psycopaths, a group in which tyrants such as Hitler and Stalin belong.

He said not all monsters are born and that many are made worse by their environments on their roads to evil.

He added: 'Experts detect a mental decline in some people that begins in the kindergarten. It is the task of society to offer widespread support to the children and their parents before they become criminals.'

Dr Roth is one of Germany's best-known brain specialists and has was at the forefront of calling for sentencing reforms a few years ago.


The fact is, the richer you are, the happier you are

We all know that money doesn’t buy happiness, don’t we?

For years, many economists agreed, arguing that economic growth doesn’t generate more well-being for ordinary folk, a conclusion which came to be known as Richard Easterlin’s paradox, after the academic who first described it in the 1970s. Yet it turns out that once again the economics establishment got it spectacularly wrong.

Economic growth – and the higher gross domestic product (GDP) per person and improved wages that usually accompany it – does actually improve happiness and well-being, according to several recent papers by top economists, drawing on far more data than their predecessors ever had access to and using novel statistical techniques.

The truth, it turns out, is that the aspiring classes were right all along. The richer we are, the happier we are. It’s (almost) that simple, and the evidence is now overwhelming.

One especially brilliant piece of research – by Daniel Sacks, Betsey Stevenson and Justin Wolfers, all US academics – demonstrates that happiness improves as incomes rise. The paper shows that richer citizens report higher well-being than their poorer compatriots, at any given point as well as over time; that people in richer countries are happier than those in poorer countries; and that GDP growth boosts well-being. Most remarkably of all, there is no maximum wealth threshold at which point higher incomes cease to boost well-being: quite simply, the richer, the better, with no upper limit.

These findings are confirmed by an excellent paper from Ruut Veenhoven and Floris Vergunst. Using statistics compiled as part of the World Database of Happiness (yes, there is such a thing), they discover a positive relationship between GDP growth and improving happiness. GDP and happiness have gone up in most countries, and average happiness has risen more in nations where the economy has grown the most.

These results are devastating to the anti-growth crowd, including many environmentalists, and to those who say that it is pointless, too stressful and unsustainable for countries to focus on boosting their GDP, and who are thus secretly enjoying Britain’s current bout of stagnation. They should also shame David Cameron, who famously wanted to replace a focus on hard-headed GDP with a softer emphasis on a new measure of national well-being.

Separate research, by Jan Delhey and Christian Kroll, shows that traditional measures of economic output, while crude, are actually “surprisingly successful at predicting a population’s subjective well-being”. So there you have it: growth is good for us, not just in terms of creating jobs and allowing us to buy iPads, but also in promoting the conditions in which individuals and families can pursue their version of happiness.

This is also terrible news for one influential strand of thinking on the Left, which has long argued that what makes people happy is not what they earn in absolute terms – and whether pay cheques are going up – but merely what they earn compared with others. These Leftist economists claim that people are only happy if they feel richer than their neighbours. Such proponents of “happiness economics” therefore argue that working harder to earn more is tantamount to running to keep still, because everybody else is engaging in the same supposedly pointless race.

Frighteningly, they deduce from this false premise that the answer is to treat emotions such as envy and jealousy as suitable grounds for confiscating incomes, and to tax higher earners much more heavily, with French-style 75pc tax rates, to penalise those silly enough to want to get on in life. While most readers of this newspaper will find this to be a ridiculous point of view, it is one that remains hugely influential in universities and in parts of the Labour and Liberal Democrat parties. The good news is that this bonkers ideology has now been entirely demolished by the new research.

The best way to promote happiness is to maximise economic growth – and, crucially, to make sure that as many people as possible in society take part and are able to enjoy higher incomes and thus improved well-being. These findings are yet another reason why the Coalition needs to develop a single-minded obsession with expanding the economy and creating more jobs. There should be a new rule: each and every new regulation and tax should be judged against how it will affect the UK’s GDP. Any policy that damages the economy, even slightly, or imposes even the smallest extra cost on job-creators, should be ditched.

Real wages have been falling for several years now. The average pay rise over the past year was 1.4pc in the private sector, less than inflation of 3.1pc as measured by the retail price index, translating into a real terms pay cut of 1.7pc. Without much faster growth, and hence bigger pay rises, people will keep on getting poorer and therefore unhappier. At some point, the pressure from this will become unbearable.

Without substantial amounts of growth, it will also become impossible to keep spending more on healthcare without massively hiking taxes, which would be disastrously counter-productive, or slashing spending in other areas, such as on schools. Hospitals will have to be shut, nurses fired and new medicines will become unaffordable. It will be a catastrophe, regardless of who is in power. Without growth, our culture will gradually mutate back into one of managing decline, rather than one which embraces aspiration, entrepreneurialism, progress, technology and growth.

Yet we still have to listen to all of the tired old excuses for why pro-growth policies, especially those of a supply-side variety, should be blocked. We are told that measures to boost job creation and investment will help the rich, so therefore should be blocked; that we need to endlessly punish bankers, even if it reduces credit availability even more; that we must not unleash shale gas, in case it increases our carbon emissions, even though doing nothing will boost the cost of energy and even though other countries couldn’t care less; that there isn’t enough empty space left in Britain to build the good quality homes our young people so desperately need; that even skilled workers should not be let in to work here if they come from the wrong countries; that airports can’t be expanded; and so on.

These are all obsolete arguments from an age of prosperity, even though we are now stuck in an age of austerity. Britain is still behaving as if we were in the mid 2000s, when strong growth allowed our bien-pensant political establishment, especially those of its members drawn from a privileged background, to snobbishly obsess about work-life balances and hugging huskies. The world may look very different today, at least to those struggling to make a living, but it is scandalous how little appetite there still is in Whitehall for tearing down barriers to economic expansion and job-creation. We desperately need pro-growth reforms, and we need them now.


Fear of Muslim hate cows Australians and impededs free speech

 Two of the films nominated for best picture in the coming Academy Awards, Argo and Zero Dark Thirty, contain warnings, with plenty of creative licence but also plenty of historical accuracy, about the challenge to democracy posed by a resurgent strain of uncompromising Islam.

The threat has been deemed real enough in the Netherlands, which now has more than a million Muslims in a nation of 16.7 million people, for a million Dutch voters - one in seven - to vote for the Party for Freedom, led by Geert Wilders, who will be making a lecture tour in Australia later this month.

Four years ago, in an interview with ABC Radio, Wilders was asked why he wanted to curb Muslim immigration to the Netherlands. He said the integration of Muslims was failing:

"If you look at all the statistics, you see that non-Western people, often from … Morocco and Turkey … are over-represented many, many times when it comes to crime, when it comes to prison population, when it comes to illiteracy, when it comes to dependency on social benefits.

"We see also in the second-biggest city of the Netherlands, Rotterdam, that in three years' time the majority will be from non-Western backgrounds. You see in the same city, and most of the south … 55 per cent of the Moroccan youth under the age of 24 have been in contact with the police. You see that there are more mosques being built than churches. You see that once again the Dutch people are tolerant … but they fear for the identity of their own country."

All of this is contested territory. Muslims protest about being lumped in with the fundamentalist fringe. They protest, too, that traditional problems associated with immigration are conflated with Muslims.

What is not contested is that a dangerous Islamic fringe is active in numerous countries. Wilders will be accompanied to Australia by five Dutch police officers. He lives under permanent 24-hour security.

Fear has arrived here before him. On Wednesday, the organiser of the tour, Debbie Robinson, told me yet another venue had cancelled and there had been another act of corporate suppression directed at the tour.

"This morning the venue in Sydney cancelled. There was a meltdown. The events manager at the venue was screaming. Right now we have no Sydney venue."

It was not her only setback. "Yesterday PayPal froze the funds in the account that is processing ticket sales. They will not tell me why. All staff keep saying is the account is under review. It's been like an Orwellian nightmare."

This follows a refusal by Westpac to allow her to set up a payment system and refusal by more than a dozen venues to host a Wilders event, citing security concerns.

The first attempt at a lecture tour last year was cancelled due to visa problems. The then minister for immigration Chris Bowen delayed granting a visa until after the cancellation.

This was just the start. On January 21, the president of the Q Society, Geoff Dickson, sent an invitation to 830 state and federal politicians in all parliaments: "On behalf of Q Society of Australia I would like to issue you a warm invitation to attend one of the speaking engagements we are offering to listen to the Honourable Geert Wilders."

The invitation said Wilders would be speaking in Melbourne on February 19, Perth on February 20 and Sydney on February 22.

"Mr Wilders is a Dutch politician who heads the Party for Freedom, which won 10.1 per cent of votes in the Dutch House of Representatives at the September 2012 elections. Mr Wilders will be here to share his experiences on how Islam is changing the Netherlands in particular and Europe more generally.

"Q Society is a volunteer, Australia-wide organisation whose charter is to educate Australians as to how Islam may change this country … We believe Islam is different from other religions and poorly understood …

"If, in 20 years, some Australian politicians are living under armed guard because of comments they have made about Islam, we believe we would have failed as individuals, and collectively as a society, to protect our democracy and our freedom."

Of the 830 invitations sent out, only four were accepted. The other 99.5 per cent of politicians declined or did not respond.

Robinson is disheartened by all the fearfulness. "The Sydney event may have to be cancelled if I can't even get a venue. I'll have to refund everyone. This is supposed to be a democracy but something Orwellian is going on."


Australian politicians still trying to square the circle over Aborigines

They all want blacks to behave like whites  -- but that's not "racist" apparently. Blacks, however, just go their own way  -- which is their right

It isn't often that Tony Abbott begins a speech with the words "Paul Keating was right", but it happened during a rare outburst of bipartisanship when the nation's parliament reviewed progress toward closing the gap on indigenous disadvantage on Wednesday.

The Opposition Leader employed the words of the former Labor prime minister to define a mission that is embraced by both sides of politics and, increasingly, businesses across the country.

"As long as there is serious indigenous disadvantage in our country, it constitutes a stain on our nation's soul," Mr Abbott quoted Mr Keating as saying. "Until the first Australians can fully participate in the life of our country, we are diminished as a nation and as a people."

Mr Abbott also welcomed Prime Minister Julia Gillard's candour in delivering a mostly positive, but mixed, report card on progress towards meeting six targets that were agreed after former prime minister Kevin Rudd delivered the formal apology to the stolen generations in 2008. "We need this level of candour to achieve genuine progress and genuine closing the gap."

Ms Gillard reported that the pledge to deliver early childhood education for all four-year-olds in remote communities within five years would be achieved this year. Two other targets, the halving of child mortality rates within a decade and halving the gap in year 12 education attainment by 2020 – were on track to be met.

But Ms Gillard reported that, despite some progress, a "massive and unacceptable" gap remained between indigenous and non-indigenous employment and that in some areas of literacy and numeracy, results had gone backwards.

Only three of eight reading and numeracy indicators were tracking as expected and the other five required "considerable work", she reported. Moreover, the central aim of closing the life expectancy gap between indigenous and non-indigenous Australians has become more daunting.

The annual report on progress says indigenous male life expectancy – where the estimated gap is at 11.5 years – will probably have to increase by almost 21 years by 2031 and observes "the current rate of progress will have to gather pace if the target is to be met".

Ms Gillard used her speech to attack moves by the Northern Territory and Queensland governments to wind back alcohol reforms, declaring: "I have a real fear that the rivers of grog that wreaked such havoc among indigenous communities are starting to flow once again.

"The government will take action in response to any irresponsible policy changes that threaten to forfeit our hard-won gains."

She cited the dismantling of the banned drinkers' register in the Northern Territory and the possible easing of alcohol restrictions in Queensland. Mr Abbott said he shared the Prime Minister's concern about the banned drinkers' register, saying it should be re-instated.

He also applauded Ms Gillard for her action to secure Labor's first indigenous member of the federal parliament in Nova Peris, saying: "I believe it would help us immeasurably as a parliament and a nation to have more indigenous people in this place to support the work of my friend and colleague, Ken Wyatt."

Both leaders committed themselves to the passage of the proposed referendum recognising indigenous Australians, with Ms Gillard declaring that, without it, the nation's story would remain incomplete "and the soul of our nation will remain unhealed".

Indigenous leaders welcomed the progress, but pressed both sides of politics to commit the resources to fund programs to close the gap. They also pressed for two new targets to be included to reduce incarceration of indigenous people and the level of violence in communities.



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

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of  other countries.  The only real difference, however, is how much power they have.  In America, their power is limited by democracy.  To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already  very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges.  They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did:  None.  So look to the colleges to see  what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way.  It would be a dictatorship.

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


7 February, 2013

Vote on homosexual marriage passes first stage in UK

With the help of Labor and Liberal votes.  A majority of Conservatives voted against

The British parliament has voted to legalise gay marriage, after an afternoon of passionate argument.

More than 70 MPs had their say in a lively, but mainly polite and very British debate, as hidebound tradition and Anglican values clashed with the principles of “live and let live” and equality.

Both sides emphasised respect for other points of view, despite deep divisions.

One MP cited Shakespeare, another Orwell, another Elton John, and one talked about the importance of allowing everyone, regardless of sexual preference, the opportunity of a long-lasting marriage - even if it descends into “bickering over the biscuits”.

The bill passed its second reading vote at 6.15am Wednesday, Australian time, with 400 in favour and 175 against.

It will now go to a committee for detailed examination starting next week

After that, it is predicted that it will pass the House of Commons with strong support from Labour and Liberal Democrat MPs. The Conservative party, however, is torn down the middle on the issue.

Britain already has civil partnerships between gay and lesbian couples. The new law would allow marriage in civil ceremonies and in religious ceremonies if a church allows it.

Prime Minister David Cameron – who was absent from the house when the debate began - allowed his colleagues a conscience vote on the issue.

Culture Secretary Maria Miller introduced the second reading of the bill with a matter-of-fact speech aimed at countering the concerns of many of her own colleagues, who frequently interrupted her asking about the impact on schools and religious freedoms.

“Every marriage is different,” she said. “The depth of feeling, love and commitment is no different between same-sex couples.

“Marriage should be defended and promoted.”

In a heartfelt speech, Labour MP and shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper said “we all love a good wedding”, with its “cloud of confetti” and rubber chickens – and also loved the idea of a long, stable marriage where partners still care for each other “even while bickering over the biscuits”.

“For better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health - that is marriage,” she said. “Marriage has changed many times before and society hasn't collapsed.

“It has to remain in tune with the values of every generation … (I) hope opponents will look back in 10 years and won't be able to remember what the fuss was all about.”

However many Conservative voices, and several Labour ones, were raised in opposition to the proposed law.

Some said they were angry that opponents of the bill were being branded homophobic or “barking (mad)”.

MP Tony Baldry said the bill would end marriage as it had been understood “for all recorded time”. Robert Flello said the bill would create inequality because there would be two forms of marriage, traditional and same-sex.

Jim Dobbin said marriage was designed to support the bearing and raising of children, and the bill would dilute its meaning. Craig Whittaker said the move would make marriage a “partnership model”, eroding its full purpose.

And Roger Gale agreed that it was “Alice in Wonderland territory, Orwellian almost, for any government to come along and try to rewrite the lexicon” – before suggesting an alternative law that recognised a “civil union” that could include siblings.

More expressed fear that religious people and organisations would be pushed into a legal minefield if the law went through.

However Labour MP Toby Perkins said there was a fundamental principle that each party shared: “we basically live and let live, we let people get on with their lives.”

Liberal Democrat Stephen Gilbert said as a gay man who grew up in working class Cornwall, he knew the importance that parliament “send a clear signal that we value everybody equally”.

Conservative Nick Herbert mocked others who feared marriage would be undermined. “What are heterosexual couples going to say? 'Darling our marriage is over, Sir Elton John has just gotten married to David Furnish'?”

And Labour MP Ben Bradshaw, the son of an Anglican vicar and himself in a civil partnership, said objection to the bill was “residual prejudice against same-sex relationships”.

Simon Hughes, deputy leader of the Liberal Democrats, said “Edgar in King Lear said 'stand up for bastards'. I believe we should stand up for gay people and gay rights.”

The bill is predicted to get a less wholehearted welcome in the House of Lords, which is dominated by life peers. However it can only reject the law once: if the House of Commons passes it again in the next session, it cannot reject it again.


Giving free speech in Britain a hammering

It’s time to lift the wig on all the libertarian posturing: judge-sanctioned free speech is not free at all

It’s often said that the UK judiciary is out of touch. But just how out of touch with reality some judges actually are still beggars belief. Take for example Lord Justice Leveson, who responded to criticism from education minister Michael Gove that he was chilling free speech by claiming, ‘I don’t really need any lessons in freedom of speech, Mr Gove, really I don’t’. Leveson then swiftly produced proposals which, if implemented, would do more to restrict the freedom of the press than any legislation has done in a long while.

Yet Leveson’s delusions aren’t a patch on those of Keir Starmer QC, the director of public prosecutions (DPP). Starmer is currently consulting on guidelines for the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) which will supposedly help it to work out when it is appropriate to prosecute people for tweets, postings on Facebook and messages on other social media sites. Incredibly, despite this current role formulating online speech regulations, Starmer seems to see himself as a defender of free speech. So, reacting to the fact that prosecutions for ‘offences’ on social-media sites have increased by 780 per cent over the past four years, Starmer declared in a Sky News interview: ‘I think that if there are too many investigations and too many cases coming to court, then that can have a chilling effect on free speech.’

Starmer’s comments were largely welcomed on Twitter, with people tweeting that they were ‘helpful’, that Starmer ‘underlines [the] ludicrous use of law’, and that his comments ‘add weight to the free-speech argument’. A legal correspondent for the New Statesman claimed it was ‘a step forward’. ‘Starmer finally gets it?’, tweeted a lecturer in media law from the London School of Economics.

But what does Starmer actually get? From his comments, he claims to understand the spontaneous nature of certain tweets: ‘Stuff does go up on a Friday and Saturday night and comes down the next morning.’ In such instances, when someone has quickly recognised the error of their tweets and deletes them, Starmer believes leniency should be shown, stating that ‘those sort of remarks don’t necessarily need to be prosecuted’. He continues: ‘This is about trying to get the balance right, making sure time and resources are spent on cases that really do need to go to court, and not spent on cases which people might think really would be better dealt with by a swift apology and removal of the offending tweet.’

Throughout the interview, it is evident that Starmer’s main concern is not with preserving free speech, but rather with how to use the threat of prosecution to encourage people to think before they tweet. And, if people are too hot-headed (or drunk) to tweet responsibly, he wants to incentivise rapid retractions and hasty apologies. To be more lenient, Starmer warns, is in no way a ‘get-out-of-jail-free card’.

What kind of person views the freedom to say what’s on your mind without fear of repercussions as a ‘get-out-of-jail-free card’? Such comments put paid to any idea that Starmer is an advocate of free speech. He clearly does not believe people should be able to speak freely. He makes this very clear: Twitter, he says, is not a place where people can ‘go and say what they like’.

Bizarrely, Starmer’s consultation is being viewed in some quarters as a return of ‘common sense’. The acceptance of, and indeed support for, the CPS’s consultation indicates the shift towards accepting that the state has the right to regulate speech and communication. The fact that fewer people may be prosecuted as a result does not mean that something is not fundamentally awry. Why, after all, should judges have any right to determine which tweets or Facebook posts should land us in the slammer? Why should the duration our tweets survive online be any business of the law? That the upshot of the consultation may be a little more freedom to vent drunkenly online should not detract from the fact that it shouldn’t be a judge’s place to grant us such freedom in the first place.

A consultation aiming to clarify the boundaries of what we can safely say should be given no legitimacy. Judge-sanctioned free speech is no free speech at all.


How a British Liberal thought he was above the 'little people' who abide by the rules

By Stephen Glover

Twenty months ago, I had lunch with my old university chum Chris Huhne. Without qualification or hesitation, he told me he had not asked his former wife, Vicky Pryce, to take speeding points for him in March 2003.

It was hard to believe this because the evidence seemingly stacked up against him. Nonetheless, when an old friend looks you in the eye and assures you that he is innocent, you want to believe him. I certainly did.

Now Mr Huhne has announced that he was guilty after all. In the great scheme of things, his lie to me was of microscopic importance, though that does not prevent it from being a little painful. It is the enormity of the lie to everyone else that is so amazing.

In falsely maintaining his innocence, he has lied to the Prime Minister, his Liberal Democrat colleagues and his constituents. He has also lied to the judge at Southwark Crown Court, to whom he made a 'not guilty' plea as recently as last week.

Most serious of all, he has lied to the country as a Minister of the Crown. When he resigned from the Cabinet almost exactly a year ago, he stood in front of television cameras and informed the nation that he was innocent of 'deeply regrettable' charges and intended to 'fight them in the courts'.

Consider the waste of money - much of it public money -and time and energy that followed from his decision to try to turn truth on its head. Months have been spent in legal wrangles as his expensive lawyers tried in vain to get the case struck off for this or that reason.

Mr Huhne knew he was guilty but was prepared to move heaven and earth in order to convince the rest of us that he wasn't. He could have - and obviously should have - admitted his guilt, taken his punishment, and opened the way to the possibility of redemption and ultimate political rehabilitation.

Instead, he chose to pursue this great time-consuming and exhausting lie until, for reasons that are not yet wholly clear, he finally realised that he could not, or would not, maintain the fiction in a court of law. He has succeeded in turning a relatively minor crime - asking his wife to accept his speeding points - into a major one.

This was a display of hubris and ego that is utterly bewildering to most people. It is bewildering to me, too, though I thought I knew Chris Huhne moderately well. Of course, his strong ambition was always plain to see, but ambition is not a sin.

He used to be a journalist, and would have been as remorselessly critical of a mendacious Cabinet minister as the world will now be of him. He certainly once believed that it was the duty of the Press to hold the mighty to account.

Yet as a politician a darker side emerged. During his short career between becoming an MP in 2005 and a Cabinet Minister in 2010, Mr Huhne won a reputation for ruthlessness among Lib Dem colleagues. During the party's leadership campaign in 2007, someone on his team, and very possibly he himself, gave his rival Nick Clegg the nickname that has stuck of 'Calamity Clegg'.

Once in office, he immediately embraced a rise in student tuition fees, which he had strenuously opposed during the election, and as Energy Secretary quickly backed nuclear power, which he had previously vetoed.

He picked ugly fights with Tory Cabinet ministers, and  leaked a story calculated to embarrass the Home Secretary Theresa May, later denying that he had done so.

There were suspicions, too, on the expenses front - not so much in the Parliamentary scandal, where his worst offence seemed to be claiming a trouser press, as in his constituency. Lib Dem aides were taped apparently admitting that they had misled the authorities over his 2010 general election expenses.

Huhne always maintained that he had no reason to believe there were any irregularities.

Power changed him. Or, rather, flaws of character which in another walk of life might not have been lethal were transformed, so that he came to believe he was unlike the 'little people'. In search of ever greater power, he ignored the tiresome little conventions such as honesty which govern their lives.

We have seen many politicians declare their innocence, often while inveighing against the Press....

Chris Huhne is looking at a probable prison sentence for perverting the course of justice. The lessons I draw are that our political class contains more than its fair share of miscreants, and that without the vigilance of newspapers we would never know what they get up to.

Over the past 24 hours, the now defunct News of the World has barely been mentioned.  But it was this much abused Sunday red-top which exposed Chris Huhne's extra-marital affair with Carina Trimingham (he had campaigned during the 2010 election as a family man). Without it, we would never have known about Mr Huhne's perverting the course of justice, and he would still be bossing us about and telling us what to do.

For all its sins, the News of the World did expose the financial and moral shenanigans of politicians. After the Leveson Inquiry, some members of the political class are lining up to do their utmost to make it more difficult for other newspapers to do the same.

If we can be sure that without the News of the World, Chris Huhne would still be lording it over us in the Department of Energy, we also have good reasons for wondering whether in a post-Leveson world it would be possible for newspapers to expose the mass fiddling of expenses by MPs.

As a citizen, I rejoice that we still have newspapers, as well as a judiciary, that have held him to account. As his old friend, I regret the personal tragedy he has caused, and which he must endure without the support of the wife and family who once loved him.


Despising The Old Rugged Cross

In one classic science fiction plot, antagonists attempt to gain control of the future by attempting to alter the past.  Though it might not be as exciting as a Dalorian speeding at 88 miles per hour, maniacal forces in our own reality are attempting to accomplish nearly the same thing by drastically reconceptualizing our understanding of history.

Part of the way history is publicly  remembered and allowed to exert an influence over the cultural milieu is through the erection of assorted monuments and memorials.  This is itself a practice that, in part, traces its origin back through the pages of sacred scripture.

In Joshua 4:5-7, the representatives of the tribes of Israel are instructed as to the following: “Each of you is to take up a stone on his shoulder, according to the number of tribes of the Israelites, to serve as a sign among you.  In the future, when your children ask you, ‘What do these stones mean?’ tell them that the flow of the Jordan was cut off before the ark of the covenant…These stones are to be a memorial to the people of Israel forever.”

This is not the only incident in Scripture where the believer is admonished to respect assorted physical historical commemorations.  In Proverbs 22:28, the child of God is admonished to remove not the ancient landmark.

No doubt one of the reasons thorough going secularists and even their sissified allies among certain branches of the clergy leaning to the left fanatically lobby for the removal of religious symbols and emblems commemorating solemn events in the life of the nation is to no doubt alter our perception of history in the attempt to shift the country’s underlying values and focus.  By so doing, it is hoped that Americans will go from the most part being an independently inclined group of individuals who will protect their precious heritage to the point of laying down one’s life should circumstances require it to one where the state is looked to as the first as the source of goodness and truth which it is free to redefine as changing circumstances warrant.

One such perspective lent a voice calling for the removal of Peace Cross (also just as correctly referred to as Victory Cross) in Bladensburg, Maryland.  The American Humanist Association is orchestrating the campaign because the monument is erected on public land.  In the mind of this agitprop front group, this violates the non-establishment clause of the First Amendment.

However, one area minister in the 9/27/2012 Gazette newspaper of suburban Maryland provided what he considered a number of Christian reasons as to why the memorial cross should be taken down.  Rev. Brian Adams of the Mount Rainier Christian Church is aligning himself with the outcome advocated by the American Humanist Association because he does not want the Cross associated with militarism and patriotism as a “general symbol of sacrifice.”

In making his argument, Rev. Adams enunciated a number of questionable assumptions.  He insists that the memorial is blaspheming the Cross by honoring violent people with weapons defending a country while they try to kill people from other countries.

No one in their right mind said war was a picnic.  But how else will at least a small sliver of goodness otherwise survive in a fallen world?   Does Rev. Adams honestly believe that once things have degenerated to the point of physical hostilities that appeals to reason, compassion, and the brotherhood of man alone will be enough to dissuade those bent on utter desolation?

If the way Rev. Adams categorizes the Crucifixion and a number of Biblical imperatives is a true summation of his doctrinal perspective, as a denomination the Disciples of Christ is in serious trouble.

Though it along with the Resurrection is one of the building blocks of the Christian religion and an offence or stumbling block to those hoping to make it to Heaven under the power of their own good works which are as filthy rags, the death of Christ upon that accursed tree was anything but, to use Rev. Adams’ words, “the symbol of the son of God dying peacefully.”  History and medical science concur that it was in fact one of the most tortuous forms of execution ever devised.

Because the believer so appreciates the price paid by Jesus at the hill of Golgotha, over the centuries artists and craftsmen inspired by the moving beauty of Christ’s sacrifice on behalf of all sinners have transformed this implement of abject fear and terror visually into a beacon of hope and adoration.  However, in the context of what happened that original Good Friday afternoon, the bejeweled sculptures and golden masterpieces are about as accurate as depicting a ride in Old Sparky the electric chair as if it was an overstuffed Lazy Boy recliner wrapped in a plush snuggy.

By referencing a work as readily available as “The Case For Christ” by Lee Stroebel (so much so that many ministries give away free paperback editions), both disciple and skeptic alike approximately 2000 years after this hinge point of history get a better idea of just how peaceful the passing of this Nazarene carpenter and rabbi was from this world.  Stroebel in a chapter on the medical evidence lays out these horrors....

So fundamentally wrong about this fundamental of the true Christian faith, it is no wonder Rev. Adams is so profoundly mistaken in regards to other interpretative matters as well.  Rev. Adams writes that the cross is the symbol of Jesus “telling his followers to put down their weapons, and dying for the sake of hope, for the forgiveness and salvation of even those who put him to death.”  What Rev. Adams has done here has been to take a course of action applied in a particular incident and elevated it to the status of a categorical universal imperative.

Rev. Adams is correct in the sense that in John 10:18 Jesus instructs that no man takes His life but that He gives it willingly.  This was demonstrated in Luke 4 when a mob angered at words Christ delivered in the synagogue conspired to hurl Jesus over a cliff.  Amidst such homicidal frenzy, Jesus miraculously perambulated on through unnoticed and unscathed.

Yet, later on, the Savior was not as eager to elude His captors.  When Peter attempted to rescue Jesus resulting in the severing of the ear of the high priest’s servant, Jesus declares in Matthew 26:53-54, “Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and he will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels?  But how then would the Scriptures be fulfilled that say it must happen this way (NIV)?”  Christ chastised a foremost disciple because His unjust arrest was to unfold so that the greater purpose of His being slain from the foundation of the world might be fulfilled so that all calling upon the name of the Lord might be saved.

Though each of us are valued having been made in the image of God, the way we proceed into Glory will not cause the very cosmos to unhinge if it does not transpire in a precise manner as foretold as a part the public record of religious history.  Therefore, though honor is to be bestowed upon those that lose their lives for the sake of the Gospel, one won’t likely be given additional brownie points or a crown in Heaven should one not do everything moral within one’s own power to preserve one’s own life.

In Matthew 5:39, Christ instructs his disciples to turn the other cheek.  Often, the application of this passage has encouraged an undue pacifism on the part of certain quietist sects and overly pious theologians.  However, what is being addressed here is more akin to individual insults and certainly not the basis around which to build a foreign or defense policy.

The Gospels should not be construed as denying the individual the right of self defense should the individual feel the necessity to protect their life and that of their family.  In Luke 22:36, Christ instructs, “…and he that hath no sword, let him sell his garment, and buy one.”

In his concluding paragraph, Rev. Adams declares that using the cross to symbolize the military or to praise the military amounts to a blasphemy equivalent to taking the Lord’s name in vain.   It seems that clergy within the Disciples of Christ would only be interested in adhering to the strictures of the divine scriptures when they think these teachings can be used to tear down the pillars upon which this great country rests.

For example, a number within the Disciples of Christ are also pushing for the acceptance of homosexuality and ultimately gay marriage.  So where is this denomination’s outrage over violation of the commandments prohibiting carnal relations between anyone other than a married man and woman?

This tendency to view the Bible and the traditional teachings that are extrapolated from it as optional flow from the Disciples of Christ positioning itself as a creedless church.  Such a formalized belief is, of course, a creed itself.

According to Wikipedia, there are those within the Disciples of Christ that deny the Incarnation, the Trinity, and even the Atonement.  So what’s the point of even bothering with any of the religious racket if Christ as the only Begotten of the Father did not come to die for our sins?

The cross in Bladensburg is not a representation of what the military accomplished through force of arms.  Instead, the cross commemorates those from Prince George’s County Maryland that died in the First World War.

John 15:13 reads, “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends (KJV).”  Given the disdain he has expressed for both those that take up arms in defense of the American republic and traditional formulation of Christian doctrine, perhaps Rev. Adams does not view the last full measure of devotion worthy of remembrance and appreciation on the part of the COMMUNITY.  It seems those like Rev. Adams only extol this particular concept of social organization when it can be invoked as justification to further curtail those areas of existence remaining under personal purview or to confiscate additional percentages of your property.



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

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of  other countries.  The only real difference, however, is how much power they have.  In America, their power is limited by democracy.  To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already  very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges.  They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did:  None.  So look to the colleges to see  what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way.  It would be a dictatorship.

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


6 February, 2013

Nadine Dorries MP: Not a single person in the UK voted Conservative in 2010 because we said we would introduce same-sex marriage

Nadine Dorries is MP for Mid Bedfordshire

I will be voting against the same sex marriage bill tomorrow for a variety of reasons. If I am called to speak I hope to elucidate some of them. Two aspects of the Bill are so important and so compelling, however, I also wanted to write about them here.

    My first concern is that I and many others thought the Bill was intended to make the status of marriage equal for same sex couples (SSC) with regard to heterosexual couples (HSC). The Bill does not achieve this; in fact, it legally patronises SSCs and leaves them unequal in law. I cannot vote for that.

    My second consideration is that I am happy to declare my interest in the grubbier side of politics and state that one of my big concerns is for my party and my colleagues, which is why I am writing this on the ConservativeHome website and not in a national newspaper.

Let’s talk about sex.

My first startling observation upon reading the Bill which was produced only a week ago, is that the adultery provision in the Bill is unequal. A gay man/woman is not required to be faithful in the same was as a heterosexual man/woman. The same sex lobby have stated that they want the same rights as heterosexual couples and to be able to enjoy faithful and committed relationships but this Bill does not require them to make any commitment to faithfulness whatsoever in the way straight couples are required to.

A basic legal requirement of The Marriage Act 1973 is for ‘ordinary and complete sex to have taken place’.  In law, you can only divorce for adultery if your partner has sex with a member of the opposite sex.

When a straight couple marry, they forswear all others. It is a basic marriage vow designed to conform with the Marriage Act. What they are saying is ‘I may find members of the opposite sex attractive from time to time however, I will not stray, for the sake of our marriage I will honour my commitment to us and I promise to forsake all others’.

A gay man or woman won’t have to do this because obviously, he or she isn’t going to find a member of the opposite sex attractive and so the adultery provision is unequal. A gay man/ woman is not required to be faithful in law in the same way a straight man/ woman is. What is marriage without a legal vow of commitment and faithfulness?

Tucked away at the back of the Bill, probably deliberately in order that it will never be reached and debated in committee, is the startling revelation that there is also no obligation for a SSM to be consummated. In a HSM, if a marriage is not consummated it is voidable. This is because sex is the basis of marriage. The law as it stands is very sensible. Whilst marriage is about more than sex, marriage is not about less than sex. Legally, a long-term relationship without ‘ordinary and complete sex’ can be a friendship, a relationship, but it’s not a marriage.

The Government's answer to the consummation question is that SSM cannot be declared voidable as a result of non consummation because the legal definition of consummation is impossible to achieve. The Governments admission that a SSM cannot meet the legal requirement of The Marriage Act makes nonsense of the whole Bill. If there cannot be consummation and thereby legal equality, what is the point of the Bill?

The Bill was intended to treat SSCs on an equal basis with HSCs but actually, if you are in an SSM you don’t have the same legal endorsement; you are the inferior party in a Bill which fails to equally encompass all.

Before anyone reading this thinks I am opposed to supporting same sex couples, I am not. Such a statement could not be further from the truth.  I am however totally opposed to the legal re-definition of marriage.

Now let’s talk about politics.

Having read the briefing from the Catholic Church and Anglican churches to MPs, and if the polling is correct that one in five people who voted for the Conservative Party at the last GE won’t at the next, the passing of this Bill could lose us as many as 100 seats.

The Prime Minister may have made a good speech on Europe which many Conservative MPs support. Europe, however, is not a religion. No one died on a cross for a referendum on membership of the European Union. People of faith may not vote for us again if this Bill passes and a good speech on Europe won’t persuade them to do otherwise.

To highlight how damaging this legislation could be to Conservative MPs, I cite the case of the former MP for Oxford West and Abingdon, Evan Harris. An arch proponent of anti Christian beliefs such as abortion and assisted suicide, Mr Harris lost his 7,683 incumbency padded majority as a result of the church communities in his constituency, led by one single lady vicar, voting against him. For no other reason than that.

When Labour introduced civil Partnerships, they did the right thing, but they wouldn’t touch SSM because they recognised that in their Catholic communities it would have been politically suicidal.  If this Bill passes we will hand Labour MPs a great gift as they can simply say ‘it wasn’t us’. Those Labour MPs who are vulnerable will have the luxury of standing back and laughing at loyal Conservative MPs with small majorities as they troop into the lobby and in doing so, save Labour MPs their majorities and political scalps. We will deliver a Bill the Labour party only ever wistfully dreamt about but knew it couldn’t deliver and retain power. Especially without an election manifesto to do so, which of course, we don’t have. Not a single person in the UK voted Conservative in 2010 because we said we would introduce SSM.

I hope to lay down an amendment which will define SSM as state marriage. Gay couples and straight couples are magnificently different, wonderful and all deserving of the deeper love and fulfilment which comes from commitment. We should all be equal in the eyes and provision of the law.


I spanked my children, says British Justice Secretary

Chris Grayling, the Conservative Justice Secretary, has defended parents' right to smack their children and admitted he did it to his own, it emerged on Saturday night.

The cabinet minister said he was not opposed to smacking youngsters, saying sometimes it "sends a message".

Mr Grayling has two children, aged 20 and 16, with his wife Susan and told the Mail on Sunday he occasionally smacked them when they were younger.

"You chastise children when they are bad, as my parents did me," he said.  "I'm not opposed to smacking. It is to be used occasionally. Sometimes it sends a message - but I don't hanker for the days when children were severely beaten at school."

Sources close to the minister said on Saturday night he used the punishment on an "occasional" basis and only when "really warranted".

The comments came in an interview in which Mr Grayling also reiterated commitments he made soon after taking up post to ban perks for prisoners like Sky television as well as ending automatic early release for inmates who misbehave during their sentence.

He told the Mail on Sunday: "I want prisons to be spartan, but humane, a place people don't have a particular desire to come back to."

He also said he would not tolerate gay couples in prison sharing a cell.  "It is not acceptable to allow same-sex couples to effectively move in together and live a domestic life," he said.  "If such a thing happened, I would want those prisoners put in separate prisons."


Feminised job titles encourage discrimination against women

Titles such as chairwoman and police woman intended to promote equality in fact lead to further discrimination, according to new research.  'Feminised' and gender specific job titles leave women being perceived as less capable, it suggests.

Women who hold them were likely to be assessed as less impressive professionally than either men or women with male job titles.

"Feminising language helps make women more visible and more salient, but apparently this is not always an advantage," said lead author Magdalena Formanowicz, of the University of Social Sciences and Humanities in Warsaw.  "Emphasising femaleness with a feminine title may lower the evaluation of women in a professional context."

The researchers, who report their findings in the European Journal of Social Psychology, said men using a feminine job title would be "devalued".

But they added: "Women using the masculine labels may profit because they sustain the cultural status quo."

Neil Ashton, chairman of The Ashton Partnership, a Knightsbridge-based executive headhunting firm, said the world of employment had become "obsessed" with job titles which are "frankly irrelevant".

"If a woman wants to have a job title that reflects her femininity she should but there is also space for women to have more masculine job titles if it empowers them," he said.

"What's crucial is that the world wakes up to the importance of women in boardrooms. They are honest, loyal and can multi-task in a way men never can."

Formanowicz carried out the research with colleagues at the University of Kiel in Germany and the University of Bern in Switzerland.

In one study 96 men and women were asked to evaluate applicants for a "prestigious expert position" and were given a newspaper commentary the candidate had written to help them.

They then had to indicate how likely they were to give the applicant the job.

Male applicants and women with masculine job titles were rated equally highly - but women with feminine job titles were rated significantly lower.

A separate internet survey involved 121 people, including 71 women, who were asked to imagine they were recruiting someone to work in a successful beauty parlour or a nanotechnology laboratory.

Participants were told there was a shortlist of three and were given a fictitious cover letter to read, which revealed the applicant to currently have either a masculine or feminine job title.

Applicants with feminine job titles were rated as less suitable despite the cover letters being otherwise identical.

The authors said one reason for this might be suspicions that women using feminine titles are feminists, which men with conservative attitudes might view as undesirable.

Another reason might be that masculine titles have been long established, whereas new female titles can sometimes sound "awkward".


Leftist "Justice Reinvestment" just  another reinvention of a failed idea

The iconic Barlinnie experiment proved very costly and did not reduce rates of reoffending

The Australian Senate is conducting an inquiry into the value of a Justice Reinvestment approach in Australia with a particular focus on Aboriginal people in prison. However, the assumption underpinning Justice Reinvestment—that the prison system is a failure—ignores the fact that many offenders are in prison for a reason. Prisons serve a purpose and help protect society by taking out of circulation violent and repeat offenders.

Justice Reinvestment is a concept from the United States which proposes redirecting money spent on prisons into programs to address the underlying causes of offending in communities with high levels of incarceration.

Advocates of a Justice Reinvestment approach use the high costs associated with incarceration to argue for more non-custodial sentences such as diversion. Many people believe Aboriginal people are unfairly targeted by police and arrested for relatively minor ‘social nuisance’ offences, but this ignores the fact that a large proportion (50 per cent) of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders are in jail for serious crimes (homicide, assault and sex offences).

Rather than just asking why Indigenous people are over-represented in Australia’s prisons, we also need to ask why certain Indigenous Australians are committing such serious crimes.

The National Indigenous Drug and Alcohol Committee estimates alcohol is a factor in up to 90 per cent of all Indigenous contact with the criminal justice system: 87 per cent of all Indigenous intimate partner homicides are alcohol related, and 63.8 per cent of Indigenous adult offenders report drinking alcohol before being arrested and placed in police custody.

Unemployed Indigenous people are also 20 times more likely to offend and end up in prison than employed Indigenous people.

A 2012 study in Queensland found the most chronic and costly offenders were from remote and very remote locations where there is appalling education and few employment options. In the remote community of Yuendumu in the Northern Territory, one out of every six residents (93 people from a total population of 587) is in prison.

To address the underlying causes of Indigenous offending, we need to focus on education and employment, and not be waylaid into thinking the answer lies with yet more ‘culturally appropriate’ or ‘Indigenous distinct’ programs. Worryingly, some supporters of Justice Reinvestment are already arguing for ‘culturally appropriate’ initiatives such as Indigenous healing centres.

Justice Reinvestment supporters talk as if offenders are victims of the criminal justice system, forgetting the actual real victims, and their right to some sort of redress. Diversion programs to provide employment and training for young offenders may be worthwhile but waiting till someone offends to provide education and employment training is too late. Improving educational outcomes should not be reliant on the diversion of funds from prison services but a basic right that states and territories should be covering in their education budgets.



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

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of  other countries.  The only real difference, however, is how much power they have.  In America, their power is limited by democracy.  To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already  very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges.  They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did:  None.  So look to the colleges to see  what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way.  It would be a dictatorship.

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


5 February, 2013

New Archbishop of Canterbury challenges British PM on homosexual marriage

In his first official day as leader of the Church of England, the Rt Rev Justin Welby is expected to say that marriage should remain “between a man and a woman”.

As MPs prepare for the vote on gay marriage on Tuesday, Bishop Welby will give his first interviews after being officially confirmed in the post at a ceremony in St Paul’s Cathedral in London.

“If asked he will say that marriage is between a man and a woman, and always has been,” a source close to Bishop Welby said, adding that the Archbishop was expecting to be asked for his views and had prepared his response.

Archbishop Welby is due to speak out as Conservative critics of the reforms escalated their protests ahead of the Commons vote.

Ministers were faced with accusations that legalising same-sex marriage would “tear the Tory party apart”, as MPs claimed the proposed protections for churches were inadequate.

A group of 20 Tory constituency chairmen delivered a letter of protest to Downing Street warning the Prime Minister that the reform could cause “significant damage” to Tory election chances in 2015.

Up to 200 of the 303 Tory MPs are expected to rebel or abstain during the vote, leaving Mr Cameron reliant on Labour and Liberal Democrat MPs to pass the measure.

Both Anglican and Catholic leaders made last-ditch efforts to persuade MPs to vote against the same-sex marriage Bill.

The Archbishop of Southwark, the Most Rev Peter Smith, told parishioners during a mass that the Bill is “ridiculous”. He urged them to pray for its defeat and to lobby their MPs.

Archbishop Smith, who is the second most senior Catholic cleric in England and Wales, told The Telegraph: “The definition of marriage as a union of one man and one woman pre-dates both the state and the church and as such neither has the right to change it. The complementarity of the marital relationship is hard-wired into human nature.”

The Most Reverend Bernard Longley, the catholic Archbishop of Birmingham, urged all MPs who were “uncertain, wavering or planning to abstain” to gather their “courage” and vote against the “ill-conceived Bill”.

“This Bill is being rushed through Parliament by the Prime Minister without a mandate and without proper consultation,” he said.

The Church of England has written an eight-page briefing note on the Bill to every MP ahead of the vote.  It warns that the legislation has been prepared in “great haste” and will have a “chilling effect” on teachers and public officials who express the view that marriage should be between a man and a woman.

“We doubt the ability of the Government to make the legislation watertight against challenge in the European courts or against a 'chilling effect’ in public discourse,” it says.

“We retain serious doubts about whether the proffered legal protection for churches and faiths from discrimination claims would prove durable. Too much emphasis, we believe, is being placed on the personal assurances of ministers.”

The Conservative rebels who wrote to Downing Street are calling for the Bill to be delayed until after the next election in 2015 to allow the party and the public “more time” to debate such a radical social change.

“As long-standing members of the Conservative Party we want to support the party to victory, as we have done in every past election,” they wrote.

“Resignations from the party are beginning to multiply and we fear that, if enacted, this Bill will lead to significant damage to the Conservative Party in the run up to the 2015 election.”

Ed Costelloe, who resigned as chairman of Somerton and Frome Conservative Association over the gay marriage proposals last month, said grassroots Tories were “shocked” by the way the reforms were being rushed through Parliament.  “We worked hard locally to convince people to support Conservatives but this was not part of the platform,” he said.

Tim Loughton, the former children’s minister, expressed fears that teachers and faith groups would be forced in the European Court to accept gay marriage “against their will”. The Government’s proposed “quadruple lock” of legal protections for the Church of England was “nonsense” that would not “hold up” in courts, Mr Loughton told Sky News.

However, Ed Vaizey, the culture minister, insisted that the discussions over the policy remained “good natured”.  “I’ve got a view, some of my constituents have a different view, some of my fellow MPs have a different view, but I don’t think it’s tearing the Tory party apart,” Mr Vaizey said.

A Downing Street source said there was “no pressure” on Tory MPs to support the Bill and that there would be “no consequences” for those who voted against the reforms. “Obviously, the Prime Minister is a strong advocate of it and that hasn’t changed,” the source said. The Prime Minister is “always open” to talking to colleagues but would not be actively seeking to win over critics.


"Progressive" values only allowed

Three newsworthy statements were reported over the past week that present a disturbing pattern for me.  President Obama’s ambitions for fundamentally transforming the United States of America are well underway and it appears that resistance, challenges, and obstacles to the program are becoming societally unacceptable.

During his usual post-tournament conference, professional golfer Phil Mickelson commented on the personal effects to his affairs from accelerated government spending by the California and U.S. governments; "If you add up all the federal and you look at the disability and the unemployment and the Social Security and the state, my tax rate's 62, 63 percent.  So I've got to make some decisions on what I'm going to do. ... There are going to be some drastic changes for me because I happen to be in that zone that has been targeted both federally and by the state and, you know, it doesn't work for me right now.  So I'm going to have to make some changes."

About one week later, Mickelson sat in front of a new camera, speaking in the tone of an eight-year-old recently released from time-out; "Right now I'm like many Americans who are trying to understand the new tax laws. I've been learning a lot over the last few months and talking with people who are trying to help me make intelligent and informed decisions. I certainly don't have a definitive plan at this time, but like everyone else I want to make decisions that are best for my future and my family.  Finances and taxes are a personal matter and I should not have made my opinions on them public. I apologize to those I have upset or insulted and assure you I intend not to let it happen again."

Who in the world would Mickelson have offended, except for the politicians whose hands are in the pockets of his plaid trousers?  Scary.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton finally sat down, under oath, to face Congress about the Benghazi incident that resulted in the deaths of four Americans.  When pressed by Senator Ron Johnson (R - Wisconsin) about why the American people had been misled on the motivations of the attackers, Secretary Clinton responded emotionally with, “Was it because of a protest?  Or was it because of guys out for a walk one night decided to go kill some Americans?  What difference, at this point, does it make?”

The third point that defined this circle showed up on CBS Sunday Morning last week when contributor Louis Michael Seidman opened up his commentary with, “I’ve got a simple idea; Let’s give up on the Constitution.”  Seidman openly frets about the Second Amendment getting in the way of modern debate on the citizens' right to own a gun.  “This is our country.  We live in it.  And we have a right to the kind of country we want.  We would not allow the French or the United Nations to rule us.  And neither should we allow people who died over two centuries ago and knew nothing of our country as it exists today.  If we are to take back our own country, we have to start making decisions for ourselves, and stop deferring to an ancient and outdated document.”

Louis Michael Seidman is a professor of constitutional law.  Yes, a constitutional law professor.  At Georgetown University.  In Washington, D.C.

Connecting these three statements reveals an insidious progression that should make every American uncomfortable.  I offer in response three quotes that permanently hang in my personal study, provided originally by three Western thought leaders:

"This nation was conceived in liberty and dedicated to the principle--among others--that honest men may honestly disagree; that if they all say what they think, a majority of the people will be able to distinguish truth from error; that in the competition of the market place of ideas, the sounder ideas will in the long run win out." - Elmer Davis, But We Were Born Free, 1954

"The peculiar evil of silencing the expression of an opinion is that it is robbing the human race: posterity as well as the existing generation; those who dissent from the opinion, still more than those who hold it. If the opinion is right, they are deprived of the opportunity of exchanging error for tuth; if wrong, they lose, what is almost as great a benefit, the clearer perception and livelier impression of truth produced by its collision with error." - John Stuart Mill, On Liberty, 1859

"The resolution of policy through challenge and criticism and debate... is the real secret weapon of a democracy. The lack of it is the fatal defect of a dictatorship." - Alan Barth, Address to American Association of University Professors, 1951


Cats and foxes:  A moral story from the inimitable Boris Johnson

Not sure I agree with the moral but it is a good story.  The moral I would draw is that we should not jump to conclusions

One evening not long ago the cat came back in and he was looking pretty washed up. One eye was closed. His leg was gashed. He had internal injuries that were making it more and more difficult for him to move. Finally he sprawled on a chair, in an odd shape, and it was clear that he had been in a serious fight. As his breathing grew fainter, I realised that our cat might die. Then I was seized by a cold and murderous fury. I knew who had done this, and I wanted to pay them back.

You should know that I have not always been one of nature’s cat enthusiasts. Like many other human beings, I have tended to think there is something blank and unknowable about the cat personality. It’s all one to a cat – having their tummy tickled or biting the head off a budgie. It’s that Hannibal the Cannibal equanimity. They lack affect, or whatever psychologists call it.

When other members of the family have begged for a cat, I have resisted on the grounds that they eat malodorous fishy food and are capable of some dubious smells themselves. As usual, I lost the battle, and we got a rather sweet tortoiseshell kitten – and then she contracted some awful glandular disease, and died. The grief in the house was so immense and operatic that it was very difficult to resist the next one.

This cat was different. He grew without difficulty from a bouncy ginger kitten into a sizeable ginger tomcat. He had a confident and assertive personality. He had pronounced favourites, and I was not among them. He would launch himself on to the laps of those he loved, and would lounge there purring and throbbing like an old bus. Me – well, he would actually wait for me in ambush as I went up the stairs, and scratch me through the banisters. I waged a campaign to kick the cat out of the house. I drew attention to unhygienic aspects of his lifestyle. I was not successful, and with some bitterness I accepted that cat and I were fated not to get on.

Then, one day, I came back to find no one else at home. I crashed out on the sofa, and to my amazement the cat came in, and he didn’t try to bite me. He sprawled on my chest and purred away. Perhaps I am easily flattered, but I began to see the point of the cat, and to understand that mysterious fondness that grips the human race. I began (secretly) to share the worries about where he was at night, and whether it was cold, and when some skanky drunk woman allowed her dog to attack him, I was ready to call the cops and have the brute put down.

But this evening it was clear that something far worse had happened. It wasn’t just the apparently missing eye, and the twisted ear, and the horrible pink cut. There was a rank smell on his fur. It was the smell of his assailant, no question. I could see them in my mind’s eye, as I saw them every night: padding insolently across the road in search of someone’s rubbish. It was those damn foxes that had attacked our cat, and I was going to sort them out. It was those cruel and cynical canids – and my mind spooled feverishly to fox horror stories: the poor babies gnawed in the crib, the couple who came down to find the decapitated head of their moggie.

Well, they had messed with the wrong cat owner this time. I started to plan the massacre. I knew where they lived, the mangy vermin. We would stalk them in the scrub by the canal, me with the .22 airgun, and another family member with the death-dealing .177. I didn’t care what the neighbours said. In fact, I might invite the rest of Islington to form a footpack, so that we could smoke the foxes out of their foul holes and blow them to kingdom come. Or perhaps we could all get up in pink coats and chase them with hounds and fixed-wheel bicycles. Stuff the RSPCA.

I fell asleep dreaming of vendetta. And just as well, because in the morning, the cat seemed to have staged a remarkable recovery. He had risen from his chair, and was demanding his noisome food. I decided to postpone the slaughter, and then I began to wonder.

My instinct tells me that foxes are everywhere, and that they are more numerous and bolder than ever before. But the deeper I dug into fox-on-cat violence, the more doubtful I became. Foxes go for vulnerable critters. They might go for your toes if you were lying in a stupor, but only because they failed to grasp that your toes were attached to a large and potentially violent human being. They might go (once in a blue moon) for a baby, but only because a baby is defenceless.

Would they really go for a fit adult tomcat – and one with a history of unprovoked aggression towards his much-bitten owner? I started to wonder if my initial reaction – so clear, so certain – had been completely wrong. What if the canal had given him that smell? What if he had got into a fight with another tom, in a dispute over who had the right to urinate over the buddleia? What if he had shown insufficient finesse in approaching some good-looking girl cat? Perhaps it was that blasted dog again.

Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, I lay the facts of the case before you, and I suggest that the evidence against the fox is by no means conclusive. I am left with the mystery of that first eruption of rage, that chilling certainty as to the authors of the crime. There is a word for that misapprehension. There was something that made me finger the newcomers, the strangers, the ones who weren’t around when I was a kid. There was something that made me want to believe that the culprits were the recent additions to our urban habitat, the ones who make the spooky yowling at night. I think the word for that anti-fox feeling is prejudice. Or am I wrong?


The Silent Conquest of a Continent

There’s been a lot of discussion within some in the media regarding the demographic changes taking place in Europe. But those of us who’ve travelled there have observed it firsthand: namely, the decreased birthrate among Europeans compared to the enormous birthrate increase among Muslim immigrants.

Overall, the birthrate across the continent is far below the replacement level of 2.1 children per couple. Italy, Spain, Austria, and Germany have a fertility rate of only 1.4, while Poland and Russia languish at 1.3 and 1.2, respectively.

However, as a subgroup, Muslims in Europe are producing from 4 to 6 children per couple. Encouraged by some sheiks in Muslim countries who have forbidden the use of birth control, Muslim immigrants are producing children at two to three times the rate of Europeans.

Even Muslims in Europe who came from more westernized Islamic countries, like Turkey and Tunisia, have twice the birthrate of other Europeans. And the rate among their second generations is holding to that factor.

There are many projections as to when the Muslim population will gain a majority in Europe. Some say it could be as soon as 2025. Others as late as 2050.

Regardless of when Muslims become the majority in Europe, that turning point will present one of the greatest ironies in 1,400 years of European history.

Ever since Islamic expansion under Caliphates Umar and Usman, Muslims have tried again and again to invade and defeat Europe. But they failed.

The Ottomans got the closest; in fact, as close as Austria. But ultimately, that attempt and all others were unsuccessful. Until now. As Sheik Yousef Quardawi has been quoted to have said: “What our forbears failed to do by the sword, this generation is accomplishing through legitimate birthright, immigration, and petro-dollars.”

It’s impossible to predict whether radicals or more westernized elements will dominate the coming generation of majority Muslims. Certainly the current push for Sharia implementation in many European countries, including England, presents a foreboding omen.

That news doesn’t bode well for atheists, agnostics, and secular humanists. At least Christians and Jews will be treated as demis, or second-class citizens. But the Sharia will have no such leniency for out and out non-believers.

What will happen to the gospel of “tolerance” that secular forces preach today? Although purveyors of that gospel are, in reality, the most intolerant of all, that won’t matter. “Tolerance” is used to give Islamists a foothold in the West, and then the proselytizers of that gospel will be swept into the dustbin of Islamic intolerance.



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

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of  other countries.  The only real difference, however, is how much power they have.  In America, their power is limited by democracy.  To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already  very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges.  They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did:  None.  So look to the colleges to see  what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way.  It would be a dictatorship.

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


4 February, 2013

Oregon Baker Faces State Investigation After Refusing to Make Homosexual Couple’s Wedding Cake?

I think that if I had been in this baker's position and forced to do something I didn't want to do, I would have made the cake but included in it something unpleasant -- e.g. something  that would have given them all the sh*ts.  Some fruit is quite good for that.  I guess I am more an Old Testament type than a New Testament type

An Oregon man may have broken the law and is facing a state investigation after refusing to bake a cake for a same-sex couple’s wedding, KATU reports.  KGW has details on the story:
    It started on Jan. 17 when a mother and daughter showed up at Sweet Cakes by Melissa looking for the perfect wedding cake.

    “My first question is what’s the wedding date,” said owner Aaron Klein.  “My next question is bride and groom’s name … the girl giggled a little bit and said it’s two brides.”

    Klein apologized to the women and told them he and his wife do not make cakes for same-sex marriages.  Klein said the women were disgusted and walked out.

    “I believe that marriage is a religious institution ordained by God,” said Klein.  “A man should leave his mother and father and cling to his wife … that to me is the beginning of marriage.” ...

    “I’d rather have my kids see their dad stand up for what he believes in then to see him bow down because one person complained.”

One of the women filed a complaint on January 28– also saying Klein referred to them as “abominations unto the Lord”– and now the Oregon Attorney General’s civil enforcement officers are investigating the claim.

But Klein says he never used harsh language and has no problem with homosexuals; he just doesn’t want to be a part of their marriage.

“I honestly did not mean to hurt anybody, didn’t mean to make anybody upset, [it’s] just something I believe in very strongly,” he told KATU.

When asked whether he’d be willing to lose his business over the matter, Klein said: “If I have to be to, I guess, be penalized for my beliefs, then I guess, well, that’ll be what it is.”

The case now presents a unique legal dilemma, according to reports, since Oregon law forbids discrimination based on sexual orientation, and the U.S. Constitution protects Klein’s freedom of religion.

Klein has two weeks to file his official account what happened before the attorney general’s office decides how to proceed.


Christian symbolism wrong but homosexual symbolism fine?

British Christians can be punished for wearing a cross but flying a homosexual flag is OK?

Police and councils are flying a rainbow flag outside their bases to show support for the gay community.

The flag is flying outside Leicestershire Police headquarters in Enderby, County Hall in Glenfield and Leicester Town Hall to mark the national launch of Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender, (LGBT), History Month.

Leicestershire's Assistant Chief Constable Steph Morgan, who speaks on LGBT issues for the Association of Chief Police Officers, said: "Flying the rainbow flag together in this way is a symbol of our joint commitment to the LGBT community locally and is part of ongoing work with our local authority partners to create a just and fair society for all.

"As national LGBT strategic policing lead, I was pleased to see 10 police forces, including Leicestershire Police, featured in the Stonewall 100 Index of gay-friendly employers in January 2013.

LGBT History Month is a great opportunity to become aware of the challenges LGBT people face everyday, and to recognise their valuable contribution to wider society."

Councillor Nick Rushton, leader of Leicestershire County Council, said: "We are delighted to be joining our colleagues at Leicestershire Police and Leicester City Council in raising the flag to mark the start of LGBT History month.

"LGBT people have overcome huge challenges throughout history, both here in Leicestershire, and across the world.

"This month is about remembering the contribution of those people and celebrating the diversity of our city and county."

Councillor Manjula Sood, assistant mayor of Leicester, said: "The city council is committed to celebrating Leicester's diversity, and flying the rainbow flags is a very visual way of acknowledging LGBT history month and the contribution made by the LGBT community to our city."


This Equality obsession is mad, bad and very dangerous

The great doctrine of our time is pursued at all costs – but it reduces our freedoms

Last week, I appeared on the panel of the BBC’s Any Questions? in Guildford. We were asked whether we thought women should be allowed to take part in full front-line combat roles in the Armed Services. I said I didn’t think that it would be an advance in human civilisation if women abandoned their traditional association with peace and started killing people as men do.

This did not please the questioner, an intelligent student from the politics department of Surrey University, or her supporters sitting with her. They thought that the only question was the ability of the woman – if she was fit to fight, fight she should, and no one should stop her.

Afterwards, I reflected on the oddity of the situation. It did not seem that the student and her colleagues were particularly interested in military matters in themselves. They also did not seem the sort of people who, in other circumstances, would be at all keen on people killing people. I could imagine them protesting against militarism. Yet here they were, pushing for a woman’s right to kill.

Why? Because of Equality, of course. It gets you into strange situations.

I put a capital e on Equality because, more than we recognise, it has become the public doctrine of our time. If you believe in big-E Equality, you are not merely saying, as most would, that people should try to make life fairer for all. You are making Equality the all-conquering principle of social organisation and human life. It is like a religion but, unlike actual religions in the West today, it is backed by the full force of law. Since 2009, when Labour’s Equality Act consolidated all previous bits of legislation, there have been seven strands of Equality, the creed’s equivalent of the seven sacraments of the Roman Catholic Church. They are: race, age, disability, sexual orientation, gender, gender reassignment and religion/belief itself. In this seven, the last is the odd one out: I’ll come back to it. Through these seven channels, the grace of Equality must be poured.

When David Cameron set out on his quest for gay marriage (and exactly when he did is a matter of some interest, since he denied any plans for gay marriage three days before the last general election), he probably saw this as a simple matter of being nicer to homosexuals and making the Tories seem less unpleasant. But now that the Government has moved to actual law, and will debate the Bill in Parliament on Tuesday, he is well and truly trapped by Equality.

In recent months, officials drafting the Bill have struggled to fulfil Equality’s aim of making same-sex marriage identical to marriage as the world has known it for most of human history. They have come across an insuperable barrier. It reminds me of the moment when, in trendy Islington in the 1980s, I was summoned by the health authority for a cervical smear. Some things just cannot be done.

The drafters have belatedly realised that, since there is no procreative act which defines homosexual behaviour, there can be no consummation, or non-consummation, and no adultery. These will not, therefore, be grounds for gay divorce. If your gay husband offers you no nookie, or if he avails himself of large amounts of nookie elsewhere (or both), he gives you no legal cause to divorce him.

So what they have ended up offering, strangely enough, is a law of marriage with no sexual element whatever. This has never happened before (although there have been plenty of sexless marriages). There is nothing in Mr Cameron’s new law to say that same-sex marriages must be between homosexuals. If I were a bachelor, I could marry a straight male friend just to get whatever tax advantages, travel deals and insurance discounts might be going.

Incestuous marriage remains forbidden, but I don’t see why, in Mr Cameron’s vision of same-sex marriage, a mother could not marry her daughter or a sister her sister or a father his son. No sexual act is expected of them and even if – distressing thought – it did take place, it could have no genetic consequences. Why should such pairs not just agree that they fancy the married couple’s exemption from inheritance tax, and hurry down the aisle? How long before a same-sex, keep-it-in-the-family couple tries to make a fight of it, and wins a case against the British Government at the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR)?

This is the real point about Equality. Because it is now considered both a sacred and a legal principle, it is heaven on earth for lawyers, if for no one else. Just as the Jewish Beth Din, or rabbinical court, has endless work precisely interpreting exactly how the Torah applies to real life, so our own courts are starting to do the same with their Torah, Equality.

This in turn means that Mr Cameron’s promises, however sincere, that religious objections to same-sex marriage will be protected by the Bill cannot be fulfilled. Although religion is one of the seven “strands” of Equality, it is only one, no more important in Equality’s great scheme of things than gender reassignment. And so, although, under the new law, an Anglican priest remains free to marry only people of the opposite sex, if he is also chaplain of a hospital, the hospital will probably be entitled to dismiss him because his “homophobic” views about marriage break their “public sector equality duty” which the Equality Act lays down. On similar principles, a church might not be allowed to hire a public hall because of its views on marriage and a Christian, Jewish or Muslim teacher could be dismissed for refusing to teach that marriage was what Equality said it was.

None of these results is certain. Where would the legal fun be if it were? But what is certain is that such things will be legally contested, that they will be expensive, exhausting and dangerous, and that, by taking the matter to the ECHR, complainants will be able to go to a place where Mr Cameron’s promises are void.

If you stand back to look at how Equality works, you notice three things.

One is that it undermines freedom. It specialises in attacking ways of living which people have developed for themselves, often using the law and even the police to do so.

The second is that it undermines institutions. The bulwarks of a free society are not atomised individuals, but businesses, families, schools, clubs, churches, charities, sports teams – the Big Society we seem recently to have stopped hearing about. Equality is the government’s instrument for nationalising them.

The third is that Equality makes everyone (except lawyers and other activists) very unhappy. No one knows where she or he (you see!) stands, what law he might inadvertently be breaking, what “inappropriate” remark he might have made. And those who invoke Equality to advance their collective cause, far from being pleased by what they have won, are in a semi-permanent state of rage about any remaining imperfection. They are trained to identify grievance, so naturally they are aggrieved.

There is one additional point. The doctrine of Equality is mad. Like extreme post-Reformation Protestantism, it perverts a good inclination and turns it into a lunatic theocracy. Some of the Anabaptists who swept through Germany in the 16th century enforced Christ’s teaching that one must be as little children to enter the Kingdom of Heaven by running about naked and babbling like babies. It is surprising that their modern equivalents will be found on the Conservative front bench next week.


Muslim demonstrators face resistance in Australia

The organizers are doing their best to prevent conflict but the expectation of Muslim aggression is well-founded.  Just look back at last Anzac day in Sydney

Anti-Muslim groups are urging Australian "patriots" to gather at public meetings by the controversial Dutch MP Geert Wilders, ready for trouble and a no-holds barred fight.

Tensions have been mounting over the impending visit of the far right-wing politician who has been accused of Islamophobia and racism.

One group, Australian New Nation, has been encouraging followers to react to any threat or sign of violence from Muslim protesters who might attend.

On its website, the group has posted an audio from "Radio Free Australia, the voice of white revolution in Australia" warning them to "expect an Islamic rent-a-crowd outside screaming and foaming at the mouth like the evil bastards they are".

"We encourage all patriots to exercise their legal right of self defence if any ragheads try to prevent them accessing the venue, or threaten, or use violence against their person once they try to strike the first blow, everything that follows is self defence on your part," it said.

The vitriolic broadcast, which lasts almost 10 minutes, goes on to say, "go … and be prepared to defend yourself and if they take a swing at you, they push at you, they spit on you, don't hold back. You have a legal right of self defence do what should be done to this rag-head camel f--- … Islamic filth who have no place in civilised society."

Muslim leaders have been encouraging their community to ignore Mr Wilders's visit and not to draw attention to his views by protesting.

The president of the Australian Federation of Islamic Councils, Hafez Kassem, questioned what the authorities were doing about the "provocation by rednecks".  "Surely they must be monitoring this," he said.

Keysar Trad from the Islamic Friendship Association said while Muslims should have every right to protest peacefully, it would only draw attention to Mr Wilders. Mr Trad recommended the community ignore the event.

Social media sites protesting against Mr Wilders's visits to Sydney, Melbourne and Perth have also been the target of hate messages.

Stepan Kerkyasharian, the head of the Community Relations Commission of NSW, said he had not had any complaints so far about Mr Wilders's visit, but it was clear the Muslim community was concerned about the outcome of his tour.

Mr Kerkyasharian said it was important other groups that may have their own agenda do not try to use his visit as an opportunity to vent their own venom.  "We do not want anyone looking for an opportunity such as a visit from someone from overseas to try and undermine our cohesive, co-existence," he said.

The Federal Immigration Minister, Chris Bowen, last year said he would not use his ministerial powers to stop Mr Wilders from visiting Australia on a speaking tour.

The tour has been organised by the Q Society of Australia.  A spokeswoman said this week that there had been steady ticket sales online, ahead of a radio advertising campaign which starts next week.

The venues of the meetings are being kept secret until 48 hours before the event and will be revealed only to registered ticket-holders.



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

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of  other countries.  The only real difference, however, is how much power they have.  In America, their power is limited by democracy.  To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already  very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges.  They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did:  None.  So look to the colleges to see  what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way.  It would be a dictatorship.

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


3 February, 2013

Boy Scouts of the USA considering retreat from no-homosexuals policy; unit sponsors could set membership rules

Homosexuality has been acceptable among Scouts in Canada for a long time.  The USA has three times the Scout membership per head that Canada has.  Enough said?  A big expansion of the Boys' Brigade might be forthcoming in the USA.  They normally are church-associated

Ironically,  it seems pretty clear that Baden-Powell (founder of the Scouts) was a homosexual  -- though maybe a repressed one.  He didn't marry until he was 55, got headaches when he had to sleep with his wife  -- etc. 

I never liked what I saw of the Scouts, never joined them and never sent my son to them.  The only youth organization I ever joined was the "Presbyterian Fellowship of Australia", which met at my local church.  I still have and value my old PFA badge.  Those were good times

The Boy Scouts of America may soon give sponsors of troops the authority to decide whether to accept gays as scouts and leaders — a potentially dramatic retreat from an exclusionary nationwide policy that has provoked relentless protests.

Under the change now being discussed, the different religious and civic groups that sponsor Scout units would be able to decide for themselves how to address the issue — either maintaining an exclusion of gays, as is now required of all units, or opening up their membership.

Gay-rights activists were elated at the prospect of change, sensing another milestone to go along with recent advances for same-sex marriage and the end of the ban on gays serving openly in the military.

However, Southern Baptist leaders — who consider homosexuality a sin — were furious about the possible change and said its approval might encourage Southern Baptist churches to support other boys’ organizations instead of the BSA.

Monday’s announcement of the possible change comes after years of protests over the no-gays policy — including petition campaigns that have prompted some corporations to suspend donations to the Boy Scouts.

Under the proposed change, said BSA spokesman Deron Smith, “the Boy Scouts would not, under any circumstances, dictate a position to units, members, or parents.”

Smith said the change could be announced as early as next week, after BSA’s national board concludes a regularly scheduled meeting on Feb. 6. The meeting will be closed to the public.

The BSA, which celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2010, has long excluded both gays and atheists. Smith said a change in the policy toward atheists was not being considered, and that the BSA continued to view “Duty to God” as one of its basic principles.

Protests over the no-gays policy gained momentum in 2000, when the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the BSA’s right to exclude gays. Scout units lost sponsorships by public schools and other entities that adhered to nondiscrimination policies, and several local Scout councils made public their displeasure with the policy.

More recently, pressure surfaced on the Scouts’ own national executive board. Two high-powered members — Ernst & Young CEO James Turley and AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson — indicated they would try to work from within to change the membership policy, which stood in contrast to their own companies’ non-discrimination policies.

Amid petition campaigns, shipping giant UPS Inc. and drug-manufacturer Merck announced that they were halting donations from their charitable foundations to the Boy Scouts as long as the no-gays policy was in force.

Also, local Scout officials drew widespread criticism in recent months for ousting Jennifer Tyrrell, a lesbian mom, as a den leader of her son’s Cub Scout pack in Ohio and for refusing to approve an Eagle Scout application by Ryan Andresen, a California teen who came out as gay last fall.


Reality takes a holiday among the anti-Israel Left

Inauguration weekend has come and gone, and with it the preceding "No Blank Check for Israel" rally on Saturday, January 19, 2013. Rally participants first assembled in Farragut Square to hear various speakers and then marched through adjoining streets to Pennsylvania Avenue between Lafayette Square and the White House where President Barack Obama two days later reviewed the inauguration parade. The central demand of the rally was to "condition" American aid to Israel upon respect for human rights. Although presented in terms of human rights, the rally's speakers and participants cast grave doubts on the willingness of Arabs in the Middle East to make peace with a Jewish state of Israel now having survived over 60 years of conflict.

An amateur video of the rally available online (I appear viewed from behind at 6:00 wearing a light blue sweater and khaki slacks) clearly indicates the participants' sentiments towards Israel. The master of ceremonies for the event, Radio Rahim, for example, condemned American support for Israeli "war crimes" perpetrated against "innocent, defenseless people" as well as, for good measure, "genocide." Rahim later warmed up the crowd with chants of "No to the dark side, no to apartheid." Rahim suggested that American support for such Israeli "apartheid" flowed naturally from an America founded upon racism in which a "racist ideology still works through the veins of the system." Continuing this racism meme two days before the Martin Luther King holiday, one of the event speakers, Phyllis Bennis of the Institute for Policy Studies (IPS), cast American-financed Israeli security policies in terms of a "triplet of evil" of racism, poverty, and militarism opposed by King. Although Bennis described Israeli "apartheid" as distinct from its infamous South African namesake, Israel still deserved this appellation, as there "people who are Jews are privileged" and both cases "are in violation of international law."

Also making an appearance accompanied by his wife Cindy was Craig Corrie, the father of Rachel Corrie, who died on March 16, 2003, when an Israeli army bulldozer crushed her while she protested the destruction of Palestinian homes (the Israeli military and judiciary have ruled the killing accidental, not intentional, as alleged by the Corries). Corrie compared sending military aid to Israel in the name of peace as "making about as much sense as sending four cases of beer to a fraternity to encourage sobriety." An introductory webpage for the website of the Rachel Corrie Foundation for Peace & Justice founded by her parents, meanwhile, describes Israel in terms of "apartheid" as well.

Other speakers were universally hostile to Israel and its continued American aid. Rev. Graylan Hagler of Washington, DC's Plymouth Congregational United Church of Christ condemned that there had been a "silence for too long" while "business machinery" continued "to grind down the hopes of people" in the Palestinian territories as a "corporate press" looked away. While Martin Luther King, meanwhile, "had a dream, Obama has a drone." Philip Farah of the Washington Interfaith Alliance for Middle East Peace (WIAMEP) said that the rally was about "people who do not know how to say no to war." In case anyone was confused by the rally's message, Najla Said, the daughter of Edward Said, declared that the "facts are simple" in the Arab-Israeli conflict while comparing civilian casualties during Israeli military action to the Newtown, Connecticut, shooting. Rahim as well stated during one of his "dark side" chants that "apartheid here is Israel, just in case you didn't know."

Examination of the crowd indicated that they would be receptive to the speakers. Copies of the Socialist Worker were available for the taking on a handout table. One sign held by a rally participant called Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu a "war criminal" while another sign listing the internet address of Occupy AIPAC declared "America First, Not Israel." One individual wore a National Lawyers Guild hat while someone from the other side of the political spectrum wore a Ron Paul button. Members of Code Pink, one of the event's organizers, were also present in their trademark color.

Shelley Fudge from the DC chapter of Jewish Voice for Peace, another event supporter, spoke of Israeli "Judiazation" of Jerusalem, prompting one rally participant to cry out "Arianization." During the march to the White House, the demonstrators chanted "Viva Palestina/Long live Palestine" along with "Free, Free Palestine" and "Resistance is justified when people are occupied."

Personal interviews with rally participants during the march and on Pennsylvania Avenue did nothing to change impressions of the rally. Asked about an average annual American aid of $2 billion since the 1979 peace with Israel to Egypt, the second largest American aid recipient after Israel, for example, one Palestinian-American noted that Egypt's much larger population meant that Egyptians per capita received much less aid than Israelis. Left out of this reply, though, was any understanding of the American interest in such aid, as opposed to that of the recipients. Indeed, as David Meir-Levy has analyzed in various online articles at FrontPage Magazine, America reaps many benefits from aid to Israel, in contrast to the more questionable merit of aid bestowed on many Muslim-majority nations such as Egypt. Discussions of per capita international aid to Palestinians being significantly larger than the post-World War II Marshall Plan in Europe, meanwhile, merely brought the response that the Palestinians had nothing to show for this aid not because of Palestinian misuse but because of Israeli destruction.

Most surprisingly, rally participants seemed to question the very existence of Israel. Another Palestinian-American participant in the march rejected any reference to Jews as a people with a historic homeland in Israel, seeing them merely as diverse adherents of a religion scattered across the world who had imposed themselves as foreigners upon an Arab territory. My initial Palestinian-American conversation partner described Zionism as a "fanatical religious movement" that supposedly disrupted a tolerant, multi-faith Middle East and provoked in turn the development of militant Islam. Accordingly, these Palestinian-Americans as well as other participants in the march found nothing shocking in my references to the May 27, 2010, statements by the Lebanese-American journalist Helen Thomas that Israel's Jews should "get the hell out of Palestine" and "go home" to Germany and Poland.

The overall result of the rally was to leave a pessimistic impression upon any objective observer concerning future prospects for Arab-Israeli peace. All rally participants showed no reservation about demonizing Israel with comparisons to German Nazism, American racism, and, of course, South African apartheid. Yet as the pro-Israeli Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA) has documented in detail, many allegations of Israeli mistreatment of Palestinian Arabs both within and without Israel are unsubstantiated.

The reality of Israeli-Arabs in particular, Karsh's colleague Daniel Pipes discovered in Israel, is that they are "intensely conflicted about living in a Jewish polity." While these Arabs resent the inherently Jewish nature of Israel expressed, for example, in a Jewish "Law of Return" allowing global Jewish immigration at will in Israel, they appreciate the domestic peace and prosperity of Israel's free society in which Arabs have obtained considerable societal success as equal citizens. In the end, Karsh notes that Israeli-Arabs "enjoy more formal prerogatives than ethnic minorities anywhere else in the world." Consequently, Israeli-Arabs "immediately voice their indignation" when Israeli policymakers suggest transferring Israeli-Arab towns to any new Palestinian state as part of a peace agreement involving Israeli-Palestinian territorial exchange. Palestinians living in East Jerusalem who enjoy Israeli social benefits and unhindered travel throughout Israel also show a preference for becoming Israeli, and not Palestinians, citizens in the future.

Such factual nuances apparently did not disturb the demonstrators in Farragut Square, who had clear black/white understandings of Jewish perpetrators and Arab victims. Although many in the crowd would claim to limit their opposition to Israel to nonviolent means analogous to those used by the mainstream global anti-apartheid movement in the past, the crowds' sentiments would not rule out a group like Hamas resorting to force against Israel. While Israeli uses of force always incited condemnations of "genocide", "ethnic cleansing", "war crimes", and "terrorism" from various rally participants, no one appeared to recognize any terrorism on the part of Arab forces in the region. While crowd participants complained about aid to Israel, they seemed to have no reservations about aid to terrorism-supporting groups like Hamas and the PA or the now MB-dominated Egyptian government.

Such views went in tandem with an abiding rejection of Israel's legitimacy as a free Jewish nation-state even after over 60 years of its successful existence despite all adversity. If people in Washington, DC, supported by 15 left-leaning Christian organizations, can hold such views, the Arabs in the region must have even more negative opinions of Israel. Future peace prospects for Israel must be bleak.


Whose Welfare?

Thomas Sowell

If there is ever a contest for the law with the most grossly misleading title, the Indian Child Welfare Act of 1978 should be a prime candidate, because the last thing this Act protects is the welfare of Indian children.

The theory behind the Indian Child Welfare Act is that an American Indian child should be raised in an American Indian culture.

Based on that theory, a newborn baby of American Indian ancestry, who was adopted immediately after birth by a white couple, was at 27 months of age taken away from the only parents she has ever known and given to her father.

Apparently the tribe has rights under the Indian Child Welfare Act. If this child were of any other race, a court would be free to decide the case on the basis of whatever was in the best interests of the child. Instead, the child is treated almost as property, contrary to the 13th Amendment that outlawed slavery.

Fortunately, the legal issues growing out of this case are now before the Supreme Court of the United States. We can only hope that the justices will use their wisdom, instead of their cleverness, to decide this case.

Solomon’s wisdom provided a good example many centuries ago, in a case where two women each claimed to be the mother of a child and each demanded custody. Since he did not know who was the real mother, King Solomon said that he would cut the child in half and give each mother her half.

When one of the women dropped her claim, in order to spare the child's life, he knew that she was the real mother. Anyone who would ruin a helpless child's life, in order to assert their own legal prerogatives, or to protect the tribe's turf, raises very serious questions about what kind of parent they are.

The question is not which home is better, but whether the child will ever feel secure in any home again, after the shock of being forcibly taken away.

The welfare of a flesh-and-blood human being should trump theories about cultures -- especially in the case of a two-year-old child, who has been torn away from the only parents she has ever known, and treated as a pawn in a legalistic game.

This little girl is just the latest in a long line of Indian children who have been ripped out of the only family they have ever known and given to someone who is a stranger to them, often living on an Indian reservation that is foreign to them. This has happened even to children who have spent a decade or more with a family to which they have become attached and is attached to them.

There have already been too many scenes of weeping and frightened children, crying out in vain for the only mother and father they have known, as they are forcibly dragged away.

Whatever the merits or demerits of various theories about culture, they are still just theories. But too many people put their pet theories ahead of flesh-and-blood human beings.

One of the rationales for the Indian Child Welfare Act is that, in the past, Indian children were wantonly wrested from their Indian parents and sent off to be raised by non-Indians. But nothing we can do today can undo the wrongs of the past -- especially not by creating the same wrongs again, in reverse.

While those who are most victimized by the so-called Indian Child Welfare Act are the children ripped out of their homes to satisfy some theory, they are not the only victims.

Indian children without biological parents to take care of them can be needlessly left in institutional care, when there are not enough Indian foster parents or adoptive parents to take them into their homes.

The Alice in Wonderland legal situation can hardly encourage non-Indian families to take care of these children, when that can so easily lead to heartbreak for both the children themselves and the surrogate parents who have become attached to them.

The New York Times reports that fewer than 2 percent of the children in Minnesota are Indian, but 15 percent of the children in that state's foster care system are Indian. In Montana, 9 percent of the children are Indian, but Indian children make up 37 percent of the children in foster care.

What a price to pay for a theory!


Australia: Hate speech warning as Dutch MP Geers Wilders faces protests

Hatred of Mr Wilders will certainly be on display

CONTROVERSIAL anti-Islamic Dutch MP Geers Wilders will face protests from Muslims and others in Melbourne next month.

The Baillieu Government has also warned that Mr Wilders could fall foul of the state's hate speech laws if he incites tensions.

Mr Wilders had been due to visit Australia last year but had to postpone the trip following delays in processing his visa.

He opposes the "Islamisation" of the Netherlands and has called for the banning of the Koran, which he equates with Adolf Hitler's autobiography Mein Kampf.

Mr Wilders was invited to Australia by a nationalist group called the Q Society.  A meeting is planned for Melbourne on February 19, and there are appearance dates in Sydney and Perth.

Islamic Friendship Association president Keysar Trad said he had been approached by Leftist groups about protests against the Right-wing politician.

Q Society spokesman Andrew Horwood said details of meetings would be released with only 48 hours' notice, for security reasons.  "We feel strongly that as a democracy we can't not talk about things because of the threat of violence," he said.

Mr Horwood said Islam was unlike any other religion, and his organisation was concerned that Australia, like Europe, was changing as Muslim numbers grew.

Victorian Multicultural Affairs and Citizenship Minister Nick Kotsiras said Mr Wilders had the right to free speech, subject to the state's racial and religious vilification laws.

Mr Wilders' Party for Freedom won 10 per cent of the vote at the Netherlands' last election in September.



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

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of  other countries.  The only real difference, however, is how much power they have.  In America, their power is limited by democracy.  To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already  very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges.  They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did:  None.  So look to the colleges to see  what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way.  It would be a dictatorship.

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


1 February, 2013

BBC’s Paul Moss promotes politically motivated stereotypes of Israelis

Can you imagine the BBC publishing or broadcasting a facile report which tries too hard to be funny by tapping into jaded Benny Hill-style stereotypes about certain national characteristics such as Frenchmen who smell of garlic, women-chasing Italians or lazy, siesta-loving Spaniards?

No? Well then prepare to be surprised…or perhaps not.

On January 24th 2013 the BBC Radio 4 programme ‘From Our Own Correspondent’ (also broadcast on the BBC World Service) featured an item by Paul Moss. The podcast can be downloaded here (listen from 22:34) or heard here. A very similar written version of the same report was featured on the BBC News website’s Middle East page on January 27th.

Moss’ piece is entitled “The Middle East conflict at 35,000 feet” and supposedly tells of his recent flight from Luton to Tel Aviv. But Moss decided to turn an account that flight into a contrived analogy for the Middle East conflict as a whole – or at least what he perceives as the Israeli contribution to it.

And so, despite admitting that he speaks neither Hebrew nor Russian, Paul Moss portrays Israeli passengers on the flight as argumentative and aggressive.
“The Israelis were arguing with the non-Israelis, and indeed with each other – over who was entitled to what territory.

Some were polite, but others more hostile. It was an ugly scene. At one point, I thought people might well come to blows.

And still they could not sort it out. Who was supposed to be in what seat? The plane had not even taken off yet, but already Flight 2085, from Luton to Tel Aviv, had become a microcosm of the Middle East.

Some argued from a point of legal entitlement. They held up their boarding passes, the seat number clearly visible.

“I have a right to be here,” they protested. But others simply pointed out that they had got there first. I felt I had heard this before somewhere.”

Predictably, Moss’ Israeli co-passengers are also pushy, rude and potentially dangerous into the bargain.
“Meanwhile, bolder passengers were simply shoving their luggage – and themselves – into the places they wanted. You might call it “establishing facts on the ground”.”

“Tensions rose and so did voices in English, in Hebrew and in Russian. I only speak one of those languages but I am quite sure I was being treated to a crash course in their finest insults and for the first time I found myself awfully glad that metal implements are no longer permitted in carry-on luggage.”

The laboured analogy and stereotypes continue, with Moss ditching all efforts to display any of that much-touted appreciation of diversity in which his countrymen take so much pride and exhibiting particular disdain for the religious passengers on the flight.

There is, of course, absolutely no point to this article whatsoever. It does not inform the reader about any particular news event and it certainly does nothing to increase audiences’ understanding of the world. All Moss achieves in his shallow, superficial piece is the promotion of stereotypes in order to advance a very clear political agenda.

However, simplistic agenda-driven reporting on Israel seems to be something of a pattern as far as Moss is concerned. In January 2009, at the time of Operation Cast Lead, he was also in Israel. In one article from the time he reported on Israeli Arabs in Haifa opposed to the operation, implying that they were representative of the whole Arab Israeli population and quoting Leah Tsemel and Ameer Makhoul without disclosing to his readers who they are or what they represent.

In another article (which does much to explain his attitudes towards Israelis) Moss showcased the opinions of the founder of ‘Zochrot‘, which he described as an “educational charity” and in a third piece Moss uses a visit to Masada to suggest that Israelis are unnecessarily militaristic.

If readers are wondering what happened once Moss’ flight landed in Tel Aviv, the answer to that is to be found in another radio broadcast from January 25th. The BBC Radio 4 programme “The World Tonight” featured Paul Moss (from 35:43 or as a podcast here from around 29:31) on the subject of “Israel’s view of its international image” in which he argued that Israelis – in contrast to citizens of other countries – should care more about how they are perceived abroad. 
“MPs in most countries will insist it’s their people that [sic] should determine who forms their government and what is in their country’s interests. But Israel, of course, is not like most countries. For a start it gets huge amounts of financial aid from the United States.”

Of course Israel has not received economic aid from the US since 2008 and the vast majority of the military aid it does receive (around 1% of the Israeli economy) is spent in the United States, thus sustaining American jobs. As the Assistant Secretary of Political-Military Affairs at the State Department put it in 2011: “We don’t just support Israel because of a long-standing bond, we support Israel because it is in our national interests to do so”.

But does the fact that Israel receives US aid at all make it – as Moss claims – “not like most countries”? Hardly: not only is Israel not the biggest recipient of military aid from the US, but if we look at the subject of financial aid in general, we see that in fact, Israel is exactly like most countries.

But Paul Moss is obviously not one to allow mere facts to get in the way of the agenda he is trying to promote.

Moss is, of course, entitled to his own political opinions and prejudices. What he is not entitled to do as a BBC presenter is to allow those prejudices to spill over into his reports, thus compromising the BBC’s reputation for impartiality – even under the pretext of supposedly trying to be funny.

SOURCE (See the original for links & graphics)

BBC accused of 'extraordinary' censorship after cutting honour-killing references from radio drama for fear of offending Muslims

The BBC has been accused of 'extraordinary' censorship by a leading playwright after dialogue was cut from her hard-hitting drama in case it offended Muslims.

Gurpreet Kaur Bhatti, whose 2004 play Behzti was pulled from a Birmingham theatre after it sparked Sikh protests, says the Corporation tampered with her work because it involved an honour killing.

Ms Bhatti was commissioned by Radio 4 to write an episode of its police drama Stone.

Her episode, The Heart of Darkness, will be broadcast this Friday, but she says the BBC has caused an 'awful situation' which has led to a 'betrayal' of her work.

At the centre of her story is the honour killing of a 16-year-old Asian girl, and DCI Stone is told by his bosses to treat the case 'sensitively' because she is Muslim.

Although they have admitted removing dialogue from the afternoon drama, the BBC claims they did it to avoid 'potentially misrepresenting majority British Muslim attitudes to honour killing'.

Describing the play's final line, Ms Bhatti told The Independent: 'At the end, a character says: "There is so much pressure in our community to look right and to behave right." The compliance department came back and said, "We don’t want to suggest the entire Muslim community condones honour killings".

'It's a crucial part of that story. I was very disappointed given my previous experience of censorship. If you take out the line, the whole thing changes, it's a betrayal of the character and the truth of the unfolding story.

'It’s an extraordinary and awful situation. They said the lines were offensive but they absolutely were not. We live in a fear-ridden culture.'

Bhatti, who also writes The Archers, was forced into hiding in 2004 after her play Behzti caused a storm.  It included a scene in a Gurdwara, a Sikh temple, which involved rape, physical abuse and murder. But the play did win her awards.

That year she received death threats, including a Christmas card that read: 'Seasons Greetings. This will be your last Christmas. You are a disgrace to the race. Sending you lots of hate.'

The BBC said today the radio drama to be played on Friday was treated no differently than any other.

'This is a hard-hitting drama about the realities of honour killing in Britain. A single line in the script could be taken to infer that the pressure and motivation to commit such a crime in a family comes from the wider Muslim community, potentially misrepresenting majority British Muslim attitudes to honour killing,' a Radio 4 spokesman said.

'Gupreet Kaur Bhatti was asked to amend this line in the normal editorial process of script development.'


Blatant lies in Leftist hunger to control the internet
The Internet should be regulated as a public utility – like electricity and water or as the railroads once were – according to a new book by Susan Crawford, a professor of law and a former tech advisor to President Obama at the National Economic Council.

A basic tenet of her argument is that the broadband Internet has become a necessity, as important to everyday life as a telephone, heat or electricity. She writes in her book that “truly high-speed Internet access is as basic to innovation, economic growth, social communication, and the country’s competitiveness as electricity was a century ago; and she claims that limited number of American’s have access to it, can’t afford it, and its being run by monopolies. 

Crawford’s conclusions are heavy on opinion, but light on facts.

The idea that a “limited number of Americans” have access to high-speed Internet is absurd, when the government’s own data shows that 123 out of 130 million household have access to wired broadband services, nearly 95% of all US households. When you include wireless broadband access, it gets closer to 98% of all Americans who have fast, reliable access to the Internet. In addition, there are satellite services that can reach consumers even the most remote locations.

Her claims of falling investment don’t add up. According to the trade group Broadband for America, the industry has invested over $250 billion in infrastructure since 2008, and a recent announcement ponied up another $14 billion on a broadband network.

Another claim to bolster her argument is that Internet costs for low-income consumers are prohibitively high. This argument ignores the recently announced Connect America Fund that initially redirects $8.7 billion of subsidies to consumers. 

Crawford laments that the broadband market is a monopoly market, like the steel and railroad markets of long ago. By definition, of course, broadband providers are not a monopoly, which would imply a single market provider. Among wireline high-speed connections, the FCC reports that 96.6% of census tracks have two or more competitors and 78.8% have three or more competitors, as of June 2011. When you add in the several wireless service providers that cover each market, as well as including  satellite and WiFi services, it plain to see that consumers have at least a handful of options outside of old dialup services.

What about her claim that broadband prices are rising?  Again, not true.  According to Bureau of Labor Statistics data, the Consumer Price Index for Internet services fell 50% in the last 10 years, in inflation adjusted terms. Similarly, wireless service prices between 1999 and 2009 dropped by about 50%, according to a 2010 report on the wireless industry published by the General Accountability Office (GAO).

One idea Crawford thinks will solve her perceived problems is for the creation of public Wi-Fi networks, blaming the lack of the networks on industry lobbying. What isn’t mentioned is the reason these laws have been passed—it’s been tried over and over and over again, always with the same result of taxpayers losing millions on networks that don’t work. One network in Utah saw 11 cities teaming up to pay for it—it racked up $202 million in debt, 4 times larger than the entire debt obligation of all 11 cities combined. These cost overruns don’t take into account the poor performance of these networks or the fact that they “crowd out” private investments, as well as reduce competition and choice.

Her suggestion that Internet providers should become a public utility is an attempt to take private investment and make it government.  The basic premise forgets all of the economic thought pointing to public utility waste, gold-plating, averech-johnson effects and lack of innovation that regulation brings. She makes an analogy that broadband should be regulated like the railroads were, but a review of the historical evidence will find a once unprofitable regulated industry that was saved by deregulation, and that deregulation resulted in increased productivity, significantly lower consumer prices and tens of billions of dollars in increased consumer welfare.


Australia:  Critic of homosexuality survives his inquisition

A PERTH GP investigated after he led a group of doctors opposing gay marriage on health grounds has reportedly been cleared by the Medical Board.

Founder of the Doctors for the Family group, Lachlan Dunjey, made a submission to a Senate inquiry into marriage equality last year stating gay marriage was a health risk.

The submission prompted outrage from civil liberty groups because it stated that marriage should remain between a man and a woman, and if same-sex marriage were allowed it would normalise homosexuality and have "health consequences".

"We submit that the evidence is clear that children who grow up in a family with a mother and father do better in all parameters than children without," it read.

In May last year the Sunday Herald Sun revealed 22 Victorian GPs, anaesthetists, obstetricians, palliative care specialists and psychiatrists, including Victoria's deputy chief psychiatrist, Prof Kuruvilla George, joined 150 colleagues interstate to argue gay marriage posed a health risk to society.

Dr Dunjey told website Australian Doctor this week he had been investigated by the Medical Board of Australia after allegations of misconduct made by another doctor and cleared.

Dr Dunjey ran as a Senate candidate for the Christian Democratic Party in the 2004 federal election.

"It is about freedom of speech ... it was sad really as I received a lot of hate mail and I don't believe people should be vilified or targeted for expressing a view," he told the website



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

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of  other countries.  The only real difference, however, is how much power they have.  In America, their power is limited by democracy.  To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already  very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges.  They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did:  None.  So look to the colleges to see  what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way.  It would be a dictatorship.

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


Examining political correctness around the world and its stifling of liberty and sense. Chronicling a slowly developing dictatorship

BIO for John Ray

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

I record on this blog many examples of negligent, inefficient and reprehensible behaviour on the part of British police. After 13 years of Labour party rule they have become highly politicized, with values that reflect the demands made on them by the political Left rather than than what the community expects of them. They have become lazy and cowardly and avoid dealing with real crime wherever possible -- preferring instead to harass normal decent people for minor infractions -- particularly offences against political correctness. They are an excellent example of the destruction that can be brought about by Leftist meddling.

I also record on this blog much social worker evil -- particularly British social worker evil. The evil is neither negligent nor random. It follows exactly the pattern you would expect from the Marxist-oriented indoctrination they get in social work school -- where the middle class is seen as the enemy and the underclass is seen as virtuous. So social workers are lightning fast to take chidren away from normal decent parents on the basis of of minor or imaginary infractions while turning a blind eye to gross child abuse by the underclass

Gender is a property of words, not of people. Using it otherwise is just another politically correct distortion -- though not as pernicious as calling racial discrimination "Affirmative action"

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

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

Juergen Habermas, a veteran leftist German philosopher stunned his admirers not long ago by proclaiming, "Christianity, and nothing else, is the ultimate foundation of liberty, conscience, human rights, and democracy, the benchmarks of Western civilization. To this day, we have no other options [than Christianity]. We continue to nourish ourselves from this source. Everything else is postmodern chatter."

The Supreme Court of the United States is now and always has been a judicial abomination. Its guiding principles have always been political rather than judicial. It is not as political as Stalin's courts but its respect for the constitution is little better. Some recent abuses: The "equal treatment" provision of the 14th amendment was specifically written to outlaw racial discrimination yet the court has allowed various forms of "affirmative action" for decades -- when all such policies should have been completely stuck down immediately. The 2nd. amendment says that the right to bear arms shall not be infringed yet gun control laws infringe it in every State in the union. The 1st amedment provides that speech shall be freely exercised yet the court has upheld various restrictions on the financing and display of political advertising. The court has found a right to abortion in the constitution when the word abortion is not even mentioned there. The court invents rights that do not exist and denies rights that do.

Consider two "jokes" below:

Q. "Why are Leftists always standing up for blacks and homosexuals?

A. Because for all three groups their only God is their penis"

Pretty offensive, right? So consider this one:

Q. "Why are evangelical Christians like the Taliban?

A. They are both religious fundamentalists"

The latter "joke" is not a joke at all, of course. It is a comparison routinely touted by Leftists. Both "jokes" are greatly offensive and unfair to the parties targeted but one gets a pass without question while the other would bring great wrath on the head of anyone uttering it. Why? Because political correctness is in fact just Leftist bigotry. Bigotry is unfairly favouring one or more groups of people over others -- usually justified as "truth".

One of my more amusing memories is from the time when the Soviet Union still existed and I was teaching sociology in a major Australian university. On one memorable occasion, we had a representative of the Soviet Womens' organization visit us -- a stout and heavily made-up lady of mature years. When she was ushered into our conference room, she was greeted with something like adulation by the local Marxists. In question time after her talk, however, someone asked her how homosexuals were treated in the USSR. She replied: "We don't have any. That was before the revolution". The consternation and confusion that produced among my Leftist colleagues was hilarious to behold and still lives vividly in my memory. The more things change, the more they remain the same, however. In Sept. 2007 President Ahmadinejad told Columbia university that there are no homosexuals in Iran.

It is widely agreed (with mainly Lesbians dissenting) that boys need their fathers. What needs much wider recognition is that girls need their fathers too. The relationship between a "Daddy's girl" and her father is perhaps the most beautiful human relationship there is. It can help give the girl concerned inner strength for the rest of her life.

The love of bureaucracy is very Leftist and hence "correct". Who said this? "Account must be taken of every single article, every pound of grain, because what socialism implies above all is keeping account of everything". It was V.I. Lenin

On all my blogs, I express my view of what is important primarily by the readings that I select for posting. I do however on occasions add personal comments in italicized form at the beginning of an article.

I am rather pleased to report that I am a lifelong conservative. Out of intellectual curiosity, I did in my youth join organizations from right across the political spectrum so I am certainly not closed-minded and am very familiar with the full spectrum of political thinking. Nonetheless, I did not have to undergo the lurch from Left to Right that so many people undergo. At age 13 I used my pocket-money to subscribe to the "Reader's Digest" -- the main conservative organ available in small town Australia of the 1950s. I have learnt much since but am pleased and amused to note that history has since confirmed most of what I thought at that early age.

I imagine that the the RD is still sending mailouts to my 1950s address!

Germaine Greer is a stupid old Harpy who is notable only for the depth and extent of her hatreds